Whose Beliefs Do You Follow? Your Own!
I am old enough to remember having briefly met then-senator from Massachusetts, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, at a synagogue breakfast in my hometown – a suburb of Boston. He had donned a skull cap, and shook hands with my parents as well as with me. I talked little in those days, which is a testament to how young I was. I could stand unaided, and the senator shook hands with me.
Years later, his was one of the first presidential elections I tried to follow. People were very worried that he was Catholic. In our neighborhood, anybody I knew who was not Jewish seemed to be Catholic. It had never bothered me. I remember seeing on television some news-reporting-human asked him about his need to be obedient on the Pope, being a Catholic and all, and how that could limit his ability to serve. He gave what I thought then was a good answer, about not being obliged to do anything the Pope happened to say, but saying his service to the people of the United States came first. I had thought that a good answer at the time.
My parents had all kinds of concerns, as did many Jews of their generation, even though they habitually voted Democrat.
When Dogma And Doctrine Collide With Personal Rights
Now I read that a woman who could have died had an abortion in a Catholic hospital and the approval decision was made by a Catholic woman religious ethicist, who apparently was rebuked by her bishop and switched to another post.
I have not been directly involved in this sort of decision, but I thought an abortion was justified when mother’s life was in danger. I have no intimate knowledge of this case, especially not of how far along the pregnancy was, which may have been a factor in determining if viability for the fetus was possible. I really doubt this from the description, however.
Advance directives are generally honored, according to the people in charge. The patient wanted to live. This is a good thing, and although statistically she would be expected to be more likely to get depressed post-partum than when still pregnant, what if she were depressed and did not want to live?
Depression during pregnancy actually can be treated. Would that change the way things were done?
The article also says that 1/6 of all U.S. hospital beds are Catholic. In at least one of the rural California counties I have worked in, patients chose the Catholic alternative hospital as often as they could, even if they were not Catholic, because the staff were “nice.” I want to believe that they were not knowingly abdicating personal responsibility.
From the authorities quoted in this article, I doubt they were. Still, I have to wonder what the Bishop was up to. On what authority did he question the good sister. Biblical? Canon law?
Whatever it was, nobody seems to be saying.
Waiving Traditions For A Fee
I think people ought to be making decisions for themselves, without unilaterally accepting the dictates of their faiths. I know more about Judaism than Catholicism, mainly because it is the faith I was brought up in. The (conservative) rabbi who worked with my father for many years said he could not marry me to my non-Jewish husband because he would risk getting “de-rabbi-ed” and that would leave him with no way to earn a living. I did know of a reformed rabbi who would marry us for $20,000. The judge in Kansas who had done my psychiatric commitments waived his fee because marriage was the “ultimate” commitment.
I do not remember the exact fee for repeating our vows while singing with Elvis in Las Vegas but it made a damned good video.
I have no trouble with private beliefs, and not even any trouble with religion. It can and should be a source of exultation and joy in the best of times, comfort at the worst.
I have a lot of trouble with the way it seems to complicate basic precepts, like life and death and survival.
People can believe what they want if it does not hurt others. People can be public about their beliefs, but I always have to wonder to what office they are trying to get elected (or remain elected).
The good sister ought to be able to write a book and do well on the lecture circuit, for I see no reason to believe she did anything other than the right thing.