Casting stones at Catholics

Blasphemy: Bites isn’t much of a churchgoer these days, unless you count this week’s The Church show at Harlow’s, where Bites got so filled with the spirits that he almost ended up praying at the porcelain altar. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

No, Bites is talking about the Church with a big “C,” and that “C” stands for Catholic. Bites was raised Catholic, but I was an ugly child, so luckily the priests kept their hands off me. The biggest scars Bites bears from those years are bad knees from all that stand-sit-kneel crap during Masses, and a fairly self-righteous sense of morality.

Fortunately, the belief that I know more about how things ought to be than most people has been a real asset to my career as a glib, know-it-all newspaper columnist. It’s certainly worked out better for Bites than conservative Catholics these days.

Take, for example, the Catholic Family Association of America, whose membership is filled with the most judgmental sorts of Catholics. Even their motto bespeaks some serious intolerance for divergent views: “Truth Before Unity. Charity in Truth.”

Mostly, the CFAA condemns homosexuality and those who sanction abortion, so they’re no fans of Governor Gray Davis, a practicing Catholic. They were already pissed at him for being pro-choice, but now that Davis has gone and formed a task force to study same-sex civil unions, well, the CFAA is ready to launch a crusade on Sacramento.

So last week, according to its own announcement, “CFAA called upon Bishop William K. Weigand, of the Diocese of Sacramento to publicly deny California Gov. Gray Davis reception of all sacraments but that of repentance, and to excommunicate him from the Catholic Church if Davis persists in public scandal.”

Among Catholics, them’s fightin’ words. It came in an article from CFAA President Timothy Chichester titled “Spiritual Frankensteins,” in which he likened socially tolerant Catholics to “monsters nurtured in the bosom of the Church, programmed to turn on her like Manchurian Candidates.”

But what really makes the CFAA’s call so pathetically ironic was the fact that just two days after it was penned and posted on the Internet, Bishop Weigand held a press conference to announce that 14 priests in the Sacramento Diocese have been accused of sexual misconduct with minors over the last 30 years, and publicly vowed to lead his church in atoning for those past sins.

While Weigand is to be commended for his stand, the revelations of more Catholic priests molesting boys and girls further diminishes any moral authority that Catholics have to judge others, particularly those taking part in consensual sexual activities that hurt no one, unlike those poor choir boys.

The CFAA places more stock in an obscure biblical passage from Leviticus, which calls homosexuality an abomination, than it does in one of the main messages that Jesus Christ had to offer: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

What Simon doesn’t say: As y’all know, Bites isn’t usually one to shield Gray Davis from stones. But now that Californians are being forced to choose between Davis and gubernatorial challenger Bill Simon, suddenly Gray doesn’t seem quite so dangerous.

Davis may piss off his fellow Catholics by being overtly pro-choice, but Simon has been doing everything he can to hide from California the fact that he’ll hammer away at a women’s right to an abortion every chance he gets, something Democrats highlighted during a Simon speech in Sacramento last week with signs like “Simon & Taliban Oppose Choice.”

Will he push parental notification or other barriers to abortion? Would he cut state funding for family planning, or use state funds for pro-life propaganda? And if Roe v. Wade is overturned, would he sign legislation making abortion illegal?

It’s become so bad that Simon won’t even use the word “abortion” in public, and refuses to address questions about an issue that is important to many Californians.

Like Davis did on the energy deregulation issue, waiting until it was too late to do any good, Simon’s silence could unknowingly send pro-choice California down an anti-abortion path, with serious potential consequences for our young women.