A Minneapolis priest confessed this week that in the first time since he started parish ministry over 30 years ago, people are telling him they're embarrassed to be Catholic. The Archbishop's letter to priests, leaked to the Minneapolis StarTribune last Sunday (thank you Michael and Progressive Catholic Voice!) has apparently raised great alarm among the faithful. His demand for priestly silence and his egregious distortion of intention held by those who wish to vote NO on the Minnesota Marriage Amendment have inspired humiliation among rank and file Catholics.
We say, don't be embarrassed. Be angry.
Love your church. Remember all the good that flows from so many ecclesial corners and times. Love even those within the Church who attempt to bring hierarchical authority to distorted, destructive levels.
But be angry.
Not the "I hate these clerics" kind of anger. Not the name-calling kind of anger. Not the anger that limits its expression to bitch sessions with other angry people. But an anger rooted in the call of your baptism to proclaim the good news that Jesus came to welcome the outcast, to widen the circle of God's love and justice. An anger that mobilizes you to act courageously on behalf of this Good News.
We Catholics know how to passively resist dictates that counter the informed decisions of our conscience. What we could do more of is actively resist. Stand up and offer a clear, alternative voice--in church and out of church. Engage in respectful, honest conversations with those who may not agree with you. Call a "house church" gathering of fellow parishioners or neighbors to listen to the stories of those marginalized by constant barrages of judgment. Tell family and friends that you will vote NOT to enshrine discrimination into the constitution, and tell them what brings you to this conviction.
Embarrassment causes us to cower. Anger--of the Gospel variety--has the power to inspire our action on behalf of those Jesus welcomes into God's circle.
Don't be embarrassed. Be angry. Be Gospel angry.