John Connelly: ‘Shepherds, heed your flock’

Published: 5/17/2021 2:59:59 PM As someone who grew up Catholic and retains a serious interest in the mission of the church, it is ...



Published: 5/17/2021 2:59:59 PM

As someone who grew up Catholic and retains a serious interest in the mission of the church, it is distressing for me that some American Catholic bishops and the Vatican have recently shown us once again where they think the priority must lie in Catholic social teaching today: not on the devastations of war nor on the crushing poverty that has been exacerbated in many nations by the pandemic, nor on shameful income inequality, etc.

To be fair, these are the kinds of issues addressed, and generally humanely, over many decades by official Catholic social teaching. And most Catholics agree with those teachings. But one would have to be deaf not to hear what many of the bishops and the Vatican think are the most pressing social issues of our present time: human sexuality and reproduction, and here their opinions are largely rejected by the laity.

Consider these two examples. First, some U.S. Catholic bishops want to pass a decree banning Catholics who support a women’s right to choose from receiving communion. Even for the Vatican this goes too far, but the direction is revealing: we (celibate males) will do everything possible to keep women from controlling their own reproduction.

Second, there is the recent pronouncement by the Vatican on same-sex unions. It was reported last fall that Pope Francis had defended such unions, saying, “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God.” This apparently distressed some in Rome as too tolerant, so a statement was issued that contradicted the pope.

But neither the Vatican nor the bishops are by themselves the church, the vast body of which consists of laypersons, a majority of whom have direct experience with marital and family life. While the bishops continue to rail against choice and gay marriage, the laity long ago voiced their approval (by up to 2-to-1 in a recent Pew poll of U.S. Catholics, and as much as 10-to-1 in some European countries).

On such questions the hierarchy is fighting a battle it long since lost. The great majority of Catholic laypeople in the U.S. obviously think the celibate males in the hierarchy have neither authority nor credibility on such questions. Shepherds, heed your flock!

John Connelly

Northampton



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Newsrust - US Top News: John Connelly: ‘Shepherds, heed your flock’
John Connelly: ‘Shepherds, heed your flock’
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