(The following is written in response to the advertisement placed in the New York Times on March 9, entitled “It’s Time to Quit the Catholic Church,” by Annie Laurie Gaylor. This morning we learned that the Times rejected an almost identical ad entitled “It’s Time to Quit Islam.” This cowardly hypocrisy on the part of the Times does not surprise us as much as it reaffirms why the former “Paper of Record” is the former Paper of Record.)
Dear Ms. Gaylor,
I gave up reading the New York Times years ago because of its clear animus toward the Catholic Church, but a friend sent me a copy of your advertisement calling for “liberal Catholics” to leave the Church. You might be surprised to hear that many practicing Catholics agree with you, and wish that those who reject the Church’s teachings would leave. Of course, the Church herself does not necessarily want this, but why stay in a Church whose teachings you do not accept?
You might also be surprised that I actually admire your stance more than I admire that of Catholics who oppose Catholic teaching. In the Book of Revelation, Jesus says: “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3, 15-16) You are certainly not lukewarm in your beliefs, and there is something admirable about that.
Nevertheless, your ad was a vile display of ignorance and anti-Catholic bigotry. From the time that Jesus Christ founded the Church on the Twelve Apostles, there have been sinners and even traitors in our midst, but the Church has survived because is not of human, but of divine, origin. For this reason, most Catholics stay, despite the many scandals and human flaws of the institutional Church. Catholics continue to attend Mass because they know that Christ instituted it at the Last Supper and said the words “Do this in memory of me.”
You claim that the Catholic Church wants to outlaw contraception. This is simply not true, despite claims of partisans and mainstream media types who imagine a secret plot to do so. What is true is that since the 1st century the Catholic Church has taught that the use of contraception is morally wrong. We believe sex is a beautiful gift from God to be shared between a husband and a wife who are faithful and open to transmission of new life. Sex is an expression of total self-giving, including the gift of fertility. Every time a married couple makes love it is a renewal of the marital covenant.
The pills you advocate are powerful hormones. Why do we tell boys not to use performance-enhancing hormones, but we force feed girls powerful hormones that, according to the World Health Organization, are in the same category as asbestos as a cancer-causing agent? How is this good for women’s health?
If there is a war on women, as you claim, it is being waged by those who say that a woman’s body is like a broken machine that needs a pill to work properly. Ms. Gaylor, fertility is not a disease, and contraception is not medicine. It doesn’t fix what’s broken; it takes a healthy bodily system and causes it to act against nature.
Despite your scare tactics, the Church is not trying to restrict your access to birth control and no politician wants to outlaw contraception. Further, there are plenty of places where one can get free or inexpensive birth control. The relentless campaign being waged by people like you who want to force Catholic institutions to act against the tenets of our faith is a grave offense to the First Amendment of the Constitution, which guarantees us not only the freedom to worship, but freedom to conduct business according to our religiously held beliefs.
At Notre Dame University, President Obama promised he would respect the conscience rights of religious institutions. He has now broken that promise in the most cynical and unequivocal terms. His so-called “accommodation” was nothing of the sort. It continues to force faithful Catholics to violate their religious beliefs.
The Catholic Church defends life, which is a natural and unalienable right that we have from our Creator. In the age of ultrasound, it is getting harder and harder for you to credibly claim that abortion, which we will be forced to subsidize in the form of abortifacient drugs, is anything other than the taking of an innocent human life.
The distortions in your ad are too many to mention here, but I truly have no hard feelings toward you personally. Your attacks stem from ignorance about the true nature of Christ and his Church. This season of Lent is a time that Catholics are called to reflect on the sufferings of Christ. From His Cross, Jesus forgave those who were responsible for his death with the words “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I hope that all Catholics will follow the example of Christ, and join me in forgiving you and praying for you.
LifeNews Note: Father Peter West is Vice President for Missions for Human Life International and this column originally appeared at its WorldWatch web site and is reprinted with permission.