On Saturday I was priviliged to participate in the Pride Interfaith Service at Old South Church in Boston. I read the English version of a passage from the Song of Songs (8:1-7) after it was sung in Hebrew. I participated not as clergy from MCC but as a member of my beloved Classical Reform temple, Boston Jewish Spirit. Rabbi Howard Berman, a friend, collegue and leader of the congregation, had invited me to read the passage. I was humbled to be asked and gleefully accepted. This invitation had me processing and sitting on the stage for the entire event with other participants and clergy. It was a sight to behold looking out on a standing room only crowd in the sanctuary. Howard was to give a prayer near the end of the service and I very much looked forward to hearing his offering. He is a gifted writer and a truly committed servant of God. I knew his prayer would be beautiful, hearfelt, and motivational.
What I did not know was that Cardinal O'Malley of the infamous Archdiocese of Boston had canceelled a mass at St. Cecelia where they had invited everyone to attend and dare to welcome LGBT people. This was a special mass of welcome for Pride Week. Howard took the opportunity to "speak truth to power." I've included and exerpt of his comments below. They require no followup from me. I simply ask you to read and mark them for the courageous and powerful witness they are to God's unconditional love and our charge to spread that love in our ethical living on this earth.
Excerpt from a Prayer for the Community by Rabbi Howard A. Berman of Boston Jewish Spirit, at the Pride Interfaith Service at Old South Church, Copley Square, Boston.
As a son of the tradition of the great Hebrew Prophets, who courageously and forcefully spoke truth to power, I feel called this morning to depart from the usual code of polite civility and deference which governs interfaith discourse in this community – usually expressed by avoiding conflict and disagreement with restrained silence.
Friends, who have gathered together here from so many faith traditions – among us, so many faithful Roman Catholics, such as Marcia and Ken Garber whom we honor today – we cannot keep silent in the face of the relentless and unending onslaught of attack and rejection that our community continues to face from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church – and particularly, the Archdiocese of Boston. The incredible news in today’s newspapers of the summary and tyrannical cancellation by the Archdiocese of a Mass at St Cecilia’s Church, whose grave heresy was its public proclamation that “All Are Welcome” during Pride Week, fills us with outrage. The obfuscation of the Archdiocese and its inevitable lame backtracking…the ignorance and raw bigotry reflected in the mindless statements of extremists who seem to have forced the Archdiocese’s hand, are chilling and appalling. They include the absurd blasphemy that, after all, according to Catholic teaching, “Pride is a sin”.
Cardinal O’Malley…enough already!
O God, we need You now to open up the eyes, minds and hearts of those who claim authority in the name of Saint Peter. I speak as a colleague and an equal to those claims – representing a far older tradition than the pomp and power of Rome. We pray that they will realize the pain and hurt they have caused so many… and that they will join us as people of many faiths, in understanding the teachings of the Rabbi of Nazareth as a call for a Gospel of Love and Justice, rather than as a basis for the prerogatives of power.
Baruch atah Adonai…We praise You, Source of life and love, Spirit of justice and freedom, Fountain of healing and peace…Who has preserved us in life and brought us together to celebrate this sacred day in joy… and with Pride…in the sure faith that “it will get better!” Amen…