OUT IN THE OPEN

14 Feb

OUT IN THE OPEN

Louise Annarino

2-14-2012

Hopefully, this is the last time I shall have to discuss the Roman Catholic Church and the opposition of its Pope and its most conservative of Bishops to progressive political theory, and at times, to President Barack Obama.

I will not discuss the church’s theological positions. It is none of my business. Catholic women are not part of the church hierarchy and have no positional power within its ranks. Some may have personal power with particular members of the church hierarchy; but, personal power is ephemeral at best. Therefore, I am not entitled to any opinion on theological teachings. That has been clear since my baptism.

However, as an American, I am entitled to an opinion on its espoused political positions, and its corporate climate. I am also entitled to question whether as a religious institution it has any right to take a political position. Jesus’ response to his religious hierarchy “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and to God that which is God’s”, Matt 22:21, is not simply a basis for the separation of church and state; although, one could argue such. It was his brilliant repost to a group of rabbis trying to trick him into taking a political position, or to discredit himself as a rabbi. Jesus himself had made it clear he was not a political Messiah, John18:36. The Pharisee rabbis were trying to prove otherwise. The Roman Catholic Pope and Bishops would be wise to follow Jesus’ lead. They are not political Messiahs. They are behaving like Pharisees. Their objective is political and financial power, in the guise of religious freedom. No one has asked them to deny their religious teachings, or practice their faith as they see fit. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, President Obama adjusted the political and financial demands of women’s preventive health care to eliminate any possible religious entanglement argument. The church has been outed;it’s outcry was never about religion. It has always been about politics.When the Bishops met 7 months ago to prepare an attack on President Obama’s health care mandates, they behaved like Pharisees, trying to protect their turf from the President they view as the usurper.

Let’s be clear, a church hierarchy which has treated women and children as second class citizens and done little or nothing to protect them; and, has in fact attacked them with impunity ( witch hunts, pedophilia) posits it should be able to deny any woman, Catholic or non-Catholic, comprehensive preventive health care. Really? For, now that the issue of providing insurance coverage for such care is off the table, the only thing remaining is the health care itself. The Bishops’ continuing opposition is simply opposition to women’s comprehensive preventive health care, period!

Thank you, President Obama, for making it so clear. Now, let us ignore the Pharisees and move on.

At age 10 I wrote a letter to then-Senator John F. Kennedy, and received a personal reply. I sent him several pages  listing American Catholics from pre-revolution through 1962 who had served America without becoming a tool of the Catholic church. Presidential candidate Kennedy was deemed an unacceptable candidate since many believed the Roman Catholic Church would try to use him to foster its own agenda, in violation of the separation of church and state. Senator Kennedy used my research in his debate with Richard Nixon. He was the first Catholic elected President of the United States.We know from history that it is dangerous to mix church and state. Millions have died over the centuries as the church imposed its will on the state. Many fled to the wilderness of America to avoid oppression resulting from merger of state and religion. President Kennedy had to overcome this perceived threat. Now, politicians struggle to affirm their willingness to be guided by religious institutions in matters of state. The backlash, should this not be prevented, has a long and bloody history. Women have never fared well under church dominated state action.

I am weary of those arguing the state is denying them the right to practice their religion. They have no right to force me to practice their religion! I have a right to the same comprehensive preventive health care as any other woman, no matter who is my employer; just as I have a right to minimum wage, unemployment benefits etc. Religious belief has no place in determining who is eligible for employment benefits.

 

 

 

 

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