This letter from Father Edward Salmon, President of McQuaid Jesuit High School, in support of his decision to allow to gay students to attend the Junior Ball together, should be included in any dictionary definition of “Jesuitical”. He name-checks his fellow Jesuit, Pope Francis, like he was a brother. By the time you get to the last paragraph, his cherry-picking of the words of Francis and the bishops will have you believing that the whole Catholics-hating-the-gays thing is just a big misunderstanding:
[…] In that same message, Always Our Children, the Bishops are clear –“Nothing in the Bible or in Catholic teaching can be used to justify prejudicial or discriminatory attitudes and behaviors.” The Bishops continue: “It is also important to recognize that neither a homosexual orientation, nor a heterosexual one, leads inevitably to sexual activity. One’s total personhood is not reducible to sexual orientation or behavior.” In that same message, the Bishops refer to a 1986 Letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which emphasizes that “Respect for the God-given dignity of all persons means the recognition of human rights and responsibilities. The teachings of the Church make it clear that the fundamental human rights of homosexual persons must be defended and that all of us must strive to eliminate any forms of injustice, oppression, or violence against them.” […]
With this decision I am not contradicting the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church with regard to human sexuality; I am not encouraging nor am I condoning homosexual activity just as I do not encourage or condone heterosexual activity at a dance. I am not contradicting the Church’s opposition to the redefinition of marriage. With this decision I invite and encourage us all, as Pope Francis does, to exercise care, protection, goodness which calls for a certain tenderness “which is not a virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness.”
McQuaid is a boys-only school in a Rochester suburb with a stellar reputation. Many non-Catholic families send their sons there (I know two, with two boys each, pretty well). It’s an expensive luxury in a town with good schools and high school taxes. New York, number 50 on the libertarian freedom list, passed a gay marriage statute a couple of years ago without a lot of fuss, and Rochester has the 13th largest per-capita LGBT population in the nation.
No matter what kind of a pretzel shape Fr. Salmon’s letter takes, it shows some guts, and it’s pretty insightful and tolerant considering that he’s pushing 75. He’s brave to risk the wrath of conservative bishops and other church members by writing this letter. But he’s also not stupid. Keeping those boys out of prom would have risked the fat stacks his school takes in from non-Catholics who want their kids well-educated, but who also don’t want to send their kids to a place with a 15th century attitude towards homosexuality. If only the rest of the church had a few more realists like Fr. Salmon in charge.
They will. The haters within the Church will be more and more marginalized until they’re all members of Opus Dei. It’s just going to happen.
That is but one step by one man on one journey. The whole Church has many journeys to take before I’ll darken the door again.
Ah. This meets my idea, formed who-knows-where, of Jesuit reasoning. Hair splitting, hooray! Just like you can make statistics prove anything, you can also make religious doctrine support anything.
I’m glad to see some signs of intelligence within the Church.
Pope Francis is my favorite Francis since the talking mule.
I love the shit storm he kicked off by washing women’s feet.
This is going to be more fun than watching the GOP in-fight. Unless they kill Francis the way they did John Paul I.
@sweaver: Yup. Well, unless the human race ceases to exist first. I give them between 400 and 500 years before they adjust to homosexuality, and given global warming I’m not sure that’s a bet I’d take.
Baby steps, and his parsing of the word “contradiction” is in the “what the meaning of is, is” territory, but I guess this is what progress looks like, even if it probably isn’t really about Francis and the jesuits, but more about the benjamins.
How many gay angels can vogue on the head of a pin?
I’m thoroughly enjoying Francis. He’s really giving the curia a right fit with is Jesuit Franciscan values. It’s not just the washing of the women’s feet but that he actually washed inmates/poor feet as opposed to just the feet of other bishops in a fancy church.
TPM had a great article about how he refuses to live in the papal apartments, hasn’t changed his cross and invites gardeners, sweepers and such to his masses.
