I'll not waste words on a response to Dan Flathers' spirited defense of Vatican homophobia in his recent letter to the editor. The American voting public did it in a resounding fashion much better than I ever could. In a stunning rebuke to the political and religious right, a majority of voters - including Catholics who properly ignored the bishop's threat of ex-communication and denial of the Eucharist - re-elected Barak Obama, who ran on a platform that included equal opportunity for gays. The fact of the matter is that the Catholic church has carried out a destructive campaign against justice and equality for gay and lesbian people for the last 50 years. Future generations will look back on these election results as a significant turning point of Americans' awareness of the right of equality for all its citizens by soundly rejecting the church's position on homosexuality.
This is reminiscent of the more than a century of struggle for women's suffrage, which also was fiercely opposed by the Catholic church. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who was in the forefront of that long struggle, observed that, "In the early days of women-suffrage agitation, I saw the greatest obstacle we had to overcome was the bible. It was hurled at us from every side."
As for John Shelby Spong, who as the archbishop of Newark was ordained the first openly gay priest, it is true that he was at odds with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams over the issue of gay rights. Spong incurred the archbishop's wrath at the Lambeth Conference of 1998 by openly opposing the archbishop's stand on gay rights, accusing him of shamelessly caving in to the conservative wing of the Anglican church. Spong was subsequently vindicated when the overwhelming majority of American Episcopalians agreed with him as evidenced by their acceptance of its openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson.
In closing, let me further say that by suggesting that until bishops openly and honestly hold those accountable for allowing the sexual abuse of tens of thousands of innocent children, they have lost their moral authority to speak out on social issues.
Gene Rigelon, Front Royal