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25.10.2020 Feature Article

Speak Not In My Name

Speak Not In My Name
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A little context of this article: - A sermon was delivered not long ago that appears to support and endorse hypocrisy, selfishness, greediness, dishonesty, immorality, lying, intolerance, wickedness and deception. It purports to contradict the church’s teachings on decency, honesty, integrity, fairness, morality, civility, and as a proud member of the universal church I can’t help but to express my humble opinion as I can’t live with my conscience and I’m, indeed, troubled by my silence. Hence, my decision to share my views with Ghanaians, not only are events happening elsewhere, indirectly, affect the people of Ghana, they also serve as ‘copycat’ for charlatans (both religious and political) who seek to justify their invidious exploitative behaviours by citing examples of mishaps from established democracies. More so, there might be a lot of conflicted members of the universal church in Ghana who might have seen this viral video and must be wondering, like me, how on earth could this be justifiable after all these ‘shitholing’ antics.

This sermon would have carried more weight and credibility if there hadn’t been any experience with Trumpism for the past 4 years.

No one ever thought and dreamt that a whole Catholic Priest will one day engage in anti-Catholic sentiments out of convenience. JFK might be turning in his grave. Hypocrisy, certainly, is the mother of all deception.

There was nothing homily about this sermon but bold on spewing hypocrisy to the clapping ‘gullible’ audience - preaching to the choir basically. By glossing over the serious character flaws of the non-Catholic individual, no fair minded, reasonable Catholic will take the import of the sermon seriously - it’s just lost on mere doctrinal instructions. Fear mongering of the impending risk of religious liberties under a vibrant democracy like that of U.S where religious liberties are guaranteed under the constitution and have been observed by both democratic and republican governments would have been credible if it had included all other religions aside from extremists' right-wing conservative evangelical religious views, this is deceptive.

This display of cognitive dissonance is very instructive and wantonly dishonest, to say the least, on so many levels.

First of all, in one breath Fr. has the temerity to accuse others of questioning the SCOTUS nominee, the honourable Judge Lady’s Catholic faith but in the same breath he conveniently turns around and questions Joe Biden’s Catholic faith in his sermon. He professes to know what’s in Joe Biden’s heart but not that of the lady judge’s heart. This sermon is not about the truth, it's about pure propaganda and clear hypocrisy on steroids.

Secondly, it’s very instructive that Fr. only mentions Pope Emeritus Benedict’s name to support his numerous allegations against Joe Biden but not that of Pope Francis, only in passing and in jest so to speak - i.e. his reference to a picture of Joe Biden with the pope - a clear sign of his apparent disdain for the present pope. Vatican II is here to stay forever!!

Thirdly, unbelievably, Fr. doesn’t contrast the obvious character flaws and the behaviour of the non-Catholic individual, he is implicitly endorsing, to that of Catholic Joe Biden he is lambasting. A non-Catholic individual with obviously no moral compass, proven daily in both public and private, by his actions and deeds is not in the same league as a Catholic who embodies decency and humility. This non-Catholic individual (backed by political religious zealots) was the first president to appoint an opening Gay person in his cabinet and while in office the federal funding for the ‘despised’ Planned-Parenthood organization allegedly increased in record numbers in 2019 despite the rhetoric. What’s more of a threat to the very things the sermon is supposed to be all about than these actions?

It’s just unfortunate that the sermon doesn’t also stress on the importance of honesty, truthfulness, integrity, decency, fairness, empathy, civility, decorum, morality, responsibility, competence and principled behaviour. The failure of the sermon to recognize and address these very important attributes in one’s life/character was deafening if not jarring.

Catholic Joe Biden arguably embodies the above values more than the non-Catholic individual the sermon appears to endorse. Having a difference in opinion about the church’s policy doesn’t make one less of a Catholic than a conservative Catholic cultural warrior, and by the same token having ultra conservative far-right stand/views on the church’s policy doesn’t make one more of a Catholic than the pope. Following the Catholic social doctrine is equally as important as being pro-life and pro-marriage because adherence to it saves a lot of lives as well.

The recognition of the choices people make in life, be it good or bad, shouldn’t be a disqualifier for any one, that recognition is a sign of one’s appreciation of God’s will. After all, the Almighty God, our maker, isn’t some kind of dictatorial Supreme Being, he gave us our free will to choose between different possible courses of actions unimpeded but with severe consequences depending on the choices we make. He could have chosen to make us all think the same but he chose to do otherwise and allowed Lucifer’s (Satan’s) descent on earth to dwell with us. Who are we as mortal human beings to judge others? Let one’s character, integrity and honesty speak for the individual and leave the judgment to the Lord Almighty.

