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Saturday, June 19, 2004

Abortion is bad. What about poverty, capital punishment and war? 

From the Times:

The nation's Roman Catholic bishops approved a statement on Friday on "Catholics in Political Life" that brands politicians who support abortion rights as "cooperating in evil" and leaves the door open for bishops to deny communion to such lawmakers.

This statement was approved by the overwhelming margin of 183 to 6.

The Church's hierarchy--definitely Rome and some American bishops--supports exclusionary, anachronistic and hateful dictates. Additionally, many of the church's positions--oposition to unnecessary wars and rejection of capital punishment come to mind--are admirable. I'm going to set aside moral judgements about the church's positions, and just note that their rules on contraception, divorce, pre-marital sex, masturbation, homosexuality, capital punishment, embryonic stem cell research, censorship (self-imposed, not the government kind), and yes, abortion, are in conflict with popular opinion in the U.S.

Read through the Vatican's treatise on human sexuality and see if you know anyone who follows these rules. Among other problems their rules would cause, the abandonment of contraception would frustrate the growing professional and political contributions that women make to our society.

Sane and compassionate people, and certainly the majority of Americans, would recommend that condom use be encouraged to help fight the crippling AIDS epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa. Last year the Vatican maintained incorrectly stated that "The Aids virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatozoon. The spermatozoon can easily pass through the 'net' that is formed by the condom" and thus condoms are ineffective in preventing HIV transmission. Given that the Vatican is full of educated, extremely intelligent, and media savvy men, it's hard to believe that the falsehood was pushed unknowingly; more likely self-righteous dogma trumped the well being of already devastated people.

The point of this Saturday afternoon post is not to pick on Catholics. Survey after survey shows that Catholics in the Global North, much like me, don't practive or believe in most of the extreme stuff foisted on them by Rome. Furthermore, Catholic charity work is absolutely awesome. The point is that it's politically impossible for a politician to loudly toe the Vatican's party line and be elected (or even be in a position to run) to any political office. If the Catholic hierarchy wants to push a political agenda in the U.S., they'll have to pick and choose their dogmas and leave out the bits that are particularly repugnant (or downright absurd) to most Americans.

So why choose abortion as the litmus test? It might be on pragmatic gounds, but even thought it's true that anti-abortion types are making progress, I don't think that four more years of Bush would end legal abortion in this country. (I quite consciously didn't say, "end abortion," because we know that ain't gonna happen)Similarly, having Kerry in office definitely won't change the state of capital punishment in the U.S. The Catholic church, quite laudably, tries hard to alleviate poverty in the U.S. and one could argue forcefully (though I won't here) that Kerry would be better for the poor and especially poor children than Bush is.

I understand that Bush is not a Catholic and therefore he's not subject to Eucharist based charges of hypocrisy, but what of the duty to avoid war that is so important to the Vatican? It seems that Bush's belligerence should draw more wrath from the bishops than Kerry's pro-choice stance. But it doesn't. And I'm puzzled. I'm not a real pundit, so I'm not obligated to answer questions that I throw out. Are Catholic leaders just natural Republicans?

-Daddy Brooklyn  13:25 EST | |

About us:

This weblog is an ongoing, if periodic, effort by several friends to stay in touch, in reading material, and in ideas.

Lucky Luciano is a former Italian Stallion real estate hustler and Benedict Arnold CEO turned shady lawyer-to-be. He lives in Denver.

Ben is a Paramedic and would-be philantropist who lives in Denver. He knows everything about nothing.

Fuzzy Dunlop lives in Manhattan. He is more than capable of standing up to the stresses of a high crime urban environment.

Jess is a teacher. But have YOU given her an apple? No, you haven't. You should be ashamed of yourself. This crazy feminist currently rests her copy of Awakening in Jersey City.

Matt is a pariah, iconoclast, and professor of gambling living in Oakland.

Miguel Sanchez is not Lionel Hutz.

Daddy Brooklyn lives in Brooklyn. He hates Republicans, though he wouldn't mind being ensconced in the landed elite of New York City.

Paul just smoked my eyelids and punched my cigarette.

Ziggy Stardust has no past.

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