According to Fr. Richard McBrien, I should be barred from speaking at or receiving and honorary degree from Catholic Institutions.
Fr. McBrien discusses the USCCB admonishment to Catholic Institutions that they “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” After bemoaning his supposition that all such documents “ben[d] over backward to win the reluctant approval of the more conservative members of the Bishops’ Conference.”, he criticizes these Catholic Institutions for selective enforcement of the policy. His complaint? They are not “censoring” enough of the right people.
McBrien wonders why this policy is used primarily to exclude those who openly oppose church teaching on “human sexuality and reproduction — in other words, abortion, homosexuality, contraception, embryonic stem-cell research, and the like.” You know, the unimportant stuff.
To McBrien there are other greater sins which cry to heaven for justice. I bet you can’t wait to hear what the master of moral equivalency wants censored. As I read McBrien’s peculiar list of peccancies, I was reminded of a scene in the movie Groundhog Day. In the scene Andi McDowell is describing her perfect man. As Bill Murray listens to the list, he responds by saying me…me…me after each item in the litany. This is what ran through my head as I read McBriens preferred list of proscribed honorees.
Potential honorees and speakers who have, for example, supported the preemptive war in Iraq [Me. In my defense I thought they had really bad bombs at the time.], opposed immigration reform that would reach out in some effective way to the 12 million or more undocumented aliens in the United States [Me…While I support reform that helps those already here I am in favor of closing the border which is at least a venial sin.], made light of the problem of global warming [Oooh, definitely me! I must have missed the encyclical on this topic. Anybody have a reference?] and other environmental concerns [Me again!], or favored capital punishment [oh! not me! Well nobody bats 1.000] , are not subject to this kind of prior censorship.
Like Bill Murray’s Phil Connors said, “I am really really close!” McBrien’s list of censurable offenses varies from disingenuous to the downright dopey.
I am particularly struck that to make light of global warming constitutes a violation of a fundamental moral principle. Can you imagine what the Pope’s reaction to that would be if someone dropped that one on him during confession? “Bless me Holy Father for I have sinned, I made light of a pseudo scientific discredited theory!”
Anyway, not that anyone is knocking down my door to give me an honorary degree or a speaking engagement, but if an Institution of Catholic higher learning were to rescind an offer to me based on McBrien’s criteria it would be the happiest day of my life. Oh, the fun I could have with that!