Saturday, May 13, 2006

Catholics Need a Better Spokesperson

I caught William Donahue, President of the Catholic League, on FOX's Scarborough Country the other night calling for Director Ron Howard and Sony Pictures to include a “disclaimer” on the soon-to-be-released film The Da Vinci Code that indicates it to be fiction. He is apparently fearful that too many people will be "duped" by the lack of historical accuracy presented in the movie. I know I've brought this up before, but why is it that every time I hear whining about Da Vinci's historical accuracy, or that Dan Brown is not a historian, or that the public exhibits too much historical and theological illiteracy to make an honest assessment of this book, Intelligent Design comes immediately to mind? Somebody in the Catholic League, please, please, please tell me why we shouldn't also be concerned that the greater public is being duped by the biological, paleontological and general science inaccuracies of Wells, Dembski or Johnson? Probably because, like the Intelligent Design movement, Donahue is far more concerned with winning a public relations battle than with fostering intellectual thought. Here's his view of evolution as presented to the Constitution-bashing crowd at Justice Sunday II:

You see, because we respect that fact that they don’t believe in anything. They believe in what I call the King Kong theory of creation: you know all of a sudden one day there were a bunch of apes up in a tree and then - kerplunk – they fell down, lost most of their hair and started walking around, that was Adam and Eve. If they want to believe that, that’s okay. Alright? So we have to respect that, that’s where these people are coming from.

Donahue is a bombastic mental midget who has taken it upon himself to speak for the Catholic Church - in doing so, he embodies every reason why I left catholicism: the church is currently more concerned with being conservative than being Catholic.


pughd said...

What really frustrates me is that the Catholic church is actually down with evolution. At least oficially. They employ two anthropologists at the Vatican (John-Paul II did, I'm not sure about the new guy). They have used some seriously complicated theology to reconcile the Bible with evolution, but they don't deny the age of the Earth. The basic premise during JPII's time was that a "soul" was breathed into humanity at some point in evolution (presumably around 200kya?) and that the whole eon-long ordeal was set in motion by the divine.

More recently you probably noticed that the Vatican's astronomer came out warning that ID is not only incorrect, but theologically dangerous. He said that young earth creationism is a form of paganism.

But again, that's the official stand from the scientists at the Vatican and as you correctly note, these important issues are being backgrounded in favor of the flashy culture war issues.

This is part of a bigger frustration that I have with the Church lately. Catholics have been traditionally been quite progressive, taking matters of social justice very seriously in their practical theology. Particularly peace and poverty issues were once central to Catholic life. But what has been their public face of the past several years? Deny communion to politicians standing up for the rights of women and gay families while turning a blind eye to an unjust war based on lies and economic policies furthering the wealth gap. Disgusting.

I come from an extremely Catholic background and I know that there are plenty of people still in the Church who don't like the course it's on now. But even at the local level it seems much more politicially conservative than it used to and I don't know that the struggle will resolve for the better. This isn't by a long shot the only reason I'm no longer part of the church, but it's the one that my family can't disagree with me about.

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