Terrence, Frank, cataloging hierarchs who are supportive of civil unions may be of some value, but to me it is not worth abandoning the Vat. II “sense of the faithful” ecclesiology for a dependance on the opinions of individuals who hold power still in the monarchical, medieval power structure. We need to be working on the only valid model. The quicker we abandon monarchy, the better.
Sure, championing the civil sector to carve out the rights (hopefully equal) of LGBT unions is quite a change from being damned to hell everywhere. And hopefully the difference between “marriage” and “civil union” will turn out to be nonexistent. But what about all the other clerics and lay adherents to anti-LGBT doctrine (Catechism #2357,58,59) who will have their basis for ongoing persecution? Winning in the civil sphere is great. But what a shame that within the church we still have to suffer!
What about creating a “Galileo Reconciliation Commission-GRC”? (yeh, yeh, repetitive! Give me a little more time.) I just learned about a worldwide organization, “Yes World” (http://www.yesworld.org). It’s overwhelming holy purposes rise to the height of the holy purposes of the Catholic church. They are working with young people and have simply amazing organizational tactics. But, whoa, we have a ready-built organizational structure. So instead of cataloging individual hierarchs, why not agree–few as we are) to start challenging our diocesan structures to start creating the GRC? This will not be a debate about sexuality but about loving dissension in the 21st century. It is a 1) call for a gathering of all conscientious supporters of change in sexual theology; 2) a call for a moratorium on all neo-medieval torture tactics–firings, ejecting gay-straight alliances, etc.; 3) a call to all conscientious opponents to agree to the GRC process, giving them respect and trust that they will genuinely accept the possibility that we’re dealing with a Galileo moment.
Of course we will have to be creative in dealing with those who will use the neo-medieval tactics to silence us. We will have to be overwhelmingly forbearing with their tactics–especially the violent types. We will have to raise the courage level of the DADT folks who inhabit so many of our pews and offices to the point that they will act openly and increase our numbers. In numbers and united we certainly have a better chance of surviving than in the days when we could be thrown outside. Wouldn’t all these hierarchs supporting civil unions, yes even Brother Bergoglio, be willing to join us inside the church–not to debate the right or wrong of homosexuality, but to talk about doctrinal change from a sensus fidelium basis, respecting the conscientious positions of credible people.
One caveat: norms, norms. Only if we are united with a set of norms about sexual behavior that will separate us from the stereotypes still used to describe us, we won’t get to normalize the doctrines about sexuality that will include us. I hope we have the beginnings of this as we try to convince our sisters and brothers what a GRC, a loving dissent protocol, looks like.