Thursday, January 22, 2015

Katie McDonough on the Pope and Rick Santorum: Why Is Rick Fighting with Frank When They Agree about Contraception?

At Salon, Katie McDonough notes that even though Pope Francis appears to be on his side about contraception, Rick Santorum can't stop grousing about the pope. She writes,

Rick Santorum can rest easy. The ban on contraception doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere any time soon. But this isn’t welcome news to Catholics who don’t share the conservative view held by men like Santorum, Pope Francis and New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan. And that gulf between church leadership and regular Catholics has only widened in recent years, particularly on the issues of family planning and reproductive health. And in many ways, it mirrors the disconnect between the Republican Party and its own constituents. 
If you can believe it, it turns out that groups of white men who are largely disconnected from the daily struggles women experience make for terrible and unresponsive leaders on reproductive health and freedom. (I know, I was shocked, too.) 

And so I ask again, What's that all about? What other issues are those of us who are Catholic, particularly in the U.S., discussing when we claim to be talking about contraception? Why is the issue of contraception still so volatile and neuralgic for American Catholics when, after all, it was effectively long since decided by the vast majority of the Catholic laity? With the tacit wink-nudge approval of their confessors . . . .

This is a question I wanted to push in what I just wrote when I discussed Jamie Manson's new NCR article about the complicity of the Catholic church in Glyzelle Palomar's suffering. To me, it seems obvious that, as we pretend to be talking about contraception, we American Catholics are really often talking about many other things besides contraception — about things like women's rights, about sexual orientation and whether lesbians should be trusted when they speak on behalf of women, about whether white heterosexual males should continue to be the most valorized groups of human beings in the universe, etc.

The contraception debate is stale. It was resolved a very long time ago. Why are Catholics still fighting about this issue as if it's a live issue, I ask myself? Whence the passion, the need to tear at each other about an issue on which some 90%+ of us of all political stripes have long since agreed?

Something else is going on here, I think. What is that something else, do you you think?

Why does Rick Santorum, who claims to agree with Pope Francis about contraception, get a such a "very big sad" (h/t Charles A. Pierce) when Francis starts to talk about that issue? 

The photomontage with Francis and Santorum is from Katie McDonough's Salon article, which credits Reuters/Stefano Rellandini/AP/Charlie Neibergall.

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