That’s what Frank Bruni argues in this fantastic new op-ed in the New York Times. Bruni cites in support of his thinking several devastating examples of the Church’s hypocrisy on moral issues, including the continuing sexual abuse scandals and the recent case of a Catholic health care outfit arguing, contrary to Catholic doctrine, that a fetus is not a person in order to evade a medical malpractice lawsuit: 

… the church has simultaneously reserved the right to behave just like any other institution, leaning on legal technicalities, smearing victims and demonstrating no more compassion than a tobacco company might show. “In the name of Jesus,” Anderson told me, “they do things that Jesus would abhor.”

They do things erratically, that’s for sure. From my extensive reporting on the sexual abuse crisis in the 1990s, I don’t recall any great push to excommunicate priests who forced themselves on kids. But when Sister Margaret McBride, in 2009, was part of a Phoenix hospital’s decision to abort an 11-week-old fetus inside a 27-year-old woman whose life was gravely endangered by the pregnancy, she indeed suffered excommunication (later reversed).

So a fetus matters more than the ravaged psyche of a raped adolescent? And Sister McBride deserved harsher rebuke than a rapist? It’s hard not to conclude that a church run by men shows them more mercy than it does women (or, for that matter, children).

And it’s hard to keep track: just when is the church of this world, and when not? It inserts itself into political debates, trying to shape legislation to its ethics. But it also demands exemption: from taxes, from accountability, from health care directives.

And in the Colorado wrongful-death case, the hospital suddenly adopted the courts’, not the church’s, definition of life. Only now, with that argument already made, is Catholic Health Initiatives saying it made a moral error.

A district court rejected Jeremy Stodghill’s wrongful-death claims. He and his lawyer, Beth Krulewitch, have appealed to the state’s Supreme Court.

One final verdict is already in. On the charge of self-serving hypocrisy, the church is guilty.

Of course, one could argue that the Church lost its moral credibility, well, centuries ago. Still, it’s nice to see the case being made in the pages of a prominent newspaper such as the New York Times. Remember, there are many people who consider themselves Catholics yet who are not aware what the Church is doing in their names. Articles like the one above can help to make some of these people aware of the Church’s actions, and push them to either leave the Church, or else demand reform. Or so we can hope …

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