I do have the concern that he might rock the boat enough for the covetous clergy to make them to a John Paul I to him.
wouldn’t call that pretzel making at all. He is rightly pointing out that doctrine discourages all premarital sex; not non-sexual associations (prom) between teenagers. He is taking a stand against cherry picking sins so that some holier than thou can look down their noses at ‘less thans’.
It’s a distinction that I wish more so called church leaders would get more often. That and civil rights are not a sum zero game. And one person’s activities and choices don’t force another to participate.
All I know is that when I try to wash and kiss the women’s feet in the office, I get in trouble for it.
Father Salmon’s position is also consistent with the views of the vast majority of the faithful.
Until you get past your erroneous view that the USCCB speaks for the faithful, your view of the Church is going to continue to be a caricature that reflects your general anti-religious bias much more closely than it reflects the reality of Catholic life.
Just Some Fuckhead
Salmon must be straight and therefore immune to any scrutiny.
@LanceThruster: Hey, it’s Rex Ryan everybody.
Washing a few poor peoples’ feet is really not enough to warrant all this Francis love here. The guy has an image and he’s gonna keep up that image. When there are women in the Curia, maybe even carrying the mitre, when there are married couples ministering to parishes, when birth control and women’s dignity and free will are lauded and not condemned, when the love between two people is honored no matter who they are, when the secret files of the worldwide molestation network that were kept by Benedict are public, when the vast wealth and excess of the Church and its hierarchy are converted into cash to help the poor, I might consider darkening the door of the Church again.
Nah, who am I kidding? I’ll never have to because none of this will ever happen, no matter how many poor peoples’ feet Francis washes or how modest the apartment he sleeps in may be.
I think it’s far more likely that Fr. Salmon doesn’t really believe homosexuality is a sin than that he’s motivated by money concerns. That letter doesn’t read like hair splitting to me as much as a reminder that the spiritual teachings of Catholicism are larger than “Grrr!!! Gays!!! Abortion!!!”
I understand why it looks like all Gays/Abortions from the outside, but I wonder if people realize that it is possible to regularly attend Mass and never hear those topics brought up?
@Fred Fnord: You probably think it’s a coincidence that one German slang word for gay is , don’t you?
THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE (carefully guarded by lizard people in Secret Service uniforms)!!1!
@burnspbesq: I’ve never espoused the view that the bishops speak for the faithful, just that it makes no sense to be associated with an institution with such corrupt and hateful leaders. I don’t understand why anyone, no matter what they believe, would want to be associated with an institution led by men who have covered up and condoned child rape, who treat homosexuals like sinners worthy of revulsion, and who are out to oppress women at every turn.
@Sophia: It’s that dichotomy that causes non-Catholics to seem disrespectful, per burnsy’s comment above.
Never? Does your church never read the letters from the USCCB telling you how to vote? Never heard a word about gays or abortion during a homily? Ever?
If that’s true, you’re in the minority. There were huge walkouts among Catholics here during the 2012 elections. My sister and her family participated in one because of the disgust they felt for the bishops’ meddling in politics. That group has now joined the local Episcopalian Church, despite my entreaties that they forget the whole religion thing.
No one here has ever said that the USCCB “speaks for the faithful.” What everyone has correctly said — and what you continue to ignore as you veer comically on these pages between palpable shame and immature raging defensiveness about your own religion — is that your church is a hierarchical one and the bishops speak for it. Your church is not a democracy. The fact that you and a bunch of other American “faithful” are doctrinally and dogmatically MIA doesn’t change the nature of your church, what it asks of you and what it definitively says will complicate your salvation if you don’t start begging for forgiveness for/knock off doing it.
@geg6: Eh, Episcopalians are safe. If you do your homework you can usually find a liberal church. You get all the fuss and ceremony without worrying about making kickoff.
@geg6: I’m sure there’s some Catholic church somewhere that isn’t all about gay abortions, but my Mom and her sister, regular church-goers both, complain about the constant focus on abortion. And, yeah, I don’t understand why they still go to church when the place is run by oppressors, and, really, neither do they, other than it’s a reflex ingrained since childhood.
