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      You voted for Trump even though you didn't like him. Doubted his character. Questioned his fitness for the job. Yet, your aversion to Hillary was even greater The post To my Republican Friends first appeared on Spirit of a Liberal.
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      The Midwest Independent Publishers Association (MIPA) recently named Wormwood and Gall as one of three finalists for a Midwest Book Award in the Religion/Philosophy category. The awards program, which is organized by MIPA, recognizes quality in independent publishing in the Midwest. The post Wormwood and Gall a Midwest Book Award Finalist first appeared on S […]
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    • Rob Sheffield Pays Tribute to the “Peaceful and Stormy at the Same Time” Songs of Christine McVie December 6, 2022
      Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone magazine has written a heartfelt and insightful appreciation of the life and music of Christine McVie, who died last Wednesday, November 30.Following, with added images and links, are excerpts from Sheffield’s tribute that particularly caught my attention.Christine McVie always came on like the grown-up in the room, which admit […]
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    • “Your Perception Is a Choice” December 5, 2022
      My friend Iggy is dedicated to facilitating mind and body transformation – within his own life and the lives of others who are similarly interested in holistic personal growth and change. To this end, Iggy’s professional/vocational life involves providing a range of services, including mindset mentoring, naprapathic massage, and personal training in boxing, […]
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    • So the Former US President and Current GOP Candidate for the Presidency Calls for a Coup and the End of US Democracy — And? December 5, 2022
      President Donald J. Trump 2 March 2019, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, MD; official White House photo by Tia Dufour, at Wikimedia CommonsHeather Cox Richardson, "Letters from an American: December 3, 2002":The leader of the Republican Party has just called fo […]
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      I've now succeeded in setting up an account on Mastodon.My handle there is @wdlindsy@toad.socialPlease feel free to connect to me there if you wish. I'm hoping to reconnect via Mastodon to as many of the friends and conversation partners I had on Twitter, with whom I've lost touch after I left Twitter when Musk acquired it. I'm a total no […]
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    • A saint for the millenials: Carlo Acutis beatified today in Assisi. October 10, 2020
       A saint for the millenials: the young Italian teen, Carlo Acutis, who died in 2006 of galloping Leukemia, will be beatified today in Assisi by Pope Francis (last step before being officially declared a saint). Carlo came from a luke warm Catholic family, but at the age of 7, when he received his first 'Holy Communion', he displayed an astonishing […]
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    • We the People December 6, 2022
      We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.Trump has called for ... Why? So […]
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The Bishops Can’t Have It Both Ways

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

There is a profound and easily spotted hypocrisy when someone, or some institution declares in favor of freedom for me, but not for thee.   The Catholic Right and and their political allies have been trying to make this hypocrisy work for them for many years. They have certainly had their moments, but the utility of this obvious hypocrisy may have finally run its course.  

This time, they have tried to frame the Obama administration’s policy of requiring that insurance cover contraception as a violation of religious freedom.  They characterize the Affordable Care Act’s original requirement that religious employers provide women with insurance coverage that pays for contraception as “a direct assault on the First Amendment, not only a direct assault on the freedom of religion, by forcing people specifically to do things that are against their religious teachings.”

As an American Catholic, I see it differently.  And I think growing numbers of Americans are see it too.

The institutional Church has been escalating the culture war on multiple fronts since the beginning of John Paul II’s papacy.  We have seen this in action in the elevation of socially conservative Cardinals, and the strengthening ties with far right Catholic groups such as Opus Dei as well as the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), as well as Catholic neo-conservatives and providing at least tacit approval of the controversial views and actions of Bill Donohue and the Catholic League.

A common link among all these groups and individuals in their relative diversity, is the desire to break down the wall that separates church and state. For them, orthodox Catholic dogma is not merely something to be honored by individuals but must be embodies in law  and enforced by the government on everyone.

In 2000 when embryonic stem cell research became an issue, offering hope for the eventual cure or treatment of a myriad of ills, this alliance led the way in stifling the federal funding and oversight of the research simply because it didn’t conform to Catholic theology.  They framed their opposition as if they spoke for all people of faith despite the reality that other major faiths such as Judaism, the mainline protestant United Church of Christ, The Episcopal Church, and Presbyterian Church (USA) believe otherwise and supported the research.  Even a clear majority of American Catholics were supportive.

Throughout the child sex abuse crisis, the bishops and their conservative allies have fought legislation that would lengthen statutes of limitations for filing law suits against child predators and those who shielded them from being brought to justice.  In so doing, they have revealed themselves as seeking to be exempt from accountability to secular law.

When marriage equality was recently achieved in New York State, the hierarchy howled its displeasure — even though the legislation does not require religious institutions to perform same sex marriage ceremonies.  (Nor has anyone ever been required to perform any marriage ceremony,  whether same sex or opposite sex.  The right to marry belongs to individuals, but no religious institution is obliged to perform a religious ceremony just because somebody wants one.)  Once again, the Catholic Right demanded legislation that was contrary to the wishes not only of the aggregate citizenry, but also of American Catholics.

