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First things first

One of the great truths about religion, at least contemporary religion in North America, is that it has largely shed the fundamentalism of its past and has evolved (perhaps a poor choice of words) into a much more tolerant and forward-thinking practice. Gone are the days of slavish adherence to obscure and backward dogmatic beliefs that were the hallmark of a time when such things were necessary to hold society together. Everyone knows that, aside from a few fringe groups, religious institutions are really more about building fellowship and fostering community service than anything else.

Of course, like all religious “truths”, that’s complete bullshit:

The Vatican has ordered a crackdown on a group of American nuns that it considers too radical. It says the group is undermining Roman Catholic teaching on homosexuality and is promoting “feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith”. The Leadership Conference, which is based in Maryland, represents about 57,000 nuns and offers a wide range of services, from leadership training for women’s religious orders to advocacy on social justice issues.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said the nuns’ organisation faced a “grave” doctrinal crisis. It said issues of “crucial importance” to the church, such as abortion and euthanasia, had been ignored. Vatican officials also castigated the group for making some public statements that “disagree with or challenge positions taken by the bishops”, who are the church’s “authentic teachers of faith and morals.”

The first thing that really jumped out at me is that that Vatican thinks that feminist themes are incompatible with Catholic faith. Do you hear that, Catholic women? Think that you deserve the same rights, opportunities, and privileges as men? Well cut that shit out! That’s incompatible with what you are instructed to believe by a group of old men that heard it from a really old man who claims to talk directly to God. Usually there is a bit of legwork required for someone like me to demonstrate that religious faith is specifically anti-woman, but the Vatican has taken it upon itself to make that clear – feminism is not compatible with Catholicism.

Really take a moment to let the implications of that statement sink in.

The other thing that immediately leaps out at me is how profoundly stupid a public relations move this is. There is no possible way to spin “stop working for social justice and start harping on people about abortion!” into something that doesn’t make the Vatican look like the asshole nexus of the universe. In the United States, no less, where the Vatican doesn’t exactly enjoy wild popularity, you would think that the Holy See would have the good sense to avoid jumping with both feet and waving around demands about more restrictive access to birth control. Especially after Catholic politicians have been disgracing themselves left and right (well… mostly just right).

But no, it is clear that the Vatican has its priorities, and social justice and progressive doctrinal theology take so deep a back seat to abortion and euthanasia (no choice in either coming or going, it seems). Not even the paranoid sense of self-preservation that is the Church’s calling card can prevent them from engaging in this act of self-immolation. But hey, at least they’re staying away from the gay stuff, right?

Teachers at a Mississauga Catholic school are encouraging students to sign a petition that supports a federal motion to reopen the abortion debate, Xtra has learned. In an email sent out to all teachers at St Joseph Catholic Secondary School, teachers are encouraged to ask students to sign. Xtra obtained a copy of the email from a source at the school. Michael Payton, interim executive director of the Centre for Inquiry, says the school is manipulating students to lobby the federal government on behalf of Conservative causes.

So this one hits a little close to home for me. While I was not a student in a Mississauga Catholic high school, I did attend a couple of Catholic elementary schools when I lived in Mississauga (we moved), and continued in the Catholic system in Brampton (same region, same school board) until it was time for high school. It is entirely possible that, were I now a student in one of those schools, that I could be asked to participate in this odious, anti-gay nonsense. Nonsense, incidentally, that is explicitly partisan.

Students are being asked to write letters in support of Stephen Woodworth’s private members bill to reopen the abortion debate under the guise of being confused about when life starts. While the boundaries between life and personhood may not be starkly defined, the boundaries of the electoral map are, and Stephen Woodworth’s electoral riding is a 45-minute drive east of St. Joseph’s school. It makes absolutely no sense for the school to instruct its pupils to write letters in support of the backward-ass MP of a riding that doesn’t even share a border with Mississauga.

Meaningless though! Rational thinking? Properly educating children? Not using your position as authority figures to push a political agenda? Those are all secondary to just how fucking much the Catholic hierarchy hates the idea of a woman choosing to abort a pregnancy. Those unwanted children are gifts from Yahweh! And they come without receipts, so you can’t return them!

