Sunday, May 17, 2009

Article of Faith: Here we go again — Catholic bishops overstep their bounds

May 14, 2009

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WASHINGTON, May 14 — In light of important wins in various states where same-sex couples have won the right to marry, some Catholic bishops and Vatican officials are mounting a public campaign to try to influence government officials to act against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality. What follows is an Article of Faith addressing the need for Catholics to follow their own values of love, justice, equality and mutuality when dealing with issues of marriage equality.

Article of Faith by Mary E. Hunt, Ph.D.

Co-director, Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual
National Religious Leadership Roundtable Member

Persistent efforts on the part of Roman Catholic bishops and Vatican officials to stop marriage equality in the United States have a familiar feel to them. We have been down this road on abortion. It is not a pleasant journey but the destination is clear: justice will reign. It may take 50 states, Washington, D.C., the federal government and the Supreme Court to show the Roman Catholic hierarchy that its fears about marriage equality are unfounded and ultimately irrelevant. Read more

Response to Mary E. Hunt, Ph.D.

Dear Mary,

You give a strong witness of the strength of leadership that women would bring to the Church, if allowed. It is as refreshing as it is sound reasoning “it makes sense,” which is what Margaret A. Farley states that religion must do. It must make sense for people to be able to understand it. The Bishops of the USA could not protect our children for decades and in fact they covered up their criminal behavior. They have lost their credibility, however, they have maintained their attitude of arrogance indifference, which is their source of blindness. They are obediently following without question or thought orders from Benedict XVI, as I am sure you know. The money taken from the Catholics and Mormons still did not overwhelmingly win regarding California’s Proposition 8. There is something to be said for the strength of “truth,” as so beautifully convey by people like Itzhak Perlman, Father Geoff Farrow, you and many others. Marriage Equality takes nothing away from marriage, it affirms and values the foundation of marriage the love between two people. One very important aspect I found from my clinical practice is that “love” is the same whether between same sex, straight, or transgender partners. Everyone seems to experience the “can’t live with them, can’t live without them.”

I address on the “Thalamus Center” what some Christian opponents to marriage equality call the “slippery slope” by drawing attention to their irrational thoughts about human sexuality and the fact the more than 90% of people have some degree homosexual orientation. In 1997, I came out to my parish because the harm caused to children who grow up to be gay raised in social environments influenced by antigay social and religious norms. I focused on children by addressing publicly that 
“I do not understand why so many people are against homosexuals, I always wonder where are these people getting their information and facts from, since there is very little written about homosexuals. How can they be so self assured about what they are saying about homosexuals, (implied not said, one wonders if they are speaking from their own personal experience)?” 
This seems to get people’s attention and neutralize irrational statements about homosexuality. Most importantly it helps to stop the separation of the being gay from being straight and implicitly acknowledges the fact that the majority of people are a mixture of both being gay and straight. This left us with a clean slate to begin teaching and answering hundreds of questions about human sexuality. I addressed the forgotten group in our total picture of human sexuality, the 80% of people who have a mixture of heterosexual and homosexual sexual orientation. I am practically 100% gay, no hint of heterosexual orientation, except once several years after I came out and many hours in psychotherapy. I must say when I felt this heterosexual attraction I was quite shaken to say the least. Because for years I had hope that I would feel heterosexual attraction but never did. But I had two things most people do not have (1) access to information from a university and (2) my own therapy sessions with a gay psychiatrist. I could successfully integrate the experience and come out better for it. 

Exclusively gay people and transgender people have only one way to find sanity and that is to “come out” make the change and be true to who we are. For the 80% of people in between exclusively heterosexual and exclusively homosexual ends of the sexual orientation continuum has to be quite troubling not having anyone to help them and no one coming out. So often in the past they would be ridiculed if they said they were bisexual it was inferred that they were faking it that they are really gay. This was most unfortunate, because it likely forced many from coming out. It must be quite unsettling and disheartening not to be accepted for who you are because you are a mixed combination not totally one or the other, but alive.  We know today that there are many variations in sexual orientation particularly for the 80% in the middle. 

I found one thing that seemed to settled people down and appeared to be calming when I came out (1997) was that I publically said several times,  
“It was never a sin who we love but who we hurt. Stealing, killing, lying hurting people these are sins but loving someone has never been a sin.” 
I believe this was calming to the 80% of the forgotten people of the sexual orientation continuum. Actually, as I think about it now that is quite wonderful that we have the 80% of mixture of gays and straights, because they may be the very glue that keeps us together as people. But not if they are living lives of self-hatred for some part of who they are.

I believe the way we can help people in understanding Marriage Equality is to help educate people both about human sexuality and theology. Because as Fr. Farrow stated on October 5, 2008 that all LGBT people hear about human sexuality from the hierarchy and the Vatican is silence. I only added all the rest of the people not just LGBT that all anyone hears is silence and then what they do hear is not accurate. This is irresponsible leadership, especially when we know that human sexuality is integral to human attachment (Attachment Theory). We need to do what the Vatican is failing to do teach people not tell them what to think. As you know we need to hear the voices of women on every issue without it we are no where near to “truth.” What particularly struck me to be so true is the statement you made about “Catholics love their faith but have serious doubts about their church.” No matter where I go I hear this constantly. And this is what ends up connecting us to all Christians and everyone else. This is a good thing! Thank you for your  dedication to your work. I especially appreciated reading "Article of Faith: Here we go again — Catholic bishops overstep their bounds."

With all good wishes, 

Fr. Marty Kurylowicz

1 comment:

Mary E. Hunt said...

Thanks, I am glad this piece was useful to you. With all the problems in the world I would think that loving one another would qualify as the least of them!
Best wishes, Mary E. Hunt