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The problem with ‘dreaming’ of change in the Catholic Church

Updated: Feb 29



The Rev. Bryan N. Massingale addressing change in the Catholic Church

I come to you today as a white, Irish, heterosexual, middle-aged woman with protruding teeth, greying hair, a minus 7 prescription for myopia, astigmatism and a theology degree.  I am informed not only by my sexuality, dental problems, short-sightedness, ethical and philosophical beliefs, but also by the traditions of whiteness, Irishness and growing up with eccentric parents who never let me watch ITV.  


I speak to you out of my whole self, including the raised freckle on my left forearm, for moral and ethical integrity will not allow me to bracket my white self in order to be heterosexual, nor my myopia in order to be Irish, nor my theological knowledge in order to be able to finish the outer edge of a piece of toast first.  You can’t just take what makes you feel comfortable, you have to take all of me, or none of me (and you can’t say none of me because that’s not Christian and I will cry – hard -and it will be all your fault!) 


At a recent gathering of self-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and plus students from Jesuit Colleges and universities, The Rev. Bryan N. Massingale gave a speech which might have been more fittingly delivered from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch than from the Church of St Paul the Apostle, where Massingale began (after listing his various intersectionalities). 


“As I thought about what I wanted to share with you the phrase ‘dreaming while queer’ came to me,” he said. “I want to speak about the power of dreams, of dreaming while queer, of dreaming as a black, queer person of faith.”


I read on, intrigued by what dreams a black, male, queer priest might have and wondered whether, like me, he dreamed of going skiing in a ballgown with Alistair Stewart and Calvin Robinson.  

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As it happens his dreams were about “a time when the LGBTQ+ community will see racism as their issue…and a day when two men and two women can stand before our Church, proclaim their love and have it blessed in the sacrament of marriage.  I dream of a church that enthusiastically celebrates same-sex loves as incarnations of God’s love among us.  I dream of a Church where gay priests and lesbian sisters are acknowledged as the holy and faithful leaders they are…”  


It turns out that Rev. Massingale has long and vivid dreams all about the LGBTQ+ community, black, brown and trans people, sexual diversity, immigration justice, equal voting rights and queer young people in Honduras. 


He called on his captive audience to “refuse the lies put forward by white supremacy and heterosexism” but failed to warn them about the lies put forward by himself. 


This Catholic priest talked at length about a world that does not yet exist but must someday come to be.  “Revolutions are not singular events, but long dreams shared by aggrieved communities,” he explains.  


“Once, during conversation with my spiritual director, I poured out my anger and frustration at the futility of working for racial and sexual justice in a Catholic Church that seems impervious to change. 


“Why in the hell should I keep doing what I do when it makes no difference in this Church?” 


The answer he was not given, but should have been, was “you shouldn’t”.  No priest should revolt against Holy Mother Church or seek to change her deposit of faith and morals.


Listening to Rev. Massingale it’s hard to know what led him to the priesthood.  In a talk with Matt Fradd recently, Jackie Francois Angel shared how a priest once told her that in seminary he realised that there were three types of men. There were those who were called by God to the priesthood, there were those who called themselves, and there were those who were called by Satan.  


In 'How to Win the Culture War' Peter Kreeft informs us that we cannot win a war if we blissfully sew peace banners on a battlefield and do not know who our enemy is. 

  

There is a danger for faithful Catholics to think of such men as Rev. Massingale as our enemy.  His comments, along with those of his likeminded friends, such as Catholics for Choice and the team over at Ordain Women, anger many Catholics, but our anger is wrongly directed if we fail to recognise the true source of the deceit.

 

“Our enemies are not the theologians in some so-called Christian seminaries who have sold their souls for thirty pieces of scholarship and prefer the plaudits of their peers to the praise of their God,” writes Peter Kreeft. “These Christophobes pull the claws from the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and dispense spiritual diaphragms and IUDs to their students for fear the living Christ will make their souls pregnant with his alarmingly active life. 


“Our enemies are not even the wicked priests and Bishops, the abusive babysitters who corrupt Christs little ones whom they swore to protect…they too are victims in need of healing.” 


Our enemy is, of course, Satan.


Rev. Massingale, who considered leaving the Catholic Church but decided to stay and make it the “institution I believe Jesus wants it to be”, is a useful idiot in need of prayer and fraternal correction. 


To be a Catholic is to believe the Church is more than human, that she is graced with Christ’s real presence and promise of guidance into all truth.  Our real enemy will do all he can to undermine this truth. What better place to start than with her priests?


Kreeft declares that his book will offend nice people who hate to be told there is a war. “It’s loud and crude and I’m not sorry, for it is written on the battlefield in the heat of battle.  It is written for soldiers.”


Who are the soldiers that will save our Church? Archbishop Fulton Sheen told us: “Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops like bishops, and your religious act like religious.” 

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6 Comments


Julienne
Julienne
Feb 03

Can we please not cancel anyone. We can cancel our support of their activities, but I believe that we should never cancel a person.

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It's time we started cancelling these priests and bishops. Withdraw all attendance, all monies, all support, from parish and Diocese. Then complain loudly.

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If only we could in Germany. If we refuse to pay mandatory Church Tax and thus "leave" the Church we are barred from the sacraments.

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Catherine, your quotation above, from the gay priest, “Once, during conversation with my spiritual director, I poured out my anger and frustration at the futility of working for racial and sexual justice in a Catholic Church that seems impervious to change.  “Why in the hell should I keep doing what I do when it makes no difference in this Church?”  .. got me thinking of the years I spent as a self employed industrial management consultant. I too spent many years working to change the practices of people, in my case, within manufacturing industry.


I too 'dreamed' of improvement and of getting somewhere. I did however, learn that changes in practice required by my dream,can never be efficacious, unless requisi…


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I read this when it was published online last November. It’s about Israel and Gaza but it spoke to me about the battle for the soul of the Church.

“To win a war, you have to fight one. If your enemy is fighting a war and you’re fighting something less than a war, the enemy will win.”

Daniel Greenfield, Gatestone Institute. Oct 11 2023.

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👏👏👏✝️🙏🕊

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