Saturday, June 24, 2006

Bishop Grumbleton's Talk: an Eyewitness Account (part 1)



On a lark, or for whatever reason I can't explain, I attended the local "Topics to Go" talk by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton (Grumbleton, Bumbleton, Schmumbleton), having learned about it on a post by Wolftracker on the Kansas City Catholic blog. given at the auditorium of the fashionable Unitarian Universalist congregation just off the Plaza. The promised topic: how the Catholic Church needs to accept homosexuality.

Having had a busy week, I hadn't seen Vern Barnet's column in the Kansas City Star or the mention of the event on Kansas City Catholic until then. Had I had time, I would have organized a Rosary group; lacking that, I figured that I could say a Rosary for the attendees at any time, and I'd be better served by attending the event and getting a flavor of what's going on in the "other side" of the Catholic Church in Kansas City.


A full report on Bishop Grumbleton's (or as he prefers, "Just Tom's") remarks is forthcoming. For now, I'll just marvel at the crowd:

Sadly, the auditorium which seated about 250 people by my rough count, was full and there were a dozen or so people standing at the back. Parking was a nightmare, so in my 2-block hike from the Brush Creek bottoms, I got a flavor of the crowd, based on the cars. Not a single pro-life sticker in site on any of the fuel efficient, socially responsible Corollas and Civics, or for that matter, on any of the Lexus, Beamer, and Acura mini-SUV's. Not a single "Follow me to the Latin Mass" sticker, either. What few bumper stickers there were were the from the never-give-up John Kerry campaign, anti-war propaganda, and rainbows.

When I made it in side, I encountered a foyer and auditorium filled with lots of women with short grey feathered hair, polyester floral print blouses and pants, a small number of browbeaten-looking husbands in their late fifties and early sixties. Facial expressions ranged from earnest scowls to the warm, smug smiles of those who are safely within a crowd of their own kind. There were also a single men, some of whom were effeminate, and a number of single women, few of whom were effeminate. Working my way through the crowd I caught snippets of conversations and phases:

"....well it has to be Spirit-driven, not ...driven..."
"...don't know the ritual of it all..."
" just swallow it...."


.....................NO, don't imagine!!!!

I made my way into the auditorium (the UU's have the decency not to call it a "sanctuary" or anything like that) and got my seat count, slipping by the two or three people, including NCReporter editor Tom Roberts, who were visiting with Bishop "Just Tom" Gumbleton. "Just Tom" made a half-hearted effort to appear clerical in black cotton pants and a black cotton open-collared button down shirt.

After I'd made my rough count and was waiting for the program to begin, an earnest-looking man, with wavy graying hair and a goatee, in shorts and a golf shirt, sat down next to me. After a minute, he turned to me and said, "You know this speaker is a Catholic bishop, don't you?"


"Don't you think it interesting that he's a Catholic bishop and he's speaking here rather than at a Catholic church?"

"Well, I guess. Then again, I can't imagine that he and the Bishop here in Kansas City would have much in common to talk about over dinner."

"You mean Finn?"

"Yeah, I guess."

"Well he's not as bad as Naumann over on the Kansas side. Look at this!" The earnest fellow pulled out a manila folder, his dossier on Archbishop Naumann. As he's flipping though showing me the Archbishop's recent column on homosexuality, he says "I've been sending him [pointing to "Just Tom"] to let us know what our environment is like here." Stopping at his clippings on the nonrenewal of the gay St. Agnes music director's contract, he said, very gravely, "Especially this."

"Hmmmm," I responded, with equal gravity, nodding my head and raising my eyebrows, hoping the conversation wouldn't continue to the point I'd have to make a choice between saying something deceitful and blowing my cover. "Have you been to many of these?" I asked him.

"No, but she has," he said, tugging the arm of a woman in a floral print blouse with with salt-and-pepper hair (but cut in a short bob, not feathered--we must have some diversity within the group, mustn't we?)'

"Oh, yes, I've been to them all, and we always have good attendance," she smiled.

" Interesting. This is my first time." I was at a loss as to what I should say next.

Then the Holy Ghost sent a sixties-ish grey-haired woman to sit between us. She pulled out a big envelope and wrote down a few things. Whew. At least I wouldn't be the only one taking notes (although I took several pages and she wrote down maybe 100 words through the morning). The people around me were curious, however, about my notes, and I caught a number of glances askance as I worked.

I'll talk about the announcements later, in my post about "Just Tom's" talk, but I will note that during the break between the talk and the short Q & A section, the note-taking woman beside me did ask "Why to you think we don't see any black Catholics here?"

"I don't know. Perhaps because there just aren't many black Catholics. After all, most Catholics here in Kansas City are descendants of Irish and German immigrants. There just aren't many black folks in our churches. We have a few in our community, but while they look different from us, they really aren't culturally distinct. There are a few predominantly-black parishes, I know, but really, they're so culturally new to the Church--globally, I'm speaking--that they may not take an interest in topics like this"

"Don't you feel like they would be supportive of gay Catholics?"

"That I don't know"

Finally, as I was leaving, I stopped to pick up some literature. I signed up for the "Topics to Go" email list and also for a new web-based forum/coalition for disaffected progressives in the Missouri-side diocese called "KCSJ Children of God." I'll forward whatever they send me to you, Curmudgeon.

More to follow, I promise. I recorded Tom Roberts' introduction of "Just Tom," and the bishop's talk, so I can check my notes and tell a good story. If it all comes together, what the heck, I might file a formal canonical complaint against him by Bishop Finn. There's no question he gave great scandal--inducing others to sin--but at the time, it seemed he was careful not to emphatically deny the current teaching of the Church (for the most part) I want to go back and review it more carefully a second time.

And so we leave it with our friendly correspondent. Hopefully he'll follow through and get us some substance of Bishop Grumbleton's talk. And hopefully he'll even follow through and cause some canonical unpleasantness for Grumbleton. While I can't imagine he'll report anything that will shock anyone (we're all beyond shock when it comes to "progressive" Catholics and their agendas and propaganda), it's still good to get the information out.

I will thank Wolftracker for tipping my friend off to this and apologize to him for seeming to get the benefit of correspondence that he probably deserved, but so it goes in the vagaries of blogging. At least he's not getting plagiarized by the Wanderer.


Dust I Am said...

So we definitely learn Archbishop Naumann is very unpopular with the homosexual crowd because of his column in The Leaven and for not renewing the St. Agnes music director's contract. I really appreciate a Bishop who takes his teaching responsibilities seriously and who is bold enough to speak the truth, even when some take offense. Moreover, a good Bishop will form good priests, and that makes this news the best I've heard all week.

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested in seeing your
notes. The topic is too vague
to understand what was discussed
. . . id est, was the topic about
accepting homosexuals in the Church
(something the Church already does), or was it about trying to
get the RCC to stop calling acts of
homosexuality a sin?

Probably the latter, if I know
the feathered-gray-hair crowd. We
had some of those in the RCIA
program in Arizona, and they did
their best to liberalize the goings-on, to the point where they
even said that birth control (condoms) are A-OK.

Tim R. Souder

Curmudgeon said...

My correspondent says his notes are illegible; they're barely a help to him, much less us. As for the subject of this talk being vague, yes, it was. Purposefully vague.