Friday, May 29, 2015

Quote of the Day

The statement that homosexual acts, by definition, cannot contribute to the good of the human person seems to contradict the scientifically proven relational experiences of committed, monogamous homosexual couples.

Lawrence Kurdek has done extensive research on gay and lesbian couples and notes the following characteristics when comparing these relationships with married heterosexual couples: Gay and lesbian couples tend to have a more equitable distribution of household labor, demonstrate greater conflict resolution skills, have less support from members of their own families but greater support from friends, and, most significantly, experience similar levels of relational satisfaction compared to heterosexual couples.

Not only do empirical studies challenge magisterial claims that homosexual acts, by definition, are detrimental to the human person and human relationships, such studies also challenge the doctrinal congregation's claim that, "as experience has shown, the absence of sexual complementarity in these [homosexual] unions creates obstacles in the normal development of children ... [and] would actually mean doing violence to these children." That unsupported claim is contradicted by experience and scientific analysis.

Michael G. Lawler and Todd A. Salzman
Excerpted from "Pope Francis Brings Nuance
to Notion of Complementarity
National Catholic Reporter
May 29, 2015

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote of the Day – August 11, 2010
The Standard for Sexual Ethics: Human Flourishing, Not Openness to Procreation
Relationship: The Crucial Factor in Sexual Morality
Daniel Helminiak on the Vatican's Natural Law Mistake
Beyond the Hierarchy: The Blossoming of Liberating Catholic Insights on Sexuality

Related Off-site Links:
To Have a Truly Just Church, Pope Francis Must Move Beyond Complementarity – Jamie Manson (National Catholic Reporter, May 6, 2015).
Homosexual Relationships: Another Look – Bill Hunt (The Progressive Catholic Voice, September 8, 2012).

Thursday, May 28, 2015

More Progressive Catholic Perspectives on Ireland's Historic Gay Marriage Vote

Above: Joe Caslin's pro-marriage equality mural on
Caherkinmonwee Castle in County Galway. (Photo: David Sexton)

NOTE: This is a follow-up to the previous Wild Reed post, Progressive Thoughts on Recent Developments in Ireland, El Salvador and the U.S. For my own thoughts on the overwhelming Catholic support for marriage equality in Ireland, click here.

After the Irish vote on gay marriage, which saw 62% vote in favour of a change to the constitution to allow gay people to marry, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said the church needed to take “a reality check” and “not move into denial.” . . . [T]ruth and right are more likely to be found in common consensus than in autocratic dictatorship. But for a Catholic leader, even the mention of a phrase like “reality check” is groundbreaking.

This, after all, is an organisation that has chosen to ignore reality, even when it is up close, personal and staring it in the face. I’m thinking of issues such as contraception, which it continues to pronounce against, while the vast majority of Catholics are more than happy to use it; and child abuse, which it refused to acknowledge, even as the files on its criminal priests stacked up and grew dusty on the desks of cathedral offices the world over.

. . . What led to Martin’s radical rethink was simple: the fear that he will soon be leading a church without any followers. For thousands of years, the men at the top of the Catholic church thought power flowed just one way: now, at long last, they’re realising it’s not that simple. Because a church with no worshippers wouldn’t be a church at all, and the men who run it would have no power any more.

They’d better do something quick. I have an idea: they could start emulating the life of a preacher who lived in poverty 2,000 years ago. Whatever made me think of that? As reality checks go, that one really would take some beating.

– Joanna Moorhead
Excerpted from "The Irish Catholic Church is Changing Its Tune
– Soon the Vatican Will Too
The Guardian
May 27, 2015

Some of the most effective social media around the ["Yes" vote's overwhelming success] featured families of LGBTIQ Catholics. Their simple statements of love for their children and their hope that they might marry and form good Irish families were persuasive. It was all rather traditional in the end—everyone is entitled to love. While the institutional church lost miserably, the enduring message of post-Vatican II Catholicism—that all persons are equal with corresponding rights and responsibilities—had a good day. The fact that this message was distilled from the rubble of sexual abuse, clergy cover-up, heterosexism, disdain for women, and the rest of the clerically-constructed system is a miracle in itself. The pulpits are still in the hands of the priests, though, and they do not show many signs of sharing.

