Joan Chittister, the Gay Theologian, and a Lesbian Poet: A Day in the Life of Catholic NYC

2018-09-26T00:17:41+00:00September 25th, 2018|Blog, The Church|

In the September 23, 2018 “Church Bulletin” from St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church (pictured above) in New York City, Pastor Daniel Corrou, S.J., addressed the recent “removal” of the former pastor Bob VerEecke due to an accusation of “boundary violations” with “an adult male who attended the parish.” The Parish is also home to an active LGBT ministry that marches in the annual New York City “Pride” Parade. In the same Bulletin in which Corrou discussed VerEecke, there are announcements for the “Catholic Lesbians” group at the parish who will discuss the work of lesbian poet Mary Oliver as well as an upcoming “conversation” with Jesuit James Martin on October 3, 2018. Martin previously spoke at the Parish in 2017 on the LGBT issue.

On September 30, 2018, Sister Joan Chittister will speak at The Oratory Church of St. Boniface in Brooklyn, New York. Chittister is a well-known dissident in the Catholic Church who has advocated for the ordination of women. In 2005, she spoke against a Vatican directive prohibiting the ordination of gay men. In 2015, along with journalist Maria Shriver, Chittister penned a letter to Pope Francis in which both women argued for the acceptance of birth control, gay marriage, and women priests in the Catholic Church. To substantiate their argument, they referred to a poll of American Catholics; concerning the poll, Shriver and Chittister wrote:

They insist one can be a good Catholic and use birth control (94%), be pro-choice (71%), get divorced (94%), have pre-marital sex (88%), or marry someone of the same sex (72%). Welcome to America! And while most of us agree with your call for a serious and more potent role for women in the Church, we Americans would do even more — a whopping 88% of us calling for women priests.

They added:

You’ve proclaimed an upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy. Might that mercy ever be extended to divorced Catholics who want to remarry in the Church and take Communion, without getting an annulment? Might that mercy ever be extended to gay couples who want to be married in the eyes of God? Might that mercy be extended to those who choose birth control over having another child they can’t afford? Might that mercy be extended to women who feel called to celebrate the Eucharist?

Meanwhile, in Manhattan, the LGBT ministry Out at St. Paul, located at St. Paul the Apostle Church, will host “a conversation with theologian Brian Flanagan on sin and sanctity in the Church.” St. Paul the Apostle Church is the motherhouse of the Paulist Fathers. In the past, Out at St. Paul sponsored and promoted a Mass at the site of the Stonewall Riots, “countertraditions” to Adam and Eve, and an outing to a local gay bar. In a video series entitled Owning Our Faith,” featuring various LGBT members from the Out at St. Paul ministry, a “gay” Catholic man said the following:

I think what’s interesting is that the Catholic Church probably thinks that it is accepting of gay people, because its message is ‘gay people exist and we should love them and not discriminate against them. But because the Church also tells gay people essentially that they need to be celibate, what the Church is saying is ‘you cannot live fully. You can be gay but you can’t live that life.’ And so that inherently is discriminatory.

In 2018, one of the Out at St. Paul members profiled in “Owning Our Faith” was admitted as a Paulist novice.

The topic of the discussion with Flanagan will be the clergy abuse crisis in the Church and “attempts by some to blame the crisis upon LGBT Catholics.” Flanagan is an Associate Professor of Theology/Religious Studies at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. In 2004, Flanagan was profiled on Fr. Dave Dwyer’s Busted Halo web-site; Dwyer is a Paulist priest in residence at St. Paul the Apostle. In the article for Busted Halo, Flanagan described “coming out” in an all-male Catholic high school:

Feeling isolated with the heavy secret he carried, he decided to share his sexual identity with a campus priest during a Lenten confession. “He tried very hard to make me understand that being gay wasn’t something to be confessed, that it wasn’t something wrong” Flanagan says.

According to the article:

It was the same high school priest Flanagan had originally come out to who eventually helped his parents understand their son’s sexual identity.

He continued, “from his experience, he believes that being gay is how God created him and ‘that must be a good thing.’”

Flanagan also said: “…there are no teachings on how to live one’s life as a gay Christian.”

In conclusion:

Flanagan prays that the future of Catholicism will be different and believes the Church is experiencing its own “coming out” process. Drawing from his own experience, Flanagan says, “People don’t come out on their own overnight. You spend years sort of figuring it out yourself and years of sort of getting comfortable with yourself. So the Church is in a coming out process of realizing that there are a bunch of gay and lesbian people who are already part of the family and trying to figure out where we fit into things.”

On October 27, 2018, at the Bishop Molloy Retreat House in Jamaica, New York, Professor Richard Gaillardetz will offer an “Inclusive Day of Learning…For Clergy, Lay Pastoral Ministers, Persons who are LGBT+ and their Families and Friends.” Gaillardetz is the Dean of Theology at Boston College and President of the Catholic Theological Society of America. In a 2013 Op-Ed for The National Catholic Reporter, Gaillardetz supported the inclusion of homosexuals into the Boy Scouts of America; he wanted the Catholic Church to do the same; he wrote:

If the Catholic Church is to make good on the claim that it is not anti-gay, then it will have to stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians with the same force with which it has stood up for the dignity of the unborn and the rights of immigrants.

Also in 2013, Gaillardetz participated in DignityUSA’s “Queer Catholic Faith” webinar. Following the 2015 Obergefell decision, Dignity released the following statement:

DignityUSA, the organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics, cheered today’s Supreme Court’s sweeping decision that strikes down state bans on same-sex marriage, and makes marriage equality the law of the land throughout the U.S.

Concerning his “gay” son, Gaillardetz described in an interview with DignityUSA the grief he experienced when he realized that his son could not marry in the Catholic Church:

…the grieving I was feeling over the fact that because of our Church’s teaching, Andrew [Gaillardetz’s son] would not, at least in the foreseeable future, be able to celebrate a formal Catholic wedding.

3 Comments

  1. Fran Macadam September 25, 2018 at 6:09 am

    “… what the Church is saying is ‘you cannot live fully. You can be gay but you can’t live that life.’ And so that inherently is discriminatory.”

    And so it must be, that as Christians we must be discriminating, able to affirm that one cannot follow Jesus and also celebrate sin.

  2. Brian Walsh September 25, 2018 at 6:43 pm

    …the grieving I was feeling over the fact that because of our Church’s teaching, Andrew [Gaillardetz’s son] would not, at least in the foreseeable future, be able to celebrate a formal Catholic wedding.

    And if one is simply going to grieve over Church teaching and demand that it change then why are you here in the first place? The Catholic Church is an all or nothing proposition: one does not get to cherry pick which teachings are to be believed and claim to be Catholic. Why doesn’t Mr. Gaillardetz and his family join one of the several protestant congregations that will affirm what they want affirmed?

    2 Timothy 4:1-5

    1] I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming, and his kingdom: [2] Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. [3] For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: [4] And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. [5] But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill thy ministry. Be sober.

  3. Greg September 27, 2018 at 6:14 am

    Joan Chittister is an fading antique of 1960’s vintage. All of these dissident nuns will be dust within 20 years.
    She is an old lady now, who will soon meet Jesus and will explain her life.
    There will be no cheerleaders there this time. No lesbian nuns who worship the goddess “Sophia” will be there to “affirm” her. No more “para-liturgies” that are meant to exclude males and to simulate the Holy Mass.

    Only Almighty God.

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