Saturday, November 28, 2009

This week in Roman Catholicism

Anybody else about had it with the institutional Roman Catholic Church?

1) First there was the Manhattan Declaration. As the LA Times comments:
Last week, a group of Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox leaders released a “declaration” reminding fellow believers that "Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required." Then, after a specious invocation of King, the 152 signers hurl this anathema at those who would enact laws protecting abortion or extending the rights of civil (not religious) marriage to same-sex couples....

Never mind that advocates of same-sex civil marriage and legal abortion have made significant concessions to believers or that religious groups have recourse to courts, which have aggressively protected the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the 1st Amendment. In 1993, Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, exempting believers in some cases from having to comply with applicable laws.

This apocalyptic argument for lawbreaking is disingenuous, but it is also dangerous. Did the Roman Catholic bishops who signed the manifesto consider how their endorsement of lawbreaking in a higher cause might embolden the antiabortion terrorists they claim to condemn? Did they stop to think that, by reserving the right to resist laws they don't like, they forfeit the authority to intervene in the enactment of those laws, as they have done in the congressional debate over healthcare reform? They need to be reminded that this is a nation of laws, not of men -- even holy men.
What's that line about rendering unto Caesar....?

2) Then, there was the revised rules about treatment in Catholic Hospitals. Don't go in with an advanced health care directive and expect them to honor it. From Firedoglake:
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops released an “Ethical and Religious Directive” this month that would ban any Catholic hospital, nursing home or hospice program from removing feeding tubes or ending palliative procedures of any kind, even when the individual has an advance directive to guide their end-of-life care. The Bishops’ directive even notes that patient suffering is redemptive and brings the individual closer to Christ.....

This substitutes the wishes of the bishops for the stated wishes of families and the patients themselves, said Coombs Lee. Even if the family can produce an advance directive or living will, Catholic hospitals and nursing homes would be expected to maintain the feeding tubes. In addition, all Catholic health care workers are required by their faith to continue palliative care, according to the document.....

In many cities, this means that every hospital or medical care facility will not allow the withdrawal of a feeding tube. “In Spokane, Washington, if you don’t get Catholic health care, you don’t get health care,” Coombs Lee said. “In Eugene, Oregon, if you don’t get Catholic health care, you don’t get health care.” Coombs Lee characterized it as a kind of entrapment, with a sense of “my house, my rules.”
3) Then of course, if The District of Columbia allows same sex (civil) marriage, the Archdiocese will not continue offering social services. The problem, you see, is that they hire too many gays. I found that to be a gob-smacking reason.
Orzechowski [Pres and CEO of Catholic Charities] said many of the people who work for Catholic Charities and receive its services are from the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, but giving same-sex spousal benefits to staff members or placing adoptive children with gay couples would violate Church tenets.
4) And don't forget the incredibly restrictive Stupak Amendment that may yet scupper the Health Reform Bill, by putting increased restrictions on the use of private funds to pay for a legal medical procedure. (Some people think the motivation is far more cynical).

5) Just this week, there was a report from Ireland exposing the collusion between the bishops and the police to cover up abuse. As reported in the NY Times
Roman Catholic Church leaders in Dublin spent decades sheltering child-abusing priests from the law and most fellow clerics turned a blind eye, an investigation ordered by Ireland's government concluded.....Thursday's 720-page report focused on why church leaders in the Dublin Archdiocese -- home to a quarter of Ireland's 4 million Catholics -- did not tell police about a single abuse complaint against a priest until 1995.

By then, the investigators found, successive archbishops and their senior deputies -- among them qualified lawyers -- already had compiled confidential files on more than 100 parish priests who had sexually abused children since 1940. Those files had remained locked in the Dublin archbishop's private vault.
6) Of course, this tops up the argument between Rep Patrick Kennedy and RI Bishop Tobin; the Bishop feels that any politician who supports abortion rights or gay rights should be denied communion. (Apparently, though, torture and unjust war are no problem). Who would have thought that 45 years after JFK, we still have to consider whether Catholic politicians serve their country or the Pope.

