Saturday, September 29, 2012

Still about civil rights!

Monsignor Dolan’s and the rest of the American “prelatariate” position on refusing communion to those of their flock who support gay marriage, does not lack of logical coherence, i.e. the old saw “if you are not with me you are against me.”

It does, however, lack of any kind of democratic and humanistic justification. We are now going on to a two and a quarter centuries of the “liberté, égalité, fraternité” proclamation, that should have ended the social slicing and dicing that allows some people to do things denied to others. Why should anybody be excluded from enjoying connubial bliss?.

The Catholic Church has always liked to assert authority over humanity’s procreative activities, infringing what Mr. Charles M. Blow calls “the sovereignty of a person’s body - to make individual health care choices and have freedom in love and marriage”. After all that is our children’s first claim on their road to adulthood.

Multitasking between the New York Times report on Monsignor’s utterances and the altogether admirable John Julius Norwich’s book “Absolute Monarchs”, a heroic attempt to summarize two thousand years of Papal history into 468 pages, I serendipitously ran into the following paragraph: “ Julius III […] a competent canon lawyer, ...and later co-president of the opening of the Council of Trent, was, however better known for his infatuation with a seventeen-year-old boy, somewhat inappropriately named Innocenzo, whom he had picked up two years before in the streets of Parma and whom, on his accession he instantly made cardinal.” An irresistible juxtaposition, don’t you think?

And I also learned that the last time the Papacy used the interdict, the weapon that denied the divine right to rule to any head of state who displeased the Church, was in 1657, against the Most Serene Republic of Venice, which serenely ignored it, and went about its business to no ill effects. That tool was thereafter so blunted that the Vatican has never again used it.

The American Catholic Church is most likely to misuse this most modern form of interdict (the denial of sacraments) that will alienate even more of its faithful. Meanwhile we have to wonder why social injustice and the growing economic inequality do not merit the same kind of strong voice and stance.

It is to be regretted that honest politicians like Roy MacDonald have to pay a high price for their courageous and principled recognition of the denial of civil rights occurring right in our age and time.