Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Army of Oppression," Unmentionables, and Being Catholic in America

I get the impression that many folks who are the 'right sort' in America either don't understand Catholicism, or don't understand Catholicism and hate it.

For example:
"Harry Knox, a member of President Barack Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, has stood by his past comment that Pope Benedict XVI is 'hurting people in the name of Jesus.'

"Knox, a former licensed minister of the United Methodist Church and a leader with the homosexual activist group Human Rights Campaign (HRC), originally made his comments in March 2009 in response to Pope Benedict's comments about the effectiveness of condoms in fighting AIDS in Africa...."
(CNA (February 4, 2010))
I think I understand Harry Knox's point: the Pope, reflecting Catholic teaching, assumes that Africans are people: capable of reason, self-control, and other qualities which haven't been fashionable in the West recently. This 'obviously' shows great 'insensitivity,' and is 'hurting' Africans.

'As is well known,' teenagers, Africans and The Masses in general have about as much self-control as a cat in heat. And so must be protected from themselves. I don't buy the idea. But then, I'm one of 'those' people: practicing Catholics.
Unmentioned in Polite Society
Unfortunately, from one point of view, people in some parts of Africa have decided to stop using condoms and start using their brains. And even worse - again from one point of view - the incidence of AIDS has gone down in those areas. (March 17, 2009)

Haven't heard about that? I'm not terribly surprised. That information doesn't square with what America's dominant culture wants to believe: and so doesn't get discussed much.

It's sort of like sex is supposed to have been in Victorian England: There are some things that decent persons simply do not mention.

It Could be Worse

Looking at places like China, I realize that the situation for practicing Catholics could be a lot worse here in America.

We're even allowed to hold positions in the government:
"Several Catholics are included among President Barack Obama's announced appointments to his advisory council on faith-based partnerships. However, the appointees also include a homosexual activist who has described the Pope as a 'discredited leader' and the Knights of Columbus as 'foot soldiers' of an 'army of oppression' because of their opposition to same-sex 'marriage.'

"Anthony R. Picarello Jr., General Counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), was announced as an appointee on April 6. A former head counsel and executive director of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Picarello has litigated several major religious freedom cases. He is a 1991 graduate of Harvard University and received his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1995...."
(CNA(April 8, 2009))
Sure, there's that 'Knights of Columbus are an army of oppression' thing, but really: it could be worse.

How Can He Work With Those People?

As to how a practicing Catholic - particularly a General Counsel for the USCCB - could, in good conscience, work with an American government that's so sincerely non-Catholic? The way I look at it is this: the Catholic Church works with people where they are.

A dozen centuries or so ago, the Church didn't wait for leaders of Europe's war bands to develop the Magna Carta and parliaments. Missionaries went in, showed folks living in my ancestors' homelands what this Jesus fellow was about: and eventually we got things like the Notre Dame Cathedral.

Sure, we lost cherished cultural traditions like human sacrifice: but we also (eventually) got more humane laws. I think it was a good trade off.

Name-Calling and Being a Catholic in America

I'm a member of the Knights of Columbus, by the way. And I've written about today's quirky notions regarding marriage before.

How do I feel, having a group I belong to called 'an army of oppression?'

I don't like having being labeled a "foot soldier" in an "army of oppression" by one of my government's officials, but I'm used to that sort of thing.

I've done time in American academia: where any view might be openly and freely discussed. Provided, of course, that the view was approved by the professors and the more earnest students.

I hadn't converted to Catholicism then, by the way.

College Days and Unintended Consequences

My stretches on campus weren't a complete wash, of course. I spent a great deal of time in libraries, learning a great deal - in addition to getting an education. And, I paid attention to what the establishment seemed to be saying.

They had some ideas that, stripped of their loopy ideological trappings, made some sense. Like the much-maligned "multiculturalism." I didn't buy into the notion that everything America did was icky: but the core idea that people were people, no matter where they lived, seemed to make sense.

Which, eventually, led me to join the Catholic Church. And that's another topic.

Not-entirely-unrelated posts:In the news:

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.