THIS is what gets my dander up!

Our church community- that means the churches in our county- take part each year in Crop Walk. Crop Walk, an international aid effort sponsored by Church World Service helps support long term development in over 80 countries and raises $4,000,000 annually for domestic hunger relief. This year much of that relief will go directly to hurricane victims on the Gulf Coast. There is no better thing to do on an early fall Sunday afternoon. Around here the sponsoring church rotates each year and that church houses the opening prayer service with choral music and the end of walk potluck. Hundreds of walkers sign up sponsors and head off walking miles for this incredibly good cause.

*    5,487,307 CROPWALKERS over the past 20 years
*    1,807 CROP WALKS and other community events in Fall 2004-Spring 2005
*    35,527 CROP WALKS in the past two decades
*    Food banks, pantries, and other local hunger-fighting initiatives received checks from CROP WALKS in Fall 2003-Spring 2004 totaling nearly $4 million
*    Upwards of 200 corporations match employee gifts and/or volunteer hours to the CROP WALK
*    $264,859,614 raised by CROPWALKERS over the past 20 years

OKAY- HERE’S THE RANT.

This year the Catholic Church  decided to ban it’s members from taking part in the crop walk because- are you ready for this? A tiny fraction of Church World Service proceeds go towards distributing condoms in Africa to prevents HIV and AIDs. Church World Service, in response, turned the other cheek and offered to
send designated proceeds directly to Catholic Relief Services to manage their charity as they see fit. Good enough?  No. Catholics have been asked to not take part in Crop Walk.

Dear Lord, someone is seriously testing my ability to get with organized religion.
Help me out here, please.

And you? Read the links and let me know what you think. Better yet, let someone
with some influence know what you think.

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34 responses to “THIS is what gets my dander up!

  1. I have strong leanings toward the Catholic Church. However, I applaud my friend Don for standing up and walking out of a Mass in which the parishioners were encouraged to vote against Gay Marriage.

    This is one of those circumstances in which I, if I were Catholic, would examine my own life. If I were using birth control, then I would feel obligated to walk. What is going to happen to the Catholics who walk anyway? Are they going to be excommunicated?

    I don’t quite share your wrath, but I think there are plenty of circumstances in which Good Catholics ignore their priests. Let this be one of them.

  2. I have strong leanings toward the Catholic Church. However, I applaud my friend Don for standing up and walking out of a Mass in which the parishioners were encouraged to vote against Gay Marriage.

    This is one of those circumstances in which I, if I were Catholic, would examine my own life. If I were using birth control, then I would feel obligated to walk. What is going to happen to the Catholics who walk anyway? Are they going to be excommunicated?

    I don’t quite share your wrath, but I think there are plenty of circumstances in which Good Catholics ignore their priests. Let this be one of them.

  3. This is why I never get into religion. The targets are too easy.

  4. I’m a Catholic too and don’t always agree with their preaching, including here, but I feel the A2 News is often anti-Catholic with their articles. With this one, I thought they were trying to instigate a bit of Catholic bashing. In fact, because of anti-Catholic articles, I do not subscribe anymore.

    Hea, my sister-in-law did submit my blog in the A2 News “Best Ann Arbor Blog.” So I got one vote. Don’t know who won, though. Cause I don’t subscribe.

    Bonnie was a gracious loser. But my old school chum was very bitter about the MSU loss.

  5. It’ll be interesting to see if any of the Catholic church members decide to walk anyway, in spite of what I feel is sheer ignorance on the part of their Church leadership.
    The Aids/HIV epidemic is far too large an issue for the church to dismiss; it must be addressed by the Catholic leaders somehow, and in a proactive, decisive manner.

    Since the church won’t endorse the use of condoms.. what IS their solution?

    I found the amount of money that is being raised by the Cropwalkers to be very impressive and it sounds like fun to boot. I hope you all have a blast!

  6. Dave- I agree that The Ann Arbor Snooze is rarely fit to read (hence we don’t subscribe and I missed the Blog contest- rats! I bet Chocolate Runner got it…) BUT-This issue was not just local to Ann Arbor. Throughout the midwest and I’m not certain how much further, Catholics were told not to participate. The inability of that church- and much of the world for that matter- to recognize the demise of an entire continent is something I can barely think about it’s so painful. The disease, the ethnic cleansing, the exploitation, the starvation- how can we, as the human community, let this go on and on and on? And how can I find it anything short of reprehensible that the Catholic Church will hold tight a believe system that ignores and propogates such horror. I just come up short on how to understand this.

  7. OMG. I’m so with you, V. My stance on organized religion? If the religion has ever murdered anyone in its name or abused or hurt children in any way, they are OUT. Which leaves me with the Buddhists, the Quakers, and the Unitarians.

