‘Twas farewell that it was singing

It turns out a Catholic school education was a dangerous thing. It taught me to think for myself.

I doubt David Zubik, Roman Catholic bishop of Pittsburgh, reads this blog. Or listens to the show. But I wrote him a letter anyway. And I’ll even play him a long-distance dedication:

Dear Bishop Zubik:

I was born and raised Roman Catholic, was baptized in the church, attended 13 years of Catholic school, and served faithfully as an altar boy throughout my teen years. I knew many kind and generous priests, deacons, friars and nuns.

They stood for social justice. A friend of mine points out that Joe Biden, for all of his flaws, has a classic mid-20th Century American Catholic outlook when it comes to justice and equality.

So it pains me to see what the bishops of the Catholic church in the United States now seem to stand for, which are performative culture-war stunts and gimmickry — like denying liberal Catholic politicians communion because they support birth control or abortion rights, or refusing to baptize the children of gay parents.

It’s the reason I left the church of my birth about 20 years ago, and never looked back.

I think of myself as pretty cynical, but maybe it’s a good sign that I still managed to be surprised by your decision to force the cancellation of a Catholic mass for LGBTQ students, faculty and staff at Duquesne University.

It was a cruel, callous, and petty thing for you to do. And, if I may say so, most un-Christlike.

If I remember the Gospel of Matthew correctly — and after 13 years attending your Diocese of Pittsburgh’s Catholic schools, I did retain a few things from our daily religion classes — it says, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” It does not then say, “Well, all except for the queer ones.”

(In fact, as you well know, the verse immediately before that one is an interesting one. Jesus says, “For there are eunuchs who were born that way; others were made that way by men; and still others live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” Eunuchs who were made that way for the kingdom of heaven! It almost sounds like He was preaching some of that dangerous transgender ideology. But I’m just an idiot disc jockey. Anyway, I digress.)

Does it give you, and other American bishops, a deep sense of satisfaction to look out at your increasingly empty churches? Are you proud of all of the people you and your ilk have turned away from organized religion?

When I was a kid, Catholic leaders looked askance at televangelists like Pat Robertson, who died last week. But over the past 20 years, Catholic leaders and fundamentalist Christians have been marching in lockstep, especially when it comes to getting far-right politicians elected.

And as a result, Bishop Zubik, these days I can hardly find a difference between the messages preached by Robertson and those preached by Catholic bishops such as yourself. They are messages of exclusion, condemnation and hate. Brother Pat just put his version on TV with slicker production values than the Sunday Mass for shut-ins, that’s all.

Surveys show that most lay Catholics don’t share your exclusionary outlook. How many times must they watch their children and grandchildren reject the church? How long must they suffer under this leaden leadership?

Many Catholic priests and nuns of my acquaintance don’t share the views of their bishops, either, though they usually speak softly, for fear of being punished for speaking up.

I remember fondly a lot of the priests and nuns of my youth. Back in the day, when they were lamenting “The 700 Club” and other televangelism, I recall how they also decried the rise of Madalyn Murray O’Hair.

Remember her? They thought she and the American Atheists were going to destroy the Catholic Church.

The funny thing, though, is that while Madalyn Murray O’Hair is all but forgotten, when it comes to driving people away from the Church, she couldn’t hold a candle to the likes of the Most Rev. David Zubik.

A former parishioner

As always: Opinions expressed on this blog are those of the host, and not those of WRCT Radio Inc., Tube City Community Media Inc., or any other organization or employer. For copies of this editorial, send 25 cents and a self-abused stuffed artichoke in care of “Transcripts.” Responsible replies are unlikely.

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