April 8, 2005


THE FUTURE OF CATHOLICISM (Maggie Gallagher, 4/06/05, UExpress)

Sexual liberalism has a lot going for it, but it does have this one little drawback: Religions or societies that adopt it appear to die out.

In the age of Britney Spears, not every Catholic is going to accept all of the sexual teachings of this pope, or the next. And those of us who do are not always going to consistently practice what he preaches. That's human nature.

But human nature, as John Paul the Great reminded us, also includes an intense desire to find meaning in sexual love, to experience ourselves as male and female, to participate in creation, to connect love, sex, babies, to give all of ourselves (including our capacity to create new life) to another human being who loves us unreservedly in return.

To me, the shock is not how few American Catholics accept the church's sexual teachings, but how many of us are out there in a society where such teachings are ridiculed in every way.

I have never heard a sermon on sex in a Catholic church. Few Catholic schools devote energy to forming young Catholics' views on these matters. Yet in the largest recent poll on Catholic opinion I could find (a Zogby poll of 1,500 Catholics in 2001), 36 percent of all Catholics support the church's teachings on contraception. (No doubt if one surveyed only churchgoing Catholics, the proportion would be higher.) Think of it! Right now there are 25 million American Catholics who accept the church's teaching on sexuality. That's more people than live in the states of Georgia, Alabama, Arizona, West Virginia and Minnesota combined.

If each one of these faithful Catholics had, on average, three children and could find Catholic schools and communities that help them transmit the Catholic faith to their children, it wouldn't take long for a second sexual revolution to get under way.

Who knows? Maybe it already has.

As the culture swings back to being more conservative generally the Church will have a much easier time getting even more folks to accept its pretty basic teachings on sexuality.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 8, 2005 4:33 PM

There's such a thing as a quadruple entendre? Who knew?

Posted by: ghostcat at April 8, 2005 4:50 PM

I wonder how much the NCCB paid Mercantile Maggie to write this article.

The reality is that virtually no non-Catholic accepts the RC Church's teachings on ABC, other than abortion. Both evangelical Protestants and Orthodox Jews believe life begins at conception, and that the use of rubbers and diaphragms is perfectly permissible.

Let the religious Catholics knock themselves out trying to convince us of the wisdom of their position. As long as they don't try to use the Legislature, I've got no problem.

Posted by: bart at April 8, 2005 5:54 PM


Know any married couples? I think you'd be surprised how common NFP is among evangelicals and other non-Catholic conservatives.

Posted by: oj at April 8, 2005 6:32 PM

What people do and what people believe should be legal are two completely different matters. Most people get that concept at around age 7, it's too bad you find it beyond your grasp.

Posted by: bart at April 8, 2005 6:53 PM

And with Europe as a cautionary tale . . .

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at April 8, 2005 6:56 PM


There is no difference in a democdracy.

Posted by: oj at April 8, 2005 6:59 PM

Sure there is. I have the right to eat 5 boxes of Mallomars a day, and I would not prevent anyone from doing so. However, that would certainly be an unwise practice in which I would not engage.

Posted by: bart at April 8, 2005 7:24 PM

No, you don't have a right to. You have the privilege...for now.

Posted by: oj at April 8, 2005 7:31 PM

You're probably the only person in America outside of the Green Party and Eric Schlosser who believes that Americans shouldn't have the right to eat as they choose.

Posted by: bart at April 8, 2005 8:07 PM

And the FDA and Orthodox Jews and so on...

It's not important enough to be a right.

Posted by: oj at April 8, 2005 8:15 PM


We'll just outbreed you guys.

Posted by: Chris at April 9, 2005 12:56 AM


Don't forget about John Banzhaf.

Posted by: ratbert at April 9, 2005 1:18 AM

So, I guess this is as good a place as any to bring up this issue. Orrin, since you've become Mr. Papist in recent months and since you now believe that all of the One True Church's edicts should be obeyed without question, how does that square with your love of the death penalty? After all the Church feels the same about the death penalty as it does about abortion; that it's always wrong, no questions or exemptions. But you have long pined for a judicial system that resembles the movie and comic book Judge Dredd: where justice is swift, brutal and uncompromising. I suppose you can say, "Oh, I'm a Catholic but I still support the death penalty," but how would that make you any different from John Kerry, who you excoriated over saying much the same thing on abortion.

Posted by: Governor Breck at April 9, 2005 6:36 AM

I'm fine with getting rid of the death penalty.

Posted by: oj at April 9, 2005 6:52 AM

You sir, have well and truly suprised me. I had thought that the death penalty was one of those changes that you expected the Church to make in order to bring the heathen Protestants back into the fold.

Posted by: Governor Breck at April 9, 2005 7:42 AM

Eliminating the death penalty is a moral mistake. The Church is wrong because it has forgotten the Scripture.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 9, 2005 9:16 AM

The death penalty is one of the strongest disagreements I have with the Church and one of the hardest hurdles I'm having to surmount in my trip back. Of the "Papist Trifecta" (as Orrin sneered at me once when I was wavering on the death penalty) of abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty, the death penalty is the only one that isn't blatantly self evident to me.

Posted by: Governor Breck at April 9, 2005 10:41 AM

The Church is not opposed to the death penalty in every circumstance, just where it is not necessary. Their point, and this is probably right, is that it is never necessary in the modern west.

