12 October 2009

Does Michael Moore prove that Catholicism is progressive?

An interesting post from Austen Iverleigh at Comment is Free about Michael Moore.

In a recent Youtube clip, the extreme right-wing Fox News host Sean Hannity invites Moore to classify himself as an "unapologetic socialist."

It's a sad comment on contemporary America (and indeed Britain) that Moore didn't just say "yes I am". Instead he said "I am a Christian" and then got into an argument with Hannity about the true nature of Christianity - or to be more specific, Catholicism.
Moore wins out in this instance, because Hannity is an ignorant bully-boy moron, just like everyone else on Fox News.

And I'd certainly agree that there's a lot that's socialistic about Jesus as portrayed in the Gospels. But what about Roman Catholicism in particular? Is it a progressive ideology?

Overall I would have to say that Catholicism as laid down by the leader of the Catholic Church - i.e. the Pope - cannot be progressive, because it is fundamentally characterised by two reactionary assumptions. These are:

  • the completely anti-democratic principle that the Pope is chosen by a conclave of Catholic leaders (cardinals) rather than elected by churchgoers;
  • the stipulation that women cannot be Catholic priests.
There are other things that the Catholic church does that I disagree with but these seem to me to be the two obvious stipulations that make it impossible to see the "official" Catholic church line as anything but reactionary. It's built on authoritarianism and misogyny.

Now it's certainly the case that there are millions of people in the Catholic church - including Michael Moore - who are very left of centre politically. And they may well be left of centre because they're influenced by Christian teachings. But to me, they're left of centre despite being in the Catholic church.

So why stay in the Catholic church if the leadership is diametrically opposed to your views about the way it should be run? Why not leave and join another church? It's not as if there aren't a lot to choose from.

That's the question I'd like Michael Moore (whom I have the greatest respect for, by the way) to answer.

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