More than Lapsed Catholic: Why We Spat Hosts at Cardinal O’Connor

Editor’s note: This article, a defense of the disruption of Mass at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral by militant Catholic homosexuals, first appeared in the Village Voice. It provides a revealing look at how the desperation caused by AIDS sometimes results not in behavioral amends, but rather a splenetic assault on the Church.

The ACT UP/WHAM demonstration at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on December 10 drew many people who usually would be wary about marching around in freezing weather for hours. The atmosphere was festive, often giddy, and at the same time completely serious, like the best demonstrations of the ’60s. Almost everyone I talked to there was a former Catholic. It was heaven, complete with a flying nun who shrieked as she whizzed by, “Stop the Church, I want to get off!”

The Catholic Church opposes abortion and regards homosexuality as a sin when practiced, a horrible sickness when simply thought about. Despite its callow schmoozing with other faiths, Catholicism claims to be the only true religion, its leader infallible—God on earth, no less. (The current capo has been called, less exaltingly, Henry Kissinger in drag.)

Even though Jesus died on the cross to redeem the sins of mankind, each and every one of us comes into the world with the shameful odium of original sin on his or her soul. This can only be expunged by baptism into the only true church, the Catholic Church. During the ritual of the Mass, special wafers, known as “hosts,” are magically transformed into the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ—who is then eaten by the elaborately costumed priest and fed to the congregation.

The bulk of this doctrine, along with myriad queer rules deciding whether certain behavior is a mortal or a venial sin, is drilled into Catholic children beginning at the age of seven—three years earlier than Marxist training begins under Catholicism’s deadly foe, God-less World Communism. At this defenseless period, the Catholic child learns that virtually all forms of pleasure are in some way sinful, leaving black marks on the immortal soul. Especially tainted is the soul be-smirched by sexual sin. And all sexual acts performed without the intention of conceiving a child, in other words, for the fun of it, are sinful.

The dirty soul can only be cleansed by confession. In its ideal form, confession is performed for the love of God and the desire to please him. In its commoner and less worthy version, confession is made out of fear of death and the pain of Hell.

Many ex-Catholics, myself included, remember being told by nuns and priests that the ideal fate would be getting hit by a truck right after receiving Communion: our souls, in that case, would go straight to heaven without any penalty time in Purgatory, an ethereal jail for the disembodied. When Jesus was inside you, your soul was as pure as it was after baptism. Too bad for those infants who died without being baptized, for their puny souls migrated to Limbo for all eternity. Limbo had all the majesty and wonder of heaven, except—and here, the nun’s voice would drop ominously—those in Limbo would never behold the sight of Almighty God. To which the only logical rejoinder is, boo hoo.

The fact that millions of adults claim to believe this psychotic, cannibalistic nonsense may not be, in itself, a direct interference with my life. But the fact that the Church molested me at an early age, installing its sadomasochistic dramaturgy in my psyche without my consent, gives me every right to disrupt it services, scream obscenities in its cathedrals, or demand, however vainly, that it change its policies on matters that still affect my life. This is, in fact, the right of every person indoctrinated by the Church, since part of that indoctrination insists that you are a Catholic for life after baptism, whether you like it or not. A Catholic who leaves the one true church is damned for eternity. You can’t just go out and join another church, or “start your own,” as the ridiculous Mayor Koch suggested. If you do, you’ll go straight to Hell!

That’s what I was taught in 1957, and if the Church has changed at all, that only shows its infinitely cynical manipulation of the rules to keep its paying customers. If the Church hasn’t amended its line on sexuality, it’s because only a rigid patriarchal order can support such a punitive, crippling, authoritarian religion. Tax-free, I might add.

The outrage expressed by various politicians and religious organizations over the December 10 demonstration was predictable. Even the supposed good guys, Cuomo and Dinkins, only support the kind of protest that changes nothing. The uproar over St. Pat’s betrays the fact that public reality is enslaved to symbolism, and only the desecration of a symbol can excite the martinets in power to any genuine indignation.

We’ve never heard any outrage from Ed Koch, Dan Quayle, or the American Jewish Congress over the treatment of gays and lesbians in this country, which today resembles nothing so much as the casual brutality toward Jews in Germany after Hitler’s election in 1933. Public policy in America supports violence against gays and lesbians. Violence against women is a national sacrament. It’s the cornerstone of our entertainment industry and the principal motive of terrorist groups like “Operation Rescue.”

We’ve never heard Cardinal O’Connor’s outrage about the miserable indifference of the Reagan-Bush governments toward the AIDS epidemic, since O’Connor himself, by enforcing Catholic dogma, is an avid sponsor of HIV transmission. Of course this pious mountebank visits dying AIDS patients and sheds a few crocodile tears for the cameras: it hasn’t hurt anybody’s career so far. Even in America, it’s still considered a little excessive to burn hospital patients at the stake, though it took several years to shame the nation’s morticians into giving them a decent burial.

Nothing, in fact, with any bearing on actual human life—unless you restrict the definition of human life to the reflexes of fetal protoplasm—outrages any of these people, but just burn a piece of fabric with some stars and stripes on it or spit out a processed holy wafer and the whole chorus goes scrambling for the microphones to vomit their shock and horror.

The December 10 demonstration exposed the swinish hypocrisy of several public figures. How they drool over protests against authoritarianism in Czechoslovakia or Bulgaria, and how swiftly they denounce them here. Incensed and appalled by the disruption of a tony Mass on Fifth Avenue, they pour millions into a regime that murders priests in El Salvador. The ACT UP/WHAM action proved that only attacks on the symbolic order carry any weight in the media, when they happen in the land of symbols.

And such actions will have to become more extreme, apparently, to win the full attention of the New York Times, which made space on its December 11 front page for such blazing news items as “Program To Find Marrow Donors Is Falling Short,” and “Wisconsin Makes Truancy Costly by Tying Welfare to Attendance,” consigning the ACT UP/WHAM story to page B3. This marginalization of gay-related news by the Times shows once again the ideological harmony of Catholic dogmatists and Jews who prefer to think of themselves as Episcopalians.


  • Gary Indiana

    Gary is a city in Lake County, Indiana, United States, located in the southeastern portion of the Chicago metropolitan area. Gary is located approximately 25 miles from downtown Chicago, Illinois.

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