Catholic Church threatens to put D.C.’s poor and homeless out in the cold over gay marriage

Catholic Church leadership seems to be stepping up its role in actively oppressing women and queer people. First came the Vatican’s appeal to Anglicans who do not want women or openly gay people as priests. Then the United States Council of Catholic Bishops used their influence to build support for the Stupak amendment. Now the Catholic Archdiosese of Washington is threatening to abandon its social services work over a proposed same sex marriage law.

Under the bill, headed for a D.C. Council vote next month, religious organizations would not be required to perform or make space available for same-sex weddings. But they would have to obey city laws prohibiting discrimination against gay men and lesbians.
Fearful that they could be forced, among other things, to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples, church officials said they would have no choice but to abandon their contracts with the city.


D.C. social services are in bad shape
. The closing of a major homeless shelter and budget cuts have worsened the situation in a city already struggling to serve its poor and homeless residents. As someone who organizes for access to abortion I have obvious problems with gaps in the services provided by Catholic Charities. But that does not discount the vital work they do for the 68,000 D.C. residents who rely on Catholic Charities for shelters, health care, and food programs.
The Archdiosese is making a clear statement: it considers keeping rights from same sex couples more important than the needs of this city’s most vulnerable. Their willingness to use the lives and health of 68,000 people in need as pawns in their fight for the right to discriminate is unconscionable. D.C. needs more social services, not less. I hope the Archdiosese can put aside the politics of hate for a moment to recognize what I would think they would consider a moral obligation to do vital life saving work.

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78 Comments

  1. aleks
    Posted November 14, 2009 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    So women can be servants in the literal sense that doesn’t involve any sort of leadership, but for them to be priests, bishops, cardinals and popes would demean them.

  2. mltmlt
    Posted November 14, 2009 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    The priest is not a leader like a president.
    When Catholics say God is love, they mean that it is radical and complete self-giving. The Trinity is composed of The Creator, Redeemer and Holy Sanctifier pouring themselves out completely into one another. This Godhead while transcending gender in the spiritual sense, takes a male form on earth, offering his life as a sacrifice. The priest stands in for him as Father.
    Mary is completely unified with the Trinity. She – the woman is equal in dignity and by saying yes to God serves God and is also ahead of God…she is the Mother of God. A force of creation (but not merely in a physical sense) This places the relationship between man and woman as a yin and yang. Life/Death Consumption/Conservation in sync.
    They are both contained within each other. God becomes tiny and lives through her. Jesus fully obeys Mary. She also literally crushes the devil…”I will put enmities between you and the woman, and your seed and her seed: she will crush your head, and you shall lie in wait for her heel.” Genesis 3:15 She does this through exerting her power…not through becoming a sacrifice as the priest, and this is radical.

  3. aleks
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    If people are going to be promiscuous, as people (including Catholics and certainly Catholic priests) always have been, what is the Church’s idea of how to prevent them from spreading AIDS?
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the Church is as unqualified to lecture us about science as it is about morality. It was only 1992 when JP2 acknowledged that maybe his predecessors had been hasty in throwing Galileo in jail for saying that the earth wasn’t the center of the universe. Of course Cardinal Ratzinger thought the Church had nothing to apologize for, and now he’s Pope.

  4. aleks
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 12:09 am | Permalink

    The Pope is not a leader, he’s a servant. There’s nothing there a woman could even want, so why should women be allowed? After all, women can still be literal servants.

  5. Suzann
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 12:09 am | Permalink

    It is so good to hear some accurate theology – but unfortunately few here are in a mood to listen.
    Most people just think of religion as something out to spoil their fun, and of the Church not as a community of belief but as some business that is required to deliver the service they personally want when they personally want it – and the opinion of anyone other then themselves? Not important.
    As for self awareness of sin? See above comment about spoiling the fun.
    I once heard this spoken of as “God the Butler” – and the idea is sadly common.

  6. aleks
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    As for self awareness of sin?
    I’m very aware of my sins. I don’t claim to be God’s representative on earth – speaking of diminishing God!
    Do you know what would be truly a miracle? To see the Roman Catholic Church mature into some self awareness of its sins.

  7. TWP
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    The Catholic Church is not saying that they will discontinue services to the poor; they are saying they will no longer be able to accept the city’s money because of the strings attached to it. Catholic Charities in Washington D.C. will continue to operate, but with a smaller budget.
    The city’s money enables them to do more, and thus without it it, they will be able to do less, and services to the poor will be lessened. But in no way will they stop services.
    Ususally it is considered commendable to NOT accept money when it means sacrificing your core values. That is all the Catholic Church is doing here, and warning the city that it can’t go down this road.

  8. mltmlt
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure aleks.
    The Church says a lot of things about morality. Like saying that marriage is for life and that Divorce in the Church does not exist. It says canonically that if there is domestic abuse canonically the abusing partner is not provided a nullity of marriage until they get their act together. It says that people should be faithful to their spouses.
    But let’s face it aleks, people are selfish and about themselves and they want to move forward on their own terms. They get sick of their partners and want a little fun in the here and now. Never mind the fact that this creates an unstable environment for Children who have to struggle with a lot of crap through that so why doesn’t the Church have a Divorce policy? Why not a ‘what to do on the side’ policy? Why not have a how to deceive your spouse in the meantime policy?
    Probably because the Church is called to represent the Love of God not cater to everyone’s whims like the government. People SHOULD stay together people MUST aim to have committed relationships. There are plenty of agencies who are promoting what to do in there here and now…the Church’s vision has always been and will always be long-term and for building heaven on earth.

