by Valerie Tarico
June 11, 2012
from AlterNet Website
One can only hope. After all, these are men who claim to speak for God.
They have direct access to the White
House, where they regularly weigh in on issues ranging from military
policy to bioethics, and they expect us all to listen - not because
of relevant expertise or elected standing, but because of their
In 2009, a 27-year-old mom, pregnant with her fifth child, was rushed to a Phoenix hospital, St. Josephs, where her doctors said she would almost certainly die unless her pregnancy was aborted immediately.
The nun in charge approved the emergency procedure, and the woman survived.
The local bishop promptly excommunicated the nun.
How far are the Church authorities willing to take this “moral” logic?
In Brazil last year, with Vatican backing, the Church excommunicated a mother and doctor for saving the life of a 9-year-old rape victim who was pregnant with twins. (At four months pregnant, the girl weighed 80 pounds.)
Cardinal Giovanni Batista Re, who heads the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, said,
Perhaps Mr. Batista Re can explain the
1,500-year tradition of “just war”...
2. Protecting even non-Catholic sex-offenders against child victims
As we have seen, the moral priorities of the bishops are laid naked when they decide who to excommunicate and who not.
The doctor and the mother of the
pregnant 9-year-old got the boot for approving an abortion, but not
the stepfather who had sexually assaulted the child, probably over a
period of years. A similar contrast can be seen between the case of
the Phoenix nun and hundreds of pedophile priests who were allowed
to remain Catholic even after they finally were identified and
removed from the Church payrolls.
In New York, a bill that would give child molestation victims more time to file charges has been blocked seven times by the Catholic hierarchy led by none other than Cardinal Dolan.
In other words, regardless of whether the abuse really happened or what the consequences were for victims, what matters is how much additional lawsuits might cost the Church.
Isn’t that the ends justifying the
3. Using churches to organize gay haters
When the Washington State legislature approved marriage equality this spring, fundamentalist Christians across the state organized to reverse the legislation.
Even though three quarters of American Catholics think that gay marriage or civil unions should be legal, Archbishop Peter Sartain jumped to the front of the pack, decreeing that Western Washington parishes under his "moral authority" should gather signatures for an anti-equality initiative.
To their credit, a number of priests refused, and a group called Catholics for Marriage Equality is raising money for ads.
In contrast to the Catholic League,
has made the degrading argument that sex between priests and
adolescent boys is consensual homosexuality, lay Catholics appear to
know the difference.
4. Lying about contraceptives to poor Africans
Of all the mortal sins committed by the men of the cloth, the most devastatingly lethal in the last 30 years has been the Catholic hierarchy’s outspoken opposition to condom use in Africa.
In 2003, the president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family publicly lied about the efficacy of condoms in preventing both pregnancy and HIV:
The archbishop of Nairobi told people that condoms were spreading HIV.
Some priests told parishioners that
condoms were impregnated with the virus.
The bishops see this as a “catastrophe” and are looking to Africa as,
They wrap their opposition to contraception in lofty moral language such as that offered by Pope John Paul II:
With god-knows-how-many lives lost and
children orphaned, he
finally softened his stance in 2010.
5. Obstructing patient access to accurate information and services in secular hospitals
In rural Arizona near the Mexican border, women delivering babies by cesarean section were refused tubal ligations because their independent hospital was negotiating a merger with a healthcare network run by Catholics.
Worse, when a woman arrived at the same hospital in the middle of a miscarriage and need a surgical abortion to complete the process, she was forced to travel by ambulance to Tucson, 80 miles away, risking hemorrhage on the way.
All over the U.S. secular and
Catholic-run health systems are merging, and patients are quietly
losing the right to make medical decisions based on the best
scientific information available and the dictates of their own
Ectopic pregnancies cannot be handled in keeping with the medical standard of care. As biotechnologies and treatments relevant to the beginning and end of life advance, we can expect the list to grow longer.
Patients cannot trust that they will be
told other options are available elsewhere.
In 2010, non-medical affiliates of Catholic Charities received 62 percent of annual revenue from the taxpayers - nearly $2.9 billion. Only 3 percent came from church donations, with the remainder coming from investments, program fees, community donations and in-kind contributions.
And yet all of those dollars get
directed according to the dictates of bishop conscience rather than
6. Slapping down nuns
Catholic charities and hospitals are at some competitive advantage in part because of hard-working nuns, many of whom have skills and responsibilities that exceed their compensation.
The bishops are the Catholic Church’s 1 percent; the nuns are managers and service workers - and many have taken the kind of poverty vows that America’s 1 percent is trying to impose on the rest.
Because many nuns live in the real world, where
suffering and morality are complex, they often make
decisions and take nuanced positions on moral questions that the
Council of Bishops resolves by appealing to dogma and authority.
Rome issued an 8-page assessment accusing the Leadership Conference of Women Religious of disagreeing with the bishops and of “radical feminism.” It appears that their labors on behalf of poor, vulnerable people had distracted them from a more Christian priority: controlling other people’s sex lives - oh, and standing up against the ordination of women.
7. Bullying girl scouts
Unlike the Boy Scouts, who recently earned media and public attention by booting out a gay den-mother, the Girl Scouts have been stubbornly inclusive and focused on preparing girls for leadership.
For example, last year a Colorado troop included a trans-gender 7-year-old. That’s a problem for the Bishops, and since up to a quarter of American Girl Scouts are Catholic kids with troops housed in churches, they see it as their problem.
To make matters worse, the American Girl Scouts refused to leave their international umbrella, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, which has stated that young women,
The World Association would appear to
believe the data that girls who can’t manage their sexuality and
more likely to end up in poverty than leadership
According to an article last month at the Huffington Post,
We’re talking about an organization run by women for girls facing an all-male inquisition.
Catholic church, leadership still requires a 'y' chromosome.
8. Purging popular and scholarly interfaith bridge builders
Lest some reader assert that the sins of the Bishops are all a consequence of sexual repression - some contorted pursuit of sexual purity that degrades both sex and compassion - it is important to note that the current cohort of Church authorities are as obsessed with doctrinal purity as sexual purity.
It would take me many paragraphs to describe their tireless pursuit of purity as well as retired Anglican bishop, John Shelby Spong, does in one:
The Catholic tradition defines deadly or “cardinal” sins as those from which all other sins derive.
In addition to lust, gluttony, wrath, sloth and envy, the traditional seven include pride and greed, which, to my mind, drive much of the appalling behavior in this list. If an attempt to assert autocratic control over the spiritual and physical lives of lay people isn’t pride, I don’t know what is. And if a willingness to silence child victims to protect church assets isn’t greed, I don’t know what greed is.
The BBC’s revelation last month of
money laundering in the Vatican Bank
pales by comparison.
Small groups of lay Catholics have rallied to their support.
Picketers meet monthly outside Sartain’s
cathedral to protest his stance against equality. The Franciscan
issued a statement of solidarity with the nuns, many of
whom have remained
solidly focused on economic justice instead of
As the writer of Matthew tells it, he called out the corrupt religious leaders of his day in no uncertain terms: