The men in dresses and funny hats really don’t know when to quit, do they? Yesterday I read about the Vatican’s latest censure, Sister Margaret Farley for her book, Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics. The Yale theologian touches on the all too human subjects of masturbation, same sex relationships, and divorce/remarriage. The official Vatican statement insists that homosexuality is a “grave depravity” and that the other topics are “contrary to natural law.”
Why do we, in America, in the 21st century give any credence to what these out-of-touch, antediluvian, luddites think about sex and marriage? As an institution, the Catholic church really has no moral standing to have an official opinion on anything related to sex, except, perhaps, to look inward and figure out why their clergy rape little boys. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems the absence of women in power might have some bearing on the pedophile problem.
Secondly, masturbation, homosexuality, and marriage/divorce seem to have everything to do with “natural law.” What is unnatural is an institution that so closely regulates the sexual predilections of its members while ignoring the blatant abuse of children at the hands of its priests and works tirelessly to impose its archaic and unnatural beliefs on the rest of the world.
Moreover, the Vatican apparently hates women—the latest crusade against American nuns, its refusal to allow women into the priesthood, and the deplorable way in which the church treats nuns in general (no retirement plans, no health care, the garnishment of nuns’ wages, the enforced poverty—poverty which priests are also supposed to embrace but do not). The church’s ignorant stance on the use of birth control, particularly in poor and disease-ridden parts of the world stands in direct contrast to the work of the nuns to heal and educate in these same places.
I know many intelligent and wise Catholics. For eight mostly enjoyable years, I worked at a Catholic school with some of the nicest people I’ve ever worked with. People who worked tirelessly for social justice, who instilled solid moral values (do unto others, judge not, help the poor) in young people. People who actually walked their talk. Most of these folks reflected the values of the nuns and not the values of the Vatican. They formed a community of support, not a community of judgment. Unfortunately as part of a Catholic parish, ultimately this community has to support the Vatican, no matter how forward thinking each individual member might be. And this is what so puzzles me.
Why do so many intelligent people continue to give credence and power to the men in funny hats and dresses, with their unfathomable wealth and consistent protection of criminal sexual abusers? Maybe it’s time America divorced the Vatican. It only seems natural.
3 thoughts on “I Break With Thee, I Break With Thee, I Break With Thee”
There is a power of place and ritual that is hard to comprehend but all so real – why to the abused stay with the abuser? Why do those with ancestors in another nation feel somehow at home at the first visit? Why is it comforting to hear the tune of an old hymn whose words feel false (the national anthem perhaps?). Why must we have this favorite or that at a family holiday meal? I agree… it doesn't always serve us … but it may be 'why'
Exactly, that's the most common explanation I get from people: they love the tradition, the ritual, the history. Admittedly, I too, pagan atheist that I am found the ritual attractive. And then there are the other factors: guilt and fear. Strong strong reasons to stay. I would point out that over the years we have left behind many traditions once we have taken a good hard look at the facts and set aside guilt and fear: smoking, not wearing seat belts, ostracizing gays and lesbians, slavery, not allowing blacks and women the right to vote, bloodletting (as a medical procedure), Some of my smart Catholic friends have migrated to the Episcopal Church. Many remain however because they believe that their local community is so far removed from the Vatican–they pick and choose which church teachings to follow, thus making the church their own. But their money still goes to Rome.
There is inherently comfort in tradition – I fall “victim” to this too. Like going down to U-Pres to sing Christmas Carols on Christmas Eve – because that's what we did at home when I was growing up. But when that tradition is associated with so much corruptness and just plain meanness – it's time for the left side of the brain to take over.
The Red Beanie Club counts on our social animal 'need to belong' to prosper and continue…
OTOH, it's the “devil we know” (pardon the phrase) and who's to say if the LDS or Mars Church or CEW's (Chicken Entrails Worshipers) would be any better, if endowed with as much power???