The Catholic Church’s HR Issue

Paula Ruddy has an impressive pied on The Progressive Catholic Voice breaking down the tortured logic used by the Vatican to justify discriminating against women and homosexuals for consideration for positions in upper management.

The Progressive Catholic Voice: “Spiritual Paternity”: Why Homosexual Men Cannot be Ordained Catholic Priests

Is the choice of a sexual analogy to describe the relation of priest to church being used to limit the priesthood to those who fit the analogy? If we define the nature of priesthood to require certain biological qualifications, then, of course, everyone who does not fit the requirement is by definition excluded. Why are maleness, heterosexuality, and sexual abstinence inherent in the “nature” of priesthood?

The Cardinal’s theology of priesthood uses the Christ as bridegroom metaphor. It’s an analogy of sexual union between Christ and the Church, with the ordained priest standing in for Christ who begets spiritual life in the faithful. In this analogy, the Church, an abstraction, is female, so priests have to be heterosexual men. The analogy requires that these men be celibate because if priests are sexually active, it is spiritual incest: the “spiritual father” exploiting the trust of the baptized. Homosexual men, and, of course, women of any orientation throw the analogy into further absurdity. Should this analogy control the theology and practice of ordained priesthood?

The article includes some excellent comments from people affiliated with the church, including my ex-priest father:

I don’t recall anything about “spiritual paternity,” the Cardinal’s term, in pastoral class in seminary — in our final year or at any other time anywhere. But then that was a long time ago. The Cardinal’s piece strikes me as another attempt by the Vatican to denigrate gay men as physically, morally, spiritually, and psychologically unfit for Roman Catholic ministry. That we priests should be competent in guilt formation and guilt relief (now that I do recall) seemed to be the focus of seminary education.

– Ed Kohler, St. Paul, former Catholic priest,
retired realtor, married, father of two sons

Do you mean to tell me that God made a mistake when creating my children? How can you refer to my children as “irregulars” and “deviants.” You wouldn’t call someone born blind or without limbs a “deviant” person or an “irregular” person. Why the homosexual?

This made me wonder how I could remain associated with an organization that I have such a fundamental disagreement with. If what the Cardinal says is right, what does it say about our celibate gay priests today? If the church is going to follow its own logic, our gay priests ought to be removed from their ministries and the church should start a campaign to weed out of the priesthood, or at least out of active ministry, all of the gay priests, bishops and cardinals since they are so wounded that they certainly can’t carry out their priestly functions.

– Dan DeWan, North Branch, lawyer,
married, father of two gay sons

Sadly, the church seems to be stuck in an antiquated power structure based on a combination of guilt and discrimination. Why not drop the discrimination and just stick with the guilt? I know plenty of women who are as good or better than any celibate man at laying on the guilt.

It’s great to see people attempting to drag the church’s celibate men, who don’t yet have the maturity to think inclusively, kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

If you’ve read this far and want to know more about how to get involved, check out the next Dignity Twin Cities Liturgy on Jan 23 at 7:30pm at Prospect Park United Methodist Church (22 Orlin Ave. SE, Minneapolis).

Dignity Twin Cities meets every second and fourth Friday of the month at 7:30 p.m. at Prospect Park United Methodist Church. Dignity Twin Cities is one of 70+ Dignity chapters across the nation. Dignity encourages and helps LGBT people experience dignity through the integration of their spirituality and their sexuality. The organization envisions and works for a time when LGBT Catholics are affirmed as beloved persons of God and, as such, can participate fully in all aspects of life within both church and society.

I don’t think you have to worry about running into the Archbishop there.

Spreading the Wealth Around: A Roman Catholic Value

One of John McCain and Sarah Palin’s favorite criticisms of our next president, Barack Obama, is that he wants to “Spread the wealth around.” Here is a take on that criticism from my father, Ed Kohler, who for a significant time in his life, was a Father (Catholic Priest):

Dear Editor,

“You spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody,” Senator Obama is reported to have said to Joe the Plumber. (Times 10-16).

Some conclude that proves Obama is a socialist. I, however, find him a closet Roman Catholic. For this reason.

The underpinning of the Church’s social doctrine for over 100 years is an ancient principle that goes back to Aquinas (1224-1274) that calls for the equitable distribution of limited resources.

Wealth, a limited resource, is more than money. It is also education, health care, a job with a living wage, decent housing, means to live a dignified old age, all resources in short supply.

History shows that the wealthy too often serve their self-interest by opposition to even modest efforts to level the playing field. Only a strong central government has the power to overcome that opposition and move us toward a society where those with much have a little less and those with less have a little more.

Ed Kohler

Well said, Dad.

Praying for Lesson Plans

The Angry Professor has her doubts about the quality of education provided by a small Midwestern bible college to one of her prospective grad students:

In which I consider religion and graduate admissions.

