Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Here's to the Catholics I know and love

As Frank Bruni writes in today's New York Times, the United States has "many kinds of Catholic." And most of them are not like Rick Santorum, as he is finding out after losing the Catholic vote to Mitt Romney in Michigan, Illinois, and elsewhere. The evangelical Christians love Santorum, but the Catholics not so much.
Even though Santorum is surely the darling of the Catholic hierarchy, following every outdated and archaic dictum issued from the Vatican with nary a stray foot, most regular, everyday Catholics do not follow the official church party line on a wide variety of social topics. As Bruni writes:
American Catholics have been merrily ignoring the church’s official position on contraception for many years, often with the blessing of lower-level clerics. When my mother dutifully mentioned her I.U.D. during confession back in the 1970s, the parish priest told her that she really needn’t apologize or bring it up again. Which was a good thing, since she had no intention of doing away with it. Four kids were joy and aggravation enough.
Santorum is not like the Catholics I know...my Catholic friends and family...
  • Are deeply committed to social justice instead of trying to legislate morality
  • Are more concerned about helping the born children than the unborn
  • Believe that women should have equal opportunity and voice in the church rather than be confined to nonclergy and altar positions
  • Believe that no one church or particular mindset (conservative Christians) can read God's mind
  • Are committed to welcome and inclusion, including to our divorced, gay/lesbian/transgender, immigrant, and otherwise disenfranchised brothers and sisters
  • Walk the talk of Christianity and value, above all else, helping those less fortunate than they are
  • Believe in the separation of church and state
  • Use birth control, do NOT believe this is a sin, and view it as responsible family planning
  • Work with protestants (and other religions) in the spirit of ecumenism
  • Believe that Catholic clergy should not be above the law when they commit a crime, and the church should make amends to all the victims of clergy sexual abuse
  • Are greatly distressed when they hear about people who were hurt or rejected by the church
  • Do not believe that the words "liberal" and "Christian" are mutually exclusive
  • Who believe that Jesus wants us to take care of the poor and needy
Evangelical Christians were terrified of John F. Kennedy when he became the first Catholic president. Santorum himself said that he wanted to "throw up" after reading Kennedy's thoughts about the separation of church and state. I suppose some could view it as some warped kind of progress for the Republican party--their three leading candidates are Catholic and Mormon, both denominations that have suffered prejudice and religious persecution (while also practicing prejudice and persecution, at other times!).

The fact that most Catholic Republicans are not flocking to Gingrich or Santorum but instead are veering to Romney should be a big wakeup call for the church. One news report (on a Catholic web page) claims that more Catholics (the white ones, anyway) are voting Republican this year. However, Democrats still hold quite a significant percentage lead (48 percent to 43 percent, compared to 53-37 in 2008). Those white Catholics who attend mass weekly, though, are more likely to vote Republican. So this should be good news for Santorum and Gingrich, right? Even those Catholic Republicans who might not consider themselves liberal still don't want Santorum or Gingrich in general.

As for me, I'll stick with the Catholics I know and love...who are trying to lead the lives Jesus wants us all to lead, showing love, justice, and compassion to all humankind.

1 comment:

  1. great op-ed piece! send this to the New York Times!