Casualty of Capitalism

Exiled into Wilmington, Delaware by virtue of corporate layoffs. (Note: Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this blog are Copyright 2005, Michael Collins, and cannot be used without permission.)

Location: Wilmington, Delaware, United States

Graduate of University of Maryland School of Law; University of Maryland, College Park (Economics/Political Science).

Monday, April 11, 2005

I Hate to Beat a Dead Horse, But...

The New York Times' (and others') campaign to convince the faithful that the Catholic Church should be run like a democracy and modernized per the whims of today's "morality" continues apace.

Today's piece entitled, "Catholics in U.S. Keep Faith, but Live With Contradictions" is one designed to make it appear as if conservative American Catholics are out of touch with their more liberal bretheren. At its core, this article glorifies Cafeteria Catholicism: choosing which tenets of the faith best suits the way one wishes to live his/her life, while ignoring the inconvenient rules to allow maximum enjoyment of life.

Let's sample some quotes, shall we?

Catholic #1 - Latino from a big family (twelve) with the stereotypically rigid Catholic mom, who has two children out of wedlock, and wants the Church to change its anti-birth control stance (because it's obvious this is the reason she has two kids outside of marriage, not her behavior):

She mourns the death of Pope John Paul II but hopes his successor will be "new and different."

Catholic #2 - The credibility witness: married by one pope, an acquaintance of another. She has "new information" that the Vatican obviously is too inflexible to give thought to. And that new information is - the American culture! In fairness, the pope researched this information, but I guess he wasn't as impressed with it as Mrs. Gonya.

"Catholics right now are à la carte" in the practice of their religion, said Diana Gonya, 61, a retired insurance agent in Baltimore whose wedding 36 years ago was officiated by Pope Paul VI.

Mrs. Gonya said that her attitude toward the pope and the church hierarchy was something like people's feelings about their parents. "We respect them for what they believe, but we have new information that takes us in different directions," she said.

"Rome is important, but I don't think the typical American Catholic leans on that alone," Mr. Gonya said. "We have to continue to explore our beliefs in our own culture."

Catholic #3 - the college student, always good for a "fight the power" quote:

"If it wants to stay one of the major religions in this country, it needs to progress with the times and let women priests in," said Katie McDevitt, 20, a sophomore at Boston College, a Jesuit university. Ms. McDevitt says she attends church relatively regularly, and she recently went to a memorial Mass for John Paul. "It needs not to be so sexist and patriarchal. There is a lot of emphasis on the wrong principles."

Catholic #4 - conservative rubarb. Shockingly, the only quote defending the Church's teaching (given a full paragraph in a two page story) sounds the least articulate. And check out the lead in sentence: "Certainly there are traditionalists." Like being a full believer in the doctrine of the Church one subscribes to is bizarre and somehow diminished. The "certainly" is inserted to emphasize that being traditionalist is out of the mainstream! And traditionalists can't put together a coherent sentence. No wonder they only quoted one of these half-wits!

Certainly there are traditionalists. "If it works, why mess with it? It lasted 2,000 years. Why mess with it?" asked Joseph M. Perry, 51, a mechanic from Reading, Mass. Mr. Perry says he does not agree with abortion and thinks priests should remain celibate and male.

There you have it. The New York Times' defense of Catholicism.

Catholic #5 - clueless teenager. First the pope ruined his childhood, then he caused the AIDS epidemic. (Remember, abstinence, the method advocated by the pope, doesn't count as a safe-sex approach, even if it is 100% full-proof.) If only he would let kids do whatever they feel like they want to do! Gosh!

But some younger Catholics say they can no longer live their lives in keeping with doctrine. Adam Williams, 17, goes to Mass at Mount Carmel, the Catholic high school he attends in Baltimore, but rarely goes to church otherwise. The church's prohibitions on "almost everything a kid can do," Adam said, has made him ever more reluctant to identify himself as Catholic.

"At school, they taught us that there are so many people in Africa with AIDS," Adam said, as he took a break from working after school last week at Vaccaro's, a local pastry shop. "But the church won't let them use condoms. I think that's stupid."

[Pause for a brief message from the NY Times: Catholics who believe in the Church and followed JPII are old wackos who see visions. Further, their obedient minds are controlled by their Church. Unable to think for themselves, they cling to old beliefs like they cling to the crucifixes around their necks. The young people, on the other hand, those hip Gen-whatevers with all the good, well-reasoned ideas, know where the Church should go from here:

Here in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, the older generation of Latinos follows a tradition of obedience. Ms. Velazquez's mother, Maria, 48, of Compton, spoke of seeing John Paul in her dreams before he died. Clutching a crucifix dangling around her neck, she said she could think of nothing she would change about the church.

But younger Latinos, like Ms. Velazquez, have begun to resemble other Americans in their attitudes toward Catholic doctrine. Ms. Velazquez said unhesitatingly that many Catholics of her generation have abortions, use birth control and generally lead lives not in keeping with church teachings.

A 2001 study by the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute in Los Angeles found that only 38 percent of second-generation Latino Catholics in the United States relied "a great deal" on religion in daily life, compared with 53 percent of their parents' generation.]

Catholic #1 - again, the young Ms. Velazquez who hopes that the next pope will understand the abortions, use of contraceptives, and general sinning of her culture better (and presumably conform his views to theirs).

Maria Velazquez's only wish for the new pope is that he might be a Latin American. "He would understand our culture better," she said in Spanish.

Catholic #6 - The final word goes to a modern day Thomas Jefferson - the Church's first motto should be We the People...! God's values should be up for the vote of the locals, because universal beliefs are too hard these days.

"I'm afraid the church as a whole is coming to the point where it isn't one size fits all any more," said Jack Scalione, 66, a turnpike inspector, who was watching the papal funeral on television at Our Lady of Mount Carmel church in East Boston. "What's good in Europe isn't necessary good in America, and what's good in America isn't necessarily what's good in Latin America. You have to fit to the wishes of the people because the people are the church."

In the interest of fairness, will the New York Times publish an uncritical piece on those who follow the faith with fervor? Will they reserve the weakest quotes for some wacky abortion rights activists who thinks, like, all priests are pedophiles? As I have always said, I have my own issues with the Church hierarchy, but they stem mostly from inaction and abetment in the face of breaches of doctrine. I also do not claim to be a perfect human by any stretch. The difference is, when I do wrong, I don't seek ask the Church to change so that my sinful actions become OK under Church law.

The assault on the Church during the last couple of weeks has been relentless. It is not an assault on the failure of the Church to provide adequate guidance on Church doctrine, but an attack on the doctrine itself. The New York Times is leading the charge. Considering the Times' recent trackrecord of failed endorsements, made up stories, and bias towards the wrong side of history, I think I will continue to look to Rome for guidance, rather than Manhattan.


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