    Damn, I’m feeling a rant coming on.

  8. OMG. I’m so with you, V. My stance on organized religion? If the religion has ever murdered anyone in its name or abused or hurt children in any way, they are OUT. Which leaves me with the Buddhists, the Quakers, and the Unitarians.

    Damn, I’m feeling a rant coming on.

  9. That’s rough. Organized religion is a tough bus for me to get onboard!

  10. It pains me to side with the Catholic Church during the anniversary month of the Reformation, but I’m opposed to sending condoms to Africa, too. There is still a small bastion of people who hold that encouraging sex outside of marriage is wrong and that encouraging the use of birth control is sinful. This is part of a belief system. As matters continue to worsen in the African continent, perhaps we should also investigate why the money being sent is not getting to the people who need it – corrupt leaders are keeping it for themselves. Apparently, New Orleans has plenty of dishonest leaders only too happy to misuse hurricane relief money, too.

    God blesses and helps the needy, the givers, the receivers, those who fear and love Him, and all the rest of us self-righteous hypocrites (present company excluded, of course), as well!

  11. You. You. What am I to do with a friend like you? You know I admire and welcome both your widom and your strength of conviction. Thank you for posting your comment, Bonnie. We are a self-righteous lot aren’t we, especially when it comes to football and religion?
    But I just can’t wrap myself around this one. It feels to me as though these are sad, ignorant and plagued people who need both God’s love and condoms. This pandemic is killing more people, especially babies and children- it seems to me that not providing them with all that they need to both prevent and treat is an example of man’s inhumanity to man. You know that I too don’t need to question or even understand the plan but this something we should be helping with, not making worse. I believe the Catholic Church’s position on this is extremely destructive.

  12. Football, religion, and contraception in my case, I’m afraid…thanks for your big-heartedness – only one of the reasons why I come here.

  13. *ahem*

    Leaving the condom issue aside (I’m too hot-headed on that score) I don’t understand why the gesture of sending the money to Catholic charities was not deemed acceptable?

  14. *ahem*

    Leaving the condom issue aside (I’m too hot-headed on that score) I don’t understand why the gesture of sending the money to Catholic charities was not deemed acceptable?

  15. I am going to withhold a personal comment. The last time I commented on something about the Catholic Church I lost a very dear friend. My husband is Catholic. I am independent Baptist. See the conflict of view here?

  16. Oh, I forgot to add that I did the meme.

  17. Oh my.

    It is true that perhaps a percentage of HIV and AIDS sufferers are reaping what they sowed of their own free will, but there is also a percentage of those who suffer innocently, and I would hate to be the one to deny the innocent help just because I did not approve of the actions of a few others.

    In fact, haven’t I read “somewhere” that we are not supposed to “judge” others at all, lest we ourselves be judged? And who among us could stand up to such, and come out smelling completely like a rose?

    Therefore, I say give, give, give, as much as we can, to whomever might need it. Give to all the needy, yes, and also to those deemed unworthy by people who have apparently forgotten that judgement is not our prerogative. Hospitality is to be meted out to all, not just to those of whom we personally approve. And how do we know that the least of those who knocks, is not an angel?

  18. God will judge everyone in His own time. My job is to live by His Word and spread the hope found therein. How can I do that if I’m tied in knots over judging others? That is God’s domain. He will be the ultimate judge, not based on man’s laws but on His.

  19. “We don’t think Catholics should be entangled with organizations that support activities contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church,” said diocese spokesman Michael Diebold.”

    Fair enough. Is Mr Diebold suggesting that Catholics refrain from attending medical school? After all, some medical intervention is decidedly against Catholic doctrine- and that too, is taught in Med school.

    Further, does Mr Diebold believe that Church relations with other faiths be abandoned, and perhaps even broken, because of disparate beliefs?

    That kind of thinking is outdated.

    To quote someone famous with a following, “‘The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath’ (Mark 2:27)” In other words, there is a time and a place for the strict application of doctrine and a time where the deed trumps doctrine.

  20. I feel like sending a protest donation to Church World Service.

  21. Calling the ideas with which you disagree “outdated” is a sly tactic, Docs! What good has ever come from distributing free condoms, either here or in Africa? Au contraire, this practice is fraught with immorality, condescension, and cruelty.

    Uganda’s first lady, Janet Museveni, disagrees with you, for one. The first lady’s office is one of the major recipients of U.S. funding (condoms) to combat HIV/Aids. Yet, she pushes for abstinence and faithfulness in the fight against HIV/Aids, as do many Africans. “Condoms” and “safe sex” are insulting to her way of thinking and degrading to many Ugandans and other Africans, as well. Uganda’s Pastor Martin Ssempa says donor funding has been heavily biased towards promoting condoms for years, and he claims this has lead to an escalation in casual sex and infidelity. Could we be making matters worse with our “good” deeds?!

