I love it when the adherents of a religion fight among themselves. Schism anyone?
The Roman Catholic Church has a reputation for clubbiness. (A Protestant arrives in heaven and asks St. Peter if he can visit some of his old Catholic friends. “Best if you didn’t,” Peter tells him. “They think they’re the only ones here.”) Catholics are just as prone to turn that overweening sense of orthodoxy on each other. Doctrinal hardliners never tire of telling dissenters like myself, especially those who are politicians, that we’re not “real” Catholics — many contend we should be denied communion — because our Christian as well as civic consciences have led us to support women’s ordination or legal, if limited, abortion rights.
But since Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney tapped conservative Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate last weekend, many liberal Catholics have decided it’s their turn to play the pearly gates-keeper. Ryan, a Catholic, has in the past come under fire from even the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for his more Darwinian political ideas — especially his budget philosophy, which critics charge coddles the rich while hammering the poor and middle class — and this week more than a few progressive Catholics have doubted if not disparaged Ryan’s own Catholic bona fides. His cold-hearted betrayal of charitable Catholic social teaching, they insist, makes him unfit to call himself Christian or Catholic.