. . . Irish clergy used to make a living telling other people how to live their lives no matter how flawed their own were. A generation ago people in Ireland went to daily mass after work and heard the messages repeated ad nauseam. Irish Catholics proved they know how to separate the wheat from the chaff, the important values like love and justice from warped attempts to dictate outmoded morality.

It is for lay Catholics around the world to be clear, as Irish voters were, that we can and will make our own decisions.

Much remains to be done to dismantle deeply entrenched structures. But the Irish referendum means that a top-down, clergy-heavy model of church heard its death knell in Dublin. As it reverberates around the world the Gospel message might get a little more airtime. As the Irish say, it will make a glass eye cry—with joy.

– Mary E. Hunt
Excerpted from "Did Ireland Just Bury the Catholic Church?"
Religion Dispatches
May 26, 2015

[I]n falling out of line with the Vatican, Irish people are actually falling in line with their Catholic counterparts in other Western countries, including the United States.

They aren’t sloughing off their Catholicism — not exactly, not entirely. An overwhelming majority of them still identify as Catholic. But they’re incorporating religion into their lives in a manner less rooted in Rome.

We journalists too often use "the Catholic Church" as a synonym for the pope, the cardinals and teachings that have the Vatican’s stamp of approval. But in Europe and the Americas in particular, the church is much more fluid than that. It harbors spiritually inclined people paying primary obeisance to their own consciences, their own senses of social justice. That impulse and tradition are as Catholic as any others.

– Frank Bruni
Excerpted from "On Same-Sex Marriage, Catholics Are Leading the Way"
The New York Times
May 27, 2015

Ireland, the source of Catholic missionaries throughout the word for hundreds of years, has suffered a drastic exodus of people from its church-going ranks since the sexual abuse scandal broke into public view during the past decade. The majority of Irish men and women may still call themselves Catholic, but they no longer accept the hierarchy as believable, particularly in matters of sexual morality. Thus, the stunning rejection of the church’s view of gay marriage as an invalid relationship in the eyes of God and the church. What the church teaches about sexuality is rejected almost as a duty. The church has no credibility in matters of sexuality in Ireland.

The Irish have been brought up by the Catholic Church to view marriage as a sacrament and that’s the reason they can shift sideways to see a same-sex relationship in the same God-blessed way. Because marriage is a beautiful commitment of love, taught to them by the church, the Irish can make the connection to two people of the same sex loving each other with a similar commitment. It is the love commitment they value, and have come to see in their friends and family members who are gay and lesbian as well. Love conquers. The Irish are lovers. It doesn’t matter who the partners are — “I promise to love you all the days of my life, so help me God.”

– Paul F. Morrissey
Excerpted from "Ireland is For Gay marriage Because It is Catholic "
USA Today via Religion News Service
May 27, 2015

I have three suggestions [for why Catholics are so supportive of marriage equality]. . . . First, perhaps the fact that Catholics have a celibate clergy that includes a large number of gay men means that the fear bred from ignorance is less likely to be operative than in other traditions. Second, could it be that a natural law approach to ethical questions, that is, that reason should guide our thinking and our conclusions, is bred into the Catholic bone? Third, might Catholics be so imbued with the sacramental principle that they recognize any expression of genuine love to be evidence of God’s presence in the world, and hence to be cherished rather than condemned? In Ireland or here or elsewhere, the actual principal difference between leaders and people, on same-sex issues or birth control or religious freedom or perhaps many other issues, is that the leadership thinks deductively while the rank and file think inductively. Experience trumps ideology, which—strangely enough—is Pope Francis’s consistent message!

– Paul Lakeland
Excerpted from "Gay-Friendly Catholics"
May 27, 2015

It is time for church teaching to reflect what social science tells us and what Catholic families have long understood: Catholicism must cast off a theology of sexuality based on a mechanical understanding of natural law that focuses on individual acts, and embrace a theology of sexuality that has grown out of lived experience and is based on relationships and intentionality.

