Friday, June 27, 2008


So, here's the disclaimer first: I'm not Catholic. I was raised a lefty Protestant, in a liberal United Church of Christ congregation.

Nevertheless, I've studied enough Christian theology to know what I'm talking about.

My thought for the evening involves the way that the Catholic Church has become, either through laziness or accident, a two-note body. At least in the United States, the only time that the Catholic Church is mentioned is in terms of abortion or gay marriage. (Additional disclaimer: I'm pro-choice and a fan of gay marriage.) The Catholics used to be involved in other issues of social justice, like poverty and economic inequality (see the Catholic Worker Movement and liberation theology). Perhaps they still are and I just don't know about it. But if I, who pays particular attention to both current events and religion, don't know about it, who else does?

Far, far more children are in poverty than there are gays who want to get married. The cycle of poverty makes women feel that they have no other option than to have an abortion! Do we not see the connections here? Instead of worrying about which American politicians should be denied Communion because they're pro-choice, couldn't they worry about that instead?

Dunno. Maybe I'm just missing some critical information somewhere. Perhaps this is a top of the heap vs. grassroots issue. But also considering the hierarchical nature of the Catholic Church, it doesn't seem that it would be possible to be different at the top vs. the bottom. It's not like self-governed UCC churches.


SKH said...

Ok, as a Catholic of some stripe depending on the day (recovering, lapsed, questioning), I pay attention to Catholic stuff in the news. The first thing to recognize is that what people typically see of the Catholic Church comes through the lens of the media. In general, how much news coverage does the war on poverty receive? Stories about conflict and discord are much more interesting. My reaction is that the media helps to paint the Catholic Church as a two-note body, but it's definitely not that simplistic. Most parishes have a social justice ministry, and it depends on the parish as to how active that ministry is and which injustices get attention. I've been a member of some very liberal parishes and I can guarantee you, from my initial Church-shopping excursions when I moved here, that there are many different Catholic churches in the DC area.

That being said, some Catholic-related articles I've seen of late include discussion on Sally Quinn's communion-as-skeezy-but-yay-Tim-Russert article, the Minneapolis pro-gay service that my parents went to at St Joan of Arc, and LA's Cardinal Mahoney (a pro-immigration ally) barring a 'controversial' Aussie priest from speaking in LA, and the church in Iowa that harbored immigrants after a recent raid.

C, what was the inspiration for your post? Was there a particular article or news clip that you saw?

cmk said...

Thinking back, my reaction probably had more to do with the length of the news item than with actual assessment of the Catholic Church. As you've pointed out, it's true that this is probably as much of a criticism of the media as anything else -- only going to the Church when they have certain topics come up for conversation. If indeed individual parishes are doing this work (and I'm certain that they are), it's too bad that they can't get media exposure so that the non-Catholics among us can get the full picture. (And that's like anything else, I guess.)

The item in question was a blurb in the "top of the hour" news roundup on NPR (which I have higher expectations of than other media sources). Something regarding a bishop (?) who had been appointed to the Pope's church law council something-something. Don't quite remember.