Re Tim Padgett’s Oct. 22 column, Church should divine the truths of parishioners’ beliefs: I was not one of the eight American prelates at the Synod in Rome. True, I did liken that piece of raw judicial activism called Obergefelt v. Hodges to the infamous Dred Scott decision — but it’s hard to see why to do so was “over the top” when Chief Justice Roberts said the same thing in his dissent.
More egregious is his charge that the Catholic Church only belatedly condemned slavery in 1888.
When racial slavery emerged in the 15th century, the church was not slow to condemn the practice. From 1435 to 1890, there were numerous bulls and encyclicals condemning both slavery and the slave trade. Paul III’s Sublimis Deus (1537) — cited approvingly by Gustavo Gutierrez, the founder of Liberation Theology — has pride of place among these papal teachings.
Unfortunately many Catholics — including not a few bishops and priests — reacted then to the church’s magisterium much like Padgett and his ilk do today: by dissenting and asserting a “right” to pick and choose what teachings of the church they will follow.
Padgett, for example, rails against the church’s teachings on contraception in Humanae Vitae, yet it is hard to dispute what Paul VI predicted would follow a widespread acceptance of artificial contraception: namely, a general lowering of moral standards throughout society; a rise in infidelity; a lessening of respect for women by men; and the coercive use of reproductive technologies by governments.
There are not a few who criticize the Catholic Church for its “worn out rigidity” — but the most honest among them call themselves Protestants.
Still, Padgett says he is a “good,” “practicing” Catholic.
Allow me to give him some sage advice: Practice some more.
Thomas Wenski, archbishop, Archdiocese of Greater Miami