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?
The newest plan in the anti-abortion play book is the creation of crisis pregnancy centers on steroids that would provide a variety of health services that would supplant the need for Planned Parenthood clinics and other mainstream women’s health centers:
This quote sums up the rationale behind this beefed up crisis pregnancy center model:
The idea…is that a woman can go to a Guiding Star center and find the services she needs for her fertile years under one roof: well-woman care, OB/GYN and birthing services, pregnancy-support services, natural family planning education and fertility care, pharmacy needs, counseling, grief support, adoption resources and even spiritual care with a chapel. Having all the services from vetted partners in a single building owned by Guiding Star, Jacobson pointed out, eliminates gaps between a positive pregnancy test and a doctor’s appointment. It also allows women to get help with lactation or pregnancy difficulties that may make them wary of having another baby.
As usual, this flowery rhetoric sounds wonderful, but these crisis pregnancy centers are never going to replace Planned Parenthood, because of their insistence on treating public health issues through a lens of sin.
I seem to recall that the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s website used to post the addresses of abortion clinics in the metro Atlanta area so Catholics could go pray the rosary outside of them. Nothing more radical was recommended, presumably to avoid any legal liabilities or charges of stalking, but there was a general idea that a near-constant Catholic presence at abortion clinics would somehow be a positive influence on those entering and leaving the facilities in question. I couldn’t find that page on the Archdiocese site today, but I’m sure that the practice of saying the rosary in front of abortion clinics is still being encouraged.
The more glaring example of the Catholic church’s inability to communicate with the lay public in the West is the overwhelming resistance to the church’s anti-contraception stance. Prior to Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae Vitae, which reiterated the church’s traditional views on the subject, there had been a great deal of anticipation among Western Catholics, priests, religious, and lay people alike, that the prohibition on birth control would be overturned. In retrospective, this optimism seems naive, but I can’t blame them, since the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control concluded that birth control was not inherently evil. But Paul VI believed that he couldn’t change this teaching because it hadn’t been changed before (circular reasoning, much?). While a minority of conservotrads and traditionalists have decided that having a baseball team worth of kids is the mark of an “orthodox Catholic,” most Western Catholics ignored Humanae Vitae and much of the church’s other teachings on sexual matters, a situation that has gotten worse with the rise of the LGBT rights movement.
You may know that Pope Francis will be embarking upon a five-day trip to the Philippines starting today. What you may not know is that the Philippine government is rounding up street children in the capital city of Manila and putting them in prison, yet His Holiness’ view be sullied by witnessing the end result of what happens when you systematically deny people living in grinding poverty the ability to plan their fertility:
Aristotle’s physics weren’t the only aspect of his scientific ideas to make it into Catholic church; his thoughts on biology were also integrated into the Thomist system, and nowhere can this influence be better seen than in the Catholic response to so-called “life issues.”
One thing you hear a lot about from religious conservatives in general is how “unnatural” homosexuality is. This argument is particularly common among conservotrad Catholics because of the church’s natural law tradition, which considers homosexuality to be a major breach of the natural law. While most conservative Protestants would prefer to say that homosexuality is “unbiblical” and stop at that, there appears to be a major “ick factor” about LGBT people in conservative Protestant discourse that suggests that they are referencing natural law theory in an indirect way. But what does this really mean for homosexuality to be “natural” or “unnatural”? How can we tell if something, be it homosexuality, artificial contraception, or eyeglasses, is “natural” or not?