Cardinal Burke photo by Phil Roussin, under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license

Letting go and letting the Goddess

An open letter to Raymond Cardinal Burke and his acolytes

My late friend Frank Kameny, the gay rights pioneer, liked to say that what the world needs is more and better blasphemy. So let me start off by saying: God has no plan.

She set things in motion and gave us many gifts. It is up to us to use those gifts to make the most of our lives. The greatest of these gifts is in our skull case. We have a responsibility to think for ourselves. When a bishop tries to bully you into following his idea of God’s plan for you, he is using bad science and being revoltingly presumptuous.

Perhaps you noticed my reference to God as She. Am I making trouble? Sure. But it’s good trouble, to quote John Lewis. If God is transcendent, and there’s not much point in a God who isn’t, we should resist imposing our own expectations. Why do we assign God a masculine pronoun except out of gender bias? We have this pretense of humility while we constantly lead God around like a beast of burden. You cannot do that while criticizing me for irreverence.

It is hardly a surprise that people leave the Church when so many bishops push an angry and humorless vision of God. If that were true, the police should expect constant domestic violence calls from the Blessed Virgin.

God is many things. We diminish Her and an awesome cosmos with our “pick just one” mindset, our eagerness to force the transcendent into a neat little box. We cannot credibly claim humility when we make everything about us. Men are often the worst offenders. Rein in your self-importance. If that were justified, how do you explain the Virgin Birth?

Would you rather I refer to God as They? I can already hear the cries of political correctness. To misquote Sister Souljah, God was not born to make gender binaries feel comfortable. God transcends gender. Maybe She’s a drag king. What’s it to you? I reject the fantasy of a God on Mount Olympus hurling thunderbolts. If that were the case, She’d have fried your arrogant asses long ago.

Why are there no women priests in the Catholic Church? The short answer is that the Taliban have no monopoly on misogyny.

If the men in the old boy’s club of the Church put women on a pedestal, they chained them to it. I’m sorry, gentlemen, but you have no red phone to God.

Many of us are determined to use our God-given brains for critical thinking. We will not pay deference to dictatorial medievalists at war with modern science. An example in the news is Raymond Cardinal Burke, the overdressed vaccine skeptic who caught COVID-19 and was on a ventilator for several days. What are the proper vestments for that? Anyway, he talked as if medical science and public health measures were an assault on some divine prerequisite.

If God were so petty and insecure, why did She give us human brains? With all due respect to the Psalmist, we are not sheep.

In March 2020, Burke blamed COVID-19 in part on “the pervasive attack upon the integrity of human sexuality … with the pretense of defining for ourselves, often employing violent means, a sexual identity other than that given to us by God. With ever greater concern, we witness the devastating effect on individuals and families of the so-called ‘gender theory.’”

That’s gender science, Your Eminence. But given your opposition to feminizing the Church, do you mind if I mention your ecclesial couture, which is elaborate to the point of foppery? You High Church queens have no self-awareness. And how much are you raiding the poor box to pay for your finery?

Setting that aside, if we should reject vaccines and let God magically heal us, like Glinda the Good Witch — and perhaps the two of you could have tea and discuss fashion — then why did you avail yourself of a ventilator? Did you lose faith in the Divine Surgeon? That’s a phrase from my late brother’s conservative, passive-aggressive mother-in-law, who teaches Sunday School. She is a perfect exemplar of the right-wing laity who enable the likes of you.

So again, Eminence, if modern medicine is a diabolical assault on the gates of heaven, why did you resort to it yourself? Not that I would accuse you of hypocrisy. That would be like accusing the ocean of being wet. Here’s to a speedy recovery. Yours in Christ, etc.

Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist at

Copyright © 2021 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.



Former president, Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington. Charter member, NAACP-DC Police Task Force. Co-founder, Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington.

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Richard J. Rosendall

Richard J. Rosendall


Former president, Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington. Charter member, NAACP-DC Police Task Force. Co-founder, Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington.