Special Rights & Rites

December 2004

You may have seen the bumper strip, “Gay Rights Aren’t Special Rights.” Whether you agree or disagree, “gay rights” are definitely special rights (and rites) in the Catholic Church. In many dioceses there are “Gay and Lesbian Masses.” My, how does one get to be so special!

Joe Ecclesia (no doubt a pseudonym) has written a poignant letter to his bishop (as printed in Chronicles, July). Beginning with “Your Excellency,” the letter says: “Recently, I read in our diocesan newspaper of the ‘gay and lesbian Mass’ offered at St. Peter’s Church in Charlotte. According to the article, this Mass was a means of comforting those who have been ostracized by the Church…. Msgr. Richard Allen, who received a standing ovation for his homily, called gays and lesbians ‘heroes.’ His remarks made me wonder if I had taken the right path by marrying and raising a family. Should I have tried walking on the other side of the street, so to speak, so that I might also be a hero? That evening long ago in Boston’s Combat Zone, when I refused the advances of that poor skinny fellow with the blond beard and damp lips: Was it then that my life took a wrong turn, costing me my opportunity to rise to the heights of heroism?… My purpose in this letter is to ask you to consider offering a diocesan-wide Fornicators’ Mass. Several people in our parish are ‘living in sin’ — how splendidly quaint that sounds! — and I am certain that it takes great courage for them to do so. It seems to me that they, too, deserve recognition as heroes…. To create a proper mood, we might consider blending a few songs from the 60s — ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together,’ ‘Help Me Make It Though the Night,’ and so on — into the Mass…. Perhaps the feast day of Saint Valentine would be the ideal day for the Fornicators’ Mass.”

Joe has a few other ideas for leveling the playing field: “As a former swiller of anything alcoholic — I did draw the line at aftershave lotion — I can tell you with some authority that there would be great interest in a Drunkards’ Mass…. The diocese could offer a Thieves’ Mass for certain local businessmen [and] a Gossips’ Mass for almost everyone….”

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New Oxford Notes: December 2004

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