Action Alert!

Dueling monologues

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Sep 16, 2011

Beginning today, two Catholic universities are joining two non-denominational divinity schools for a series of talks entitled “More Than a Monologue: Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church.” The organizer of the first session, Christine Firer Hinze of Fordham, outlines her project:

For too long, the conversation on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues in the Catholic Church has hardly been a conversation at all. We hope to move beyond the usual back and forth of official church statements and gay Catholic activists’ responses by showing how the issue of sexual diversity affects all Catholics--active or former, gay or straight, female or male, of every culture, race and ethnicity. The time has come for us to learn to listen to all their voices and engage in a more enlightened, compassionate, and honest conversation.

Does that quick description give you the impression that gay-rights activists will be encouraged to be more enlightened, compassionate, and honest? No, the rhetorical traffic is likely to flow in the other direction. It’s the institutional Church that will be expected to change.

The next session of the series, to be held at the Union Theological Seminary in New York, gives the game away with its title: “Pro-Queer Life.” Then the conversation moves to Yale Divinity School, for a seminar on same-sex marriage, at which questions will be raised about why bishops have dared to oppose the campaign for “marriage equality.” Finally the series will wind up at Fairfield—like Fordham, a Catholic school—for a discussion of pastoral care for homosexuals. The roster of speakers at the last session spans the spectrum of Catholic thought from A to B: from those who think the Church should be more accepting of homosexuals, to those who think the Church should be much more accepting of homosexuals.

In describing the overall project, the organizers list several questions that they hope to address. For instance:

  • When the Catholic bishops speak, whom do they speak for?
  • How can the Catholic Church, the number one provider of private education in the US, work towards the best practices of LGBTQ student empowerment and inclusion in school?
  • Marriage equality is a civil issue, what does the Catholic Church have to do with it?

“For too long,” the promotional literature proclaims, “the conversation on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in the Roman Catholic Church has been only a monologue—the sole voice being heard is that of the institutional Catholic Church.” Rest assured that won’t be the case in this series. If the teachings of the “institutional Catholic Church” are introduced to this crowd, it will be for roughly the same reason that silhouette targets are brought to the rifle range.

Question: What’s more than a monologue?

Answer: Two monologues.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: annedanielson4099 - Sep. 20, 2011 2:11 AM ET USA

    See Commonweal for more information on this open heresy. Does the USCCB have the courage to respond? So far, the only sound is the sound of silence.

  • Posted by: spledant7672 - Sep. 19, 2011 11:50 AM ET USA

    Nice slanting of the question from the outset by characterizing authoritative Church teaching as in need of a remedy and that remedy as "dialogue." A good dialogue would be, "Living Church teaching can be extraordinarily difficult. Can we talk more about how to do that? Thanks." A good place to begin would be the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops document: Thanks to CC.O for keeping these things in clear focus.

  • Posted by: brownjudith2930 - Sep. 17, 2011 10:37 AM ET USA

    It is absolutely impossible for the organizers of this discussion to engage in dialogue. For Faithful Catholics "the sole voice being heard" (that of the institutional Church) is the voice of Christ. In moral matters (yes, homosexual activity is a moral matter) the voice of Christ, the founder of the institutional Church is our guidepost. These dialoguers reject the divinity of Christ. They therefor reject that the RC Church is not simply a human institution, but the Mystical Body of Christ.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 17, 2011 1:41 AM ET USA

    The most scandalous part about this mess is that the bishops who's dioceses the schools are in will likely do nothing. Any Catholic school that has taken it this far has fairly obviously gone too far off the cliff to save. They should spare further scandal and remove their Catholic title and sacraments.

  • Posted by: mdepietro - Sep. 16, 2011 11:28 PM ET USA

    Interesting that while this is going on, the main focus in the blogosphere among Catholics is the fact that Bishop Patrick Zurek is committed to destroying Fr. Pavone's group Priests for Life. Not only having recalled Fr. Pavone, he is asking that The Bishops ask the faithful to cease contributing as well, although the diocese notes Fr. Pavone has "done nothing wrong". So I get it.. Open heresy at Catholic colleges gets a yawn, while pro-life groups need "investigation"

  • Posted by: - Sep. 16, 2011 5:34 PM ET USA

    Please do simplify our live and refer to such as the Fordham and Fairfield schools as "in the Jesuit tradition", or shorter "jesuitical". It will save our having to read further.

  • Posted by: mgreen32234 - Sep. 16, 2011 4:32 PM ET USA

    With feet firmly planted on top of the wedding cake and before the wedding feast is over, Catholic gays are racing down the bridal path to queer marriage, queer family and queer the Church. And the means to do all that queering begins with a brilliant well funded project to "engage tradition". I predict there will be much gay partnering from the Fordham and Fairfield crowd with Columbia’s lead. It’s just so painful to watch…..