12 January 2011

Local Press Notes the Martin Luther King Mass Controversy

The RFT blog has already spilled some digital ink on the musings of Saint Louis Catholic Blog here. Now, it seems, thanks to an aside in a Jerry Berger column, the RFT takes the time to register its secular, pc-outrage without really focusing on the facts.

Jerry Berger
noted my recent post in one of his recent columns, and considering that the purpose of Berger's Bits is to give short bits of information, without going in-depth, I thought he summarized my post very fairly:

...For the third year in a row, a conservative local believer who runs a website, “St. Louis Catholic,” is speaking out against the archdiocese’s annual tribute for Martin Luther King, calling it “grossly inappropriate” to honor a “non-Catholic” with a special mass. “With all due respect, to the intentions of those involved, reflexive political correctness does not justify the continuation of this event”. . .

He correctly notes that I am not taking any position at all against honoring the civil rights work of King, but merely opposing the celebration of a Mass in honor of a non-Catholic-- one, moreover, who had some well-documented, public positions that were at odds with the Church's teachings. To name one, King was a well-known proponent of the euphemistically-labelled practice of "family planning", and was a recipient of the Margaret Sanger Award from Planned Parenthood. More on that below.

As discussion in the combox to that post noted, I would not be opposed to a Mass for the repose of his soul, nor do I deny that he accomplished much that was good in his work. But the bottom line is that only a Catholic saint may officially be honored with a Mass.

Coincidentally, I suppose, Fr. Z took up this very question of whether it is permissible to "honor" MLK or any other non-Catholic with a Mass.
That discussion can be read here. It does not contradict my post. An excerpt:

Holy Church does not permit Masses in honor of a dead person who isn’t a saint or blessed with an cult approved by Holy Catholic Church. It is not permitted to celebrate Mass on honor of a person who has no official cult. As a matter of fact most blesseds can’t even be honored at the altar unless there is permission given for that locale or institute.

But, as I noted, the
RFT blog does not make fine, or coarse, distinctions. It just notes that I'm [complaining] again:

St. Louis Catholic Blogger Upset (Again) With Archdiocese Honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

For the 35th year in a row, the St. Louis Archdiocese this Sunday will hold a special mass honoring the life and works of Martin Luther King Jr.

And for the third year in a row, the blog St. Louis Catholic is [complain]ing about it. [...]

The headline of the post is incorrect. I am not upset "with the Archdiocese honoring" MLK. I am registering my continued opposition to the local Church celebrating Holy Mass in honor of him. To that end, I am also trying to spread the word among Catholics that this practice exists and is continuing. That's it.

Stating any negative information about Martin Luther King is forbidden in polite society. But the Church must honor the truth, and the truth is that MLK, despite the good he did, also publicly supported Planned Parenthood, abortion and family planning-- an amazing fact, considering that one of Margaret Sanger's avowed goals was the weeding out of "inferior" children, and the controlling of the African-American population (you can begin the journey down the Sanger/eugenics rabbit hole here or here).

The following speech of Dr. King, in accepting the 1966 Margaret Sanger Award from Planned Parenthood, is entitled, "Family Planning-- A Special and Urgent Concern." It can be found at the Planned Parenthood website
here. An excerpt:

There is a striking kinship between our movement and Margaret Sanger's early efforts. She, like we, saw the horrifying conditions of ghetto life. Like we, she knew that all of society is poisoned by cancerous slums. Like we, she was a direct actionist — a nonviolent resister. She was willing to accept scorn and abuse until the truth she saw was revealed to the millions. At the turn of the century she went into the slums and set up a birth control clinic, and for this deed she went to jail because she was violating an unjust law. Yet the years have justified her actions. She launched a movement which is obeying a higher law to preserve human life under humane conditions. Margaret Sanger had to commit what was then called a crime in order to enrich humanity, and today we honor her courage and vision; for without them there would have been no beginning. Our sure beginning in the struggle for equality by nonviolent direct action may not have been so resolute without the tradition established by Margaret Sanger and people like her. Negroes have no mere academic nor ordinary interest in family planning. They have a special and urgent concern.

Recently the subject of Negro family life has received extensive attention. Unfortunately, studies have overemphasized the problem of the Negro male ego and almost entirely ignored the most serious element — Negro migration. During the past half century Negroes have migrated on a massive scale, transplanting millions from rural communities to crammed urban ghettoes. In their migration, as with all migrants, they carried with them the folkways of the countryside into an inhospitable city slum. The size of family that may have been appropriate and tolerable on a manually cultivated farm was carried over to the jammed streets of the ghetto. In all respects Negroes were atomized, neglected and discriminated against. Yet, the worst omission was the absence of institutions to acclimate them to their new environment. Margaret Sanger, who offered an important institutional remedy, was unfortunately ignored by social and political leaders in this period. In consequence, Negro folkways in family size persisted. The problem was compounded when unrestrained exploitation and discrimination accented the bewilderment of the newcomer, and high rates of illegitimacy and fragile family relationships resulted.

For the Negro, therefore, intelligent guides of family planning are a profoundly important ingredient in his quest for security and a decent life. There are mountainous obstacles still separating Negroes from a normal existence. Yet one element in stabilizing his life would be an understanding of and easy access to the means to develop a family related in size to his community environment and to the income potential he can command.

We can only hope that King was unaware of the Sanger agenda when he accepted this award, because it saddens one to contemplate the irony that as he struggled for equal treatment of African-Americans already born, he gave public approval to a group which sought to end the lives of those still in the womb.

The U.S. Bishops rightly opposed the honoring of an avowed, pro-abortion President, at an ostensibly Catholic University. This was because of the danger of confusing the faithful regarding its teachings on issues of life, despite the historical and laudable achievements many noted of the recipient.

The same reasoning should apply here, if a second reason for ending this practice is needed.


Long-Skirts said...

"For the 35th year in a row, the St. Louis Archdiocese this Sunday will hold a special mass honoring the life and works of Martin Luther King Jr."

And for the 35th year in a row the St. Louis Archdiocese has done wrong...and so have all her Bishops done wrong and I'm pretty sure Martin Luther King Jr. was not in full-communion.

Anonymous said...

Among many things to note, the fellow (is that Berger or RFT?) has reduced you to a mere "conservative local believer."

Anonymous said...

Who cares???????

Kansas Catholic said...

An excellent post and an excellent effort to point out the distinction between a mass for the happy repose of a soul and a mass to honor the work of a non-Catholic's life.

The terrible irony, of course, is that MLK did not foresee that Sanger's "success" would be so damaging to African-American families and African-American's in general. Was it just this week that the research arm of Planned Parenthood stated that about half of African-American pregnancies are aborted in NYC? I was unaware that MLK so strongly supported family "planning." Thanks for pointing that out. Apart from being right on the merits, Timman, this fact should end the argument with the Archdiocese. They are in error.