CATHOLIC WORD IN DEFENSE OF POOR WOMEN AND GAYS
vs. Vatican Theology
By Daniel C. Maguire
The New York Times
(Editorial Nov. 10) put it clearly. Under pressure
from "the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, lawmakers
added language that would prevent millions of Americans from buying
insurance that covers abortionseven if they use their own
money. Some women who have coverage for abortion services through
policies bought by small employers could actually lose that coverage
if their employer decides to transfer its workers to the exchange.
Ultimately, if large employers are permitted to make use of the
exchange, ever larger numbers of women might lose abortion coverage
that they now have."
and successful influence on the drafting of U.S. law, is being
applied by the U.S. bishops working from their tax exempt properties.
Tax exempt, of course means tax shifted to other tax
payers, including the women whose rights the bishops are attacking.
This is mainly an attack
on the poor. Affluent women will have no problem getting an abortionthey
never have. This is one more example of Operation Kill Choice
waged successfully for years by the Republican Party and the Religious
The goal of the operation
is, step by step, to give control of pregnancies to the government
and take it away from pregnant women. Poor women are an easy target.
If poor women are denied
support for their abortion decisions, they will find unsafe alternatives
as they did before Roe v. Wade. The major change after Roe v Wade
was not the birth rate, but the decline in female mortality. Whole
hospital wards reserved for women with botched abortions were
closed as I saw in Philadelphia General Hospital. There is nothing
pro-life about putting government in charge of pregnant
women. Women with problem pregnancies will seek abortions. They
always have. If they are deprived of financial support and even
the opportunity to buy insurance to cover abortions. female mortality
will rise among the poor. Jesus announced his mission as good
news for the poor: This mission of the bishops is not.
Failing Grades in
Aside from law-altering
politicking from tax exempt properties the bishops also sin by
ignorance. Theological ignorance. Bishops are pastors and administrators
(when they are not lobbying on capitol hill and trying to impose
their minority views on the broader American public.) They are
not professional theologians and most could not pass a graduate
exam in theology. Most of the real Catholic theologians sin by
timidity, sitting mutely on their hands in libraries, while the
bishops pontificate publicly as though they were the true experts
on Catholic teaching.
As theologian Regina
Schulte says, the bishops are using the poor as pawns in their
power ploy, backing out of social services sooner than give aid
to gay couples and claiming theological warranty for doing so.
This is what they are doing now in Washington, D. C. In point
of fact the bishops should knowbut dontthat
Catholic theology, which is broader, more ecumenical, more professional,
more scholarly, and better informed by real life experience than
hierarchical teaching, blesses same sex unions.
A distinction must
be made between Vatican theology and Catholic theology. Vatican
theology still teaches that a spouses may not use a condom even
if their partners are HIV positive! Catholic theology finds that
not just erroneous, but lethally so.
A Prayer Time-out
The bishops should stop their lobbying in congressional offices
and kneel for a moment to say a prayer to Saints Serge and Bacchus,
fourth century male saints, whose marriage to one another is depicted
in a seventh century icon housed in the Kiev Museum of Eastern
and Western Art. Jesus is in the picture as the pronubus, or best
man, the official witness of the same sex union.
While in a prayerful
mood, the bishop should then pray to Saint Antoninus, Archbishop
of Florence, canonized in 1523, and the premier theologian of
marriage in his day. Regarding abortion, this saintly bishop was
pro-choice for early abortions when necessary to save the womans
life, a large category involving many abortions in the medical
conditions of that day. A prayer to their saintly pro-choice predecessor
could help to illumine the minds of theologically challenged bishops.
Any policy that adversely affects the poor sends alerts to Gospel-formed
Regarding Tom Reeses
after a divorce is also against Catholic teaching, yet the church
gives health care benefits to divorced and remarried couples.
No one believes that the church has changed its teaching on divorce.
No one will believe that the church has changed its teaching on
gay sex if it provides medical benefits to gay couples.
If you identify "Catholic
teaching" and "church teaching"with hierarchical
teaching, you shrink the church and ignore its other magisteria.
Catholic teaching on remarrying after divorce and on gay sex is
considerably more diverse than hierarchical teaching. As Avery
Dulles said in his presidential address for the Catholic Theological
Society of America, certain teaching of the hierarchy "seem
to evade in a calculated way the findings of modern scholarship.
They are drawn up without broad consultation with the theological
community. Instead, a few carefully selected theologians are asked
to defend a pre-established position." Dulles speaks of"two
magisteriathat of the pastors and that of the theologians,"
magisteria he saw as "complementary and mutually corrective."
The theological magisterium may critique the hierarchical magisterium.
Said Dulles: "We shall insist on the right, where we think
it important for the good of the Church, to urge positions at
variance with those that are presently official." (Dulles
was overlooking the magisterial role of the sensus fidelium but
he was two thirds right.)
Remarriage after divorce
and gay unions are blessed by the Catholic teaching of Probabilism.
The D.C. bishop apparently is unaware of this, largely, I sadly
say, due to the all too silent American Catholic theologate that
allows bishops who are pastors and administrators, not professional
theologians, to expatiate publicly as the one true voice of Catholic
wisdomto the great embarrassment of the church and to the
harassment of gay and remarried Catholics.
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