The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is currently holding its 2021 spring meeting, where they want to begin drafting a document that would selectively exclude some Catholics from the Eucharist. Their efforts began in earnest after the election of Democratic president Joe Biden and he is their main target.
Tragically, the USCCB has increasingly set aside their pastoral duties and acted in a partisan manner.
The Eucharist is the central, unifying ritual that draws us into communion with one another. For the bishops to consider using the body of Christ as a weapon with which to divide the faithful is a reprehensible betrayal of the power of the Sacraments.
Earlier this week, FutureChurch joined other Catholic renewal organizations who oppose this USCCB effort. At this event, Deborah Rose-Milavec, Co-Director of FutureChurch focused on the opposition of Catholic bishops to supporting the Violence Against Women Act and the National Suicide Hotline, all because both now contain provisions to protect LGBTQ+ people.
Here is her contribution:
For the past eight years I have served as Executive Director, and now Co-Director of FutureChurch -- a 31 year old organization working for the full participation of all Catholics in the life, ministry and governance of theCatholic Church. But prior to my current work, I served as the executive director of a domestic violence prevention agency and shelter.
There, I witnessed daily - the heroism of women seeking a life without violence for themselves, and for their children.
I know just how important The Violence Against Women Act commonly referred to as VAWA is for those who suffer violence in their relationships; and I wish every bishop in the United States could meet the women I have met and learn what it means to have courage from them.
For more years than I’d like to admit, Catholic priests contributed to the problem of violence against women by counseling them to find ways to “please” their husbands in order to avoid divorce – literally, at all costs.
These churchmen enforced a narrow and rigid ideology of marriage rooted in very traditional gender roles instead of following the example of Jesus in theGospel who always put the needs of the vulnerable first.
Finally, in 1992 the US Bishops wrote the pastoral letter, “When I Call for Help” where they roundly condemned all violence against women and prioritized their safety. In 1994, when VAWA was instituted, they were strong supporters. And ten years later, when they reissued that pastoral letter, they recommended victims call the VAWA hotline.
So it is heartbreaking to know that in the past decade, the bishops have turned their backs on vulnerable women and men who are suffering violence at the hands of intimate partners.
BecauseVAWA now includes provisions explicitly protecting people in same-sex relationships, the USCCB is working to undermine it.
They have decided to prioritize another ideology -- this time -- their own narrowly conceived conception of gender identity knowing full well they put LGBTQ+ lives in jeopardy.
While they admit VAWA strengthens protections against domestic violence and human trafficking, they continue to withhold their support.
When victims of domestic violence ask for bread, the bishops offer stones.
The same holds true for the USCCB’s opposition to the National SuicideHotline. The hotline has been in place since 2004, but just last year, the Federal Communications Commission approved the use of a free, three-digit number – 988 -- to ensure that people in desperate straits can easily access the hotline for immediate help.
The USCCB stood in opposition to funding for the National Suicide Hotline because it included funding for outreach to LGBTQ+ people, especially Queer youth, who are especially prone to suicidal thoughts and attempts.
The Gospels tell us that Jesus saved his most vociferous condemnations for those who sacrificed human lives to ideology. He called them blind guides, fools, vipers, and serpents (Matthew23).
In this day and age, we call our bishops to follow the example of Jesus – to give victims of violence and those who are contemplating suicide -- bread instead of stones. It is the work of theGospel.
Marianne Duddy Burke spoke out fearlessly about the bishops' attempt to weaponize Holy Communion against faithful Catholics where she has clearly called their actions "coercion."
FutureChurch joined other organizations who are part of Catholic Organizations for Renewal -- DignityUSA, Women's Ordination Conference, Catholics For Choice, CORPUS, and the Quixote Center in denouncing the bishop's plan.
You can see the whole event online here:
FutureChurch encourages Catholics to contact their bishops today and encourage them to follow the lead of Nuncio Christophe Pierre; end their partisan actions; and follow the example of Jesus in union with their brother bishop, Pope Francis.