Relative to last time’s A gay reader confronts a Catholic bishop in an airport, I yesterday got in the below interesting perspective from Jon Hatch. Jon has a Master’s of Philosophy in post-conflict reconciliation studies (via this program at Trinity College Dublin) and is currently entering the final phase of his Ph.D. of Theology.
My training in post-conflict studies helps me put a lot of this [crap] into context—not to approve or rationalize it, but to understand the emotions and feelings from which it arises. Basically, after a war or a conflict there’s a period of transition into a new form of stability. Those who lost the conflict, or at least are now on the short end of it, are incredibly vulnerable. They feel lost and frightened, not knowing what the future holds for them under the new regime. What the new regime must do is make assurances that the losers will be treated equitably. (This almost never happens unless the victors get a lot of help and are really held to account by the international community. Victors are much more inclined to just do away with their enemies, to further marginalize and oppress them.)
The Gay Wars are just about over. They are entering their final phase. And not to put too fine a point on it, but we on the side of full gay equality have won. And the losers are really scared. How will they fare under the new regime? Are we going to force them to do things they don’t want? Marry people they don’t want to marry? Make them teach in their schools things they don’t want to teach? Of course we won’t do any those things. But this post-conflict transition will nonetheless be as unhappy and messy a process as every other one.
We’re all raw and exhausted from the war (and in pockets of course a lot of the war continues). We have lost so many loved ones, watched them be destroyed by forces that should have loved and protected them. The forces within the Church are losing this war incredibly ungraciously, stupidly and, frankly, cruelly. That often happens. The end of wars is often incredibly cruel and vicious. (On YouTube see, for example, the film Der Untergang, about the final days of the Third Reich).
But we must win this war graciously, intelligently, without malice or vengeance. We must dream of better. We must work for better. A better Church: the Church of St. Gregory, St. Teresa, Catholic Workers, the nuns of El Salvador, of the Solentiname community, of Fr. Gerry, James Allison, the Worker priests of France, Taize, Oscar Romero, and others who show us what true love and sacrifice for the weak really looks like.
Our Church exists in the midst of the Vatican’s. But there are so many more of us out here than there are priests and prelates walking the hallowed halls of the Vatican.
Christ assures us that the very gates of hell will not stand against us. The Kingdom of God, he tells us, is within us. And thanks be to God for that.