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Catholic Church’s Moral Teaching Leads to Youth Suicides

By Lavender November 4, 2010

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I find myself reflecting on the recent bullying stories amidst a maelstrom of political and religious fronts converging on a time when young people continue to kill themselves because our society hides behind “separation” of “church and state.”

Every day, I think about a kid who as a result of attending a religious service decides that suicide is the only option to free himself from an omnipresent stifling and oppressive environment.

Every day, I read church and state separation arguments in popular media that never address the irresponsible political vitriol that accompanies religious language against the GLBTQ family.

I have also been thinking about the lack of fundamental logic that’s applied to conversations about religious conviction. The quantitative evidence mounts towards the politicization of the church, yet we continue to turn a demure eye toward those in control, because “we have to respect one another’s religious views”—as though religious views on hate and discrimination lie outside the purview of law.

Well, I’m tired of teenagers not fulfilling their lives because of religious speech. I’m tired of waiting around to be right, instead of creative.

Why are religious institutions that polarize and politicize left not having to pay taxes on anything, even a textbook, when they so obviously support candidates and positions couched in obsolescent terms of “moral guidance”? What is the sanity of “morally guiding” a child to suicide?

And, I ask, what is the purpose of denying everyday folks seeking communion with their God? Is a button enough to deny a sacrament? What if I wear the golden and gentle two-footed button of the antiabortion movement on my lapel? Isn’t that a political statement similar to the 14 rainbow-lapel-pin-wearing youth denied access to communion by Archbishop John Nienstadt recently at St. John’s Abbey? If communion is openly provided to those who bear the lapel pin for antiabortion efforts and not viewed as political, shouldn’t the proud rainbow button be treated with similar compassion?

Nienstedt, the Catholic Archbishop of the St. Paul and Minneapolis Diocese, continues to invest resources in inflaming antigay rhetoric that smacks of political support. The church, strategically, stays on the fringes of outright and blatant candidate endorsement—yet willingly and literally condemns family members to eternal damnation who knowingly and willingly support “gay activities.”

Let me ask you this: If your mother supports both you and a Catholic candidate for office, which one do you think she has to choose if her worldview is that of Catholicism?

Deny someone with the pride to include themselves in the Catholic rites—it’s a matter of morality. Deny the right of women to choose—it’s a matter of morality. Openly support peace-seeking liberation theology in war-torn geographies—it’s a matter of morality.

The church has politicized its morality to the point of exasperation. Why doesn’t anyone hold the church up to the same rigorous tests of a taxable entity?

It’s easy to attack a start-up church of whatever-is-happening-now, but what about the true institutions that underpin the social fabric that leads to kids committing suicide, or at the very least, offer complicit support through silence?

Perhaps it’s time for an organization to take on the faith-based support of suicide, denial, and fear. Perhaps it’s time for the next Martin Luther to pound a screed onto the door of the church. Perhaps…it’s time to act.

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