In any event, it is almost certain that the right will give up the death penalty within the next decade, and probably much sooner.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 9, 2005 11:26 AM


That is patently absurd. Just look at crime rates. We should be executing at least 15,000 people a year, not just murderers but recidivist violent felons as well. Singapore executes about 100 people a year, and it's by far the best run country on the planet. We should simply match the proportion and we have more than enough criminals to keep the lethal injection folks in business for the foreseeable future.

Posted by: bart at April 9, 2005 1:17 PM

Setting aside Bart for now, what you said is not what they taught us in Catechism. That's not to say that you're wrong; those old Italian lay-people frequently didn't know what they were talking about.

Posted by: Governor Breck at April 9, 2005 1:54 PM

Gov: I defer to pj's 6:10 comment here. In the event that that is not what I said, it's what I meant.

Bart: Huh? First, you need to distinguish between "predictions" (i.e., I think that this is going to happen) and "arguments" (i.e, I think that this should happen). Clearly, this is a prediction: the right, or some substantial part of it, is clearly moving towards giving up promoting the death penalty.

More to the point, we barely have a death penalty worthy of the term now. Starting with 0 executions in 1980, we now have about 85 annually, or 1 execution for every 3.5 million Americans. I certainly hope that that is not all that is standing between us and barbarism, because if so, welcome to barbarism.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 9, 2005 9:17 PM


We trade the Left live criminals for live babies and ill people.

Posted by: oj at April 9, 2005 9:46 PM


Agreed that we barely have a death penalty now. We should as I said change that and make it a far more available alternative. What would you call the conditions in inner cities across the US other than barbarism? There is no important difference between Atlanta or Detroit and Maputo or Luanda or Lagos.

Posted by: bart at April 10, 2005 7:04 AM


I'll make a deal with you--I'll walk across Newark, NJ and you walk across Mogadishu.

Posted by: oj at April 10, 2005 9:34 AM

That's like arguing the difference between life in Castro's Cuba or in the DPRK. Sure, life is better in Cuba but when life is so bad in both places, the marginal differences, while extant, are unimportant. While one's chance of survival in Mogadishu is non-existent, one's chance of surviving a walk down Springfield Avenue at 9PM is infinitesmal. Sure, there's a difference between non-existent and infinitesmal but not an important one.

Posted by: bart at April 10, 2005 11:33 AM


So you're chickening out?

Posted by: oj at April 10, 2005 12:11 PM

I'm merely explaining to you that the comparison is pointless. Whatever difference exists in the possibility of survival in either place is so small as to be irrelevant.

Posted by: bart at April 10, 2005 12:29 PM


Newark is safe enough. Your choices aren't. You're right--the comparison was inane.

Posted by: oj at April 10, 2005 12:47 PM

The police announced that you aren't supposed to stop at red lights in Newark at night, because people will intentionally crash into you then rob and kill you when you get out of the car. I worked for Pru there for 3 years, and whenever I worked after dark, the company provided an armed escort so I could walk to my vehicle.

Other than a few places the mob still runs in the North Ward and the Hispanic Ironbound, there is no important difference between Newark and Monrovia.

Why do you think all the buildings of the Gateway Complex are connected by above-ground walkways and filled with security cameras?

Posted by: bart at April 10, 2005 1:07 PM

Because people would just as soon not have contact with the natives.

Posted by: oj at April 10, 2005 1:12 PM

And that choice is a rational one, there are no shortage of Blacks and Hispanics working at Gateway making the same choice to eschew the street for the walkway to Penn Station. It's just like going to a Third World site for Exxon or any other multinational. You're in a hermetically sealed environment which you leave on your peril. The only difference is that in Newark, you don't see the Afrikaners with AK-47s and Uzis.

Posted by: bart at April 10, 2005 1:27 PM

The unknown is always scary.

Posted by: oj at April 10, 2005 1:34 PM

People know what happens when you walk around in Newark outside the complexes. It's only in Hanover, NH where they don't.

Posted by: bart at April 10, 2005 1:50 PM

I never minded walking around Newark, and that was when there were riots.

Posted by: oj at April 10, 2005 1:57 PM

Then you were very lucky, or you limited yourself to the Ironbound and the North Ward and perhaps Vailsburg.

Posted by: bart at April 10, 2005 2:32 PM

Nope. Used to walk home from Penn Station to East Orange when I'd fall asleep on the bus. Used to walk all around town on the political campaign.

Posted by: oj at April 10, 2005 2:46 PM

The author's argument is Darwinian not moral.

Posted by: daniel duffy at April 11, 2005 9:39 AM


There's no difference.

Posted by: oj at April 11, 2005 10:38 AM

So the RCC's opposition to birth control is an example of applied Darwinism?

Posted by: daniel duffy at April 11, 2005 3:20 PM

More of us, less of you.

Posted by: oj at April 11, 2005 3:48 PM

You didn't answer my question. Is the RCC's opposition to birth control is an example of "applied Darwinism"?

Posted by: daniel duffy at April 11, 2005 3:51 PM


Posted by: oj at April 11, 2005 3:58 PM

Yet you approve? Why the approval given your past opposition to applied Darwinism?

Posted by: daniel duffy at April 11, 2005 4:12 PM

Outreproducing your rivals is moral. Murdering them immoral.

Posted by: oj at April 11, 2005 4:15 PM