November 12, 2009

Catholic Church Threatens To Stop D.C. Services For Needy If Gay Marriage Passes: The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn't change a proposed same-sex marriage law, a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care.


  1. Arrrrrgh! It is stories like these that make me so embarrassed to be Catholic. These organizations make me want to leave the church. Badly.

    "The city is saying in order to provide social services, you need to be secular. For us, that's really a problem." This is so far from accurate it's distressing! Susan Gibbs, you are idiotic! Are you in fact literate and even eligible for employ with the church (or anyone)?

    All it says is that you can't discriminate, which is already laid out in the Catechism.


  2. I've emailed both Catholic Charities and Susan Gibbs herself. If you're interested, here are their emails: Susan Gibbs; Catholic Charities

  3. The principles of The Church are very clear on marriage, the union of man and woman. That is not going to change, anything that goes against this principle is not acceptable. I completely understand you Matt, your frustration, but we as Catholics must understand that if we don't want to follow the laws of The Church then we anathema. The Church is not going to change, it hasn't in 2,000 years.
    Peace Brother, we are doing things within, we are bringing awareness to others that might feel left out and we are bringing hope for future generations so that they don't think they are alone in these and other conflicting teachings and the emotions that they give us.

  4. I think I read what the Archdiocese is saying relative to being required to provide benefits for same-sex couples in the employ of agencies accepting public funds differently. I don't read that the Archdiocese would stop providing services because they would "have" to provide services to people who are gay; rather it is because they would have to provide employee benefits - and thus "financial legitimization" - for people whose marriages they do not recognize. And further - they would be required to not discriminate in employment practices against people they nonetheless believe are willingly and unapologetically pursuing a sinful life.

    As an aside, in writing that last line, I realized just how much I disagree with The Church on that. And since this seems to be The Biggest Deal for the Church right now - well, that and women priests - perhaps it is time to rethink things...

    Be that as it may - in this case, the answer, I suppose, would be for the Archdiocese to understand that there are rules against employment discrimination that you have to accept along with public funding; and if you can't accept the rules, you shouldn't accept the funding.

    OK - really the answer, I suppose, would be for the Church to faithfully take another look at the fullness of God's creation and allow divinity rather than inertia to be its guide...

    I'm learning and (re)thinking a lot here - thanks for that.

  5. You both bring up good points :). And I think dukeegr93's read is probably correct--I think I've simplified the whole issue.

    Susan actually responded to my email. She said, in regards to this point: "It is, however, troubling, when a government tells religions at which points they may follow their faith (only in a ceremony and a religion class) and when they may not (all other situations), as this legislation does. For example, Catholic Charities must be certified by the District to provide social services and may be denied the right to help people-in partnership with the government which has turned to us for decades because it is unable to care for its residents on its own-or through our own, private direct care. Our shelter, nutrition, medical and other services are open to all people, but that will be at risk now because of requirements from the city in the areas of benefits, contracts and certification

    Further, the legislation violates federal protections for religion. The archdiocese is one of many groups, including the ACLU, that has called for a broader religious exemption. Do you think the ACLU advocates for discrimination?"

    I guess I don't totally know what I think. I think it's right to hold to your moral standards, even in the face of fire. It's just tough when I so vehemently disagree.

    I don't feel as though I should leave the Church, as many before me have done, but it has certainly been tempting to consider. I don't feel personally discriminated against in my faith community now, but back at home I've tolerated more than one sermon I wanted to walk out on.

    I'll just bring up one more point, and that's how we go about resolving the conflict of whether this is an abstract moral issue or a personal issue, being as that it's somewhat both. With regards to the example I'm speaking of, the priest probably had no idea there were LGBT parishioners present--he probably assumed he was speaking to a like-minded group. The issue wasn't one connected to anyone personal, which I think made it easier to speak as though the issue were black and white.

    In my experience, connecting issues of discrimination or oppression to a person--someone you can come to know and respect--has proven incredibly important in overcoming prejudice and stereotypes. And I think, with time, as coming out grows to be less and less stigmatic, personal experiences will become more common and the percentage of what I think to be "rightly-thinking people" will increase.

  6. To start - I should probably figure out how to change my Google profile to something slightly less impersonal than "DukeEgr93" though I think all my actual info is on there :)

    My problem is this - "The issue wasn't one connected to anyone personal, which I think made it easier to speak as though the issue were black and white." I kinda feel as if members of the priesthood - or really any of the different names given to the profession of leaders of faith - should speak from a place of understanding the very personal relationship with God - or whatever one in the congregation might call The Divine - those listening are looking to strengthen and take that into account while preaching. Not because faith is some kind of democracy, but rather because, as you say, such distancing of theological theory from its actual participants leads to "convenient" classifications of what is Right and what is Wrong.

    What I fear is happening is that such an unwillingness to engage with humanity is leading to an institutional championing of dogma versus Christianity - whether it be the use of measures for prevention of disease or the re-examination of women's roles in the church hierarchy or a faithful exploration of how the spectrum of gender and sexuality are a part of God's creation.

    Quick personal bias note: some of my earliest and most important inspirations were the Catholic teachers, priests, and nuns at my grade school. Conversely, some of the folks that have made me quarrel the most with the Catholic church were the priests and lay administrators who worked on my parents' divorce.

  7. As an aside - figured out the name thing...