Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

This is Who, RBR

To answer the question RBR just posed - who is the anti-gay-rights initiative in Maine appealing to?

Well, today, the Vatican announced that it would provide a special mechanism for whole Anglican parishes or dioceses to join the Roman Catholic church en masse and retain some of their Anglican traditions - such as the book of common prayer - and their married clergy (but not bishops who are married, or priests who are [openly] gay, or ordained women). This bears some resemblance to the Eastern Rite and Uniate churches - the churches with married priests and Orthodox (not Catholic) rite that for historical reasons make obeisance to the Pope and are included in his RCC fold. As Catholic as you wanna be.

As a liberal Episcopalian, this is rather good news. Instead of dividing my house, the conservative reprobates can just leave. By sucking up the hardest core of conservatives, it will drain away the driving force behind talk of schism. Remove the agitators and the support for schism becomes shallow indeed. This will probably kill the Anglican"covenant" movement too. Lose the far right and the rest can find common ground. Go in peace, friends (but definitely go).

On second thought, however, it's a strange move for the Roman church. Apparently, only two things are important to being a Catholic (1) proclaiming fealty to the Pope and (2) excluding women and (openly) gay persons from full membership in the community. This is not much of a Rock now, is it? To say that these two issues are so much more important than all the others is, in the end, pretty sad. It is another betrayal of Vatican II which embraced modernity, if not (yet) liberalization of these issues.

It also is a setup for failure. As has been pointed out by many, the "market" doesn't need another church to exclude gays or subordinate women. That niche is oversubscribed. And if that's how you define yourself, then your congregation is just going to gradually grow old, male, and die. You can say a lot about homophobia, but you can't call it a growing movement. The more the Roman catholics tie themselves to heterosexual patriarchy, the smaller their future will be. There's a reason why the leadership on anti-gay issues is increasingly among protestant fundamentalists. It thrives only in a sealed terrarium of religious intolerance.

Of course the biggest issue is not the "gay" issue, but the "women" issue. Gays are only - at most - 10% of the population, and openly gay Christians are a much smaller percentage of the whole. Women, however, are a solid majority of churchgoers everywhere, and definitely the majority of active members.

Here's the rub: the Vatican's new position today has nothing to do with the holy Spirit, and everything to do with conservative politics. If I were trying to keep people from giving the gospel faith a chance, I couldn't think of a more devious strategy.


Raised By Republicans said...

"(1) proclaiming fealty to the Pope"

My Lutheran and Presbyterian upbringing is encouraging me to tease you about this being the only difference between Anglicans and Catholics anyway. But kidding aside, this issue of fealty to the Pope has been central to RCC doctrine for 1500 years. Many of the earliest Christian councils were part theological debate, part political debate about which patriarch (Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria), right?

There is a reason why early modern Protestants refers to Catholics as "Papists" and Catholicism as "Popery" instead of referring to some element of their rites or theology - as they do with "Dunkers" or "Quakers" or "Baptists" or "Ana-Baptists." The Pope as feudal monarch of the Church has long been the whole point to Catholicism.

You're right of course about the long term implications of social conservatism from a "market" point of view. This merger is probably seen by the RCC in America as a way to recoup some of their declining numbers among non-Latino Americans. But it's using a bandaid to fix a tumor. It's not going to work.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Of course it has been central, RBR, but it has not been exclusive. The idea that almost nothing else matters is inimical to what modern Catholics claim to be about.

Raised By Republicans said...

"The idea that almost nothing else matters is inimical to what modern Catholics claim to be about."

At the very least it concedes the argument to Henry VIII. Thomas Moore must be furious.

Amy said...

That is a bold move but beware of the Catholic Church. I used to be Catholic but then I stopped practicing after I found out some disturbing truth. Some say the papacy is the antichrist. They changed the ten commandments which is the Law of God, the Pope claims to be a god, they have killed innocent people for centuries like the Spanish Inquisition and supporting the Nazis, and the priests have molested a lot of children. Jesus would not approve of any of these, it is not Christian, that is evil hiding behind religion. I pray people really to open their eyes. I know I did!!!

Anonymous said...

I wonder how interested rogue parishes will be when they find out how heavy-handed the Catholic Church can be over administration.

My understanding is that Catholic parishes have very little control over who the priest is, how things are run in each parish, and of course, where the money goes. This may depend on the relative affluence of each parish, but I suspect Episcopalians won't like this kind of oversight one little bit.

And don't even talk to me about my disinterest in the Catholic Church as a feminist. I can be a Catholic? Thanks so much! Now I can stop using birth control, cede all clerical authority to men, and contribute to the payment of sex-abuse settlements when I tithe. Terrific.

-Seventh Sister

The Law Talking Guy said...

The one thing to remember about the dissenting Episcopalians is that they are dissenters. Dissent is not a Roman Catholic strong point. If they become Catholic, wait and see what happens if they try to dissent or leave again.

Dr. Strangelove said...

President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act today. At long last, attacking someone because they are gay is now an aggravating circumstance to federal crimes. (The FBI reports more than a thousand such assaults every year.)

What a long way we have come in just eleven years! Back in 1998, the men who beat and killed Matthew Shepard actually invoked "We attacked him because he was gay" as an affirmative defense! (The "gay panic defense" was ultimately unsuccessful in that trial.)

The Law Talking Guy said...

I am happy that the hate crimes legislation was passed, but not happy that we spent good political capital to get something so worthless. ENDA is worth fighting for, as is repealing DOMA - hate crimes legislation is, by contrast, almost entirely about symbolism. As conservatives correctly point out over and over again, murder and assault are already crimes, so making them hate crimes in not actually changing the reach of the criminal law.