Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

Comments on breast cancer by proxy, written by a woman coping with the loss of her mother.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A fondness for transubstantiation

I’m not as good a person as Frog. This will not be a pope-free zone.

I’m upset on behalf of the littlest monk, the kids attending Catholic schools in Detroit, and myself. Dan Savage gave us a good column on this issue—ignoring the stuff about the zombies and the chastity fetish—and frankly, I can’t say that I disagree with him.

I have a soft spot in my heart for Catholics. Until we moved when I was eight, my best friend was Catholic, and I regularly attended mass with her family. My best friend from eight years old through the current era, Heather, is a converted Catholic. She met and married a Bolivian man, and she converted. She loves her working class, justice oriented, internationally conscious church in Buffalo. Dear friend Ben was Catholic for a short time. He converted from the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod during college but converted to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in exchange for his partner becoming a vegetarian. I attend mass from time to time, generally when I need to receive the Eucharist mid-week or when commuting by bus makes it difficult to get to a Protestant church on a holy day. I received my ashes at the Catholic student parish this year.

For the most part, I believe in the idea that one needs to clean her own house first. That is, it’s not reasonable for me to sit in judgment over the Roman Catholic Church when my own religious body has some of the same problems. However, here’s where I am on the biggest debates in the RCC today:

I don’t think that the sexual abuse scandal reflects the need for priests to marry. If one were to argue that, one would be far better suited to state the fact that many priests have consensual, sexual relationships with other adults. I understand that priests not marrying has a utilitarian basis, and I respect it.

I also believe strongly that nuns should have the opportunity to serve churches in the form of parish ministry. Although many nuns would not choose that and instead prefer to serve the church the way they have been (generally that ministry is the reason they became sisters in the first place), the RCC at least ought to give women the opportunity to serving in leadership positions equal to those of priest, bishop, and cardinal.

Something must be done about the AIDS pandemic. Refusing to allow condom use is damn near the Holocaust—the Holocaust which the RCC stood by and refused to speak against. Now that millions of Jews have been killed, the Vatican wants to repair relations.

I respect that many Catholics are conservative and traditional, but it’s their level of consistency that’s important to me. Dennis Kucinich, for example, is a Catholic I respect very highly. Of course, now that he’s changed his position on abortion, I can stand behind him as a political figure, but even before that, he was consistent. He’s an anti-death penalty vegan. His respect for life is admirable.

So that’s where my anger comes from about much of mainstream Catholicism. Inconsistency. Show me a Catholic person who agrees with the Vatican on 100% of the issues, and I’ll show you one hundred who pick and choose. It’s difficult to find someone who will agree on all issues, but too many who agree with the Vatican on some issues will vilify those who disagree on the same issues. I’ve seen vehicles with a “You can’t be pro-choice and Catholic” sticker next to a “Support President Bush and our troops” sticker. JPII spoke very plainly against the war in Iraq, but too many people (Catholic and otherwise) refuse to see war as a moral issue.

I voted in November based on moral issues, but my moral issues revolve around quality of life (welfare), fair treatment (sexual orientation, race), and stewardship to God’s creation (aka “the environment”).

I will continue to do as I have done in the past and pray for the whole body of believers under Christ, as well as for all people of the world. I pray that this papacy will be a time of contemplation and transition into a world that promotes the health and well being of all people.


At 11:57 AM, Blogger sojourning crow said...

there can be only sun...

At 11:55 PM, Blogger thistle said...

I saw that Savage column, too, and thought he made a very smart point about the way that American catholics pick and choose--taking the parts of the doctrine that hurt other people and rejecting those that hurt them.

I'm surprisingly frustrated about this, given that I'm not Christian, much less Catholic. But my family is Catholic and I've always had a soft spot for that church--I feel like it has so much potential to do good things, to promote peace, to fight poverty--all of that is in the doctrine, too. So why is it so impossible for them to choose someone who might emphasize those things?

My dad has been talking for years about how they need Vatican III--he envisions its main function being to revise the church's position on condom use to try to stop the spread of AIDS. He told me that the Ratzinger pick is really going to advance his agenda, because Ratzinger will be so overly orthodox that they'll come to see the error of their ways. He's slightly tongue in cheek about it, but it's something to hope for, I guess.

At 10:55 AM, Blogger witchtrivets said...

Well said. Being a reluctant protestant with not much experience with the catholic church (except for mrs. witchtrivets' lapsed catholicism) I have a hard time organizing my thoughts on this. Yes, I agree with you and Dan Savage on this. Minus the zombies, of course.


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