Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Quite Something

Last night I attended a listening session with [interim] Archbishop Hebda of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the purpose of which was to gather feedback from local Catholics to help inform Pope Francis' choice for our new archbishop.

Held at Pax Christi Catholic Community in Eden Prairie, last night's listening session (part of an ongoing series) drew well over 300 people. It was quite something to hear so many lay Catholics speak their minds on the strengths of our local church, the biggest challenges we face moving forward, and the most important attributes/characteristics we want to see in our next archbishop.

And, of course, it was quite something to know that we were being listened to!

As I wrote in last month's e-newsletter of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR): "This is exactly the kind of communication process we've been hoping and working for, and we are grateful to the Archbishop and his staff. These listening sessions are our opportunity to step up and let our voices be heard about the type of leadership we want to see in our local church! Please do all you can to attend one of the listening sessions and encourage family and friends to do likewise."

For more about the purpose and significance of the archdiocese's ongoing series of listening sessions, and for a list of remaining sessions, click here.

For an account of my September 3 meeting with Archbishop Hebda, click here.

Related Off-site Links:
Twin Cities Catholics Get Rare Chance to Make Archbishop Recommendations to Vatican – Jean Hopfensperger (Star Tribune via The Progressive Catholic Voice, October 5, 2015).
Twin Cities Catholics Weigh In on New Archbishop – Madeleine Baran (MPR News, October 6, 2015).
CCCR Representatives Meet with Archbishop HebdaThe Progressive Catholic Voice (September 22, 2015).
Our Next Archbishop: What Would You Ask a Candidate If You Knew Your Voice Would Be Heard?The Progressive Catholic Voice (July 30, 2015).
We Need a New Way of Choosing Bishops – Robert Mickens (National Catholic Reporter, June 22, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Here Comes Everybody!
Robert McClory's "Prophetic Work"
The Holarchical Church: Not a Pyramid But a Web of Relationships
The Call to be Dialogical Catholics
What It Means to Be Catholic
Rosemary Haughton and the "True Catholic Enterprise"

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Quote (and Reality Check) of the Day

Gestures that for other people would be considered basic to human decency have become, for Francis apologists, signs of the pope's revolution of mercy in the church toward LGBT Catholics and everyone else on the margins of faith. Yet, in spite of these gestures, very little has changed in the structures of Catholic teaching and practice to show any amount of mercy to LGBT Catholics. The Catholic Catechism still calls same-sex desire "disordered." The only church-endorsed national and international ministry towards LGBT people treats "same-sex attraction" as an unwanted sickness or addiction, akin to alcoholism. Archbishops such as Salvatore Cordileone and Charles Chaput continue to act out against LGBT equality without repercussions from the broader church. It still shocks the world and church when a German cardinal suggests that there may be something good in committed LGBT relationships. There were no LGBT allies invited to speak at the recent World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, and there is little hope that this month's Synod on the Family in Rome will be any better. LGBT people cannot get married in the Catholic Church, and the rhetoric of bishops leads many to believe that the church will not bless same-sex relationships anytime soon.

It's time for progressive Catholics to recognize that, in spite of the pope's gestures towards LGBT people, systematic sin and injustice runs much deeper that the pope's pastoral style. Why do we keep fooling ourselves into believing that one pope can fix the deep-rooted problem of homophobia in the church?

It's time for all Catholics to start listening to how LGBT people feel about their experience in the church. It's time to hear the cries of pain that come from those hurt by the church's long-standing and continued abuse. It's time we stop pretending that Pope Francis has fixed everything. He hasn't. He can't. The sooner we recognize how much work remains to be done addressing systematic sins of homophobia in the Catholic Church, the sooner we can begin the healing process.

– Jason Steidl
Excerpted from "Pope Francis and Kim Davis: Just Get Over It?"
HuffPost Religion
October 2, 2015

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote (and Reality Check) of the Day – September 1, 2015
Jim Smith on the "Tears of Love and Faith" of LGBTI People and Their Families
Quote of the Day – October 31, 2014
Quote of the Day – October 20, 2014
LGBT Catholics Respond to Synod 2014's Final Report
"Trajectory is More Important Than the Current Status"

Related Off-site Links:
The Catholic Church Has Hurt a Lot of LGBT People. It's Time to Stop – Sr. Simone Campbell (HuffPost Religion, October 6, 2015).
The Pope's Encore: Reforming the Church – Mary E. Hunt (The Baltimore Sun, October 2, 2015).
Creating a Liberating Church (Part 1) – Rosemary Radford Ruether (The Progressive Catholic Voice, July 15, 2010).
Creating a Liberating Church (Part 2) – Rosemary Radford Ruether (The Progressive Catholic Voice, July 19, 2010).
Creating a Liberating Church (Part 3) – Rosemary Radford Ruether (The Progressive Catholic Voice, July 28, 2010).

Monday, October 05, 2015

"Trajectory is More Important Than the Current Status"

. . . So says Frank Cocozzelli in response to an article I shared yesterday on Facebook. It was an article about how Pope Francis, at the opening of the Synod of the Family, had, "reminded everyone that the Catholic Church is against gay marriage."

As I mentioned on Facebook, it would have been more accurate to say that the pope reminded people that the Catholic hierarchy is against gay marriage. This hierarchy, of course, is not "the church." No, the church is much bigger that the Roman Catholic clerical caste. And in many parts of the world, Catholics very much support marriage equality for their gay loved ones. It's a support that is growing. Yes, the trajectory of the Catholic faithful is more important than the current entrenched status of the hierarchy.

And this trajectory is for greater recognition, acceptance and celebration of God's loving and transforming presence in the lives and relationships of LGBTI people. It's thus the trajectory of the sensus fidelium, the "sense of the faithful" – a sense that's already far ahead of the bishops, mired in their erroneous and dysfunctional understanding of both gender and sexuality and thus, as Jason Steidl reminds us, the "systematic sin and injustice" that is institutionalized homophobia.

