Thursday, April 29, 2010

Requesting a Favor

Hey folks,
I'm in the application process to become the travel guru for
For the moment, one step of the application is to receive at least 25 "hearts" on a travel tip I've posted there.
Would you take a minute to follow the link below to my first travel tip, register on the site (this is cumbersome: register, do profile, get email verification, go back and login. I know.) and then click on the heart next to the title of the tip?
There's a lot more to the application process, but this is the first step.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Balm Of Superiority

That phrase is from this excellent piece to which my friend Jeff in Palm Springs alerted me.
As R. S. Hoffman suspects, the hierarchy will not hear him, but the rest of us will recognize the sound of truth in what he has said. Spot on.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Fabulous Disease of Mark King

I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing Fort Lauderdale's Mark King for SFGN. An amazing story of fast living, recovery and a great second act.

After you read the interview, check out his site. And don't miss Anita Mann's Youtube star turn.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sharon Gless has a Message for the Pope

With actress Sharon Gless in Miami Beach. She was raised Catholic and had this message for B16. (Sorry about the lighting which is beyond much correction. We were in Bar 721.)

For more about that evening, and the award given to Sharon Gless by the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

Friday, April 23, 2010

In Bruges

A Belgian bishop, Roger Vangheluwe, has resigned, admitting abuse. The translations are all over the place as to whom he abused. A boy? A young man? None of the reports indicate the victim's age or name.

Here are three pictures of the disgraced one street walking in lace, cradling a floral tribute and surrounded by boys while performing some sort of ritual involving a mountainous monument out of which is sprouting a blanched phallus.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Fall Guy Gets Up.

In a letter to a friend, Gerhart Gruber says he was made to take a bullet for B16.
The diocese of Munich denies it. We cannot at this time be sure who is telling the truth but I'm betting its Gruber.

Let's add this to the list of cracks in the walls of the Vatican.

If B16 felt that the list of pedophile priests was too long to be dealt with in a reasonable time, what ever will he do with the growing list of mutinous priests who are refusing to fall in line - or down - for him?

evasive - a new definition

eva·sive (ē vāsiv), adjective: seized by the compulsion to appear digitally dissolved into the glaze of 20th century art deco pottery.

It would seem that I have time on my hands.

Attorney Elizabeth Schwartz - Q & A

“I didn’t come out – even to myself – until after college. Sometimes when I come out to friends who knew me way back when, their reaction is ‘Oh we always knew you were a lesbian, but we never dreamed you’d be a lawyer!’”

The double L-worded Attorney Elizabeth Schwartz is a fascinating study in the twists and turns that life can bring even for someone as self-directed as she.

On March 26th, she was named an honoree for this year’s Women Worth Knowing of the Miami Beach Women’s Conference. In her acceptance speech about the rights of unmarried couples, she spoke of being appreciative that the honor highlighted her work for the LGBT community and that discrimination is not acceptable. The award is now seventeen years old and Attorney Schwartz is the only out lesbian to have won it in recent years.

Did she always want to be a lawyer?

(You can read the rest of my interview with Attorney Schwartz after the break or head over to the current issue of South Florida Gay News)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Jason Kidd - Still Great at 37

For some reason, when I watch Jason Kidd, I think I understand the art and philosophy of basketball as practiced by a master. He makes what he does look effortless and lyrical. Not lumbering, like many other basketball players.

Tonight I am watching the Spurs-Mavericks play-off game. Jason Kidd demonstrates how even late in his career he has retooled some of his skills. He is now the greatest three-point shooter alive. On the court, he seems short and it's easy to forget that he is 6'4".

He was raised Catholic. I wonder if he still believes.

Jeffrey Lena - Is He Fauxtticus Finch?

In this perusal of the so-called mysterious connections that made American attorney Jeffrey Lena the Vatican's defender, the research presented ought to lead us to conclude that Cardinal Levada is probably the man behind this selection.

