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Posts Tagged ‘Catholic Church’

Office Pool: How Long Before James Scahill is Defrocked?

April 13th, 2010 4 comments

I’m guessing three weeks. Scahill had the temerity to say what many sensible lay people are saying: The Pope must go. But Scahill is a priest. Read this article and be amazed at the directness and truth that Scahill spoke. I was particularly surprised at his clear and direct repudiation of the canard that the gossipy media are somehow to blame for the scandal:

“I have met with countless victims of abuse. I have lives I can relate this to, and you know anyone with an ounce of intelligence knows the media has not created this scandal,” he said. “The institutional church has brought this onto themselves.”

Is this the first rupture in the dam of damn lies and misdirection? Don’t count on it; this is the Catholic Church, after all, with an enviable reputation for circling any and all wagons, and for exorcising not just Satan, but any other demons who disagree with the Holy Father. As evidence, consider the backwards response by Scahill’s bishop:

Bishop Timothy McDonnell, whose diocese includes Scahill’s parish, said it was a sad irony that Scahill gave his sermon on Divine Mercy Sunday, “a day on which the church throughout the world re-affirms Christ’s forgiveness, reconciliation and mercy towards all his followers.”

So Scahill was supposed to forgive…whom? Pope Benedict? Before that, how about if the Holy See could see its way to asking forgiveness for its manifold transgressions?

Observations on the Marriage Equality Hearing Underway in New Jersey

December 7th, 2009 No comments

nj-gay-marriage-committee.JPG

Here’s the scene from New Jersey today, where supporters and opponents of the marriage equality bill gathered in advance of the Senate Judiciary committee meeting. Write your own caption.

If I had more time, I would have live-blogged this carnival from start to finish. (Here‘s the link to the hearing now going on.)

Since I’m listening right now, here’s a live bloggette:¬† There’s an interesting colloquy going on between a spokesman for the Catholic Church and the legislators. The Church guy (one Mr. Brennigan, it seems) appears to be in support of the current civil union law, but won’t be boxed in to saying that directly. He’s being pushed to ask whether it’s the label that matters, or substantive rights and privileges: Should same-sex couples get all of the same rights and privileges as married couples, save the title?

Yes, he says: You can create a parallel structure with all of the same rights and benefits. But you can’t call a same-sex union marriage. He’s almost saying — no, he is saying — that the legislature lacks the power to grant the status of marriage to gay couples. But this is a natural law argument, to which my response is always: “Who says?” One needs a properly public argument.

Mr. Brennigan is now acknowledging that, yes, the Church did oppose the civil union law. So, he says, this is about mitigating the damage.

Now one Senator is asking what the Catholic Church would have to say to a reform Jew who supports marriage equality, and how natural law fits into this disagreement. Brennigan is properly respectful, but the question gets at something vital: By choosing any particular religion’s view over another’s, the law ends up disrespecting religion more generally. The Senator follows up with exactly the right observation: Based on your view, we end up disenfranchising another religion.

True. That’s why arguments must be independent of religion. I’ll be back with a summary and a preview of Thursday’s vote later.


The Catholic Church in D.C. Outdoes Itself

November 12th, 2009 No comments

Just this morning, I was at thinking that it might be time to write a few words in praise of the Catholic Church. Of course, it’s hard for me to do that given (1) my own history as a conscriptee (until old enough to opt out); (2) the Church’s stand on same-sex unions; and (3) Pope Benedict XVI, whose public-health-defying pronouncements on the use of condoms are only the most visible evidence of his complete detachment from reality.

Yet the Church favors expanding health care to the poor, and has long offered a range of social services to underserved populations. I recall hearing Chai Feldblum, a rather insistent LGT rights advocate (who’s lately been tapped for a position on the EEOC), giving the Church props for its work with D.C.’s poor. (This is the thanks she gets for working with the Church on these issues.)

Yet it’s precisely those poor who the Church has just announced it’s willing to put at risk, and for the most offensive reason I can imagine. According to this story, if D.C. enacts¬† marriage equality legislation, the Church will pull its social services out of the District, thereby leaving 68,000 of the city’s poorest residents high and dry. (At least until another agency steps in; as Emma Ruby-Sachs reminds us, most of the money doesn’t come from the Church itself.)

Why would they do this, especially if the finished legislation retains the substantial “religious liberty” exemption that’s expected to be included in the next draft? Under that exemption, the Church could cheerfully discriminate against same-sex couples by refusing to do anything to facilitate or recognize their unions — such as renting space that they otherwise rent to any and all comers.

So what’s the problem? The Church is “afraid” it would have to extend health benefits to the legal, same-sex spouses of gays and lesbians under the law.

Where to start? It seems that the Church should welcome the chance to provide health benefits to anyone. Does it really want to take the position that someone should go without coverage rather than provide it? Is the Church’s commitment to ideological purity so strong that it swamps all other concerns?

It needn’t come to this. Why doesn’t the Church simply change its policy to allow any employee to designate one additional person to receive health benefits? (This would be fairer to all employees, btw.) The person could be anyone in need of health benefits: an elderly sibling, a poor friend, or…a same-sex partner. By recasting the eligibility criteria, the Church could both expand the pool of those covered and avoid doing something that its steely principles don’t otherwise allow.

I hope that someone reads this and considers such a move, but I suspect they won’t consider such a change. The Church has found a cudgel to use against marriage equality, and it won’t be inclined to think of something that could avoid the issue. Lawmakers should not be intimidated by the Church, though. Pass the bill, and then let the Church explain to the tens of thousands of homeless and other needy residents why it couldn’t find some way around its dogma, and why caring for them is less important than refusing to provide health benefits to same-sex partners.

You think the Church has a P.R. problem now?