'Double Standards' Too much church in the State

It is hard to watch the church trying to control women’s sexuality despite its shameful history of abuse of children and teens. It’ harder to witness the
Representative image
Representative image

WASHINGTON: During her Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Amy Coney Barrett tried to reassure Democrats who were leery of her role as a “handmaid” in a Christian group called “People of Praise.”The group has a male-dominated hierarchy and a rigid view of sexuality reflecting conservative gender norms and rejecting openly gay men and women. Men, the group’s decision makers, “headed” their wives.

Justice Barrett said then that she would not impose her personal beliefs on the country. “Judges can’t just wake up one day and say ‘I have an agenda I like guns, I hate guns, I like abortion, I hate abortion’ and walk in like a royal queen and impose their will on the world,” she said amicably. “It’s not the law of Amy. It’s the law of the American people.” Yet that’s what seems to be coming. Like a royal queen, she will impose herwill on the world. It will be the law of Amy.And Sam. And Clarence. And Neil. And Brett. It’s outrageous that five or six people in life-long unaccountable jobs are about to impose their personal views on the rest of the country. While they will certainly provide the legal casuistry for their opinion, let’s not be played for fools: The Supreme Court’s impending repeal of Roe will be owed to more than judicial argumentation. There are prior world views at work in this upheaval.As a Catholic whose father lived throughthe Irish Catholics “need not apply” era, I’m happy to see Catholics do well in the world.

There is an astonishing preponderance ofCatholics on the Supreme Court six out ofthe nine justices, and a seventh, Neil Gor-such, was raised as a Catholic and went to thesame Jesuit boys’ high school in a Maryland suburb that Brett Kavanaugh and my nephews did, Georgetown Prep.

My father was furious that Catholic presi-dential candidates Al Smith and J.F.K. had to

defend themselves against scurrilous charges that, if they got to the White House, theywould take their orders from the pope.One must tread carefully here. A Catholicsigned on to the Roe v. Wade decision and an-other was in the court majority that upheld it in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Justice So nia Sotomayor, a Catholic, has expressed support for Roe, and Chief Justice John Roberts,a conservative Catholic, may be working for

a compromise decision that can uphold Roe.Still, this Catholic feels an intense disquietthat Catholic doctrine may be shaping (or

misshaping) the freedom and the future ofmillions of women, and men. There is a corona of religious fervour around the court, achurchly ethos that threatens to turn ourwhole country upside down.

I come from a family that hews to theCatholic dictates on abortion, and I respectthe views of my relatives. But it’s hard for meto watch the church trying to control wom-en’s sexuality after a shocking number of itsown priests sexually assaulted children andteenagers for decades, and got recycled into other parishes, as the church covered up thewhole scandal.It is also hard to see the church couch itsanti-abortion position in the context of caring

for women when it continues to keep womenin subservient roles in the church.Religiosity is a subject some Catholics onthe court have been more open about in re-cent years. Last year, at Thomas Aquinas College in California, Justice Samuel Alito fretted that there was growing cultural hostility toward Christianity and Catholicism. “Thereis a real movement to suppress the expres-sion of anything that opposes the secular or-thodoxy,”he said. Precisely which belief orpractice of his religion does he feel he hasbeen denied? President Biden is a Catholicwho is uncomfortable with the issue of abor-tion despite his support for Roe. Still, whenwas a law professor at Notre Dame, agroup she belonged to unanimously denounced the university’s decision to honourBiden even though he didn’t support thechurch’s position on abortion.We have no one in the public arena likeMario Cuomo, who respected the multiplici-ty of values in an open society and had theguts to wade into the lion’s den at Notre Dame in 1984.“The Catholic who holds political office ina pluralistic democracy who is elected toserve Jews and Muslims, atheists and Prot

estants, as well as Catholics bears specialresponsibility,” Cuomo said. “He or she undertakes to help create conditions underwhich all can live with a maximum of digni-ty and with a reasonable degree of freedom;where everyone who chooses may hold beliefs different from specifically Catholicones sometimes contradictory to them;where the laws protect people’s right to divorce, to use birth control and even to chooseabortion.” The explosive nature of Alito’sdraft opinion on Roe has brought to the forehow radical the majority on the court is,willing to make women fit with their zealous worldview a view most Americans reject.It has also shown how radical Republicansare; although after pushing for this result fordecades, because it made a good politicalweapon, they are now pretending it’s no bigdeal. We will all have to live with the cata-strophic results of their zealotry.

Dowd is a Columnist with NYT©2022

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