Thursday, May 7, 2015

Of Wedding Cakes, The Traditional Latin Mass, and LGBT Catholics

While out of State to give some lectures, I happened to notice the following letter in a local newspaper. 
Regarding "Religious views deserve respect" (Your Views, April 26):
The letter writer says that Christians who do not wish to participate in a gay wedding by providing services are making a personal decision and not a religious one.
Where exactly in the law of Moses does it say that men cannot shake hands with women? Should we conclude that it is a personal decision versus a religious one to shake hands? The writer clearly is ignorant of the basic tenets of Christianity. I could quote scriptures too numerous for this letter to support Christ's abhorrence of homosexual acts, but I won't. They are easily found.
Christians follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, and he could not have been more clear as to the importance of the role of man and wife and their commitment to each other within a family unit. Everyone's religious beliefs deserve respect, whether the writer believes it or not.
Christians across America are waiting for clarification from the courts so that we can use the protection our Constitution gives us to practice our religion.
Now I must admit that at first I thought the newspaper was being spoofed and that the letter was not serious, but some phone calls to people I know in the editorial business assured me that no, the writer was indeed serious in her claims.
I could quote scriptures too numerous for this letter to support Christ's abhorrence of homosexual acts, but I won't. They are easily found.
Well, no these quotes to support Christ’s abhorrence of homosexual acts aren’t easily found.  They don’t exist.  Nowhere in the Gospels does Christ ever mention anything to do with homosexuality.  That is not to say that he did not subscribe to the condemnation of same-sex acts that are found in the Law of Moses, but it is to say that one cannot attribute any opinion—pro or con—on the matter to Jesus (or to the Evangelists).  It is somewhat strange, I imagine that the subject never came up—or at least was left unrecorded.  Mark, Luke, and John at least lived and preached in culture where there was considerable sexual license for those of any and all preferences; if Jesus had spoken of same-sex relationships, one might expect his words to find their ways into one or another gospel.  Of course the society in which Jesus himself lived—as well as Matthew—the rather strictly regulated world of first-century Palestinian Judaism was far more rigorously policed for moral aberrance than the Graeco-Roman societies, but still, same-sex attraction exists universally throughout the human family, even where divergent behavior must remain underground for fear of censure.  On the other hand, we must consider that Jesus didn’t spend a lot of time talking about sex.  There was the woman caught in the “very act of adultery” whom he dismissed with an admonition to “sin no more;” there was the woman of bad repute in the house of Simon the Pharisee who would be “much forgiven for much has she loved.”  And, of course, there was a positive endorsement of hetero-sexual marriage “for which reason a man leaves his mother and father and clings to his wife and the two become one flesh.”  Overall, Jesus seems much more concerned about those who “bind up heavy burdens and lay them on others’ shoulders” than he does about failures of the flesh.  The people who really piss Jesus off are the Pharisees, the “I’m holier than thou” people who are not peculiar to Judaism but found among the ranks of the most devout of any and all religions. 
All of which is to say I just don’t get how baking a cake or doing a photo-shoot is a religious issue.  I’m not saying that a professional person should not be able to refuse his or her services for a particular occasion; just don’t get on your high horse about how this is because you are a “Christian” and can’t lower your standards to accommodate someone whom you judge to be of lesser moral quality.  “I give you thanks, o Lord, that I am not like the rest of men: greedy, grasping, adulterous—or even like that publican over there.”  We all know the line and it is nothing less than disgusting.  Bias is bad enough, but when gilded with religiosity it would be enough to make Jesus come right down off that cross and smack you up the side of your ****filled head.
That being said, I noticed recently that Rorate Caeli, a website that is dedicated to making the Extraordinary Form Ordinary is requesting data from Traditional Mass sites as to the demographics of their congregation.  When I first started perusing the web, Rorate Caeli was a pretty legitimate site.  Yes, it had a neo-traditional agenda but much like New Liturgical Movement it more often than not had sound research, sound thinking, and sound writing.  That has changed over the last three or four years and it now can be considered among the Katholic Krazies.  It likes to sound the occasional tocsin to alert readers of all sorts of alleged aberrations from matters liturgical to matters papal.  It also has become increasingly solicitous of funds, not a good sign in a non-commercial website.  Be that as it may, the current interest in demographics seems to aim at establishing that the Extraordinary Form is attracting an audience both younger and more male.  It wants to know how many men –proportionate to the larger congregation—are attending, as well as younger families.  I think the data will be interesting, but I think for an honest assessment they need to look at how many men are there who are not “attached” to one or another of those younger “traditional” families.  My own experience with the Usus Antiquior is somewhat limited as I find it extremely discouraging to attend Mass in pre-conciliar rites but I have noticed from my various forays of curiosity and data gathering—principally at Saint Mary Mother of God in DC and at the Church of the Holy Innocents in Manhattan—that there seems to be a somewhat disproportionate number of same-sex “duos” (to avoid the connotations of the word “couples”) as well as young men attending alone.  (Again, to avoid prejudicing the issue with stereotypes, I will forgo saying “particularly stylishly dressed young men attending alone.”)  Now, as I buy into the Pope Francis “Who am I to judge” philosophy, I am not disparaging efforts of any parish to draw and welcome members of the LGBT community.  My understanding of the word “Catholic,” in line with James Joyce (certainly not one of Holy Mother’s most reverent of sons) is “here comes everybody,” or to put it in American idiom “y’all come, now.”  But many of those ardent devotees of the TLM take a less encouraging view of our LGBT brothers and sisters in Christ.  So, Rorate Caeli, do some thorough research and let us know if the “Mass of All Ages” is particularly attractive to Gay Catholics as well as to young families.  Who knows, the Traditional Latin Mass might be a vital but as yet underused tool of the New Evangelization.