  9. mltmlt
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    LOL women as literal servants is Helen Alvare a servant? Is Caroline Kennedy a servant? Was Mary Ann Glendon.
    I’m sorry aleks…but you are the one who wants Catholic women to be undignified and deny the women theologians, ambassadors, and advisors acknowledgement of the dignity of their calling.

  10. mltmlt
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Suzann I’m not an American but I live in the west and people just don’t get the idea that Catholic theology depends on being completely and totally for the other.
    This selfishness is so pervasive, this anti-earth consumption…this idea that the exploitation and wholesale of the feminine = empowerment. This subjugation to surgery and overmedication… This intellectual laziness…people don’t understand that theology is a consistent system of thought and think that spouting bitter “Maherian” garbage makes them some expert about Catholicism. It’s embarrassing.
    As for claiming to be God’s representative…God was delighted to diminish himself when he said to Peter:
    “You are Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Yes…Jesus was so humble that he let us help him out…What a God…
    That’s just the kind of guy he was…and not only is the Pope God’s representative…but all people of goodwill are a part of the Mystical Body of Christ (Lumen Gentium 1964 & Mystici Corporis Christi, 1943 if you’re up for some reading…which I doubt) lol
    Good luck to you all…

  11. aleks
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    So no condoms, because if you’re not monogamous you and everyone you have sex with (including your wife) deserve to die? This from a Church that tolerated and abetted child molesting priests for decades?
    Exactly the kind of help Africa doesn’t need.

  12. aleks
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    You do realize the Church you’re holding up as unselfish and non-consuming didn’t spread throughout the world by making convincing arguments or charity work right? You sure do choose particularly hypocritical things to call the rest of us.

  13. aleks
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Pop quiz:
    1. What did Jesus Christ have to say about “services to the poor?”
    2. What did Jesus Christ have to say about screwing over gays?
    3. Which is the Church’s clear priority?
    If they’re willing that “services to the poor will be lessened” rather than abide by civil rights laws, then they never should have been getting taxpayer funding. To God what is God’s, and to Caesar what is Caesar’s amirite?

  14. mltmlt
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Ooooo.k. one slow step at a time.
    Personal sin vs. Dogma
    It’s the THEOLOGY I am referring to aleks. READ.

  15. aleks
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    LOL women as literal servants is Helen Alvare a servant? Is Caroline Kennedy a servant? Was Mary Ann Glendon.
    Those are your examples of women wielding power within the Church. Now do you see why I said you don’t need an opponent in order to lose?
    I’m sorry aleks…but you are the one who wants Catholic women to be undignified and deny the women theologians, ambassadors, and advisors acknowledgement of the dignity of their calling.
    Because I like “throwing women into volcanoes” or something, right? I want to accuse them of witchcraft or heresy or Judaism and burn them at the stake? I want to bring God’s love to them by sending rapacious and murderous armies to help them see the light?

  16. TWP
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    What Jesus said about the poor was directed to individual Christians, not the Church he founded on St. Peter. Don’t forget about the woman with the alibaster jar: His disciples protested that the expensive perfume could hve been sold, and the money given to the poor; yet Jesus said that what she did was right because the poor we would always have with us. And when Jesus dined with Mary and Martha, Martha justly complained that she was doing all of the work while Mary was just sitting at Jesus’ feet; Jesus said that Mary had chosen the better.
    The Church’s mission is to preach the Gospel to all nations, striving to bring salvation to all people. The Church should not, and cannot be reduced to providing social services.
    Jesus did speak of the destruction of Sodom. He could have spoken of acceptance of gays, but He did not. When He spoke of marriage, it was between a man and woman only; He even establiched it as a sacrament. The Catholic Church is not “screwing” gays over, she is giving a faithful witness to the Gospel.
    The Church’s clear priority is a faithful proclamation of the Gospel.
    The Catholic Church does not “will” that services be lessened. If it is a choice between betraying the Gospel, or lessening services – there is no choice.
    No doubt the city of Washington DC was giving money to Catholic Charities because it already had the infrastructure for helping the poor and needy in place already. As this structure would exist with or without the city’s money, it was a prudent decision to give it to Catholic Charities. However, if the city decides upon certain standards that must be met as a condition of accepting the money that are a denial of the Gospel, then Catholic Charities would have to part ways with the city.

