Discipline, dogma and docility

Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain (Archdiocese photo)

It’s an ironic turn of the flow of history. The Seattle archdiocese was once renowned for its dedication to social justice care inclusive of all, including LGBTQ individuals, and thus was investigated in the 1980s by the Vatican at the instigation of then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Now that Ratzinger is Pope Benedit XVI, the Seattle archdiocese has been transformed into being one of the swords of the Vatican’s crackdown on those who resist its legendary three D’s of discipline, dogma and docility. Archbishop Peter Sartain has been assigned to impose the three D’s on, of all people, the church’s own nuns. A Vatican assessment has accused the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents about 80 percent of nuns in the United States, of deviating from Catholic teaching in areas such as homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia, and women’s ordination. Sartain has been handed the power to put them back in line.

Coming on the heels of Sartain’s unique and aggressive stance against Washington’s marriage equality law (see post below), he now moves into a very high-profile role amongst U.S. bishops. Why give the job to someone in such an out-of-the-way diocese as Seattle’s? Well, as some have speculated, a cardinal’s red hat may be waiting — depending on Sartain’s own acts of determined discipline.

“New Vatican job for Sartain: Make Nuns Toe the Line,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 4/18/12

“Sisters of Compassion Need a Hand in Dealing with the Pope,” Seattle Times, 4/26/12

For part of the historical background, see the “Catholic Hill” excerpts on this site.

Seattle archbishop using churches in anti-gay effort

Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain has urged all parishes in the archdiocese to collect signatures for a referendum to overturn the Washington marriage equality law. This is in stark contrast to the more courageous and welcoming stance that a previous archbishop, Raymond Hunthausen, took three decades ago. While the Catholic Church has long expressed opposition to the government treating lesbians and gays equally in the application of civil marriage law, this appears to be the first time an archbishop has actively promoted the use of the churches themselves in such an aggressive anti-gay manner.

See Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “Catholic Bishops Bless Gay Marriage Rollback;”  The Stranger, “Archbishop Turns Every Seattle Mass into an Anti-Gay Political Rally” and Seattle Times,  “Catholic Church Mixes it Up with Politics.” Also:  SartainLetter

For background on the contrasting welcoming stance by Archbishop Hunthausen in Seattle thirty years ago, see the excerpts on this website at On Catholic Hill. 

Gay Seattle/Gay Paradises event

For those living near the Seattle area, I’ll be reading from and discussing Gay Seattle as well as my new book Imagining Gay Paradise at Seattle University on Thursday evening, April 12. The focus will be on the age-old notion of a “search for home” — that plot line of struggle and human creative endeavor we all  know so well from stories like theOdyssey.  Gay Seattle, treated that theme — but, of course, imagining a home in the soggy Pacific Northwest is considerably different from imagining one in tropical paradises. I’ll be comparing and contrasting the approaches used in the two geographic areas. And, we’ll be talking about writing and what techniques come into play in book-length narrative journalism.

At least one if not more additional discussions of the books will be scheduled in the Seattle area during the Pride Month of June.  Then I’ll be attending other readings and discussions in Bangkok, Singapore, Bali, and Amsterdam. I’ll post those as they are scheduled.

A colleague, Dr. Sam Boerboom, who teaches courses in LGBTQ rhetoric, will also be on hand to discuss his insights about how sexually marginalized groups have to re-imagine their homelands since they are often shut out of those imagined by others.

The event starts at 7 p.m. at SU’s Commons on the 5th floor of the Casey Building and runs until 9 p.m. It’s being co-sponsored by the university’s Communication Department, International Student Center, and Asian Studies program and has been organized by Dr. Mara Adelman — who, as everyone at Seattle U knows, always does a fabulous job of making sure there are great snacks to go along with the conversation! The event is open to the public.