Thursday, October 29, 2009

Common, Ordinary Anti-Catholicism


Little persecutions...
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I often say that I grew up in an anti-Catholic atmosphere - my family did not practice the faith.  In fact, my dad was a non-practicing Lutheran until he converted shortly before his death.  His mother was an overbearing, Catholic-hating, denomination-switcher, who wanted to rescue me from the clutches of my fallen away Catholic mom.  My older half brother and sister stopped going to Mass shortly after I made my first communion - so I was on my own as far as the practice of the faith went.  While it is true my parents sent us to Catholic grade school and expected us to attend Mass on Sundays, my siblings usually only dropped me off and picked me up after Mass. 
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So where was the anti-Catholicism in the family?  That was pretty much it, aside from the fact that when I did anything wrong, or refused to lie or do something bad - I was ridiculed for being too religious, a holy Joe, a pious Mary, a hypocrite, and so on.  Without going into detail - there were other, more serious things - and in order not to make this into some sort of pitiable lament, suffice it to say I grew up knowing what it is to be marginalized for one's religious belief.
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Tolerating intolerance.
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As an adult most of my friends and coworkers have had issues with the Church, primarily regards discipline and morality, and they have often chided me for my faith.   "How can you be Catholic?"  they ask whenever anything negative is brought up about the Church or Her teaching, and in some cases, my devotion.  Hence my point:  This common, ordinary anti-Catholicism was so much a part of my life that I often paid little or no attention to the rapid popularization of anti-Catholicism in the culture. 
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For instance, I could excuse the anti-Catholicism seen in art and entertainment as simple expressions of a non-religious, secularized culture.  When talk show hosts and their guests - entertainers - blasted Catholic morality and teaching, I dismissed it as coming from otherwise ordinary disgruntled former Catholics who, aside from being famous, were no different from my friends or co-workers.  To be anti-Catholic or agnostic seemed to me to be the new normal, the new cool - simply a trend.  "Choose your battles"  I'd tell people who got all bent out of shape over an anti-Catholic film, or a celebrity bashing the Pope, or a print ad making fun of nuns.
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Well orchestrated...
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Obviously naive thinking and tolerance does not diminish the effects of common, ordinary anti-Catholicism which has become more mainstream than it has ever been in history, and to pretend it is not orchestrated and more institutionalized is totally disingenuous.  Anyway - this has been a long introduction to an article from the Catholic Defense League, sent to me this morning by my friend Paula - which demonstrates how well orchestrated contemporary anti-Catholicism really is - and it is time I take it much more seriously.
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Last Friday on the Washington Post blog, “On Faith,” English atheist Richard Dawkins said the Catholic Church was “surely up there among the leaders” as “the greatest force for evil in the world.” He labeled the Eucharist a “cannibal feast,” adding that “possession of testicles is an essential qualification to perform the rite.” He also blamed the Church for sending missionaries “out to tell deliberate lies to AIDS-weakened Africans” regarding condoms. The Church’s outreach to Anglicans, he said, makes it “a common pimp,” noting that those who convert “will be joining an institution where buggering altar boys pervades the culture.” 
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On Saturday, a Los Angeles Times editorial said that “church leaders, including popes, have changed their thinking over the years about everything from usury to the culpability of Jews for the Crucifixion….” It concluded, “You don’t have to be Catholic (or Anglican) to realize that society as a whole would be better off if the church’s views of women and gays underwent a similar evolution.”
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These deranged comments—all voiced in America’s premier newspapers—demonstrate that anti-Catholicism is the most virulent expression of bigotry in the U.S.  - Bill Donohue
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Remember, we are the Church Militant.
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In conclusion I think it is obvious that we Catholics must continue to confront this bigotry wherever we meet it in our common, ordinary circumstances of every day life:  In our families, amongst friends, in the workplace, or even within the context of a parish, where dissidents and liberals may try to marginalize or dismiss us as papist pious Mary's and holy Joe's, pre-Vatican II fanatics, right-wing-nuts and homophobes.
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Gratefully, those of us with blogs are confronting this crap - so let's keep it up and encourage one another - especially when they try to make us stop.

6 comments:

  1. Other than my brother who is virulently anti-Catholic (I have no idea of why), who can be pretty vile, most people would not say anything anti-Catholic to moi.

    It pays to have a "hard-as* crazy Italian woman label, even though I'm just a big bowl of jello.

    I've found that the worse anti-Catholicism comes from lapsed Catholics. They're waaaaaay worse than an ex-smoker.

    I quit going to A.A. meetings because I got tired of people described themselves as "recovering" Catholics. How cute!

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  2. ...oh yeah - those "recovering" Catholics usually start drinking again.

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  3. Today, Archbishop Dolan of NY posted on his blog an article he wrote for the NY Times complaining of anti-Catholic bias, which was rejected by the Times.
    Link:

    http://www.archny.org/news-events/columns-and-blogs/blog---the-gospel-in-the-digital-age/index.cfm?i=14042

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  4. As a so-called revert Catholic of 4 years ago, I am not aware of any anti-Catholicism directed at me, personally, whatsoever. I've never experienced it.
    I have experienced somewhat gentle tugs of disapproval from Evangelicals and a Baptist, but never overt anti-Catholicism.

    But I know it is definitely out there, as you so clearly outline here in this very nice blog

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  6. Terry - nicely written.

    When it comes from family - and even from those closer than family - anti-Catholic jabs can be quick and painful like a paper cut - like the time I was yelled at because *someone* from the "stupid" adoration chapel called at an inconvenient time.

    The important thing is to recall Christ's words about coming persecutions, and unite these to His suffering.

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