Friday, June 03, 2005
Condoms and Cant
There is an adage about "Ostriches with heads buried in the sand". Nicholas Kristof's column in NY Times (5/10/05) described a good example--the Catholic Church in Latin America. No surprise that preachings against birth control and use of condoms are not being heeded by the faithful.
"I resent them," said Alessandra Katiane da Silva, a 21-year-old who goes to Mass and was wearing a necklace with images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. She said she could better judge her contraceptive needs than elderly cardinals, then added, "We have to take care of ourselves, because they're not looking out for us."
Mr. Kristof mentioned that Latin Americans were embracing Pentecostal movement because of the failure of the Catholic Church to understand and help them. The Pentecostals saw an opening and took advantage of it. While the Pentecostals are not against condoms, they too do not advocate sex for pleasure. A prayer before and after the act? The Latin Americans must be desperate to seek such an alternative. Somewhat akin to jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.
Here in the United States Catholic priests railed from pulpits against supporting politicians who were pro-choice but remained conspicuously silent about their brethren in the Church who were sexually abusing children. The Archdiocese of Spokane, faced with lawsuits for $76 million, sought bankruptcy protection. What were the lawsuits about? Pedophilia.
And what is happening in the Pope's own backyard? "We are not soldiers that blindly obey." Barbara McMahon wrote in The Guardian about the church's "waning influence in Italy".
Scrambled eggs and "Our Father who art in Heaven"
"Joseph Conn, a spokesman for the Washington advocacy group Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the prayer breakfasts are thinly disguised lobbying efforts. 'These events give politicians a chance to cater to their political base, and they give religious groups a chance to curry favor with elected officials and advance their political agenda,' he said."
In recent years the nation's capital has become full of devout politicians. Prayer breakfasts are an ubiquitous feature of the Washington scene. According to The Washington Post (Alan Cooperman, 5/21/05), the budget for the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast is more than $100,000. There are fringe benefits for those involved in organizing them and those who provide service---the parking attendants, wait persons, security staff, janitors, and others. Trickle down effect in action; not being recipients of largesse from the Bush tax cuts, they deserve it.
For the participants, lapel pins of the national flag de rigueur. In today's America, such public display of devotion and patriotism pays dividends. President Bush recently spoke at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.
"The keynote speaker was Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, who said during the presidential campaign that voting for a candidate who supports abortion rights would be a sin that must be confessed before receiving Holy Communion.
'When a public official claims to be Catholic but then says he can't offer his beliefs about the sanctity of the human person as the basis of law, it always means one of two things: That person is either very confused or he's very evasive," Chaput told the prayer breakfast. "All law is the imposition of somebody's beliefs on somebody else.' "
Duh! So it goes
Washington Post- Bush lauds Catholics