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calling all cultural catholics

There's an interesting article about world-wide Catholicism in today's Grauniad that for once managed to write about Catholics without implying that they're a homogenous group who all hate abortion and contraception and gay rights. Nevertheless, it managed to be annoying several times. It made sweeping statements like "Like every nun, she is a fervent fan of the Pope." Really? Every nun? Including the radical feminist ones? Including the liberation theologians? I doubt it. And then there was this:
One striking aspect of the paedophilia crisis is that it has affected what might be called the Anglo-Saxon world - the US, the UK, Ireland and Australia - far more than the church elsewhere.

It might also, with more accuracy and less weirdo imperalism, be called the "English-speaking" world, you fool, as the last time I checked, I wasn't Anglo-Saxon, nor were the vast majority of American (and possibly Australian) Catholics.

ETA: This is probably the best article I've read so far on what the late Pope and his cohorts' stance on certain moral issues has done to the faith of liberal Catholics. And this article (byy Frances Kissling of Catholics for a Free Choice) is an excellent comparison of JP with the other reforming Pope of the last century:
John XXIII opened the church to the 20th century, and John Paul II breezed through the door into the larger world. But John XXIII opened the church to internal democracy and left the church itself a better place; John Paul II, for all the bridges he built to the Jewish community, Islam and the poor, blew up the bridges that spanned the divide between clergy and laity, men and women, right and left, gay and straight. This is a great tragedy. The most important task of the next pope will be to rebuild those bridges....

...Women in the North were told that we were exaggerated or extreme feminists and that our desire for autonomy -- bodily, spiritual and intellectual -- was not shared by the good women of the South. First-world Catholic women who believed in radical equality between men and women in the church were demeaned and caricatured by other women whom he appointed to Vatican commissions.


( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 5th, 2005 09:12 am (UTC)
Oh, for fuck's sake. My Australian Catholic friends are all of Irish or Italian stock - I'm sure there are Anglo-Australian Catholics out there, but I'd hazard a guess that they're nowhere near the majority.
Apr. 5th, 2005 09:21 am (UTC)
I know! I mean, for fuck's sake, who on earth equates Catholic and Anglo-Saxon? It's ridiculous!
Apr. 5th, 2005 10:03 am (UTC)
Whee! The US is all white peoples!
Heh, my Hispanic Catholic relatives living in the southwestern US don't know they don't really exist, either. ;)
Apr. 5th, 2005 10:21 am (UTC)
This cultural and actual Roaming Calflick weighs in.
Heh. I usedta say that if you walked into an Irish bar in South Boston and announced that you wanted to learn about "Anglo" culture, you'd be ass over teakettle into the middle of next week.


Oh, and we all know that "nun"=squealing fangirl. Of course.
Apr. 5th, 2005 09:22 am (UTC)
Just yesterday one of my students (a convert to the CofI) was talking about how he'd worked in England in the 80s, and had felt rather uncomfortable going to Mass in the nearest church. As one of the parishoners explained to him, there was "the English Catholic church and the [overly-polite pause] . . . Irish Catholic church". He took the hint and darkened their doorsteps no more.

Anglo-Saxon world indeed. Humph.
Apr. 5th, 2005 09:29 am (UTC)
And rightly so! Us manky Celtic peasants need to be kept in our place!
Apr. 5th, 2005 09:39 am (UTC)
There's mention of an 'Irish Catholic' TV station - I wonder if they mean RTE?

I also liked that it mentions how on many issues JPII was progressive - something people who just concentrate on reprodcutive issues forget. He was still wrong on AIDS though.
Apr. 5th, 2005 09:44 am (UTC)
Yeah, it's like Cardinal Winning. He was woefully, dreadfully wrong about abortion, but it turns out he was a bit of a leftie generally.
Apr. 5th, 2005 09:50 am (UTC)
Yeah, there are a lot of lefty Catholic things - the Catholic Worker group which Martin Sheen supports, for example. A lot of them are pro-choice, too, and even the ones who aren't are not the Randall Terry-ish clinic-protesting sorts, so even though I seriously disagree with them, I can respect them.
Apr. 5th, 2005 09:47 am (UTC)
There's mention of an 'Irish Catholic' TV station - I wonder if they mean RTE?

Yeah, what the hell was that about? Maybe there's some weird little religious cable station that we've never heard of, but I doubt it.

