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These words are my diary screaming out loud

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

More on the whole Church thing...

When I blogged about the nuns a few weeks ago, I said I was going to keep an eye on that story, and this is me following up.

I don't always agree with E.J. Dionne, a liberal columnist for the Washington Post, regular contributor to MSNBC, and occasional member of Meet the Press's political round table. I read him and his colleagues regularly, though, because I like to take in all sides of most debates. But the column he wrote yesterday really struck a chord with me. Entitled "I'm Not Quitting The Church," Dionne writes about a full page ad that ran in the Post recently urging liberals to leave the Catholic Church.

Now, first of all, this type of ad absolutely hurts the cause for which this group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), purports to be trying to advance. It gives the far right ammunition. It defeats its own purpose. While Dionne doesn't come right out and say that, he does make some very salient points about why he will decline that invitation to leave the church. He specificially focuses on a paragraph that he finds particularly offensive. He writes:
My, my. Putting aside the group’s love for unnecessary quotation marks, it was shocking to learn that I’m an “enabler” doing “bad” to women’s rights. But Catholic liberals get used to these kinds of things. Secularists, who never liked Catholicism in the first place, want us to leave the church, but so do Catholic conservatives who want the church all to themselves.
He then spends most of the remainder of his column discussing the issues of women's rights in the church. He talks about some of the work done under Pope John XXIII, who spoke of the "natural dignity" of women and their inherent rights as human beings. Then he moves into the nun part, prefacing it with wishing that both the FFRF and today's bishops would read a little more of Pope John and align a little closer with him. He pretty much asks the same question I asked in my post: "Why in the world would the Vatican, apparently pushed by right-wing American bishops, think it was a good idea to condemn the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the main organization of nuns in the United States?" He talks about all the good they've done, and how often Catholics like himself refer to this type of work in their defense of the Church they love, some of the same issues I mentioned in my post, only he's far more articulate about it than I am.

A friend of mine, also a liberal Catholic Democrat, and I were talking about this column yesterday.  She told me that she had recently expressed similar frustrations with a pastor back home, and that he had come back to her with a reminder that the Church on Earth is flawed because men are flawed. I think that's a great thing to remember, for me in particular - just because the Church on Earth isn't really something I can get super excited about these days, that doesn't mean that the big picture is the same thing or even close. Of course, that's probably some sort of blasphemy against infallibility or something, but I'll refer back to the original post where I led off with the fact that I'm not the best Catholic.

Dionne ends his piece with a poignant quote, one that I'll quote to end this post. The Church would do well to listen.
Too many bishops seem in the grip of dark suspicions that our culture is moving at breakneck speed toward a demonic end. Pope John XXIII, by contrast, was more optimistic about the signs of the times. “Distrustful souls see only darkness burdening the face of the earth,” he once said. “We prefer instead to reaffirm all our confidence in our Savior who has not abandoned the world which he redeemed.” The church best answers its critics when it remembers that its mission is to preach hope, not fear.

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