- Published on Sunday, 10 July 2011 06:53
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 1090
The recent new law in New York that legalised gay marriages has made the Catholic Church in the U.S. realise that they have no effect whatsoever on what anyone thinks. An editorial in the National Catholic Register spells this out. I was surprised to see how candid it was - they underlined many of the mistakes that bishops have been making in trying to influence the U.S. Public and lawmakers. And's it not just the gay marriage situation that's been the problem for them. Most Catholics and none of the rest of the public think the bishops have any credibility on homosexuality or any sexual morality.
The editorial says that the first problem is that it is "evident in polls and politicians' votes that neither most of the Catholic world nor the wider culture buys the church's teaching that homosexuals are disordered and are thus relegated to sexless lives in order to remain in the Christian community." Further "a recent Quinnipiac University poll of registered New York voters found that 70 percent of voters say protestations of the law from religious leaders made no difference in their decision to support or reject it." And "that attitude … spring(s)… from the experience of gays and lesbians themselves and their parents and siblings, extended family and friends who increasingly understand gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons as far more than the sum of their sexual orientation while also understanding that sexuality is at the core of a person's identity.
"To parents of a gay child, the idea that a group of men can claim to know the mind of God so perfectly that they can proclaim with unyielding certainty that God deems a significant portion of creation 'disordered' is absurd. The label is not only demeaning but to contemporary Christians has no resonance with the heart of the Gospel."
There would be few who would disagree with this assessment.
The words of the bishops are further pushed into irrelevance by their handling of the criminal abuse of children by too many priests. As the register says: "The bishops have little credibility in the wider culture and diminished authority within the church because in the case of sexual violence against young people by members of their clerical culture, they responded in ways that any reasonable and healthy segment of society would have considered disdainful."
It seems to me that they need to go to some management courses or perhaps just listen to some experts. When they feel they must "do something," they then use confrontational methods. The Catholic Register describes their public conduct in recent years as "-- wholesale excommunications, railing at politicians, denial of honorary degrees and speaking platforms at Catholic institutions, using the Eucharist as a political bludgeon, refusing to entertain any questions or dissenting opinions, and engaging in open warfare with the community's thinkers as well as those, especially women, who have loyally served the church" and this "has resulted in a kind of episcopal caricature, the common scolds of the religion world, the caustic party of 'no.'"
Further: "As if on cue, after the vote Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio declared by fiat that his diocese is "not to bestow or accept honors, nor to extend a platform of any kind to any state elected official, in all our parishes and churches for the foreseeable future."
Some Catholics (e.g. Nicholas Cafardi) are now saying "Civil marriage is Caesar's" but that the Catholic sacrament of marriage is controlled by the Church so can be for heterosexuals. This of course will allow Catholics to continue with the delusion that their faith does not need to change and that their sacrament has any meaning.
Bishops are not stupid but sometimes their actions are counter-productive to their cause. They are driving people away from their Church and making many of their faithful unhappy and questioning their faith.
It seems to be unlikely that Catholic Bishops should be the cause of the decline of the Church in the U.S. but this seems to be the case.