Tuesday, November 8, 2011

East Side, West Side: Opposing Views of the Good

By Paula Ruddy

While some Catholics were gathered at the Soul Conference at St. Catherine University Saturday morning talking about the grandeur of God in the universe and the ethics of saving the planet, on the other side of town others were gathered at Our Lady of Grace Church in Edina talking about the evils of same-sex marriage.

The bishops of Minnesota sponsored the talks in Edina. Angela Pfister, ethics professor from Notre Dane, and Jason Adkins, Executive Director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference spoke for the bishops.

The bishops framed their case as a right and a duty for them to speak about a societal decline in morals. Anthony Picarello Jr., general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is reported by MPR to have said: "You need to have bishops teaching the faithful and proclaiming to the world in order to transform the culture out of which these bad thing arise. I think it took about 40 years for us to end up in the predicament we're in. It's probably going to take that time or longer to get out of the predicament. But you got to start somewhere."

We have no quarrel with the bishops about their right and duty to oppose evil. We have different views on what is evil. The bishops are looking at the last 40 years and seeing a decline, a predicament we have got ourselves into. We are looking at the last 400+ years and seeing that growing predicament—one the Catholic Church has helped to create. The predicament is a culture of domination of nature, forced ideology, denial of the feminine. The Soul Conference, focusing on human zest for life, the evolutionary humanization of sex and the loving care of children, each other, and creation, inspired a trust in humans to listen to the God within, to live with rather than in domination of nature.

The evils the bishops see are real: increasing failures of marriage, break down of family, dysfunction, addiction. Are these caused by gays and lesbians wanting to get married? Are they caused by gays and lesbians wanting equal civil rights? Are these desires of gays and lesbians part of the evil scene at all?

We believe same-sex marriage equality is a good thing—long overdue for the flourishing of citizens with same gender sexual orientation and for the flourishing of our society. It is one of the ways out of our evil predicament—along with equality and inclusion of many other kinds.

The view from the East side of town is a vision about God immanent in creation and leading its evolution toward union with Spirit. The world is a good place. It is a very Catholic view.

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