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Letter to the Editor: Broad assault can be a messy thing


On the occasion of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation, Gene Rigelon offers a disjointed grievance regarding a favored boogeyman, the Roman Catholic Church, which he erroneously dismisses as "dysfunctional" in his Feb. 28 letter to the editor.

Rigelon's letter regurgitates the stuff of most such attacks: a rejection of and disdain for Catholic moral teaching on sexuality. But he opens by describing his perception of current Vatican administrative failures regarding priestly abuse -- presumably applying his own standard of thoroughness, whatever that happens to be. Too broad an assault can be a messy thing.

A fair reading of his letter then is that, by the Rigelon Standard of Functionality, any enterprise without his imprimatur is "dysfunctional."

The church undeniably serves the spiritual needs of over a billion human beings and affects the rest of Christianity. Therefore, one is hard-pressed to rationally proclaim it dysfunctional in its core mission.

Indeed, Benedict soon will have a successor. Another church function met.

The next pope has a Herculean task before him. Administrative reform isn't the half of it. But detractors routinely fail to reveal any basic understanding of orthodoxy or of the Magisterium.

Rigelon's actual point becomes clear only at the end. He advises Catholics at odds with Catholic teaching to "Look into Catholics for Choice for more guidance." One could similarly advocate that mathematicians could "choose" to reject the laws of mathematics and proclaim themselves Mathematicians for Choice.

Regardless ongoing protests by Rigelon and others, Catholic teaching on sexuality will not change. The priesthood will continue as exclusive to males. Copulation outside of marriage and beyond heterosexuality will remain sinful.

Fancifulness notwithstanding, American cultural sensibilities will not determine universal dogma -- including that of the sanctity of human life. It is a conceit by anyone to argue for their individual preferences over this reality -- a Sisyphean exercise.

If an ethical standard is any consideration, those Catholics who choose to reject Catholic teaching must necessarily consider themselves something else. It is that simple an act and that eternally profound in consequence.

"Choice" has been the whole point since Eden.

Dan Flathers, Toms Brook


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