. . . On the issue of church teaching on sexuality, the time for dialogue is likely passed. Action is needed. The strongest message out of the Irish referendum is that on its teaching about sexuality, the church today faces a watershed moment, just as it did in 1968 with Humanae Vitae.

– The Editorial Staff
Excerpted from "Ireland Vote for Same-Sex Marriage
a Watershed Moment for Church Teaching
National Catholic Reporter
May 29, 2015

I was quite uncomfortable with [Cardinal Pietro Parolin's statement that the same-sex marriage referendum was not only "a defeat for Christian principles, but also a defeat for humanity."] I mean there has been lots of disasters in the world but I certainly would not support the belief that the referendum was among them. To suggest that over a million people who went to the polls and voted yes were so false in their judgment that it was a disaster for humanity is not something I can accept. It is an inappropriate statement . . . [and] not one I think that represents the mind of Pope Francis despite it coming from a very senior Church figure. It is a very heavy judgement on the whole issue.

– Willie Walsh, Bishop Emeritus of Killaloe
Excerpted from "Bishop Willie Walsh: "I Don't Accept the Referendum
as a Defeat for Humanity"
The Independent
May 27, 2015

Cardinal Parolin’s comments [re. the same-sex marriage referendum in Ireland being not only "a defeat for Christian principles, but also a defeat for humanity"] demonstrate exactly the kind of inflexibility and arrogance that have driven so many people from the Church. It is very hurtful and insulting to supporters of marriage equality to be spoken of as having unchristian, even inhuman, values. More than 80% of the Irish people still identify themselves as Catholic, and most of the Irish people who voted to support same-sex couples and families did so because they recognize the love and commitment these couples share. They were moved by the stories of people they know, and by the relationships they have witnessed first-hand. Their vote was no ‘defeat for humanity,’ but a victory for the fundamental Catholic values of love, inclusion, and the inherent dignity of all people.

This issue and these disagreements will be front and center during the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September and the second phase of the Synod on the Family in Rome in October. How our Church leaders respond will impact the lives of people all over the world. We urge the Synod participants to invite in same-sex couples; parents of lesbian and gay people who are married, or who struggle because they can’t be married; and gay couples raising children so they can hear directly from us. We urge respectful listening, a willingness to ask questions, and openness to the Spirit. Like Archbishop Martin of Dublin, we are calling upon our Church leaders to recognize that they must address the new realities in the world with sensitivity, sincerity, and honesty.

[Pope] Francis clearly agrees with [Cardinal] Parolin's "defeat for humanity" opinion on the outcome of Ireland's same-sex marriage vote. Remember that, back in January, the pope famously likened "gender theory" (which provides the intellectual basis for same-sex marriage and a host of other progressive ideas related to sexuality) to "ideological colonization" and even "Hitler Youth." Why? Because, Francis explained, gender theory "does not recognize the order of creation."

But rather than respond directly to Ireland himself, this time, Pope Francis is putting the harsher, condemnatory language in the mouth of his secretary of state while he does the work of evangelizing the youth about the truth and beauty of the church's teachings on marriage.

Parolin is taking on the old-fashioned role of Vatican scold while Francis takes the new, more merciful, catechetical approach. But ultimately, both men agree with the institutional church's opposition to marriage equality. Both men believe same-sex relationships violate the traditional understanding of natural law and gender complimentary.

Most importantly, both men believe these church teachings on marriage are correct and should not change. The problem, they believe, is that the institutional church hasn't done a good job of communicating the church's truths effectively and pastorally. As Parolin himself said in his statement on Ireland, the church "must strengthen its commitment to evangelization." Francis attempted to do just that in his audience the following day.

If the vote in Ireland proves anything, it is that both Francis, the good cop, and Parolin, the bad cop, will fail in their efforts. Ireland demonstrates that the pope's understanding of acting mercifully toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people will not be adequate to bring them into the pews.

