A Nasty Mailbag
Steve Adubato, Ph.D.
Boy, did I make a lot of friends with my recent column on the new
archbishop of Newark, John Myers. My piece criticized the archbishop
for his strident positions, specifically my contention that he was
against pro-choice Catholic politicians receiving communion. Virtually
all of the letters I got in response were less than kind to me and
my column. Here are two that stood out.
Donna Gerace of Atlantic City argued that the archbishop did not
say that pro-choice Catholic politicians shouldn't be allowed to
receive communion. In fact, she quoted the archbishop to make her
case; "A Catholic who supports legalized abortion and who votes
for candidates who support legalized abortion commits a grave injustice
against the most vulnerable members of the human family. Catholics
who reject church teachings on the right to life have also separated
themselves in a significant way from the Catholic community."
Further, the archbishop added, "for such a person to express
communion with Christ and his church by the reception of the sacrament
of the Eucharist is objectively dishonest."
Donna, I guess you are technically right. Archbishop Myers did
not literally say you couldn't receive communion on Sunday if you
were pro-choice, but what message he is looking to send when he
argues that such people have "separated themselves" in
a significant way from the Catholic community? Clearly, Archbishop
Myers is arguing that pro-choice Catholic politicians as well as
pro-choice Catholics are not welcome in his Catholic Church. He
has a right to that opinion, but let's not kid ourselves. Millions
of Catholics including myself fall into that category. What he is
saying is that people like me who believe that in extreme cases
(specifically if a woman is raped or the victim of incest) it seems
morally acceptable for her to be able to have an abortion. Archbishop
Myers is not only saying I'm wrong, but he is saying that because
I hold that position I have "separated" from the church.
Like I said, it speaks for itself.
Finally, Donna, in your letter you write how you do not understand
how I can say I am Catholic and also pro-choice. My response is
that labels like "pro-choice" and "pro-life"
are not very useful in discussing such a complex and difficult issue
like abortion. My question to you is, if a 15-year-old Catholic
girl is raped by her father or brother, do you believe she has some
moral responsibility to have that child? Further, if she does, is
she now a "bad Catholic" in your mind that has no place
in the Catholic Church as defined by you and Archbishop Myers? I'd
love to know.
John Smith, who described himself as "my concerned Catholic
brother," also took issue with my column, saying; "I am
sure you will be happy to get a reaction to your controversial article
about the archbishop of Newark and the loopholes of the Catholic
Church. Well, I suppose that's what journalists want, to thrive
on the shame of others and make money out of it. Like vultures,
and worms that get fat on decaying things and carcasses
am not sure if you're sincere when you said that you feel remorse
of conscience when you write something about the Catholic Church.
The things you've spoken in your column show that you don't care
about what is good or evil. When the Church defends life, for you
it's doing wrong. When there are pedophile priests, you also are
criticizing the Church
Do you believe in what the Church teaches
or are you just forced because you grew up in a predominantly Catholic
place? Remember, the Lord said proclaim the gospel. Those who believe
will be saved. Those who do not will not be saved."
Dear John, I am concerned about you too, my Catholic brother. First
of all, I didn't write what I did to simply get a reaction. I wrote
it because I believe it. Second, as for making money by thriving
on the shame of others, that's funny. If you knew how much I get
paid for this column, you would realize how ludicrous your argument
is. Further, I never said I felt remorse of conscience when I write
about the church. I said I feel conflicted because I love my church
and want to remain Catholic, but I am often confused and frustrated
by the hypocrisy and contradictions I see in our church leaders.
I do care about what you just described as "good or evil."
That is why I criticize church leaders for protecting priests who
sexually abuse young boys by transferring them to other parishes
and making out of court settlements that include the sealing of
court records so the details of these crimes are never made public.
Finally, John, I do believe in the gospel. But unlike you, I do
have questions about it. You asked what I really want? Simply put,
for years I've argued for an open dialogue among concerned Catholics
about the direction of our church. What I want is to be part of
a church that allows for differences of opinion on difficult and
multifaceted issues. What I want is our church leaders practicing
what they preach and leading with open arms instead of iron fists.
Hopefully that clarifies it for you.
Steve Adubato, Ph.D. is a commentator, lecturer and former state
legislator. Dr. Adubato is also an Emmy Award-winning television
anchor and syndicated columnist.
He can be reached by fax (973) 509-1659 or e-mail him at email@example.com.
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