Saturday, April 11, 2009

Freedom From Thought

It's that time of year again. That is, it's time for the Easter Bunny to announce the death & resurrection of Jesus.

It's also time for the annual Blog Against Theocracy, promoting the Separation of Church & State.

This year, my essay focuses on a topic that I have been writing about quite a bit recently -- the "Pay, Pray & Obey" conservative contingent of the Catholic Church.

Most of my musings have been about the deistic doings of Bishop Martino of (my hometown) Scranton, who has single-handedly tried to make the Church a Division of the GOP by refusing communion to Scranton native VP Joe Biden and chastising Senator Bob Casey for paling around with Obama & Biden. He also threatened to lock the doors of the Catheral on St. Patrick's day if a pro-lifer (read that: Biden) was part of the parade, which is a huge event in the Electic City. And then, of course, he challenged a local Catholic college because it dared allow a gay man to speak at a forum (sponsored by the Diversity Institute, of all things) as part of its Black History celebration. See Diversity Defined and The Intolerance Institute.

Martino's views are not just a plague on the city of Scranton, but they speak to the issue of separation of Church & State. When religion requires strict adherence to its beliefs, how can members of a religion govern without conflicts between faith & law? Speaking of Martino's objections to Senator Casey, I observed in The Evil Lurks Within:

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.

Conservative Catholics like Bishop Martino are more prevelant within the Church than at any other time in recent history. As such, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church personifies the importance of the Separation of Church & State.

Of course, the most recent example on a national level is the recent "controversy" over Notre Dame's invitation to President Obama's to speak at its commencement. As I noted last week:

Religious extremism is flourishing and the inability to think critically seems to be a requirement for those religions.

The controversy over President Obama's upcoming commencement address at Notre Dame University is a perfect example of this. Obama Notre Dame Speech: Cardinal George Rips Invitation As An 'Extreme Embarrassment' To Catholics. That is, the right wing faction of the Catholic Church fiercely objects to the idea that Obama will even be permitted to speak at a Catholic institution on any topic, because he does not adhere to all of the tenets of the Church, as promulgated by the Cardinal Newman Society (and he's a Democrat). See Obama and Notre Dame and The Politicization of American Catholicism.

In other words, according to this conservative Catholic contingent, no voice that does not comport with the orthodoxy of the Church should be permitted to be heard at all. Debate? Dissent? Not permitted. Rather, they dictate and the flock obeys. To hear other opinions might cause the faithful to question the rules. For this reason, thinking -- never mind critical thinking -- is heresy.

Pat Buchanan & Lawrence O'Donnell discuss (or, should I say scream about) the issue on Hardball:

Like evangelical Christians, the views of the Catholic Church have become intolerant to ideas that are not part of the dogma of the Church. On the one hand, I respect another's right to believe (even if I believe it is wrong). However, I do object to the insistence that I must abide by those opinions. And that is why religion needs to be kept out of the state. Unless, of course, I'm required to eat chocolate bunnies.

(Poster via coffee messiah)


Cheyanne (Shy Ann) said...

The argument of Obama not speaking at the Fighting Irish of Catholic Notre Dame commencement speech, comes out just in time with the sordid tale that was releashed on Friday about the IRISH priests who sexually abused the kids dating way back to the 1930's.

It is as though they cherry pick issues and deem those who do not adhere to them as pariahs. The little red faced, gin blossomed nosed Catholic leprechaun priests making the rules need to drink another one it seems to get over the hangover of Friday's good news gospel according to the fighting IRISH.

I'm doing hit and run comments on all the Blogs Against Theocracy today and tomorrow. Read mine if you have time. Yours is very well thought out and very well written.

dudleysharp said...

Lawrence O'Donnell doesn't have a clue:

Pope Benedict XVI (then, Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), with guidance to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated succinctly, emphatically and unambiguously as follows:

June, 2004 "Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick: More Concerned with 'Comfort' than Christ?, Catholic Online, 7/11/2004

What Ardent Practicing Catholics Do (1)
By Fr. John De Celles, 9/1/2008

"Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is … a grave and clear obligation to oppose them … [I]t is therefore never licit to … "take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it."

In other words: it is always a grave or mortal sin for a politician to support abortion.

On Sunday, before the whole nation, (Rep. Nancy Pelosi) claimed to be an "ardent, practicing Catholic." Imagine if someone came in here and said "I'm a mafia hit man and I'm proud of it." Or "I deal drugs to little children." Or "I think black people are animals and it's okay to make them slaves, or at least keep them out of my children's school."

Are these "ardent practicing Catholics"? No, they are not."

And neither is a person who ardently supports and votes to fund killing 1 to 1.5 million unborn babies every single year. Especially if that person is in a position of great power trying to get others to follow her. Someone, for example, like a Catholic Speaker of the House, or a Catholic candidate for Vice President of the United States, or a Catholic senior Senator who is stands as the leading icon his political party. Like the proud and unrepentant murderer or drug dealer, they are not ardent Catholics. They are, in very plain terms, very bad Catholics."

But the reason I say all this is not because I want to embarrass them or even correct them — they’re not even here. It’s because of you. Because back in the 1850’s when Catholic bishops, priests, and politicians were either silent or on the wrong side of the slavery debate, they risked not only their souls, but the souls of every other Catholic they influenced. I cannot do that, and I won’t do that.

Some would say, well Father, what about those people who support the war in Iraq, or the death penalty, or oppose undocumented aliens? Aren’t those just as important, and aren’t Catholic politicians who support those “bad Catholics” too?

Simple answer: no. Not one of those issues, or any other similar issues, except for the attack on traditional marriage is a matter of absolute intrinsic evil in itself. Not all wars are unjust — and good Catholics can disagree on facts and judgments. Same thing with the other issues: facts are debatable, as are solutions to problems."

"What Ardent Practicing Catholics Do: Correcting Pelosi", National Review Online, 9/1/2008 6:00AM