– Jamie Manson
Excerpted from "Are Francis and Parolin
Playing Good Cop-Bad Cop on Same-Sex Marriage?
National Catholic Reporter
May 28, 2015

Above: Joe Caslin's pro-marriage equality mural
on South George Street, Dublin. (Photo: David Sexton)

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Progressive Thoughts on Recent Developments in Ireland, El Salvador and the U.S.
Singing Their Own Song in Ireland
Quote of the Day – May 21, 2015

Related Off-site Links:
European Bishops Strategize for Positive LGBT Outcome at October’s Synod – Bob Shine (Bondings 2.0, May 27, 2015).
Confidential Meeting Seeks to Sway Synod to Accept Same-Sex Unions – Edward Pentin (National Catholic Register, May 26, 2015).
European Bishops Discuss Improved LGBT and Divorced Ministry – Terence Weldon (Queering the Church, May 25, 2015).
Vatican’s "Defeat for Humanity" Statement Shows Church Officials Have Not Learned from the Irish Example – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, May 28, 2015).
How the Irish Became the World’s Leading Gay Activists – Margaret Spillane (The Nation, June 15, 2015)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Australian Sojourn – March 2015

Part 12: Gunnedah

NOTE: To start at the beginning of this series, click here.

After my brief but enjoyable visit with members of the McGowan family in the beautiful Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, I boarded a train in Grafton on the morning of Sunday, March 22 and headed south to the town of Wauchope, the closest train-stop to Port Macquarie and the home of my parents.

My time in Australia was quickly coming to an end. My good friend Joan, who had traveled with me to Australia from the U.S. at the beginning of the month and shared some wonderful times with me and my family in the Hunter Valley, in Port Macquarie, in Melbourne (right) and its surrounding area, and in Sydney and the Blue Mountains, had returned to the U.S.on March 20, the day I journeyed north from Sydney to visit the McGowans. And now I had just a week left before I headed back to my life in Minnesota.

With this in mind, my parents and I decided that we'd use part of my remaining time to drive to our hometown of Gunnedah and visit our relatives and friends there.

The drive from Port Macquarie inland to Gunnedah is about four-and-a-half hours. In a previous post I noted that the town Gunnedah is located in the Namoi River valley of north-western New South Wales and serves as the major service centre for the farming area known as the Liverpool Plains.

The town and its surrounding area were originally inhabited by indigenous Australians who spoke the Kamilaroi (Gamilaraay) language. The area now occupied by the town was settled by Europeans in 1833. Through my maternal grandmother’s family, the Millerds, my family can trace its connection to Gunnedah back to the town’s earliest days. For more about the town’s history and my family’s connection to it, see the previous Wild Reed post, My “Bone Country”.

As with my March 2015 visits to both Goulburn and Maclean, my time in Gunnedah was brief . . . but very enjoyable and meaningful. Just days before our arrival, Mum and I made phone calls and I got on Facebook to arrange a gathering of extended family members and friends at the Gunnedah Services and Bowling Club on the evening of Tuesday, March 24. Many of following photos are from that very special evening. Other photos, as you'll see, are from the archives!

Right: My parents, Gordon and Margaret Bayly – Gunnedah, March 24, 2015.

Left: Mum and Dad, early in their courtship, in Gunnedah in the mid-1950s. Dad is in his band uniform.

Above: Standing at right with my brothers (from left) Chris and Tim. This photo was taken in the backyard of our family's home in Gunnedah on the occasion of Tim's First Communion, sometime in the mid-1970s.

Above: With my high school friends (from left) Michelle, Danielle and Jo – Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

Above: Danielle and Jo in 1983. It was during our last year of high school that Danielle, Joanne and I, along with our friends Joy and David, climbed Nobby Rock. Situated north-east of Gunnedah, Nobby Rock was known as Ydire by the Gunn-e-dar people of the Kamilaroi tribe. For more images of our September 1983 hike, click here.

Above: Michelle (at right) with our mutual friend Lisa at my 16th birthday party in 1981.

Above: With my childhood friend David Syphers and his wife Angie.

Above: That's me next to our family's dog, Deano. Behind me (from right) is Dianne and David Syphers, and my younger brother Tim. We'd all been out with Dad collecting sandstone rocks for Mum's garden. I'm thinking this photo was probably taken in the late 1970s.

Above: With my Uncle Michael and his wife Val. Michael is my mother's younger brother.

