Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

The NOM Lie on Marriage Equality Popular Votes.

In Uncategorized on January 31, 2012 at 4:30 pm
2012 is shaping up to be a big year for marriage equality, with legislative moves for approval in place in three states, and a ballot initiative  in Maine to restore it, repealing Proposition 1 of 2009. Opponents have set up ballot battles in Minnesota and North Carolina, and a possible legislative repeal in New Hampshire (although the Republicans who now control the state legislature appear to be backtracking on repeal – they know that voters are against it, and several of their caucus members have libertarian instincts which leave them opposed to removing rights already granted).
Catholics are in the thick of it, with Gov Chris Christie (NJ) and bishops predictably against, and Governors O’Malley (Maryland) and Gregoire (Washington) declaring in favour, and actively rallying support.  I’m not going to get into any detail on any of these: I’ll leave that to the extensive commentary available from any number of American news sites and blogs. However, there is one regular claim made by the opponents of marriage, and especially by the NOM (supported primarily by Catholic money and staff) that is simply, demonstrably untrue – and I cannot understand why the Americans have not vigorously pointed this out :

“Thirty-one states have voted on the definition of marriage and every one voted to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” Brian Brown, the president of the National Organization for Marriage, said in a statement. “Not only will we mount a successful referendum campaign, we will hold every Washington legislator accountable for his or her vote.”

Read more here: Tri-city Herald
Not so fast, Mr Brown. In 2oo6, exactly this was put to voters in Arizona, as Proposition 107:
To preserve and protect marriage in this state, only a union between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage by this state or its political subdivisions and no legal status for unmarried persons shall be created or recognized by this state or its political subdivisions that is similar to that of marriage.
The proposition went down, 48% to 52%.
The reason for the failure was probably overreach, in trying to eliminate not only full marriage equality, but also any recognition for  other forms of union. A modified proposition to ban only full marriage passed, two years later. So, yes. Arizona has voted to ban same-sex marriage, but it is not true that every ballot proposal against equality has passed.  Brian Brown’s bluster notwithstanding, note that prejudice can be defeated at the ballot box, as it was in Arizona in 2006. Although not a vote on full equality but on “near-marriage”, NOM also lost in Washington, in a 20o9 referendum that promised everything but the name.
Also worth noting is that his promise to mount a successful campaign, and hold legislators “accountable”, is an empty one. NOM, and the other organisations actively opposing equality, are running out of money. Unlike 2008, when they could channel all their resources on California, or 2009, when they spent it all in Maine and Washington, this year they are promising to spend in at least six states. The bulk of their funding comes from a handful of (anonymous) large, out-of-state donors, which this year will be thinly spread.  Financial support for equality typically includes a much higher proportion of small, local donors.
NOM and the like should prepare for more defeats this year, at the ballot box, and in state legislatures.
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"Alfredo’s Fire": The Self- Martyrdom of Alfredo Ormando

In Uncategorized on January 23, 2012 at 1:03 pm

In January 1998 Alfredo Ormando, an Italian writer, set himself on fire in St Peter’s Square in the heart of the Vatican. Ormando was Catholic, and gay.

In Catholic hagiography, the most famous image of a martyr burned at the stake is that of St Joan of Arc, condemned by the approved theologians of the Church as a heretic and martyred by the church, essentially for her transgression in dressing as a man. In the centuries that followed, thousands more were burnt as sodomites. These were viewed by the church as irredeemable sinners – but later history may come to view them differently. The church now views Joan as a canonized saint. Pope Benedict has explicitly acknowledged the clear lesson – official theologians may be wrong. In years to come, those burnt for sodomy may also come to be more widely recognized as collective martyrs – martyred by the church, for the nature of their love.  In his horrifying echo of the centuries – long great persecution of sexual minorities, Alfredo Ormando’s suicide after years of attempting to stifle his sexuality in accordance with Vatican rules, may be seen as a unique act of self-martyrdom.

Ormando was one of eight children from an impoverished family, who had been struggling to make a success of a writing career, after spending two years in a seminary. He had been suffering from serious depression, which clearly had multiple causes. After his death, the Vatican denied that this had anything to do with the Church or homosexuality.  Through its spokesperson, Father Ciro Benedettini, the Church downplayed the significance of the act:

“In the letter found on Alfredo Ormando, he doesn’t affirm in any way that his actions were prompted by his presumed homosexuality or as a protest against the Church…He tried to kill himself for no better explanation than family motives.”
This was flatly contradicted by two letters he wrote beforehand, in clear explanation of his action, which were later published. These extracts are from the Italian website, “13 Gennaio” (i.e 13th January, the date Ormando set himself on fire).

