Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Maureen Dowd Attacked the Catholic Church Again in Today's New York Times

Maureen Dowd attacked the Catholic Church again in today's New York Times.  First, she points out that most Catholics believe birth control is morally acceptable, implying that only the bad old bishops are concerned about the Obama administration's health insurance mandate.

Saint Kateri Tekawitha
Next, she implies that our bishops have no business opposing the health insurance mandate because they've done a terrible job dealing with the sexual abuse scandal. The church is obsessed with sex in ways that it shouldn't be, she says, and not obsessed with sex in ways that it should be.

I would like to make three brief points. First, even though a majority of Catholics may not agree with Church teaching about birth control, that does not mean they are indifferent to the Obama administration's health insurance mandate, which is an assault on religious freedom and a gratuitous insult to the Catholic Church.

Dowd and the Obama administration seem to think no one is upset about the health insurance mandate but a few cranky bishops, and they may be right. But I don't think so.  We will see how Catholics vote in the November election. Personally, I am offended by this affront to my Catholic faith.

Second, it is absolutely true that the Church stumbled badly in dealing with the sex abuse scandal. But that does not mean that Church doctrine on sexuality and human life is bogus.

Servant of God
Rose Hawthorne
Finally, the Obama administration's health insurance mandate is an unprecedented attack on Catholic social institutions by our national government.  Even during the Know Nothing period of the 1850s and the anti-Catholic revival of the Klan in the 1920s, the national government did not harass the Catholic Church in the performance of its human services. Catholic hospitals, Catholic orphanages, Catholic schools, Catholic colleges, and Catholic soup kitchens remained unmolested by the federal government even during the worst of the anti-Catholic frenzies.

It is true that Catholic churches were burned during the Philadelphia Bible riots, and the Charlestown convent was sacked by nativists in 1834. Nevertheless, what the Obama administration has done--forcing Catholic institutions to consider closing rather than knuckle under to the health insurance mandate--is truly reprehensible and without precedent in terms of federal policy.

Saint Katharine Drexel
Dowd portrays our Church's spiritual leaders as misogynists, writing that the bishops and the Vatican "care passionately about putting women in chastity belts." Let us close our ears to this nonsense and reflect on the American Catholic saints who sacrificed their lives to the Catholic faith and who performed many good works while remaining loyal to Church doctrine. Let us reflect on Saint Katharine Drexel, Saint Elizabeth Seton, Saint Francesca Cabrini, Saint Kateri Tekawitha, Servant of God Rose Hawthorne (Nathaniel Hawthorne's daughter), and Servant of God Dorothy Day.

References

Dowd, M. (2012, May 23). Father doesn't know best. New York Times, p. A21.

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