It’s not everyday the Archdiocese of Washington responds to something I wrote… but Monsignor Charles Pope isn’t happy with a post I made about how the Catholic Church is Now Pissing Off the People Who Actually Like Them.
Here’s the gist of my very brief piece: A Catholic Diocese mandated that Sunday School teachers sign a “Profession of Faith” in order to teach. A few teachers weren’t happy with that — I mean, why trust Church leaders 100% on issues of “faith and morals” when they’ve gotten it wrong so many times and in so many serious ways?
Not surprisingly, I sympathized with those teachers. Here’s what I wrote:
We know Catholic leaders are mostly a bunch of men who don’t want to hear any legitimate arguments as to why they’re wrong on issues like contraception usage and gay marriage.
We also know that most Catholics who are not part of the hierarchy don’t buy into what their “superiors” tell them. Catholic women use birth control. Many Catholics support gay marriage. The list goes on.
I’m loving this implosion from the sidelines. The Church isn’t going to back down from their awful ideas and the decent people who actually like the Church are finding more and more reasons to get the hell out of there.
For whatever reason, Pope — insert your cheap joke here — offered a loooooong rebuttal.
He says I misunderstand the Church… and that I’m too angry (“he doesn’t seem all that friendly”).
First of all, I don’t misunderstand the Church.
Second, fuck you.
Back to point one.
What about those supposed “legitimate” arguments supporting gay marriage and contraception usage that I talk about? Pope writes:
Some argue that Scripture is largely silent on contraception (but remember, NO ONE wanted small families in those days, contraception was unthinkable except perhaps in relation to prostitution), but Tradition is not silent. And as for Gay “marriage” any attempt to validate homosexual activity of any sort is fanciful. Scripture unambiguously and at every stage, condemns homosexual activity, as well as illicit heterosexual activity. Hence it is unclear what “legitimate” (i.e. based in Law) arguments the bishops should be listening to on either topic
Umm… yeah. I know you believe that. But your tradition regarding contraception is a bad one and I don’t care what your holy book says about homosexual activity because it’s wrong. I never misrepresented that. The problem is that more and more Catholics are siding with me on those issues and away from the Church. Are they atheists? Nope. Are they bad Catholics? I don’t care one way or the other, but Pope thinks they are:
And note that what the “friendly atheist” calls “Most Catholics” may be statistically true, but it fails to distinguish between church-going Catholics and merely nominal Catholics. It remains a sad fact that most people who call themselves Catholics are not really practicing Catholics in any sense of the word. Perhaps they will return, but non-practicing Catholics cannot set the norm for what it means to be a believing and practicing Catholic.
In other words, Pope concedes that I’m right… but he still wants to argue.
Ok, here’s the reality of the situation: A lot of people call themselves Catholic, but it means very little. They’re cultural Catholics. Cafeteria Catholics. Who-gives-a-shit-what-the-Pope-says Catholics. I would love it if they stopped using the C-word altogether, but for whatever reason, they still want to be part of the religious tradition.
So what about the “real” Church-going Catholics? Where do they stand on the issue of contraception? Well, a recent Gallup poll said 82% of American Catholics found birth control to be morally acceptable and that percentage includes plenty of Catholics who go to Church.
Gallup also says that half of all American Catholics support legal same-sex marriage:
It’s silly to dismiss non-Church-goers’ beliefs when most Catholics don’t buy into the bishops’ views on contraception and gay marriage.
The Church leaders can cling to those beliefs all they want, but they must be aware that they suck at making their case. Meanwhile, the rest of us are making very powerful arguments as to why Church leaders are wrong and not worth taking seriously. And if they’re wrong on these issues, what else are they wrong about?
Pope goes on:
Here too, our Friendly Atheist misunderstands the nature of the Church which is not a human club wherein the members get to vote on by-laws and determine what seems right according to their thinking. We are a community of believers who gather around a revealed doctrine that we do not get to determine, but are required to give assent to.
It is not so extreme to ask those who do not merely sit in the pews but actually take positions as catechists and who claim to teach in the name of the Church to publicly attest that they actually believe what they are teaching and to promise not to teach anything contrary to it.
I fully agree with Pope here. I have no problem with the Church forcing its teachers to sign a Profession of Faith. They have every right to do that.
And the Sunday School teachers who disagree with them have have right not to sign the document. I would love it if they left the faith altogether — I don’t know why anyone would want to remain in a Church run by bigots like Pope (… and The Pope) — but they probably feel that the Church leaders are just misguided humans, misinterpreting the will of God. So they want to stay and help guide the Church in the right direction.
Lucky for all of us, the male leaders won’t let them, and that’s going to hurt the Church in the long run. (Yay!)
Finally, Pope argues:
So again, the “Friendly Atheist” fundamentally misunderstands the nature of the Church which is not a clubhouse, but is a lighthouse. And to be lighthouse we have to be a light, even when the world prefers darkness.
Setting aside the whole light/dark thing, I don’t misunderstand that at all. The Church isn’t a democracy. I know full well that a few Sunday School teachers aren’t going to change the bishops’ minds on anything because, in the bishops’ view, they’re just women who can’t possibly “know God” any better than the men in charge.
The world doesn’t want darkness. We want a world where — at least in these particular cases — people are treated equally and they get a choice regarding contraception usage. In fact, a lot of good Catholics are going to keep shining a light on the Church, hoping they become more tolerant.
Thankfully, they won’t succeed. Pope’s post only confirms that. It’s the sort of stubborn refusal to accept the reality of the situation — that there’s nothing wrong with gay people, that women have a right to decide what goes on in their bodies — that will push more “Catholics-in-name-only” away from the Church.
Keep doing what you’re doing, Pope. It’s not working. And it’s beautiful to watch the results.
(via Why I Am Catholic)