Left: Michael and Val at the 1991 wedding of my brother Tim and sister-in-law Ros.

Above (from left): Angie, John and Heather Sills, David, me, and Danielle.

Above: Dad with John Sills in the 1950s.

Left: John and Heather at the 1988 wedding of my brother Chris and sister-in-law Cathie.

Above: With my Aunt Ruth, mum's younger sister.

Above: Ruth graduating from the Royal Women's Hospital in Paddington, Sydney, in 1968. Pictured with her are her parents (my maternal grandparents) Valentine (1890-1971) and Olive Sparkes (1906-1997).

Above: Ruth in 1975 with her husband Rex and their children Emily and Greg. Sadly, Rex passed away in 2006.

Above: Angie & David Syphers and David & Jillian Tudgey. Jillian is the youngest daughter of Heather and John Sills. My brothers and I grew up with the Sills family as our neighbors. And good neighbors they were too! David Syphers lived with his family just down the street. He and his sister Dianne were good friends with my brothers and I.

Above: Dad with longtime family friends Gwen, Wendy and Gary.

Gwen and her late husband Ray owned a property, “Fairview,” in the Kelvin district, north-east of Gunnedah, where they raised their three daughters, Denise, Wendy and Diane. I have many happy memories of spending time as a child with the Riordan family on their farm - playing tennis, riding mini-bikes with my brothers (right), and hiking through the nearby Kelvin Hills.

Above: Friends Michelle, Jo and her daughter, and Louise and her husband Russ.

Above: With longtime family friend Jeanette Goodwin.

Above: Jeanette's mother Hazel (left) with my paternal grandmother, Belle Smith (right), and Nanna's sister Phyllis (center). This photo was taken during one of my Great Aunt Phyllis' visits to Gunnedah from Sydney in the 1950s. (For more photos of Aunty Phyllis (1913-1996) and her life in Sydney, click here.)

Above (from left): Heather Sills, Dolores Worthington, Dad and Mum.

Above: Longtime family friends Peter Worthington and John Sills.

Left: Abby.

Right: Noah.

Abby and Noah are my cousin Greg's wife's two children. Greg's a great step-dad to them.

Above: With my cousin Sharon and her husband Ross.

Above: Mum's older sister Fay; Fay's daughter Sharon; Mum; and my maternal grandmother, Olive Sparkes (1906-1997) – Gunnedah, 1980.

Above: Sharon, Jillian and Wendy.

Above: Jo, Mum, Louise and Michelle.

Above: Lots of catching-up among and between the relatives!

Right: Mum with her good friend Rosemary.

Above: Dad, David, Mum, Angie, and Peter.

Above and below: My "bone country."

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Australian Sojourn, March 2015: Part 1 – Brooklyn and Morpeth
Part 2 – Port Macquarie, Wingham, and Ellenborough Falls
Part 3 – Roving Sydney's Eastern Beaches with Raph
Part 4 – The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
Part 5 – Watsons Bay, Camp Cove and the Sydney Heads
Part 6 – Family Time in Melbourne
Part 7 – The Great Ocean Road
Part 8 – A Wedding in Melbourne
Part 9 – A Reunion in Goulburn
Part 10 – Sydney and the Blue Mountains
Part 11 – A Journey to Northern Rivers Country
A Visit to Gunnedah (2014)
Journey to Gunnedah (2011)
This Corner of the Earth (2010)
An Afternoon at the Gunnedah Convent of Mercy (2010)
My "Bone Country" (2009)
The White Rooster
Remembering Nanna Smith
One of These Boys is Not Like the Others
Gunnedah (Part 1)
Gunnedah (Part 2)
Gunnedah (Part 3)
Gunnedah (Part 4)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Progressive Thoughts on Recent Developments in Ireland, El Salvador and the U.S.

Writes Francis DeBernardo about both the overwhelming Catholic support for marriage equality in Ireland and the latest step in the journey to sainthood for Oscar Romero in El Salvador . . .

Meanwhile, Fred Clark writes of how the U. S. bishops comprise a "culture-war vanguard without an army."

