Saturday, September 11, 2010

Newt Gingrich Contines to Stir Hate; U.S. Catholic Bishops Remain Silent

I just spun a utopian fantasy of an American Catholic church whose leaders might choose to respond with as much alacrity to Newt Gingrich and his campaign to gin up hatred of Islamic people as they do to anyone who even hints at the possibility of ordaining a woman.  A recent Vatican document places clerical pedophilia and the “attempt” to ordain a woman in the same category in a single document  detailing church punishments for those who engage in either act.

A year ago, the Vatican excommunicated Maryknoll priest Roy Bourgeois because he supports women’s ordination (and here).  Around the same time, Sister of Charity Louise Akers was dismissed from her work and ministry in the diocese of Cincinnati by Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk because she supports women’s ordination.  Earlier in 2009, a lay catechist, Ruth Kolpack, was fired without recourse or explanation by Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin—apparently as a result of her views about women’s ordination.

In the previous year, just before he left St. Louis to take up a cushy new position in the Vatican, Archbishop Raymond Burke excommunicated three women—Patricia Fresen, Rose Hudson, and Elsie McGrath—for having participated in a women’s ordination ceremony.  Around the same time, Burke fired Sister of Charity Louise Lears and banned her from sacraments in the St. Louis diocese for attending a women’s ordination ceremony. 

Newt Gingrich has, for weeks now, been openly and freely fanning the flames of hatred of Islamic American citizens and Islamic people worldwide, with impunity.  With nary a protest on the part of the U.S. Catholic bishops, or a suggestion that he might consider confessing the damage he is doing and repent of that damage before approaching the communion table.

And now it comes out that, later today to commemorate 9/11, Mr. Gingrich will air a new documentary called “America at Risk,” which claims that we have entered “the end of times,” the “final struggle,” in our battle against Islam.  The documentary is, of course, overtly political in its attack on the Obama administration (and its attempt to stir hatred of Islamic people to bring right-wing voters to the polls on behalf of Republican candidates in the coming elections).  It is also closely tied to groups that have deliberately created media furor over the “ground-zero mosque” in New York.

(To understand the brazen cynical calculation beneath this appeal to Islamophobic hysteria by Gingrich and his political cronies, think for a moment about how these same folks have been announcing for some time now that acceptance of gays and of same-sex marriage spells the apocalyptic end of civilization—and how now, when the chance of making political hay by targeting another vulnerable minority is greater, the focus shifts to Muslims.  With the same apocalyptic appeal to fear and visceral hatred and coldly calculate use of human beings as objects in political games.)

And I ask again: what message do the pastoral leaders of the American Catholic church give to American citizens, American Catholics, and the world at large, when they move with such alacrity against Roy Bourgeois, Louise Akers, Louise Lears, Ruth Kolpack, Patricia Fresen, Rose Hudson, and Elsie McGrath, but remain totally silent about Newt Gingrich?

Which really merits exclusion from the table of the Lord: “attempting” to ordain a woman?  Or fanning the flames of hatred against an entire group of people for political gain?

And how do the U.S. Catholic bishops expect anyone to listen with respect to their moral teaching, when the values suggested by the disparity in  how they treat those who “attempt” to ordain women and those who stir blatant religious and ethnic hatred are so clearly rotten to the core?

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