When doctrine trumps the Gospel

One of the readers of this blog maintains that one cannot be pro-choice and a good Catholic or even a good Franciscan and that Francis would be appalled. Francis lived in a time much like our own when the church sanctioned murder in the name of Christ. It was called the Crusades. Francis went to the Holy Land and visited with Malik-al-Kamil at the time of the Fifth Crusade. Francis, who opposed all killing no matter what the cause, sought the blessing of the Cardinal who was chaplain to the Crusader forces to go and preach the Gospel to the sultan. The cardinal told him that the Muslims understood only weapons and that the one useful thing a Christian could do was to kill them.

It seems then as now the church can be very wrong. The Pope signed a Concordat with Hitler which guaranteed the life of the Catholic Church in Germany but in so doing he stood not for Christ, but for the political entity of the Catholic Church. We have Christian chaplains in our armed forces who routinely bless members of our armed forces who will kill or be killed in battle. That’s not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s not love your enemies. That is political expediency.

Senator Obama is pro-choice. Pro-choice is not pro-abortion,  it is pro-choice. Senator McCain is not pro-choice and he’s going to get a pass from some narrow minded Catholics who can turn their back on their brothers and sisters whose blood cries out from the killing grounds of Iraq and Afghanistan. Demonizing the poor and marginalized is okay as long as you’re not pro-choice. You can defecate on the Constitution of the United States of America as long as you’re not pro-choice. You can turn your back on the Gospel of Jesus Christ as long as you’re not pro-choice. You can race bait and slander as long as you’re not pro-choice. If that’s what it means to be Catholic then I don’t want to be one.

I’m reminded of another brown man more my brother than some of my own race who said,

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
–Mahatma Gandhi

6 Replies to “When doctrine trumps the Gospel”

  1. I am simply reminding you that the Church teaches abortion is always morally wrong – a non-negotiable. Thus it is questionable that one can claim to be a faithful Catholic and pro-choice. It is at the least an issue to be discussed with one’s confessor.

    Moreover, the Pope and the bishops have pointed out that in assessing candidates, abortion outweighs other important issues.

    Finally, the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order states: “They have been made living members of the Church by being buried and raised with Christ in baptism; they have been united more intimately with the Church by profession. Therefore, they should go forth as witnesses and instruments of her mission among all people, proclaiming Christ by their life and words.
    Called like Saint Francis to rebuild the Church and inspired by his example, let them devote themselves energetically to living in full communion with the pope, bishops and priests, fostering an open and trusting dailogue of apostolic effectiveness and creativity.” Chapter II The Way of Life, 6)

    It hardly seems to me that openly countering a non-negotiable teaching of the Church by declaring onself pro-choice is a way to live out the Rule, to be a witness of the Church, or to be in full communion with the pope and the bishops who have been very clear in their pronouncements on this issue.

    I am saddened by this, and concerned for you.

  2. Abortion is wrong and I am not advocating abortion, but more than wrong it’s killing a human being. Killing whether in war or in an abortion clinic is morally the same thing in my book. You shall not kill is what is non-negotiable. Foreclosing on someone’s home is also wrong as is stealing their pension or misrepresenting yourself. Denying a person’s right to health care is also wrong. I believe that all life is sacred, but I have no right to enforce my beliefs on others by force of law. That is un-American and that is how the Church of England dealt with Catholics prior to the American Revolution. Being pro-choice is not pro-abortion anymore than being in favor of the “right to keep and bear arms,” is the equivalent of being pro gun violence. It’s a phony premise and argument.

    The greatest commandment is, “You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart and you shall love your neighbor as your self.” Who is your neighbor? You’ve taken part of the Rule out of context and made it central to your argument. As I wrote in my piece, Francis disregarded the Cardinal’s instruction, he went to visit the Sultan and did not seek to kill him, but sought to win him to Christ. He didn’t succeed, but his witness was so powerful that to this day Franciscans have custody of all the holy places in Holy Land.

    There are many in the church who maintain that there is such a thing as a moral war. That insanity came from Augustine not from Christ. The church has been party to inquisitions and all manner of hysteria over the years. They were going to excommunicate Galileo for his theories. There are some who wanted to excommunicate Anthony de Mello and Teilhard de Chardin. I remember when women couldn’t come on the altar. Where in the Gospel does it talk about no women priests? Where in the Gospel does Christ talk about homosexuality? Where in the Gospel is the doctrine of celibacy? The church has a long history of being wrong and outside the principles of the Gospel. I believe we will have to agree to disagree. Peace be with you. 🙂

  3. I too oppose war – active for years in Pax Christi.

    I have also consistently opposed the death penalty, even though my brother was a murder victim.

    I have a long history in social ministry – as staff at Covenent House, the Catholic Worker, and the Association for Retarded Citizens. I helped to establish a parish homeless shelter, and was on the baord of a Church neighborhood and health center. I believe in caring for my neighbor.

    But abortion is a non-negotiable.

  4. I’m sorry to hear about your brother. You have an impressive record of work for social justice. I don’t really see where we disagree. Peace.

  5. Don, thanks for your posts. I struggle greatly with the abortion issue, as I don’t think the Church has it exactly right and I don’t know exactly what the “right” position is. Therefore, I am “pro-choice,” but at the same time I join with my RC sisters and brothers in praying that there would be no more abortions.

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