An interesting choice and probably a good move. An unsophisticated shlemmiel of a lawyer will probably engender more sympathy than a high-powered armada of french cuffs. He need only prove one thing: immunity from our jurisdictions. He has already had some success invoking the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act.

If he needs them, I'd gladly lend him my set of gold cufflinks bearing the Vatican coat of arms.

It will probably be decades before he writes about all this and tells us what he really thinks of B16.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Is This Finally The Sound Of The Fat Lady Singing?

This is Extremely Significant. Hans Küng speaks with a theological authority that exceeds B16's. At the Pontifical Gregorian University, we spent much more time considering his writing than we ever spent on Ratzinger's.

From time to time, Hans Küng has gotten into hot water because of some of his opinions, but he has never been marginalized. This is not the first time he has questioned papal infallibility, and it has cost him his right to teach theology at Catholic universities, but in the context of the current Catholic crisis, this open letter packs a powerful punch. This is a perfect example of what happens when a man of wisdom gets old: he sheds the nonsense and freely states what he knows to be true. Ratzinger also got old, but without gaining wisdom and that is why we are in the current difficult situation. 

If the future of the Catholic Church is of even mild interest to you, I would encourage you to read every word of his open letter to the Catholic bishops. And then fasten your seat belts. It's been centuries since the Catholic Church has been through anything like this. What will soon unfold will make the Second Vatican Council look like a hiccup in its history. 

Read the full text of the letter after the break.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Paternity of Bishops to Priests

Any bets as to how long the Vatican spokesman Rev Federico Lombardi can keep dancing before he throws in the towel?

Raymond Burke - A Cartoon Bishop

This reports on a sputtering speech given by Vatican official Archbishop Raymond Burke a contemporary of mine in Rome although I barely remember him. He's close to an aneurysm over the fact that some American nuns don't fall in line with Rome. The fact that thousands of American nuns are onboard with the President's health care reform has distressed Rome. The additional fact that thousands of American nuns are resisting Rome's apostolic inquisition visitation, is also vexing him.

If the Archbishop had hewn his message to a better core: belonging to an organization means subscription to its basic creed, he'd have been more convincing. Instead, he uses the words defiance, betrayal, disobedience and loyalty. His core message is "How dare those nuns...."

I bring you these things because they help us understand what it means to be Catholic. Ray Burke says it means unthinking allegiance to the Vatican. I say it means thoughtful openness to the perfect message of Jesus Christ as presented in the gospels. Ray Burke would say that is not enough of a foundation for membership in the Catholic Church and that there are two thousand years of tradition that one must honor. I would respond that those cheeky American nuns are honoring that tradition, just not the same chapters that Ray Burke wants them to honor.

The question becomes "Who owns the spirit of Catholicism and where does that spirit reside today?" American Catholics are fearlessly answering that question.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Another Smart and Bold AntiBertonean

Here is a really fine opinion piece written by a well known priest Father Edward Beck of the Passionist order. He is a frequent TV commenter and also has his own show.

What is most fascinating is the fact that when the first anti-Rome shots were fired, the clergy waited to see if those priests would be silenced by the hierarchy. That did not happen, and now dissenters are beginning to pop up all over the place. So far, the voices are singular, but it won't be long before the clergy organizes in opposition to Rome in these matters, and that will be the beginning of the end. Very Norma Rae.

I told you this would happen.

The Catholic Bishops of England Don't Buy Bertone

Another crack in an already weak foundation.

This high-level vocal disagreement with Rome is startling and significant and a throwback to those centuries of yore when bishops and cardinals duked out their differences and a pope could lose power, be required to fend off rivals and "heretics", or fight for his life. All over the globe of Catholicism, even the polite and less pugnacious bishops are climbing into lifeboats.

But the Catholic Church in England and Wales went further, issuing a rare rebuttal of Cardinal Bertone's comments.
Father Marcus Stock, general secretary of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, said: "There is no empirical data which concludes that sexual orientation is connected to child sexual abuse.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Legislation to watch

In Connecticut, the General Assembly is considering a bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations in the case of childhood sexual abuse.

