This post has been updated
If you are following writings of the Pope or have been observing the right-wing political advocacy of some Roman Catholic bishops you could come to the conclusion that all Catholics are conservative and unconcerned with matters of social justice. There is, however, great diversity among Roman Catholics in the United States and worldwide. Roman Catholic parishioners in the US, for example, widely support the legality of abortion and contraceptives. There are also pro-life leaders who see that cause as one among many and spend their enormous talents working ecumenically to address world-wide poverty, environmental issues, and health care needs. Here are a few sites to visit that offer a progressive take on the Catholic faith:
Pax Christi International “is a non-profit, non-governmental Catholic peace movement working on a global scale on a wide variety of issues in the fields of human rights, security and disarmament, economic justice and ecology.”
Pax Christi USA “strives to create a world that reflects the Peace of Christ by exploring, articulating, and witnessing to the call of Christian nonviolence. This work begins in personal life and extends to communities of reflection and action to transform structures of society. Pax Christi USA rejects war, preparations for war, and every form of violence and domination. It advocates primacy of conscience, economic and social justice, and respect for creation.”
Catholic-Labor Network “hopes to be a place for those Catholics, lay, religious and clergy, who are active in their churches and in unions to learn about their Church's teachings as regards to labor issues, pray for those who are working for economic justice and share information about events and struggles that may be taking place in their area.”
Commonweal is a lay Catholic magazine that “publishes editorials, columns, essays, poetry, reviews of books, movies, plays, the media, a selection of apposite and/or funny cartoons, & lots of letters to the editors. Liberal? Conservative? Depends on the issue & the writer. From its founding in 1924(!), the journal has held that America has much to learn from Catholicism, and vice versa-a core belief that has survived severe testing in disputes over the Spanish Civil War, civil rights, Vietnam, Humanae vitae....”
Catholics for a Free Choice is a group of pro-choice Catholic leaders that has been around for over 25 years.
DignityUSA is a group that "works for respect and justice for all gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons in the Catholic Church and the world through education, advocacy and support."
There is even a “liberal” Catholic blog called “In Today’s News.” The author is pro-life but also committed to a range of important social justice issues that progressive Christians will enjoy.
Roman Catholics are diverse in their understanding of God – just like every other group of Christians. I’m glad these organizations are out there doing their best to be faithful disciples of the Gospel. All Christians can take strength from their courage in speaking out for a progressive theology over the objections of some of their most senior institutional leaders.
Update: Sojourners has a good article discussing the diversity of Catholics and future of the Catholic Church in their recent edition. It is written by Heidi Schlumpf, managing editor of U.S. Catholic magazine. Click here to read it.