Three Catholics …

The Prodigal Son
The Prodigal Son by Liz Lemon Swindle

I realize I’ve been neglecting the blog for the last week to ten days. My excuse is I’ve been spending a lot of time with the story, merging chapters, rewriting portions of it extensively, editing, and generally doing whatever I can to make it more interesting and enjoyable for you. From some of the early comments on Chapter 42, which I posted on Monday, it seems like I’ve done a reasonably good job, at least with that chapter.

In any event, I wanted to call your attention this week to three recent articles that I’ve come across on the web. To me, they provide some profound insight into the current state of the Roman Catholic Church. I realize some of you will think I’m just ranting, but I’m really not anti-Catholic at all. To me the Catholic Church is the people who make up the Church as well as Jesus Christ, who is at the core of their belief; not the institutionalized church with its elaborate hierarchy, starting with the humble parish priest and rising through the ranks all the way to the papacy, which has demonstrated both the most reason to be humble and the least willingness to do so.

I’m not a religious person myself so some of you may wonder why I even bother discussing this topic. The only answer I can give is that religion has had and continues to have profound consequences on the kind of world we live in. Here is an article that explains far better than I ever could the consequences the teachings of the Catholic Church have on a part of our world, the part consisting of LGBT youth.

It’s written by Carl Siciliano, a former Benedictine monk, nationally recognized advocate for homeless LGBT youth, and the founder and director of the Ali Forney Center in New York City. The Forney Center is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive housing program for homeless LGBT youth.

I hope you’ll read the article, but the bottom line is simple enough. It’s a plea to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to demonstrate a more compassionate attitude toward LGBT youth. In his letter, Siciliano points out that there is an epidemic of runaway LGBT youth in the United States, one that results in part from parents who cannot accept their LGBT children but instead force them out of their homes and on to the streets because of the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Once you’ve read that article, I invite you to read Cardinal Dolan’s response. His response reveals who he is better than any words I could share with you. Dolan is a bureaucrat in a large institution who never questions himself or the institution, someone who would have been more concerned with keeping the trains running in Nazi Germany than in asking himself why so many trains were headed to Auschwitz.

Dolan’s letter says more than enough about who he is as a person, but you can find out more about this so called “Christian” leader here and here. It’s not a record I would be proud of.

Finally, I would encourage you to read an entirely unrelated article about another Catholic, Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson. You can find that here. Unlike Cardinal Dolan, Bishop Robinson has clearly thought long and hard about the epidemic of clergy sex abuse that has rocked the Catholic Church in recent years.

According to Robinson, the major fault of the Church in the scandal has been that it “refuses to look at any teaching, law, practice or even attitude of the church itself as in any way contributing” to the crisis. In short, the institutionalized Church refuses to accept any responsibility for the crisis its own priests have created.

To me what’s especially interesting in all of this is how the Roman Catholic hierarchy has responded to these three men. Dolan, the petty bureaucrat who closes his eyes and his heart and promotes bigotry and hatred, is advanced and promoted to the very highest levels of the Church while men like Siciliano and Robinson are shunted aside, ignored, abused, and condemned for speaking the truth.

That in a nutshell is the problem with the Catholic Church today. But it”s hardly surprising because the institutionalized church has often been a force for evil on numerous occasions in the past. Will it ever change? I doubt it. There are always ambitious petty bureaucrats like Timothy Dolan willing to do the hierarchy’s dirty work and to reap the rewards the hierarchy bestows on them for doing so.

We are fortunate, I suppose, that there are also those like Siciliano and Robinson who are willing to take on the crimes of the Church even at risk to their own careers.

If you would like to contribute to the work of the Ali Forney Center with homeless LGBT youth, you can do so directly here or anonymously through the Network for Good.


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