  22. Calling the ideas with which you disagree “outdated” is a sly tactic, Docs! What good has ever come from distributing free condoms, either here or in Africa? Au contraire, this practice is fraught with immorality, condescension, and cruelty.

    Uganda’s first lady, Janet Museveni, disagrees with you, for one. The first lady’s office is one of the major recipients of U.S. funding (condoms) to combat HIV/Aids. Yet, she pushes for abstinence and faithfulness in the fight against HIV/Aids, as do many Africans. “Condoms” and “safe sex” are insulting to her way of thinking and degrading to many Ugandans and other Africans, as well. Uganda’s Pastor Martin Ssempa says donor funding has been heavily biased towards promoting condoms for years, and he claims this has lead to an escalation in casual sex and infidelity. Could we be making matters worse with our “good” deeds?!

  23. *sighing heavily* Sorry. This is going to be too long.

    Well. I don’t know what it is about being Catholic, even an angry ex-Catholic like me, but I feel compelled to offer my [mildly contrary] opinion.

    As a Jesuit priest once said to me, the Church has some hard edges. This makes them a very easy target. The Catholic Church is pro-life, anti-birth control, and anti-abortion. That’s who they are. Although I disagree with their stance, I respect the fact that they don’t water down their doctrine just because a lot of people feel differently.

    The Catholic Church is also against the death penalty, and Pope John Paul spoke out against the invasion of Iraq,including a personal plea to George W.Bush, and before that against the nuclear arms race, and many other issues related to war and death.

    American Catholics pretty much pick and choose their issues. It’s a mixed-bag. I know many Catholics who use birth control and support condom use to prevent the spread of STD’s. I also know some Catholics who support the death penalty and the war in Iraq. And plenty who don’t.

    I don’t know much about the Crop Walk or the relationship between Church World Services and Catholic Relief Services. But a cursory search revealed that there has been disagreement between CWS and CRS on accounting issues that go back about 2 years. And, when I searched on the Vatican website, and the Catholic dot net, etc, I could find no reference to the Crop Walk at all.

    Apparently this is a brouhaha in the mid-west, because of the 2 mid-west dioceses who told their parishioners to boycott the walk, but it’s not really in the news anywhere else. So, it’s not really a matter of “The Church” forbidding all Catholics to do this. I think it’s more a local issue. If I’m wrong, sorry.

    One more thing – believe me when I say that the Catholic Church makes me very angry. But, some of the kindest, most humane, and generous people I have ever met have been Catholic priests and nuns. They labor under extremely difficult conditions in desperately poor and dangerous parts of the world. In most cases, they never mention the Church or the Gospel They simply serve the poor.

    Don’t ever tell my very Catholic parents that I came perilously close to defending the Church. It would make them way too happy.

  24. Bonnie raises the bar with some more research and thought. But here’s the problem with this: In an effort to promote a higher and more respectful moral ideal there’s denial at play. Sub-Saharan Africa is the region of the world that is most affected by HIV & AIDS. An estimated 25.4 million people are living with HIV and approximately 3.1 million new infections occurred in 2004. In just the past year the epidemic has claimed the lives of an estimated 2.3 million people in this region. Around 2 million children under 15 are living with HIV and more than twelve million children have been orphaned by AIDS. Uganda, in fact, has one of the lowest infection rates of African nations.
    I am certain that this is one of those problems which has no simple cause or solution. The vast majority of research supports the idea that distribution of ample condoms reduces the disease but as it stands now the distribution rate is 4.1 condoms per man per year in rural areas where the disease rate continues to rise. Education programs which include the teaching of abstinence AND ample condom supply in urban areas show some reversal in the disease rate.
    Church World Service, the organizer and sponsor of Crop Walk, has been providing full service education and medical care to Africans for years and they have most certainly been critical in the treatment of AIDs on that continent. This is in addition to the incredible array of services the provide here at home and abroad. This link outlines their current programs and goals:
    http://www.churchworldservice.org/service/Fall05/mdg.html
    To ban participation in a charitable event that benefits so many around the world is akin, at best, to throwing out the baby with the bath and at worst, is in denial of massive human suffering.

