Thursday, October 16, 2014

Catholic Church's new 'positive tone' an illusion

Over the last few days the Roman Catholic Church has been the recipient of much undeserved positive press over a new report issuing from a two week long meeting of bishops concerning pastoral care for families and the treatment of LGBTQ people. Headlines blared “Southern New England Catholics welcome [new] tone from Vatican” and the positive, more open and less judgmental heard in early excerpts of the document leaked to the press were credited to the influence of Pope Francis.

The volume on that welcoming tone has been significantly turned down in excerpts from the newly revised document, and really, is anyone surprised? The altered document has pulled away from inclusiveness and has found safety in the comfortable embrace of a church that continues to peddle sex as sin and orientation as perversity. How different is this new document? The word “welcoming” has literally been edited out.

The first clue that things weren’t going to go the way most Catholics would like them to was Bishop Tobin’s statement to Channel 10 News, linked above. Despite all the positive words about the new document coming from Catholics in Providence and Fall River, no officials from either Diocese would go on camera about the report. Bishop Tobin in particular seemed eager to splash cold water on the rising tide of inclusiveness:

“Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin said in a statement that it would be ‘premature to come to any conclusions’ about the report in regards to both content and tone.”

Tobin remembered what the media and many Catholics forgot: There is a powerful core of conservative intolerance within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Tobin knows this because he is a vocal representative of the conservative Catholic Church in America, even going so far as to partner with MassResistance, an anti-homosexuality hate group out of Massachusetts when battling against marriage equality here in Rhode Island.

Despite what many will tell you, the Catholic Church does change. Perhaps one day, far in the future, LGBTQ people will be welcomed into the Roman Catholic Church. In the meantime, the church will continue to exert its power and tear apart families over meaningless issues such as sexual orientation, birth control, women’s equality and divorce. As Cardinal Burke, another hard-line conservative Catholic who advocates shunning family members involved in homosexual relationships says, “What would it mean to grandchildren to have present at a family gathering a family member who is living [in] a disordered relationship with another?”

It would be better by far for a Catholic family to make a gay son or daughter as unwelcome as possible. Until this kind of bigotry is confronted and rooted out, there will be no “positive tone” in the Roman Catholic Church.

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