Thursday, June 21, 2012

Nuns the Word: Why pagans should care about debates within the Catholic Church

There is a huge debate/scandal/political event going on within the Catholic Church. For those of you that have been under a rock for this, the Vatican has accused a group - the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), a group that represents 80% of the ~57,000 Catholic nuns in the U.S. - of deviating from Catholic doctrine.
These are nuns. If you look closely, you will see that
there are many differences between these and penguins.

The group's crime? "Distorting the eclesiological vision of the Church" by focusing too much on helping the poor and not enough battling against gay marriage.

The nuns have responded by calling the investigation "unsubstantiated" and the requirement (for the nuns to run everything by Archbishop Peter Sartain, appointed to guide the nuns back to the path set by the pope & bishops) as "disproportionate to the concerns raised and could compromise their ability to fulfill their mission."

Now, both sides have used a lot of political language to "soften" the blows being exchanged, but what's going on here can be summarized like such: the nuns are being foolishly constant in keeping with the philosophies of Jesus Christ, an all'round nice fellow. The Church has been following the path of money, politics and power for about 1700 years. And this includes enforcing that power so that the rest of us don't forget they have it. They pick a group to bully and expect ~20% of the world population (based on registered Catholics worldwide) to follow their lead.

This is the pope. If you look closely, you
will see that there are many differences
between this guy and God. Not so many
between this guy and Emperor Palpatine.
The Church said get in line. The nuns said NO.

Now this needs to be put into some perspective. The Church has been mis-stepping a lot lately. First we had the priest sexual abuse scandal, which has been dealt with poorly until just 2010, when the Associated Press referred to the then-most recent response by the Vatican as "full damage control mode".

Then, the Vatican has been waging a rather intense war regarding women's rights. This is taking shape in the Catholic Church v. ObamaCare battle now in the courts.It also shows its ugly face in the debate about the rights for same-sex couples to get married.

Now they attack a group of nuns with the primary agenda of making other peoples' lives better. (Nuns have, by the way, spoken out in favor of universal insurance coverage for birth control ["LCWR and Network recently endorsed Obama's compromise with the bishop over a mandate to provide insurance coverage for birth control for employees at religious institutions, even as the bishops continue to fight it."]AND in support of gay marriage.)

But aren't the nuns out of line? What do the Catholics want? What about other groups of Catholic church members that are not politically motivated.

This is Francis of Assisi.
He was pretty cool, and he gave up all his possessions.
As it turns out, Catholic laypersons want what the nuns want. So do the Franciscan monks, whose goal is to serve the poor and destitute, as opposed to, for example, the Dominicans monks, who teach and fight heresy.

All right, I promised in the title of this post to go over why we, as Pagans, should care... So here goes.

The Catholic Church is the most prominent denomination of the most prominent religion, so what happens there can effect all of us, regardless of our own religion. And they are experiencing a breakdown.

No longer is the Vatican the indisputable voice of the Catholic God. That voice is being disputed. By other Catholics. By card-carrying clergy. Either the doctrine is going to change - for good or ill - or there will be a break-off by those who feel that the Vatican has deviated from the Truth of God/Jesus. Maybe some combination of both.

I do not have a level of precognition that would allow me to see what will happen, but something's going to give in this fight. And when it does, the overwhelming Christio-Catholic perspective in the U.S. and much of the world will also change.

And that effects us greatly.

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