One does what one can
In yesterday's New York Times--the Mother's Day issue--Bruni published a piece called "Lessons in Catholic Judgment" in which he attacked the Cincinnati Archdiocese for requiring diocesan school teachers to abide by Catholic values and to refrain from publicly criticizing Catholic doctrine.
But what's wrong, may I ask, with an institution asking its employees to abide by its institutional values? After all, the University of Toledo recently won a case in which it fired Crystal Dixon, a senior university administrator, for publicly criticizing the University's gay-friendly employment policies. I didn't see Bruni come to Ms. Dixon's defense.
As is typical of New York Times writers when criticizing the Catholic Church, Bruni found some disgruntled Catholics to quote. Mindy Burger, a 63-year old art teacher, said she would quit teaching in a Catholic school rather than sign the Cincinnati Archdiocese's contract, which she called "really misogynistic. " In fact, she is apparently so disgruntled that she is leaving the Catholic Church. "I don't consider myself Catholic anymore.," Bruni quoted Burger as saying.
And Bruni quoted another unhappy Catholic school teacher by the name of Richard Hague, who also plans to quit teaching rather than sign the Diocese's contract. According to Bruni, Hague described himself as "a recovering Catholic."
I've got news for you, Mr. Hague. There is so such thing as a "recovering Catholic." The name for someone who renounces his Catholic faith is "apostate." Don't compare yourself to someone suffering from an addiction like alcoholism.
In Bruni's latest attack on the Catholic Church, he persists in his erroneous argument that the Church's "archaic fixations" are driving Catholics out of the Church. But of course, that is nonsense. There are 70 million of us in the Catholic Church, and we are Catholics because we believe in the Catholic faith.
Indeed, much of Bruni's latest screed is nonsense. He denounces the Catholic Church for being "mired in libido and loins," and he chides the Cincinnati Archdiocese for sending "the tired message that virtue resides in whom you share your bed with and how you do or do not procreate." But of course, virtue does reside in our sexual behavior and our decisions about procreation. The decision whether or not to abort a child is--Catholics believe--a decision fraught with moral implications.
And if Bruni finds such a message to be tiresome, then he is free not to be Catholic. But Bruni--and his employer, the New York Times--should refrain from their repeated attacks on the Catholic Church, attacks which more and more seem like nothing more than sheer, blind bigotry.
Frank Bruni. Lessons in Catholic Judgment. New York Times, May 11, 2014, Sunday Review section, p. 3.
Dixon v. University of Toledo, 702 F.3d 269 (6th Cir. 2012).