The ordinaries (bishops) of Connecticut's archdiocese and two suffragan sees (Hartford, Bridgeport and Norwich) are opposed to this law because it might cost them a lot of money and money is what they love more than accountability or compassion.

In a letter begging Connecticut Catholics to oppose the bill, the bishops say this:

This bill would retroactively eliminate the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits related to allegations of child sexual abuse.  Connecticut already has the longest retroactive statute in the United States – 30 years past the age of 18.  Over the past several years in states that have even temporarily eliminated the statutes, it has caused the bankruptcy of at least seven dioceses. House Bill 5473 would make Connecticut the only State without a statute of limitations.  This bill would put all Church institutions, including your parish, at risk.
 The nature of bankruptcy litigation puts all assets at risk, even if your parish has had no past incidents, reports or allegations of child abuse.  That is why it is important for you to join other Catholics across Connecticut in opposing this legislation.
 And this is not simply about bankruptcy or the loss of property.  Ultimately the legislation would undermine the mission of the Catholic Church in Connecticut, threatening our parishes, our schools, and our Catholic Charities.

Once again, the bishops demonstrate that loss of revenue is more important to them than justice. Particularly sly is the way they try to enlist some parishioners by reminding them that their parish assets will be at risk even if those dusty old abuse cases involved other parishes.

Despicable stuff. I hope the people of Connecticut respond by telling those trembling bishops that lifting the statute of limitations would not cause bankruptcy. Their cover-ups, coddling and facilitation of pedophiles would be the cause of the bankruptcy. I hope the Catholics of Connecticut respond by telling those bishops that a Gone-With-The -Windy reversal of fortune might be good for them and that their expensive services are expendable and that their sacraments ought to be freely given and shared, and that all the rest of the institutional baggage that has encumbered Catholicism ought to be left to other bureaucracies led by healthier men and women.

When bishops Lori, Cote and Mansell get to heaven, I wonder how their invoking of the statute of limitations will enhance their efforts to limbo dance their way under the velvet rope at the pearly gates. (And isn't Man sell a lovely name for a bishop caught in these straits!)

Scahill, Lothstein and Bertone

While I get my taxes done, I recommend you read the following. There will be a test.

Read this reflection on the East Longmeadow MA pastor Father James Scahill who has called for the resignation of B16. I can't imagine that he'll not be forced to pay for his courage and integrity.

Here is a neat summary that may help those who are scratching their heads and wondering how the Catholic Church came to centralize power and authority in the person of the Pope rather than Jesus, and how that church moved from allowing bishops to be a garden of differences to demanding that all her bishops speak with one voice.

Here is some valuable truth spoken by psychologist Leslie Lothstein who has treated more than 300 priests-with-problems and knows something about real pedophilia.

Of course, you can contrast those articles with the words of the ignorant Cardinal Bertone who seems to be living on a planet of desperate denial.

Bertone picks the wrong fight.

Cardinal Bertone can't seriously expect to get away with saying that the pedophile priest crisis is a gay problem rather than a celibacy problem, but that is what he has said.

He will rue this day.

As you'd imagine, I am so far beyond addressing this latest bit of mystifying insanity that any dissection would dignify it. Also, I really must prepare and file my taxes.

Rest assured, if you see the quiet waters recede around this cardinal's ankles, it is only the sucking out of what will soon return as a tsunami. Girlfriends, hold my gold.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bagnasco would be a strange bedfellow

Cardinal Bagnasco is no friend of the Gay. Now he wants heads to roll in the pedophile priest scandal, but if his head is the only one left enshouldered, we won't be any better off.

This is interesting Vatican politics. Bagnasco is an insider/outsider. The current pope made him a cardinal, but he came up through the Italian ranks and is not really a papal palace courtier. I suspect he'd like to clean house from bottom to top which would be self-serving.

He'd deny that he is lumping B16 in with the guilty, but he certainly is doing just that. A Cardinal bus driver en route from Genoa to throw the bishop of Rome under his tires?

