Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Parish Partition

Perhaps it is the formal hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church here and at its higher levels. Perhaps it is the rank hypocrisy of bishops saying the state absolutely has no right to mess with church business while they have a duty to mess with the state's business.

Regardless, the Quincy Patriot-Ledger ran a subtle, but powerful Catholics divided over O'Malley's call for gay wedding ban by John Zaremba. If nothing else, Archbishop O'Malley has managed to drive yet another wedge among various communicants, which at least nominally number over two million. His pleasant grin does not compensate.

At issue is the hierarchy's self-righteous immersion in politics in efforts to overturn same-sex marriages here. In the process, the bishops have hopped into bed with such anti-gay groups as voteonmarriage and Catholic Citizenship. They also run up against their legal limits by strongly suggesting that priests appoint at least one parishioner per church to head the petition drive for the MCC lobbying arm.

Certainly from abolition days, various churches have urged their members to vote one way, to go to letter-writing tables in the parish hall, or even to join the ministers in protest marches. Two crisp distinctions seem to be bothering insiders and outsiders alike in his campaign. Worst is that because of the hierarchical nature of this church, it is basically ordering its clerics to specific political action. Subtler but more disturbing is that in contrast to some past political pulpit pleas, this campaign is to rip rights from a minority instead of expanding them.

Back to the news, some parishioner applauded the command with remarks such as, "The church is just getting us to move our butts."

Others with gay family and friends are disturbed ("My cousin is gay and from what I've seen, he was born that way. I don't want to say anything that would hurt his feelings or go against him because that's my flesh and blood." )

Still others agree that O'Malley's and his gang have cross the political line. One said "it is not the church's place to limit secular matters such as civil unions. Likewise, he said, he does not want lawmakers delving into sacred rituals. '‘The sacrament is the church's area and the civil area is the state's.'"

One lector (announcement reader) refused to read O'Malley's letter aloud. "It's not what I thought Jesus would do. It doesn't help the church welcome people or reach out to people."

Can she get an amen?

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