Contracting The culturewar

NCRep takes a look at the confluence of Catholic employment contracts and the culturewar. Pope Francis, by the way, has not pulled a Chamberlain, a MacArthur, or a somebody-in-between on the culturewar, American style. It’s still going.

What’s all the fuss about? … As a point of Catholic moral teaching and practice, this is unremarkable language, reflecting well-settled doctrine.

When we’re talking Kansas City, maybe we’re talking about a subset of employment standards. Are sex issues the only problem ones? Should a person convicted of a misdemeanor connected with the sexual predation on children remain employed? Oh wait. That person is the boss. So what have we there? One set of rules, somewhat lenient, for the boss? And a different set, soaked with sex, for the workers?

One commentator thinks we’re talking self-destruction. Maybe his pinning an 11-13% drop in baptisms and First Communions on a new bishop is a bit unfair. But if he’s got a 24% or better uptick in ordinations, or at least seminarians, does that make up for it?

Let me offer a thought experiment. Do culturewar bishops apply strict guidelines to themselves? Maybe they do. Ask somebody sometime. They might decline to tell you. They might get upset at your suggestion they are somehow less virtuous than ordinary people. Or you. Do you think they would still invite you to their dinner party, or accept your invitation? Maybe they would. Or maybe they would smell an ambush. Or maybe their receptionist would be instructed to inform you of their presence in Vermont, New Mexico, or Indonesia the next time you call.

Let’s extend the experiment a bit further. Let’s say the bishop hires a lawyer whose firm does work for same-sex unions, or divorcing couples. Let’s say the bishop hires a contractor who builds homes for cohabiting couples, or a travel agent who also sells vacation packages for those not validly married. Let’s say the bishop’s dentist, car mechanic, or coffee vendor is a homosexual. What happens then? Do we have a moral and acceptable dodge because the person is not on some church-provided insurance plan? Where does the line get drawn? And who gets to draw it? And if the boss makes the call, hasn’t this whole thing devolved out of morality and into fussbudgeting bossery?

I wonder if any other culturewarriors have any misgivings about the way this is all going. I’m sure some few of my readers suspect I am sympathetic to views they and these bishops do not espouse. So I’m a skeptic for ideological reasons, think these few. But my real skepticism is where we draw the line.

I can’t counsel somebody to unite with a person of the same sex. I wouldn’t. But a student might come to me for pastoral counseling. I can recommend and guide a spiritual discernment more or less along the lines of what I’ve learned from the Jesuits. But I’m not going to start planning a union ceremony and make music suggestions. But I might consider attending a relative’s union ceremony, a non-Catholic relative’s union. I think I could do so prudentially. But by the policy of some of these administrators, that is cause for termination. I’m not sure this is the best policy–for anyone. And I don’t think that just because I might fall victim to it.

My sense is that many bishops and administrators, either by personal experience, by prayer, or through too much influence by the Temple Police, are sincerely trying to do the right thing. My concern is that many leaders lack prudence to handle this situation morally, pastorally, and effectively.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in Church News, Commentary, Hermeneutic of Subtraction and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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