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  • Godwin Cotter

The Seamless Garment

Some years back there was much discussion, some of it rancorous, about Cardinal Joseph Bernadin’s proposal that the American bishops adopt a “Seamless Garment” approach when formulating talking points on the social justice issues of the day. The seamless garment mentality allowed Catholic politicians (think Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi) to strike down any protection of unborn life and still clothe themselves in the garments of Christ by citing their advocacy of immigration reform, assisting the poor, protecting the environment and opposing the death penalty. The end-result was not a seamless garment for American Catholics: it was more like the soldiers tasked with crucifying the Christ, tearing up His cloak and dividing it among themselves. The right wing got Pro-Life and the left wing got climate change, etc.

My problem with the seamless garment idea is that it never went far enough. Perhaps my experience is unique, but the church never really sermonized to me about the importance of males observing God’s commandments in the sexual sphere. Sure, we knew the rules, but that was about it. It seemed to be taken for granted that we would be making up our own minds on issue of whether we would follow Christ or not. Nothing more to be said, on to the next subject. Casual sex and casual Christianity seemed to make a pact. By the way, did we know that Christ loved us?

The thing is that people's lives are like a seamless garment. If there is a significant tear happening that is not being addressed, eventually the entire garment will be destroyed. Let’s hope that there can be more repair and less rending of garments in the future.

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