Liberal Catholics are church enemies 6/24/04 THOMAS E. DENNELLY
Pope Pius IX was clearly on target in criticizing those who were liberal and Catholic more than 150 years ago. Sadly, the same criticism continues to exist. The one major difference today is that liberal Catholics are in the vanguard of leadership in the current public criticism of their own religious faith.
In the middle of the 19th century, Pope Pius IX publicly stated: "Liberal Catholics are the worst enemies of the Church." Today, on Long Island and elsewhere, that remains true - especially on the issue of abortion.
Clearly, Pius IX publicly supported economic reform that benefited the less fortunate members of society. His principal concern at the time was with a segment of liberal Catholics who attempted to reconcile the emerging philosophies of rationalism and materialism with Catholicism, especially since these philosophies made virtually no allowances for the overall spiritual needs of the human being.
Sadly, Pius IX was viciously maligned as "a reactionary bigot" by critics both within and outside the church, although he has since become beatified and is only one step away from being canonized as a saint within the Roman Catholic Church. Pius IX also authored the "Syllabus of Errors," a compilation of writings in defense of religion in general and the Roman Catholic Church in particular.
No modern-day issue demonstrates such historical hostility toward the church than that of abortion. Indeed, it would be possible to cite a litany of prominent individuals who are both liberal and Catholic and who today are in the vanguard of secular liberalism in publicly challenging the official view of the church on this profoundly moral issue.
Contemporary Catholic elected officials who publicly support abortion must eventually decide that their faith will play a less important role in their public lives. This is especially true within the modern-day Democratic Party, where there is a virtual litmus test in support of abortion. The party has become an increasingly secular political entity. For example, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said recently - in complete defiance - that no one within the church is going to tell her as a Catholic when she can and can't receive Holy Communion because she supports abortion. Back in 1984, New York Gov. Mario Cuomo sought a public confrontation with the late Cardinal John O'Connor over the Roman Catholic official teaching on abortion. Both Pelosi and Cuomo are liberal and Catholic.
Even closer to home, of the five members of the House of Representatives from Nassau and Suffolk, four are strongly pro-abortion - the exception being Peter King, a Seaford Republican who is Catholic. Those favoring abortion include two, Reps. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) and Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), who are both liberal and Catholic.
As if this isn't enough, the presumptive Democratic Party nominee for president, Sen. John Kerry, is both liberal and Catholic. He has a 100-percent record in support of every abortion proposal that he voted on and also virtually every issue related to it.
Catholic supporters of abortion advance certain reasons for their view. One reason is that a woman has a right to do with her body as she wishes. The fallacy with this reason is that the unborn child has a separate DNA from either the biological mother or biological father. Thus, it has a separate body. Another reason advanced is that the unborn child is not human. From a strictly scientific standpoint, it is beyond question that the unborn child is a genetically complete human being from conception. It grows and develops into what it already is, requiring only nourishment and protection for nine months prior to birth.
In retrospect, it seems that Pope Pius IX was clearly on target in criticizing those who were liberal and Catholic more than 150 years ago. Sadly, the same criticism continues to exist. The one major difference today is that liberal Catholics are in the vanguard of leadership in the current public criticism of their own religious faith.
Thomas E. Dennelly, a retired social-studies teacher, lives in Baldwin.
ILLINOIS CATHOLIC CHURCH DIRECT
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