Catholic leaders are pulling out all the stops. The U.S. Council of Bishops want President Obama to "hit the restart button" on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Catholic bishops in Minnesota claim that bisexuals are going to marry both a man and a woman at the same time. In Chicago, Catholics want to discriminate and still get federal money. And everywhere, more dollars from Catholic offering plates are going to set up offices to block the marriages of loving couple -- just because they are gay, lesbian or transgender.
Bishop Timothy Dolan, head of the Catholic Bishops in the U.S., sent a letter to President Obama full of veiled threats. And like most threatening letters, the bishop's words actually pulled back the curtain on the hierarchy's not-so-veiled efforts to impose Catholic dogma on all U.S. citizens.
As the head of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) with churches in 40 countries, I can tell you that church dictates against gay people cause real harm, and I will not stay silent. I speak because Jesus sided with the poor and socially outcast people who were daily excoriated by the religious leaders of his day.
I can tell you that dogma that condemns people for who they are props up prejudices and gets played in arson, beatings, family rejection, suicide and job dismissal.
Thank God that the fruits of God's spirit -- love, joy, peace and patience -- emerge as homeless gay and transgender youth come home, transgender persons find a church and gay and lesbian couples marry and raise children. The MCC save lives, souls and families.
We are the families and saved lives that Bishop Dolan condemns. He predicts (threatens?) that if marriage equality is allowed, "a systemic national conflict between Church and State" will ensue. He wants the "formidable moral, economic, and coercive power" to enforce the Catholic definition of marriage.
Bishop Dolan's own words convict him as he claims that finding DOMA unconstitutional will be like comparing the Vatican's views on marriage to "intentional or willfully ignorant racial discrimination" and "ill intent or moral blindness." Dolan complains that Catholic institutions will be held accountable if they discriminate in Catholic programs receiving federal money "where civil rights laws apply -- such as employment, housing, education and adoption services, to name just a few." Really? You endorse such discrimination in social services?
To be clear, Bishop Dolan and the bishops in Minnesota and Chicago know that they are free to teach dogma in church, but they simply may not use federal tax dollars if they refuse to provide health insurance to the children of gay couples, or refuse shelter to homeless gay youth or refuse to hire transgender people as accountants, or refuse a child adoption because the parents are two women, etc.
What may pain the bishop and the Vatican deeply is that social service needs will be met by other agencies that do not discriminate.
Bishop Dolan provides dire warnings, but I say to all those who have been harmed by enforced dogma: the Christ I know went out to meet those who had been rejected. He died because he offended those who would keep the doors closed.
Bishop Dolan! Catholic officials! Listen to your people. More Catholics in the pews support marriage equality than any other Christian faith group. Bishop Dolan, hit the restart button on the Gospel. You don't have to read between the lines to know that we are called to love and serve, not judge and condemn. I call that good news.
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