  17. mltmlt
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Just want to add…
    The Church does not believe that being gay is evil. It basically does not define people based on sexual orientation, a position that some queer/gender theorists are slowly working towards. Hate, violence and/or unfair discrimination is strictly prohibited.
    What it does say, and I think this is fair, is that marriage is specifically for family. I was raised by a gay parent, and the Church’s theology on this issue is very reasonable. Since marriage in Church teaching is necessarily associated with family…and since the concept of creating children through science/fertility drugs, etc. is an offense to the child…who is not property but a gift freely given by God, that there will be much confusion in terms of family law, property law, etc. in the future if Gay marriage stands. This has nothing to do with whether gay parents are good caregivers…they certainly can be..but this is not the ideal as children gain great value by observing the daily life-long negotiation that happens between men and women in marriage.
    I also personally think the idea of Gay marriage is heterosexist…but that’s another story

  18. aleks
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    “Catholic theology depends on being completely and totally for the other.”
    Can you think of an institution in human history that’s acted less in accord with that summation of Catholic theology than the Church? Aside from the rape, pillage, slaughter and silence, the Church literally tried to sell Heaven for cash. This is an institution which feels no apparent shame for ignoring Hitler and the Holocaust, despite the heroic acts of resistance and rescue by individual Catholics who defied their Church’s cowardly disinterest. But when it came to John Kerry five years ago? Now that was a dangerous man the bishops needed to take a public stand against.

  19. TWP
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    I know of many instances where individual Catholics did the horrible things you mention, but I missed where the insitution ordered Catholics to rape, pillage, slaughter, and silence. The selling of indulgences was an abuse by individual churchmen, but was never ordered by the Church as an institution. As for Hitler and the Holocaust, documentation proves that Pope Pius XII remained silent because it would of resulted in the deaths of many more people; he did however, have the Church get as many Jews out of Germany as possible. From Wikipedia, under Pope Pius XII “From 1941 to 1944, Pope Pius and the Catholic Church were responsible for saving more Jews from Nazi persecution than any other person or institution”.
    Too many people easily believe the worst slanderous lies about the Catholic Church without vetting to see if what they are being told is true.

  20. Ryan
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    What’s insulting is this tendency to talk about people as though they were animals, who are simply beholden to instinct, rather than rational beings capable of making choices about what’s best for themselves and others. And it is a fact that prominent health specialists in Africa have expressed their support for the Pope’s statement, saying it resonates with their experiences on the ground.

  21. mltmlt
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    No Actually I don’t. Your impression of what power is would be very different from the Church, so I appeal to what you are about…but this is not what the Church considers powerful SAINTHOOD.
    St. Teresa of Avila
    St. Catherine of Siena
    St. Terese of Lisieux
    These are Doctors of the Church…these are people who exemplify the fullness of the faith to such a degree that their work has been passed on and studied through the years. To become a saint is the ultimate power in the Church because they work to build heaven on earth. They stand along St. Thomas Aquinas who has basically influences all law and political thought in the western world.
    St. Teresa of Avila’s mysticism is something that is far beyond any impermanent political pandering which will be forgotten in one generation.
    If you want to see what our Church is about…look to the saints. Ordinary people living ordinary lives…extraordinarily.

  22. mltmlt
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Well aleks, I’m not sure where in the Catechism or Church teaching you found that, but if you find a quote for me, I will be happy to cater to your continued hyperbolic sarcasm to your hearts delight.
    The strategy on the ground for many Catholic organizations is ABC. Abstain, Be Faithful and if not, then use Condoms. It is a sin to use condoms…but it is a graver sin to neglect one’s own life. The Church will remain clear that the goal is faithful marriages and abstinence.
    What is interesting is the Planned Parenthood has actively tried to act against the ABC program, which has a longer term focus than ABC. Abstinence and monogamy requires that women have much more agency than if they use condoms…

  23. mltmlt
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    People really do need to read Charity in Truth. If they understood the difference in philosophies between the Church and The Utilitarian Corporate ethics…feminists everywhere would be changing their opinions on this issue.
    It is so clear that this is nothing more than a race to the bottom for the “free market”.

  24. Rosie's girl
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    Actually, Liberation Theology has only just come into fashion in the last several decades, and has yet to find itself recognized by the mainstream church hierarchy. It’s roots and practice is mostly found in South American/African communities and in Feminist Theology works. See a pattern here? Liberation theology is important to the people living in poverty and oppression. It is not important to the head-honchos in Rome. Prioritizing the poor is still not nearly as important to the church as having political pull, an area where they spend millions of dollars lobbying every year.

  25. aleks
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    You can’t possibly expect me to read a defense of the Catholic Church beyond “I missed where the insitution ordered Catholics to rape, pillage, slaughter, and silence.”

  26. aleks
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    It was important to John XXIII. Recent Popes have considered it communistic and suppressed it.

  27. TWP
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    I can, because when you state that the Church as an institution has raped, pillaged, etc, you are first confusing individual members of the Church with the Church herself. Second, by saying that the Church, as an institution, did all of these things, you are implying that this is what the Church as an institution taught her members to do. I was pointing out that none of these actions can be founded upon Catholic teaching.

  28. mltmlt
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    Again.
    Personal Sin Vs. Dogma. She just doesn’t get it! The Church is not just ‘a state’, ‘an institution’ or ‘a school’. It’s a theological and spiritual concept/reality.
    aleks is too busy on he bash clash to think critically or READ THE THEOLOGY.

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