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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