April 11, 2010

I digress

This post is not about education, or the schools, or ATRs, or the budget. It's about a couple of articles in today's Times and Catholicism.

Turning first (as I always do) to Maureen Dowd, we find her today once again castigating the Catholic Church, this time for its disdain for women and adolescents.

Taking no prisoners, she calls the Church
"an inbred and wealthy men’s club cloistered behind walls and disdaining modernity,"

"an autocratic society that repressed women and ignored their progress in the secular world,"
It's a religion
run by "men in dresses" who "allowed our religious kingdom to decay and to cling to outdated misogynistic rituals, blind to the benefits of welcoming women’s brains, talents and hearts into their ancient fraternity,"
a religion that
"to circumscribe women . . . took its moral codes and orthodoxy to extremes not outlined by Jesus."

If Dowd's criticisms weren't enough to help deepen my understanding of the country's moral decay, Adam Liptak's article on Justice Stevens included a factoid I had never paid much attention to before — that 6 of the current justices on the Supreme Court are in fact Catholic.

My mind raced back to the Citizens United vs the Federal Election Commission outcome, that contemptible Court decision last January giving human status to corporations. A 5-4 majority made it legal for corporate lobby money to flood political coffers and drown out the voice of the Common Man.

Who handed down that opinion? 5 Catholic men. Kennedy wrote it, Roberts, Alito, and Scalia concurred. Thomas did as well, upping the ante by calling the disclosure, disclaimer, and reporting requirements "unconstitutional."

(Sotomayor, you might bring up, is Catholic also, and it didn't stop her from voting for human rights in Citizens United. That's true. But she's not and never will be a natural fit for the all-male decision-making hierarchy of the Church that I'm talking about, and she's not been seated long enough to see what other tendrils of orthodoxy will find their way into her rulings. As a woman, like Dowd, she has to accommodate her personal religious needs to the didactics of her religion, and hopeful distance herself from the worst of them.)

Look back at the Dowd article and remember that she was only talking about the church's disdain for women and adolescents. When 5 Catholic men, justices in the highest court in the land, rule that corporate entities have the same right to influence lawmakers as real human beings, it's clear the influence of this Church reaches way deeper into the human psyche than what's needed in a secular society such as ours.

It's time to balance the court — for heaven's sake. And it's also time to appoint a couple of non-believers as well. Orthodoxy and government never ever mix.

RELIGIOUS FOOTNOTES (from Adherents.com unless otherwise noted):

Samuel Alito: Catholic. His wife teaches religious ed.

Anthony Kennedy: Catholic

John Roberts: Catholic. According to Wikipedia:
"Roberts attended Notre Dame Elementary School, a Roman Catholic grade school in Long Beach, and then La Lumiere School, a Roman Catholic boarding school in LaPorte, Indiana."
Antonin Scalia: Catholic. His son is a priest. Attended Catholic high school. Also according to Wikipedia,
[Says HS buddy William Stern:] "This kid was a conservative when he was 17 years old. An archconservative Catholic. He could have been a member of the Curia."

... is a devout, traditionalist Catholic. Uncomfortable with the changes in the Church caused by Vatican II, Scalia prefers the Latin Mass and in both Chicago and Washington, has driven long distances to parishes which he felt were more in accord with his beliefs.

... In 2006, Scalia, approached by a reporter upon leaving church, was asked if being a traditional Catholic had caused problems for him. He responded by asking, "You know what I say to those people?", and with a gesture, cupping his hand under his chin and flicking his fingers out
Clarence Thomas: "Although born a Baptist and raised a Catholic, he now regularly attends an Episcopal church."
Clarence Thomas was also raised by a Seventh-day Adventist grandmother and for many years attended the Seventh-day Adventist Church." According to Wikipedia:
He was raised Roman Catholic. (He later attended an Episcopal church with his first wife but returned to the Catholic Church in the late 1990s.) He considered entering the priesthood at the age of 16, and became the first black student to attend St. Joohn Vianney's Minor Seminary (Savannah) on the Isle of Hope. He also briefly attended Conception Seminary College, a Roman Catholic seminary in Missouri. . . At a nun's suggestion, Thomas attended the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Sonia Sotomayor: Raised a Catholic. One source reports a White House official as saying: "Judge Sotomayor was raised as a Catholic and attends church for family celebrations and other important events."


  1. I grew up Jewish, or some reasonable facsimile thereof, in a popular but exceedingly Catholic village in the middle of Nassau County. I was privy to things many Jews are not aware of. I knew the Lord's Prayer because prior to the 1963 school prayer decision, it was said at every Friday assembly. The few Jews on my grade each year stuck out like sore thumbs, or so we thought. I was very grateful for that court decision. I was still in elementary school when I was informed by a kid I played with that the Jews killed Christ. In fourth grade, I was called a "dirty Jew" by the son of the PTA president, who actually was not Catholic, but some Christian denomination. I didn't speak to him again until high school, when he went out of his way to be nice to me, as though something had suddenly dawned on him. The Catholic Church in that town tolerated,aided,and abetted a definite local level of anti semitism. By the end of elementary school, a number of parents pulled their kids out of the local Catholic school and either put them in the public school (which was good) or a better Catholic school further away. Not only were the teaching nuns literally beating fear into the kids, but it was discovered that the kids were as much as 2 years behind on reading tests. You don't have to tell me about the Catholic Church, having experienced their hate-filled agenda (for a so called religion) for many years. Back then, no one cared, or so it felt. It was a relief to leave that provincial little place for more compatible places to live when I did. The experience led me to the outer boroughs, where I've resided for over half my life.

  2. Similar history, but Westchester.
    I learned the Lord's Prayer also, and I didn't get it from my house. My friends and I were called dirty Jews often enough; I rode a bike through town and had rocks thrown at me.
    There was a strong Catholic church in town - which couldn't monitor it's own dirty business. The Daily News reported in 2002: "One priest relieved of his duties reportedly was the Rev. Kenneth Jesselli ... Jesselli had replaced the Rev. Gennaro (Father Jerry) Gentile, who also had been accused of sexual abuse..."
    I'm back living here in my town again. Whatever is left of the anti-Semitism is way underground, but as long as there are governments held aloft by religionists acting in the name of a divinity or climbing to power and explaining away whatever greedy, misogynistic, pediophiliac, and racial deeds in its name to stay there (think Vatican, but also think GW Bush: "God told me to end tyranny in Iraq"), we've not moved too far out of the Middle Ages.