Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Get with the program ... um, what should we call Catholic bishops these days?

So the Ontario Legislature passed a bill that allows "Gay-Straight Alliances" in all schools that receive public funding.   That's both the non-sectarian schools and the Catholic (Roman or Eastern) schools.   The wording of "Bill 13" (not sure yet what numbering it will have in the 2012 statutes) indicates that while private schools just might be able to choose to skirt the "GSA" title for such anti-discrimination groups, the headmasters and headmistresses of those schools will have an obligation to investigate and discipline discrimination and sexual harrassment against LGBT students and faculty just as there is such a requirement in publicly funded schools.

Oddly, and not surprisingly, the Catholic bishops have raised a stink about this.    They suggest that having such groups would actually encourage "illicit" behaviour amongst people who ought to remain "celibate."   It might even make straight people gay.

Seriously?    I have mentioned this before, but §2358 of the Catholic Catechism is very clear on this point.   While the relevant portion of the charter does indeed call on gays and lesbians (as well as any unmarried person as discussed in the 23 sections article on chastity) to be celibate, it also says something else about discrimination that is very crucial about how we should treat those who are in the so-called "not that there's anything wrong with it" camp..    Here's the actual text, from the Holy See's website * word for word:

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
Wow.   Guess they skipped that one in seminary.   And I guess they also skipped the section (§ 2356) about rape -- all kinds of rape (including the -- yes -- abuse of minors):

Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act. Graver still is the rape of children committed by parents (incest) or those responsible for the education of the children entrusted to them.

Double wow.

The fact remains, there have always been LGBT students in Catholic schools as well as LGBT teachers.    There were when I went to high school -- I knew many who were openly so.  There always will be.   They mostly likely figured out they were gay or lesbian when they were very young but didn't yet know the words for it.   Like, between 5 and 10 years old.

If the bishops want to run the schools their way, then they have to call for the end of public funding of their schools.    As part of the publicly funded system, Catholic Boards must accept that they're subject to the province's Human Rights Code and other supporting legislation.   Bottom line, one can say that the behaviour is wrong, but it cannot compel that belief on students who probably wouldn't be persuaded in any case.

If the "seamless web of life" doctrine (which I personally do believe in) means anything, it includes among other things these two things:    One, if the disclosure is in confidence that I will protect that until he or she is ready to "come out" and I will support him or her going forward in every way possible; and two, standing up and expressing openly that discrimination is wrong, that I and other like minded people will not stand for our friends and colleagues being so bullied..   Period.

In other words if someone discloses to me -- either privately or openly -- that he or she is part of the LGBT community, that I should treat him or her no better or worse than anyone else.   What is wrong with that, for heaven's sake?

If I may borrow a catchphrase from right winger Bill O'Reilly, the bishops are, respectfully, pinheads.

Get with the program guys.   Most of the laity actually gets it.    Both parents and the younger people in their charge do also.   It's time you did as well.


* For the record, the Holy See (the Pope and his inner cabal) and Vatican City (also headed by the pope but in fact run by a Cardinal who is the de facto Governor of the compound) are not one and the same but in fact distinct personalities in international law.   Ambassadors are accredited to the See, not Vatican City (a custom going back many centuries); conversely, the "Apostolic Nuncios" (the church's ambassadors) represent the Holy See, not Vatican City.   The See runs the church, while Vatican City runs the administrative and civil aspects of the territory (and allows the See to represent its interests).   It may be splitting hairs, but it's also worth pointing out that for the most part the Vatican's domestic legislation is nearly identical to that of Italy's.   That presumably includes, at least on paper, a ban on sexual harrassment or abuse for whatever reason.   At least, one would hope so.

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