Thursday, August 18, 2005

Ex Cathedra: The New Orleans Archdiocese, Project Lazarus, and the Metropolitan Community Church - A couple of days ago, the Times-Picayune reported that the Archdiocese was terminating its lease with the Metropolitan Community Church of New Orleans. According to the Archdiocese's spokesman, Fr. William Maestri [he's all over the place, isn't he?], here's the reason:

Archdiocesan spokesman the Rev. William Maestri confirmed that doctrinal differences with the Metropolitan Community Church triggered the eviction.

"This particular group blesses gay unions, which we do not support," Maestri said.

After learning of the Metropolitan Community Church's teachings, the archdiocese had to act, Maestri said. Continuing the lease might create the impression that the Catholic church is either indifferent or in support of the teachings of that church, "which we are not," Maestri said.
Now, the Archdiocese can do what it likes with its property as far as I am concerned. But there is something in Maestri's language that rubs me the wrong way. Doesn't anyone find it a bit disingenuous when Maestri claims that if the Archdiocese continued the lease it might create a wrong impression of the Church's stance regarding gay marriage or the blessing of gay unions? I think it is patently obvious where the Catholic Church stands on this issue; and I find it absurd to think that what the MCC (a non-Catholic Church) does on property it leases from the Church somehow would reflect Catholic Church support for or indifference to the practice of blessing gay unions.

The way that I see it, Maestri's rationale is simply a poor excuse for the Archdiocese's uncharitable intolerance of the happiness of gay couples in the context of their committed relationships.

[ASIDE: Archbishop Alfred Hughes used the exact same reason for his refusal to attend Loyola University's Law School Commencement ceremony because the Landrieu family, some members of which supposedly have supported pro-choice legislation, was being honored. As if, by attending a graduation ceremony, Hughes would be confusing the faithful about whether or not the Catholic Church supports abortion. I mean, really, if any Catholic really would have viewed the Archbishop's attendance at the Commencement ceremony in this way, shame on them. I rather think the faithful would have interpreted Hughes's attendance as the "love the sinner" part of the "love the sinner, hate the sin" mantra we so often hear.]

For any truly compassionate person, this rationale offered by Maestri [and the Archbishop] must come across as lame, if you ask me. It's got a not-so-pleasant smell about it, rather like a carton of milk about one or two days past its expiration date; and it makes the Catholic Church look very disingenuous, if not dishonest.

The Times-Picayune's columnist James Gill captures the unseemliness of the Catholic Church's rationale when he writes in his usual irreverent and acerbic way:
The Catholic Church's views on homosexuality are not exactly a secret. There would be no turning a blind eye if a priest were caught solemnizing a gay marriage. The church may have been morally ambivalent on the sexual molestation of children, but it has remained steadfast on the important issues.

But, in all seriousness, Gill's got a point; and the flimsiness of the rationale offered by Maestri in defense of the Church's actions only drives the point home further that the Catholic Church, in spite of its pretenses to love, forgiveness, and charity towards the sinner, really can be mean-spirited to good-hearted people.


oyster said...

I enjoy Gill immensely, and cringed at that same line you quoted: tough stuff!

YatPundit said...

Gill can be so scathing when he wants to be, that's for sure. On Maestri, you're on to something about this guy. Whether it's abortion, gays, the Landrieus, or even the Rummel stadium, everytime I see this guy on TV or read his words, I feel like I need a shower.

Schroeder said...

Gill never parses his words. It must take guts to keep someone like that on staff, and for that the T-P should be applauded. But neither does Maestri shy away from what he really wants to say. Wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall overhearing the conversation those two might exchange when Maestri's calls to complain. Maybe he wouldn't, but I'd have to believe that where the church is concerned, Maestri has to respond - maybe he will in a letter. Keep an eye out for the fireworks.

The other Huck said...

It seems to me that Rev Maestri in speaking for the Archdiocese was candid in citing the reason for the lease termination. The words Fr. Maestri choice of words that "rubbed" Huck Upchuck are not all that important are they? The lease was terminated because the church doesn't promote gay unions and their tenant does.

It would be my guess that the provisions of the lease allowed for this termination (I'm guessing it was legal and the provisions of the lease which I assume the lessee read and were informed of allowed for the termination of the lease because of this kind of occurence) I would think that the same considerations that many of us would give the average property owner should also be extended to the Archdiocese of N.O.

