Our professor of Spiritual Theology at St. John’s seminary once said, “A coincidence is a divinely engineered event.” Last November a film crew from France was in Los Angeles covering the Election. Ms. Julie Gali, the journalist heading the crew said she felt the election of Barack Obama was a historic event.
By coincidence, Julie just happened to be in Los Angeles in the aftermath of the election. Julie was surprised by all the demonstrations surrounding Prop 8. She said to me, “We know nothing of this in France!” Well, they well know much about it very soon. Julie decided to extend her stay in California and produce a film entitled “Illegal Love-Prop 8.”
She has interviewed various people in elected office, activists, proponents and opponents of Prop 8. Last Friday, she conducted a two-hour interview of Dr. James Walton, Ph.D. and me she wanted both a theological assessment of Prop 8, as well as, an assessment of the emotional and psychological harm caused by such hate legislation on LGBT people and their families.
The governments of both France and Belgium have recently registered diplomatic protests with Vatican City over the outrageous claims made by Pope Benedict XVI, that condoms contribute to the AIDS epidemic which is devastating Africa. The pontiff made those comments on his recent tour of Angola.
The AIDS epidemic has ravaged Africa for decades and international aid agencies have attempted to help limit its effects through preventative measures such as the use of condoms, which greatly reduce the risk of infection. In Africa, the primary victims of the AIDS epidemic are heterosexuals. African men disfavor the use of condoms and the pope’s comments reinforces cultural prejudices against condom use. Sadly, the wives who become infected often die, leaving orphaned children to be raised by grandmothers.
The Vatican’s role is seen as highly negative in Europe. Cardinal Levada, the second most powerful man in the Vatican, met with Los Angeles’ Cardinal Roger Mahony and San Francisco’s Archbishop George Niederauer prior to the fall elections and this is seen as an unwelcome intrusion by Vatican state into local American politics.
It is disturbingly noteworthy that Niederauer, who had served for 11 years as the bishop of Salt Lake City, subsequently managed to convince the leadership of the Mormon Church in Utah to become so involved in California state politics. The Mormon leadership of Utah then arranged financially underwriting one of the most expensive initiative campaigns in California history. Without the out of state Mormon money brought in by Levada’s, Niederauer’s and Mahony’s role in the election, Prop 8 would most certainly have been defeated.
At a certain point, Catholics in the pews need to ask how the hierarchy is spending funds, which they have donated for charitable endeavors. Beyond that, California citizens and Americans as a whole need to begin to ask why religious organizations, which enjoy non-profit tax exemptions, are permitted to operate like non-tax exempt PACs (Political Action Committees). The age-old American concern that the Vatican, a sovereign foreign nation, is involved in directing internal American domestic politics resurfaces because of this ugly abuse.
Pope John XXIII removed the papal tiara from his head at the Second Vatican Council. The Catholic Church needs to divest itself of the trappings of political power and once again become a Church. Pope John Paul II took this one-step further when he prohibited clergy from holding elected office. Politics is the primary role of the laity not of the hierarchy. When the hierarchy usurps the role of the laity in this area, they invariably create more problems than they solve and they undermine the role of spiritual teachers which is their primary role. While on this subject, it would be nice if all candidates for ordination to the episcopacy were actually required to possess an earned doctoral degree in theology.
- Boycott the Knights of Columbus
- A wedding sermon.
- An open letter to my parish community.
- Why was a college student in the car of drunken Archbishop-elect Cordileone at 12:26 AM, when Cordileone was arrested for a DUI?
- When the Church married Same-Sex couples.
- How It All began
- The Supreme Court’s Decisions and the New Mason-Dixon Line
- What the Vatican & American bishops DO NOT want you (and Politicians) to know.
- The Morality of Sex, gay & straight.
- San Francisco in archbishop Cordileone’s sight