Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Rainbow Response

As many of you know, at their biannual meeting that begins in ten days time in Baltimore, the USCCB will discuss new guidelines for the pastoral care of "persons with a homosexual inclination." If that's a mouthful, it's OK -- you can just call them PWAHIS.

While the guidelines have been seen as a significant step in the church's outreach to its gay and lesbian crowd, for some they're not enough.

One of the more prominent groups in the realm of PWAHIS in the church has been the Chicago-based Rainbow Sash movement, who've gotten into the newspapers over the years for going up to communion wearing the eponymous sashes and either receiving the Eucharist or denying it. Either way, it becomes a story.

In a response, the sashers have announced that they'll be in Baltimore "to speak to truths of [their] lives" as the American hierarchy processes across Cathedral St from the Pratt Library to the Basilica of the Assumption for the November Meeting's opening liturgy on the evening of the 12th. Given its statement that "if the Bishops deny us Communion for being truthful it will only bring further shame on the Church," it seems the group's pushing for a confrontation.

Here's some of their response to the proposed guidelines:
The Bishops of the United States admit to being confused about exactly how they should minister to Gay Catholics. They wonder how they can provide for their spiritual needs on one hand, while working hard to prevent the same people from receiving the same benefits that the civil society offers to people who go to bed with persons of the opposite gender.

Our Catholic Bishops lament that no one has found a cause of homosexuality, but they have never sought the cause of heterosexuality either. For reasons known only to them, they have never considered that human sexual orientation should be natural, spontaneous and joyous, no matter how it is expressed.

Nor, it seems, have they ever considered that the relationships enjoyed by Gay men and Lesbians are relationships based on love, where sex is no more or less of a factor than it is in straight relationships.

The one thing that the Bishops are quite clear on, is that their Guidelines on Pastoral Care are, at least for now, the final word on how priests all over the nation are to treat Gay parishioners. It's worthy of note that no where in this document do they take time to "factor in" the limitlessness of God's love and the fact that it is eternally and universally offered.