Just Between Me and the Pope

This Lenten season, I've been trying to focus more on spirituality.  After all, this is a season of renewal of faith.  As part of that, I've  been praying about and researching the Church's views on many current social issues.  As you know, there's a lot in the news lately about Catholic faith and public policy.  Catholics teach that you need to have an informed conscience in order to be a faithful citizen (and Catholic).  As part of that effort, I started going through the US Conference of Catholic Bishops website and came across a section on Faithful Citizenship and forming your conscience.  If you care to read it, it's a little lengthy but written in a bulleted style that you can skim quickly.

The first thing I discovered is that the Church believes and teaches many of the things that I believe, especially when it comes to social justice.  There are bullets on the right of workers to unionize, get a living wage, the right to access to health care, and fair treatment of immigrants and the poor (including a path to citizenship).  Reading those sections you would think that the Church are a bunch of bleeding heart liberals.

However, there were some areas I disagreed with.  One of them, the Church's position on contraception, I think I'll save for a different post since that's a very relevant topic right now and I have a lot to say.  The other two things I've disagreed with in the past are the Church's position on abortion and homosexuality.  To be clear, the Church's teaching on abortion is part of their "consistent life ethic", which includes being against the death penalty, euthanasia, and assisted suicide.  All of that I agree with.  I also agree that abortion is the taking of a life.  Life begins at conception.  That bundle of cells WILL become a person if left alone.  I personally doubt any woman that has an abortion doesn't realize they're ending the life of a child growing within them.  Mind you, not having a uterus, I don't pretend to understand the mind of a woman, but my wife tells me she believes the same thing.  Where I've always drawn the line is on whether abortion should be legal or not.  My reasoning goes back to saying not everyone believes what I do and that separation of church and state and all that.  Basically that the answer to stopping abortion is not to make it illegal but to make it unnecessary.

Then I did a little research that might cause me to change my mind.  The info was on the Catholic Bishops site but I verified it independently.  In 2010, 23.3% of all pregnancies in the US resulted in abortion.  The exact numbers are fuzzy because only 45 states actually report numbers.  But the reported numbers are around 800,000 and the actuals are probably well over one million.  That's just out of control.  It certainly lends credence to the thought that abortion is being used as a means of birth control.  So right now, I'm not sure where I stand on the issue.  I'm praying about it to see what the Lord is telling me.  But thinking about it makes me very sad.

Homosexuality (and all the issues that go with it such as "gay marriage") is another tough one.  The Church's teaching is pretty clear, and truthfully I think the message in the Bible is pretty clear.  Practicing homosexuality is a sin.  Not because homosexuals are sinners (any more than the rest of us) but because sex outside of marriage is a sin.  And Catholic marriage is meant to be between a man and a woman.  Sort of a catch 22 for homosexual people, I know.  What makes it harder is that I have homosexual friends and friends with homosexual children.  And they're all VERY good people, some of them with strong faith.  And I find it very hard to judge them.  So the teaching and the reality can be very difficult.  As a side note, I think the message our culture sends to kids these days that promiscuity is acceptable and that pleasure is good (why can't I have sex if I feel like it?) is a big part of the problem.  We don't teach our children about self control, the virtue of being chaste, and how sex really should be reserved for a deeply committed relationship (in my view marriage).  But that's a different topic all together.

So, as with the abortion issue, I will continue to pray about this.  I think at the end of the day, how we treat others really boils down to doing things out of love.  I firmly believe that even if we acknowledge that abortion and homosexual relations are a sin, that doesn't mean you should treat people badly or think they're evil because of it.  Everyone, especially those going through something difficult like abortion, need to be treated with respect and dignity, not as somehow a lower form of life than the rest of us.  And I think that's where our society REALLY falls short.  And we should all definitely pray for a better way to address these issues in the public realm.


Jude said…
I love this post, much to think about.

Being a woman who wanted nothing more than to have babies (when I was younger)and couldn't, it would be easy for me to paint the whole abortion issue with one brush. However I've never been able to do that. My ONLY issue with abortion is when it is used as birth control. Say, for example, a woman was raped and a pregnancy results. I can't in my heart find fault if she wishes to end that pregnancy. But to abort babies as birth control only, I can't find any right in that at all.

The homosexuality issue, I know you and I have had conversations in the past about. Like you, I have gay friends and some of them are highly spiritual. One in particular, who is Catholic and holds a very strong faith, has had to come to terms with his homosexuality and his (and others I know) belief are that God made us each the way we are, and He loves us as such.

The bottom line in my humble opinion isn't what our sexual preferences are, or our skin colour or anything else ~ but rather what kind of people we are. Are we kind? Compassionate? Loving? That is where I need to look to know if a person is "good".

I agree completely Vince with what you say in your last few lines. This shows that you are a compassionate and caring person.
sydwynd said…
Jude: I agree. Abortion as birth control is all kinds of wrong. In situations like rape, then I can understand how a woman would not want to carry the baby.

I would also agree that God made us as we are. Homosexuality is not a choice. However, how we deal with the gifts and crosses God gives us says a lot about us. God has a plan for every person and makes that person in such a way so they can carry out His plan should they choose to do so. Discerning that plan is the hard part.

And I appreciate being considered compassionate and caring. I do try.
Jude said…
I miss your blog posts!
sydwynd said…
Happy now?
Jude said…
Hahaha I have SO MUCH POWER over you!

Popular Posts