And yes, there have been a lot of decent, balanced articles, which I do like. I don't think it does the cause of liberal Catholicism any good to dismiss the Pope's ground-breaking ecumenical work or his anti-poverty work.
Apr. 5th, 2005 10:05 am (UTC)
Would it be TG4? That always seems very Oirish etc. when I tune into it at home.
Apr. 5th, 2005 10:09 am (UTC)
No, not at all. It's just partly in Irish, it's certainly not Catholic. I don't think it has any religious programmes at all - it shows Oz and Curb Your Enthusiasm!
Apr. 5th, 2005 10:10 am (UTC)
Oh does it? My Dad just seems to watch the programmes in Irish (don't know why - he hasn't a word!), and as he controls the remote...
Apr. 5th, 2005 10:14 am (UTC)
Hee! They actually do some good irish-language documentaries (with subtitles, of course) - a lot of the people who work there are young and from what I gather, it's a lot less stuffy than RTE.
Apr. 5th, 2005 10:16 am (UTC)
Yeah, I think he like the ones about the football anyway, and they seem to have a lot of them. Whenever I phone home, there is normally some fella roaring his head of as gaelige (sp?) about football in the background. RTE can be very stuffy, indeed.
Apr. 5th, 2005 10:52 am (UTC)
One of the good things about TG4 is the way that it shows things that aren't considered 'mainstream' by the over-cautious RTE - on the wonderful premise that nobody will notice if it's in Irish. For example, the positive portrayal of a gay couple (male) bringing up a child in Ros na Run, with nobody in the village batting an eyelid. All very improbable, of course, given that the West, where the Gaeltachts all are, is verifiably more 'socially conservative' than the rest of the country. But for this, and other reasons, I would have said that TG4 was one of the less conservative television stations in Ireland.
Apr. 5th, 2005 10:56 am (UTC)
Like you describe, it's the last thing you would expect, really.
Apr. 5th, 2005 09:44 am (UTC)
Yay Frances Kissling!
Apr. 5th, 2005 09:52 am (UTC)
She's so cool! I love reading about people like her, because even though I'm not a practicing Catholic myself, my parents are liberal Catholics and my mother gets into a rage whenever she talks about the Pope's abortion teachings. So I like seeing Catholics in the public eye who don't conform to the Pope-worshipping, abortion-hating media stereotype.
Apr. 5th, 2005 10:23 am (UTC)
Wot's all this about this Kissing, then?


Apr. 5th, 2005 10:24 am (UTC)
She's the head of Catholics for a Free Choice, the pro-choice Catholic organisation. I really admire her.
Apr. 5th, 2005 10:31 am (UTC)
Must find her.

:makes note for Amazon wishlist:

Apr. 5th, 2005 10:02 am (UTC)
I did hear a story about an elderly nun, the aunt of a friend of a friend, who said about the 1981 assassination attempt: "For a while, we thought God was rescuing us, but it wasn't to be."
Apr. 5th, 2005 10:04 am (UTC)
Thanks for linking these. I will catch up with them later.
Apr. 5th, 2005 10:30 am (UTC)
Oh, and I grabbed this from saskia139, whom you might enjoy. And the article, too. Enjoy, I mean.

Aagh, bed is calling me.

Apr. 5th, 2005 11:58 am (UTC)
I also find it odd that 'every nun' is a fan of the pope. Em, not including several that I've met. It's also a sexist thing to say, no? Priests / monsignors / bishops / cardinals etc. are portrayed in the article as having a wide range of opinions - diversity in the church being one of the main points the article is making - but women, you know, they have but one opinion between them. Could the Guardian not have found a Catholic to write the article, or at least someone who had actually met more than one nun in their life?

I suppose partly I'm annoyed because I'm beginning to find that I have a lingering affection for the Catholic church, despite the fact that I disagree with much of what it laughingly calls its 'moral teachings', and have never really decided whether god exists, or worried much about it either way. Things I like about Catholicism include the great nuns I have met in Africa (strong, fearless ladies, mostly with a good sense of humour), the comforting power of Catholic funerals, and the fantastic trappings of Catholicism such as hymns along the line of 'Hail Glorious St. Patrick', lines like 'Do you reject Satan and all his works and all his empty promises?', Babbies of Prague and Discount Catholic Online. And what other religion has gone to the trouble of composing a list of 'four things that cry out to heaven for vengeance'? But I still don't care much about the pope, one way or another, except insofar as his teachings have socio-economic consequences in the world. He's irrelevant to most of the proper Catholics (as distinct from cultural Catholics) that I know.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )


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