Personally, it’s not the “meddle in politics” thing so much as the “selectively meddle in politics only when it suits your good rich Republican friends do.”
If the Church wants to promote political movements that reflect its values then so be it – religious figures have done that for various causes both good and bad throughout the country’s history. If they’re going to deny communion and threaten excommunication to politicians who disagree with them on abortion and gay marriage while refusing to lift a fucking finger against those who oppose you on health care reform, labor rights, the environment, the Iraq War, the Israel/Palestine conflict, well, I have a hard time not concluding that you’ve decided your political ideology trumps your moral teachings.
ETA: not sure how much of this applies to the entire Catholic Church, but it sure as hell applies to the USCCB, and I live in America.
As Rex said…it’s a personal matter.
Simply because there are many nice Catholics or that all Catholics do not agree with the positions taken by the church leadership does not absolve the church.
When people complain about “Catholics” and their position on abortion, gay rights, child rape and a few other things they are not condemning all Catholics even though it probably comes of that way.
Myself, I don’t understand why anyone would want to be associated with an organization with these stated beliefs or provide financial support given their behavior. But I understand some people get something out of the relationship outside the problems. Thats good for you. But please don’t expect to not be tarred with the brush when you voluntarily associate with them.
I’m sure there are people inside the GOP that disagree with a lot of their bullshit to but part of the cost of that association is going to be the assumption that you are OK with or you wouldn’t remain.
I left the church and became an atheist because the mumbo-jumbo no longer made sense to me (happened in my mid 20’s). Never looked back. Disassociating myself from their other nonsense just turned out to be an added bonus.
The Jesuits who taught me in high school prized thought and believed that challenging your faith made you a stronger believer. Good on Fr. Salmon for challenging conventional beliefs and choosing to celebrate people. I’m glad to see a priest believing his mission is ministering to every soul, and leaving the judgment part to the all-creating force– where it belongs.
@mistermix: I haven’t been to Mass in 25 years (except for family-mandated Christmas appearances), but prior to that, I never heard anything about homosexuality or abortion mentioned at Mass ever. And this wasn’t in a particularly liberal area, either.
A million years ago, my younger brother spent a semester at McQuaid before leaving due to, um, authority issues.
Because a bunch of my FB friends are teachers in and around Rochester, this letter has been circulating on my FB page for a couple of days now. It gave me a happy.
@LanceThruster: I larfed. I did. Try putting on a big hat first.
A Ghost To Most
I’m trying to absorb the fact that non-catholics would willingly put their kids within range of catholic priests.
@LanceThruster: I hope you have found suitable outlets to replace the service/community aspects that churches _should_ be nourishing.
A large part of church for me is that I see people outside of work,
and do not simply spend the morning reading the Sunday NYT.
It is my anti-Bowling Alone, among other things.
@catclub: While I do cut quite the dashing figure in a tall hat, my height (6′-3″) means I have to duck low going through doorways.
I guess that’s the price you pay to look…
Can’t let that one pass without a little plug for the Eastern Orthodox. Every bit the fuss and ceremony of the CC, but cool with abortion and divorce, priests allowed to marry, nobody molesting little boys….and we ain’t even got a Pope.
As I said elsewhere last night, this is the only thing that will change the Church. I believe the main reason they picked up the issue in the first place is that it stimulated massive tithing and donations from their dwindling numbers.
In the last electoral cycle, not only did they lose at the ballot, they struggled to raise money for the fight in the first place.
The Church will get good with gays because gays will still tithe to Big Religion. What I’m preparing for is now that we are done demonizing gays, another part of my identity, atheism, will be their next cultural battle ground.
So fun to be oh-fer in the things that the culture considers normal and good. Brown? Check. Female? Check. Gay? Check. Atheist? Check. The Church wages war against at least three of those. If they drop the gay thing, they’ll still fucking hate me.
