Thursday, November 12, 2009

Who's a Catholic, then?

Elizabeth Kaeton has a terrific blog on religious identity and definition today. Go read it.

Back? Let's follow through with some of those ideas, shall we? About who's "allowed"? There is a correspondence between US Rep Patrick Kennedy and RI Bp Thomas Tobin that's online. Bp Tobin's remarks are breathtaking. Kennedy wrote the Bp and said, “The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.”

The Bishop wrote back to explain why it does.
When someone rejects the teachings of the Church, especially on a grave matter, a life-and-death issue like abortion, it certainly does diminish their ecclesial communion, their unity with the Church.

..... what it means is that if you don’t accept the teachings of the Church your communion with the Church is flawed, or in your own words, makes you “less of a Catholic.”
Do you accept the teachings of the Church on essential matters of faith and morals, including our stance on abortion? Do you belong to a local Catholic community, a parish? Do you attend Mass on Sundays and receive the sacraments regularly? Do you support the Church, personally, publicly, spiritually and financially?

In your letter you say that you “embrace your faith.” Terrific. But if you don’t fulfill the basic requirements of membership, what is it exactly that makes you a Catholic? Your baptism as an infant? Your family ties? Your cultural heritage?

Your letter also says that your faith “acknowledges the existence of an imperfect humanity.” Absolutely true. But in confronting your rejection of the Church’s teaching, we’re not dealing just with “an imperfect humanity” – as we do when we wrestle with sins such as anger, pride, greed, impurity or dishonesty. We all struggle with those things, and often fail.

Your rejection of the Church’s teaching on abortion falls into a different category – it’s a deliberate and obstinate act of the will; a conscious decision that you’ve re-affirmed on many occasions. Sorry, you can’t chalk it up to an “imperfect humanity.” Your position is unacceptable to the Church and scandalous to many of our members. It absolutely diminishes your communion with the Church.
Well then. Now we know. (BTW the link is to a liberal Catholic blog called Enlightened Catholic.)

As Andrew Sullivan writes,
The hierarchy's growing fusion with fundamentalist Republican politics is becoming harder and harder to ignore. They can turn a blind eye to state-sanctioned torture, and to the suffering of those without healthcare, but when it comes to ensuring that gay couples are kept stigmatized or that non-Catholic women can't have access to abortion in a secular society, they come alive.
Scary, isn't it. That one Prince of the church can call another under Satanic influence for holding Ted Kennedy's funeral. Or that a Bishop would deny a gay man a funeral. It will not surprise you, then, that staunchly conservative Catholic RI Gov Carcieri would deny GLBT widow/ers the chance to make arrangements for a loved one. Because death is just another political oportunity.

Oh, and a Vatican representative says gay tourists (not demonstrators, TOURISTS) should not be allowed to step foot in the Vatican. (I don't know if you've ever been there. It seethes with tourists, a LARGE fraction of which are clearly NOT Catholic).

And just so we're clear, if gay marriage becomes legal in DC, the Archdiocese will eliminate all social services because of Teh Gay.

It's appalling, isn't it? The only issues that appear to matter any more to the RC Church, with its rich and important tradition of social justice, are abortion and gays.


Ann said...

Here is what John Chane had to say about the RC threat to stop social services in DC because of teh gay.
read here

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

It's appalling. And surely, the near end of the Roman Church!

WSJM said...

Alas, Göran, I fear you are not right. (Not that I want to see the end of the Roman Church, but the Kingdom of God would be well advanced if it were less Roman!)

If Pope Benedict is all that gung-ho about the unity of the Church, why doesn't he just become an Anglican? Heck. we'd even let him keep his white cassock!

But our hands are not all that clean, either. I don't recall having heard either +Rowan or +Katharine say anything about the proposed legislation in Uganda. (I guess there have been a couple of Ugandan Churchfolks who have said that maybe capital punishment for gays would be a little over the top....)

Counterlight said...

My little gay toes twinkled all over St. Peter's 20 years ago, from the top of Michelangelo's dome to the depths of the grotto and confessio.

Anonymous said...

And despite what Bishop Kaleta says, I had no trouble as a non-Muslim tourist visiting the Mosque of Muhammad Ali at the Citadel in Cairo.

Bill Ghrist
(BTW I have no idea why my TypePad ID comes up so strange)