Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI visits the United States

As a former Roman Catholic, I often recall the sadness and even anger I felt during my confirmation ceremony at St. Piux X Church in Manchester, New Hampshire. I was 18, but I had concluded this institution was not at all compatible with the progressive values I had already begun to embrace. My mother insisted this sacrament fulfilled one of my grandmother's dying wishes. I repeatedly argued she would not want me to go through with something with which I was not comfortable -- a position I maintain to this day.

But fast forward more than eight years to Pope Benedict XVI's whirlwind visits to Washington and New York that began on Tuesday afternoon. A friend and I watched CNN's live coverage of the pontiff's motorcade driving through Washington yesterday as we sat in a coffee shop in Hell's Kitchen. A number of media professionals have correctly raised questions about the sex abuse scandal that continues to rock the Church. The pope himself addressed these comments en route to the United States, and again during a meeting with American cardinals in Washington. This attention is arguably too little, too late, but the debate within the media and around the country remains needed.

That said, remaining questions over dogmatic positions against homosexuality, contraception, women in the priesthood and other issues will arguably remain secondary or even tertiary issues as many anchors, reporters and others continue to gush over the fact this trip marks the first time Benedict has visited the United States during his pontificate. This gross romanticization simply fails to accurately capture the deep problems that continue to face a Church that has arguably lost its moral authority in this country. The American Roman Catholic Church remains in a crisis, and many faithful almost certainly find themselves at a crossroads as they try to reconcile their faith with the actions (or inaction) of a religious institution in which they had once put so much faith. These struggles will not end with one six-day whirlwind visit.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Catholic Church has many problems. First, the previous pope locked up the nomination process in the hands of conservatives, which may take decades to undo if it is at all possible. Secondly, the new pope is one of the most wretchedly conservative religious figures in all of Christendom. For gays in particular, this spells doom. With their relationships demonized and a Pope who actively promotes descrimination against gay couples, the only option gays are offered is a life of perfect celibate piety. This means that gays are offered an option between being viewed as celibate and pious, or demonic and sexual. This sets gays up for severe sexual pathology, a pathology which we saw played out in the priest sex abuse scandal (though heterosexuals, who have had to battle for acceptance of their own sexuality, were involved too). By not allowing gay Catholics to have healthy relationships, the Church almost guarentees that sexual pathology will be the norm in its institution. (Actually, a similar argument could be made about the Republican Party, i.e. Sen. Larry Craig).
We can do nothing about this but continue to educate the public about the scientific normalcy of gay love. -=-=-=- om=-=- Nick