For Americans accustomed to the politicized culture-warrior bishops of the American Catholic church, it is startling to watch a pervasively Catholic country like Ireland mobilize in such a massive expression of support for the rights and dignity of LGBT people. After three decades of watching our nation’s Catholic bishops scrambling to enlist in the partisan culture-war of the white evangelical religious right, we’ve started to accept the American hierarchy’s claim that their church is, or must be, intrinsically right-wing and anti-gay. The news from Ireland is a reminder that this claim has never been true. The right-wing American hierarchy is a culture-war vanguard without an army.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Singing Their Own Song in Ireland
Remembering Oscar Romero
Catholicism's Future is "Up to the Laity"
Roman Catholicism's Fundamental Problem: The Cultic Priesthood and Its "Diseased System" of Clericalism
A Clerical Leadership Unresponsive to Voices of Reason
Re-Forming "the Vatican" Doesn't Mean Destroying the Church

Related Off-site Links:
A Great Day for Irish Lay Catholics! And for Lay Catholics in El Salvador, Too! – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, May 23, 2015).
Irish Catholicism Supports Same-Sex Marriage! – Mark Silk (Religion News Service, May 23, 2015).
Ireland’s Social Revolution: Traditionally Catholic Nation Makes History with Marriage Equality VoteDemocracy Now! (May 26, 2015).
Dublin Archbishop: "The Church Needs to Do a Reality Check" – Terence Weldon (Queering the Church, May 23, 2015).
For One Irish Catholic Couple, Backing Gay Marriage Is a Matter of Family Values – Hanna Ingber (The New York Times, May 22, 2015).
Vatican Newspaper Views Catholic Support for Marriage Equality in Ireland as "a Defeat" – AFP via Yahoo! News, May 25, 2015).
Catholic Hierarchy Ponders Future After Same-Sex Marriage Vote in Ireland – Danny Hakim (The New York Times, May 25, 2015).
Oscar Romero, Slain Salvadoran Archbishop, is a Step Closer to Sainthood – Tracy Wilkinson (The Los Angeles Times, May 23, 2015).
300,000 Celebrate Beatification of Salvadoran Archbishop Romero, 35 Years After U.S.-Backed MurderDemocracy Now! (May 26, 2015).
Former Salvadoran Officials Tied to U.S.-Backed Atrocities in 1980s Face Deportation, ExtraditionDemocracy Now! (April 9, 2015).
Oscar Romero, Saint for Our Times – Pat Marrin (Celebrations, May 2015).
Pope’s Focus on Poor Revives Scorned Theology – Jim Yardley and Simon Romero (The New York Times, May 23, 2015).
Romero Beatification Signals Pope Francis' Plan for Catholic Church – Tracy Wilkinson and Tom Kington (The Los Angeles Times, May 28, 2015).
Oscar Romero Brought a New Pentecost to the Church – Thomas Gumbleton (National Catholic Reporter, May 28, 2015).
A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to Canonizing Romero – Grant Gallicho (Commonweal, February 11, 2015).

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Pentecost Reflection by Elizabeth Johnson

We should no longer think of God as having a set plan for the evolving universe, rather a vision. This vision aims at bringing about a community of love. The Creator Spirit is at the heart of the process, guiding and luring the world in that direction.

. . . Yet the on-going destruction of the earth through human acts is a deeply sinful desecration. We counter this destruction by the care, protection, and restoration of nature, even if this goes counter to powerful economic and political interests . . . and it does.

If nature is the new poor then our passion to establish justice for the poor and oppressed now must extend to include suffering humans and all life systems and other species under threat. "Save the rainforest" becomes a concrete moral application of the commandment "Thou shalt not kill."

Instead of living as thoughtless or greedy exploiters, we are called to live as sisters and brothers, co-creators, and children of this Earth which God so loves. . . . "The love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit." And this love is universal, planetary, cosmic, and unceasing.

– Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ
Excerpted from Quest for the Living God
Bloomsbury Academic (Reprint edition, July 2011)

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Tongues and Souls on Fire
The Spirit and the Faithful
The Holy Spirit as Inclusive Community
Gospel Leadership
A Prayer for Pentecost
Strange Tongues

Recommended Off-site Link:
Pentecost: Divine Polyculture vs. Imperial Monoculture – Ched Myers (Radical Discipleship, May 21, 2015).

