Two hundred and 70 bishops from 120 countries issued a disheartening report after a recent three-week Vatican synod discussing family matters for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, called the document “deeply disappointing,” one that blocked “civil and moral equality for our community.” That community: an organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics.
Many conservative bishops at the synod called those who remarry without getting an annulment, adulterers living in sin. They said the church cannot change its doctrine that marriage is indissolvable. But some bishops called that “insensitive, even cruel, because it refuses to take personal circumstances into account.”
No wonder the New York Times called it “the most contentious and momentous meeting of bishops in the 50 years since Vatican II.” The synod exposed deep fault lines between traditionalists wanting to shore up doctrines and those who want the church to be more open.
Pope Francis, papal rock star, has won worldwide praise for being a nice guy. But that is hardly praiseworthy. The truth is that the pope has changed none of the musty doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.
Francis made a temporary absolution for Catholics “who bear in their heart the scar” of abortion and repent during the upcoming Jubilee or Holy Year.
But Katie Klabusich in a Truthout news analysis countered that 95 percent of Catholics have neither struggled over nor regretted their abortions.
Erin Matson, co-director of the reproductive justice organization, ReproAction, said: “The official teachings of the Catholic Church on sexuality are out of step with the views of most Catholics. Women who have had abortions have nothing to apologize for.”
One in three Catholic women has had one or more abortions. This is reality. The church is adamantly against birth control yet most Catholics use it, forced to be hypocritical about their faith.
The church is short of priests but bars women from the priesthood. Sister Louise Akers, head of the Sisters of Charity, rightly calls the Catholic Church “the last bastion of sexism.”
The church insists that priests be celibate. Celibacy is unnatural. Yet the church doesn’t allow divorced Catholics to take communion. It should. Communion is central to Catholicism.
The church prohibits the use of condoms even to prevent AIDS–a clear example of head-in-the-sand dogma. The church opposes premarital sex, a view contrary to human nature, and therefore practiced by most Catholics.
Sainthood and bad popes
The Catholic Church and the saint business can be unholy. Bad popes are often canonized. Such is the case of the recent bestowal of sainthood on Pope John Paul II.
Maureen Dowd, columnist for the New York Times, is a Catholic yet critical of the Vatican and popes like John Paul. She wrote a recent column bluntly headlined: “A saint he ain’t.” Dowd noted that John Paul presided over the church during three decades of the gruesome pedophilia scandal.
Michael Gallagher, Truthout columnist, denounced John Paul for condemning Liberation Theology. Latin American bishops wanted to rid the poor of injustice yet John Paul dismissed it as Marxist-inspired. (There is more Marx in Jesus than religionists admit.).
In contrast, Dowd extolled John XXIII as worthy of sainthood. He convened the historic Vatican II, an open window on the Catholic Church.
John XXIII, the good, was made a saint the same day as John Paul, the bad–a typical Vatican machination.
Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. (firstname.lastname@example.org)