In December 1997 he wrote this letter to a friend of his in Reggio Emilia:
Palermo, Christmas 1997
Dear Adriano, this year I can’t feel it’s Christmas anymore, it is indifferent to me like everything; nothing can bring me back to life.
I keep on getting ready for my suicide day by day; I feel this is my fate, I’ve always been aware but never accepted, but this tragic fate is there, it’s waiting for me with a patience of Job which looks incredible.
I haven’t been able to escape this idea of death, I feel I can’t avoid it, nor can I pretend to live and plan I future I do not have; my future will just be a prosecution of this present.
I live with the awareness of who’s leaving this life and this doesn’t look dreadful to me! No! I can’t wait for the day I will bring this life of mine to an end; they will think I am mad because I have chosen Saint Peter Square to be the place where I’ll set myself on fire, while I could do it here in Palermo as well.
I hope they’ll understand the message I want to convey; it is a form of protest against the Church which demonises homosexuality, demonising nature at the same time, because homosexuality is its daughter.
Excerpts from his correspondence:
“I want to die, I don’t want to be marginalized forever.”
“I am sorry if I was born, for having polluted the air you breathe with my poisonous breath, for having dared thinking and behaving like a man, for not having accepted a diversity I did not feel, for having considered homosexuality a natural sexuality, for having felt just like heterosexuals and second to none, for having the ambition of becoming a writer, for having dreamt, for having laughed.”
“The monster leaves the place in order not to offend you, not to make you feel ashamed any longer of his disgraceful presence, not to make you feel disgusted and turn your back when you meet him while walking on a street.”
“I couldn’t deceive my biological love for life anymore, I couldn’t find a reason for my marginalization, for my endless loneliness.”
“Do not try to build me a tearful tombstone, shall I be an infected after my death as well. If fuel won’t produce its effect, turn me into ashes, cremate me and disperse my ashes in the Roman countryside: at least I would like to be useful as manure.”
“Imagine, with one simple act I will get rid of all of you… during these 39 years I have never meant anything to you, instead you are ashamed of myself… I am not scared of dieing … I am going back home.”

A documentary film, “Alfredo’s Fire”, tells the story, and urges us to remember him and his death as a martyrdom not only for gays, but for all of humanity, and for its multitude of outsiders.

In 2000, the year of the Jubilee, Pope John-Paul II exhorted his followers in the same spot where Alfredo Ormando had set himself on fire two years prior, telling them that homosexuality was “unnatural,” and that the Church had a “duty to distinguish between good and evil.”
In 2005, the new Pope Benedict committed himself to even harsher anti-gay teachings, initiating what some see as a gay witchhunt within the Catholic clergy, fighting same-sex partnership legislation worldover, and sending the message that homosexuals have no place in God’s kingdom.
A one-hour documentary, ALFREDO’S FIRE brings to life the man behind the flames and the issues his fire illuminates. The film exposes tensions between faith and homosexualityò conformity and individualityòand shows the deadly consequences of religious intolerance.
(You can download the trailer for the film at Open Eye Pictures)

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Christ Held by Half-Naked Men (1940-41), Marsden Hartley

In Uncategorized on January 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm

A Catholic OBLIGATION to Discuss Women’s Ordination

In Uncategorized on January 3, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Blessed John Henry Newman said that there are three magisteria in the church: the bishops, the theologians and the people. On the issue of women’s ordination, two of the three voices have been silenced, which is why the third voice must now make itself heard. We must speak up in every forum available to us: in parish council meetings, faith-sharing groups, diocesan convocations and academic seminars. We should write letters to our bishops, to the editors of our local papers and television news channels.

The most egregious statement in the Nov. 19 press release announcing Roy Bourgeois’ “excommunication, dismissal and laicization” is the assertion that Bourgeois’ “disobedience” and “campaign against the teachings of the Catholic church” was “ignoring the sensitivities of the faithful.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Bourgeois, attuned by a lifetime of listening to the marginalized, has heard the voice of the faithful and he has responded to that voice.

Bourgeois brings this issue to the real heart of the matter. He has said that no one can say who God can and cannot call to the priesthood, and to say that anatomy is somehow a barrier to God’s ability to call one of God’s own children forward places absurd limits on God’s power. The majority of the faithful believe this.

In October 1995, the doctrinal congregation acted further, releasing a responsum ad propositum dubium concerning the nature of the teaching in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis: “This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.” The ban on women’s ordination belongs “to the deposit of the faith,” the responsum said.

In April 1976 the Pontifical Biblical Commission concluded unanimously: “It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate.” In further deliberation, the commission voted 12-5 in favor of the view that Scripture alone does not exclude the ordination of women, and 12-5 in favor of the view that the church could ordain women to the priesthood without going against Christ’s original intentions.

via Editorial: Ordination of women would correct an injustice | National Catholic Reporter.