Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fostering Community

Okay, this might not be the best forum, but I just have to say a little about Pope Benedict's concerns with equality legislation in the U.K. He's calling all his minions to "use missionary zeal" to stop a bill that will ensure equal opportunity for everyone, particularly those who aren't straight, white males. He doesn't want to have to hire people with a homosexual orientation nor women in jobs other than priests and ministers (which would still be protected).  You may recall this is the same Pope who banned electric guitars from church masses too.  But this is a bigger deal...

Here's his words:   "...the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs. In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed."

Then Catholic MP Ann Widdecombe said, "If a faith teaches, as major faiths do, that something is wrong, then quite clearly you cannot have somebody who believes that it's right actually occupying a very senior position."  And Robert Mickens, a Rome correspondent, said the Pope's position was "nothing really new - this is part of the classic Catholic teaching on human sexuality. What the Pope is doing is trying to encourage the bishops to keep their resolve in very fluctuating morals in cultures and societies today."

First of all, we don't have to play by the rules of the Catholic church anymore; we haven't had to for a few hundred years - but just a few.   However, it might be wise to recognize that they're a major player here, so it's important to question some of these claims.

I understand and honestly admire the dedication of the church in maintaining one correct set of rules for everyone to follow forever.  It made sense at the inception to become a strong unity with a singular vision to avoid being being picked off like flies by opposing parties.  And there's something comforting in an institution with the integrity to remain resolute for centuries.


What violates natural law, and what is seen as wrong, is two men having sex.  (There are lots of other things that are seen as wrong that we ignore, but that's a different argument.)    However, it doesn't violate natural law to employ one of those men even in a church.  Especially in a church.   If we are to, according to the church, hate the sin but not the sinner, then shouldn't we be opening doors for them, loving them as we are instructed to love all people?  The faith teaches that homosexuality is wrong, but offering a job to manage the books or polish the woodwork isn't to say a minister agrees with everything their employee does in life, just that the minister thinks they're good at accounting or cleaning or whatever.  If the Catholic church can't play the part of the good Samaritan, then the church fails as never before.

The thing is, if we're going to save humanity from our own wickedness, from greed and sloth and covetousness and all that jazz that's wrecking the place, then we really have to learn to accept people for the sinners they are and go from there.  And that's nothing new for the church; that's the whole point.

Who among us doesn't suffer from covetousness?  That one's right there in the top ten things not to do, and we disobey it every day.  Even worse, according to the gospels, is tempting people to covet, and an entire industry has been set up to do just that.  If we exclude people from our work because they can't control their own desires, then we'll have nobody left to work with.

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