Yet I believe that even the bishops will, in time, join us in the holy journey of ever-expanding consciousness and inclusion.

And I take heart in the words of Buffy Sainte-Marie, who in an interview earlier this year, shared the following insight:

Everybody's always waking up. . . . We're all ripening every minute, all of us – even the guys that we think are the "bad guys." They too are evolving. So for me the whole idea is being willing to mutate, in a good way, and recognizing in other people that each of us is evolving, ripening, growing in our own way. That is very good news.


And it's this same generous and hopeful insight that Buffy expresses in her song "We Are Circling."

We are spiraling, spiraling together;
Onward, inward, creature to creation.
Holy Mystery, Mother Earth – Child Birth;
This is Mother Nature, this is sacred.

. . . We are ripening, ripening together;
Babies, elders, bozos and angels.
This is how we grow,
this is how we get to know;
This is celebration, this is sacred.

Related Off-site Links:
Pope Opens Synod; Calls for Welcoming Church But No Gay Marriage – Philip Pullella (Reuters, October 4, 2015).
Pope Francis Opens Roman Catholic Synod Amid Gay RowBBC News (October 4, 2015).
Rainbow Catholic Network Launches as Pope Condemns Same-sex Marriage – Nick Duffy (Pink News, October 5, 2015).
Pope Francis’ Actions May Speak Louder Than His Words on LGBT Issues – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, October 4, 2015).
This Pope is Keeping Hope for Change Alive – Margery Eagan (Crux, September 16, 2015).
The Pope's Encore: Reforming the Church – Mary E. Hunt (The Baltimore Sun, October 2, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Remembering and Reclaiming a Wise, Spacious, and Holy Understanding of Homosexuality
The Onward Call
Good News on the Road to Emmaus
Celebrating Our Sanctifying Truth
Marriage: "Part of What is Best in Human Nature"
A Head and Heart Response to the Catholic Hierarchy's Opposition to Marriage Equality
Catholic Hierarchy Can Overcome Fear of LGBT People
Progressive Catholic Perspectives on the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 Marriage Equality Ruling
Singing Their Own Song in Ireland

Sunday, October 04, 2015

St. Francis of Assisi: A Gay Man's Man

Today is the feast day of St. Francis Assisi, and to mark the occasion I share an excerpt from Donald L. Boisvert's 2004 book, Sanctity and Male Desire: A Gay Reading of Saints.

Boisvert writes from the perspective of a gay scholar of religion. He believes that male sanctity has been a defining theme in the lives of many Catholic gay men of a certain age. Boisvert, himself, came of age at the time of Vatican II, a time when Catholic culture, he says, was "at once repressive and liberating." It was a Catholicism, he writes, "that bespoke homoerotic desire while also denying it vociferously."

By way of an example of this Catholicism, Boisvert shares the following:

Knowing full well that our emerging sexual yearnings for the bodies of other boys were totally unacceptable, I and other young Catholic boys were nonetheless encourage to adore and worship – and by extension, to desire – the bodies of the saints, to say nothing of the half-naked crucified God himself. We were repeatedly taught to be chaste, but were pushed simultaneously into the welcoming arms of those virile holy men to whom we prayed. The male saint thus became an erotic fixation, an ever-present site of potential sexual affirmation and release. This was the stark manifestation of a Catholic culture at once repressive and liberating, of a Catholicism that bespoke homoerotic desire while also denying it vociferously. It was the Catholicism into which I was born and which I, like so many others of my generation, either had to learn to live within, or to transcend. Some o my generation of gay men did stay, choosing to accommodate ourselves silently; others could not, and left in large numbers.

I'm not of Boisvert's generation, and so did not experience the hot-house level of repressed sexuality that he maintains was a big part of the Catholicism of his youth, i.e., the years prior to and of Vatican II. And as I've noted in a previous post, Boisvert's intense erotic fixation on the bodies of male saints (and on Jesus' body) is something I simply don't share. Still, I know and have known Catholic gay men of Boisvert's generation, and many of them have shared similar stories and perspectives to Boisvert's. Also, and this is what's most important, I appreciate Boisvert's overall message that human desire is capable of serving as a pathway to spiritual wholeness. From my perspective, this points to what's been called the sacramental principle (i.e., the theological notion that matter channels spirit while remaining matter; that all nature, in other words, is graced, is infused at its core with and by the sacred). It's a principle at the heart of all authentic religious experience and expression, including, of course, Catholic Christianity (despite the fact that elements within this particular religious expression have attempted to limit the understanding of "sacrament").

With all this in mind, here, then, is an excerpt of Boisvert's "gay reading" of St. Francis of Assisi.

I write about Francis and [other male saints] because I have desired their holy bodies, and because their stature as saints has by no means erased their homoerotic attractiveness. I write to lave a trace and a legacy of a queer Catholicism, a religious faith deeply colored by my (and others') same-sex passions. It does make a difference, and it does contribute to the further naming and appropriation of a gay worldview. If we claim the objects of religious devotion simultaneously as objects of erotic desire, then w can also make ours the salvation which they promise, and do so as proud gay men. It was on and through the bodies of these holy men that I and others first found ourselves, that we first tasted the sweet nectar of forbidden love. and it was their sanctified bodies that made our desire the hallowed gift that it became. The bodies of the saints were our training grounds, our first loves, our unlawful rites of passage. When I now write about the holy body of Saint Francis of Assisi – or any of the others, for that matter – I write my own life story and the unspoken, secret stories of all others like me: Catholic "pervert" trained in the sanctified and timeless "perversions" of an intensely homoerotic institution. I speak what cannot or should not be spoken, the better to uncover its truly liberating message.

