Can the Church listen to the Spirit?

A wonderful essay by Tom Kam, in today’s Washington Post’s “On Faith” page, who points out that most American Catholics are not impressed by their bishop’s efforts to deny basic human rights to gays and lesbians.

Wanted: A Church that listens

In the Washington Post, by Tom Kam, Arcus Foundation

My love for my Church is inspired by people whose lives challenge us to bear witness to God’s truth to our world. As a child, these people were the saints of my Catholic faith–Francis of Assisi and Teresa of Avila– prophets and mystics whose very lives challenged the Church’s hierarchy and inspired thousands to serve God through prayer and ministry to society’s outcasts. As a young man, there were new heroes of faith to admire — the Berrigan brothers, Catholic priests whose Vietnam anti-war actions reflected the extreme convictions of their faith, and Jean Donovan, the young American Catholic lay missionary who was raped and murdered during the 1980 Salvadoran civil war. These men and women were religious leaders who possessed the courage to enter into the lives of everyday people, and in the midst of religious and political turmoil, proclaim God’s unrelenting call of love, truth, and justice.

These voices and lives stand in sharp contrast to the present day leadership of my church. In November, 14 Catholic bishops, along with a group of Evangelical and Orthodox leaders, issued The Manhattan Declaration, in which they announced plans to disobey any civil laws that ensure a women’s right to choose, or provide legal rights to same-sex couples in committed relationships.

That same month, the Archdiocese of Washington let it be known the Church would cease providing shelter to the homeless and care for the sick if the D.C. city council approved the civil law that would provide same-sex couples in committed relations the same legal benefits enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts (despite this, the D.C. city council approved the civil law).

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