Sep 23, 2010

Dying in Despair/The Pope and His Victims

 I've had to put Gay Mystic on hold for a while, due to personal pressures - among them the busy beginning of a new school year and a new drama production and work in progress on two writing projects. However, I continue to follow the 'news' from my favorite blogs, among them Queering the Church, On Bilgrimage, Enlightened Catholicism and Wild Reed.  I've pretty much ignored the Pope's recent visit to the UK, except for the updates and commentary, principally from Terrence Weldon, and William Lindsey. I was too disturbed by NCR's John Allen to pay him much mind. Benedict visited Prague last year about this time and once was enough for me. I was surprised to find myself so deeply moved by the sense of 'sacredness' surrounding the Petrine office (though I'm no believer in the jurisdictional authority of the Pope or the Vatican), while conflicted by the paradox of having such  a contradictory and divisive clerical bureaucrat as Joseph Ratzinger inhabiting the role. In a way, the limitations of the man and the distortions of the office in popular Catholic culture only highlighted for me the holiness of the symbol. Love the symbol, reject it's appropriation by the forces of reaction. Just today, at Queering the Church, Terry Weldon quoted from an eloquent 'cry of conscience'  directed at the Pope from openly gay priest Father Bernard Lynch, that I find to be among the most powerful of it's kind. Below are some selected passages which I found most moving. You can read the entire sermon and article here.


At the height of the Plague years your Holiness’s ‘Pastoral Care of Homosexual People’ document told us as LGBT people that we are ‘disordered in our nature’ and ‘evil in our love’ and the typical violence committed against us was ‘understandable if not acceptable.’ I was shocked and scandalised. I did not understand then and now how such teachings are consonant with the unconditional love of God given to us in Jesus Christ.

Many of the people in my care died in despair as a direct result of this document written by you. Its effect not only reverberated around the Catholic world but far beyond. Your teachings I know were and are used — both within the Catholic Church and outside of it — as a baton to attack every human and civil right sought after by LGBT people.

Justice demands that I speak out. ‘Silence equals death’ as my friend and fellow activist Larry Kramer said at the height of the AIDS pandemic. I speak not only for the living but most especially for those thousands of gay men who died in despair as a direct result of your Holiness’s words. 

As my Pope, I welcome you. I welcome you with hope that you ask forgiveness of those whom your words drove to despair. Most importantly I ask — I beg you in fact — to change immediately this totally dehumanising teaching. Thank you.

Sep 13, 2010


"How Beautiful in my way,

Cause God Makes no mistakes,

I’m on the right track, baby,

I was born this way."

Lady Gaga, upon receiving her award for Video of the Year Sunday evening at the MTV Video Awards Ceremony in Los Angeles, announced the title of her new record, I Was Born This Way,  and sang the first four verses. Gaga, a strong supporter of gay rights, also thanked her gay fans for playing her music and videos so many times and giving her such support. 

"How Beautiful in my way,

Cause God Makes no mistakes,

I’m on the right track, baby,

I was born this way."

These lyrics need to be tattooed onto the forehead of every ignorant Christian homophobe in American.

Sep 12, 2010


My students just sent me this (old news from last June, but it's all new to me) - horrible, frightening, wildly funny and terrible all at the same time. I've followed it with a clever parody which hangs a minute into it and takes you to the filmmakers' YouTube channel for the complete version.


Sep 10, 2010

Heeding the Call of the Spirit: Women Priests in Santa Barbara

Just received this inspiring news from my old home town of Santa Barbara, California, to which I contributed the comment below:

Roman Catholic Rebels

Santa Barbara Women Priests Defy Vatican Law

After working for the Roman Catholic Los Angeles Archdiocese for more than 20 years, Patricia Sandall’s call to the priesthood came gradually. She considered being ordained as a Protestant minister, but could not bring herself to convert to another religious tradition.

