A reader asks:
What have you done to challenge the misogynistic policy of the Catholic Church, which denies the sacrament of Holy Orders to women? Both vice presidential candidates are Catholic, as are you and me. Let’s be careful about throwing the first stone. I think the attacks on Romney based on his actions more than 30 years ago will do little to persuade people. You would be better served documenting his lies, half-truths, and frequent position changes.
We have indeed covered all those topics at length, as is our duty as journalists. And I think it’s also my duty to cover the most formative influence on the life of a man who could be the next president. As for the first point, I have long favored women in the priesthood – and married men and women in the priesthood for my entire adult life. In the post my reader objects to, for example, I wrote:
The Catholic Church’s continued systematic discrimination against women is a scandal.
In contrast, at no point until 1978 did Romney address the issue of Mormonism’s ban on full black membership. His obedience to church authority was total. He went to Salt Lake City to “inform” the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles that he had to run as a pro-choice candidate in Massachusetts. We don’t know what happened at that meeting; Romney says he was merely informing his church of his position; one source says he was seeking permission to run as a social liberal. And, one should recall, he wasn’t merely a member of the LDS Church, the way Obama was a member of Jeremiah Wright’s multi-racial congregation.
He was roughly the lay equivalent of a Catholic Archbishop of an arch-diocese for a period of time. He was an integral part of the hierarchy and his family was Mormon royalty. In fact, there is evidence he believed the boycotts of his whites-only university, Brigham Young, were driven by anti-Mormon bigotry!
And the Mormon priesthood is very, very different from the Catholic priesthood – every Mormon boy becomes a priest at around the age of 12 as a matter of course. If Catholics excluded women from, say, receiving communion, it would be analogous to preventing African-Americans from becoming priests in the Mormon tradition. The racism was that bad for that long.
A simple question: if Romney had belonged to an all-white golf club until he was 31, do you think it would not have come up in the campaign? And yet not a single reporter this year has asked Russert’s obvious and probing question back when journalists were not terrified of the right-wing noise machine.