Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

November 5, 2009

Dowd + Dolan + Maine + Sullivan + Fawkes + the Traditional Anglican Communion + Augustine

I was planning on writing something incredibly profound and lucid about Maureen Dowd's October 25th column--but it still has me so angry, I have a hard time thinking clearly. It is filled with so many gross inaccuracies, let alone hateful hyperbole, that I am not sure how she still has her job.

Instead, I'll quote New York City Archbishop Timothy Dolan's blogged response (the times refused to print it):
In a diatribe that rightly never would have passed muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish, or African-American religious issue, she digs deep into the nativist handbook to use every anti-Catholic caricature possible, from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, condoms, obsession with sex, pedophile priests, and oppression of women, all the while slashing Pope Benedict XVI for his shoes, his forced conscription -- along with every other German teenage boy -- into the German army, his outreach to former Catholics, and his recent welcome to Anglicans.

True enough, the matter that triggered her spasm -- the current visitation of women religious by Vatican representatives -- is well-worth discussing, and hardly exempt from legitimate questioning. But her prejudice, while maybe appropriate for the Know-Nothing newspaper of the 1850’s, the Menace, has no place in a major publication today. (HT)

Also excellent was the response of Michael Sean Winters at America Magazine. Winters is a perplexing but compelling character, and I am always challenged by his articles, though I often disagree. I'm in complete agreement this time, as he said:
Ms. Dowd suffers from the misperception that the Church has said it won’t ordain women. That would indeed be an objectionable claim, and one with a prima facie suspicion of misogyny. But, the Church does not say it won’t ordain women; it says it can’t ordain women. The idea that something can’t be done is foreign to liberated, early twenty-first century Americans. Our politicians, of both parties, invoke the American Dream and advertisements tell us that we can be whatever we want. Horatio Alger lives. But, the Church believes that it received a definitive revelation to which we must always be faithful. In this sense, the Church is always conservative, conserving the deposit of faith. That faithfulness requires that we do certain things and not do certain other things. The sociological argument that feminism has changed women’s experience in other fields has absolutely no bearing on the issue but Dowd couldn’t find a theological argument if her life depended upon it.

Meanwhile, with Maine voting against a gay marriage amendment, by a pretty significant margin, Thomas Peters, has done an excellent round-up on the all the anti-Catholic rhetoric surrounding this decision. He points, especially to Andrew Sullivan, the gay-catholic blogger for The Atlantic Monthly, who said:
It is time to acknowledge that the Catholic church hierarchy can no longer pretend that it isn't the active enemy of gay people and our families. That this church hierarchy - especially in its more conservative wing - is disproportionately gay itself and waging war against their fellow gays through the cowardly veil of the closet, is not new.
Sullivan goes on to quote in full a letter to a parish priest by a gay man who is "finished":
Hatred fueled by the resources of hundreds of thousands of parishes will be the central reason why the Church will eventually wither and die. I can no longer bear the stench of the rotting body and hierarchical ignorance. I can no longer embrace what has become a menace and money machine to support evil. We are all tainted by what happened in Maine. We are all lesser citizens because our brothers and sisters are lesser citizens.
Did you notice? In the entire letter, there isn't a single thought about Christ, nor about his radical love for every human being--a love that demands us to do well and live well, and set aside sin. The mass is not a gathering place, the chalice is not merely " shared by everyone"--it come with a price of our own.

I can't help but think about the timeliness of this, with regards to our Magdalene Novena: Magdalene was labeled a prostitute by all, but she shed that label and lived rightly by Christ's law, for his love. His love demanded that of her, and she saw the true cost with her own eyes.

Peters responds to this anti-catholic bigotry head on:
All this is especially ironic when one considers how the gay marriage movement tries to cast itself as one that is seeking tolerance and acceptance of all. Well, apparently the Catholic Church isn't a legitimate recipient of such treatment. I would be more encouraged if leaders of the gay marriage movement would call out or apologize for outbursts against the Church like the ones I've cited above.

Today is the 5th of November (remember, remember). Four-hundred and five years ago the Gunpowder Plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament was discovered, and squashed, as Guy Fawkes was arrested after hiding cases of gunpowder in the cellars. As William Newton points out, those were dark times for Catholics in England. But Fawkes' plot did more harm than good (as violence always does) for the cause of Catholicism in England. Though persecutions had largely died down, it was only in 1829 with the Catholic Relief Act, do we start to see some progress, and restoration of civil liberties. Guy Fawkes Night is still a night of drunken debauchery and anti-catholic demonstrations.

But, there is hope yet for the Church of England and the cause of Catholicism in England. That hope is one step closer to being realized, as the Traditional Anglican Communion officially stated that it will accept Pope Benedict's offer and seek to join the Roman Catholic Church.

Two steps forward and one step back. Anti-Catholicism will always be with us, but we needn't worry. The thing Dowd, and Sullivan, and the anonymous gay parishioner don't realize is that, though members of the church are indeed fallen, and make mistakes all the time, the Chruch itself is faithful to Christ, and will not fall. There are bigots in the Church. But the Church is not bigoted. As Winters said above: it's not that we don't, it's that we can't. By law. God's law. The God who came down from heaven, emptied himself, died on the cross, and raised us all up because he loves us.

All are indeed welcome. But that doesn't mean it's a free pass. "Love" St. Augustine says, "And do what you will."

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