I am a Catholic. A Roman Catholic. An Irish Catholic. A Cradle Catholic is the term, I believe, the mainstream media is using these days.
Anyway, you get my point.
It seems at times my Church is obsessed with two issues gay marriage and abortion. Personally, gay marriage doesnt bother me (or my wife) a bit.
We dont think the state or the church has any business sticking their collective noses into the decisions of two consenting adults in such matters. But abortions ... it bothers me and I dont like the idea. Who would? Certainly not those of us with children and grandchildren.
So I do what I can to effectively prevent abortions? I contribute regularly to Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood deals with womens health, prenatal care and equally important education and resources to prevent abortions by using birth control. If a woman who shouldnt or doesnt want a baby has good information about birth control there will be no abortions.
But ... but ... sputter the Bishops, the church is against birth control as well as abortion. And this is where this Irish Roman Cradle Catholic becomes a Cafeteria Catholic. At this point for me the Church loses all credibility on the subject of abortions. It struck me the other day when I drove by our local Planned Parenthood Clinic and with the usual 3 or 4 anti-abortion protesters was a man who appeared to be a Catholic priest. I suppose he really believed he was doing the Lords work standing there. But, as far as I am concerned, I prevent far more abortions with my contributions then he ever will, no matter how hard he prays.
I will at least give the Church a gold star for being consistent in one area. They are not only anti-abortion but also anti-death penalty. It is more than one can say for the so-called Christian denominations on the right. But the consistency doesnt help the Church much internally. Polls show Catholics split along the same lines as most Americans when it comes to abortion. Further, the Church is in a losing battle regarding birth control.
Percentage-wise, more American Catholic women use artificial birth control methods than do non-Catholics.
The papacy has in the past condemned freedom of conscience and of the press and at times toleration of other religions; many Catholics ignored such teachings at the time the Church put them forward as doctrine. No Catholics believe them now, nor does the Church.
There is nothing in Catholicism that says Catholics have to suspend our common sense or honesty when faced with papal teachings that are dishonest, naive or stupid on their face and the Church position on abortion, gay marriage and birth control fall into all those categories.
Non-Catholics should understand the sense of the faithful is not 100% with the church bureaucrats.
In Catholic theology there is the Church and the people of God ... and to assume they are in lock-step would be a critical error in thinking.
Bill Johnston is a retired staff organizer of the United Food and Commercial Workers. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
From The Progressive Populist, February 15, 2012
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