Friday, December 12, 2008

Thank God I'm Not Catholic

Thank God I'm not Catholic. The Roman Catholic Church upgraded its position on reproductive issues today, and as best as I can tell the intent of the revision was to make sure that Catholics continue to live in the Middle Ages when it comes to all things sexual. Judaism at least has its progressive heresies like Reform, Renewal, Reconstructionism, and Humanism, but all the Catholics have is the Pope.

The Church strengthened its on-going opposition to contraception, embryonic stem cell research, and abortion, and clarified its stand against in vitro fertilization. It also called “shameful and reprehensible” any attempt to make sure embryos that are implanted in a woman are free from genetic flaws or disease. I guess the reasoning was that if you are going to sin by using in vitro fertilization you should at least maximize your chances of having a sick child. Nothing like sin to add to your suffering.

Still, I admire the Church’s consistency when it comes to pro-life issues, but I thank God for not making me a Catholic. Imagine you are raped, and the sperm of your rapist has fertilized one of your eggs, and that fertilized egg is about to begin its 14 day journey down your fallopian tube to your womb. Without being implanted in the womb that fertilized egg has no chance of becoming a baby, and you won’t be forced to carry your rapist’s baby to term. But your religion refuses to allow you to take a pill that will prevent that implantation. Why? Because that fertilized egg is a person in the eyes of the Church.

Which makes me wonder… Since 70% of all fertilized eggs fail to implant in the womb, what happens to all these mini-humans? They haven’t been baptized, so I’m not certain they can go to heaven. Do they go to hell? That doesn’t seem fair. Do they go to purgatory? That, too, seems unkind. Limbo is out because the Church recently disavowed its earlier teaching that there ever was such a place. Wherever they go, it has got to be very crowded. Or maybe not. Are mini-human souls smaller than baby souls or fully adult souls?

The Church’s antipathy to in vitro fertilization was a bit surprising. Rather than finding a womb for the 500,000 frozen embryos (and their frozen souls), or allowing these mini-people to die and allowing their souls go to… wherever… the Church prefers to leave them in frozen neverneverland. Does this sound moral to you? It doesn’t to me. If the Church is worried about these souls, why leave them stuck in frozen eggs?

The Church insists that its position is not uniquely Catholic, but rather based on Natural Law and hence universal. The implication, of course, is that anyone with a different point of view (me, for example) isn’t only anti-Catholic but anti-human.

The fact is reproductive technology has outstripped the capacity of the Church, or any other religion locked into medieval theological positions, to make sense of it. What we need is fresh thinking to match the innovations of the technology. I pity the Catholic who feels coerced into living in the past. I worry that the Church has just moved itself closer to the point of total irrelevance in the lives of many Catholics. The more the Church clings to the past the more irrelevant it is to those wrestling with the present and the future.


Patti said...

I gotta tell ya, Catholics don't own this ideology. Many people whom I have attended protestant churches with over the years hold on to it too. They also don't believe in birth control and for some reason, all the ladies wear worn out, calf-length denim jumpers. What that has to do with anything I am not sure, but I can see them coming a mile away. For some reason leaving their reproductive activity "in the hands of God" makes them feel more spiritual. I don't get it...since I try not to separate my life into chunks. Maybe if I jumped on the jumper bandwagon...? nah

So, in the interest of hospitality, what would you do if the Popetourage came into town?

Rabbi Rami said...

I was living in Miami, Florida when the Pope and President Reagan came to town. I was very active in AIDS issues at the time, and joined with the Gay community to protest the Catholic stand on birth control and the US' position on AIDS.

If the Pope came to Murfreesboro, I would probably hide in my house for fear of getting shot when some of my neighbors try to kill the Whore of Babylon.

Karen said...

I'm at a point where I'm taking things much more seriously than I should. I'm not into any type of organized religion - I think it causes much more harm than good. So lately I have found myself getting much more frustrated with and judgmental toward and less tolerant of those who wear their religion on their sleeves. I wish I could let them be who they are, believe in what they believe, etc. But I have found this increasingly difficult to do because what they believe seems to impact MY life and the lives of my daughters more and more.

It's a shame that we are losing the ability to think for ourselves, to make decisions for ourselves, to have our own personal relationship with God in whatever form that may take. All of this is getting hijacked from us. The Pope, politicians, talk radio -- maybe we're not getting hijacked after all. Maybe we're just giving it all away without realizing the long-term impact it will have on our collective soul. Maybe we're moving toward a "mass freezing" of our souls, to be stuck eternally (or at least until it gets too hot around here from global warming) in neverneverland.

Grégoire said...

great comments. i wrote something, somewhere else, on this same topic. (pristalica dot wordpress)

you did it better than i, and in fewer words.

The Church’s antipathy to in vitro fertilization was a bit surprising. Rather than finding a womb for the 500,000 frozen embryos (and their frozen souls), or allowing these mini-people to die and allowing their souls go to… wherever… the Church prefers to leave them in frozen neverneverland.

this amazed me too. when i tried to read the dignitas humanae, i got the impression that they might be allowing for the degradation of the embryos in a roundabout way (which might open the door to a later reevaluation of abortion) but they didn't come out and explicitly state as much.

ChrisRossi said...

Dear so called" Rabbi"

The Torah preaches against contraception.Onan used the withdrawal method and God punished him for it. This is before the law of Moses. People against the truth say Onan got punished for not bringing up descendants for his brother. During.the law of Moses, if a man didn't want to marry his deacesed brothers' wife the punishment was a spit in the face and a slap of a sandal with disgrace. If God displayed his anger before the law it is a true sign of an intrinsic evil.Contraception is against the natural law. This is Gods law according to nature. People not know that in some cases while using the pill an abortion occurs because the pill prevents the embryo which is a human life from entering the womb. Please email me if you would like to discuss the Truth further.

God bless,