Friday, September 21, 2012

Why Do Catholic Women Reject Catholic Teachings?

Caroline Kennedy's speech at the DNC earlier this month was a prime example of what has come to be called "Cafeteria Catholicism." In a cafeteria line you can pick and choose what you want to eat, and leave behind things that are not so appealing. Similarly, Cafeteria Catholics pick and choose the teachings and practices that fit their schedule or routine or whim, and leave the "meat" behind. Perhaps they should be called "Vegetarian Catholics" instead. Or, they are often called CINOs -- Catholic In Name Only.

Whatever the name given to the phenomenon, the most notorious example of this in recent years is Catholic women and men who reject the Church's teaching on birth control and abortion. I have never understood how women in particular can call themselves Catholic while, as Ms. Kennedy does, brazenly rejecting the Church's teachings. A new study has come out that purports to answer this question. I don't think there is a one-size-fits-all answer, but this study does dig deeper than anything that I have seen to date on the subject.

 Remember back in February when the Democrats were trying to justify the mandate to provide contraceptives, abortafacients and sterilizations to women free of charge? They kept repeating the talking point that 98% of Catholic women used birth control. That number was never substantiated. Indeed, there was no way to refute it because it was made up. (It's kind of like the fictitious "jobs created or saved" statistics that the Democrats love to spew.) Anyway, that figure was debunked by a number of sources, but the mainstream media and Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Kathleen Sebelius--both CINOs--continue to push it. They use their government jobs as bully pulpits to promote abortions and to denounce Catholic teaching.

But back to the study. The two things that it identifies as being responsible for Catholic women who reject the teachings of the Church are the influences of culture and the lack of education in Catholic teaching. LifeSiteNews explains a portion of the study:
Mistakenly or not, 53 per cent of all women in the study who dissent in part or completely from church teaching cite a couple’s “moral right” to decide which method of family planning they will use. This makes it the top reason given for rejecting church teaching on the matter.
Two other reasons are cited frequently among this group: 46 percent say couples have “the right to enjoy sexual pleasure without worrying about pregnancy”, and 41 percent think that natural family planning is not an effective method to space or postpone pregnancy.
The authors perceive two main dynamics shaping these views: the influence of a cultural mindset that divorces sex from procreation and promises “sexual pleasure without consequences”, and a deficit on the church side in presenting Church teaching.
The latter can be deduced from the fact that 72 per cent of women surveyed said they rely mainly on the homily at Sunday Mass for learning about the faith, and yet just 15 per cent of that group fully accept the Church’s teaching on sex and reproduction. The weekly Mass homily, the authors say, “seems to represent a lost opportunity when it comes to conscience formation on the contraception issue.”
As for cultural influences, they seem likely (although the authors don’t say so) to account for at least some of the scepticism about natural family planning given the systematic bad press NFP [Natural Family Planning] is give by mainstream family planners and the media.
I personally know a priest who promotes the "conscience" exception to Church teachings. He tells women (and men) that they can follow their consciences when it comes to morals. Naturally, those who think that they are not ready for a child for whatever reason will convince themselves that their conscience is telling them that contraception is okay or, if they do get pregnant, that abortion is acceptable.

My parents used to tell my siblings and me as children that misery loves company. They explained that when someone holds an opinion that they know is not right, or if they do something that they know is wrong, they want others to join them in order to make them feel justified, or to make them feel less guilty. Often times this leads to bullying. Those who hold the "right" or truthful belief are ridiculed or bullied by those who must try to lessen their own guilt. This is what I see happening amongst Catholics today.

Karen Handel

And it is happening on the political front as well. Planned Bullyhood is a new book that just came out on September 11. It was written by Karen Handel, who was senior vice-president at Susan G. Komen for the Cure  earlier this year when that organization announced that it was parting ways with Planned Parenthood. Handel reveals that the decision not to provide any more funding to the abortion-providing organization was long in the making. The lightning rod organization has been under investigation for quite some time for a number of violations. Handel's book exposes the hypocrisy and bullying that took place in the battle between the two well-known organizations. 

To order Karen Handel's Book, go to