The Catholic Church and the LGBT community: Who is making whom the enemy?

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The Church has a new justification for its treatment of the gay community: If we don't take a stand against their agenda, they might just "morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan."

Those comments were made this week by Chicago archbishop Cardinal Francis George regarding next year's Gay Pride parade, which created some tension when it was announced that the planned route would pass by a Catholic church on a Sunday morning. The church's pastor, Father Thomas Srenn, raised concerns that the parade route would disrupt their Mass schedule and the large crowds would make it impossible for people to get to church that day. Parade organizers heard the concern, and adjusted their start time so as not to interfere with the parish's schedule.

While Srenn made clear that his concern was about the timing--not the content--of the parade, Cardinal George took a stronger stance. In an interview with Fox Chicago, George said, "You don't want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism."

When it was pointed out that the comment seemed a little harsh, George stood his ground, arguing that "the rhetoric of the Ku Klux Klan [is like] the rhetoric of some of the gay liberation people. Who is the enemy? Who is the enemy? The Catholic Church."

But is the gay community really making the church out to be their enemy, or are they feeling like they're the ones being targeted by church leaders? George's comments have drawn a good deal of criticism, but they're far from an isolated incident. The church has been vigilant in its opposition to same-sex marriage, and Minneapolis-St. Paul Archbishop John Nienstedt now wants Catholics to say a prayer at Mass that marriage will be kept only between heterosexual couples. Nevermind that a Washington Post-ABC News poll earlier this year showed 63 percent of Catholics actually support gay marriage rights.

In San Francisco this month, Archbishop George Niederauer barred three gay/lesbian clergy member from participating in an ecumenical Advent prayer service because, apparently, their presence would detract from the focus on Advent. And when Joe Murray of the LGBT Catholic group The Rainbow Sash Movement publicly called for a debate with New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, the archdiocese gave a firm "no" as their answer. Granted, Murray did himself no favors with his attacks on Dolan, but the movement claims it is Dolan who cast the first stone by proclaiming the church's teaching on human dignity but excluding some from being entitled to equal treatment as children of God. And these are just a few of the most recent examples.

Meanwhile, there are groups like DignityUSA that work toward integrating LGBT Catholics as members of one large faith community, and there are plenty of Catholics in the pews who are willing to welcome them with open arms. But as long as some people--regardless of which side they are on--want to make this into a war and or compare those they disagree with to the KKK, we're only pushing ourselves further away from being a truly loving, Christian community.

Related links:

A good fit? Church teaching on homosexuality and human dignity

Mom, Dad, I'm gay