Joe Murray, Executive Director of the Rainbow Sash Movement in the USA, has challenged Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York to a debate on gay marriage. Such a debate would no doubt be valuable, both useful in clarifying the issues and fascinating to hear – but I don’t expect it to take place.
As Murray says in his press release,
We realize that Archbishop Dolan is more comfortable taking cheap shots at the Gay and Lesbian Community from his ivory tower in New York, but is he willing to show daring and engage in a disciplined debate that is focused on scientific, and social reality, and based on Catholic Tradition.
He seeks to shield Catholic Bishops from transparency and accountability. In our opinion, many lay Catholics have been exploited financially as well as spiritually in their rush to deny GLBT people the right to marry, when this money should have been used to help the poor rather than to promote a political agenda of discrimination that is not rooted in Catholic Tradition.
We recognize that our Executive Director’s call for such a public debate will most certainly be met with arrogance, and even dismissal. However, such a refusal will only focus the spotlight on a Catholic Archbishop who lacks the courage to stand up for what he claims to believe in and meet in a public setting for a debate on Gay Marriage. It is time to replace the feeding frenzy of homophobia with a mature exchange of ideas in the Church.
Read the full press release at Lez Get Real
Unlike a certain Jesus Christ, whom the bishops claim to represent, it is not their style to discuss these things with Catholics – least of all, those most affected. Jesus’ teaching method was to discuss, ask questions, listen and respond. The bishops’ rhetorical style, as Mark Jordan describes in “The Silence of Sodom”, is not to argue their case, but simply to restate again and again their own, fixed beliefs. While they claim to be a “listening church”, and to develop teaching on the basis of combining “faith and reason”, in practice these principles are anathema to them, observed only in the breach.
The formal doctrine on “homosexual persons” pays lip service to honouring the findings of social and natural science – but completely ignores these findings. For the series of conferences at four US universities on “Sexual diversity and the Catholic Church”, which was intended quite deliberately not to challenge teaching but to fill in the gaps in pastoral practice. and to listen to the experiences of LGBT Catholics and their families, the voices of the hierarchy and their spokesmen were notable only for their absence. Church pronouncements on gay marriage have been made with no attempt to get input from gay or lesbian Catholics – just as, on a smaller and local scale, I and other gay Catholics were explicitly excluded from a London meeting of Catholics on the subject of gay marriage.
So, it is highly unlikely that Archbishop Dolan will agree to a debate with Mr Murray. Still, it is important that the invitation has been made.
- Gay Marriage: At London “Catholic Voices” Discussion, Gay Catholics NOT Welcome.
- Catholic Petition on DOMA, Gay Marriage.
- Gay Rights Groups Challenges Catholic Archbishop Dolan To Debate (lezgetreal.com)
- Catholic Bishops Push Fear In Scotland Over Marriage Equality (lezgetreal.com)
- More on Debates about Same-Sex Civil Unions in Britain: Mystifying Case of Dr. Oddie and Catholic Herald (bilgrimage.blogspot.com)