Friday, July 3, 2009

"Leather Spirituality" and Catholicism

Quite a little convention they've got going on down on Cyril Magnin place. That's where the Parc 55 hotel is, the site for this year's DignityUSA convention in San Francisco. We've already reported on it here and here.

From today's Cailfornia Catholic Daily (emphasis added):

"Dignity USA Catholics to Explore Leather Spirituality
The Defenders to Sponsor Liturgy

The 2009 DignityUSA Convention, being held in San Francisco from July 2-5 will include a workshop on July 4 called “Leather Spirituality as an Ingredient of Christian Life.” The convention will also feature a July 3 liturgy sponsored by a group known as “The Defenders” and a Leather Caucus on July 5.

The Defenders are an integral part of DignityUSA. According to the Dignity website:
“The Defenders has been affiliated with DignityUSA from the beginning and maintains close ties to this very day. Each Defenders club is associated with a local Dignity Chapter … The Defenders is a club for individuals who value and wish to celebrate both their leather "lifestyle" and their Christian spirituality…The Defenders believe that the leather experience can, when integrated and spiritually informed, actually produce a richer spirituality for us, and for the Church.”

Dignity’s website mentions but does not define what is meant by the ”leather lifestyle”: Wikipedia gives this definition: “The leather subculture denotes practices and styles of dress organized around sexual activities and hedonistic eroticism (‘kink.’)”

The website of the San Francisco chapter of the Defenders is more specific:

“Defenders/SF is a Leather/Levi club, chartered by Dignity, the national gay Catholic organization. Defenders take a stand for the sacredness of our leather sexuality and explores practical ways of integrating sexuality and spirituality."

"The Defenders/SF website also has a page called “Leather and Spirituality” where the meaning of Leather Spirituality becomes even more explicit: “What we notice about our sexual experience as leather people is that much of what turns us on sexually has to do with such things as power exchange (dominance/submission)”

This is so outrageous that one is tempted to either joke about it or not take it seriously. That would be a big mistake. The "leather subculture" is a quite serious contingent of the homosexual culture. The homosexual culture defines itself by the kind of sex they like to engage in. Well, that's all the leather subculture does, too. As we wrote back in 2007 in our review of Fr. Godfrey's book "Gays and Grays: the Story of the Gay Community at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church":

"And if the type of genital pleasure one enjoys is the community-forming experience of a people, it would be unheard-of for the spiritual institutions of that community not to be informed by this same experience.

Fr. Godfrey says as much: 'I believe in other words, that the gospel must always be inculturated into every culture, and this must include gay culture.' p138.

'Is it less appropriate for gays to imagine Jesus as gay than for African Christians to picture him as black, Asian Christians as Asian?' p134."

Simply take Fr. Godfrey's question one step further: "Is it less appropriate for a leatherman to imagine Jesus as a leatherman than for African Christians to picture him as black, Asian Christians as Asian?" Fr. Godfrey would have to answer his own question either yes or no. If he answers "no", he would be saying it is OK to imagine Jesus engaging in s/m practices. But if he answers "yes" he is letting himself in for a hornets nest: What if the s/m practices are an expression (as the Defenders claim) of their spirituality? What if the two persons engaging in the s/m practices love each other and are consenting? Why is Fr. Godfrey privileging non s/m gay practices over s/m gay practices? The questions could easily be multiplied.

I remind readers for the 50th time that Fr. Godfrey is the Executive Director of Campus Ministry at the (Jesuit) University of San Francisco. Thus, he is charged with the spiritual welfare of thousands of college students.

Back to the California Catholic Daily article:

"From 2002- 2008, as members of the Inter-Club Fund, a group of "leather" organizations, the Defenders had been nearly annual visitors at the parish hall of San Francisco’s Most Holy Redeemer Church."

We've reported more than once on the hosting of leather (read s/m) groups at Most Holy Redeemer's Ellard Hall. Most Holy Redeemer bills itself as "Your parish church in the Castro." That is, it is the manifestation of the Catholic Church to the people of the parish area. I simply do not see how this can continue.

Posted by Gibbons J. Cooney


Anonymous said...

It does seem like a joke until you consider that a nominally Catholic parish is supporting this idiocy. But here's the question Gibbons/Fr. Malloy: you've been posting about this stuff for years and it's still going on. I suspect the Archdiocese is afraid to do anything because they don't want the spectacle of another Stonewall riot on their hands. So, what can we, faithful Catholics, do about this? Anything? I became a Catholic because I trusted the hierarchy to preserve the faith, at least within its own churches, but their silence here is deafening. I'm almost tempted to go over to the Orthodox--they have the sacraments and would never tolerate this nonsense...

Gibbons in SF said...


Courage!and keep fighting. We owe it to our same-sex attracted brothers and sisters--and to all Catholics. The reason the Inter-Club Fund is no longer meeting at MHR is because of our work. But of course that is just one thing.

Write to Archbishop Niederauer. Let him know how much you supported his work on marriage, and how sorry you are that one of his parishes has gone so far off the rails that one of it's pastoral council members attacks him publicly for this.

CC it to:

US Nunciature Archbishop Pietro Sambi
3339 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W,
Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: (202) 333-7121Fax: (202) 337-4036