The young man will be graduating from a small bible college in the Midwest. I did a quick search of the faculty in the college that will grant his degree: most of them are also alums of this same college. They proudly advertise how their students will earn a degree in [Social Science] that will also bring them closer to Christ. One professor talks on her website about how she frequently uses in-class prayer to help her decide what material to cover.

I don’t care which religious organizations my graduate students belong to, but I do care about the quality of their undergraduate education and their ability to transition to a research institution. This particular college does not seem to be preparing their students well, although I have yet to see this young man’s application materials.

It seems like prayer wouldn’t be particularly necessary when deciding what to cover in a class.

Why not just cover the material a student is expected to understand when the class is complete?

Katherine Kersten is Kinda Dumb

I know it’s not nice to call someone Dumb, but seriously, how else can one explain her writing in the Star Tribune. For example, today she goes after people who believe in God AND science:

Environmentalists have embarked on a secular crusade

“Wind turbines at Christian colleges, solar panels by church steeples and religiously inspired prairie restorations — all are fine things. Christianity and Judaism teach that human beings have an obligation to be good stewards of the natural world and its resources.

Sometimes, however, it seems something more is going on. We see it in the apparent eagerness of some “people of faith”‘ to embrace worst-case environmental scenarios. We hear it in their crusading zeal as they proselytize others, for example, to attend a screening of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” in the church basement.

Environmental issues are complex, and often involve data that are open to different interpretations. Yet in some religious circles, if you raise a skeptical question about, say, global warming (a highly debated subject), you are spurned as if you’ve committed heresy.”

I’m going to swap out a few words from the last two paragraphs to show how canned this crap she writes really is:

Sometimes, however, it seems something more is going on. We see it in the apparent eagerness of some “people of faith”‘ to embrace worst-case religious scenarios. We hear it in their crusading zeal as they proselytize others, for example, to attend a screening of Mel Gibson’s “Apocalypto” in the church basement.

Religious issues are complex, and often involve data that are open to different interpretations. Yet in some religious circles, if you raise a skeptical question about, say, creationism (a highly debated subject), you are spurned as if you’ve committed heresy.

Is the reasoning behind Kersten’s column is that environmentalism it’s too hard for an average human to understand environmental science, so we shouldn’t try to be experts at such complex concepts?

Yet we should ignore this same reasoning when it’s applied to religion?

What’s particularly strange about this column is the conclusion:

There are more sensible approaches to environmental problems than the environmental gospel. Without viewing human beings as inherently wicked, or environmental problems as a righteous clash between good and evil, citizens and leaders could tackle environmental issues as public policy challenges whose solution requires a careful weighing of scientific data and the costs and benefits of various responses.

That’s an amazingly refreshing paragraph found at the end of an otherwise ridiculous column. Imagine my surprise finding that there.

Welcome, Katherine, to the real world. Now, try applying the same “sensible approaches” to religious problems.

Religious Folks Becoming Greener

It’s great to see people coming together to solve a problem from a variety of different perspectives. If it takes a relationship with a God to make people treat the Earth with respect, that’s fine with me:

God is great, God is green

Across America, people of faith are taking the lead in the national conversation about global warming. To them, climate change is no joke, it’s a moral imperative. Jews, Roman Catholics, Protestants and evangelicals are sermonizing about threats to God’s green Earth, holding energy-reduction fairs and competitions, lobbying for lower carbon-dioxide emissions and broader use of wind power and biofuels, screwing energy-efficient bulbs into menorahs and installing solar panels next to the steeple.

“Global warming is harming God’s creation and God’s people,” said Kendra Brodin of the Plymouth Center for Progressive Christian Faith at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis. “It’s wreaking havoc on the land and on human beings who are losing homes, jobs, safety, even their lives in storms, floods, droughts and heat waves.”

Another example of this is the hunters. Hunters are starting to realize that they’ll have more animals to kill if they protect wetlands and national forests. And hunters don’t like being lied to by administrations who reclassify highway ditches as wetlands. What funny is how many hunters think environmentalists are whackos, but the term conservationists is an acceptable term.

“Belief” in Evolution? Not so much in the USA

I find the term “Belief in Evolution” rather strange considering evolution is science rather than faith based, but I suppose there are people who don’t believe in science – at least not when it conflict with their belief system. I suppose that makes it cafeteria-scientific belief or some odd thing.

RJ Eskow took at look at this over on the Huffington Post, and included the following chart showing the percentage of scientific believers by country:

Belief in Evolution by Country

You’re find a larger version of the graph with the post here.

Eskow poses the following comment and question:

“Our awareness of this scientific reality has actually gone down over the past 20 years, no doubt as a result of the so-called “intelligent design” movement and other Christian fundamentalist campaigns. In fact, frequent churchgoers in the US are most likely to doubt evolution. How will their children – and ours – become the great scientists, doctors, and engineers of tomorrow?

The answer is simple: they won’t. People who don’t believe in science will never be great scientists. It’s simply not possible. Just like people who believe they’re invincible tend to live short lives.