Is It Time to Quit the Roman Catholic Church -- or to Join?
That it is high time to quit is the claim of an advertisement that appeared on p. A5 in last Tuesday’s Washington Post. An earlier missive along the same lines appeared in The New York Times on 9 March, and I will have to say that I heartily welcome the attacks mounted by the Freedom from Religion Foundation of Madison, Wisconsin—for they are designed to force the lukewarm to ponder what they really think, get off the fence, and take a stand. In this regard, they are doing for the Catholic Church in the United States what the hierarchy has shied away from doing for almost a half century.
“It’s your moment of truth,” the advertisement begins. “It’s time to quit the Roman Catholic Church. Will it be reproductive freedom, or back to the Dark Ages? Do you choose women and their rights, or Bishops and their wrongs: Whose side are you on? In light of the U. S. Catholic Conference of Bishops’ war against women’s right to contraception. . ."
- Why are you aiding and abetting a church that has repeatedly engaged in a crusade to ban contraception, abortion and sterilization, to deny the right of all women everywhere, Catholic or not, to decide whether and when to become mothers?
- Think of the acute misery, poverty, needless suffering, unwanted pregnancies, overpopulation, social evils and deaths that can be laid directly at the door of your church’s pernicious doctrine that birth control is a sin and must be outlawed.
- If you think you can change the church from within – get it to lighten up on birth control, gay rights, marriage equality, embryonic stem-cell research – you’re deluding yourself. By remaining a “good Catholic,” you are doing “bad” to women’s rights. You are an enabler. And it’s got to stop.
- It’s a disgrace that U. S. health care reform is being held hostage to your church’s irrational opposition to medically prescribed contraception. No political candidate should have to genuflect before the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. President Obama has compromised, but the Church never budges. Instead it is launching a ruthless political Inquisition in your name.
- Your church hysterically claims that secular medical policy is “an assault against religious liberty.” The louder the Church cries "offense against religious liberty” the hard it works to take away women’s liberty. Now your church has introduced into Congress a double-speak bill, the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act,” to allow dogma to trump the civil rights and private consciences of employees.
- The Church that hasn’t persuaded you to shun contraception now wants to use the forces of secular law to deny birth control to non-Catholics.
- You’re no better than your church, so why stay? Why put up with an institution that discriminates against half of humanity? Why send your children to parochial schools to be indoctrinated into the next generation of obedient donors and voters? Can’t you see how misplaced your loyalty is after two decades of sex scandals involving preying priests, church complicity, collusion and coverup going all the way to the top? Apparently, you’re like the battered woman who, after being beaten down every Sunday, feels she has no place else to go. There is a more welcoming home for you.
I realize that this reads like a parody of left-liberal feminist thought. I realize that it is full of misinformation, hysteria, and hyperbole. I promise you, however, that it is the real thing, and I am delighted to be able to report that the archdiocese of Washington in My Catholic Standard published on Friday a fierce response, which was circulated to everyone in the pews yesterday.
Thanks to Barack Obama, who is for conservatives a gift that keeps on giving, the liberals are doffing the genial mask they donned in the days of Bill Clinton and revealing themselves as what they are. And, instead of seeking to subvert Roman Catholicism from within in the manner of Mario Cuomo and Ted Kennedy, as they have been doing with great success for half a century, they are attacking it head on, forcing the American church to return to its fundamental principles, and inducing non-members sympathetic to its understanding of human sexuality to think about joining.
Those who call themselves Catholics must, indeed, make a choice. They must choose between the worldview that underpins this advertisement and the Catholic faith. It is a choice that the hierarchy should have pressed on them long ago. What a strange and awful world we live in! One in which the professed enemies of Roman Catholicism are unwittingly its firmest and most reliable friends. But, then again, you could say precisely the same thing about the Republican Party. Adversity can be a tonic.