Harvey Milk, the wafer and the wine, and Sotomayor
Finally, after much soul-searching, a statement was prepared and verified by churchmen and lawyers; it offered Indians, who were acknowledged as humans the blessings of Christianity and the protection of the crown, but only if acceptance was immediate. If the Indians hesitated, as they always did, conversion by the sword was justified.
— Texas; pg 39. James A Michener
The way it often worked was this: Recalcitrants to immediate acceptance of the faith were rounded up, then brutally tortured — including waterboarding — until, unable to any longer endure the excruciating pain, they at last accepted Jesus Christ as their lord and savior and the Church as His instrument here on earth. At the moment of their conversion the torture would cease, and they’d be mercifully executed.
The “churchmen” were Roman Catholic bishops and cardinals and popes. The place was the geography now known as Mexico and those realms now within the southwestern US and almost everything south of Mexico. The time ranged from the early 1500s through the early to mid-1700s. It was a many centuries-long pan-global practice that was born of the many centuries-long original sin: the certainty the institution was right, not just in some things, but in all things, and that God was always on its side.
A millennium of military crusades into the mid-East, into northern Africa, was capped by the institution’s full-fledged foray into the Americas. It was genocide unalloyed with any baser metal.
That genocide was followed by brutalizing Inquisitions to stamp out scientific advance, all the way to the present where barbaric pedophile priests, protected by the Church hierarchy, brutalized children. A few days ago a nine-year investigation was summarized in a damning 2,600 page report, “Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse.” (http://www.childabusecommission.ie/rpt/)
It told of decades of “rapes, humiliation and beatings” at Church-run reform schools in Ireland. The investigation provided proof positive evidence that the Vatican had been fully aware of the savaging since the 1930s.
In Luke 4:23 Jesus is reported to have counseled, “Physician, heal thyself.”
How many would today argue the Church has sufficient repair work with which to fully occupy its energies and that all other matters should obtain near irrelevance?
Be all that as it may, with its house-built-on-sand crumbling, the Church threw millions of its parishioner’s offering-plate dollars into California’s singularly bigoted and hate-filled Proposition 8 that successfully delimited the civil rights of a chronically abused select minority. It matters not that there can be quite legitimate debate arguing Old Testament David relaxed in a homosexual liaison, and that not even one word can be found suggesting that Jesus ever troubled himself over the issue. Foundation repairs needed be damned, it was to the battlements!
And yesterday (May 28), Catholic University of America hosted a “discussion” entitled, The Obama Administration and the Sanctity of Human Life: Is there a common ground on life issues? What is the right response by ‘Pro-Life’ citizens? (http://www.c-span.org/Watch/Media/2009/05/28/HP/A/19205/Catholic+University+Panel+on+Sanctity+of+Human+Life.aspx) The “discussion” was never a debate between two disparate positions concerning the fundamental dignity of an individual woman to decide for herself the abortion dilemma. That issue was concluded by the two male speakers on it: she did not. Indeed, the only supposed issue was whether any Catholic could morally support President Obama? Not for his stand that it was a private matter to be wrestled with between the woman and her conscience; that no Catholic could ever support. Rather, whether any Catholic could support an Obama presidency at all, as the single preeminent issue, abortion, smothered all other issues?
Regardless that the Bible is instructive as to when believers ought to presume that human life actually begins (“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and [then, not at any time prior, he] became a living soul.” [emphasis and interjection, mine] Genesis 2:7), by asserting human life begins not with the first “breath of life,” but at the moment of fertilization, the Church has taken it upon itself to contradict the Bible, assuming authoritative hegemony over the entirety of the issue and over any parishioner’s capacity to read the Bible and reach an alternate position.
However the discussion may have been coincidental with the naming by Obama of his Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, a Catholic, I am too cynical on this to pass it off as merely that. My cynicism relative to Church practices, based on its nearly 2,000 year history, prompts me to see it as a not too thinly veiled warning to the candidate. The sacrament held more precious than any other by Catholics is that of Holy Communion; denied to the parishioner should the Church conclude a parishioner’s opinions are at any odds with its orthodoxy. Such was the Church’s finding with ex-presidential aspirant John Kerry, also a Catholic, who suggested that, while he is personally opposed to abortion, he had not the right or sufficient wisdom to strip the option from those available to all women. Not even suggesting the matter was so private and emotionally and psychologically burdensome that it ought to reside 100% with the person most intimately involved could placate the Church. No slight diversion of perspective could be tolerated, or ever would be. Take notice Sotomayor.
But three observations are troubling. They concern not just the Church, but all so-called “pro-lifers.”
The single-minded zeal to have the government ban abortion as a legal medical procedure does not extend to the teaching in our schools of responsible sex education, and the providing to students, by the schools, pregnancy prevention pharmacological products; by the evidence, the single most effective methods for heading off even the first need that abortion be weighed as an option. That few parents are adequate to the task remains beside the point: it’s “something that ought to remain exclusively within parental jurisdiction.” Hmmm, get the government intimately involved on the one hand, but exclude it entirely on the other?
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