What emerges is a picture of a religious institution that has increasingly demanded that secular civil law reflect its specific theology, even when doing so may trample upon the religious freedom of others. The blow-up over birth control is but the latest example.

How tone-deaf can the hierarchy be on birth control? The Church’s history on this is illuminating.  In 1966, a pontifical panel on the subject consisting of seventy-two members that included sixteen theologians, thirteen physicians and five women without medical credentials, plus an executive committee of sixteen bishops, including seven cardinals overwhelmingly concluded that that artificial birth control was not intrinsically evil.  There were only seven dissenters. And yet those dissenters heavily lobbied then-Pope Paul VI and carried the day.  One of those dissenters was the future John Paul II.

I do not pretend to speak for the Church, let alone all American Catholics.  But I do know my views are representative of a large number of my fellow congregants. We see a hierarchy that is hypocritical in its approach to the great issues of the day, taking to invoking religious freedom when it is convenient, but stomping on the religious freedom of others when it gets in the way.   Almost, as if on cue, Rick Santorum, is running for president showing how the darkness of religious intolerance is growing in the Church.

There is hardly a better example of hierarchical hypocrisy, when it extols the virtues of religious freedom to exempt itself from providing insurance coverage for birth control to employees who do not share its view on the subject, including employees who are not even Catholic.

We have seen it play out differently on the issues of stem cell research and marriage equality — two issues where they are exempt from participation — the hierarchy and its allies still seek to impose their will on those who do not share their beliefs.  That is not how the freedom of religion works.  They cannot have it both ways.

We saw their strident hypocrisy on display when the Obama administration amended its contraception policy so that it was insurers and not religious institutions that would be responsible for provision of contraception insurance, several key Catholic health organizations hailed the compromise; sadly, the bishops did not.

We now know that the bishops have been long preparing for this fight.  But do they really believe that they can win?  I guess that depends on how they define win.  If they define it as achieving a faith devoid of reason and a smaller but angrier following — which is the stated goal of some then victory may be theirs:  Pyrrhic though it may be.  But the effort to redefine religious freedom as meaning only what the bishops say that it means, has become so shockingly evident, that the image of the bishops as out of touch, hypocritical and self-serving, seems likely to deepen.

So, Let’s Talk About – Condoms and AIDS Prevention

Is it really true that Pope Benedict’s approval of condoms to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS is backed by very traditional teaching of Augustine and Aquinas? James Heffernan, writing at Huffington Post, seems to think so. First, he refers to Aquinas on the validity of self-defence, and  asks, does this imply that condoms are justifiable in AIDS prevention, as self-defence against infection?

In the 13th-century Summa Theologica, perhaps the greatest of all treatises on Roman Catholic doctrine, Saint Thomas Aquinas says that one may lawfully kill an assailant in self-defense. In such cases, says Aquinas, one’s action has a double effect: killing another and saving one’s own life. “Therefore, this act” he says, “since one’s intention is to save one’s own life, is not unlawful, seeing that it is natural to everything to keep itself in being as far as possible” (ST II-II, Qu. 64, Art 7).

If Aquinas says it is “NOT unlawful” to kill in self-defense, could he possibly say it IS unlawful to use a condom in self-defense, as a means of protecting oneself against fatal infection, or one’s partner from such infection?

St. Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274), the eponym ...

St Thomas Aquinas (Fra Angelico)

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Condoms and the “Marital Act”.

I got home late last night to find the news sites ablaze with reports that Pope Benedict has conceded that there could be some justification for the use of condoms “in certain cases”. Most reports see this (very slight) shift as significant: the Daily Telegraph headline calls it “historic”. Others are less convinced, noting that the example he gives is very specific, that of a male (homosexual) prostitute, for whom contraception is clearly a non- starter in the first place. This  does not seem to leave much for female prostitutes, for whom the same concern for avoiding the spread of infection would simultaneously prevent the transmission of life.

Condom Permitted?

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Conscience & Legislation: Sanity From the Catholic Church in Malta.

In the US and Mexico, some bishops are working themselves into a froth over the possible introduction of legal recognition for same-sex unions. In the Philippines, the issue that has them excited. In Malta, it is the possibility of legal divorce. Unlike the other two regions, though, the Maltese church has allowed some sanity into the official discourse, recognizing the possibility of an informed conscience reaching a conclusion that differs from Church teaching, and so acknowledging that parliamentarians could in principle vote in favour of divorce legislation.

 

The Awakening Conscience, (Holman Hunt)

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Catholics and the Pill: 50 years on

It is now 50 years since the contraceptive pill was approved by the US FDA – a useful marker for a review of the Catholic church and contraception.

This was originally one of those topics that Pope John XXIII had hoped to include in the modernization deliberations at Vatican Council II, but which did not happen as the council ran out of time.  It was then left to his successor, Pope Paul VI, to pick up the ball and complete the review of teaching in the light of modern teaching and technology.  Before reaching any conclusion, he appointed a committee of experts, lay and clerical, to review the evidence and make recommendations. Continue reading