One problem with discussing race with white people (or people in general, actually), is that they take they view that as long as they are personally nice to a small group of black people, they are not being racist, even if they support political policies that disenfranchise black people as a group. To them, racism only exists among a small subset of people that one could call “lifestyle racists”: Klansmen, neo-Nazis, racist heathens, etc. Such a view ignores the fact that “lifestyle racists” are relatively rare in 2015, and most of them don’t live in mainstream society, because these delicate snowflakes can’t fathom the possibility of having to endure even casual contact with those they deem “lesser.” This view also ignores the fact that for a long time, the Klan was considered to be a fairly respectable organization that had the tacit support of the white population.
Any illusions that Western Catholic might have had that the Synod on the Family might at least open up discussions on LGBT rights or loosening up restrictions on divorced and/or civilly remarried Catholics from taking communion were dashed when conservative bishops, led by what one might call “the African contingent” railed against such people as “the smoke of Satan.” It was Cardinal Francis Arinze who gave us these immortal lines, “Most people in continental Europe or even North America, when they hear of a synod they think immediately of divorce-remarriage and will they receive Holy Communion. And they even mention homosexual unions,” Arinze said in an interview. “Africans say ‘Lord help us! Is that what you understand by family? This synod is on the fa-mi-ly.”
Clearly, divorced Catholics and LGBT people are not part of the “fa-mi-ly.”
I’ve been reading J. Phillip Wogaman’s Christian Ethics textbook, as well as George W. Forell’s Christian Social Teachings reader, and find both of them completely underwhelming. I understand that it’s difficult to sum up 2,000 years of (Western) Christian ethics in a single volume that’s under 400 pages, especially when you try to create the illusion of natural progression among a variety of warring parties, but maybe this is a sign that this is a topic that requires more than a single volume. The case in point is the glib and disingenuous way slavery is depicted in both books.
Despite the blatant abuses committed by the Missionaries of Charity — shady financial practices, medical neglect, hoarding money and supplies, ignoring basic standards of hygiene — Mother Teresa is still considered to be a paragon of virtue and selflessness, even among many secular people. Rather, than celebrate the undeserving Mother Teresa as a model of humanitarianism, I suggest that we pay more attention to Indumati Parikh (1918-2004), an Indian secular humanist who did what Mother Teresa should have done, but didn’t: empower desperately poor Indians not be poor anymore.
We constantly hear in the Catholic media how the Catholic church has a “compassionate” stance towards LGBT people and doesn’t advocate violence against them (we’ll just ignore for the moment how the Ugandan Catholic church was instrumental in advocating for the infamous “kill the gays” bill several years back). Yesterday, I found these astonishing quotes from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI when he was Joseph Ratzinger that put these views into greater context:
Progressives have been up in arms in the past couple of days ever since finding out that Pope Francis had a private meeting with faux Christian martyr Kim Davis during his recent visit to the United States:
That Francis would provide moral succor to a woman who represents the religious right’s continued attack on the civil rights of LGBT Americans while refusing to meet with any LGBT Catholics was a rude awakening for progressives who thought that Francis might be steering the Catholic church on a more compassionate path. My answer to those who have been blindsided by this revelation, is why is this such a shock?
I have a new article up that puts the recent “pope-a-poolza” in historical context:
Read it; it’s magical.