The categorization of sins as negotiable and non-negotiable should be rejected. It shouldn’t be accepted that one sin is less or greater than the other. It could forcefully be argued that the dismissal and acceptance of these apparent smaller sins lead to the so-called bigger sins which allow the abuse of the very things the sermon is all about - sanctity of life, childhood innocence and preservation of marriage. As a result of the hierarchy apparent tolerance of these smaller sins in a person’s character by hypocritically dismissing them as negotiable and not that fundamentally important, the anti-abortion, preservation of marriage messages that are so dear to the church will continue to be blunted.

Back then we thought Liberation theology was a threat to Catholicism, not so now, as right-wing, far right conservatism poses far more threat to Catholicism and the fabric of its social doctrine. It’s this ultra-conservative attitude of lack of empathy, understanding, reason and fear of others that possibly allows child abuse to be swept under the carpet because it’s considered to be so shameful to the church’s image and thus its exposure would possibly blunt the church’s anti-abortion message and stand. We’re all witnesses to what happened afterwards, the scandalous manner of silencing the victims and rather protecting the offenders caused much more damage to the church’s reputation than the exposure itself. It’s this attitude that denied religious orders to religious people of colour for a long time in the U.S.

We’ve also been made to believe that socialism poses a threat to Catholicism, however, unbridled capitalism poses far more threat to Catholicism than one may think. It affects the church’s cherished social doctrine. Unbridled capitalism, more often than not, denies workers; a living wage, an affordable healthcare, a decent shelter and therefore a decent living and the peace of mind that comes with it. Often times, it deprives people the dignity of living and, sometimes, it’s those people who find themselves in these desperate situations that are forced to make these unpleasant, unfortunate choices that in turn affect the very things Catholicism hold dear e.g. sanctity of life i.e. anti-abortion.

From records, the solutions are not banning abortion, closing down abortion centres, spewing or employing fear mongering tactics because, instead of these serving as deterrent, these actions tend to exacerbate the situation far more drastically. If someone intends to sin, no matter the barriers, he/she will find ways and means to do so despite the dreaded consequences. The solutions are; giving people the alternatives to abortion like opening up more adoption centres, vigorous counseling, persuasion, provision of means or assistance to those who find themselves in these circumstances not only to keep the baby but also to look after themselves and the baby after delivery, providing encouragement to and support for people to adopt.

Pro-life is not only about life in the womb, it’s about the living as well i.e. caring for life at every stage on this earth not only when it’s in the womb. It’s a pure contradiction to be pro-life but in favour of the death penalty - capital punishment that continues to send innocent people to their premature deaths. Those aren’t two conflating issues at all and there shouldn’t be a distinction between one and the other because life is life, and therefore pro-life should really mean something for all lives at every stage - that all humans, including the unborn, have a right to life!

In a middle of a deadly pandemic, isn’t it ironic that some of those people vociferous about pro-life are the very people who want to have the choice to put their lives and others at risk by refusing to wear face masks and follow public health guidelines and protocols - that could potentially save a lot of lives? And they have the guts to be the judge to deny others the choice to make decisions about their own lives. The sermon appears to be against anyone following the science to deal with this pandemic and, coveniently, avoids mentionoing the treatment of the non-Catholic individual for COVID-19 with a coctail of drugs derived from foetal tissue stem cell. This, indeed, flies in the face of common sense which shouldn’t be entertained!

There is absolutely nothing wrong to be pure, however, trying to be purer than thou to obtain complete purity by disregarding reason, reality and circumstances lead to wickedness and atrocities towards others. The history of the universal church or religion in particular and for that matter any ideology, be it communism, socialism, capitalism, liberalism, libertarianism, atheism, secularism (or theocracy) in general is replete with such unfortunate stories like that.

To put it in vivid context, this sermon is akin to the preaching of a certain ideology that pontificates ‘Thou shalt not kill’ but then turns round to wink at its followers to kill to defend that ideology with an ultimate reward/price of 100 virgins in heaven for the young men - ridiculous.

Speak not in my name as a Catholic.
Disclaimer: - I’m a staunch practising Catholic and I’ll do everything to defend my Catholic faith even if I have to embark on a peaceful crusade to do so.

I believe, support and embrace strongly the Catholic social doctrine which commands the faithful believers to be empathetic to others’ plight.

I’m anti-abortion and a pro-lifer for all lives at every stage not only for the life in the womb but for the living as well. I’m also for the preservation and sanctity of marriage and believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman and nothing else and shouldn’t be appropriated for any other union other than a man and a woman.

Even though I may not like, support nor encourage it, I also appreciate that those who choose to live their lives otherwise shouldn’t be hunted down, tortured, killed nor be discriminated against. They have the right to call whatever union they choose to pursue, something else. I also believe they are also children of God and he alone is the ultimate judge.

"Facts Are Sacred but Opinions Are Free"
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Michael Addai
Michael Addai, © 2020

The author has 10 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: MichaelAddai

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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