Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

ministry enlightened

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Oct 20, 2006

NACDLGM (pronounced, I think, NAM-bla) is the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries. Its 2006 National Convention was held in Brooklyn last month. The keynote speaker took as his point of departure the leprosy code from Leviticus 13:

Remember this is not just the leprosy we now know as Hanson's disease; this is a purity prescription for any dermatological abnormality. To become ritually impure, to be "sick" in the Israel of old not only meant you were different, but that you were to be shunned socially. You became, to use some modern parlance, weird, different, strange, a stranger, somehow queer. These people were impure in the most fundamental sense of the word. They were disordered, some might say "oriented toward evil," perverted, an abomination before the Lord and the community. Does that language sound vaguely familiar? Some strange notions of purity are still very much alive in our own church.

What notions do you suppose he might have in mind?

The Old Testament never refers to lepers as weird, different, strange, queer, disordered, perverted, or abominations -- still less as "oriented toward evil." Yet it suits the speaker's purposes that the Israelites be made out to be malicious as well as biologically ignorant. So, he just warps the historical reality until -- presto! -- this fictive moral malice is transformed into something "familiar."

As it happens, our highly creative keynoter is the same man who urged us last March to "let this Lent be a Brokeback Lent." Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised.

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