Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Evil Lurks Within

Sunday. The time to turn to thoughts of religion.

Apparently, the Catholic Church is vying with the Evangelicals to see who wins the Christian Less Christ Award. The Catholic Church is beginning to remind me of the GOP, a bunch of old (mostly white) guys who are totally removed from reality, baying at the moon.

The Pope (formerly known as Joseph Ratzinger, who served in his previous Vatican job as Pope John Paul’s Dick Cheney) is a hard-lined conservative who is intent on repealing most of, if not all, of the ecumenical teachings of the Second Vatican Council. Pope Benedict's decision to remove the excommunication of traditionalist bishops (including a Holocaust denier) has caused a storm of criticism from Jewish groups and other political leaders.

It's not just the reprehensible views of Bishop Williamson, however, that's the problem (although that is a major problem). It's the overall ultra-conservative turn of the Church itself that's so troubling. As noted by Clerical Whispers, Pope's Controversial Move Gives Hope to Shunned Traditionalists:

These ultra-traditional Catholics want the Vatican to declare that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church, want a return to old liturgies in which Mass is said in Latin, and say Vatican II, which met in the early 1960s, violates true Catholicism and is the reason why many have left the faith."

* * * *

Experts say some of the most controversial aspects of the group are more prominent in Europe, particularly in France. Those include anti-Semitic comments by society leaders and calls for governments to favor Catholicism.

"Lefebvrists want a much closer alliance between the church and the state than is permissible or possible in the post-Enlightenment world," said the Rev. James Massa, who heads ecumenical and interreligious outreach for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

And nowhere is that more true than in little ole Scranton. My brother alerted me to the latest travesty from the Catholic Church in Scranton, courtesy of the Bishop there, who apparently runs the Church like his own little Fiefdom. As the Scranton paper reports, Bishop Martino accuses Sen. Bob Casey of “cooperating with … evil”:
Diocese of Scranton Bishop Joseph F. Martino accuses Sen. Bob Casey of “cooperating with … evil” by refusing to back legislation to block U.S. tax dollars from flowing to foreign family planning groups that refuse to renounce abortion.

In a Jan. 30 letter to the senator, the bishop also calls on Mr. Casey to live up to his Catholic faith and “oppose abortion and other clear evils, including contraception.”

* * * *
The letter was prompted by Mr. Casey’s vote against an amendment to the state Children’s Health Insurance Program, which the Senate adopted last week. The amendment, authored by Sen. Mel Martinez, a Florida Republican, would have required family planning groups abroad to agree, before they receive U.S. aid, that they would not perform or promote abortions.
I've known the Casey family from my days in Scranton. I went to school with one of the Caseys (they are a big family, so who didn't?) and I knew the former Governor Casey. The family is very religious and they personally toe the Church line, including Senator Casey. He espouses his views, even though it has meant that, like his father, he has had a difficult time in the Democratic Party because of his stanch pro-life views. Casey certainly does not deserve this treatment by the Church. Yet, in Martino's letter, he chides Casey for his position:
Quoting church doctrine, the bishop contends Catholics are required to oppose “any law that attacks human life” and some Catholics “are given a particular title to this task … including those who hold economic and political power.”

Bishop Martino said Mr. Casey should reverse his vote because his “responsibilities as a Catholic … exceed even those of your office.”
See also, Bishop Admonishes Sen. Casey. Martino also made news during the primary for his stance on abortion as the single issue in the campaign for Catholics. See Say It Ain't So, Joe. Like the Pope he emulates, this is a man with major power & control issues, as they say.

I also suppose Martino forgets that the main opposition to JFK as the first Catholic to run for President was that he would put his religious beliefs ahead of those duly enacted laws of the land. Notwithstanding his personal/religious beliefs, abortion is still legal in this country and as a Senator, Casey is obligated to respect those laws.

And as for the Bishop, if Martino was so concerned about "life," where was he on the issue of the unjust war in Iraq? Is he working to end it? How about the death penalty? Nothing extinguishes life like the death penalty. And, let's not forget he is the Bishop in the Scranton Diocese, an area rife with gun lovers. Where does he stand on gun control? Does he preach to his flock to put down the guns? And finally, this is the Catholic Church we're talking about. How did he respond to the pedophiles in the ministry? I'm sure I don't need to answer these hypothetical questions, since the answers are obvious.

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