. . . It is said that gay men are obsessed with the body. I claim this obsession as a grace. It is really a devotion written in the heavens, an earthly strategy for engagement with the divine force. Phallic worship for example, has nothing at all to do with the empty and meaningless sucking of male genitalia, and everything to do with an awareness of human desire as a path to spiritual wholeness. It is a discipline. Somehow, I suspect Saint Francis of Assisi would have understood, if perhaps not approved.

For if Francis was anything, he was earthy; not the gentle and angelic figure of the tacky holy cards, but bold and brawny in his spirituality and in his humanity. A man's man, in other words. Or more precisely, a gay man's man. Francis of Assisi, the seducer and the charmer. Francis, the ultimate outsider, the one who, like so many of us, rejected family because they could not understand, and he did not want to be weighed down with their bankrupt values. Francis the visionary, who ultimately stood alone with his Creator, and was pierced by his fiery and bloody wounds as a special sign of divine love and election. Saint Francis of Assisi, the boy wonder who became the saint wonder. Francis, my love, my craving, my compulsion, my sweet man.

– Donald L. Boisvert
Excerpted from Sanctity and Male Desire:
A Gay Reading of Saints
pp. 112-113 and 119-120

For more of Francis of Assisi at The Wild Reed, see:
St. Francis of Assisi: Dancer, Rebel, Archetype
Francis of Assisi: God's Gift to the Church
No Mere Abstraction
St. Francis of Assisi and Human Sexuality
Francis and Elias
Francis of Assisi: The Antithesis of Clericalism and Monarchism
Francis and the Wolf
Solar Brother

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Officially Homophobic, Intensely Homoerotic
The Inherent Sensuality of Roman Catholicism
Gay People and the Spiritual Life
In the Garden of Spirituality – Toby Johnson
The Catholic Thing

Recommended Off-site Link:
Francis of Assisi’s Queer Side Revealed – Kittredge Cherry (Jesus in Love Blog, October 4, 2015).

Saturday, October 03, 2015

"I Am a Happy and Proud Gay Priest"

And he does look happy, doesn't he?
He and his boyfriend.

I'm happy for them both.

The priest is Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa, who was fired yesterday from his mid-level position in the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith after coming out in newspaper interviews in Italy and Poland. In these interviews he said that he was happy and proud to be a gay priest, and that he was in love with a man whom he identified as his boyfriend. Charamsa's firing sadly confirms my previously expressed contention that truth-telling is the greatest of sins in a dysfunctional church, and must therefore be swiftly punished. Still, I remind myself that expulsion is often the cost of true discipleship. I also take heart from the fact that Charamsa's courageous stance is a hopeful sign that not all gay men in the Vatican are giving the rest of us a bad name.

Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director of New Ways Ministry, has issued a thoughtful statement on both Charamsa's coming out and his firing. Here's part of what he writes:

[Monsignor Charamsa's] revelation is an acknowledgement of the truth of the way God has made him, and, like millions of other LGBT Catholics, his self-acceptance and self-affirmation will help him better understand God’s love for him. For the Catholic Church, his news is another step in our growing process of coming to better terms with our LGBT brothers and sisters.

It is sadly disappointing that the Vatican fired him when they learned of his announcement. He now joins the long list of LGBT people and allies who have been fired from jobs in Catholic institutions because of LGBT issues. It is unfortunate that Church leaders did not see Charamsa’s announcement as an opportunity for further dialogue with someone they have known and trusted.

We hope that his news will help the bishops of the world gathering in Rome this weekend for three weeks of synod discussions which will include pastoral outreach to families with LGBT members. His witness to the holiness of the lives of LGBT people and the goodness of their relational lives could help these church leaders discern more appropriate and accepting forms of pastoral care. His testimony of struggle and overcoming fear should help these bishops see the challenges and joys that many LGBT people and their families face.

Of course, I've long concluded that there will never be "more appropriate and accepting forms of pastoral care" that are universal and lasting until the official teachings of the church on both gender and sexuality are changed – a process that can only begin with these same teachings being forthrightly challenged and named for what they are: erroneous and dysfunctional. In her recent op-ed, "The Pope's Encore: Reforming the Church," theologian Mary E. Hunt rightly considers the promulgation of such theological teachings as an example of an "anti-LGBTIQ effort" and thus "morally repugnant." Yet, as you'll read below, she also offers a "papal next step" toward the development of a "healthy, good, natural and holy" theology of sexuality.

It is time to end the gay charade in the Roman Catholic Church. The sea of men in every church and papal meeting during the U.S. visit underscored a homosocial power structure. It is an open secret that a high percentage of clergy and religious leaders are same-sex loving people, whether sexually active or not. For those same men to collude in anti-LGBTIQ efforts, including legislation and theology, is morally repugnant. A papal step next step would be to speak openly and frankly about the range of sex/gender options among Catholics and help people see the many healthy, good, natural and holy ways there are to love.

I'm happy that Monsignor Charamsa is modeling for the members of the hierarchical church this "next step." I just love the images of him and his partner Eduard. May the Spirit of clarity and love which inspired their relationship and compelled Charamsa to embody and speak his truth, similarly inspire and transform the hearts and minds of all within the clerical caste of the Roman Catholic Church. Let the transformation of this terribly dysfunction system and its impoverished sexual theology begin!

Related Off-site Links:
Vatican Sacks Gay Priest After Highly Public Coming Out – Philip Pullella (Reuters, October 3, 2015).
Vatican Fires Gay Priest on Eve of Synod – Nicole Winfield and Pietro DeCristofaro (Associated Press via Yahoo! News, October 3, 2015).
Gay Priest’s Revelation Is Big Step for Himself and the Church – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, October 3, 2015).