Bottom line here: never before have there been so many signs of fracturing in the power structure of the Roman Catholic Church. It's turning into a game of every-Cardinal-for-himself. The 67 year old Bagnasco is probably sensing his own mortality and has figured out that the longer B16 lingers, the small are his own chances for succession.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

There is at least one good bishop in America

Thirteen year ago, Matthew Clark, the bishop of Rochester, New York, delivered a sermon at a Mass for gay and lesbian people. When I read his beautiful words, I am astonished at how far the Catholic Church has regressed and I wonder if he got some backlash because of his efforts to establish equality for the gay and lesbian Catholic community. I wonder if he continued to quietly work on behalf of that equality. He is still the bishop of Rochester. I wonder if his beliefs cost him promotions to higher office. Before he was a bishop, he was briefly my personal spiritual director at the North American College in Rome. I never talked openly with him about sexuality. Maybe I should have. Here is part of that sermon.

To my brothers and sisters, gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, you have told me over years of conversations with you and you have relayed to me through friends with whom I have spoken, that far more often than not, our faith community seems forbidding; that in it you feel unwelcome; that your own struggles, issues, questions, joys, sorrows, talents, needs, gifts, are not respected as they should be. I hope I can say with confidence that this gathering this afternoon symbolizes a widespread sentiment among the people of our diocese, that we'd like to do a better job on that. And we would like to convey to you in a much more rewarding and genuine way, the respect that we have for your integrity, your goodness and your gifts. And at the same time, I hope that we could say to you with equal honesty that we are the weaker to the degree that we do not enjoy the wonderful gifts God gives you for the sake of the community.
So may I ask you please to forgive us for all the ways witting and unwitting that we have failed to honor and respect you. And I may ask that after extending that invitation, I hope in the name of our whole community, that you would be willing to step forward with us to share our journeys, enjoying the good things that we have and sharing the good things that God gives you, so that together having made this mutual commitment, we might show more clearly, rightly, and lovingly, the face of Christ to all of our sisters and brothers who yearn for meaning and for value in life. I hope that you will accept that invitation as coming from our whole community, and in a very honest and sincere way. Please do join us for our worship, our struggles, our service and allow us to make right the things that perhaps we've made wrong in the past. I would be very grateful to you if you would consider that invitation.
And lastly I would like to say to you that not only does this event mean a great deal to me because of the season in which it occurs, the season of Lent, it also means a great deal to me in light of our unfolding Synod experience in which all of us have committed ourselves to--as our first priority--to grow in the knowledge and love of Christ and of our faith. And it seems to me, and I speak only for myself in this regard, but if you can identify with it in some way please do so, with it. The very fact that we have convened this gathering and invited people to it has raised, in me at least, a very strong awareness that all of us have a great deal to learn about gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. I, my mail, my conversations are filled with what I can judge to be unfortunate presumptions about gay and lesbian people, a lot of stereotyping in a very negative way and a lot of lack of information that all of us need to have if we are to understand one another in ways that I really believe that God wants us to know one another's hearts.
I think, for example, of how we all need to be as much in touch as we can possibly be with biblical scholarship as it applies to this question. Because I'm afraid the bible is used in ways that are not life-giving, but destructive as it's quoted about gay and lesbian people. I think we need to learn from the human sciences the research of which has yielded a lot of new information that I believe we have not as yet integrated into our knowledge and value systems and which we do not appreciate as elements which can alter honestly held but incorrect assumptions about other persons in our community.
And lastly, and I think in a certain way, above all, we really need to know the faith and life experience of gay and lesbian sisters and brothers. Do we know their stories? Do we know the challenges they face? Do we know the richness of their spirit? Do we know the ways in which their faith has been tested? Do we know how some of our conduct and patterns can make their journeys more painful than they need to be? I raise these questions, not in any sense in the spirit of accusation or blame, but simply to convey, as best I can, what our sisters and brothers who are gay or lesbian have said to me and what has been said to me by their mothers and dads, grandmas and grandpas, and other people who love them, who are concerned that their offspring, whom they cherish, are not held in equal regard simply because they are gay and lesbian persons.
Equal regard. He spoke those words on March 1, 1997. He gave permission for his sermon to be appear on the internet. He was ahead of his time. Unfortunately, he still is.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"Consider the good" said Ratzinger

The fallout from these terrible disclosures and revelations of the mindset of the hierarchy is simple and unavoidable.