ETA: And I don’t believe they will ever be anything but antagonistic towards atheists.
You get the same from an Episcopal church. Believe me, my sister, BIL and niece did try to find a parish that wasn’t batshit crazy, but couldn’t find one around here. The Episcopalians have the rituals and none of the bullshit.
As for me, I’m an atheist so I really don’t give a shit about any of them. They are all equally irrelevant, IMHO. However, they aren’t all equally evil. The RCC is evil, perhaps more evil than most. The Episcopalian Church? Not so much AFAICT.
Or a single female priest.
@eemom: “but cool with abortion and divorce”
I did not know that.
“nobody molesting little boys”
Nobody is a pretty strong word. More circumspect might be: ‘nobody caught’, yet.
Find out if their liability insurance bills have changed.
I would peg the real start of the “OMG, the gays and slutty wimmenz and their murderous addiction to killing
zygotesbaybeez!11!” was during the 2004 election. So you wouldn’t have run into it before you stopped attending. It’s a fairly recent phenomenon.
@A Ghost To Most: The odds of their teenaged boy getting an excellent education are far greater than the odds he’ll be sexually exploited by a priest.
Yes, in that respect the Episcopalians are really the most progressive but still have every bit of the ritual that Henry VIII would never have given up.
So you’re a gambler with your children’s lives?
Good to know.
I’ve long thought that John XXIII was offed. He was a reformer and not very old when he died.
That is an important aspect of community and I try to do good when I can, where I can, without any superstitious attachments. My actions, ethical or otherwise, are without the expectations of eternal rewards or punishments.
@geg6: You’re responding to something I didn’t say. I’m not plugging the Episcopalians — simply pointing out that the Orthodox church, like the RCC, considers women unworthy of ordination.
Depends how you define “most” evil, I suppose. American fundiegelicalism is ass-backwards enough in all particulars to make the Catholic Church look like a secular humanist convention (they still “don’t believe” in evolution or global warming and their views on economics and foreign policy are whatever the GOP says they should be).
But then, while the Catholic Church may be more advanced than them on everything other than abortion and gay marriage, it also doesn’t care about anything but abortion and gay marriage, so it’s a moot point. On the other hand, the Catholic Church has the global reach that allows them to do a hell of a lot more damage. (Although the fundiegelicals are trying to compete with them there too).
I would not be so certain of Fr. Salmon’s cynicism on this. In the 60’s, the Jesuits who taught at my high school publicly and bitterly opposed the ban on birth control, as a profound violation of human dignity that denied one of God’s gifts – the intimacy and pleasure of human sexuality – to couples who could ill afford large families. My high school was located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city, and was deeply involved in ministering to that community . Eventually,these men were silenced, but not without some delay – the Jesuits are unique in having their own governance system that is not subject to the authority of local bishops, but directly to the the Pope. This governance system protects Fr. Salmon as well.
I left the church as a teenager, but that does not stop me from recognizing the consistent moral compass of such men. I am cautiously optimistic about Francis, since he comes from that tradition. I am equally certain that whatever changes he undertakes to make will take some time, as they will be carefully (Jesuitically) reasoned to be absolutely watertight.
@geg6: It’s an interesting dynamic. The Episcopalian Church as an institution is pretty liberal. BUt, they are liberal to the extent that they allow each church to run itself in that you don’t find a lot of middle ground: either the church is pretty liberal and relaxed or full fledged fucktardistan.
Where I’m at, the “schism” hit especially hard as all the parishioners had forgotten that they don’t own church land. So, when they started stamping their feet, the church flat out told them they were welcome to stay, but this [blank] was the church’s position and they could either live with it or find a new home.
I’m atheist as well, but anytime I meet someone who is flirting with religion I reccommned the Episcopal Church and one in a non-affluent area.
What kind of water does Pope Frankie use when washing women’s feet? I see a great marketing opportunity here by simply changing the O to a U.
