Thursday, July 03, 2008
If You Want To Be Catholic
Some big news here in St. Louis this weekend: Archbishop Burke, the recent and short-term leader of the Catholic church in St. Louis, was told to take a new position in Rome. The paper and pseudo-Catholics in the region rejoiced, calmly, and the paper helpfully illustrated the things it ran full color spreads on during Burke's tenure in the story Burke's tenure here was never dull:
  • Archbishop Burke excommunicated a couple of women who started calling themselves Catholic priests and offering mass in a synagogue where they could get space. The paper runs their picture with the story about Burke to give a human face to his totalitarian enforcement of actual, you know, Catholic teaching and doctrine.

  • Archbishop Burke reallocated assets of the church, including a Polish parish named for St. Stanislaus. The lay board of the church said no thanks and brought in a rogue priest to run the church. The lay board was shocked to then discover that a priest who would defy the archbishop would also start doing other non-Catholic things, such as recognizing women priests.

  • Burke took actions in support of Catholic anti-abortion, anti-embryonic stem cell research teachings, shocking the "enlightened" society of St. Louis.
In other words, he followed the theological mandates of his church and its hierarchy.

However, some "Catholics" and the anti-churching amongst the journalistic set like to run pieces on the authoritarianism and the non-do-your-own-thing vibe of the Catholic church. They want to pick their beliefs and their attitudes from the salad bar of modern day life and still call themselves members of the group, no matter how few characteristics they share with the group. Or, I suppose, they want to tear down something greater than themselves to prove their own power.

You want the mass without the international heirarchy? Become a Lutheran. You want to control your own church and its funds? Join or start a storefront Baptist church. You want women ministers? Become a Unitarian or a Methodist or any of the other sects that have them. You want to worship by having sex with a priestess of Mother Gaia on Tuesday afternoons? Become governor of New York (or some other political office holder) and pay full price same as in town. But do not think that your inclinations are just as Catholic as John Paul II.

I'm not even Catholic, and the media stories offend me.

One thing I've noticed from my friends, family, and in-laws who are Catholic (and this being St. Louis, that's about half of them), is that one of the favorite pastimes of Catholics is complaining bitterly about their Church. Make the mistake of pointing out that their beliefs more closely align with another sect, and you will find that every single last one of them will swell up like a poisoned rat and proclaim that "they can't tell me I'm not Catholic!" Point out how that works, and your mother-in-law won't speak to you for the rest of the visit.

Use that technique a lot, do you?

You know, the church thought America was frontier mission territory well into the 20th century. Given how American the Catholics are over here, I wonder if it has second thoughts about rescinding the label.

Not really. My mother-in-law decided that the Church didn't align with her progressive beliefs, so she left and joined a Christian (DoC) church with a female social activist minister. So I guess I was right about that one?

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