Friday, April 23, 2010
The Amorality of the Church
One of the big problems with Catholicism in England and Wales both in the popular mind but in the mind of many Catholics is that it is amoral.
The old canard of the Catholic committing adultery or getting drunk on Friday, confesssing on Saturday, communicating on Sunday seems still to exist, except no-one bothers with the confessing anymore.
Far from being life changing, faith for most Catholics touches only the edges of their lives. Despite the bishops issuing statements about the election most Catholics will not vote according to their faith but along very secular lines.
The Church's teaching on reproduction, on sexuality and sexual activity, on bio ethics drfts over most people. Abortion, at least in its later stages, certainly not the morning after pill, might cause a little hesitation but not much more than that for most Catholics. If you polled most Catholics they would see no problems with any of the equalities legislation which the Pope criticised at the ad limina visit of our bishops, as being contrary to the Natural Law. Indeed most would see a lot to criticise in what they understand to be the Church's teaching.
Those who teach what the Church teaches are classed as fundamentalist, reactionary, traditionalist, extreme.
The whole sad, sorry saga of child abuse underlines the assumption that we Catholics are essentially hypocritical, that we and certainly our bishops condone if not the abuse itself at least its cover-up. We are not to be trusted and seem to be seen not as a force for good in society but for evil. Indeed the very wickedness of the Catholic Church is part of the vocabulary of secularists like Dawkins, Hitchens and Fry.
Those touched by Kungian global ethics embrace the agenda of fairtrade, of a secularist approach to human rights and of green politics. It seems to owe more to bourgeois leftism than anything Catholic.
Those who vist the Catholic blogosphere con themselves that Catholic ethics are taken seriously by anyone beyond it but look at the evidence: where are the non-contracepting Catholic families? The CES hardly seems committed to Catholic ethical teaching. Only Archbishop Smith seems to speak to the media on ethical issues. The Tablet with its screwed up dissenting ethical teaching is sold at the back of most cathedrals and churches.
It is not just issues of bio/sexual ethics that Catholics appear light on but simple issues of honesty, like belonging to a Church which teaches one thing but its members and even some of its leaders appear simply do not hold some of its basic tenets, the reception of Tony Blair into the church for example. The ethical teaching of the Gospel - Jesus' words on remarriage, on the commandments, on our responsibility to the poor and stranger, even on personal integrity, and repentance - are not uppermost in our minds. Indeed much of what has passed for moral theology over the last 40 years has tended to obscure the face of Christ.
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