Friday, February 7, 2014

More Attention On My Home Diocese

We have not 'come along way baby'.  Not in Butte, Mt.  Not in the Catholic Church.

Last week I wrote about the Helena Diocese declaring bankruptcy and it's use of mediation with the 362 abuse victims rather than the usual confrontational style of other dioceses.  This week I get to write about another story that has generated a lot of national and international interest, that of the firing of an unwed pregnant teacher at Butte Central Catholic school.  

I found three things really interesting about this story.  The first interesting thing is that the Diocese acted on an anonymous letter. Which tells me that even in my little diocese, the right wing morality police have all the leverage, even beyond the leverage of Pope Francis who has baptized the children of single parents, 'cold called' one who chose not to have an abortion, and has strongly suggested the doctrines of the Church are opportunities for pastoral action, not for condemnation and judgement.  He's even made pretty strong statements about Jesus coming to save sinners--like himself--and not to create a Church of self righteous pious saints strictly for self righteous pious saints.

The second thing I found hugely interesting was the statement from Diocesan School Superintendent Patrick Haggarty:

 “The Catholic moral teaching is that the sacrament of marriage is a holy union between a man and a woman,” Haggarty told the Standard. “And we certainly believe and we teach our children who attend our schools about the sacrament of marriage. That’s as old as our church. Not only do we teach that to the children kindergarten through 12th grade, but we’re held to that standard as well.”

As far as I can tell, the teacher involved did not violate Church teaching on marriage. She violated Church teaching on sex outside of marriage.  I think poor Mr Haggarty was attempting to defend the wrong Church teaching, but then most teachers fired from Catholic schools lately, have been violating Church teaching on marriage because they happen to be gay teachers getting married.  Maybe Mr Haggarty just got a confused, or maybe he was attempting something else.  That would be using an unmarried pregnant woman to help some of his fellow Catholic school administrators on the hot stove for firing gay married teachers.  Now they can all say 'See, we fire other teachers for violating Catholic teaching on marriage.  We aren't discriminating in any way at all.'  Except of course they are, and they will be until some straight man is fired for masturbating, adultery, divorce, using pornography, getting his girl friend pregnant, carrying condoms in his wallet, or some other violation of Catholic sexual morality.

The third thing I found interesting is the defense the teacher's attorney, Brian Butler, will use to get her reinstated.  It worked in Cincinnati in the case where an unwed teacher who opted to get pregnant via AI was fired.  This defense operates on the legal premise that no school or school contract can force a women to give up her constitutional right to have a child.  The Cincinnati case had some other interesting facts that didn't factor into the actual legal case.  The teacher was not Catholic and was also a partnered, but non married, lesbian.  The salient point however,  was that any contract which stipulates a person give up their constitutional rights, is not a legally binding contract in the USA or any of it's States.  The Archdiocese of Cincinnati was ordered to pay their fired teacher $170,000.  I suspect a similar outcome in Montana.

There are also some things about this situation that I find just plain angering.  One of those was the Church double speak about how wonderful it was that this teacher did not abort and opted to choose life--in spite of the fact it would cost her her job--but still, we have to kick her to the curb, throw her out, and say sayonara sinner.  For me this totally proves 'pro life' is a secondary moral good to punishing sexual sins.  Actually, I've known that for decades as it goes a long with that 'pro life' concept that it's better to have your child die of AIDS than use a condom.

Another angrifying issue is the sheer blindness of some of the editorializing on this situation.  Deacon Greg Kandra waxes eloquently about how this situation should have been handled--in a media sense--without ever questioning whether it needed to be a media issue at all.  The problems the Church faces have been seriously exacerbated by limiting the discussion to media presentations instead of looking at the core problems.  No matter how much spinning one spins, firing a pregnant teacher in mid term can not be spun in the Church's favor.  It is not pro life.  It is not charitable.  It's operating like a field hospital whose sole treatment is amputation.  It is unconstitutional.  It is not about defending the sanctity of marriage, or of sexuality, or of life.  It is about defending the hypocrisy of the Church.  I've had enough of that.



  1. I wonder if a constitutional right to get married is used as a defense on the part of any of the same-sex married teachers who were fired from Catholic schools?

  2. Just more signs of a broken system of leadership.

  3. I suspect it's coming. Especially in states which have legalized gay marriage.

  4. We'll see how far Francis will go with the subsidiarity concept. The Germans and the Swiss have already released their Synod on the Family questionnaire answers and they have to be a shot in the head to the Vatican boyos. I'm sure these are not the only bishops conferences whose laity will not be affirming Catholic marriage and sexual teachings. How will Pope Francis deal with the raw truth? I guess we'll get some hint as this year moves along.

