And speaking of power, of its use and abuse, and the Catholic hierarchy's longstanding role in wielding power (to which I alluded in my previous posting): lots of fanfare right now over attempts of American Catholic bishops to coerce the consciences of Catholics and force them to vote this way, that way.
At the Commonweal blog, Paul Moses focuses on the recent "pastoral" statement of Opus Dei bishop John Myers of Newark. Myers bluntly invites Catholics whose consciences cannot follow his in condemning marriage equality to refrain from the Eucharist. As Moses says, this appears to be an invitation to Catholics who disagree with Myers to leave the church, as journalist Tom Moran notes he has done in a recent editorial statement commenting on Myers's "pastoral" statement.
(Moses actually defends Myers in that Moses thinks that "[i]t’s reasonable and necessary for an archbishop to explain the church’s position on marriage and the family" and that--and I find this claim astonishing--church authorities have somewhat "stumbled" about making "the" Catholic position about these matters known. I find Moses's assertion that the bishops have "stumbled" about these issues both astonishing and entirely unconvincing. As a Catholic who doesn't happen to be heterosexual and married, as Moses is, but who is the object of the bishops' obsessive focus on these issues, I can't agree that Catholics in general and the voting public aren't quite clear about what the bishops want for their gay brothers and sisters.)
Also at Commonweal, Lisa Fullam notes that, as in the recent past, many U.S. Catholic bishops are dancing dangerously close to the line separating church and state, as they issue thinly veiled endorsements of the Republican ticket while condemning the Democratic candidates as promoters of "intrinsic evil"--the position taken by Archbishop Thomas John Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, in his recent "pastoral" letter on the elections. Fullam wonders about the perplexing focus of bishops like Paprocki on the "intrinsic evils" of same-sex marriage and abortion, while these same bishops are totally silent about war, poverty, hunger, education, joblessness, the national debt, international relations, the ecosystem, and global warming.
Or, as my Facebook friend and theologian colleague Michael Iafrate succinctly puts the point at his Facebook page recently,
Think gay people are human? No wafer for you. Participated in an unjust war? Take two!
Or see the latest posting of another of my e-friends and fellow bloggers, Thom Curnutte, at his Faith in the 21st Century blog site today. Thom takes Myers's recent "pastoral" statement and substitutes terms like "capital punishment" and "death penalty" where Myers speaks of same-sex marriage. To point out what the bishops never say as they characterize one of the two major U.S. political parties as the party of death, while claiming that the other never promotes intrinsic evils . . . .
And then there's Catholic blogger and Christendom College graduate Anita Crane, who tells readers at WND Commentary today that Catholics had better shape up or ship out and assure that the "truly Catholic" Paul Ryan gets elected v-p and not "nominally Catholic" Joe Biden.* Because it's all about Marxism and abortion and Obama forcing taxpayers to pay for abortions and denying healthcare to the elderly and disabled. And Catholics who vote for Obama/Biden become "accessories to mass murder."
It's getting crazy out there, all over again. All over again, since this nonsense has played out in a number of national election cycles now. And as it continues to do so, even now, when a majority of American Catholics are making it quite plain that our consciences reject the coercive attempts of our "pastoral" leaders to politicize our faith, I wonder why anyone who has any respect or love for the Catholic church continues to play footsie with the Myers, Paprockis, Chaputs, Burkes, Olmsteds, Jenkys, and others including Anita Crane and her pal Bill Donohue, or, for that matter, Paul Moses, all of whom seem conspicuously unable to understand the wounds they're inflicting on the Catholic brand by identifying it with outright hate and, in the case of Ms. Crane, with atrocious lies.
For my part, distant is the place I intend to remain--distant from these folks and what they want to to do a faith I cherish. At a distance from them and what they stand for, precisely because I do care about what the Catholic church stands for or should stand for, as it remembers Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus of Nazareth who, as former religious right anti-abortion activist Frank Schaeffer tells us at Huffington Post today, wouldn't stand a chance of being elected, if he were associated with the toxic brew of crazy and mean that the Republican party has now become.
A toxic Kool-Aid of crazy and mean that even many Americans who have historically allowed ourselves to be het up by the right-wing religion-and-morality issues are refusing to drink right now, because we have, at least, enough sense left to know when crazy and the mean have gotten so crazy and so mean that our own well-being is at stake . . . .
*H/t to Dennis Coday's "Morning Briefing" column at National Catholic Reporter for the link to Crane's essay.