Kathleen Kennedy Townsend Writes About Catholicism, Hardly Knows A Thing About It

When it comes to getting published, I guess it really helps to have "Kennedy" in your name, especially when writing about a topic you know little about. A new article by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend at Newsweek.com exhibits such a glaring ignorance of Catholicism and Catholic teaching, it is nothing short of astounding.

Townsend begins with the mind-numbing premise that "Barack Obama represents American Catholics better than the pope does." It gets even worse from there.

1. "[T]he Vatican shows disdain (if not disgust) toward gays": Townsend does not provide a shred of evidence to support her claim, and she really demonstrates her ignorance of Catholic teaching. Here's what paragraph 2358 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

[Those with homosexual inclinations] must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

Does that sound like "disdain" or "disgust" to anyone? The Catechism clearly distinguishes between homosexual acts and homosexual tendencies.

Townsend – and others oblivious of Catholic teaching – also might want to check out the 1986 letter, "Letter to the Bishops of The Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons." (Check out the author, too!) ("It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.")

2. "The hierarchy ignores women's equality": Ugh. Again, here's the Catechism, this time from paragraph 2334 (quoting Church documents):

"In creating men 'male and female,' God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity." "Man is a person, man and woman equally so, since both were created in the image and likeness of the personal God."

Several other teachings could be cited. But I suppose by "women's equality," Townsend must be thinking along the lines of women ordination – an impossibility.

This may come as a surprise to Townsend, but the Catholic Church recognizes seven sacraments, one of which is called Holy Orders. The sacraments were instituted by Jesus himself. The Church simply does not have the authority to change the nature of a sacrament. Townsend (and Sister Theresa Kane, whom she cites) might want to get up to speed on Pope John Paul II's important 1994 apostolic letter, "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis."

3. "Meanwhile, against all scientific evidence and protestations from clergy on the ground, the pope claims that condoms aggravate the spread of AIDS": Again, not only does Townsend not provide this so-called "evidence," her claim that the Pope is wrong about condoms and AIDS is flat-out wrong.

As NewsBusters reported earlier this year, Edward C. Green, the director of Harvard's AIDS Prevention Research Project and a self-professed liberal, admitted that the Pope was entirely correct that condoms do aggravate the spread of AIDS:

INTERVIEWER: Is Pope Benedict being criticized unfairly for his comments about HIV and condoms?

DR. GREEN: This is hard for a liberal like me to admit, but yes, it's unfair because in fact, the best evidence we have supports his comments — at least his major comments, the ones I have seen.

Dr. Green continued,

There's no evidence at all that condoms have worked as a public health intervention intended to reduce HIV infections at the "level of population."

The full interview is at Christianity Today.

There's a lot more that can be said about Townsend's ridiculous piece, but one more thing bears mentioning. Townsend's awful article perfectly illustrates that far too many people who call themselves "Catholic" are completely ignorant and oblivious to what the Church teaches. Most Catholics don't even attend Mass on Sunday. They can't tell you the difference between Peter and Paul. Many would be unable to tell you who wrote the Gospel of Mark even if you spotted them the M and the a. In this regard, the Church has failed miserably to properly catechize the flock.

My advice to Townsend:

1. Buy a Bible. Read it. I like to advise beginners to start with the New Testament. After familiarizing yourself with that, then go to the Old.

2. Buy a Catechism. Read it. Start wherever you'd like.

3. Check out a reliable source of Catholic teaching like Catholic Answers. Avoid discredited losers like Richard McBrien.

4. Pray. Take a cue from Samuel (1 Kings 3:5-12).