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Letters & Op-Eds - 2007

Sacramento bee

Real Catholics

Jon O'Brien

19 March 2007

To the Editor

Why is it that conservative Catholics like Kathryn Jean Lopez (“Real Catholics still believe,” March 9, 2007) seem hell bent on making the Catholic church smaller and even more small minded than it is today? The majority of Catholics do not share her ultra-orthodox take on the world or on our religion. Catholics in the pews have for years been thinking and acting in good faith against the dictates of the hierarchy on many issues. Catholics support the use of contraception for family planning and condoms to stop the deadly advance of HIV, despite a decades-long PR and lobbying campaign by the Catholic hierarchy.

In her rant against my organization—for reasons that are unclear but perhaps have something to do with the fact that it has a high media profile—Ms. Lopez repeatedly fails to get it. The fact that I don’t agree with the pope doesn’t nullify my Catholicism. It is my church too and my Catholicism requires me not to blindly follow dogma but to speak, act and make decisions in keeping with my conscience. Like all good Catholics, I was baptized Catholic, raised Catholic and will continue to be Catholic unless I decide to join another faith.

Lopez and other ultra-orthodox, uber-Catholics may wish that those of us who disagree with current teachings on contraception, sexuality and abortion would leave the church because our beliefs make them uncomfortable. Real life, however, is marked by the fact that good people sometimes see things very differently. We have disagreements with our brothers and sisters and at times argue among ourselves. However, as we discover every Thanksgiving, we are still family despite ourselves. Our model for Catholicism is not based on Lopez’s “You’re Fired” a la Donald Trump—a model surely more suited to corporate religion rather than one based on community, fellowship, forgiveness and understanding.

An essential teaching of Catholicism is that the church is characterized by unity in diversity—and we don’t plan on leaving anytime soon.

Jon O’Brien
President
Catholics for a Free Choice

A version of this letter originally appeared in the 19 March 2007 edition of the Sacramento Bee.