Your priest, bishop, cardinal or pope is no longer considered holy. He is not even on par with a shaman or witch doctor who both might make outrageous claims but have as their goal the healing of others. Priests are now considered ordained boogeymen who might present serious danger to your children. This is certainly unfair to the many good priests who continue to provide service within the framework of shame but they could be speaking up. They could be calling for new leadership and change. They could be calling for the ordination of women and married men and an end to mandatory celibacy. Instead, they remain silent and so must share in the guilt.

The Roman Catholic Church has been preoccupied with maintaining its "image" through secrecy and disregard for its victims (sorry to be so blunt). Going forward, families will not entrust their children to these men. We are raising a generation of Catholic children who will sense our distrust and our shielding of them from the unhealthy interference of clergy.

Do you think those kids will grow up with an allegiance to Catholicism in their hearts and with a willingness to financially support the infrastructure and programming of Rome? No. And that is why we needn't worry about the outcome of our "Catholics4Equality" efforts. The next two generations will resolve this on their own. Recent surveys and polling of the youngest Catholics make this quite clear.

Friday, April 09, 2010

The Art of Blogging - A GALLA Panel

We had a great time, and the attendees were delightful.
Here are the Miami Herald's Steve Rothaus, author Steven Petrow, Joe Jervis, and to my left, the Stonewall Library's Chad Thilborger. I don't really need to build in the links to these bloggerati, do I?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

A Stupid Bishop in Tenerife

This bishop is just plain stupid. Yes, there are those very rare times when an altar boy comes on to a priest. I myself had that experience but that has nothing - absolutely nothing - to do with the pedophile priest problem. And this is not the time to be discussing that, and it is stupid and shameful for him to mention that at this time and in the context of the current situation.

While we are on this altogether inappropriate subject, I always assumed that kids who came on to priests were themselves already victims of abuse and were using the dialect they had learned. That made it particularly frightening to be the object of that behavior. In other cases, I just chalked it up to the kind of non-sexual childhood crush and hero worship that many of us go through as kids. A healthy adult knows how to react to it and will show the kid how healthy adults behave.
This bishop is emblematic of the sickness that inhabits the Roman Catholic church. This is disgusting and it makes me terrifically angry but I am glad it is coming to light and everyone will see what these bishops are made of. They are digging their own grave.

Sorry to be so angry about this, but it just gets worse and worse and they are dragging down the church that some of us once loved.

PS: I've been to Tenerife. Gorgeous.

Money and Sex - How to Gild the Vatican

Finally, a report that discloses clearly what we always knew to be true.

When I was in Rome, the Mercedes bus carrying the Legionaries of Christ would sometimes pause at the light while I'd cross the street on the way to class. They  were, to a man, incredibly handsome in an identical way. Dark hair meticulously parted. Square jawed. Tall. There was such fear in their eyes as they looked at me and then quickly looked away. They kept to themselves. Rarely did they interact with us at the Gregorian University. We were in jeans and they were in identical black suits and Roman collars. Some of them escaped. This is a sad chapter in Catholicism. This is not an era of saints.

An Easter Parade of Shame

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Art of Blogging - A GALLA Panel

On Friday, I'm moderating a panel of bloggers at the annual three day Fort Lauderdale Gay and Lesbian Literary Festival. For more info, go to the Stonewall Library and Archives.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Songs in the Key of F2M

I totally enjoyed my South Florida Gay News interview with handsome F2M transsexual Mark Angelo Cummings.

