Fr. Christofferson writes non-apology for appearing at Trump Rally

I’ll just put this here. Problematic text I have put in bold.

 

To the parish faithful of IC, SH and SJ:

It was never my intention to ever discuss Matt Rosendale’s invitation to attend as his guest the recent Trump rally in Great Falls. But here I am doing so. I am doing so because as you all know the far left does not tolerate anyone who steps out of line and they readily come crashing down like a ton of bricks on anyone who holds opinions different from their own. Msgr. O’Neill, our administrator, has asked Fr. Chris Lebsock and myself, to prepare a written statement that he can quote in response to those who are maligning the Church and our character. So here you go. The following is the full text of the letter I sent to Msgr. O’Neill…

July 9, 2018

Dear Msgr. O’Neill,

In response to the recent uproar in the print media, certain blog posts and guest comments on our own diocesan Facebook page, I wanted to offer you an explanation regarding my motive and my intention for attending President Donald Trump’s recent campaign rally for Matt Rosendale in Great Falls, Montana on Thursday, July 5th, 2018.

My first motive for attending the rally may not be the most obvious; a sitting president was visiting my hometown of Great Falls, not a frequent occurrence, and I wanted to attend. I have not seen a sitting president in my hometown since President Jimmy Carter visited my middle school back in the 1970’s.

My second motive for attending the rally was that Divine Providence has placed the formation of the Supreme Court of the United States into the hands of President Trump, and whether we approve of his personality and his sense of humor or not, President Trump’s selection of the next supreme court nominee, if approved and sworn in, could potentially change the course of our nation’s trajectory for decades to come, placing us back on a path that respects all human life beginning from conception. I personally voted for President Trump for this very reason.

As a guest of Senate hopeful Matt Rosendale, my brother priests and I were given VIP seating privileges and we were very hospitably given a place of prominence close to the runway where we would have a good chance of greeting the president as he passed by. I want to mention that the VIP section was only at 1/3 capacity when we arrived at about 1:45 pm. We could have, I could have, asked the usher to place us in a less prestigious location out of the view of the news cameras, and in fact Fr. Lebsock did express a specific concern in that regard. I personally assume full responsibility for the seating arrangements. We were not “duped” or “used” as has been suggested.

I do regret that many unscrupulous individuals and those in the media have distorted our intentions and motives for attending the rally and have used our priesthood and the free exercise of our religious liberty as a pretext to further a deranged narrative of hatred towards President Trump while at the same time advancing their own anti-Catholic bigotry and bias. We declined at least two interviews and apart from that we spoke not one word to anyone in the media. It is so terribly unfortunate that these scandal-mongering reporters used the power of their pen in such a disgraceful and deceptive way causing so much wonderment and at times heartache among the genuinely faithful in our diocese.

By way of conclusion I do want to include with this letter one viewer’s observation posted in the comments box of an Internet blog that was sent to me by the gentleman who wrote it. It is included for your own peace of mind. A man we will never meet took the time to identify the timestamp of each of President Trump’s predictably controversial and puerile statements and with each timestamp he documents the reaction of my brother priests and myself. In all instances, my brother priests and I acted in a way in keeping with our dignity as priests given our participation in a Trump “political” rally. The reports that we were “clapping and cheering” at President Trump’s most potentially offensive remarks are patently false and the video of the rally bears that truth out.

Thank you for calling me Sunday afternoon and I am glad that we had an opportunity to discuss this matter in a cordial and fraternal way. I am always very grateful for your support and encouragement and I for my part renew my promise to you that I will strive to be a consolation to you in my faithfulness to the Church and my loyalty to you as my religious superior as we await the appointment of our next bishop.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Rev. Kevin Christofferson

 

The adversarial nature of this letter, I submit, is not to apologize, but to justify a broach of clerical policy and good sense. I sense- in this man I have never met- a hardness of heart that defies the Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth. This priest has embraced the notion of Divine Providence to endorse a candidate and the President he has become.

Funny, I never heard that much about Divine Providence when Barack Obama won two Presidential elections with more of the popular vote than the man now occupying the Oval Office….

It is very clear- by my positions on social media and elsewhere- that there are political policies I support and political policies and actions that I don’t support, but standing up for an accused sexual predator who has pardoned criminals who have violated the morals and principles of this country’s founding makes my head spin.

This should not go away.

Marriage, Civil Unions, Platform Planks and Communion

What do all of these things have in common?

The answer in my head is this: injustice. Let’s take them one by one, shall we?

Marriage
Last week, New York joined ConnecticutIowaMassachusettsNew HampshireVermont, plus Washington, D.C. and the Coquille Indian Tribe in Oregon in granting human beings the right to marry another human being and to enjoy all the rights and privileges thereof.

It was a dramatic moment for me.

