QUOTE TO NOTE: Mario Cuomo’s Religion

Sometimes the relevant part of a news story is simply a single quotation or two.  When that’s the case, we will share those quotes with you through this feature, “QUOTE TO NOTE.”


In Maureen Dowd’s New York Times column today, entitled, “Here Comes Nobody,” she laments the narrow approach that Catholic Church leaders have been taking on social and political issues.  She turned to former New York Governor Mario Cuomo for advice, and he told her:

“If the church were my religion, I would have given it up a long time ago. . . .All the mad and crazy popes we’ve had through history, decapitating the husbands of women they’d taken. All the terrible things the church has done. Christ is my religion, the church is not.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Cardinal Calls for Equality of Heterosexual and Homosexual Relationships

Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki

So far I’ve only seen one news report in English about this item, but there are several in German that are floating around the web.  It is too good not to report, even though the information is rather sparse.

Berlin’s Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki told a major Catholic conference in Germany that relationships of same-gender couples should be treated equally with heterosexual couples. An article in The Local, an English news source in Germany reports:

“He told a crowd on Thursday that the church should view long-term, faithful homosexual relationships as they do heterosexual ones.

” ‘When two homosexuals take responsibility for one another, if they deal with each other in a faithful and long-term way, then you have to see it in the same way as heterosexual relationships,’ Woelki told an astonished crowd, according to a story in the Tagesspiegel newspaper.

“Woekli acknowledged that the church saw the relationship between a man and a woman as the basis for creation, but added that it was time to think further about the church’s attitude toward same sex relationships.”

Speaking at the 98th Katholikentag (Catholic), a conference of 60,000 Catholics in Mannheim, Woelki joins a growing chorus of episcopal voices who are calling for change in the hierarchy’s traditionally absolutist refusal to acknowledge the moral goodness of lesbian and gay relationships.

Last December, London’s Archbishop Vincent Nichols made headlines by supporting civil partnerships for lesbian and gay couples in the U.K.  That same month, Fr. Frank Brennan, a Jesuit legal scholar in Australia, also called for similar recognition of same-sex relationships.   In January, Bishop Paolo Urso of Ragusa, Italy, also called for recognition of civil partnerships in his country.

March of 2012 saw an explosion of questioning from prelates of the hierarchy’s ban on marriage equality. At New Ways Ministry’s Seventh National Symposium,Bishop Geoffrey Robinson of Australia called for a total re-examination of Catholic sexual ethics to allow for, among other things, moral approval of same-sex relationships.  The Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire, supported a bill that would legalize civil unions (albeit as a stopgap measure to prevent marriage equality).  Bishop Richard Malone of Portland, Maine, announced that the diocese would not take an active role in opposing the state’s upcoming referendum on marriage equality, as it had in 2009. In Italy, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini of Milan stated in his book, Credere e Cognoscere (Faith and Understanding), that “I do not agree with the positions of those in the Church who takes issue with civil unions.”  You can read excerpts, in Italian,  from the book here. An English translation of a different set of excerpts, thanks to the Queering the Church blog, can be found here.

While opposition to marriage equality from the hierarchy, especially in the United States, is still massive and strong, it is significant that these recent statements are all developing a similar theme of at least some recognition of the intrinsic value of lesbian and gay relationships, as well as the need for civil protection of them.  May this trend continue and grow.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry




Catholic Organizations Support Girl Scouts in Face of USSCB Investigation

Sixteen Catholic justice and church reform groups in the U.S.  have expressed their support for the Girl Scouts of America (GSA) who are undergoing an investigation by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

The investigation was prompted by complaints that the GSA is connected to liberal organizations and issues.  The Christian Science Monitor reports that

“Last year, the Scouts angered some conservatives by accepting into a Colorado troop a 7-year-old transgender child who was born a boy but was being raised as a girl.”

The 16 groups, members of the Catholic Organizations for Renewal, criticize the USCCB investigation, which will be conducted by the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, as

“the most recent episode in an increasingly troubling sequence of attacks against women and girls, both inside and outside the Church.”

The entire text of the statement, along with the names of the organizations which signed it,  follows:

Catholics Come Out in Support of Girl Scouts

 As Catholic organizations we congratulate the Girl Scouts on their 100th year anniversary and thank them for modeling the best of what girls can be: strong, bold, value-based young women.  What a shame that Catholic officials cannot see these young women for the gift they are to the church and world.

 The Bishops’ attempt to exert pressure on the Girl Scouts is the most recent episode in an increasingly troubling sequence of attacks against women and girls, both inside and outside the Church.  From the hierarchy’s mandate against the nuns to its most recent heavy-handed inquiry into the Girl Scouts, the Bishops’ actions not only reveal the growing gap between the hierarchy and the faithful, but also sends harmful messages about womanhood to our daughters in faith.  We urge the Bishops to cease the investigations.

 As Catholic organizations that seek a more just and inclusive church, we stand in solidarity with the 59 million women and girls who have been a part of the Girl Scouts.  We thank these women and girls—our sisters— for their witness of what it means to be a woman who knows her own giftedness in the face of a religion or society that too often undervalues  her self-worth.

 We invite those who would like to thank the Girl Scouts for their contribution to the church and society to join us in our Twitter campaign #GodLovesTheGirlScouts.

The Girl Scouts mission states that it “builds girls of courage, confidence and character” and for that we are grateful. These are exactly the type of young women needed in the Church today: those who know their self-worth goes beyond that which is measured by the Bishops’ investigation, but that is rooted in the simple fact that they are beloved children of God.

Signed by representatives from:

Call To Action, Catholics for Choice,  CORPUS,  DignityUSA,  Faithful of Southern Illinois,  Federation of Christian Ministries–Roman Catholic Faith Community Council,  Greater Cincinnati Women-Church,  National Coalition of American Nuns,  New Ways Ministry,  RAPPORT,  Roman Catholic Womenpriests–USA,  San Francisco Bay Area Women-Church,  Southeastern Pennsylvania Women’s Ordination Conference,  Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual,  Women-Church Baltimore,  Women’s Ordination Conference.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry