…in which I begin appreciating the second part of Pesoli’s article for The Huffington Post, Why This Catholic Girl is Praying For a Schism. When we left off, our author was yodeling the praises of Melinda Gates, whose decision to gift the poor with prophylactics and hormonal contraceptives came as the answer to Pesoli’s prayers for more sensible behavior amongst high profile Catholics.
Regarding the scathing criticism she’s received from some Catholic bloggers,
Gates responded that she will not shrink from her role as an advocate for poor women. Gates’ brand of strong is definitely the new sexy.
Not that Catholic bloggers deserve any attention, as they’re all of them receiving funding from the Vatican, but it seems apparent to me that Gate has never responded to their criticism of her plan, be it scathing or otherwise. For the criticism has been simple, direct, and can be summed up in two major questions: “Melinda, how can one — according to the principle of non-contradiction — profess a personal membership in the Church (a membership which is based on assent to her teachings), while simultaneously dissenting from the teachings of that Church?” and “Melinda, have you asked whether the countries on which you’re about to unleash carcinogenic drugs actually desire these drugs, and whether their values regarding children and sex are quite the same as your own?”
To the latter complaint, I have heard no adequate response. To the former, Gates has decided that the question regarding her faith is only answerable by way of non-answer. She will not shrink from her role as advocate for poor women. It is precisely what she means by being an advocate to poor women — promoting artificial contraception in their countries — that is antithetical to Church teaching. The question, therefore, has been left unanswered. Catholic bloggers have listened to Gates’ responses, and are left scurrying back to their own posts, desperately looking for the point in which they said “Melinda, don’t explain the contradiction between your professed faith and your actions, just keep repeating a positive modifier about yourself.”
That we are satisfied with these non-answers only goes to show that we have sold our intellect to our ideology at a grotesquely cheap price.
I had found a new personal patron saint of Catholicism.
Following the proper rubrics for canonization, no doubt.
Despite all the chatter and the push-back, Gates continues to put one foot in front of the other. If she is willing to lead the way, the least I can do is follow.
Never mind if she is putting her feet in the right direction.
But the big question that remains is this: Where are we all going, anyway?
My sister used to say, “I’m a Kennedy Catholic,” when people were surprised to find out that she was both a Democrat and a Catholic. The distinction between Democrats’ and Republicans’ respective brands of Catholicism has only gotten more pronounced in recent years, with social justice liberals filling the pews on the left side of the Church and conservative crusaders occupying the right. These days it’s hard to believe we worship the same God, let alone practice the same religion.
Here Pesoli illuminates and sets ablaze the actual problem. I applaud her through the Internet, I really do. The false dichotomy of “social justice” vs. “conservative” Catholics is a festering wound in the body of Christ. We are told not to pick a side — I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought (1 Corinthians 1:10) — but to understand and live the truth found in both of these positions, recalling that unifying instruction of St. James, that “religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). Helping the poor and living the moral life.
When we look at the desire of the Christ, at his heartfelt cry to his Father before he delievered himself up to die, the silliness of a liberal/conservative split within the Church becomes apparent:
I pray also for those who will believe in me through [the disciple’s] message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17)
Christ wants us to be one, truly one. This desire was a desire important enough to be his death prayer. Thus whenever we see a false division in the Church, our impulse, flowing from our love for Christ, should be to make it whole.
For decades I prayed that the Catholic Church would evolve, but not anymore. Now I’m holding out for a schism, instead. We’ll be the Social Justice Catholic Church and they can be the Conservative Catholic Church.
Or not, whatever. Saw the Bride in half.
This, in a phrase, is the Americanization of the Universal Church, similar in essence to that terrifying moment when the tourist asks the Parisian to point him in the direction of the nearest Burger King.
It is an unfortunate impulse that Pesoli has chosen to represent, one that views the business of the United States as so utterly important, so terribly all-defining, that it would ram even the 2000-year old Church — the largest single institution in which men and women of every race and tongue claim unity — into our banal Democrat vs. Republican split. To our shame, we lack the necessary open-mindedness to realize that, just perhaps, there exist things above and beyond the viewpoints of Rush Limbaugh and Barack Obama.
The reality is this: The teachings of the Church have always been the Truth from which leftism and rightism are equally false heresies. She demands that we give to the poor, and refrain from sterilizing them. She opposes abortion and euthanasia — thus annoying the Left — while opposing unjust war, death penalty and nuclear weapons — thus annoying the Right. She stands in contradiction to materialism in all its forms, from the capitalist degradation of man into a working unit, to the socialist degradation of man to into a merely social unit. She unites the Klan member and the Communist in common hatred — the WBC preacher and the New Atheist hold hands over a common enemy. She is the rock plunged into the pool — all else is ripple.
But Pesoli advocates the paling of the Creed, the sniveling bow of the greatest community the world has ever known to the current — and fleeting — language of North American politics. It is the sad trading of a thing eternal for a fast fading fad. It is a grand mistaking of a part of Catholicism for its whole.
We’ll take Melinda Gates, Stephen Colbert, all of the Kennedys, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, John Kerry and, yes (because we have a sense of humor), even Joe Biden. Oh, and for edgy vibe, we’ll take Jack White. The Conservative Catholics can have Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Paul Ryan and Justice Antonin Scalia.
I begin to wonder whether Pesoli realizes that the Catholic Church exists outside of the United States, but unfortunately, as Pesoli’s taste for sarcasm and humor increases, my own diminishes. The advocation of my mother Church split along the lines of something as shallow as modern politics leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
In the Social Justice Catholic Church, there will be no more of this nonsense over contraception. Once we’ve put that non-issue to rest, we’ll be freed up to tackle other non-issues, too — like marriage and gender equality.
Of course. Didn’t this already happen? The Episcopal Church, anybody?
In the Social Justice Catholic Church, everyone will be treated equally — men, women, gay or straight. And everyone will be allowed to marry, even priests. And speaking of priests, no one will be disqualified from being one based on gender or sexual orientation. Priest shortage? What priest shortage?
So, what makes the Social Justice Catholic Church different from any other inclusive and reasonable church, like the Unitarian Church, for example? Two thousand years’ worth of rituals and a treasure trove of accessories, that’s what. We’re keeping all of the cool incense burners,
Aspergillums. Can we make a deal? You’re not allowed to keep anything you don’t know the name of.
holy days, saints
What about saints who a) know what censers are, b) spoke against homosexual acts, c) spoke in defense of the male priesthood, d) sought for the unity, not dissolution, of the Church, or e) opposed the use of contraception, abortion, and all the rest?
and sacraments. Oh, and the wine. We’re definitely keeping the wine.
My dear woman, I can only hope that you are imbibed with a sense of how utterly true your own words are: You are keeping the wine, for you are losing the Sacrament. I had it in mind to continue discussing Pesoli’s points, but now I’m too damn depressed. Have her closing ceremony then, as I’m sure people will do my job in the comments:
Now let’s talk facilities. I’ve been to the Vatican, and it’s huge. We can divide that thing straight down the middle and still have plenty of room for both groups. The Conservative Catholics can have Pope Benedict, but I call dibs on John Paul II’s crypt. I know JP Deuce made some mistakes (papal infallibility notwithstanding), but I liked him. I guess you could say he had me at (Polish trade union) solidarity.
And as long as we’re dividing things up, I guess we’re going to need separate quarters in heaven, too. Clarence Thomas doesn’t say much and that makes him easy enough to tune out, but there’s no way I’m spending eternity listening to Sean Hannity.
I may not live to see the day when everyone is treated with basic human dignity and enjoys access to modern medicine here on earth. But after the schism, at least I can take comfort knowing that’s what awaits me in Social Justice Catholic heaven.
And with marriage equality and contraception flowing freely, I’m betting Jesus, his 12 “go-to” guys and his home girl Mary Magdalene will all be there, too. With that guest list, you know the dinner parties in Social Justice Catholic Heaven will be as fabulous as they are endless — with bottomless glasses of wine and a place at the table for everyone.
Pesoli, if i may speak to you directly: I wish to apologize for the times I have been responsible for this worldview. For I know that I often express the Church’s teachings on abortion and contraception — to name a few — without mention of her opposition to the unjust use of the death penalty and her demand for justice to the poor — to name a few more. Your article has convinced me of the necessity for Catholics to cease imposing upon Christ their particular faction of American politics, and instead begin conforming their hearts to the comprehensive, consistent, and life-changing teachings of His body, the Church.