UPDATE: More Details Emerge About Gay Priest Dismissed from Vatican After Coming Out – Bob Shine (Bondings 2.0, October 5, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Truth-Telling: The Greatest of Sins in a Dysfunctional Church
When Expulsion is the Cost of Discipleship
Homosexuality and the Priesthood
Officially Homophobic, Intensely Homoerotic
A Fact That Should Be Neither Surprising Nor Derogatory
Let's Face It: The Catholic Church is a Gay Institution . . . and That's a Good Thing!
Vatican Stance on Gay Priests Signals Urgent Need for Renewal and Reform
Report: Homosexuality No Factor in Abusive Priests
Catholic Church Can Overcome Fear of Gay People
The Many Manifestations of God's Loving Embrace
What Is It That Ails You?
What the Vatican Can Learn from the X-Men
Trusting God’s Generous Invitation
Sons of the Church: The Witnessing of Gay Catholic Men - A Discussion Guide
Remembering and Reclaiming a Wise, Spacious, and Holy Understanding of Homosexuality
Remembering John McNeill

Autumn Beauty

For the past week or so we've been having some absolutely beautiful fall weather here in the Twin Cities. And I'm happy to say that it's supposed to last well into next week!

This time last Saturday my friend Matt and I spent the afternoon at Minnehaha Park. We followed Minnehaha Creek from Minnehaha Falls to the Mississippi River, and shared our passion for photography by capturing some wonderful shots of the autumnal beauty around us.

I share some of my photography from that beautiful day in my post today. Enjoy!

Above: Matt, with Minnehaha Falls in the background.

Above: The spot where Minnehaha Creek flows into the Mississippi River.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
O Sacred Season of Autumn
"Thou Hast Thy Music Too"
Autumn Hues
The Beauty of Autumn in Minnesota
Autumn Dance

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Quote (and Reality Check) of the Day

Above: Yayo Grassi (left), an openly gay man, and his partner, Iwan, greet Pope Francis with a warm hug at the Vatican Embassy in Wasington, D.C, on September 23, 2015. (Image: A screen-cap from a video of the meeting)

Let's be clear: the pope did not "meet" Kim Davis, any more than he "met" dozens of LGBT activists at the White House. They were in a large crowd on the White House lawn – but it was nevertheless a PR coup for our side. [Similarly, Kim Davis] was one in a long line of people, who got no personal message at all – but a PR coup for their side. Score tied.

On the other hand, it's now been confirmed that one of the private meetings that did take place, but was very properly kept private, was a face to face meeting requested by Pope Francis himself, with a gay man who has been in a committed same-sex relationship for 19 years. That was not spun for PR advantage, as the purpose of the meeting was entirely personal and pastoral. However, we now know that it did take place, at Francis' request, and that surely trumps all the PR spin from either side.

(via Facebook)

Related Off-site Links:
Pope Held Private Meeting with Same-Sex Couple in U.S. – Daniel Burke (CNN, October 2, 2015).
Before Kim Davis, the Pope Hung Out With a Gay Couple – Emma Green (The Atlantic, October 2, 2015).
News Flash: Pope Met Gay Friend While on American Tour – William D. Lindsel (Bilgrimage, October 2, 2015).
How the Outrage Over the Pope's Kim Davis Meeting May Have Paid Off in a Big Way – Michelangelo Signorile (HuffPost Gay Voices, October 2, 2015).
The Vatican's Internal Fight Over Kim Davis and the Pope – Emma Gree (The Atlantic, October 2, 2015).
Vatican: Pope Did Not Show Support for Kim Davis – Stephanie Kirchgaessner (NPR News, October 2, 2015).
The Real Story Behind the Pope's Meeting with Kim Davis – Amy Sullivan (Yahoo! News, October 2, 2015).
With Whom the Pope Meets...Questions from a Ewe (October 3, 2015).

UPDATES: Gay Former Student of Pope Francis' Speaks Out – Jessica Gresko (Associated Press via Yahoo! News, October 4, 2015).
Pope "Not Afraid to Have a Gay Friend," Says Former Student – Trudy Ring (The Advocate, October 5, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
DignityUSA Responds to News of Meeting Between Pope Francis and Kim Davis
Pope Francis in the U.S.

Another "Mackalicious" Moment

I've noted in a previous post that I appreciate and enjoy the comments of "Mack Malone" over at Terry Nelson's Abbey Roads blog. Mack's comments are informed, reasonable, often very entertaining, and firmly grounded in his lived experience as a gay Catholic man raising a family with the man he loves.

Today I share a comment by Mack in response to a post on Terry's site about the whole Kim Davis/Pope Francis debacle.

Mack's comment is directed to "Nan," who in a previous comment had said the following:

[T]he objective of those who want to redefine marriage is to define their sin away. The state cannot do that. We had been told for years that the state couldn't legislate morality, yet here it is, legislating morality, telling us that two men or two women are the same as a man and a woman. They're not, Mack, no matter how badly you want it to be so.

Here's Mack's response, one that comprises yet another "Mackalious" moment!

Nan, I really like you so I am not trying to be sharp with you on this, where ever did you get that idea? How on earth would anyone with an ounce of common sense think that? Do you understand that a lot of people in this great country of ours are atheists or belong to a denomination which accepts gay marriage or don't particularly think about religion or believe that Church "tradition" is influenced [and shaped] by the cultural preconceptions [of a given time], and don't believe it is a sin. So frankly, most people pushing for gay marriage don't really give a damn about that. It's the religious right who are so narcissistic that they believe the world revolves around them, and they are the ones who cannot grasp that they no longer influence law or culture by screaming 'sin.' We live in a secular society and the laws are secular. That doesn't stop anybody from practicing their faith but it does stop them from pushing their faith on others, which is what [Kim] Davis is doing with hers.

