Marolt: Defending the Catholic Church
September 19, 2014
Why should I defend the Catholic Church? It's held its own for 2,000 years and will continue to do so. I don't know nearly enough to do this justice, but I do love her. I guess that's enough.
I'll begin defending her with what I can't defend. That is the sexual abuse of children, mostly boys, by a few rogue priests.
It is important to remember that it was men who used the church in order to carry out their heinous crimes. It happens in the Boy Scouts, in schools (even in Aspen), in youth sports, with babysitters, within the ranks of law enforcement, etc., etc. The church's inexcusable part was its administration, again just people, turning a blind eye until the scandal was massively exposed. Look, I know the fear. I've felt the shame. It happened to a group of us kids in Aspen. Our story is in the archives. That's where my anger rests. My joy is moving forward holding tight to The Rock.
Oh, and then there are all the wars she's responsible for. You know, like the Crusades and the — uhm — OK, the Crusades. Again, a few bad people using her as an excuse.
I've had doubts about Catholic rules and regulations. But it's not really fair to categorize them like that. Aside from his unbounded love for us, God's greatest gift is our free will. In that context, everything within the church that resembles a rule is actually guidance away from things that will harm our relationship with him. How about this perspective: God has chosen all of us to be with him. It is we who turn our backs.
With that in mind, how about a couple of big issues? One of my first doubts was on contraception. I thought the church's stance was designed back in the days before people figured out sex was enjoyable. Even more confusing, the church allows certain natural methods of contraception. To me it boiled down to intent. If you were trying not to get pregnant, what difference did the method matter?
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It only took me about 25 years, but picking up bits and pieces in a sermon here or a reading there, I got it. The main thing is that God loves life. People are the sole reason he went through the trouble of creating the universe. Why else? I don't think he's worried about overpopulation. It's an obvious observation that is so easy to overlook.
There are other reasons, too. The church believed that contraception would result in two forms of evil. First, they reasoned that the use of artificial contraception would cause the world to ignore the soul and objectify the human body, most specifically the female form. And secondly, the use of artificial contraceptives would make the world more selfish — something to do with instant gratification, I think. If you use natural contraception, you at least have to talk before doing it and you have to be open to the possibility of creating a child.
This shifts the conversation from whether the church's stance on contraception is blind stupidity to possibly whether the greater danger to the world is overpopulation or vain selfishness, the former being a natural phenomenon and the latter subject to suspect human nature.
Moving on to gay marriage. There are good reasons it can't happen within the church, and it has nothing to do with narrow-mindedness or hatred.
First of all, marriage is a holy sacrament. That's a gift from God. We don't tweak those. Secondly, and this is the truly beautiful part, I learned that that sacrament of marriage in the Catholic Church is supposed to be a reflection of God in the Holy Trinity — that is, two people of the same and yet distinctly different natures, man and woman, coming together as one in order to bring life into the world. Wow! Even if you could change that, why would anyone want to? Marriage by this definition cannot include everyone. But every other calling and vocation is blessed, too. The church is an all-inclusive club!
Far be it from me to claim anywhere close to perfection in following the teachings of the church, but I am, as a man of intellect and curiosity, intrigued and convinced the more I learn, live and pray. Instead of people focusing on pedophilia, which has been most seriously recognized and vigorously addressed within the church, I wish more people would identify Catholicism with the millions of humanly defective and spiritually struggling people like I am who humbly depend on her to shine a light on the path toward goodness and love.
Roger Marolt, at one time, had doubts about being Catholic. Contact him at roger@marolt llp.com.
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