Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Brother Daniel Horan's Dating God Blog on Vatican II and Equal Rights of All People

At his Dating God blog site, Brother Daniel Horan notes that while there's a lot of talk about Vatican II, much of this talk is ill-informed, because it fails to focus on what the council actually said.  Horan suspects (and I think he's right) that many of those talking about Vatican II have not even read its documents, let alone studied them with care.

And then, to give us an opportunity to hear the actual words of the church's last ecumenical council, Horan excerpts the following passage from the council's pastoral constitution on the church in the modern world, Gaudium et Spes:

Not everyone is identical in physical capacity and in mental and moral resources. But every type of discrimination affecting the fundamental rights of the person, whether social or cultural, on grounds of sex, race, color, class, language or religion, should be overcome and done away with, as contrary to the purpose of God. It is matter for deep regret that these basic personal rights are still not universally recognized and respected, as when women are denied the choice of a husband or a state of life, or opportunities for education and culture equal to those of men. 
Moreover, although there are just differences among individuals, the equal dignity of persons demands access to more human and equal conditions of life. And the excessive economic and social inequalities among members or peoples of the same human family are a scandal and are at variance with social justice, equity, the dignity of the human person and, not least, social and international peace (no. 29).

And then Horan offers the following helpful gloss on the preceding passage:

Healthcare, equal and living wages, the right to vote, the right to love whomever one loves, and the like are contained and expressed above as included among those rights that — as Gaudium et Spes makes explicit in a later section – all human institutions (e.g., governments and the church) are to work to guarantee for all people, regardless of any person’s mental, moral, physical, or social capacity or utility. 

I note in particular Horan's italicizing of the word "all" two times in the preceding sentence.  This strikes me as an eminently catholic thing to do.  The eminently Catholic sensibility enshrined in the council's document and Horan's gloss on it explain to me why so many American Catholics just voted to re-elect a president who risked his political future for a healthcare plan that, while imperfect, promises to provide basic healthcare for millions of citizens who lack access to such healthcare.

It also explains to me why a significant percentage of Catholics have worked hard and voted to assure that their gay brothers and sisters no longer be denied the human right of civil marriage in the states of Maine, Maryland, and Washington, and why many Catholic voters in Minnesota rejected a mean-spirited constitutional amendment promoted by their bishops and the Knights of Columbus, that singled out gay citizens and sought to block their access to the human right of marriage.

What none of this explains for me, unfortunately, is why the bishops of the Catholic church in the U.S. continue to betray the eminently catholic insights of the documents of Vatican II even as they purport to be more Catholic than the rest of the Catholic community.  Have they simply not read the documents of Vatican II?

Thanks to Claire Bangasser of the wonderful A Seat at the Table blog for posting a link to Brother Daniel's posting at her Facebook page.

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