I know that if I had a billboard to lease and an add appeared on it for a Bourbon St. strip club (which I find morally offensive and objectionable) and that the provisions of my lease gave me the authority to terminate the lease that my actions would mirror that of the archdiocese. I'd terminate the lease. Woudln't you if it was something you found objectionable and incongruent with your beliefs?

I tend to think that the criticism leveled by Gill "in his usual irreverent and acerbic way" is based more on his his feelings about the catholic church (isn't it obvoius Gill agrees with the catholic church on most of the issues he is criticizing?) than it is on any objective or factual rationale.

Huck Upchuck as well as some of the other posters acknowledge that it is obvious where the church stands on these issues. Well, what would expect the church to do or say in light of the stance you acknowledged exists? The church has stood behind its beliefs and now it is being criticized for it. Seems to me like you would rather the church adopt your beliefs, shut up and stay out of the way of those who lease property from them and the rest of the world whose beliefs differ from the catholic church than to actually do anything that is congruent with its beliefs and dcotrine.

The "I just don't think this is fair" argument doesn't hold water. It is not a matter of intolerance and love the sinner. It is the church simply restating its beliefs and sticking to them. MCC knew who they were leasing property from. There was no condemnation of the sinner here. Only an ackowledgement of the sin. I am lead to belive by Huck Upchuck that the church should somehow charitably acknowledge the happiness that exists in gay unions in the context of committed relationships....That would be consistent with its doctrine and beliefs and eliminate any confusion among the church faithful how? Sounds to me like you would simply prefer the church to say that what you hold as your moral and religious beliefs have been affirmed by the church. Not going to happen.

Gill stated that "The church may have been morally ambivalent on the sexual molestation of children, but it has remained steadfast on the important issues." It sounds to me like Gill wants to have his cake and eat it too. It appears to me that Gill wants the church to speak up more so on the important issues as he defines them. If the contention is that the church should speak up when it is involved in matters where things are incongruent with church doctrine, then shouldn't Gill be happy that the church has done so?

Where's the praise?

Jimmy Huck said...

Hey, "The other Huck," glad you visited the Upchuck and shared your thoughts. Hope you continue to do so.

Here's the thing. I was not taking issue with the Church's right to terminate the lease. What I was taking issue with was Maestri's flimsly and patronizing reason: that the Church would somehow be "confusing the faithful" about its position against blessing gay unions.

That line is a crock. Everybody knows where the Catholic Church stands on the issue. No one is confused about that. For Maestri to suggest as much is really condescending towards the faithful and their knowledge of Church policy.

Furthermore, although what the Catholic Church did was perfectly legal, it does come across as mean-spirited. Call it "tough love" if you will, but it still seems mean to people who only want to do something loving and positive. And I don't see why it isn't enough for the Catholic Church to tell MCC and the public that it doesn't agree with its practice of blessing unions, and leave it at that, instead of also evicting the MCC. It just seems unduly harsh.

Just because you let someone rent out your property doesn't mean that you're agreeing with everything that tenant does. No one would ever assume it. Landlords may find heterosexual premarital sex to be morally objectionable, but I don't see these sinners being kicked out on the street. And some Jewish or Muslim landlords may find their tenants putting up nativity scenes in the front yards of their rental properties at Christmas "morally objectionable" - but imagine if someone were evicted for that reason alone. We'd be hearing the Christian community complain to high heaven about unjust "religious persecution" and violations of free speech and all that. And you know what, I'd have to say that if anyone tossed out a tenant for this reason, whether legal or not, I'd think they were mean-spirited boors as well.

No, I'm sorry. "Speaking up" in defense of Church doctine is one thing. Evicting the MCC from the Lazarus House as a manner of "speaking up" is another thing altogether. I don't like it and it strikes me as uncharitable. The Church doesn't get any praise from me for doing this.

concerned said...

A quick one to which you will probably not read since it is so old, but just in case: I would suggest that you check the Church's teaching on scandal before making assumptions to the effect of "everyone already knows, why rub it in?"

I suggest a google search to the effect of "scandal site:" so that you may further understand why the Church would do such things.

It is also obvious, for seemingly being someone who is critical of the Church, that you don't seem to be aware of the state of the Church in regards to its believers and the amount of them that aren't really sure just what Church teaching is. And I believe a situation like this could confuse those who are already unsure. Don't you?