Image: Michael J. Bayly.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Singing Their Own Song in Ireland

The great flood of tears that we've cried
for our brothers and sisters who've died
over [fifteen hundred] years has washed away
our fears and strengthened our pride.
Now we turn back the tide.

We will no longer hear your commands,
we will slide your control from our lands;
redirect the flame of our anger and pain
and pity the shame for what you do in God's name.

– From "Sing Our Own Song"
by UB40 (with modified lyrics by Michael Bayly)

One of the most inspiring quotes I've heard in the wake of the overwhelming "Yes" vote for marriage equality in Ireland came from Leo Varadkar (pictured at left). Varadkar is a cabinet minister who came out as gay at the start of the government-led effort to amend Ireland’s conservative Catholic Constitution so as to extend civil marriage rights to same-sex couples. He's quoted in an Associated Press news story as declaring the following.

We’re the first country in the world to enshrine marriage equality in our constitution and do so by popular mandate. That makes us a beacon, a light to the rest of the world, of liberty and equality. So it’s a very proud day to be Irish. . . . People from the LGBT community in Ireland are a minority. But with our parents, our families, our friends, co-workers and colleagues, we’re a majority. For me it wasn’t just a referendum. It was more like a social revolution.

Amen, brother!

In celebration of yesterday's historic vote in Ireland I share Buffy Sainte-Marie's cover of UB40's "Sing Our Own Song."

Why this particular song? Well, let me explain . . .

The original version of "Sing Our Own Song" by UB40 was released in 1986 and reached #5 on the UK charts. Written as an anti-apartheid anthem, it was censored in South Africa by the ruling apartheid regime as it contained the ANC rallying cry of Amandla Awethu ("Power to us").

Buffy Sainte-Marie's version of the song features on her recently-released album, Power in the Blood, and celebrates indigenous resistance to colonial control. Her modified lyrics reference contemporary issues facing First Nation peoples, along with two of the movements that are responding in positive ways to these issues: Idle No More and Occupy.

Sings Buffy:

When the ancient drum rhythms ring,
the voice of our forefathers sings.
The will to live will beat on,
we will no longer be pawns
to greed and to war;
we will be Idle No More.
. . . When the ancient drum rhythms ring,
the voice of our grandmother sings.
Native America run,
we will no longer succumb
to oil and to ore.
We will be Idle No More.

Dance, dance for the right to be free,
we will rebuild our own society.
And occupy for the right to be free,
we will rebuild a just society.
And we will sing, we will sing,
we will sing our own song.

Now, here's why I consider "Sing Our Own Song" appropriate for celebrating yesterday's marriage equality victory in Ireland: The song's opening lyrics, which remain the same in both UB40's version and Buffy's version, are applicable to any group of people who resist and overcome the denial of their human and civil rights by a corrupt system of power and control. My modifying of these opening lyrics at the beginning of this post reflect my belief that in many ways, especially in relation to its understanding and "teachings" on gender and sexuality, the Roman Catholic hierarchy is one such corrupt and dysfunctional system, and has been for over fifteen hundred years.

For centuries, this feudal patriarchal system has exercised a destructive influence and an often abusive control over people, including the citizens of Ireland. Yet as yesterday's vote clearly shows, this is no longer the case. As one "Yes" campaigner notes, "Love has conquered all" . . . including the power of the Catholic hierarchy over people's sexual lives and decisions.

Catholic theologian Hans Küng has said the same thing in another, though no less helpful and liberating way:

The gospel of Jesus is stronger than the hierarchy.

And, yes, for many Catholics, the recent manifestation of this reality in Ireland is a cause for celebration.

. . . And we will stand for the right to be free,
and we will rebuild a just society.
And we will sing, we will sing,
we will sing our own song.

I conclude this post by sharing excerpts from two powerful pieces published in response to yesterday's historic marriage equality vote in Ireland. The first excerpt is from an Associated Press article by Shawn Pogatchnik.

