29 February 2012
Catholics vs. Homosexuals: this round to the Catholics
The news today is that a Maryland woman is urging her local Catholic diocese to sack one of its priests for denying her communion during her mother's funeral on the ground that the mourning daughter was a lesbian. The padre covered the communion chalice when she approached and rebuked her for "living with a woman." This is consistent with church doctrine, but so far the diocese has apologized to the bereaved woman while refusing comment on the priest's future status. As far as the priest's immediate superiors are concerned, he erred, if at all, by making a public show of denying the woman communion instead of consulting with her privately to warn her. If they want to apologize to the woman, fine. From my perspective Christianity in general owes a lot of apologies to homosexuals. But if the woman presses the issue to assert a right to receive communion, I can't go there with her. Whether anyone is eligible to eat a wafer is entirely up to the officers of the Roman Catholic Church to determine, as far as I know. Denying people communion or other sacraments has always been a means of disciplining Catholics, whether their assumed offenses justified the measures or not. While I object to Catholics or other worshipers inscribing their notions of "sin" upon secular law, I can't object to their including sin as an actionable offense in their own by-laws. To the extent that the Catholics are a private organization, it's their prerogative to regulate their membership. So far, the aggrieved woman hasn't (to my knowledge) discussed suing the offending priest or his diocese, and I hope she doesn't go there. The First Amendment makes it the opposite of the government's business to compel churches to accommodate heretics in churchly affairs. I also hope the diocese doesn't do more than slap the priest on the wrist for his rude choice of occasion for confronting this woman about her sexuality. Maybe that would wake people up to the fact that the Abrahamic tradition really has little to offer people of modern sexuality. If such people, homo or hetero, still long for the ritual and the sense of communion organized religion provides, it's about time someone worked up a fresh revelation so that "God" can clarify his position on sex for the modern world, abrogating whatever needs abrogating and affirming whoever needs affirming, and people can make a definitive choice of where and with whom to worship, if worship they must. On their own ground, Catholics should not have to bend over backwards (not to mention forward) to accommodate homosexuals, and homosexuals should not have to torment themselves with the constant drama of an inherently incompatible relationship -- unless some of them are into that, and if so, they only have themselves to blame.