I haven't seen this story around much. And it seems like it ought to be all over the news... or at least, all over the atheosphere. So you know what they say. When you don't like the news, go out and write some of your own.
You may have heard the story of the Catholic Priest, Father Geoffrey Farrow, who, back in October, went against the request of his bishop and preached a sermon against Propostion 8... and was removed from his post as a result.
This is not that story.
This, if you can believe it, is the even more fucked-up follow-up.
Father Geoffrey Farrow, now out of work, had applied for a position at an interfaith anti-poverty organization, CLUE, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice... an application process that was moving forward.
(An anti-poverty organization. That's important. File it away.)
CLUE gets a significant amount of its funding from the Catholic Church.
Who told CLUE that their Church funding would be withdrawn if they hired Father Farrow.
So. Just to clarify.
The Catholic Church's position on this matter is this:
It is more important to punish a former priest for speaking out in favor of same-sex marriage, than it is to help the poor.
Or, perhaps, more to the point:
It is more important to spitefully and maliciously block the career of a former priest who dared to defy the Church and speak out against it -- not just to fire him, but to actively get in the way of him being hired elsewhere -- than it is to help the poor.
Okay. Quiz time. How many times in the Gospels is Jesus recorded as saying that it's important to help the poor?
A lot, that's how many. Exactly a lot.
And how many times in the Gospels is Jesus recorded as saying that it's important to ban same-sex marriage? Or that it's important for the church to be pissily vengeful when its priests follow their own conscience instead of obeying the Pharisees -- excuse me, the bishops of the Church?
Zero times, that's how many. Exactly zero. I counted.
Now. Granted, the Jesus character in the Gospels is one of the most complicated and self- contradictory figures in all of fiction. Many of his teachings are muddled and inconsistent, and it's a bit churlish of us atheists to expect consistency from people who claim to follow them.
But on this one, the Jesus character is pretty clear. Helping the poor -- central, oft- repeated tenet of the teachings. Banning same sex marriage -- zilch. Doesn't seem to be an issue. And pissy vengefulness -- heck, he's actually against that. What with the whole "turning the other cheek" thing and all.
And on this one, I've gotta side with the Jesus character. Totally setting aside the whole "gross, self-serving hypocrisy versus having some semblance of integrity about what you claim to be your own values" thing, purely on the merits of the actual question itself... yup, I've gotta go with this Jesus figure. Helping the poor -- better and more important than hateful homophobic vindictiveness. Check.
But of course, as His Eminence Vice-Pope Eric said in an interview with Monty Python in the Brand New Monty Python Papperbok: "After all, you can't treat the New Testament as gospel. And one must remember that Christ, though he was a fine young man with some damn good ideas, did go off the rails now and again."
And later in that same interview:
"Of course people accuse us sometimes of not practising what we preach, but you must remember that if you're trying to propogate a creed of poverty, gentleness and tolerance, you need a very rich, powerful, authoritarian organisation to do it."
Well put, Vice-Pope Eric. Couldn't have said it better myself.
Supporting an interfaith anti- poverty organization on the one hand. Rabid hostility to same-sex marriage, and ham-handed control-freak spitefulness towards a former employee who publicly defied them, on the other. Which did you think the Catholic Church was going to go with?
Oh, btw: If you feel like raising a squawk, you can do so at:
Archdiocese of Los Angeles
3424 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010-2202
213 637 7000