Friday, December 09, 2005

"Conservative Catholics Demand": those labels again

If you, like I, had trouble getting to Dom Bettinelli's site this morning, it probably has to do with a front page Boston Globe article which ran today.

With a mix of traditional theology, cutting-edge technology, and deep determination, a group of Catholic conservatives has changed the atmosphere surrounding tonight's Catholic Charities annual Christmas fund-raising dinner from gaiety to guardedness.

See, I find labels like "conservative Catholic" and terms like "demand" and "force" disconcerting.

"They demanded that Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley withdraw from this most glittering social event of the local Catholic calendar..."

There was nothing "demanding" about either the letter or the petition to Archbishop O'Malley. It respectfully requested, with good reason, that the Archbishop absent himself from the dinner. The honoree, as has been noted endlessly, publicly dissents from Catholic teaching. It's a no-brainer.

"But they were unable to force Menino to step aside or to persuade Catholics to boycott the Christmas party in opposition to the mayor's support for abortion rights and same-sex marriage."

"Force?" Nobody held a gun to the Mayor's head! Again, the petition to the Mayor respectfully asked him to take the high road and decline the honoree's seat, given his public statements which deny Catholic teaching.

And the term "conservative Catholic" makes my teeth hurt. You're either a faithful Roman Catholic or you're not. This isn't a political's essentially a moral one. The rules are clear. The notion that following the rules makes one a "conservative" is as absurd as is the notion of breaking them makes one a "liberal."