Friday, October 30, 2009


The Catholic Church makes a pronouncement -- but surely won't have the courage to take it to its logical conclusion:

The Vatican has condemned Hallowe'en as anti-Christian, saying it is based on a sinister and dangerous "undercurrent of occultism".

The Holy See has warned that parents should not allow their children to dress up as ghosts and ghouls on Saturday, calling Hallowe'en a pagan celebration of "terror, fear and death".

... The Vatican issued the warning through its official newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, in an article headlined "Hallowe'en's Dangerous Messages".

The paper quoted a liturgical expert, Joan Maria Canals, who said: "Hallowe'en has an undercurrent of occultism and is absolutely anti-Christian." ...

Last year a newspaper controlled by the Italian bishops, Avvenire, called for a boycott of Hallowe'en, calling it a "dangerous celebration of horror and the macabre" which could encourage "pitiless [Satanic] sects without scruples"....

I spent five years in a Catholic grammar school, and Halloween was celebrated -- with big cardboard ghosts and goblins -- every year I was there. You want to be morally consistent, guys? Have the guts to order your schools in America not to celebrate this holiday in this "anti-Christian" way. But you aren't doing that, as a quick check via Google makes clear.

Why am I bringing this up? Because it reminds me of the way the church postures on abortion. If you're a Catholic politician who's pro-choice and you're running for high office, bishops will line up to attack you, threatening excommunication or the withholding of communion. But the church doesn't dare threaten rank-and-file Catholics the same way. It opposes birth control and in vitro fertilization and embryonic stem cell research, but it doesn't have the guts to say to ordinary Catholics, "If you defy us on these matters, you're not welcome at the communion rail." In individual parishes, this could be a major battle. Some Catholics would dare the church to take them on. Others would feel the need to take sides. It would get ugly.

The church doesn't want that. The church wants to get on its moral high horse, but the church doesn't want to drive away members in the one rich country where membership is still high. If this were a matter of principle, it would take on cafeteria Catholics. It isn't really, so the church doesn't.

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