Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Does it matter, anyway?
It occurred to me this morning, listening to an NPR report on the Catholic bishops' statement about homosexuality, that activists and interested observers on both sides are probably too worked up over this policy statement. Love it or hate it, does anybody believe it will actually change anything at the local level? It's not like the Catholic Church has been silent on its position on homosexuality. I believe that dioceses and parishes will do exactly as they have been doing, for better or for worse. One thing that struck me as someone coming to Catholicism from the outside years ago was how there is much less to the dogmatic and hierarchical nature of Catholicism than it appears. I thought that priests and bishops, at least, took marching orders from the Pope and from the Magisterium. Ideally, yes, but that's not how it works out in practice. For me, it was a real shock to discover, when I was living in the Archdiocese of Miami and preparing for marriage, that you couldn't find a single parish that taught Natural Family Planning. I found a Couple-to-Couple League teaching couple, who told me that they had been formally turned away by parish after parish, with the message that Catholic couples preparing for marriage didn't need to hear what they had to say.
The point being that the Pope's teaching, the magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church, and even the official positions adopted by the bishops, can and do get undermined at the diocesan and parish level, by the diocesan bureaucracies.
What do you think? Do you think the bishops' teaching on homosexuality will filter down to the diocese and parish level? That is, will it make a bit of difference?