No, Nan, the objective of people who want gay marriage is, for the most part, the ability to participate and have the same legal benefits as everyone else to protect their loved ones and their families. There are people who want the recognition but that's from their family and friends, not Kim Davis or Mike Huckabee or Preacher John or from you or me. There is a percentage who admittedly want it for political purposes and a big f*ck you to the people who have been in charge for so long, but so what? That happens with every movement.

And, Nan, I do not want to tell you that two people of the same sex are the same as a man and woman. They are different. (Thank God, I have no desire to play and mimic the straight role model thing if there even is one.) But I do want the same legal protections and fair game as a man and a woman. Again, its about the law of the land, not the Church.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Some "Mackalious" Moments
DignityUSA Responds to News of Meeting Between Pope Francis and Kim Davis
Pope Francis in the U.S.

Related Off-site Links:
Vatican Refutes Kim Davis' Claims: Meeting With Pope Not "A Form of Support of Her Position" – David Badash (The New Civil Rights Movement, October 2, 2015).
Was Pope Francis Actually Swindled into Meeting Kim Davis? – Charles P. Pierce (Esquire, October 1, 2015).
Law Firm Leading Kim Davis' Crusade Labeled Hate Group – Claire Galofaro (Associated Press via Yahoo! News, October 4, 2015).

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Don't Go Back to Sleep

Today is the birthday of Sufi poet and mystic Jelaluddin Rumi (September 30, 1207 – December 17, 1273).

To mark the occasion I share the following poem by Rumi as interpreted by Coleman Barks.

The breeze at dawn
has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what
you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth
across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

– Rumi

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Sufi Way
Sufism: A Call to Awaken
Sufism: Way of Love, Tradition of Enlightenment, and Antidote to Fanaticism
Doris Lessing on the Sufi Way
Rumi and Shams: A Love of Another Kind
Ramesh Bjonnes on Rumi and Shams as Gay Lovers
In the Dance of Light, Eyes of Fiery Passion
Prayer of the Week – June 2, 2014
The Guesthouse
"Joined at the Heart": Robert Thompson on Christianity and Sufism

Related Off-site Links:
Rumi: Poet and Sufi Mystic Inspired by Same-Sex Love – Kittredge Cherry (Jesus in Live Blog, September 30, 2015).
Rumi: Another Male's Love Inspired Persia's Mystic Muse – Warren D. Adkins (Gay Today, January 5, 1998).

Image: "Ali" by JR Christiansen.

DignityUSA Responds to News of Meeting Between Pope Francis and Kim Davis

A statement released earlier today by DignityUSA is one of the most succinct responses yet to news of the secret September 25 meeting between Pope Francis and Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who briefly went to jail for refusing to issue civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples and thus attempting to force her religious beliefs onto others.

Following is DignityUSA's media release in its entirety.

DignityUSA, the leading organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Catholics, responded to the Vatican’s confirmation that Pope Francis had met with Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis with dismay.

“The news that Pope Francis met with Kim Davis while failing to respond to repeated requests for dialogue with LGBT Catholics and their families will be deeply disappointing to many Catholics, gay, trans, and straight alike,” said DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke. “It may be seen as putting the weight of the Vatican behind the U.S. Catholic bishops’ claims of victimization, and to support those who want to make it more difficult for same-sex couples to exercise their civil right to marriage. This encounter could, in many people’s minds, transform the Pope’s US trip from a largely successful pastoral visit to the endorsement of an exclusionary political agenda.

“I fear that this meeting and claims that the Pope told Ms. Davis to ‘stand strong’ will embolden the many US bishops and others who continue to try to turn back support for LGBT people. It will make even more of us feel like the Pope’s message of mercy and love was not meant for LGBT people and families. It points again to the deep divide between Catholics who affirm and support their LGBT family members and friends, and the hierarchy, which is tragically out of touch,” continued Duddy-Burke.

"It would be helpful for the Vatican to be more forthcoming about the circumstances that led to this meeting, and what the Pope hoped to convey in his discussions with Ms. Davis,” said Duddy-Burke.

In July 2015, DignityUSA, GLAAD and over 30 endorsing organizations sent a letter to Pope Francis, urging him to meet with LGBT Catholics and their families during his U.S. visit. The letter cited the “enormous pastoral crisis” with regard to LGBT people and the grave damage being done to LGBT youth as compelling reasons for this dialogue. The letter was followed by several petitions urging that such a meeting take place. No response was received from the Vatican.

“We still believe that for the Pope to hear the stories of LGBT Catholics and our families would be a key step in reversing the official Church teachings that damage so many people,” said Duddy-Burke. “In fact, his meeting with Ms. Davis makes this even more urgent. We have people in Rome right now, on the eve of the Synod of the Family reconvening, who would be happy to talk with the Pope if he’s willing to take a small step towards righting this injustice.

Related Off-site Links:
How Pope Francis Undermined the Goodwill of His Trip and Proved to Be a Coward – Michelangelo Signorile (HuffPost Gay Voices, September 30, 2015).
Kim Davis Recounts Secret Meeting With Pope FrancisABC News (September 30, 2015).
Pope Francis’ Meeting With Kim Davis Raises a Red Flag – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, September 30, 2015).
What We Don't Know About Francis' Kim Davis Meeting – Joshua J. McElwee (National Catholic Reporter, October 1, 2015).
The Pope and Kim Davis: Seven Points to Keep in Mind – James Martin, SJ (America, September 30, 2015).
Why the Pope's Meeting with Kim Davis is the Last Straw for Me: With Commentary on Father James Martin's "Points to Keep in Mind" About the Meeting – William D. Lindsey (Bilgrimage, October 1, 2015).
Pope Francis' Kim Davis Visit is the Dumbest Thing He's Ever Done – Charles P. Pierce (Esquire, September 30, 2015).
Responses to Pope's Meeting with Kim Davis from My Facebook Feed – William D. Lindsey (Bilgrimage, September 30, 2015).
LGBT Catholics Confused and Hurt by Pope's Visit with Kim Davis – Antonia Blumberg (HuffPost Religion, September 30, 2015).
Pope Francis's Meeting with Kim Davis Should Come as No Surprise – Trevor Martin (The Guardian, September 15, 2015).
Pope Francis Doesn’t Believe in LGBT Equality – Barbie Latza Nadeau (The Daily Beast, September 30, 2015).
Pope's Secret Meeting Reframes Historic Visit – Reuters (September 30, 2015).
Pope Francis, the Kentucky Clerk and Culture Wars Revisited – Laurie Goodstein and Jim Yardley (The New York Times, September 30, 2015).
Let's Really Talk About Religious Freedom, Pope Francis – Charles P. Pierce (Esquire, September 29, 2015).
Pope Francis' Deep Ties to Evangelicals – Jamie Manson (National Catholic Reporter, July 8, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Pope Francis in the U.S.
Quote (and Reality Check) of the Day – September 1, 2015
Quote (and Question) of the Day – January 22, 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