  1. Spot on there, I too have noticed more gay or seem to be gay at the TLM I have attented in NYC.
    you are not alone in this ......

    1. Yes, I saw this also at Holy Innocents.

  2. "Here Comes Everybody" -- or to use the title of a song that the traddies love to hate, "All Are Welcome." (As best I can tell, the associations between "Catholic" and "Here Comes Everybody" in Finnegans Wake are indirect and elusive. But then everything in Finnegans Wake is indirect and elusive.)

    I can't believe that the Rorate "data gathering" will be anything but a hack job, destined to "prove" that Tridentine Masses fill churches to the rafters with energetic young families, while Novus Ordo celebrations bring in a small handful of aged hippies, who totter out of the Mass on their way to the cemetery. And hence "the biological solution" will soon ensure that the Novus Ordo is no more.

    It's creepy logic and rhetoric, and the "biological solution" language, which seems to have originated with Father Z, must surely resonate well with the neo-Nazis.

    In any event, how are they going to get anything like meaningful data? People are supposed to be surveying in "the same or comparable churches on the same or comparable days". Comparable? And is an 8 am Mass "comparable" to an 11 am?

    Information on Mass attendance would be interesting , but as you say, Consolamini, it needs to be comprehensive. And it needs to be unbiased. I don't believe that the Rorate or Latin Mass Society people can deliver either.

  3. As long as we are talking stereotypes, gay men tend to have gifts for music, fashion and ritual, all of which are useful in any Mass, but especially the usus antiquior.

    The parochial vicar at my parish is fond of the EF, loves to wear all the trappings he can get away with, and while I have no reason to think that he is gay, he has attracted a coterie of young men (who fit the stereotype) who have become his soldiers, and there will sometimes be 5 or 6 serving at a Mass in some capacity. This is usually for a Mass that is during the week, and for a feast day that is not a Holy Day of Obligation. He will pictures of the crew suited up for Mass and post them on the church website or Facebook page, and I guess all that is good. But so far, I don't see any increase in regular parishioner attendance from all that.

  4. Firstly, I would like to add a couple of Scriptural references to highlight the "inclusivity" of early Christianity: 1) Christ's encounter with the serial adulteress at Jacob's Will who, pace Burke, did not require an annulment before being commissioned the first evangelist Samaria. The primarily Gentile community of the Fourth Gospel was not indebted to views concerning the continuance of some Mosaic strictures for such converts -- unlike what one finds in Acts -- and seems innocent of Jesus' teaching on divorce in the Synoptics and 2) the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch by the evangelist Philip in Acts -- a "sexual minority" if there ever was one.

    As for your reticence in naming the homoerotic atmosphere of traddie gatherings, well, let's not deny the obvious. Apart from the frilly lace types who love to parade around in all that drag -- Cardinals included -- there is the endless supply of pretty young things who appear prominently in their various services. Good Lord, the clergy who handpick these specimens must surely have impure thoughts to distract them from their silent Canon mumblings, their rubrical gesticulating and their sermonic fulminating during Mass! Talk about the via pulchritudinis! And speaking of the clergy and seminarians, please Louise, a bigger bunch of (self-denying and self-loathing) inverts would be hard to find even at the Met during a performance of Tosca.

    All of this has precedent, of course, in the Anglo-Catholic Tractarian movement once the vestments, tabernacles, high Masses, and birettas reappeared in the Church of England -- and whom we have now inherited under the disguise of the Ordinariate along with the "Josephite marriages" their clergy often employ for propriety's sake. (I can't wait until you get to that bunch of weirdos in your history of Anglicanism).

    And just in case you think I'm being anti-LGBT, I am a happily liberal gay priest who has no truck whatsoever with the church's hypocritical teaching or practice of scapegoating this constituency, many of whom populate the non-Krazy clerical world. But we do love to point out the foibles -- a la Fr. D -- of the fruits, nuts and flakes who can be found at any TLM -- the occasional heterosexual male aside.

  5. In a certain city, there was an Anglican vicar, who after intoning the Asperges as it was sung from the English Missal ("Thou shalt purge me, O Lord") would whisper to the servers, before heading down the long central aisle of the church whose pews were overly-stocked with well-dressed single men and male couples, "Come on, lads, time to go water the pansies!" This is a true story.