Catholic Bishop vs. Crackpot Catholics
This is just a perfect storm of Prytania. A group of liberal Catholics in San Francisco are outraged at Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s directive that Catholic school employees affirm that they will not “visibly” deny or undermine Catholic teaching, including on abortion and homosexuality. Slate‘s Will Saletan, a liberal who disagrees with the archbishop, says the protesters are nitwits:
The protesters are confused. They reject morality clauses but call the archbishop’s behavior sinful, shameful, and wrong. They belong to a church but seem to think it shouldn’t forbid anything. They insist that no one can be judged, except for issuing judgments that contradict their own. They can’t explain or even acknowledge the moral differences between homosexuality, contraception, and abortion. The nonsense of nonjudgmentalism has turned their brains to mush. It’s clouding their ability to think and speak clearly about society’s mistakes—and their own.
In the piece, you see that Saletan thinks Cordileone’s guidelines are wrong, for various reasons, but he understands that a church has the right and the responsibility to decide right from wrong, and to expect its followers to adhere, however minimally, to those standards. More:
But the response from the left has been just as clumsy. It’s a mess of new-age babble. It starts with denials of morality. The protesters’ Facebook page, Support SF Teachers, declares: “A morality clause has no place in our schools. We want teachers to be able to be themselves.” Christine Haider-Winnett, the coordinator of Equally Blessed, a Catholic pro-LGBT coalition, says lay Catholics will “make our own decisions about what is right and wrong.” A tweet posted as part of the social media campaign against Cordileone advises: “Be who you are and don’t care who says what.”
The dictionary says churches are supposed to teach doctrines. But the campaign against Cordileone says they shouldn’t. Students at one Catholic school “are very upset” by the new policy, says a teacher. “They’re afraid it’ll lead to indoctrination.”
Imagine that: a teacher at a Catholic school afraid that the school will teach doctrine to the students. Why, exactly, is there a Catholic school, then?
It gets worse, or better, depending on your point of view:
The new taboo isn’t sex or blasphemy: It’s judgment. “Students need a safe space free of judgment,” says the petition. An op-ed by two parents in the archdiocese says its schools must “be a place where our children are supported, honored, and free from judgment.” The former head of San Francisco Catholic Charities accuses Cordileone of violating the “spirit of nonjudgmental inclusiveness.”
The archbishop’s opponents don’t just believe, as most Americans do, that gay monogamy is as moral as straight monogamy. They advance a more radical idea: free love. The Human Rights Campaign’s director of Latino and Catholic Initiatives says the church should embrace all believers, “no matter who they are [or] who they love.” In a letter issued Tuesday, eight California legislators chastised Cordileone for challenging “the freedom to choose who to love.” On Twitter, the campaign’ssupporters preach, “Love is love,” and “Let people love who they want to love.” The sentiment is sweet, but the ideology is soft-headed. It can’t explain, logically, why Rick Santorum’s parade of horribles—polygamy, adultery, incest, pedophilia—doesn’t follow.
These liberal Catholic protesters say that the Church should support free love and abortion. The only thing they want to forbid is forbidding. Saletan, again, thinks Cordileone’s policy is wrong, but he’s completely exasperated by his fellow liberals:
Liberal Catholics are right to reject their leaders’ pronouncements on these issues. But you can’t beat something with nothing, and you can’t replace wrongheaded conservatism with empty-headed liberalism.
The good news — or bad news, as you prefer — is that these people’s children will not be around to annoy the future Catholic bishops of San Francisco. They will have left the Church. Their parents already have, though they don’t realize it yet. They have apostatized in place.