Sunday, July 13, 2008

Catholic Compassion

I caught this moving and deeply inspiring piece by tristero at digby's Hullabaloo . I've only known one transgendered person and had the privilege to work with her over the course of three years. As a male, he had served in the Persian Gulf as a soldier during the first Iraq war. His photo journal revealed a 6'2" beefcake body in fatigues and boots.

This "striking" woman that I had the pleasure to know, was able to transform not just her body, but her whole self. She was confident, pretty, smart and big. I doubt the thugs in the story below would be inclined to attack her like they attacked their victim.

The story is about the traditional Catholic ethos. Read the whole thing. It was moving enough to get my ass in gear and post to my blog for a change.

Via pastordan, comes this moving story of Catholic behavior at its best courtesy of NC's Pam's House Blend. Here's a link to the original article at the New York Daily News.

Some excerpts:
Four punks spewing hateful language at a transgender woman outside a shelter for gay and transgender young people in Queens beat up a priest who attempted to thwart their tirade, police said...

..the boys came back armed with metal poles, empty paint cans, belts and a miter saw. "Father was trying to make peace with them, but then one of them hit him in the back of the head with a paint can," Carver said. "He fell to the ground, and they kept hitting him."

The other residents fended off the attackers, and when the teens finally fled, they ran past Metropolitan Transportation Authority police officers, who nabbed them and charged all four with assault as a hate crime, gang assault, weapon possession and harassment...

[Reverend Louis Braxton, the beaten priest], who shrugged off the attack after being treated for cuts and bruises at Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens, said men are often threatened by transgender women. "I think that young men see these striking girls, and they're attracted," he said. "And when they find out they are male, they don't know how to handle it and act out in rage."

The author then goes on to pick gems of understanding from Father Braxton.

He refused to make himself the center of the story. Just as important, he refused to turn this story into a cynical "teaching moment" on the abject state of young transwomen. Instead, he focused on the kids who attacked the woman and him. Astonishingly, he reacted not with anger, but with empathy and compassion, trying to make sense of their rage and hatred.

Picking apart the words, the author also noticed something pretty extraordinary. The Priest easily pulled together and delivered compassion to all involved.

When I think of what I admire about the Catholic ethos, this is what I have in mind. This deeply-felt loving care for others, demonstrated both in attitudes and deeds, may not be unique to Catholics, but it is a striking feature of so much Catholic charity. Sure, anyone can think of numerous counter-examples of clergy and laity behaving very badly - their attitude towards reproductive rights and women as clergy, the dreadful scandals - but along with those, it is only right to bring up the image of a priest who's been hit over the head with a paint can, beaten up, gone to the hospital for treatment, and who still has the strength of character to show his attackers compassion, and comfort and compliment a frightened young woman.


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