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Equality - In Our Faiths - Spiritual Abuse by the Catholic Church

July 24, 2003

Spiritual Abuse by the Catholic Church
Sex-obsessed bishops of bigotry on the attack

"I was angrier with the Catholic Church than Joe was. Growing up in Europe, I had seen the church squares where they had burned their victims during the Inquisition. I knew that Pope Pius XII had cooperated with Hitler during the Second World War, ensuring that Catholic churches would keep their congregations in line. One of his predecessors, Pius IX, now up for sainthood, had declared the papal office infallible. From the throne of the Bishop of Rome flowed a litany of atrocities in the name of absolute truth: a millennium of killing Muslims, participation in the slave trade, the mass murders of Czech Protestants in the fifteenth century, and the persecution of Galileo and other so-called heretics, to name but a few of the more infamous ... Most recently, in 2001, [the Vatican] acknowledged that priests had sexually abused Catholic nuns, church workers, and others in more than twenty countries."
From Just Married: Gay Marriage and the Expansion of Human Rights, Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell (Doubleday/University of Wisconsin Press, 2002)


Following our victory in court and the federal government's decision to legislate same-sex marriage, Canadian Catholic Bishops renewed a call to their faithful, urging them to speak out against equality for gay and lesbian couples who seek their Canadian Charter right to marriage.

"The bishops of Ontario are opposed to this federal initiative," the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops announced in a June 25 statement that was read out in churches. "In the coming months we will be asking you to join us in defending marriage as it has existed for millennia. Marriage and the family are fundamental institutions which contribute to the common good in terms of the formation of children, loyalty, faithfulness and responsibility in our society."

Apparently, the sex-obsessed Catholic bishops do not wish gays and lesbians to partake in this common good.

"Intercourse with the possibility of fertility is impossible for two people of the same sex," Archbishop Gervais said in his June 25 statement. "This may be called other things, but it is not marriage."

In a contortion of logic, Bishop Jacques Berthelet (President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops) wrote to the Prime Minister (June 19) saying that, "Enlarging and thereby altering the definition of marriage in order to include same-sex partners discriminates against heterosexual marriage and the family, which are thus deprived of their social and legal recognition as the fundamental and irreplaceable basis of society."

All of this follows the Pope's "longest and strongest" (365 gay.com) statement against same-sex marriage that he made during an open air mass in Reijeka, Croatia on June 8. His entire sermon was devoted to attacking gay families.

We were both raised as Catholics and we both left the Church in our teens when we realized we were not welcome. Because of the hatred in the Catholic Church, we were spiritual orphans for a couple of decades until we found a welcoming faith community with the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto. It is painful, therefore, to find, that although we have left the Catholic Church, we are still being persecuted by the Bishops of bigotry. We thought they have enough to focus on in cleaning up their own sanctuary, what with continuous sexual scandal, dropping attendance, increasing irrelevance, marginalization of women, and difficulty in recruiting new priests.

It's easier, perhaps, to fire up the faithful and distract them from the ongoing problems of the Catholic Church by turning them against gays and lesbians. Better that, than be faced with congregations asking difficult questions about the ordination of women, celibacy in the priesthood, and the sexual abuse of their children by priests and the cover-up of that abuse by the church hierarchy.

Spiritual abuse

Instead, the bishops have turned to spiritual abuse, creating two classes of victims.

The Catholic Church abuses the spirituality of its faithful when they use their religion to turn their congregants against gays and lesbians. Parents are turned against their own children, and told a terrible lie in Catholic doctrine: gays and lesbians are "intrinsically evil". Catholic politicians are ordered to obey church command and base secular laws on church dogma, something many Liberal backbenchers in Canada seem willing to do. The Catholic faithful are indoctrinated with hateful statements about gays anCardinal Ratziner, head of the Vatican's Inquisition, excuses violance against gays:  "the Church nor society at large should not be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground and irrational and violent reactions increase."d lesbians. Their trust in Church leadership turns them away from true Christian love.

The second group of victims are people outside of the Catholic Church who are none-the-less impacted by the actions of the Catholic bishops. Gays and lesbians everywhere have felt that wrath of the Pope and his henchmen, whether through school bullying, political policies in action, or more tangible, physical violence. Believers or not, the Bishops attempt to impose their beliefs on all. While we respect the rights of the Catholic Bishops to express their beliefs, they must be stopped from imposing their homophobia on the rest of society, and Catholics, we hope, will work to achieve change from within.

How you can end the Bishops' abuse

If you are a Catholic who believes in conscience, you can begin by writing to politicians in support of equality, and writing to your Bishop, demanding an end of their campaign against homosexuals. If you do not receive a satisfactory response, escalate. Talk to other congregants, friends, and family. Write letters to the media denouncing the actions of the Bishops. And write letters to more Bishops!

Canadians are beginning to respond to the outrages committed by their Bishops. Yesterday we received a letter addressed to Bishop Plouffe, President of the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops.

David and Marianne Nichols asked their Bishop, "When will the homophobia stop? This [marriage] legislation is allowing churches to have the right to decide whether they will perform the ceremony. Why is the Catholic church trying to stop the legislation? The only reason can be that the church is discriminating against children of God, many of whom are members of the Body of Christ."

There's more you can do. When the collection plate is passed, don't give your usual tithes, offering, or special gifts. Put a note to your priest in the collection plate instead, making it clear that you love your Church but that you can no longer support the untruth and injustice that flows out of the anti-gay teaching and actions of the Bishops. Sign your note proudly, or not, according to your comfort. Then give the donation that you would have given to the Catholic Church to another gay-positive church or organization. It isn't enough to leave your church or just stop giving. That is a missed opportunity to do justice.


Related links:

Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons ( October 1986)

Catechism of the Catholic Church - Chastity and Homosexuality (No.2357)

Family, Marriage and "De Facto" Unions, Pontifical Council For the Family
Released November 21, 2000

Pope Orders Politicians To Discriminate According To "Divine Plan"
( Address of his Holiness Pope John Paul II,
November 4, 2000)

Letter from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops criticizing the Governor General of Canada for responding to our wedding invitation (January 16, 2001)

Questions That Must Be Faced - Archdiocese of Boston (Mar. 15, 2002)

Canadian Catholic Bishops

Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops

Assemblee des eveques du Quebec

"What We Wish We Had Known: Breaking the Silence, Moving Toward Understanding. A Resource for Individuals and Families", The Presbyterian Church, Mt. Kisco, New York, Third Edition.

Soulforce - We have borrowed text regarding witholding tithes from here.


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