Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I Could Never be a Catholic Bishop

Ever wanted to be able to sit around calling yourself a member of the church--like, hypothetically, the Roman Catholic Church--in a way that increases your credit as a member of that church? But to do it while saying a bunch of things that immediately mark you out as someone who is--hypothetically, let's say you're a pro-abortion-rights Catholic--well, to say the least, not in line with said church, or its reason? Hello, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

I'm going to focus on a few gems:
"As Catholics, are we so laser focused on the issue of abortion that we are willing to join tea partiers and the like to bring down the health care form bill? And at the enormous expense of millions of Americans who suffer every day because they can't afford to get checkups, because they must choose bankruptcy in order to save the life of their loved one?" [in the next paragraph, she responds, "Not this Catholic."
In my forays into Catholic ethics, conversational and more formal, there's one thing I've learned about Townsend's church that she (and most of her family) seems bent on forgetting: You don't do evil so that good may result. In fact, the only time you even have a case for doing anything even resembling evil, is when the alternative is evil; you certainly can't justify doing or promoting an equal or greater evil that way. Townsend also claims:
"[I am] someone who was raised by a family absolutely committed to public service and to making sure that our nation provides health care to the least among us...[w]here is [the bishops'] passion for the families who need health care?" (Italics mine.) 
Ding ding ding! Guess what? The right to live and have health care and everything else is founded on the right to survive. And the bishops haven't compromised it one bit in my book; in fact, they seem to be one of the few groups in America that truly respects the implication that "Life implies Survival." For those of you playing at home, that means "~Survival implies ~Life." The weakest in this case doesn't mean people who are already alive. The Bishops also said, a few years back, that the moral measure of any society is how the weakest are faring. Who are the weakest? I'd suppose it might start with people who aren't capable of defending themselves.

Townsend's claim is made, we are told, on the basis of stuff like what the bill already provides for, and what the Nelson amendment would do.She knows normal people can't verify that evidence without learning a lot of legalese, and even if they could, knowing our lawmakers, the bill might change tomorrow to make their learning moot. She says "[t]he current Senate health care bill expressly prohibits federal funding of abortion", and says that if the Nelson amendment passed, "[e]ven if a woman used her own money to pay the premium for her health care plan in the exchange, she would not be able to access a plan that covered abortion care"). On that last point, apparently, health experts agree with her, but I'm still skeptical, because that caveat "in the exchange" seems to indicate that the plan might still be subsidizing the big A.

No doubt the prevalence of abortion in our country is tied with social sin; issues of morality are hardly ever without a social aspect. But doing evil that good may result is not good.

And as to the title of this post. I could never be an RCC bishop in America, because then I'd have to deal with idiots criticizing my every move, most of them on grounds that don't properly understand the traditions to which they so proudly claim to belong. If you think this post sounds like it was written by a grouchy person, imagine if he was trying to lead a flock that consistently follows the Kennedy mentality of "dissent first, understand later," calling him out repeatedly as being less Catholic (and, by intended implication less Christian) than they. I'm way too authoritarian in nature to be a bishop of anything, especially in the American RCC. I'd have a heart attack on day two of that job.

2 comments:

Kev Johnston said...

Dude, I dig this post. I would also rage as a Bishop...

One question that was posed to me the other day was about precisely this conundrum. How does the Church ensure in the debate that it is staying relevant to people's lives? Will there be a point (considering how quickly people have become accustomed to sacrificing important Catholic doctrine) that there will only be a small remnant of Catholicism left in America? If the Church does not stay socially relevant, perhaps even by allowing lesser evils, couldn't it do much more harm to the world?

I know my answer and I think I probably know yours. But that makes a sad world and it isn't an easy one to make....

Michael said...

There has been a lot of talk in the last ten years on the very problem of relevancy in the 21st century. It's on all of our minds but (if I could only dig up where I read the article) one of the bishops from the USCCB theorized that the only way to go was smaller. Unfortunately, the biggest plague to our Church is the idea of Catholicism as a social rather than spiritual upbringing. For many, that is exactly the case. Those who are faithful are more educated than ever. As a result, informed and conservative priests are on the rise in certain areas (but overall the priesthood is shrinking fast). It may be best for the Church to shrink and rethink the American approach. The orthodox believers are here, we're just not so easily heard.

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