  25. Mary- I think you raise an interesting defense but I always have a problem, personally, with church doctrine (definitely not just Catholic; the Misery Synod is one I am intimately familiar with) that is in stark contrast to life on this planet. I do very much value that it is the “job” our faith to hold us to higher ideals than those we operate by on a day-to-day basis but for me one of those ideals includes caring for the meek. CRS had no trouble taking funds from CWS until CWS began expanding their outreach to addressing Third World misery that includes family planning and disease spread.
    I absolutely agree with you that it has been my experience that church workers are often untiring in their kindness and charity.

  26. Vicki, as usual I agree with you, Mamacita, SRP and the good docs. My husband is Catholic and we argue about a lot of stances that the church promotes. This one is new to me (have not heard about it being a problem here). Why is it not possible to hand out condoms in Africa while verbally promoting abstinence as a way of life? It could be done that way, by realists, who know that once begun, sex will not be stopped by our refusal to supply condoms. How unrealistic can they get??

  27. A fascinating discussion of ideas that remained mature, logical and thoughtful. I applaud all of you! Where do I stand? Well, firmly on the fence–but leaning toward Vicki’s position because after all, I grew up in a liberal household with an ex-Catholic turned Episcopalian mother. I don’t see condoms as inherently immoral, nor an invitation to extra-marital sex. I have been married for over 20 years and we have used condoms because I don’t like the birth control pill.

  28. Throwing the baby out with the bath water seems an unfortunate cliche to choose, Vicki, for it is the baby who those opposed to family planning hold in the highest regard. Re the link: I remain suspicious of any group that is involved with the U.N.

    We should focus on the abuse of power in this area of the world and ensure that the donations are sent directly to the children and others who are in need of help. We are throwing good money and bad condoms (another little known problem with our “help” is that the condoms we giddily send to the poor and dying in Africa are often faulty) at a problem with deep roots.

    As a non-Catholic I find it weird, but fun, to line up with Mother Teresa here, who was also opposed to giving out condoms and birth control in underprivleged and AIDS-stricken countries. We should not export our moral poverty to Africa. Sex without the hope of children used to be ignoble and base, but now it is wonderfully up-to-date!

  29. …er, underprivileged…privilege…As in: It is a privilege to to be able to assert my opinion at Vicki’s under her umbrella of magnanimity.

  30. Oh, I am late on this debate and have nothing to add, other than to say, I remember walking crop walks when I went to Catholic elementary school. I quite enjoyed them.

    Bonnie, I can’t say I am on your side on this issue, but I love you and everything you are and stand for.
    You defend life to your deepest being, and that is incredibly inspiring.

  31. “One more thing – believe me when I say that the Catholic Church makes me very angry. But, some of the kindest, most humane, and generous people I have ever met have been Catholic priests and nuns.”

    And then there are those who are not. And the Catholic Church just shuffles them from one church to the next when they do their evil deeds and it gets out of hand and they have to be moved along because word starts to spread.

    Topical subject today.

    http://500miles2nowhere.blogspot.com/2005/10/finally-getting-answers.html (if the link didn’t work)
    I have my own issues with my church.

  32. Keri – I followed the link. What a sad and horrible story. Of course there are evil people in every walk of life. I will never, ever understand why the bishops who knew about abusive clergy and moved them to new parishes and protected them, were not charged with obstruction of justice. But that’s a discussion for a different day, perhaps. I’m only saying that it surprises me when people are surprised by the Catholic Church’s position on birth control. (And hey, I’m all about the birth control and women’s reproductive rights.) And as a side note, I’m saying that we hear a lot about the stupid and evil things the Church does, but very little about the quiet and humble people who have devoted their lives to helping the poorest of the poor in this world.

    Vicki, thank you for giving us such an interesting topic to discuss. The respectful tone of the people who disagree with each other is truly inspiring.

  33. I’m a semi-practicing Catholic, semi because although I believe in much of the base beliefs and faiths I tend to think the church leadership has lost a nut and needs to get a clue. There are a lot of us out there, and it is not unusual for us to take part in things the leadership says not to, give to organizations they’re against, and walk out of masses that include sermons on things we think they’re out of touch on.
    Hopefully you’ll see a lot of Catholics turn out for your event.

  34. My friend who helped me set up my blog added yours to my list and I was just checking in. My church does the crop walk every year. It’s the first I heard about a boycott and I’m disappointed. I don’t understand letting people starve; however, they have the right to believe as they wish just as I have the right to disagree vehemently.

    I decided a long time ago if I couldn’t agree with the beliefs of a church, I’d leave. So here I am, a pretty good United Methodist instead of a lousy something else. I’m a little to the left of my church but for the most part, they are accepting and loving. Pat Robertson has condemned us to hell so we must be doing something right.

    I’m going to read more of what you’ve said. If you feel like it come visit me. rocrebelgranny@blogspot.com For some reason your URL line won’t accept the link.

    Best,

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