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  Home :: 2006 September :: Should liberals leave Catholic Church?
http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2006/03/05/should_liberals_leave_catholic_church/

JOAN VENNOCHI
Should liberals leave Catholic Church?

By Joan Vennochi, Globe Columnist | March 5, 2006

THERED CARDINAL'S hat on its way to Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley sends aclear message to liberal Catholics who still hope the Catholic Churchwill shift their way: It isn't shifting.

Company men always reaptheir rewards. Cardinal Bernard Law got a basilica in Rome when theclergy sexual abuse scandal made Boston too inhospitable. O'Malley,another company man, gets elevated to cardinal for doing what thecompany ordered. O'Malley closed down parishes and is shutting down thevestiges of a liberal agenda in the Boston archdiocese.

Lastweek, seven members of the board of Catholic Charities of Bostonannounced their resignations. They were protesting the effort byMassachusetts bishops to prohibit gays from adopting children fromtheir Catholic social service agencies. The seven who quit said theprohibition ''threatens the very essence of our Christian mission."

But the Roman Catholic Church, the institution seeking the prohibition, holds a drastically different view.

Churchdoctrine states that allowing children to be adopted by same-sexcouples ''would actually mean doing violence to these children." Gayadoptions are ''gravely immoral."

If you agree with those principles, you are, according to the Vatican, a Catholic in good standing.

If you don't, you're not.

Liberalsraised as Catholics refuse to accept this reality. We think we can beprochoice, pro-gay marriage , pro-gay adoption, and in favor of marriedand female priests and still call ourselves Catholic. The people whomake the rules say we don't meet the criteria.

Everypronouncement from Pope Benedict XVI draws another line betweenofficial church doctrine and liberal ideology. When do liberals chooseone side or the other?

Sue O'Connell, the copublisher of BayWindows, New England's largest publication for lesbian and gay readers,believes it's time for liberal Catholics to take a stand -- just likeboard members did regarding their affiliation with Catholic Charities.

''Iknow a lot of Catholics, gay and straight," said O'Connell, a lesbianmother of a 5-year-old daughter. ''Everyone continues to go to churchand act like their parish is not part of all of this -- the sexualscandal, the association to the Vatican and its stand on gay adoption.Everyone who believes that is in a state of denial."

''It's time to find a new path," she said.

O'Connell said the church is doing the expected -- enforcing its rules.

Catholicswho don't agree with church doctrine are doing the unexpected --sticking around where they are unwelcome, rather than moving on.

Thestubborness is rooted in nostalgia, inertia, and arrogance. We cherishsome memories, like the lacy white communion dress and the innocence ofchildhood confessions. Despite spotty attendance, we enjoy the ritualof Sunday Mass. We also believe our views are the enlightened ones andRome's represent the neanderthal; eventually we will get a pope whounderstands that.

Liberals view the Catholic Charitiescontroversy in Boston as a watershed moment, signaling a churchhierarchy out of touch with ordinary Catholics. But the resignations inBoston, while laudable to fellow liberals, do not ruffle Rome norCatholics who accept the rules. They are welcome. Just read the onlineposts to Catholic World News.

The local fervor to prevent gaysfrom adopting children also shows that the sexual abuse scandal did notdistract the church from the rules it cares most about. This week, thestate attorney general's office scolded the archdiocese for failing todevise a system to keep track of abusive priests.

ConservativeCatholics hold the power, not just in Rome but in the United States.When mobilized against abortion and gay marriage, they are a potentpolitical force.

Catholics helped reelect George W. Bush. Surveyresults released last year by DemocracyCorps, the consulting groupheaded by James Carville, Stanley Greenberg, and Bob Shrum, showed thatBill Clinton carried the white Catholic vote by 7 points; Al Gore lostthe white Catholic vote by 7 points; and John Kerry, a Catholic, lostthe Catholic vote by 13 points. That is a 20 point swing, to theadvantage of the GOP. It explains why Governor Mitt Romney, a probableRepublican presidential candidate, would sympathize with Catholicbishops on the issue of gay adoption.

The church in Rome thinks in centuries, not in news cycles. It isn't budging.

Will liberals in America ever get the message?



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Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia