The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

“The Vatican is not the same as the Catholic Church”

Over at the Times, Maureen Dowd is resting this sabbath, and so her colleague Nicholas Kristof picks up where she left off, with a litany of complaints about the all-male hierarchy.

Then, near the end, he offers this tribute to the Catholic Church as the world’s most dynamic and effective social service organization:

In my travels around the world, I encounter two Catholic Churches. One is the rigid all-male Vatican hierarchy that seems out of touch when it bans condoms even among married couples where one partner is H.I.V.-positive. To me at least, this church — obsessed with dogma and rules and distracted from social justice — is a modern echo of the Pharisees whom Jesus criticized.


Yet there’s another Catholic Church as well, one I admire intensely. This is the grass-roots Catholic Church that does far more good in the world than it ever gets credit for. This is the church that supports extraordinary aid organizations like Catholic Relief Services and Caritas, saving lives every day, and that operates superb schools that provide needy children an escalator out of poverty.

This is the church of the nuns and priests in Congo, toiling in obscurity to feed and educate children. This is the church of the Brazilian priest fighting AIDS who told me that if he were pope, he would build a condom factory in the Vatican to save lives.

This is the church of the Maryknoll Sisters in Central America and the Cabrini Sisters in Africa. There’s a stereotype of nuns as stodgy Victorian traditionalists. I learned otherwise while hanging on for my life in a passenger seat as an American nun with a lead foot drove her jeep over ruts and through a creek in Swaziland to visit AIDS orphans. After a number of encounters like that, I’ve come to believe that the very coolest people in the world today may be nuns.

So when you read about the scandals, remember that the Vatican is not the same as the Catholic Church. Ordinary lepers, prostitutes and slum-dwellers may never see a cardinal, but they daily encounter a truly noble Catholic Church in the form of priests, nuns and lay workers toiling to make a difference.

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Gen X Revert

posted April 18, 2010 at 8:40 am

And that is what it is all about – those who see the Church as a social service organization and those who see it as Christ’s Church founded to continue the work He did while on earth. Kristof used all the buzzwords bigots use all the time about the Church – rigid, all male, dogma, HIV, condoms, out of touch – Yawn.

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Reaganite in NYC

posted April 18, 2010 at 9:19 am

You know, Deacon Greg, the New York Times isn’t the only newspaper around. You might try broadening your reading habits.

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posted April 18, 2010 at 10:13 am

Dcn. Greg is there any chance you can repost that awesome homily of yours on the “loaves and fishes?” I would like to link to it and send it to Kristof. (best one you ever wrote, IMO).
I would “enlighten” him that the only reason that “2nd Catholic Church” exists is because of the ONGOING EUCHARISTIC MIRACLE, which BTW, wouldn’t be at all possible without an “all male priesthood under the Vicar of Christ”l following the authentic and non-watered down teachings (rules!), of Christ Himself.
But no suprise, as any ‘church’ who teaches ‘Christianity’ without a cross is pretty much in the same boat as Kristof.
The condom exuse is a bit old, and hardly exceptable from an ‘elite journalist’ like Kristof who, had he done some research (imagine that, fact finding), he would have discovered that his own elite brother, a atheist epidemologist Harvard professor, debunked the effectivness of condoms/AIDS prevention over a year ago; actually published his agreement with the pope.
And while I’m at it, someone needs to send the NYT’s a copy of the catechism, along with an exorcist for MoDo (seriously). Imagine if and when it’s properly understood, that condoms,as with all unnatural birth control, is not so much about “prevention” as it is “exclusion”; blasphmey against leaving God out of the act.
It’s funny how these types of articles never miss a chance to find one disobedient (if even true) priest or nun who is pro condoms but never gives attention to the 98% or so who respect and understand the church’s teaching.

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posted April 18, 2010 at 10:27 am

For Mr Kristof’s information, Ubi Petrus, Ibi Ecclesia. That means, Where Peter is, there is the Church. Without “the Vatican” which I assume he means without the Pope, there would be no social working priests or nuns. Social work is simply the Corporal works of Mercy which any Catholic is supposed to be doing.