Gay couples flocked to central Dublin to celebrate a "historic watershed" on Saturday as a large majority in the traditionally Catholic country voted to allow same-sex marriage, the culmination of a four-decade struggle for gay rights.

Waving rainbow flags, embracing and crying, two thousand people gathered to watch the official results in the courtyard of Dublin Castle after voters, young and old, accounted for one of the highest turnouts in a referendum for decades.

"The amount of people who came out to vote is just such an emotional thing for us," said Fred Schelbaum, 48, standing with his civil partner Feargal Scott, 43, who he said he intended to marry.

"Up to now a lot of gay people felt they were tolerated in Ireland. Now we know that it's much more than that."

The second excerpt is from "After This, No Exile," an op-ed by Bernárd Lynch, a gay Irish priest. In his op-ed, Lynch reflects on what he calls Ireland’s "declaration of independence" from "our colonial past and our colonial governance by the Roman Catholic Church."

Although still Catholic, the majority of the Irish people have voted that the freedom to love transcends their deepest religious beliefs. This marks a seismic shift in the mind of the nation. This consciousness serves not only the LGBT community but the entire people of Ireland in their long and arduous struggle for justice and co-equality among all their citizens.

As LGBT people, we had been robbed of our birthright: our absolute right to live and love as co-equals in our families, churches, towns, villages, and the country of our birth. Many of us left our homeland not for work and employment or for education – as the Irish have done for centuries by the millions – but simply because those of us who are LGBT were not welcome. Ireland up until now failed to honour its own Constitution in not “cherishing all her children equally.”

But, Friday, May 22, 2105, this changed forever. We have broken the shackles of our colonial past and our colonial governance by the Roman Catholic Church. We are free at last to live and love as we were born to be. For freedom – not happiness – is the precious stone. One cannot cling to happiness; it submits to no clinging. To be free, to live and love in your homeland, this is the most precious stone into which all others fade by comparison.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote of the Day – May 21, 2015
The Same Premise
The Blood-Soaked Thread
Louis Crompton on the "Theological Assault" of the Ulpianic-Thomistic Conception of Natural Law
Catholic Hierarchy Can Overcome Fear of LGBT People
Threshold Musings
No Matter What
No Patriarchal Hierarchy, No Rigid Conformity
Tongues and Souls on Fire
Quote of the Day – July 24, 2012

Related Off-site Links:
Ireland "Changed Utterly" by Gay Marriage Vote – AFP via Yahoo! News (May 24, 2015).
Ireland Backs Gay Marriage in "Landslide" Victory – Amy R. Connolly (UPI, May 23, 2015).
Ireland Says "Yes" to Same-Sex Marriage in Historic Vote – Colm Coyne and Louise Roug (Mashable, May 23, 2015).
Irish Catholicism Supports Same-Sex Marriage! – Mark Silk (Religion News Service, May 23, 2015).
A Great Day for Irish Lay Catholics! And for Lay Catholics in El Salvador, Too! – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, May 23, 2015).
Amnesty International Welcomes Ireland's Historic Decision to Say "Yes" to Marriage Equality – Amnesty International (May 23, 2015).
Irish Anti-Gay Groups Gracious in Defeat – Bil Browning (The Bilerico Project, May 23, 2015).
Ireland Has Left "Tolerance" Far Behind – Fintan O'Toole (The Irish Times, May 23, 2015).
Dublin Archbishop: "The Church Needs to Do a Reality Check" – Terence Weldon (Queering the Church, May 23, 2015).
For One Irish Catholic Couple, Backing Gay Marriage Is a Matter of Family Values – Hanna Ingber (The New York Times, May 22, 2015).
Why One of the World's Most Catholic Countries Might Approve Gay Marriage – Mo Moulton (The Atlantic, May 21, 2015).

Image 1: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.
Image of Leo Varadkar: Photographer unknown.
Image of Buffy Sainte-Marie: Matt Barnes.
Image 4: A woman walks past a pro marriage equality mural in Dublin, Ireland. (Aidan Crawley/EPA)
Image of Bernárd Lynch: Photographer unknown.
Image 6: A double rainbow over Dublin on the day the referendum result was announced. (Karl via Facebook)