Is the Catholic Church a purely political entity these days? If not, then why are its chief concerns about Catholics marrying Muslims apparently completely unrelated to theology?

The Vatican warned Catholic women on Friday to think hard before marrying a Muslim and urged Muslims to show more respect for human rights, gender equality and democracy.

Calling women "the least protected member of the Muslim family," it spoke of the "bitter experience" western Catholics had with Muslim husbands, especially if they married outside the Islamic world and later moved to his country of origin.

The comments in a document about migrants around the world were preceded by remarks about points of agreement between Christians and Muslims but they seemed likely to fuel mistrust between the world's two largest religions.

The document said the Church discouraged marriages between believers in traditionally Catholic countries and non-Christian migrants.

It hoped Muslims would show "a growing awareness that fundamental liberties, the inviolable rights of the person, the equal dignity of man and woman, the democratic principle of government and the healthy lay character of the state are principles that cannot be surrendered."

When a Catholic woman and Muslim man wanted to marry, it said, "bitter experience teaches us that a particularly careful and in-depth preparation is called for."

Wouldn't it be much more correct for the Vatican to completely repudate the practice, based on the fact that Muslims and Christians worship entirely different gods?

I'm not Catholic (but I know many of my readers are), and I haven't read the full paper. Am I wrong about what the Vatican appears to be saying?

Then again, here's the flip-side: I think it's perfectly appropriate for religious people to allow their religion to shape politics. So yes, it should be a one-way street. Humans make political decisions, and God makes theological decisions. It looks pretty clear to me.

The Roman Catholic bishop of Colorado Springs has said Catholics should not receive Communion if they vote for politicians who support abortion rights (search), stem-cell research, euthanasia and gay marriage. ...

"I think it is an outrageous intrusion into what is supposed to be the separation of church and state. It is frightening," said Michael Merrifield, a Democratic state lawmaker who is not Catholic but represents part of the heavily religious Colorado Springs area. "It goes against everything that we believe is important to democracy since we founded this country."

Well gee, I don't see any conflict-of-interests in Mr. Merrifield's positioning, do you?

And then there's Texas mayoral candidate Pastor Jim Norwood, who's taking pictures of pornography consumers and sending them post-cards.

Pastor Jim Norwood (search) started the practice of driving around with his camera taking photos outside of sexually-oriented businesses (SOBs) about five months ago. The reverend, who is running in Saturday's mayoral election, was able to access public vehicle registrations record, allowing him to get the addresses of the vehicle owners and send them postcards of his photos.

One side of the postcard shows the patron's vehicle parked outside the adult store. On the other side is written a note from Norwood: "Observed you in the neighborhood. Didn't know if you were aware there is a church in the area."

He says some postcard recipients have even come to attend his church. Interesting. Naturally, an attorney for the Sexually Oriented Businesses misses the entire point and tries to change the subject to one of taxes.
"You've got SOBs in Fort Worth. You've got SOBs in Dallas, in Houston, just about every metropolitan area. I represent some up in Utah. It doesn't seem to affect those towns," said Attorney John Gamboa. "What people don't understand is that it is a regular business that pays its regular real estate taxes, employment taxes, sales taxes, liquor taxes."
I'm not taking a position on the effectiveness of Pastor Norwood's approach, but it's certainly legal, and a good example of putting religious beliefs into political action. He isn't trying to pass a law against pornography, organize a boycott, or even publicly shame the customers (from what I can determine, anyway).



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