After Maine, where the Catholic church actually organized a second collection to raise money to prevent gay people from having civil rights, the situation shifts again. Using a tax-exempt church to raise money to defeat the civil rights of fellow citizens is not too shocking in the age of Benedict. It is shocking if one believes in a separation of politics and religion, and if one believes that the church of Jesus should stand in solidarity with the marginalized, rather than seeking to marginalize and demonize them still further.
It is time to acknowledge that the Catholic church hierarchy can no longer pretend that it isn't the active enemy of gay people and our families. That this church hierarchy - especially in its more conservative wing - is disproportionately gay itself and waging war against their fellow gays through the cowardly veil of the closet, is not new. But it is, as we flinch with the sting of defeat, harder to take than ever.
It is time to demand that gay priests who are actively fighting against the dignity of gay people own their enmeshment in injustice, stigmatization and cruelty. It is time to reveal them in this respect as the enemies of the Gospels, not the champions. Here is a letter many people - straight and gay - will soon be writing to their parish priests. It rings with the heart-ache that gay Catholics and gay people in many other faith traditions still feel. And it is, in a deep way, simply true:
Dear Father Andrew:
We have shared the celebration of Mass of universal inclusion for 18 years. Homeless, doctors, addicts, plumbers, prostitutes, trash collectors, gang members, elderly, boomers, young adults, teens, babies of all colors, races, genders gathered in common purpose -- to give thanks for blessings and rejoice in the goodness that can come from humanity. You provided a unique sanctuary for us all -- rich or poor, educated or not, gay or straight. No one had any fear; none were rejected.
It is with the deepest sorrow that I must write you that I no longer can join you at Mass. After 59 years, I am no longer a Catholic.
You will be distressed at my decision, but not surprised. We have spoken about this possibility for some time now. In fact, I suspect you would join me if you did not have such a valuable mission in this vibrant community. I will still volunteer for the children's programs, and remain involved in activism, but I can no longer participate in the one rite that binds me to the Catholic Church. I cannot swallow the bile another day. I cannot look up at the altar when you read the gospel, give a homily that is so beautiful, it makes me weep, raise the chalice we believe is to be shared by everyone. I cannot bear the thought of you being driven from your ministry when the bishop discovers you are gay.
Hatred fueled by the resources of hundreds of thousands of parishes will be the central reason why the Church will eventually wither and die. I can no longer bear the stench of the rotting body and hierarchical ignorance. I can no longer embrace what has become a menace and money machine to support evil. We are all tainted by what happened in Maine. We are all lesser citizens because our brothers and sisters are lesser citizens.
We remain joined in friendship and common cause, my dear friend. I will need your counsel in this dark time because I feel hatred bubbling in my thoughts. I do not want to be them. Bless you, dear Andrew.
With great affection,