Saturday, July 09, 2005

Spiralling towards Oblivion - Canada's Catholic Church

When I read today's article in the Globe about the Catholic church refusing to allow NDP MP Joe Comartin to participate in lay church functions, which followed on earlier reports that Charlie Angus had been denied communion, I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. As many other bloggers have pointed out, the hypocricy is staggering, given the number of other people who are allowed to receive communion, right up to the level of the priest, who have violated Catholic church teachings.

The timing on this is remarkably stupid. If you are going to try to exert this form of pressure on MPs who supported equal marriage, why not do it before the vote passed? What do you think they can do at this point? This is not about anything other than punishment at this point, and it smacks of "small-town" pettiness. (quoth Gomery)

I was raised in the Catholic Church, and attended Catholic schools until the end of high school. I actually left the church before I realized that I was gay. There were a number of other teachings that I couldn't stomach (particularly in terms of the lack of equality for women). After listening to papal missives for the past several years as a gay man, I'm glad that I left. This is an institution which is completely resistant to change, even when it would help the Church. Why are there still no women priests? Why are priests not allowed to marry? What happened to all the teachings about forgiveness?

A small, vindictive part of me hopes that this is just the first step for the Catholic Church. Start with refusing communion to those who accept homosexuals as people deserving of human dignity, then refuse it to those who have been divorced, those who approve of contraception, and work your way down the list. Pretty soon there will be almost nobody left. Some really consistent action on that front may finally collapse the institution in Canada, and then Canada can start ignoring the likes of Bishop Henry, Bishop Fabbro and the rest.

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At 11:31 am, Blogger JimBobby said...

Whooee! Yer right as rain, MatthewFeller. I wrote me a little boog story jest last week 'bout how the Pope an' his crew is all outta whack in the anti-poverty department an' with that dumbass ban on condoms. Yeow! They're livin' in 19th century cloud cuckoo land an' millions o' Africans is dyin' from AIDS.

I reckon these here anti-SSM RC's is the same as them there conservative Christians like that numbnuts Charles McVety. They can keep on with their hateful idees. Alls they're gonna 'complish is t' get smaller an' more on the fringes. They're aimin' t' be even more irrelevant than they are now.

I figger it's still a good idee t' speak up against 'em but I also figger they're takin' hold of enuff rope that they can hang themselves an' that's what they'll do.

Smart fellers an' gals in the 21st century ain't buyin' them ol' superstitions.

Yores trooly,

At 11:49 am, Blogger buckets said...

I think that it's important to differentiate between what was done to Angus and Comartin. Angus is being denied the eucharist, which as you know is a big deal. Comartin is now forbidden to act as a church-approved pre-marriage councillor (and a few other roles), but as far as I know is still allowed to have communion.

As far as this goes, I think the church is not acting outrageously--someone who seems to not believe the church's teaching on marriage should not be leading church sponsored marriage lessons.

It is Angus' situation that I think causes special concern, not least because he is being treated differently than other politicians in other dioceses.

At 12:05 pm, Blogger Matt said...


I agree that the Angus case is a much more dire one. The Globe article did not indicate just how far the local parish had gone in Comartin's case (he is still allowed to receive communion), and whether it was just the marriage preparation course that he was being blocked from (which is understandable), or whether he is now being denied the right to give communion or read at mass. Certainly in other Catholic parishes, there are divorced individuals who still are allowed to do this.

At 12:35 pm, Blogger john said...

Great minds think alike...
My blog today addresses the same issue.

At 1:54 pm, Blogger buckets said...

I would make the same point about stripping him of the role of communion-distributer and reader. These are slaps on the wrist and the church is surely expected to do something. The effective excommunication of Angus (and, worse, his wife) is a whole different level of punishment.

But what strikes me as the story here is that most Catholic MPs get no punishment, Comartin gets a slap on the wrist, and Angus gets the theological equivalent of the death penalty.

At 2:29 pm, Blogger Rick Barnes said...

As I stated on Queer Thoughts 10 days ago, The Catholic church chooses carefully who they "punish"!

Makes me some what sick to know they can or do get away with it.

MP refused communion "over a handshake"

At 1:47 am, Blogger andym said...

Does anyone remember the Church's "we're the real victims in all of this" cry from a few months ago, fearing legal retribution from SSM being passed? In all fairness, I hope that the Roman Catholic Cult decides to take such a heightened interest in the professional lives of all of its parishioners, in case anyone else is heathen-ing out there.

At 6:45 am, Blogger eugene plawiuk said...

I have commented on this as well, Real Catholic Valuesthe hypocrisy is just too much, what about just coming out with the council of Bishops and excommunicating with extreme unction every politician that is Catholic and voted against the Vaticans social policy. It's not Canadian Catholics that are the problem its the Vatican.
Thanks for the acidic commentary.

At 3:27 pm, Anonymous A Recovering Catholic said...

I think the RC church has a plan...

They're trying to become a minority in the hopes that they'll be able to ask for more rights.

At 11:09 am, Blogger John the Mad said...

I don't mean to rain on the parade, but Catholic Church attendence has soared in the last three years in Canada, particularly outside Quebec.

It's up by 15%(from 42% to 57%), defined as attending mass a minimum of once a month. It is up in Quebec too, but less so.

The spiral, is up.

One small point. I am unaware of any "right" under canon (Church) law to be an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, or to be a lector.

Divorced and remarried Catholics should not be fulfilling these functions either. Nor can they receive communion. Those who participate in abortion are automatically excommunicated according to canon law.

This has nothing to do with being conservative or liberal. It is the consistent teaching of the Church and those who want to belong to the Church have an obligation to obey its teachings. Jack layton holds to a similar view demonstrated by how he treated his dissenting caucus member.

I quite agree that Charlie Angus should not be alone in being refused communion. All MPs who voted for the bill should face the same sanction, but each diocesan bishop determines the sanction issue individually.

At 11:22 am, Blogger Matt said...

Attendance may be up, but do you have a gauge of whether the attendees are in agreement with Church teachings about social issues? Most polls that I have seen indicate that a substantial proportion of Catholics disagree with the hierarchy on gay marriage, and many more disagree on issues of contraception, women priests etc.

A Church which turns a blind eye to this dissent on its teachings, and allows its parishioners to convince themselves that they can agree to disagree might maintain current attendance and membership levels (or even grow, as you suggest it has). My question is whether a Catholic Church that actively enforces its policies on its parishioners will survive, if it starts denying communion to those who don't follow its teachings.

As far as I'm concerned, the Catholic Church is well within its rights to do so. But I don't think that it will continue to be an influential presence in Canada for long if it does. There are many divorced Catholics in this country, and many more who practice contraception.

As I said, I disagreed with the Catholic Church's teachings, and I chose to leave it. I think that others who feel the same way should do the same, but that is a decision each person has to make for themselves. If the Church leadership chooses to be consistent and do to others what it did to Charlie Angus, I believe that its membership will dwindle, as more people make that choice, or are forced out.


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