    And yes, Iowa's agricultural issues are not New York's urban issues, just as the moral issues surrounding the exploitation of Montana's of mineral. coal, natural gas, and agriclultural resources are not Alabama's issues---especially when one adds in the Native American reservation holdings.

  5. It gets even worse - unbelievable, but true:

    What was that again ? Oh, yes:

    2358 The number of men and women who have
    deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial.
    *They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.* Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are
    Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

    *My emphasis*

    ## Excuse me while I throw up. I was right about Francis - behind the photo-ops and the smiles, there is the same hypocrisy and two-facedness as before.

  6. Of course you are right. A system of leadership that declares what was once taught as infallible teaching even though science an philosophy have updated what we know and has negated a good deal of the old teachings particularly about sex and embryology. Then of course there was the censoring of the greatest catholic theologians. Ya, it is about a corrupt ethical leadership that can not learn from its mistakes about morals and theology. If a person can not learn from his or her mistakes, it means that they can not learn and update knowledge at all. When that person believes he or she is part of an infallible institution that protects the institution above all else, we see authoritarian thought and power struggle at its worst. We see corrupt abusive cults like Opus Dei etc.

    Let's face it this leadership is very broken. It has imploded in its own arrogance.

  7. Oh, for Christ's sake! How ignorant to fire someone for getting pregnant! This is so pathetic and I agree it is so not Pro-Life for this mother-to-be to lose her job mid-term. The stress alone from being fired might even cause a miscarriage. I doubt they even thought of that. Whoever made this decision is sick in the head. If this is Catholic then who the heck would want to stay a Catholic? Such nonsense.

    Guess the people who decided to fire her don't care to listen or obey Pope Francis.

    Deacon Greg Kandra is out of his mind too. He has the audacity to want to have a press conference, announce her name to the whole world, kick her ass out of her job. What a moron imbecile. Not merciful. Not loving. Not charitable. Not even humane to do this to any woman expecting a child. And not even Constitutional.

    That the unmerciful Deacon seems to think he is being compassionate towards her by offering medical care up to the delivery makes me want to puke, as does the notion of having a press conference!!

    She'll be lucky to be able to keep a roof over her head & enough food to eat in her remaining pregnancy. So much for the care of mothers who are carrying their unborn!!! What if there are complications on her delivery date? What if she can not even find another job? A job that pays a living wage? Who is going to want to hire someone who is pregnant and mid-term in a time in this country when there are fewer and fewer jobs? I will tell you right now that no one will hire her. I seriously doubt that the Deacon has a real clue on what being merciful truly is about if he can write what he did. What an idiot! That is about the best descriptive I can give for a character that would agree to this firing & imagine that he is being merciful in her regard! How pathetic! A disgrace!

  8. It's another reason why people are voting with their feet and leaving the RCC and its system of traumatic overreach. RCC schools are not sustainable because of their intentional psychology of proselytize and control. In the face of what is conscionable, the good faith of the people will not forever be trampled.

  9. Again Fran, the type of thought that we see over this instance is what we get when we allow reactionary minds to lead. Similar screwy thinking is found through out the RCC. It only points to an imploded leadership, one that has not understood the Beatitudes.

  10. Thank God that we now have obamacare available for this woman, so at least she will have medical care during the rest of her pregnancy. Before, losing your job meant losing your medical care since most people could not afford to pay the gap care which was all that was available.
    Isn't it ironic that the program opposed by the bishops ensures the compassionate care for new life that they give lip service to.

  11. I loved his thought about medical care up to delivery.....and pro lifers wonder why they are called 'pro birthers'. Maybe because they are.

  12. I thought the mamaonline article was excellent. Christianity does seem to have two faces, one for the West and one for Africa. I have no doubt the Vatican will embrace the African face because it keeps heterosexual patriarchy front and center and props up the all male celibate priesthood. I've felt for a long time that if the 'celibate' part in that definition changes it will be because of African attitudes towards celibacy. It's too close to being seen as gay. It would be hugely ironic if African homophobia was ultimately responsible for ending celibacy.

    I have very little hope Francis can do much about any of this.

  13. Typical male hypocrisy.

  14. The soul departs the body at birth, apparently.

  15. This one just totally cracked me up.

    I guess it must because apparently the soul ceases to be totally innocent the minute it's body takes it's first breath. I'd leave too, just to maintain my pristine purity.

  16. That point has been made about 12 dozen times in the comments after the article in the Butte paper. It's kind of cosmic that Helena announces it's bankruptcy from religious abuse one week and then tries to regain the moral high ground the next week by terminating the contract of an unwed mother. It's just crazy all over in the catholic world these days.

  17. "especially as those laws AFFECT the church itself", not "effect".

  18. This sure is screwy. This type of thinking has been imbedded in generations of Catholics and they have no thought or care as to the victims of their type of screwy thinking. Always excusing their own behavior and condemning others. Beatitudes? They have no idea what you are talking about!!!!

  19. Because the Vatican has been considered a primary source of believable and useful intelligence for intelligence agencies from dozens of countries for at least the last 90 years. The Catholic Church has people on the ground in every country and region on the globe. No other entity can claim that.

  20. "Christianity does seem to have two faces, one for the West and one for Africa."

    ## I hadn't thought of that. "Hugely ironic" indeed. It is not easy to take the CCC seriously, or the Vatican, or the Pope, when the CCC says one thing - and the bishops do the opposite, and get away with it. You get bet your life that if Roy Bourgeois or John Dear "gave thanks" for legislation that was - to put it bluntly - against the clear, authoritative teaching of the CCC, which is a magisterial text of very high authority, there would be trouble. I forgot...they did get in trouble. Abp. Kaigama & the other Nigerian bishops - not so much. From the article:

    "In December 2009, a representative from the Vatican told the United Nations General Assembly panel that the Holy See “opposes all forms of violence and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons, including discriminatory penal legislation which undermines the inherent dignity of the human person..."

    ## A definition of "unjust discrimination" would be nice - the Nigerian bishops seem to think that the new law does not prescribe "unjust discrimination".

  21. I read some of your link and found how the Nigerian Catholic Church allows itself to live with polygamy:

    Archbishop Kaigama noted that the action of the Nigerian Government is
    in consonance with the moral and ethical values of the Nigerian and
    African cultures which uphold the sanctity of the institution of
    marriage as a union between a man and a woman."

    Notice how Kaigama phrased this: "marriage as a union between a man and a woman" He doesn't say one man and one woman. Polyamy is a marriage between a man and a woman....sometimes it's three, four, or five marriages between a man and a woman.

    The Vatican will never give up it's victimhood status because then it would have to face up to the fact it has survived, not by a theology of atonement, but by a theology of spiritual oppression and abuse.

  22. Nice example of...ahem..."inculturation" LOL. But in that case, Abp Kaigama needs to be consistent. Unless, that is, he really agrees with Fr James Alison, who reckons that Catholic doctrine can be developed in a way that is gay-friendly. But how is it coherent for the Abp to allow the Nigerian practice of polygamy, and not the Nigerian practice of same-sex associations ?

    I think the Vatican is too Roman to be fully Christian as yet. OT religion had a place for order, just as pre-Christian Roman religion did - but unlike that, it did not separate ethics from external religious acts. And it also allowed for the possibility of Divine action in Israel for which its ordered side made no allowance. There are seers in Roman religion - but no charismatic prophecy, and no "room" for criticising the institutions of religion. The appointed authorities sometimes fetched in new cults, but that was about ads close as they got to criticism of Roman religion. For real criticism, & for ethics, at Rome, one has to go to avowedly non-religious sources like the various schools of philosophy.

    STM the CC is too Roman in its habits of mind, and not Jewish enough, to be fully Christian. The two attitudes co-incide - both are very interested in sacred law - but they are very different. I think it's easier for the Vatican to "lay down the law" military-style, than to realise its actions have often been very damaging - even despite its intentions. It does not like seeming to be wrong; and it does not like change, or taking risks - unless it is in control. IMO, polygamy is tolerated by the Nigerian bishops b/c they can control that part of their Nigerian past - being gay is international, so less controllable, so they approach that very differently. And gayness is type of experience that takes the Vatican out of its comfort zone.

  23. It mixes church and state; if we want information from these people, we should be able to simply ask. Enough of this "nation's" budget comes from the USA that we have more than enough influence without having to waste money on an embassy and an ambassador sending two people to one city.

  24. I don't disagree with you. The US didn't have a full time ambassador until Reagan and he wanted it because the Vatican was funneling tons of CIA money to Poland. This only exacerbated the corruption in the Vatican Bank and other Vatican entities.

  25. "One that has not understood the Beatitudes." What a perfect description of the hierarchy.

  26. I agree with your comment on how this is not charitable. BUT, I wonder [with more than a modicum of snark]: Is this the Church thinking it must take action to ensure Christ's prophecy that the poor will always be among us come true?

    My real observation is that this is akin to the wanna-be heroic fireman who sets the fire in private so he can come along when the building is all ablaze and be a publicly acclaimed hero by putting the fire out.

  27. So why keep it now?

    Religion is a freak show-and an expensive one.

  28. Truly, I can thank the individuals who helped me to convert me to Roman Catholicism twenty five years ago, as much as the individuals who helped me to finally leave the institution.

    But can an institution, or for that matter anyone, give away what they, or it at times doesn't possess, (yet)? Perhaps we should think more about living by loving more in a catholic way than simply being Catholic? As doctor Phil would say about the latter "how's that working for you"?