It’s no secret that my mind has been made up about the Catholic Church for many years. I found it an odious and restrictive organization even when I still offered allegiance to it. I stayed in because I believed the fictional narrative that the dogmatic elements of religious participation was largely a relic of a long forgotten era, and that modern Catholics didn’t have much stomach for heavy-handed moralizing. What I eventually learned is that my parents shielded me from the truth about just how conservative, hateful and sanctimonious a religious tradition I had been baptized into. I have seen exactly zero reasons to change my mind since I dropped “the holy Catholic Church” from my weekly profession of faith.

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Comments

  1. atheist says

    It seemed like at one point (the 1980s/90s), US Catholic leaders were at least open to coexistence with mainstream US culture (I assume things in Canada were similar, and I don’t know about Mexico). But in the past decade or so the Catholic hierarchy seems to have taken a sharp right turn. It’s frightening and also angering, but I not often forced to think about it because I live in a secular area. In other areas I’m sure it is different.

  2. Julie says

    Please, this is not new crap from the Catholic school board. We were allowed time off during the school day at my all girl Catholic HS (early 80’s so I don’t know if they still do this)so we could go protest Henry Morgentaler’s abortion clinic. If I remember correctly signs were provided.

  3. busterggi says

    The RCC has been embiggened by the Republican full embrace of extreme fundamentalism.

    That is what happens when one bully sees another bully getting away with things.

  4. says

    I would agree with busterggi—the RCC is emboldened by the successes that so many evangelical churches have had…that said, now we can officially treat them like the crazies they are.

    Their entire “war against religion” is nothing more than lies and spin. The reality of the situation is the opposite. It is they who are picking fights with the Constitution and seeking exemptions from laws.

    Their views on women have always been abhorrent, but as you deftly pointed out used to require a bit of legwork to illustrate. It is kind of them to make our work as bloggers easier and just come out and say what they mean in this case. They should do the same in other areas. When they are being anti-homosexual they should proudly announce something like “equality and human rights are incompatible with the Catholic Faith”. They could at least have the stones to own their bigotry…

  5. karmakin says

    The Catholic hierarchy has decided to buy into the concept that secularism is the #1 problem of the day and needs to be fought on all fronts.

  6. leonpeyre says

    largely shed the fundamentalism of its past and has evolved (perhaps a poor choice of words)

    Not a poor choice of words, but an apt one. Evolution simply means change over time; that can apply to linguistic evolution or the history of an institution as well. Of course it also doesn’t hurt that the unthinking public has chosen to equate the word specifically with biological evolution, so you get to raise some people’s hackles by saying something that’s demonstrably and provably true.

    atheist and karmakin, good points! I hadn’t thought about those things before, but you’re right (on both counts).

  7. says

    I have been wondering myself if the catholic church has a death wish. This shift (not just on their part but also on the part of conservatism in general) has effectively turned me from moderate liberal to strong liberal. Any hopes I had in the past of voting for these scumbags is gone. It would take decades of the religious right being pro-humans instead of pro-god all the time for me to even find enough trust to vote for one of these assholes. Their god could comeback and threaten me with hell and I would reject his heaven on the notion that I don’t want to spend an eternity with his followers.

    I used to say that the catholic church at least had an effective business model. No more. I would sit back and laugh while they drive them self into non-existence if their scenic route wasn’t filled with a brutal horribleness destined to make me cry rather than chuckle.

  8. Dalillama says

    Did you mean to post the example text you did? I didn’t see anything quoted that was anti-gay, only anti-abortion.

  9. Dalillama says

    Nah, the linked article mentions that they blocked a GSA last time someone tried to start one, but they don’t appear to be doing anything more active than that based on the available info.

  10. Adela says

    The purpose of nuns has always been obedient cheap grunt labour for the church and largess when they join. How dare these brides of Christ in widow uniforms get this idea that they can do other things.

  11. tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach says

    reopen the abortion debate under the guise of being confused about when life starts.

    Good grief. Life starts when the buggers get their act together and move out of the family home. Before that – at will termination, just like their jobs will be. /s

  12. says

    The other thing that immediately leaps out at me is how profoundly stupid a public relations move this is. There is no possible way to spin “stop working for social justice and start harping on people about abortion!” into something that doesn’t make the Vatican look like the asshole nexus of the universe. In the United States, no less, where the Vatican doesn’t exactly enjoy wild popularity, you would think that the Holy See would have the good sense to avoid jumping with both feet and waving around demands about more restrictive access to birth control. Especially after Catholic politicians have been disgracing themselves left and right (well… mostly just right).

    To me this actually answers another age old question “Do they really buy this shit or are they just con men?”

    Apparently the answer is, yes they are that insane.

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