St. Michael: Archangel, Spiritual Warrior, Icon of Homoerotic Love


Notes Cassell's Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol and Spirit:

Saint Michael the Archangel, usually depicted with a sword and/or standing over a dragon he has conquered, is one of the archangels of Christianity. Michael is often thought of as a spiritual warrior who leads the hosts of heaven and protects the soul at the hour of death. Saint Michael the Archangel is fêted on September 29.

In the work of Spanish poet Federico García Lorca, Michael becomes an icon of homoerotic love. In "San Miguel (Granada)," Lorca depicts the archangel as a beautiful young man "fragrante de agua colonia" ("fragrant with cologne"). In the Yoruba-diasporic religion of Candomblé, Michael is associated with Logunedé [left], an androgynous deity.

For more of St. Michael the Archangel at The Wild Reed, see:
The Archangel Michael as Gay Icon
St. Michael the Archangel: Perspectives and Portraits
Michaelmas (2008)
The Inherent Sensuality of Roman Catholicism

Images: Artists unknown.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Photo of the Day

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
O Sacred Season of Autumn
Autumn Hues
The Beauty of Autumn in Minnesota
Autumn Dance

Image: Michael J. Bayly.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Quote of the Day

Really? This is the best that the church has for LGBT Catholics – the expectation that they be celibate? At this extraordinary meeting of Catholics from around the globe, why is [a] celibate gay man [Ron Belgau, pictured with his mother, Beverley, at right] the only representation of the church's LGBT members?

What a wasted opportunity.

How extraordinary it would've been to also hear married gay Catholics tell their stories and for sincere, honest and mutually respectful discussions to have proceeded from them.

What an eye-opener it would've been for straight Catholics who don't know any LGBT Catholics to actually speak with them, from the heart. To get – maybe for the first time - that LGBT Catholics are more than their sexual orientation just as straight Catholics are more than their own.

They, too, are husbands, wives and parents who pray and yearn for a better world for themselves and their families. Who try to discern God's will and handle life's hardships with grace. Who are flawed but trying, broken but worthy of full inclusion in the faith that sustains them.

. . . After Belgau's talk, attendees lined up at two microphones to ask questions, at least one of which broke my heart: A woman wondered how she should respond to a beloved niece, a lesbian who has announced her engagement. As a Catholic, the woman didn't know if she should attend the wedding.

[Belgau] advised the woman to respond with love and, maybe, consult with her priest. I'm sorry: If you have to ask a priest whether to attend the wedding of a niece you say you love, you don't deserve to be there.

– Ronnie Polaneczky
Excerpted from "Just Say No to Sex. Forever."
The Philadelphia Inquirer
September 25, 2015

Related Off-site Links:
Hundreds Shut Out of Sole Session on Gays at World Meeting of Families – Kimberly Winston (Religion News Service, September 25, 2015).
At World Meeting of Families, Homosexuality Dominates Talk – Peter Smith (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 25, 2015).
At Philly’s World Meeting of Families: Not Much Time Given to Homosexuality, But LGBT Catholics Keep Conversation Going – Bob Shine (Bondings 2.0, September 26, 2015).
Pope's Outreach to Gays Doesn't Change Traditional Catholic View of Family – Jerome Socolovsky (Voice of America, September 25, 2015).
Marginalized Faithful Strive for Inclusion in Church – Laura Benshoff (NewsWorks, September 25, 2015).
Uneasy LGBT Conversations at Family Meeting – Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans (National Catholic Reporter, September 25, 2015).
Papal Visit Prompts Calls for LGBT-inclusive Church – Michael K. Lavers (The Washington Blade, September 27, 2015).
Pope Francis Isn't As Progressive on LGBTQ Issues As You Think – German Lopez (Vox, September 23, 2015).
An Invitation to Pope Francis from D.C.’s Gay Catholic Community – Jeff Vomund (The Washington Post, September 20, 2015).
LGBT Catholics Say World Meeting is Missing an Opportunity – Julia Terruso (The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 17, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Jim Smith on the "Tears of Love and Faith" of LGBTI People and Their Families
Quote of the Day – August 19, 2015
The Many Manifestations of God's Loving Embrace
The Dreaded “Same-Sex Attracted” View of Catholicism
Be Not Afraid: You Can Be Happy and Gay
LGBT Catholics to Pope Francis: Let Us "Work Together Towards Creating a Church Where All Families Know That We Are Truly Loved and Welcomed"
Catholics Make Their Voices Heard on LGBTQ Issues
LGBT Catholics Celebrate Being "Wonderfully Made"
Remembering and Reclaiming a Wise, Spacious, and Holy Understanding of Homosexuality
300+ People Vigil at the Cathedral in Solidarity with LGBT Catholics
Celebrating Our Sanctifying Truth
Stop in the Name of Discriminatory Ideology!
The Real Meaning of Courage
The Many Forms of Courage (Part I)
The Many Forms of Courage (Part II)
The Many Forms of Courage (Part III)
Beyond Courage
Trusting God’s Generous Invitation
Sons of the Church: The Witnessing of Gay Catholic Men - A Discussion Guide
What the Vatican Can Learn from the X-Men

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Remembering John McNeill

John McNeill was the spiritual director to an entire generation of queer Catholics. He was a prophet, a pioneer, an activist, a scholar, a friend and a spouse. . . . He was a proud gay man.

