I have tried to give the Roman Catholic Church and its new Pope a chance; a chance to recover some of its humanity and compassion that has been missing for 26 years when it comes to not only the gay community of the world but the poor who cannot support more children than they already have, or those being exposed to HIV. So, I have been quiet since the election of the new Pope.
However, as I predicted, nothing has changed. Those few voices that spoke with so much optimism about the former Cardinal Ratzinger becoming more pastoral now that he was no longer the Vatican attack dog, which was his role for so many years, have grown silent. Not only has the new Pope not mellowed and become a Father to all, but he has in fact continued the shrill screech of hate, intolerance, and oppression.
Since becoming Pope, Ratzinger has renewed his battle with the gay community in Spain by telling officials that they “should be prepared to lose their jobs rather than cooperate with the law,” in anticipation of same-sex marriage becoming legal. This is a continuation of the Vatican policy of interfering with the internal government workings that started with the previous Pope telling American elected officials to stop and reverse all gay civil rights laws. It was naïve of those who thought that the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith would some how have a change of heart and do the right thing.
Another sign of rigidity is the firing of the Jesuit editor of the “Jesuit weekly America,” which harkens back to all of the previous firings of those who taught and wrote about a more open-minded sense of gays and the Church. In my own experience, I remember Rev. Charles Curran being fired from Catholic University of America by Archbishop James Hickey, where he was a professor of moral theology during the time I attended that institution. This censorship of academic thought will only worsen.
Now we learn that gay Roman Catholics are to be denied communion if they are wearing the rainbow sash at all parishes within the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Archbishop Harry Flynn issued this directive as a result of a meeting with Vatican officials in December. What’s next? When will a directive come down that all gays are to be denied communion regardless of what they are wearing? It is the logical next step in the war on gays and God. It is after all fully expected that the Vatican will issue a ban on gay Priests in the not to distant future.
As previously felt, these actions have a much broader impact on other aspects of the cultural war with the gay community. Disregarding the prior norms of keeping a low profile for Supreme Court Justices, Anton Scalia has issued some of the most horrid, biased, hateful statements of any Justice regarding the gay community. In what I find a mind-boggling statement, Scalia characterizes the Constitution as a dead document, utterly and totally without life. It is his belief that it is merely a legal document not subject to interpretation as it applies to modern understanding of life, as we know it now. He is an “originalist,” which means that he feels the meaning of the Constitution never changes. In religious terms, he would be called a fundamentalist.
This is a frightening position for a Justice who has made it no secret that he intends to be the next Chief Justice of the United States. His belief is no different than the Churches former position on whether or not the earth revolves around the Sun. As science advances the understanding of the universes in which we live, we must change our opinions and views to conform to this enlightened understanding. To not do so, is to wallow in ignorance and retard the advancement of all humankind and makes us no better than the animal world. So too is it necessary that as our knowledge of what is just and good expands, so must our interpretation of those things that govern our lives. For Scalia to say the Constitution is dead, is to say that life stands still in the 17th century.
This same problem is taking place with the Holy Scriptures. The Scriptures are a living breathing body of work that we must delve into to understand what was meant when it was written over 2000 years ago. There are those who believe that like Scalia, this body of work is a dead thing that never develops as our knowledge, wisdom, and faith evolve. For if we don’t allow our minds and our faith to evolve, than we should be owning slaves, keeping women tied to their husbands, and following the hundreds of laws found in the Jewish Holiness Code. Executions would be an almost daily thing; even more so than they already are in places like Texas. This view of the “Gospel of Love’ runs counter to the message of Jesus Christ who Christians profess they follow as their savior. The Son of God preached a totally different message than that being practiced by the Robertson’s, Fawell’s, Popes, and countless fundamentalist religions and preachers.
A perversion of the central core message of Christ has taken place. Fundamentalists have hi-jacked the faith and love given to us by Jesus and they have turned it into an ugly, hate-filled message that is being used to dominate people and impose their will on those who don’t agree with them. George Bush has bought into this fundamentalist approach to Christianity to the detriment of not only the people of the United States, but also the peoples of the world.
This hate has manifested itself in the United States through state constitutional amendments against their gay citizens; attempts to ban gay couples from adopting, from holding jobs securely, from public accommodations, and now to even donating sperm at sperm banks. This environment gives police officers around the country and in particular Atlanta, the feeling that they can openly disrespect gay citizens that they are sworn to protect and defend. This belief system has led to laws being passed in some states that allow doctors and health officials to refuse to treat a gay person in need of health care because of their personal beliefs. Is this what America is suppose to be about? Is this why countless gay service members have given their lives in war in order to protect the liberty given and enjoyed by all citizens of the United States? Did the gay servicemen who have won the Congressional Medal of Honor not fight to protect the rights and freedom of all Americans?
The United States Government no longer represents all the people. This administration represents only its own power base and no one else. They do not represent the poor, minorities, the middle class, and yes, not the gay community. These conservative fundamentalists who have stolen the religion of love have tried to make this country into their own image of ugliness – an image so drained of humanity that it festers like an open wound upon the soul of this great nation. The Constitution is a living document and it was meant to be so by those who fled Europe due to religious persecution. They fled to a land where they could be free to grow and become nourished by the soil of freedom – freedom to be who they were, to worship the way they wanted, without fear of persecution. The DeLays, Frists, Bushes, Cheneys and their multitudes of minions that work in the United States Government have perverted all of this. All of them have forsaken their oath of office that they all took upon entry into the positions that they occupy. They no longer “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Author of The Gay Face of God and If He’s Queer He Musta Done It, Archbishop Bruce J. Simpson, OSJB studied at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary and Catholic University of America and was ordained a priest in 1996 by the Reformed Catholic Church and consecrated bishop in 1999. He went on to serve as the Archbishop Protector of the Benedictine Order of St. John the Beloved, the oldest Old Catholic Benedictine order in the United States.