Reporting on today’s symbolic protest in New York against Cardinal Dolan’s recent likening of LGBT Catholics to “dirty hands” that needed to be washed clean, Joseph Amodeo describes how the group who simply wanted to enter the Cathedral with charcoal-blackened palms were treated:
Cardinal Dolan’s shutting of the doors of the church in the faces of Catholics speaking their conscience and their faith breathes new life –in no doubt unintended ways– into lessons from the Gospel. Instead of modelling the love of Jesus as it was manifested in story after story from the Gospels, today’s cold rebuff calls to mind the behavior of the Pharisees.
Matthew 23:13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”
Luke 11: 37-41
“When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal. Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.”
Has Cardinal Dolan refused others with truly dirty hands entry to the church? Has he called on NYPD to remove every Wall Street banker, every politician and every businessman or woman whose hands are stained with the blood and suffering of those who have been sent off to fight illegal wars, been put out of their homes through dishonest mortgage and re-financing practices, been made to work under exploitative labor practices, been denied help to feed their families? Have any of the people with hands dirtied by these practices been publicly denied entry to the church? If they have not, are we to conclude that “whited sepulchers” are more welcome in the church than people whose God-given sexuality makes clerics act in ways that Jesus would have denounced?
As Joseph Amodeo, organizer of today’s protest wrote: ” I and others are standing at the doorway to the Church knocking, seeking, and asking. By this action, I hope that the doors of the Cathedral will be opened to us not on a conditional basis, but rather with the understanding that we are all created in the image and likeness of God.”
We, who believe as Amodeo does, in a Gospel of love and acceptance, find strength in our faith that these words from the Gospel are to be taken seriously:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8
It’s a faith that anachronistic theology and misplaced power keep putting sorely to the test.
Will Pope Francis act to ensure a more Christ-like welcome to all?