Bob Schieffer's Commentary

Reader Stephen D thought we should see this.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Pope Difficult the Last - A Golden Calf Led To Slaughter

Just when you think they would have gotten control of their message, a pope whose only appropriate garb is sack cloth, appears in spun gold. Hard to avoid the comparisons. Do we dance before this golden idol? Or, is this a pascal sacrificial lamb that Cardinal Sodano is proclaiming? If I am metaphorically confused, what are the average American Catholics feeling when they read this?

Dressed in gold robes and shielded from a cool drizzle by a canopy, Benedict looked weary as he listened to Sodano's speech at the start of Mass in the cobblestone square bedecked with daffodils, tulips and azaleas.

''With this spirit today we rally close around you, successor to (St.) Peter, bishop of Rome, the unfailing rock of the holy church,'' Sodano said. ''Holy Father, on your side are the people of God, who do not allow themselves to be influenced by the petty gossip of the moment, by the trials which sometimes buffet the community of believers.''
The thought has begun to cross my mind that Cardinal Sodano and all the others who most ardently sing the praises of B16 know full well what they are doing: making a dirge from the sidelines of his cart ride to the gallows. This could be the most genteel throwing of anyone under a bus that has ever been performed. Perhaps the hierarchy has decided that Pope Difficult the Last needs to go, and that the only way to do it is to magnify the absurdity of the situation. As tone deaf as these men can be, surely they know the meaning of the deaf ear.

Does this pope, like Miss Diana Ross, still believe he can pack an arena and sell out a world tour? Granted, he's got Sodano and another 170 cardinals singing back-up.

According to the report there were only tens of thousands in attendance. In my day, whenever we did one of those outdoor papal masses - we called them papal picnics - the faithful numbered in the hundreds of thousands.

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Catholics for Equality Celebrate Easter in DC

Catholics For Equality incorporated yesterday as a 501c3 and a 501c4. Don't check for the website now because it is not yet live.

A few minutes ago, at the HRC headquarters while internet political strategist Phil Attey and Catholics for Marriage Equality in Maine's Anne Underwood laugh, Progress Now's Aniello Alioto models a papal outfit he will wear at a party later today and appropriately demonstrates his ability to put his foot into his infallible mouth.

Friday, April 02, 2010

An Outrageous But Impotent Attempt To Paint The Criminal As Victim.

Being asked to preach to the pope on Good Friday is a very high honor. Many years ago, on another Good Friday, my Italian friend Renato (now Archbishop Renato) said "Let's go up into the balcony over the Pauline Chapel and listen to the preacher. It's someone from Poland. He's supposed to be really good. And handsome." In those days, Renato and I had clearance to wander just about anywhere in the Vatican except the private papal apartments. We quietly stepped up to the balustrade in a dark alcove high above the gigantic Michaelangelo pictures and watched Pope Paul VI kneeling to receive the homily of the man who would become JohnPaul II. He preached in Latin. It didn't matter if the words were difficult to follow. He was riveting.

Today, Good Friday, a monk named Father Cantalamessa preached to Benedict XVI. He is the pope's "house preacher." He likened accusations against the pope in the sex abuse scandal to violence suffered by the Jews.

Are you surprised that the reaction has not been favorable?
Stephan Kramer, general-secretary of Germany's Central Council of Jews, said Cantalamessa's remarks were "a so-far-unheard-of insolence."
"It is repulsive, obscene and most of all offensive toward all abuse victims as well as to all the victims of the Holocaust," Kramer said. "So far I haven't seen St. Peter burning, nor were there outbursts of violence against Catholic priests. I'm without words. The Vatican is now trying to turn the perpetrators into victims."
Rabbi Gary Greenebaum, U.S. director of interreligious relations for the American Jewish Committee, called the comments "an unfortunate use of language."
"The collective violence against the Jews resulted in the death of 6 million, while the collective violence spoken of here has not led to murder and destruction, but perhaps character assault," Greenebaum said.

These grumbling priests, bishops and cardinals just don't understand. Repentance, contrition, penance, accountability and willing self-presentation to judgement for crimes and sins is the only response that makes sense. Anything else is disgusting.

So much tarnish on everything in the Vatican.