Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Having issues and the defining issues?

I stumbled across the following article and something struck me. The author says:
How come the deciding issues of whether one is a member of the church or not always seems to come down to issues concerning sexuality.
The usual suspects, gay marriage, abortion, etc are always and ever the issues that we are told are the defining issues as to whether or not we are catholic.
Has anyone ever heard of a bishop saying that tax fraud barred one from being a catholic? Has ever a bishop clearly and unambiguously spoken so strongly against the evil of poverty - one in six of the world's population are starving?
The author's point of view is not uncommon these days, and demonstrates how the media filters people's perceptions of the Church. You'll note that he mentions abortion as being one of those issues 'concerning sexuality' which is a defining issue. I would argue that the question of abortion primarily concerns the value of life - the 5th commandment rather than the 6th commandment - and that the author neglects to mention the Church's resistance to euthanasia.

Yes, the meaning of sexuality is one of those areas where the teaching of the Church meets most resistance in the modern world. But it's not something which the Church obsesses about. It's the media who are sex-obsessed. It seems to me that papal and episcopal statements are combed by the media for passing references to sexual morality, these are then cherry-picked and reported, and the rest of what the Church has to teach is neglected. When the Church speaks out against poverty or on environmental issues or against greed, it simply doesn't make headlines. Why? Because it doesn't really titillate the head-line makers. It doesn't attract the attention of the sub-editors. A fair reading of the speeches and messages of any of the recent Pontiffs - they're all available on the Vatican website - will show that the Church speaks out on a whole gamut of issues and offers a radically challenging and uplifting vision of the human person.

Meanwhile, the author of that article presents the following as his parting shot:
Also, is there not something unusual about bishops going on and on in such solemn tones on matters of sexuality while they adorn themselves with chains, crosses, rings and long frocks?
Is one ever struck by the visual appearance of so many bishops?
Again, it seems to me that the problem is with the imagination of the author... Normal episcopal regalia becomes chains, crosses, rings and long frocks... And if he's talking about Irish Bishops, he should be very well aware that they normally present themselves for public consumption in a clerical suit.

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