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posted April 18, 2010 at 11:40 am

Reaganite, I’m curious: do you read the NYT?

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posted April 18, 2010 at 11:45 am

Seems to me like the old “divide and conquer” approach.

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mary martha

posted April 18, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Trying the pit the Catholic Church against the Vatican seems to be very popular right now. I would hope that Catholics wouldn’t fall for the compliments (coolest people) from a person who is attacking and trying to divide the Church from the Pope.

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Reaganite in NYC

posted April 18, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Mike (11:40 AM): “Reaganite, I’m curious: do you read the NYT?”
I stopped reading it regularly about 10-12 years ago. It became too predictable. I know people from college days who work there — they all live in an ideological/cultural bubble. Nice people, mind you, but sadly parochial and sterile in their outlook.
However, my neighbor receives it daily and sometimes I bum the Tuesday “Science” section from her :-)

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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted April 18, 2010 at 4:46 pm

You know, Reaganite, my reading habits are broader than you may think.
It so happens that the NY Times is one of the biggest offenders, and so it gets more of my attention.
Dcn. G.

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Reaganite in NYC

posted April 18, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Deacon Greg: “… the NY Times is one of the biggest offenders, and so it gets more of my attention.”
Fair enough, Deacon Greg, fair enough :-) Besides, thanks to you and other reliable observers I don’t have to wade through it and endure the tedium of it.

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Josie Mahfouz

posted April 18, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Sounds like Satan is very busy using his old divide & conquer tactics on the Church.
I was a victimized child myself, Jesus took care of all my hate & resentments & created a born again Catholic of me.
The Church MUST pull itself together & instead of accusing & pointing their self-righteous fingers;in essence screaming CRUCIFY HIM.
Falling for this is joining legion with Satan the destroyer, I’m sure he is very ecstatic about now.
Simply put WE MUST REBUKE him & put all our passion into standing in the army of The Almighty God & do what Jesus would have us do. There is an answer hear that will heal & strengthen the Church if we put the fight in the hands & workings of our Lord,listen to him & HE WILL direct our paths…sound familiar??? it should.

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Deacon John M. Bresnahan

posted April 18, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Divide and destroy is one of Satan’s oldest strategies. The best weapon against his evil ways is forgiveness–the kind of forgiveness that Pope John Paul II offered to the man who tried to assasinate him.

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Joe R.

posted April 19, 2010 at 8:10 am

The misguided measures of dealing with abuse of adolescent males by a small percentage of priests is exactly what the world needed to attack the Church, the visible institution created by Christ.
The failures of certain bishops who hold leadership by divine authority is now made an excuse to propose a new Church. This is exactly what the first Protestants did.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that since mainstream Protestants are dying out and evangelicals are finding the Church, Satan would seek to shift away those Catholics who are weak in their faith and create a new kind of Protestant.
Finally, notice how dissent always seems to focus in on the issue of sexuality. People (and Satan) hate the Church because it proclaims the truth about the image of God and right use of sexuality. So, sexual sins are most dmamaging to the Church’s credibility in the eyes of the lustful who do not see Christ’s continuing presence and forgiveness. All attacks on the Church can be boiled down to a perverse desire for sexual license and, ironically, gnostic rejection of the embodied nature of the human being.

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Katie Angel

posted April 19, 2010 at 3:29 pm

So in your mind, the Seven Deadly Sins are really the Six Kinda Deadly Sin and the ONE Really Deadly Sin? Why are sexual sins more damaging than the rest of them? Personally, I think Pride has much to do with what is happening now in the Church – and as the axiom says: Pride Goeth Before the Fall.

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Your Name

posted May 1, 2010 at 2:35 pm

The Catholic Church and the Catholic FAITH are 2 distinct entities!

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posted May 1, 2010 at 2:41 pm


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