Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Continued Disappointment in the Catholic Church . . .


It’s really, literally a sin that I can never find a “good” story about the Catholic Church. I never hear anything good, for example, about the Church opening up a homeless shelter, a soup kitchen, donating money to Doctors Without Borders, helping to end the genocide in Africa, feeding children in Third World countries etc. Maybe they are doing something and it’s not being publicized, but I doubt it.

Yesterday I happened to come across two stories that turned my stomach. The first one had to do with the Vatican speaking out against the assisted “suicide” of 29 year old Brittney Maynard. Brittney, who had everything to live for, was diagnosed with brain cancer and told she had six months to live. She suffered from excruciating pain and seizures and decided she was going to end her life, on her terms, on November 1st. She moved to Oregon with her husband because it is legal to end one’s life there with dignity. That is what Brittany chose to do. She chose to end her suffering and that of her family, She chose to decide when she was going to die and not allow cancer to pick the date for her. She chose to be surrounded by her family and she passed from this world into the next. And then the top “bioethics” people at the Vatican decided to weigh in. They called her actions “reprehensible.” They say her actions were undignified. Instead, she should have lived out her remaining days in agonizing pain while those who loved her watched her suffer. Is this what the Church calls love and compassion? Brittney was dying, it was inevitable. She didn’t choose to get cancer. Why should she let cancer choose her final hour? Why did the Church have to say anything at all? They want to make their position clear that suicide, for any reason, goes against their teachings? So what? The Church itself is responsible for many reprehensible things. You don’t here them denouncing their actions. All I ever hear about from them is damage control and excuses. Brittney had every right to end her own suffering. Oregon gave her the legal means to end her life in her own terms. No one asked The Catholic Church to weigh in on her very personal decision.
Anyone who has witnessed a loved one dying in the throes of pain, from cancer or any other disease, would praise Brittney and be happy she found a way to end her suffering and leave this world peacefully. I watched my father die in pain. I begged the hospice to help him. They told me they were afraid to give him more morphine because it might kill him. My father was pleading to die. Instead of dying peacefully, in his sleep, from morphine, he died in agonizing pain. I would not wish that on anyone.

Moving on to story number two. A pastor of a Catholic Church, Our Lady of Pompeii, in Greenwich Village, Manhattan decided to end it’s decades long lease with Greenwich House’s Senior Center. He told them they would have to leave the premises, causing panic among the members. Although the seniors paid $2,000 a month in rent to the church, Father Walter Tonelotto decided he was able to make more money from renting the space to film crews. The choice was clear. Get the seniors out. (Do you think the Vatican would call this “reprehensible?”) The seniors serve 1,400 meals a week to people in need. The space occupied by seniors is also shared with homeless and handicapped people who hace come to depend on the Senior Center. When a lawyer for the seniors raised their concerns with the Diocese of New York, they were told no such plans were in effect. They spoke to the pastor and he denied asking them to leave. That’s when the lawyer produced a letter from the pastor, to the group, asking them to find another location by June 1st, 2015. There will now be an investigation into the matter. Is this the action of a charitable, compassionate, loving church?

The Church has a very long history of reprehensible acts. Their despicable actions go back in time for centuries. I would love to read a book, or series of books, focusing on that subject. I only know the tip of the iceberg and I am disgusted. I am sick of the hypocrisy. I am sick of them telling followers how they should live their lives and then breaking all the rules to suit themselves. This reminds me of something Cher said when we were in the middle of the Church’s child sex abuse scandal. The Church had the audacity to criticize Cher and Madonna for wearing very large, gold crucifixes. Cher’s response was that the Church should clean out it’s own house before pointing it's finger at others.
I can’t help but wonder when is the Church going to clean out it’s house? When are they going to be the Church they profess to be, the Church they want us to believe they are? I don’t think it will ever happen.

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