Sunday, January 15, 2012

More Roman Idolatry

Whatever happened to the Jesuits? There used to be an intellectual underpinning to pronouncements by RC bishops, some academic justification to their beliefs. For that matter, there used to be an active discussion of current topics inside the Roman Catholic church. One could vigorously disagree with some Bishop's ill-considered sermon or article and retain one's credentials.

No more. The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops published a statement last week, entitled "Marriage and Religious Freedom". You can find it here. It is not a scholarly document, thus there are no footnotes or other references to support or justify their statements or opinions. Their principal thrust, as I read it, is to claim that Federal or State governments are pressuring poor, innocent religious organizations to "treat same-sex sexual conduct as the moral equivalent of marital sexual conduct," in violation of the religious organizations' First Amendment right to vilify the same. Clearly outrageous, governments imposing rules on the religious. There are two problems with their umbrage, one tactical, the other strategic. I'll discuss the tactical issues first.

According the the First Amendment, there should be an impenetrable wall that keeps a religious organization from getting involved in a governmental one, and vice-versa. How is it that any part of the U.S. Roman church could be pressured by any U.S. government agency, unless there were some connections? Uh-huh, it seems that Catholic Charities has been largely funded by government grants. This means that this lovely piece of business, conducted by one arm or another of the Roman Catholic Church, is largely funded by taxes collected from all citizens. Should you be a gay or lesbian couple seeking to adopt a child, you would be eligible by right of your status as taxpayers but still ineligible by the rules of Catholic Charities. Net, you are paying for rights that are denied you by a government-sponsored agency.

Now, perhaps, we see the problem from the Roman bishops' perspective. They want to continue to feed at the public trough but bridle at the idea of complying with requirements with which all of us who wish to receive public funds must comply. All their pious bullshit regarding the protection of the "true definition" of marriage is just a smokescreen for their refusal, on their own sectarian grounds, to follow the rules. So much for the tactical argument.

Regarding strategic issues, read the open letter again. Show me any reference to a God of love. From the first epistle of John, we know that God is Love, and from Genesis, we know that we are made in the image of God. Where do the bishops acknowledge that all of us are creatures capable of love? Are LGBT persons not capable of expressing God's love as fully as straight folk? By what authority is this opinion expressed?

The bishops' letter does not acknowledge that marriage is a sacrament, an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. Thus it denies that the will of the Spirit goes where it chooses and conveys God's grace on whomever it wills. By claiming that "marriage in its true definition must be protected for its own sake,"
the bishops succumb to idolatry. I pray that the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy return to its own root document, the Holy Bible, and humbly acknowledge that God can grant his/her blessing on any union, gay or straight.

Trust me, I have seen enough unions, both gay and straight, to know which are blessed and which not. The Roman Catholic church does no good by declaring one group of Christians "intrinsically disordered," whatever that means. I cannot understand how any member of a celibate order is able to rationally identify what is "ordered" and what is not.