I was sitting in the kitchen of two people I love very dearly (State of Washington-certified Domestic Partners), watching them make dinner while Tweeting the progress of the New York Senate and holding the hand of the man I love. I was thinking about the impact this could have on my life. To wit: If New York legislates marriage, does that mean that all the state constitutional bans on marriage equality will eventually be struck down and I could marry this man I love in the state we were both born in, live in, work in, pay taxes in, own property in? That I could enjoy the freedoms other people so casually have without the sense of gross injustice that people who are discriminated against know and feel deeply?

Wow. Maybe it COULD happen.

And then, the legislation passed and I experienced the same shiver of joy I felt when I first said “I’m gay” to another living person. Relief and truth and happiness. All rolled into one. And I knew I was not alone. This may have happened in New York, but it was felt all over the world- and the irony is not lost. The echoes of Stonewall nearly half a century ago, reverberated in every subsequent Tweet, text and Facebook update.

It was really happening.

Civil Unions
Rhode Island this week passed a bill which grants human beings the right of Civil Union if they do not qualify for marriage as defined by the state. Another dramatic moment for me. Rhode Island is heavily Catholic- I never thought this would fly here.

Well, at least not very easily.

It is very well worth noting, that Catholics, for the most part, have an overwhelming sense of social justice. Almost all of the polls conducted show a sensitivity to social issues on the part of American Catholics unparalleled by their Protestant counterparts. Still, the Roman Catholic hierarchy has been working overtime to strike fear into the hearts of the people in the pews regarding human marriage. With phrases like “protect your children/family”, “slippery slope”,”moral decay”, “dangerous precedent”, the Catholic leadership has worked to make this particularly deep social justice issue one of moral urgency. I thought it might work.

I was afraid it might.

But Chicken Little and his frantic fear-mongering fell on (mostly) deaf ears. The Catholics in the pews remembered their catechism’s teachings on love, compassion and justice and supported non-discrimination in Rhode Island. That bodes well for the rest of the U.S., especially since more Catholics than not support marriage equality (and that number is poised to increase as the demographic ages).

Some say it’s not enough- we need full marriage. And they’re right. But listen to Rhode Island. They have something important to say- and it’s good news.

Platform Planks
Yeah, I know. I just can’t shut up about this. But doesn’t all of the above make the Montana Republicans and their bigoted platform plank look even more ridiculous and irrelevant?

Communion
A Vatican Adviser last week called for excommunicating Governor Andrew Cuomo for supporting free choice in human marriage in the State of New York. Professor Edward Peters of Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit advocated using the Eucharist as “punishment” and “a warning” for others in official positions who might be considering following Cuomo’s lead. It doesn’t matter that the church has been slow to respond on civil rights issues before- the lesson seems to be lost. Well, on the higher-ups anyway (see above).

The dogmaticism of the Roman Catholic hierarchy is increasingly out of touch with the sensus fidelium– the ability of the people of the church to sense the propriety of doctrine and official positions within the church. The people are clearly seeing something that all the combined high-hatted prelates of the world cannot: discrimination based on sexuality is an injustice- and human marriage discrimination is an injustice.

Period.

The reasonable and thoughtful Catholics I know, the people in the pews who know me and know my partner see that all we want is to have the dignity and respect of just one of Newt Gingrich’s marriages. Just one. They realize that the love I have for this man is not a threat to them, or to the church, or to God. Marriage is not a threat to anyone. It’s just a simple recognition of the truth.

The truth of two human beings who love each other and simply want to publicly commit to their common welfare. Maybe with their children. Or a few chihuahas or cats running around. Whatever. No big deal.

Except that it is.

The levels of denial and refusal to acknowledge reality here by equality opponents is bordering on the psychotic. It’s becoming ridiculous. The good news is that with New York, Rhode Island and a very successful Montana Pride, it looks like most of America is beginning to realize that.

The sky isn’t falling after all. In fact, it’s beckoning us, welcoming us.

With a fucking rainbow.

Shades of Hunthausen?

Bishop Richard Morris’ (of Toowomba, Australia) removal by Pope Benedict XIV has some muscle memory for those of us who suffered through the Hunthausen shakedown. Heavy-handed tactics on the part of the papacy toward Hunthausen, one of the most Christ-like bishops I’ve ever known, still stings. A reminder from Richard McBrien:

The removal of Bishop William Morris from the pastoral care of the Australian diocese of Toowoomba, Queensland, where he has been bishop since 1993, is reminiscent of two other cases: that of Bishop Jacques Gaillot of the diocese of Evreux, Normandy, France, in 1995, where he had been bishop for 12 years, and the effective removal of Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen from the archdiocese of Seattle in 1986, where he had been archbishop since 1975.

I say “effective removal” because, although Hunthausen was not removed as such, a younger bishop was installed over him, with authority that no longer belonged to the archbishop.

That younger bishop is now an archbishop himself and a cardinal as well: Donald Wuerl, who also heads the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, which just issued a condemnation of Sr. Elizabeth Johnson’s 2007 book, Quest for the Living God. Johnson is a Sister of St. Joseph and is a Distinguished Professor of Theology at Fordham University in New York.

This is just getting creepy. Even discussion is being forbidden. Witch hunt, anyone?

Full article here.