Thursday, January 31, 2008

Gay's OK - As long as you mean "happy" gay

Another Western Pennsylvania Presbyterian church voted recently to break from Presbyterian Church (USA) and join a more conservative outfit. These churches, including Peters Creek Presbyterian in Washington County, cite a number of reasons for the changes in affiliation, but anyone with the slightest ability to read between the lines knows the main reason: the national church just isn’t doing enough to keep gays at bay. A couple of years ago, the PCUSA’s General Assembly approved a measure that essentially allows individual churches to overlook the fact that a person is a practicing homosexual (or non-chaste heterosexual, for that matter) when considering them for leadership positions in the church (elder, deacon, etc.). And according to their interpretation of the Bible, the conservatives can’t be party to that. Perhaps we should remember that the Bible was written by folks who weren’t exactly living in days of great enlightenment. Stoning people to death was the punishment of choice for serious offenses. Also, it’s pretty easy to see that people of most religions today pick and choose which parts of their “good books” they want to follow. (Try this link - - if you want a good laugh.) Bottom line: Should churches be discriminating against people because of their sexual orientation? Let’s discuss.



Blogger PRIguy said...

I was raised in a Catholic home. We went to church for literally everything the church deemed as a "day of obligation." In fact, I went to a parochial school from first through sixth grades, and we were required to attend Mass every school day. So, I was in church six days a week. As I got older, I saw no valid reason for me to change my church attendance habits, so I remained a Catholic - such was the strength of the indoctrination I was subjected to. I never questioned any of it; I just did all the things I was supposed to do because, well, I was supposed to do them.

I married a southern Baptist (a whole other group of ideological zealots), although she didn't attend church too often. Eventually we divorced. During our marriage, neither of us bothered to give our two children any sort of religious direction. We simply didn't go to church. After the divorce, I wanted to give my children some sort of concrete belief in a supreme being, whether it be Jesus Christ, Buddha, or just some deity to whom they could form some religious allegiance. Naturally, being raised and indoctrinated in the Catholic Church, I just started to take them to Mass with me since I'd started to attend church again.

But there was a major impediment to this return to the faith: the Catholic Church doesn't "recognize" divorce. So here I was, trying to build some religious beliefs in my children only to be rebuked and rebuffed because I opted out of a miserable marriage to a woman who turned out to be a lesbian. (I suppose the church would have imploded had SHE ever set foot inside.)

The Catholic Church is struggling to retain members. I'm sure that the list of people wanting to convert to catholicism is quite short. After all, divorced people aren't welcome, nor are gays...which is extremely ironic given the sex scandal debacle that rocked the Vatican.

All churches should reconsider their stands on some of these issues if they want to have congregations. Isn't it better to attend church anyway regardless of whom you're sleeping with or no longer married to? At some point in my indoctrination at the hands of the nuns, I was taught that Jesus loves everyone. Shouldn't everyone then be welcome to worship Him? By the way, I haven't returned to a Catholic church, nor will I.

February 5, 2008 at 6:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Hypocrisy in religion! Say it aint so.

February 7, 2008 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Lou Florian said...

Where in the world does priguy live - some village in Nigeria? I realize there is more misinformation about Catholic belief and practice than any other subject on earth, but his claims are so outlandish they need a rebuttal.

I never heard of anybody being "rebuked and rebuffed" for trying to worship in a Catholic church. Even if church officials were of a mind to do so, how would it be possible? Immaculate Conception has five entrances and St. Hilary has three and the number of people who attend the nine weekend masses in the two places are in the thousands. They don't have a police force to stand at the doors and interrogate people about their marital status or sexual practices.

There is no penalty in the Catholic Church for obtaining a civil divorce and there hasn't been in my memory. If priguy has remarried outside the church (he didn't mention it) and has not received a church annulment of his first marriage, he shouldn't receive Communion, but it's an honor system. Again, there's no police force. He's certainly welcome to attend Mass and take part in other parish activities. His marital status wouldn't affect his kids under any circumstances.

I'm not a canon lawyer but the fact that his first wife is a lesbian might be grounds for a church annulment, not because the church would have imploded but because it may have prevented her from being able to make the lifelong commitment to him that a sacramental marriage would require. He could approach his parish priest about that, or if he preferred, go directly to the diocese. Either way, I'm sure he'll find people quite anxious to help him, not order him to get out.

From the tenor of his post and his cracks about sex abuse and the supposed "short list" of converts, I wonder if there's more involved here than just dissatisfaction with the church's marriage laws. Still, he shouldn't make false claims that he or anyone else is not welcome there.

