The religiously ardent are quick to pull passages from the Bible in order to support their arguments (see same-sex marriage), so I will use the same tactic in order to highlight the absurdity that is the Catholic Church (towards the end of this somewhat disjointed posting). In its nearly two thousand-year history, the Catholic Church has grown into a behemoth that works to exert its will on us all. As of late, Catholic Bishops and the Vatican have decided to take on American Nuns and the Girl Scouts of America, both of which are organizations that work to empower the less-fortunate and instill solid morals through positive messaging—something I am certain Jesus would embrace.
In early April, the Vatican issued a critique of American Nuns for not supporting the Vatican’s stance on right-to-life issues and failure to promote Church views regarding gay marriage and abortion. If the Nuns are not promulgating Church doctrine what, then, are they doing? Well, it turns out American Nuns are fully embracing the teachings of Jesus (readily acknowledge by the Vatican):
“The Vatican announcement said that “while there has been a great deal of work on the part of LCWR [Leadership Conference of Women Religious] promoting issues of social justice in harmony with the church’s social doctrine, it is silent on the right to life from conception to natural death.”’ (The Washington Post)
This confuses me a bit because I thought the purpose of Christianity was to live as Jesus had and, more importantly, to spread his teachings with the intent of bettering the less fortunate. As a blasphemous aside, I must have missed the part of the Bible where it refers to Jesus issuing a proclamation against a woman’s right to choose. Seems like free will, to me (see Boethius for a better understanding of free will). However, no longer a practicing Catholic I readily admit it is easy for me to be confused, but the take away from the Vatican’s statement is simple: Church policy trumps the actions and teachings of Jesus. Moreover, it implies that certain aspects of the Bible are more important than others.
More recently, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has decided to take on the Girl Scouts of America because, according the Bishops, some Girl Scout program materials are considered offensive to Catholics. I will concede that the Bishops are within their right to address potentially offensive material, to a certain extent, because several parishes sponsor Girl Scout Troops. That being said, the Girl Scouts of America have gone to great lengths to ensure that its materials are accommodating to all faiths. If you, as a Catholic organization, are at odds with the Girl Scouts’ message then simply have your parishes revoke their support for troops operating within their parishes. Oh wait, you cannot even get your dioceses to support your efforts to promote same-sex marriage bans.
So, back to the initial statement: what, then, is the purpose of the Church if not to support and promulgate the teachings of Jesus? Is it a place for us to express our devotion to God? Well, Matthew 6:5 tells us that we should not act like the hypocrites by praying in public for all to see. Instead, Matthew 6:5 tells us, we should pray in private away from the eyes of the public where only God can see your actions:
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:5 English Standard Version)
This, I am guessing, is another one of those verses that should be ignored much like: “‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31 English Standard Version).