I was saddened to hear last night of the death of John McNeill, a scholar and activist who, in his tireless proclamation of God's unconditional love for LBGT people, inspired and empowered countless lives. He was without doubt a prophet of his time, one who challenged the Roman Catholic hierarchy and cultural homophobia through his steadfast affirmation and celebration of the goodness of the human body, relationships and sexuality.

Following is a statement released by DignityUSA about the life and legacy of John McNeill.

DignityUSA mourns the passing of John J. McNeill, a seminal figure in the history of the 46-year-old organization of LGBT Catholics and allies, as well as the broader LGBT civil rights movement. McNeill died on the evening of September 22 at the age of 90 in hospice care in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in the presence of his devoted spouse and partner of 49 years, Charles Chiarelli.

A former Jesuit priest with a doctorate in philosophy from Louvain University in Belgium, McNeill helped inspire the founding of Dignity with articles in theological journals in the 1960s that for the first time challenged Catholic Church teaching on homosexuality from an authoritative theological and scholarly perspective. In 1972, he convened the meeting that led to the founding of Dignity’s New York City chapter. His groundbreaking, bestselling 1976 book, The Church and the Homosexual, was an international sensation that landed McNeill on the Today show and sparked widespread debate. Subsequent books, including Taking a Chance on God and Freedom, Glorious Freedom, extended McNeill’s discussion more deeply into the pastoral and personal realms of LGBT Catholic and Christian experience.

In 1987, McNeill was expelled from the Jesuits after nearly four decades for refusing to be silenced by the Vatican on LGBT issues. The same year, he was Grand Marshal of New York City’s LGBT Pride March. Until recent years, he pursued a multi-faceted vocation as a psychotherapist, spiritual director, retreat leader, and author, with a constant focus on the needs of the LGBT community. In addition, along with Fr. Mychal Judge, he founded The Upper Room AIDS Ministry, an outreach for homeless persons with AIDS in Harlem. Through these activities, he offered hope and healing — at times literally life-saving — to countless people around the globe.

Born and raised in Buffalo, McNeill entered the U.S. Army in 1942 and became a prisoner of war in Nazi Germany — an experience that for him was profoundly spiritual and led him to enter the Jesuits in 1948. Ordained in 1959, he taught philosophy and theology at Fordham University, Union Theological Seminary, and Le Moyne College, where he was a noted peace advocate during the Vietnam War.

A powerful presence at nearly every Dignity convention and in many Dignity communities until recent years, McNeill was presented with DignityUSA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. In 2011, he traveled to Rome, where, along with European LGBT leaders, he delivered a letter to then-Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican. The letter asked for dialogue and urged Church leadership to speak out against the violence, injustice, and discrimination experienced by LGBT people around the world. In 2012, McNeill was the subject of Taking a Chance on God, a documentary film produced and directed by Dignity member Brendan Fay that highlights his role as priest, gay man, activist, author, spouse, and pioneer of the international LGBT civil rights movement.

DignityUSA also shares the following compilation of testimonials.

John was really the first major prophet of the Catholic LGBT movement. Every DignityUSA president has consulted him for insights into the emerging issues of the Catholic LGBT community. His groundbreaking bravery in daring to question official Church doctrine was truly liberating to so many people. The Church and the Homosexual was really the ‘coming-out’ Bible for LGBT Catholics. And Freedom, Glorious Freedom was incredibly important in helping to shape an empowered Catholicism not just for LGBT people, but for all. We offer our deepest condolences to Charlie [pictured with John above right in 2012] and commend him for his faithful companionship and care-giving to John over so many years.

– Marianne Duddy-Burke
DignityUSA Executive Director

I first became aware of John McNeill at the 1985 DignityUSA Convention. He spoke to us about his book and challenged us by his mere presence to join him in asserting with sincerity and courage, that God loved us in our identity and our sexuality and that we could remain faithful and whole in the presence of our God. A prophet, perhaps ahead of his time, whose message liberated many of us; a man of courage who, following his conscience, spoke truth to power and showed us how to do the same. He will be missed on earth, welcomed with the saints in heaven, leaving with us the message that living rooted in the Gospel is the only way to be whole and holy. May God help us make his legacy a reality in our work and in our lives.

– Lourdes Rodriguez-Nogues
DignityUSA President

When [I was] asked to step up to leadership, I was not an easy sell. The state of the organization had been quite stressful during my previous five years on the board. I was between jobs and feeling quite stressed myself. The needs seemed too great and I felt too weak. John called me to talk. He told me he believed I had the gifts required at the moment. He countered my instinctive Catholic rush to take it all along with a reminder that it was not my job to "save" Dignity. John said, "Just bring your gifts to the table and trust the Spirit will provide the rest. She has seen us through many trials. If we are meant to survive we will. But that is to be determined by forces bigger than any of us." I immediately felt the perceived "burden" lift. He reframed it for me. I was able to say yes. John was right – the Spirit has provided for our needs in abundance. John got us past a major sticking point with the wisdom he has shared with me then – as he has in countless ways thru our journey to the Promised Land.

– Mark Matson
Former DignityUSA President

My recollections of John go back to 1973 in Hollywood. His contributions to the equality and justice of the LGBT community are legendary. We all owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude.

