Sunday, December 18, 2005

Unholy Zealotry

Tis the season. Three stories strike me, two from always disgruntled Catholic Sullivan. The first involves the controvery of a somewhat positive review of Brokeback Mountain on Catholic News Service. Since then it's been edited and censored. Witness the sad disclaimer

Editor's Note: "Brokeback Mountain," originally rated L (limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling), has been reclassified O -- morally offensive. This has been done because the serious weight of the L rating -- which restricts films in that category to those who can assess, from a Catholic perspective, the moral issues raised by a movie -- is, unfortunately, misunderstood by many. Because there are some in this instance who are using the L rating to make it appear the church's -- or the USCCB's -- position on homosexuality is ambiguous, the classification has been revised specifically to address its moral content.

Also, recently Benedict's cabal excommunicated (for those who don't know much about Catholicism, that's the worst thing that can be done) an entire priest and Lay board in St. Louis over mere financial matters.

Unlike most other Roman Catholic parishes around the country, St. Stanislaus Kostka's board -- not the archbishop -- has governed the parish's finances, according to an arrangement dating to the late 19th century.

Since Burke began serving as archbishop in January 2004, he had increased pressure on the parish to conform to current church structure and hand over control of its assets.

St. Stanislaus's lay leaders refused, accusing Burke of wanting the parish's assets, estimated at more than $9 million.

The Vatican has backed Burke.

Roger Krasnicki, spokesman for the St. Stanislaus board, said avenues of appeal are available but had in the past proved to be "an exercise in futility."

"I think it's a gross error of judgment on his part," Krasnicki said of Burke's decision. "It's a sad day in the Catholic Church."

What? I understand the need to impose discipline. But excommunication, permanently removing these people from the Catholic Church, is a horrific act. As Catholicism holds that those not in the Church cannot achieve salvation, this Archbishop effectively damned these people to hell over a governance issue. I'm speechless at the completely unChristian nature of this action.

And last, but not least, we have the American Family Assocaition protesting Walmart for not saying Merry Christmas. In case you forgot, these are the same clowns trying to prevent a cancer vaccine because it might take away some of the risks of sex. Again, words escape me at this kind of lunacy. It's one thing to be upset over the government preventing people from saying Merry Christmas, but what business do these people have trying to attack a private corporation over it?

In an online petition, the American Family Association recently gathered more than 500,000 signatures asking Target to include Christmas in its promotions. Stores such as Sears and Wal-Mart are facing boycotts.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Amy Wyatt said the company has made no effort to remove Christmas from its holiday ads. She said a promotion set to run from mid-November to early January was simply misunderstood: its slogan is "home for the holidays."

"It was a matter of choosing a slogan that carries through the entire season," Wyatt said. "The signs went up before Thanksgiving and won't be taken down until after New Year's. The idea was to focus on the family."

About 50 protesters took part in Saturday's demonstration, organized by religious leaders. Dick Otterstad of the Church of the Divide donned a Santa Claus costume and greeted shoppers with the message: Don't forget about the meaning of Christmas.

Again, Tis the Season.