Sometimes people who, in their youth, attended an all-girls Catholic prep school grow up to be part of the LGBTQ community (despite the Church’s best efforts to make it unthinkable). And sometimes those people get married to other people of the same gender.
California resident Sonia Tabizada is now in prison for threatening to bomb a prep school in Washington, D.C., after they chose to acknowledge that reality.
She pleads not guilty to federal charges of obstructing religious exercise by threat and transmitting bomb threats in interstate commerce.
Tabizada’s lawyer, Carmen Hernandez, called the indictment “a little overcharged”:
It’s an out of the ordinary case. There’s no allegation that she took any action or did anything to attempt to carry out the threats. It’s not like she cried fire in a crowded theater.
It’s not clear what distinction Hernandez sees between “crying fire in a crowded theater” and leveling threats of arson and murder against a school.
The threats Tabizada allegedly leveled at Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School appeared on the school’s voice-mail last May, just days after the school’s president emerita Sister Mary Berchmans Hannan sent an e-mail announcing plans to publish news of alumnae’s same-sex unions alongside news of opposite-sex ones in the alumnae newsletter.
In that e-mail, Sister Berchmans suggested — oh, the horror! — that the Church might be mistaken in the way it responds to homosexuality… but that even if it isn’t, it’s still the better choice to treat others with respect and dignity and leave the judging to God:
The Church is clear in its teaching on same-sex marriages. But it is equally clear in its teaching that we are all children of God, that we each have dignity and are worthy of respect and love. As I have prayed over this contradiction, I keep returning to this choice: we can focus on Church teaching on gay marriage or we can focus on Church teaching on the Gospel commandment of love. We know from history — including very recent history — that the Church, in its humanity, makes mistakes. Yet, through the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, it learns and grows. And so, we choose the Gospel commandment of love.
The e-mail closed with a quote from St. Francis de Sales, who founded the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary:
Be who you are and be that well to honor the Master Craftsman whose handiwork you are.
But for more than a few former students, the exhortation to “be who you are” doesn’t extend to embracing who you love — at least, not if they’re the same sex as you. The very idea feels threatening to them, as expressed by a group of students who addressed an open letter to Sister Berchmans in the days following her e-mail:
The same flawed logic on display in the letter has been used to systematically bully faithful Catholics out of public life in nearly every field… The false choice you have set up, between embracing the truth of Catholic teaching and loving our LGBTQ sisters and brothers, is already spreading a culture of fear. If Visitation’s leaders will not affirm Catholic teaching, the school cannot promise to be a home for students and teachers who do.
Most members of the LGBTQ community will recognize the mean-spirited nature of that “love the sinner, hate the sin” rhetoric and the self-serving logic underpinning it.
But even these alumnae didn’t go so far as to threaten the lives of current students and staff, as Tabizada is alleged to have done. The threatening messages included the ultimatum, “Remove the f**king gay motherf**kers from your magazine, or I’m going to f**king kill your kids. That’s a promise.”
So much for respect, love, and dignity.
(Image via Shutterstock)