Church fails in promoting liberal causes (Greg Lowe column)

Greg Lowe

The day after a devastating Chicago Cubs loss in the summer of 2003, a nun came into the assisted living facility I worked at to provide Communion services for the residents. The nun was a big Cubs fan, and I talked to her about the game, which had featured an excruciating Antonio Alfonseca blown save.

“I know that Alfonseca’s supposed to be a nice guy and everything,” she said. “But when I see him on the mound, I just want to kill him.”

She sounded pretty serious. Not like she seriously wanted to kill him, but she didn’t seem to see the irony of a nun making death threats. And here I thought every life was sacred in the Catholic Church — even the life of a mediocre, six-fingered relief pitcher.

The sanctity of life certainly is an important value in the Catholic Church, and it became a political issue over the summer when a Catholic cardinal decreed that pro-choice American politicians should be denied Communion.

Now, I have enough trouble in my life without debating abortion. Let’s say I’m an agnostic on the issue. It’s the hypocrisy of the church that really gets to me. Abortion is made into a political issue while Church positions on issues like the death penalty and war are swept under the rug.

For example, Pope John Paul II was strongly against the war in Iraq.

“When war, like the one now in Iraq, threatens the fate of humanity, it is even more urgent for us to proclaim, with a firm and decisive voice, that only peace is the way of building a more just and caring society,” he said in 2003.

Yet despite the Pope’s strong words, there was no groundswell to deny Communion to American politicians who voted for the war. I’m not saying that the Pope is necessarily right about war (he’s probably a bit more of a pacifist than me), but certainly Catholics should take his position seriously. It didn’t happen.

John Paul II also has suggested that the death penalty is almost never acceptable. American Catholics, however, have declined to make it a political issue and many actually support the death penalty.

Part of the problem is that a spineless Democratic Party refuses to provide an alternative to the Republicans on these issues. But Catholics should be driving the charge. Instead, they only seem to be inspired by abortion and gay marriage.

I was raised Catholic, but now nobody in my immediate family goes the church regularly. My mom says she was inspired when she was younger by the Church’s social activism, particularly in helping the homeless and the hungry. The Church still does many great things, and I don’t regret being raised Catholic.

I didn’t lose my faith in the Church because of its political positions, and I wouldn’t be a Catholic now even if Catholics supported their left-wing agenda as much as their right-wing agenda. But I might respect the Church a little more, because right now it has absolutely no moral authority.

Greg Lowe is a Medill senior. He can be reached at [email protected]