The Catholic church is finding its lost voice
Most everyone over the age of 30 remembers a time when the Catholic Church was a dominant force in social, cultural, and political issues, especially here in Massachusetts.
Richard Cardinal Cushing regularly wined and dined with the politically mighty on Beacon Hill and was often consulted about how legislation would impact the church or how Catholic leaders viewed certain bills. Bernard Cardinal Law, before his exile to the Vatican for covering up clergy sex abuse, was front and center on a number of issues in the state, from abortion to the death penalty. The baseball schedule was arranged so starting times would not conflict with people attending Mass on Sundays. There are still households around the state where a picture of President John F. Kennedy hangs among family portraits not just because he was a native son but because of his Catholic roots.
But over time, the church lost its voice and its authority for a variety of reasons: Strict adherence to church teachings over such things as birth control, women’s place in the church hierarchy, and gays. The fallout was enormous. Mass attendance fell, as did giving. Alternatives to Catholic schools began eating into enrollment. Most of all, many Catholics were repulsed by the clergy sex abuse scandal that exploded here in Boston in 2001.
But it seems the Catholic Church is starting to reassert itself in a number of areas and impose its doctrinal teachings once again in public and social policy. Witness the recent dustup between the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Obama administration over the new federal policy that took effect this week and mandates coverage for a variety of preventive care measures, including birth control. While the administration backed off requiring churches to provide coverage, it mandates their insurance carriers to cover the items and does not exclude church affiliated institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes, or schools.
Vega, who was recently honored by MassEquality for speaking out against an attack on a transgendered woman at a Chelsea bar, said questions about whether health coverage for same sex spouses and whether advocacy for gays who were discriminated against would put the grant in peril were not answered to her satisfaction. So she returned the grant and withdrew an application for next year.
While the director of the group that issued the grant lamented the decision, a spokeswoman for the bishops’ conference said the Chelsea Collaborative “took appropriate steps under the circumstances.”
CommonWealth recently ran a story about the church insisting on restrictions on land sales of unused property that forbid their use for anything that contradicts Catholic teachings, such as abortion and birth control counseling, stem cell research, and euthanasia counseling. The restrictions caused the town of Wellesley to initially back off a planned purchase of church property until changes were made that dropped the restrictions.
In Quincy this week, the city’s Licensing Board is reconsidering a liquor license for a themed restaurant that features waitresses in scantily clad uniforms. The pastor of a nearby parish has protested that he was not consulted as required by law. The state law says any business proposing to sell alcohol must notify any schools or churches within 500 feet of the establishment. The proposed Tilted Kilt is 443 feet from St. John the Baptist, in the same building that housed an Outback Steakhouse that drew no opposition from the pastor.
It may not be the voice of God you’re beginning to hear in public debates, but his spokesmen are finding their voices.
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Lynn police officers receive a 10 percent pay hike, their first increase in six years, the Item reports.
The Dudley Vision Task Force looking at the new Boston Public Schools headquarters in Roxbury hears that a tech training and education center won’t get a long-term lease in the planned building. They aren’t happy.
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The Salem News follows the story on the former faculty member at the Landmark School in Beverly who is being accused of sexual abuse.The Gloucester Times also has a story, since the former faculty member is now working as a guidance counselor at a middle school in Rockport.
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