– Pat McArron
Former DignityUSA President

John McNeill was a giant in the LGBT Catholic movement. He taught us all to take risks and trust in the Holy Spirit. In one of his later gatherings, he believed the Holy Spirit was always at work. He looked forward to the day the church officials would recognize the gifts of LGBT people and women.

– Lewis Speaks-Tanner
Incoming DignityUSA President
and member of Dignity/New York

Meanwhile, at Bondings 2.0, the blog of New Ways Ministry, Sr. Jeannine Gramick and Francis DeBernardo share their thoughts on the life and legacy of John McNeill.

John McNeill was a dear friend and colleague. He was a true pioneer in whose footsteps so many of us followed. I learned so much from his research and writing, but I learned even more from personal interactions with him, by witnessing the passion and human concern he had for every LGBT person he encountered.

– Jeannine Gramick
Co-Founder, New Ways Ministry

John McNeill was a good friend of New Ways Ministry for many years. He had a rare mixture of both a great heart and a great mind. His “academic” theological work was informed not only by philosophical principles and logic, but by awareness of deep and real human needs. It is not an overstatement to say that any of the pastoral, political, theological, and practical advances that LGBT Catholics have made in recent years could only have been brought about because of John’s ground-breaking work.

– Francis DeBernardo
Executive Director, New Ways Ministry

In remembrance of John and his pioneering work, his family has established The John J. McNeill Legacy Fund to provide support for the preservation and dissemination of his writings, lectures and teachings. An immediate goal of this fund will be the digitization of his correspondence, audio/visual recordings and other archival works so that they will be available for scholarly research as well as to continue the work to which he devoted his life of inspiring and empowering the worldwide gay and lesbian community.

To learn more and/or make a donation, click here.

Related Off-site Links:
The Rev. John J. McNeill, Jesuit Priest Who Became Famed LGBT Activist, Dies at 90 – Steve Rothaus (Miami Herald, September 23, 2015).
"Patron Saint" of LGBT Catholics, John J. McNeill, 90, Dies – Thomas C. Fox (National Catholic Reporter, September 24, 2015).
Reflecting on the Life and Ministry of John McNeill, Gay Theology Pioneer – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, September 24, 2015).
RIP John McNeill: Pioneering Gay Priest and Patron Saint of LGBT Catholics – Kittredge Cherry (Jesus in Love Blog, September 24, 2015).
Father John McNeill, Gay Catholic Pioneer, Dead at 90 – Andy Humm (Gay City News, September 25, 2015).
John McNeill, Priest Who Pushed Catholic Church to Welcome Gays, Dies at 90 – Margalit Fox (The New York Times, September 25, 2015).
Rev. John McNeill Dies at 90; Gay Priest and Author Expelled by Jesuits – Elaine Woo (The Los Angeles Times, September 29, 2015).

UPDATE: The Spiritual Legacy of John J. McNeill – Mary E. Hunt (Beacon Broadside, October 5, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
John McNeill's Message to the US Bishops: "Enough!"
Gay People and the Spiritual Life
"Catholic Harvey Milk," Fr. Robert Carter, Dies at 82

Image: John McNeill pictured with (from left) Dan McCarthy, Bernard Lynch and Robert Carter at a gay pride march in the early 1980s.

Quote of the Day

Being "straight-acting," for a gay man at least, is directly related to how convincingly he is able to present traditionally masculine mannerisms. The term is so markedly offensive because its very existence insists that there is a particular, instantly identifiable manner of being gay (defined by effeminacy). And what's more, those qualities are seen as patently unattractive, undesirable and wildly dangerous.

Conversely, it then follows that there simultaneously exists a particular, instantly recognizable manner of being straight (defined by "masculinity"). And what's more, those qualities are seen as incredibly attractive, desirable and wholly advantageous – enough so that gay people would try to "act" in that way.

And there is a long history of straights attempting to straight-ify queer people (and of us trying to do it to ourselves). The performance of straightness is something that gay men have struggled with and against for as long as modern gay identities have existed. Because being gay has been so intimately connected with being effeminate, which was – and still is – equated with being submissive, weak and ineffectual. Gay men have been shamed (and attacked and murdered) for any display that does not reverberate with and reflect what our culture has determined is sufficiently masculine.

. . . It's time we stop using "straight-acting" as some kind of dreamy, aspirational bridge-building tactic or lure. There are all kinds of different ways to be gay and straight (and everything in between or outside of that binary). And while we're at it, how about we just stop trying to act like straight people all together and start acting like exactly who we are? And let's get some sissies up on the big screen. And let's get some more trans people in the spotlight. And let's remember that our community is not comprised of only gay white cis men. Let's tell our stories to each other and anyone else who will listen. . . . [And] we'll just keep telling our stories over and over again until we all know them by heart and they're so loud and powerful and yes, of course, awful and painful and tragic in parts, but finally so beautiful and true that when we're finally heard – and we will be heard – they'll know exactly who we are, what we have been through and why it matters.

– Noah Michelson
Excerpted from "'Straight-Acting' and Roland Emmerich's Stonewall"
The Huffington Post
September 24, 2015

Related Off-site Links:
Stonewall Might Be the Year’s Most Insulting Film, But Not for the Reasons You Think – Jeremy Kinser (Queerty, September 25, 2015).
Stonewall Uprising's Most Noted Historian Says Film "Is No Credit to the History It Purports to Portray"Queerty (September 25, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Fresh Take on Masculinity
Beyond Limiting Ideas of "Real" Gay Sex
The Trouble with the Male Dancer
Rockin' with Maxwell
Love as Exploring Vulnerability
Unique . . . Yes, You!
Quote of the Day – May 13, 2015
Quote of the Day – July 16, 2010
The Challenge to Become Ourselves
Mary Bednarowski on the Power of Our Stories
Jesus Was a Sissy

Image: Subject and photographer unknown.