Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage 2.0: What Do Fortnights, Marriage Marches, and Vials of Papal Blood Have in Common?

More birdcage droppings for you today (these are definitely the stinky kind):

All at the very same time — surprise! — 

• The U.S. Catholic bishops roll out their Fortnight for Freedom political crusade (on June 21) because contraception and same-sex marriage (and, it goes without saying, Mr. Obama);

• The National Organization for Marriage stages its "March for Marriage" in D.C. (June 19), because "love is the answer";

• And the Knights of Columbus, under the leadership of Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, who has worked for GOP President Reagan and GOP Senator Jesse Helms, send the blood of Pope John Paul II on tour in the U.S. (June 21) because the world needs to be prepared for Jesus's final coming.

NOM's march is in D.C., and as Luke Brinker notes for Media Matters and Heather Adams notes for Religion News Service, NOM plans to astroturf (i.e., goose up) attendance by busing in folks from New York (Cardinal Timothy Dolan) and Philadelphia (Archbishop Charles Chaput). As the USCCB website (see the first link above) indicates, the Fortnight for Freedom events will include "special Masses" in D.C. and Baltimore.

The Knights of Columbus are targeting Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore with their tour of the vial of John Paul II's blood. The heavily politicized and exceedingly cultic kind of Catholicism on triumphalistic display in these theatrical events is, in other words, all about asserting the power of the Catholic hierarchy in major cultural and political centers of the U.S. — especially in Washington, D.C. — prior to the 2014 elections. Exceedingly cultic, because what does exhibiting vials of a pope's blood with partisan political intent and warnings about the impending end of the world really have to do with the heart of the Catholic tradition, after all, and with the attempt of the church's last ecumenical council, Vatican II, to point us who are Catholic back to what's best about and most foundational to this tradition?

If you think the conjunction of these highly politicized, theatrical-to-the-max, staged and astroturfed cultic events is mere accident, Steve and I have a house with an underwater mortgage in Florida that we'll gladly sell you at a price just a bit over what we paid for it. Interested? Please call 1-000-IMAFOOL posthaste.

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