“I [am] Roman Catholic to the bone,” said Sandall. “I could not leave my church.”
But there alone was the problem. The Catholic Church levies its ultimate penalty, excommunication, on women who attempt to become priests.

Right here in Santa Barbara, many devout women —including Catholic nuns, teachers, and professors — have acted against what they believe is unjust sexism by becoming a part of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests (RCWP) movement.


Sandall’s calling was fulfilled on June 19 when she was ordained a priest at the Catholic Church of the Beatitudes. More than 200 enthusiastic people turned up to support her. Now as a priest, she will be serving on the pastoral staff at the Catholic Church of the Beatitudes while also being involved in RCWP administration.

Sandall became the second Santa Barbara woman to be ordained through RCWP and will be joined by a third on September 12 with the ordination of a former nun, Jeannette Love. Love has been part of a Renewal Team that was trained — as decreed by Vatican II — to work within the community to help sisters transition to a more open community life. Love and her team had asked for liberties reportedly granted to them in Vatican II, but their requests were denied by the Superior General from Rome and Provincial Council. They were told to abide or leave.

Gradually, each sister moved out on her own to continue to search out God’s will. After serving at the Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch (not under Rome), Love began to explore her call within the RCWP community.

“As I prepare for my ordination in September” said Love, “I feel that I stand in solidarity with many women who, down through the ages, were treated with injustice by the church and whose call to priesthood was never realized.”

Sister Arlene Ellis, a retired nun not affiliated with the RCWP who was active within the ministry of the official Roman Catholic Church for 46 years, supported the women’s quest, saying, “I believe that there are women who are called to priesthood, and some of these women are Roman Catholics. In order to be true to that call, they must find another avenue for them to fulfill the yearning.”

For both Sandall and Love, it took years of questioning, searching, and deep internal grief to face a call that could not be fulfilled within the institutional church. Because Rome is steadfast in its decision, it has lost the service of women teachers, professors, nuns, and spiritual directors who have dedicated a great deal of their lives to the institution. “Our call is to the church as the people of God rather than the call to the hierarchy,” said Suzanne Dunn, pastor of the Catholic Church of the Beatitudes.

While these women have not been officially excommunicated, they have been deeply moved by the excommunication of RCWP’s founders and the church’s definitive punishment of those who support, ordain, or become women priests. They do not fear the threat of excommunication, but instead reject the Roman church’s declarative penalty.

The women of RCWP have not only found the Catholic administration to be unjust in its consideration of women’s call to the priesthood, but they also strongly oppose the Church’s Canon Law 1024. The man-made law, which RCWP members hold to be discriminatory, states that, “only a baptized male validly receives sacred ordination.”

“We are challenging this unjust law and want the entire Roman Catholic Church to do the same,” said Sandall.

Despite the church’s current position, these women say they will continue to stand strong in order to give service to their call and to their faith. They remain firm with the conviction that Christ came to redeem every person because in his divinity he transcended gender for all of humanity. They say they still love the Catholic Church and love it enough to stand for the justice they believe it deserves. “We as women won’t go away,” said Sandall, “and neither will the spirit.”

The Catholic Church of the Beatitudes holds a weekly mass at 5:30 p.m. on Saturdays in the First Congregational Church, 2101 State Street. For additional info, visit

My comment (made in reference to a hostile commentator praying for the demise of "the dinosaur 60's generation":

Very inspiring news and reminds me of the comments of Hans Kung recently, paraphrased in the Progressive Catholic Voice:

"The (Roman Catholic) institution we know will die soon, to be replaced by communities following the gospel of Jesus, with informal liturgies and a sacramentality related to life in community...What he sees emerging is a spirituality related to the human condition and stages of life, to replace institutionalized rigidity."

What we are witnessing is the mystery of Resurrection, of death and rebirth. Blessings on these women for so courageously showing us the way forward. It is the rigid institutional structure of the church which is the dinosaur, but thanks to the winds of the Spirit, new life is brewing.