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Janet Smith: Catholics in Alliance leader shows poor judgment with Church council call
Alfred M. Rotondaro and Prof. Janet Smith.
Alfred M. Rotondaro and Prof. Janet Smith.

.- Alfred M. Rotondaro, chair of the board of directors of the Obama-supporting group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, has called for a “new Vatican Council” while claiming abortion is “here to stay” and “gay sex is good.” In reply, one Catholic theologian suggests he is not a good judge of when a Church council is needed.

In a May 25 piece for the Huffington Post, Rotondaro claimed the Catholic Church is having “a mental breakdown.” He complained about Catholic schools’ refusal to enroll the children of lesbian parents, Marquette University’s withdrawal of a dean offer to a lesbian sociologist, and the bishops’ “punishing” of nuns who supported the health care bill.

Rotondaro, who is also a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., proposed “a new Vatican Council,” saying the world would benefit from “an application of traditional Catholic values presented by a reinvigorated Church.”

He said the role of women in the Church should be a starting place, claiming he has “never seen any rational reason” why a woman could not be a priest.

“A second point is the theme of sex. Sex comes from God. It should be celebrated,” his Huffington Post piece continued. “Gay sex comes from God. Married sex without the intent of procreation is now an evil, according to the hierarchy. But does any practicing Catholic under age 80 believe this?

“And in a pluralistic nation like America, we must realize that abortion is here to stay. We must examine the reasons for abortion and deal with those reasons to reduce abortions.”

“But one last important point is that the council must be held in the spirit of John Paul and of America's secular saint -- Abraham Lincoln,” Rotondaro’s article concluded. “The spirit that animated those magnificent men must guide the new Vatican Council.”

CNA spoke about Rotondaro’s piece with Prof. Janet Smith, holder of the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.

In a Thursday e-mail, she wrote that she wondered whether he was “a reincarnated Rip Van Winkle.”

“The items he wants to have discussed have been discussed and will continue to be discussed. A council won't be able to resolve any of the issues he raises.”

In Smith’s view, he mixes together issues like abortion and sexual ethics, matters of moral principle, with how best to deal with settling immigrants, a matter of both moral principle and context.

This mixture of issues shows that “he is not a good judge of when a council is needed,” Smith commented.

His claim to have never heard a rational reason against the ordination of women “suggests he has read very little of the defenses of the Church's position.”

Acknowledging that sex is “a gift from God,” Smith said Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body is “particularly effective” in promoting such truths.

A church council in the spirit of John Paul II and Abraham Lincoln would not yield Rotondaro’s expected results, Smith told CNA. “It is hard to imagine either approving of abortion or homosexual marriages. Their views were governed by eternal moral principles, not trendy political correctness.”

A hypothetical council “would certainly be as strong or stronger on questions such as abortion, contraception, and same sex relationships,” Prof. Smith said.

Asked whether Rotondaro is right to say abortion is “here to stay,” Smith replied that all sin is “here to stay until the Second Coming.”

“The question is whether we are going to recognize sin as sin or claim that it is a fundamental human right. Again, Rotondaro seems to have been inattentive to what has been happening in the Church and in the culture. The opposition to abortion is growing, especially among young people.”

She suggested the writer was “oblivious” to measures already being taken to reduce the numbers of abortions, like the “many more” pregnancy help centers in operation than abortion clinics. Further, many Christians work at “enormous personal sacrifice” to help women react to pregnancies “in a moral fashion.”

“Is he oblivious to efforts to teach young people the value of remaining chaste? Abortions would virtually disappear if people waited until marriage to have sex.

“Rotondaro and others need to consider whether it is a change in the Church that is needed, or a change in the culture. Whose values have led to the mess our culture is in sexually?” Smith asked.


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