A few more choice tidbits on my recent post here.

Here's the take-home message. I shook the dust of the Roman Catholic Church off my feet 30 years ago. I hugely resent being forced to live my life as though I am still a Roman Catholic. The Church has no right to insinuate itself as a political policy maker in this country. And it's time that we removed the tendrils of these Bishops from our civil life.


dr.primrose said...

Well, as long as you're (justifiably) bashing the R.C. bishops, don't forget this one -- N.J. Catholic bishops instructing priests to read, distribute letter denouncing same-sex marriage. The Star-Ledger article notes:


Catholic bishops in the state are instructing priests to read or distribute a letter this weekend asking Catholics to pray that lawmakers in New Jersey not allow same-sex marriage in New Jersey. ...

The bishops’ letter restates Catholic teachings that marriage should be allowed only between a man and a woman. It says prayer is timely "because marriage faces challenges from a society more focused on individual satisfaction than on the Gospel.

"One of the most serious challenges," it continues, "is the current effort to pass Bills in the New Jersey legislature that would change the very definition of marriage as a union of one man and one woman in order to allow same-sex ‘marriage.’ We must not stand silent in the face of this serious challenge."

The letter also asks Catholics to "pledge their personal support" for family members, including those "who choose to remain single" -- a reference to gay people and heterosexual people, according to James Goodness, a spokesman for the Newark Archdiocese.


The article notes at the end, however, that not all religious leaders agree -- last month several clergy, including the Episcopal Bishop of Newark, wrote a letter asking lawmakers to allow same-sex marriage.

IT said...

The morning of our wedding, a sunny Sunday in October 2008, my beloved went to Mass at an unfamiliar parish near our wedding venue. When I picked her up an hour later, she was sobbing. The priest from the pulpit had almost gleefully recited every corrupted lie about gay people, as he exhorted the congregation to vote for Prop8. BP did not leave, although it wounded her deeply to stay. She pulled the bible from the pew and focused on what it says there, not the spittle-flecked hate-sermon from the bitter and nasty man in the pulpit, or the half the congregation who were clearly supportive of him.

The San Diego auxiliary Bishop was a leader for PropH8.

They did the same thing in Maine. And they will do the same thing every else that Civil Marriage Equality comes up.

Based on what BP experienced, it's hate.

And with that day, she realized that there is no room for her in the Catholic church.

The response of other faith groups has been very different, In CA, the Episcopal bishops were supportive of equality, as they were in Maine and other states. But somehow, they don't seem to "count" to the MSM as do the Catholics.

In Maine, the Bishop I think has done great damage to his diocese. Many are angered by his policies donating money, while closing their parishes. Others with gay friends or family recognized the wrongness of the RC stance (we discussed here and here.

As far as I'm concerned the institutional RC church has declared war on me and mine. it was BP's tears that did it.

JCF said...

And, dr. primrose, it was the refusal of Fr. Geoff Farrow to obey such a bishop's directive in California, which got him kicked out.


Have you heard, that the (RC) Governors of Virginia and Maryland have denounced the DC Archdiocese, for its stand (No social services, if you allow SSM)?

Methinks a couple more Catholics may be cruisin' for an excommunication...

textjunkie said...

All of those are impressive, but I have to admit the one about hiring gay people but not giving them equal benefits just leaves me reeling. (the child abuse news--well, if someday I join you in your atheism, that will be one of the reasons.)

IT said...

But what do you want to bet they give benefits to divorced people?

JCF said...

And the Vatican Bullsh*t just keeps on comin'! >:-X [Once again, stepping on local, friendly ecumenical relations---this time, Down Under. But can't have Icky, Collared Girlparts in their precious RC cathedral, doncha know. Screw the locals!]

Hat-tip, Anglicans Online.

NancyP said...

Are they going to insert feeding tubes on patients that don't want them? Reinsert tubes ripped out by the patient? Force terminally ill patients to start or continue dialysis?