@geg6: No, I’m a person pointing out why a non-Catholic would send their kid to a Jesuit high school.
As for you, making moral judgments along the lines of “the Catholic Church is evil” does not actually require you to believe false things like “the Catholic priesthood has a disproportionate share of sexually exploitative men” or “you don’t have to worry about teachers abusing your kids as long as you don’t send them to Catholic school.”
@maya: I’ve always wondered WTF they were thinking when they named that.
Hmmm, I’ve never heard anyone express that particular belief. I hear a lot of people note the fact that the RCC has a disproportionate share of institutional coverup and enablement of sexually exploitative men. Is it your position that this is not so?
@cane giallo: Well, with that you will have all the folks who think JPI was killed 28 days into his papacy looking at you funny. Wikipedia seems to think John 23 had stomach cancer, and made various comments about his own mortality that reflected knowledge of same.
@shortstop: Oh bullshit. Every time someone makes a comment built around the idea that priests are a particular danger to children, you’ve heard someone implicitly express that belief.
I have no idea if the church has a disproportionate share of institutional coverup and enablement, but I certainly hope so because imagining that behavior spread across society is horrifying. Regardless of the proportionate share (relevant when determining if a priest presents a greater danger than any other adult male), the church’s handling of abuse has been contemptible.
I attended McQuaid back in the day, and recall a history teacher ranting about how homosexuality was going to lead to the end of our civilization (as it did for the Romans, or so he said). I also had teachers who would tell dirty jokes and try to impress us with their knowledge of porn stars (“Johnny Holmes also went by the name Johnny Wad”).
The former was a lay teacher, the latter were priests. That was generally the rule.
@shortstop: It”s what you get when the French try to combine volcano waters with a broader marketing appeal. Then there’s the Swedes classic attempt with a certain car.
Maybe. Most people I know note that Catholic priests are “a particular danger to children” because the sick ones are protected and given new child-raping opportunities by the separate institutional sickness that places its own status and authority over children’s safety. As you say, the church’s handling of abuse has been contemptible — and it continues to be. Whether you like to say so or not, that itself creates a heightened danger for children in close proximity to priests.
@maya: Volvo is Latin for “I roll.”
@Sophia: “I certainly hope so because imagining that behavior spread across society is horrifying.”
Get used to it. I went to training on limiting sexual abuse of children, and although the Catholic Church is best known for it, all churches are magnets for the people who do that, because churches are places where the default is to trust the motives of others who are there, and there are usually lots of kids there. Given the desperation to find Sunday school teachers, who will look too hard at someone who volunteers to do that.
True, no female priests; and true, I don’t know that there are zero child molesters. Dayum, you people are out-lawyering me.
I just meant that we’re way cooler than the Catholics, izall.
@Omnes Omnibus: What is the latin for “I troll”?
A Ghost To Most
You keep using this word “excellent”. I do not think it means what you think it means.
@catclub: Ted & Hellen.
That’s the way I’ve heard it. Other groups have similar percentage of abusers (teachers, Protestents, rabbis, etc.), but anywhere there’s a systematic protection of those committing these crimes, it becomes time to hold the organizations themselves accountable.
The abuse of unquestioned authority is quite common as well, and part of the methodology of finding victims in the first place.
Sure. And churches vary hugely in how they handle it when it happens — the full spectrum from immediately suspending suspects and turning the cases over to civil law enforcement all the way down to conspiring to hide rapes, refusing to allow outside investigations and placing the alleged perps in other situations in which they can abuse children. It’s the responses at the latter end that rightfully cause so much rage and distrust.
@Soonergrunt: I hear this – one letter does not change a whole lotta recent history. Nevertheless, where courage and committment to human ideals occur, it should be applauded.
Plus it gives me ammo to drive my g-d-bothering in-laws crazy.
veni, vidi, ridi
Ted & Hellen
It’s appalling that Catholics send their kids to Catholic schools.
