Invasion of the Body Snatchers-or in this case, an Invasion into the Body of Christ
In the 1954 movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, plant spores fall from space and grow into large seedpods capable of assimilating the characteristics of humans devoid of human emotion. The latest decree by the Bishop of Illinois serves as an Invasion into the Body of Christ, by attempting to assimilate the characteristics of Catholic teaching, when in reality this instruction displaces our call to transforming humanity’s culture and societies. The teaching therefore is hierarchical, but not catholic and causes harms the LGBTQ and religious community.
Illinois Bishop Thomas Paprocki has issued his “Same-Sex Marriage Policies Decree 6-12-2017 which is his guideline regarding the treatment of lesbian and gay ministers in church life. New Ways Ministry summarized in their blog, that the
Bishop is now calling pastors to refuse to bury people in same sex marriages.
Briefly, the bishop instructs church leaders that same-gendered people who are married should:
· Be refused communion, because their relationships are immoral and against nature
· Be refused a funeral in the Catholic Church because it gives public scandal.
· Be refused employment in public liturgical ministry as readers, Eucharistic ministers or music ministers
· Be refused admission into the Rite of Christian Initiation unless they leave the relationship
He goes on to say:
· No church worker, acting in any professional capacity can participate in same-gender weddings
· Church personnel are forbidden to bless these marriages.
· If same gendered children are presented for the Sacraments of Initiation, due digression is needed, especially if it is a public baptism.
· That children can be admitted to Catholic schools if they agree to the Family School Agreement
The blog notes this invasive teaching is growing in the dioceses of Philadelphia, Newark, Detroit . They have similar guidelines regarding communion and liturgical ministries, but the Illinois decree advances to funeral rites and punishment for pastoral ministers.
A teaching like this appeals to a cultural bias against a people, and promotes confusion among Catholics as this is one not shared by the conference of Catholic bishops, the Vatican or 63% of white Catholic laity in the US…yet promulgated by a few.
These policies demonstrate a leadership removed from pastoring toward cultural dictatorial rule. Using their position to promote an unjust politic in the name of our religion, feeds into the present government’s determination to undue the civil and human rights earned by the LGBTQ community. It offers justification of a rising elitist group seen as superior and more worthy in the eyes of God. This teaching alone is idolatrous because it does not reflect a movement toward the gospel ideals.
Most Catholics ignore or run away when these invasions occur, but in our time, one group resists-The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests and Roman Womenpriests USA. Our goal is to transform the Catholic Church by creating inclusive structures that will renew the church. As validly ordained women, we RESIST the invasion of these discriminatory policies into our communities and institutions–and stand in opposition to any teaching that interjects biased cultural and societal divisions in the name of God. In our Inclusive Catholic Communities, we validly marry, bury, offer sacraments and pray with any and all in need. We preach, teach and deliver a gospel of good news. We encourage others to RESIST, because programs and policies like this constitute a cultural invasion into the Body of Christ. What divides the body makes us all sick.
As ordained clergy we stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community. We join all people as we continue to instruct our hierarchical leaders promoting divisions to cease and desist. If wee believe we are equal in the sight of God, our Church structures must be designed to give witness to that equality. The LGBTQ community is supported and welcomed…this is a Catholic value.