As some of you may know from my National Coming Out Day post, I have a personal interest in all things Queer due to the fact that I don’t neatly fit into many of the out-dated concepts of Sex and Gender that pervade our human society. Also, to be clear, in this post I am picking apart the words of a member of the Catholic Church (a pretty high-ranking one at that), but I am not attacking the Church itself nor am I going after its followers. Two of the most respected people in my life growing up, Uncle Russ and Grandma Sophie, were also devoutly Catholic. They were also the people responsible for teaching me tolerance, love for my fellow human, charity, and compassion.
I just finished reading an article that irritated me for a few reasons. First, to get everyone on the same initial page (even if we end up on different pages by the end of my rant), the article in question is about San Francisco’s Catholic Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s views on gender identity.
The first thing that struck me was how he tried to use science to justify his bigotry–and got it wrong!
He says, “The clear biological fact is that a human being is born either male or female.”
Sorry Archbishop, but that is not how it actually happens as this report from the World Health Organization explains (i.e. biological facts by actual scientists). In particular is the section on Genetics Components of Sex and Gender where it is explained that sex is biological in nature and that “gender, typically described in terms of masculinity and femininity, is a social construction that varies across different cultures and over time.” What His Excellency (Catholic term of address for Archbishops according to the Catholic Education website) fails to grasp is that, while Adam and Eve were male and female (Genesis 5:2), the bible does not in any way say that those are the only two genders that the Big Guy in the Sky ever created.
The next thing to bug me, and probably the part that gets under my skin the most, is this:
…Christianity is based on what Cordileone said is the biological reality of the God-given “complementarity” of the male-female relationship.
“This is because God has used marriage as the primary sacred sign of our relationship with him,” he said, citing an author who described God as “hetero” and male, and Israel as “hetero” and female — hence their attraction to each other.
“It’s all the story of a marriage. God’s marriage covenant with Israel is fulfilled in the blood of Christ on the cross, establishing the new and eternal covenant between him, the bridegroom, and his bride, the church.”
Wait, I’m confused: Is God “married” to Israel or to the Church? Is one the spouse while the other is the mistress? Or are they sister wives? That last query is of course dependent on the Church’s acceptance of polygamy and I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen anytime soon (despite the prevalence of the practice in The Bible itself).
Another thing that bothers me is the hubris of His Excellency in elevating the status of the Church to that of being God’s “bride.” Um, what? The Covenant is between Mankind and God; the Catholic Church simply did not exist at the time the Covenant was made between Jesus and his followers.
Cordileone said the inevitable result “is a reversion to the paganism of old, but with unique, postmodern variations on its themes, such as the practice of child sacrifice, the worship of feminine deities or the cult of priestesses.”
So, Cordileone is cool with the worship of masculine deities despite God’s own admission to being a jealous god and the admonition of having any other gods (or goddesses for that matter) in the mix? Am I the only one to wonder at his use of feminine instead of female in reference to deities, as though even male deities would be bad if they didn’t rigorously adhere to some arbitrary idea of masculinity? Hmm, I smell misogyny and it’s coming from the Archbishop, especially in his equating of female priests and feminine deities to child sacrifice. Is there really no room for the sacred feminine in his cosmology, despite the prominence of women in the life Christ? What happened to that complementarity of the male and female that he spoke of?
“When the culture can no longer apprehend those natural truths,” the archbishop continued, “then the very foundation of our teaching evaporates and nothing we have to offer will make sense.”
How little faith he has in his, well, Faith. Catholicism’s foundations are so gossamer as to be blown away by the capricious winds of cultural change, really? Is he really saying that about a nearly 2,000 year-old institution that consolidated its power on the bones of its enemies—both real and perceived? Or perhaps he is speaking of the subtle and tender sentiments of the faith Jesus based on Love and compassion? In either case, he is catastrophizing, and that shit needs to stop.
The fact of the matter is he is fear-mongering and leading his people astray by telling them that Love actually leads to:
In the end, the thing I find the most detestable is his how he twists his own faith to fit his bigoted outlook. For a man who has sworn to follow in the footsteps of the Original Hippie, Archbishop Cordileone is really blowing it. I hope he sees the error of his twisted beliefs and finds his way back to the path that he swore to follow, that of Forgiveness, Compassion, and Unconditional Love.