The pope recently visited with Nacy Pelosi, and the statement he released shortly thereafter should be a wake up call to moderate theists everywhere. Though the statement was only two paragraphs long, it contained a very clear mandate to judges, jurists and lawmakers to either oppose abortion or be in opposition to official Catholic dictate.
Let’s not make light of this. The pope has directed all Catholics, that is, over one billion people, to legally oppose abortion. This marks a clear break with the traditional Catholic approach to abortion, but more than that, it represents a line in the sand and a clear challenge to liberal theists everywhere. If you read my essay on moderate religion, you have at least heard my argument that moderate theists are directly responsible for the actions of fundamentalists. If you have not read it, please do. It relates directly to this post.
The pope has essentially issued a challenge to liberal Catholics (and liberal theists everywhere) by issuing an ultimatum — either be more conservative, or be wrong. The implications are startling, at least to me. In my life, I’ve known dozens, maybe hundreds of practicing Catholics who have a very liberal view of the world, and wouldn’t think of imposing their views on other people. Now, in order to keep their Catholicism, they must either go against their beliefs or abandon Catholicism for a more liberal version of Christianity, or live as hypocrites.
It seems that in direct contradiction to some of the pope’s recent gestures aimed at living peacefully with other religions (and non-religions), the real agenda is to continue widening the gap and to continue creating divisions.
Will this statement have any real impact in America? I don’t honestly know. I suspect that in the wake of the Bush Religiostupidified Regime’s abject failure to create a Christian Nation, it is a bad idea for the religious right to make any power plays at this time. Right wing fanaticism is not as popular as it was four years ago. I can only hope that the religious moderates in America will have the intestinal fortitude to stand united against divisiveness and religious intolerance.
I’m not holding my breath.