More Catholic-bashing from these United StatesBy Jim Trageser
This article was originally published in the September 22, 1994 edition of The Southern Cross, the San Diego diocesan newspaper.
We haven't come very far in accepting Catholics in this nation. That much is clear from the media coverage of the population conference in Cairo.
The national media reported all during the conference that the Catholic Church was preventing real work from progressing at the conference because of its refusal to accept what it felt was pro-abortion language in the conference statement.
But the Vatican didn't prevent anything. The pope did not have veto power over the agreement. No one had to agree. The conference did not need unanimity. The Vatican was simply fighting for what it believes in. The Vatican did not agree with the previous conferences in 1974 and 1984 and the world did not end.
The United Nations was hamstrung by its own insistence on consensus and its refusal to accept the fact that on some issues honest people of good will simply disagree.
When others environmentalists or feminists, for instance refuse to be cowed into supporting something they disagree with, they are generally praised by the columnists and newspaper editorials. It is recognized then that going along with the majority is not always the highest virtue, that there is merit in having the courage to stand up for your beliefs and sticking to your values even when running against popular opinion.
When the Catholic Church engages in the same behavior, all of a sudden that behavior becomes stubborn and mulish, if not downright evil. The Church is not praised for its consistency, it is damned for not seeing the error of its ways.
It's curious, too, that when Pope John Paul II or Mother Theresa intervenes on behalf of an American convict sentenced to death, there is very little outcry about the Vatican sticking its nose where it doesn't belong or of the Church trying to impose its teachings on society. The same silence is heard when the Church condemns nuclear weapons, capitalism or environmental degradation.
But let the Church criticize the Left's sacred cow of abortion, all of a sudden the Church is out of line and, well, un-American.
The constant media attacks on the Church's position on abortion are entirely consistent with the nation's tradition of anti-Catholicism. We thought we killed it when John F. Kennedy (whom Norman Vincent Peale accused of taking orders from Rome) was elected president, but all we accomplished was pushing it under the surface from whence it bubbles forth at every opportunity.
When two lunatics, neither Catholic, murdered abortion doctors recently, the Catholic Church was held accountable by national columnists Anna Quindlen, Anthony Lewis and Tom Teepen, and in editorials because of its strong stance against abortion. By that logic, Abraham Lincoln was responsible for John Brown's deprivations because of their shared opposition to slavery. Extend this principle logically, and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. becomes responsible for the Black Panthers because both groups opposed discrimination.
This Catholic bashing is just one more indication of American intolerance. Not only are people who look differently from us discriminated against, but so are those who think differently, who hold different values.
The only way American Catholics can find acceptance in society is to publicly disagree with the Church on one or more major issues. Thus, we have Catholics for a Free Choice, a group of people claiming to be Catholic yet publicly ridiculing just about everything for which the Church stands.
Our society is so sick with hatred and intolerance that the only way for many Catholics to prove themselves loyal Americans is to say, "Look, I'm not like those other Catholics. I'm different."
It is also unique to America that people feel they have a right to be Catholic. Americans seem to believe that should they disagree with the fundamental teachings of their Church, then the Church should change to accommodate them a peculiar form of intolerance. It seems not to have occurred to these disaffected Catholics that they are perfectly free to shop around and find another church that more closely parallels their own beliefs and values.
For the believing Catholic American, for the Catholic who accepts Church authority on matters of faith, there is no acceptance in our society, nor so much as mere tolerance in the national media.
There is, instead, unending scorn and the unspoken but very clear accusation that they are not loyal Americans.
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