It’s appalling times infinity that non-Catholics STILL send their kids to Catholic school, knowing what we all know about the institution.
I’m betting the propensity to do so is much more a matter of status and wealth-indication/social pressure than a pure desire for the best possible education.
Why don’t these doltish parents work to make their public schools awesome?
@A Ghost To Most: I understand that you were really excited to make a Princess Bride reference, but you need to wait for the person to use the word more than once before you have the proper set up. Just as a matter of form.
On the substance, I’d be fascinated to read your argument that Jesuit high schools are undeserving of their reputation for excellence in education. That reputation is consistently promoted across generations by, among others, people who hate the Catholic Church, hate the very concept of God, but still acknowledge that the Jesuits trained them well for intellectual pursuits.
It’s good that the Roman Catholics finally picked a Jesuit for their leader – Jesuits tend to be more educated and in touch with society a lot more than othen strands of Catholicism. Letting gays attend a prom is a minor sign of progress and paying more attention to the poor is also a good sign.
But this Pope, in Argentina, got into a major fight with the government over equal marital rights (with some truly horrendous quotes) and he was also (allegedly) involved in collaboration with the military junta during the disappearances era. He has a LONG way to go to be elevated in my eyes.
It is also good that his election has highlighted the differences between various religions. The Roman Catholics are hierarchical – with a bishopcracy that decides things for their Church. Reformed churches are democratic and the people make decisions by a one-person-one-vote system. In non-hierarchical churches, there is far less of a tendency to cover up criminal conduct by pastors; rather, they are mere employees that can and are easily booted. Moreover, they allow marriage by the pastors and many, like mine, allow openly gay and female pastors. This is a HUGE difference; not always realized by non-Christians.
When a favorite relative of mine elected to do his grad work at a Jesuit college about 5 years ago, I was really concerned. He was only “out” in the sense that he had never been “in” and I was afraid that he would find life too difficult. Oddly enough, they were extraordinarily accepting, more so than the state college at which he’d done his undergrad degree and he had a wonderful experience. When I expressed my wonderment that a Catholic institution was so accepting of diversity, he informed me that it is not a Catholic college; it is a Jesuit college – big difference.
A Ghost To Most
A pedant and an apologist.
Enjoy the willful ignorance.
Something I don’t see mentioned here is that the local Bishop — Matthew Clark (at least he was bishop until recently) has quietly been running a long-term program to try to reach out to the LGBT community, both to increase room to maneuver for those in the church and increase dialogue with those outside the church.
I’m touched by your concern for my salvation (or I would be if there were any reason to believe it was genuine).
I’ve examined my conscience.
I’m comfortable with where I am.
Shame you’re not.
@burnspbesq: Lawsy, that plodding, graceless little mind of yours never actually processes what it reads or hears. I don’t give a fuck about your salvation. I ain’t the one telling you you’re in deep eternal trouble — that would be your chosen church. “Examining your own conscience” — should you ever find enough self-awareness to actually pull that off — is not an option for your team when that conscience goes directly against what the church demands of you. Your boys’ rules, not mine.
Your rank embarrassment about your own religious organization combined with your inability to walk away from it have really put you in the worst of both worlds: you’re a pretty bad liberal and an even bigger failure as a Catholic. That didn’t work out quite the way you planned when you convinced yourself you could split the difference in a church that doesn’t allow halfsies, did it?
many people – catholic as well as non-catholic – send their kids to catholic grade schools. think nuns.
nuns are turning out to be pretty progressive, enough so that the bishops sent a watchdog to keep an eye on them.
@A Ghost To Most: I haven’t apologized for shit. And I assure you my continued presence in the church agitates the bad guys in leadership far more than your disdain from outside.
One of my sons went to McQ for a couple years. He (and we) are atheists.
He had a great time there, made some good friends, and had the best grades in the mandatory religion classes until they got to classes where “Well the Bible says X but really means Y”. That put him out of his mind :)