February 8, 2008 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

The whole system of annulments in the Catholic church is a bit of a joke. The vast majority of them are approved, and I'm willing to go out on a limb and bet that the better connected a church member is, the better the chance of he or she getting an annulment. Case in point: Back in the mid-90s, Joe Kennedy (yes, the Citgo oil guy) obtained an annulment of his 12-year marriage, complete with two children, to his wife, Sheila, who wasn't even told of the annulment and learned of it only when Kennedy, at that time a member of Congress, married a former aide a couple of years later. Sheila Kennedy, noting the ridiculousness of a church declaring that a 12-year marriage that produced two children never existed, fought all the way to the Vatican, which overturned the annulment nine years after the fact. Oh, by the way, the church didn't bother to tell the former Mrs. Kennedy of that decision until two years later. And between the time of the annulment and the reconsideration, were the Kennedy kids relegated to bastard status? Sounds like a great system.

February 8, 2008 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

Lou is interpreting my comments quite literally. No, I wasn't actually rebuked and rebuffed by a priest, bishop or any other church official. Certainly there wasn't someone standing at the door checking IDs. That's quite a literal interpretation. But this interpretation, as with so much more, I've found that with Catholics, there are only two choices: theirs, and the wrong one. Like faith, which is more of a feeling than something tangible, the feelings of being rebuked and rebuffed were just that: feelings. I felt as if I was being judged - not by a physical being, per se, but rather by the tenets of Catholicism.

Yes, it's true that my marriage could have been annulled since I married a lesbian. I checked into that. But annulment was just part of the picture. I could have attended some theological classes or seminars or something like that in order to be accepted back into the fold. However, those classes carried a monetary fee. I found that curious. No money, no "welcome home." Pay the fee, I'm a good Catholic again. No one sees the divorce.

Maybe I chose the wrong words. Again, I wasn't actually penalized. But I felt like I was, and that's something I just can't shake.

There are indeed some other issues at play here. I'm appalled at the hypocrisy regarding the sex scandals. With the most recent settlements in Los Angeles a few months ago, the financial compensation for damages over the last fifty years has exceeded six BILLION dollars. Shuffling priests from town to town and diocese to diocese to avoid scrutiny is unconscionable. I have a problem with that. I'm not saying that all other faiths are above reproach in that regard, but this one is well documented and if I have a choice to opt out of that congregation, then I think it's best that I do.

I think it's important to note that I still am a spiritual person. I am not shunning Christianity or Buddhism or Shintoism or any other religion. I'm just stating that my days as a Catholic are over and I will explore other faiths.

February 12, 2008 at 10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lemme tell you about my divorce & remarriage & the good ole Catholic church. I married early -- 21. Both my wife & I were protestant. Within three years, we were divorced. 10 years passed. I met a woman, a Catholic, and we decided to marry in her church. We approached her parish priest. "No way," we were told. "Absolutely not. Not even if you get an annulment." We were not happy.

But we approached a younger priest who said, "Sure, I'll marry you. But you have to get an annulment." We agreed. The process took 18 months. Over that time, we grew impatient and decided to get married in a protestant church. Her father said it was OK as long as we got married in a Catholic church later, after the annulment.

I was required to go before a tribunal of priests after filling out a questionaire that detailed every aspect of my upbringing, courtship and f marriage in intimate specifics. My mother was required to testify. They wanted my ex-wife to testify, but she refused. After a 90-minute hearing and my paying the diocese $150, I received my annulment. About a month later, we were married, again, in a Catholic church.

Why, I wondered, was it OK for us to be married in Catholic church if we had already been married in a protestant church? Well, we were told, we don't recognize a marriage between a Catholic and a protestant in a protestant church, so you really aren't married.

And let me tell you about my friend, a never-married Catholic who married a divorced Catholic in a civil ceremony because they could not find a priest who would allow them to marry in a church. She was indeed "rebuked and rebuffed" by several priests when she wanted to take communuion after being married. Admittedly, she could simply have clammed up and taken communion without asking, but she wanted to be honest. Finally, she found a priest who must have skipped some seminary classes, because he said, "If you think it's all right to take communion, it is."

It's this kind of crazy, flexible logic -- and not just from Catholics -- that makes me suspect of almost every religion. Who do we believe when the "rules" can be interpreted so differntly by the pople who are supposed to enforce them?

February 27, 2008 at 3:29 PM  

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