OK, class. Listen up. Apparently there are some of you out there who consider me \u201canti-Catholic.\u201d It would appear that anytime I write a critique of anything vaguely smacking of Catholicism, I become \u201canti-Catholic.\u201d Well, I hate to disappoint you, but it simply ain\u2019t so. Fact of life is, I have nothing against Catholics. I do have a problem with a lot of stuff the hierarchy of the Catholic Church does, but that doesn\u2019t mean I\u2019m anti-Catholic. Look. There\u2019s a degree of unfairness here. Some time ago, when I wrote a column criticizing Jerry Falwell for something he said, a whole slew of Catholic readers were absolutely giggly. Then, I took public umbrage with some stupid comment Pat Robertson made about the Catholics, and I was positively heroic. But ... criticize the Pope and one or two of his bishops??? Nope. That\u2019s out of bounds. Really? It\u2019s OK to plink at the Fundementalists, but it\u2019s not OK to castigate the Catholics? C\u2019mon folks. You\u2019re just not being fair. As opposed to some, I don\u2019t think pastors, priests, or rabbis are in any way, shape, or form the \u201cright hand of God on earth.\u201d Sorry. I just don\u2019t. I do think responsible and Spirit-guided clergy have a vital and important role in society. They can be wonderful teachers. They can be spiritual mentors. They can be life guides with well-defined moral compasses. And then ...some of them aren\u2019t. Just as some are spiritual mentors, others are scoundrels. They are, after all, human. So, if Bishop So-and-so, the Rev. Such-and-such, or Rabbi Whosit screws up, why does calling them on it make me anti something or the other? Just because I think some bishop or cardinal is full of hooey doesn\u2019t mean I\u2019m anti-Catholic. It means I have weighed what they say or promulgate, I have measured their policies and statements, and I find them lacking. But ...but ...but ... He\u2019s a bishop ...or she\u2019s an ordained pastor ...or he\u2019s the Pope. So!!??!! God gave me the ability to think too. While I\u2019m always willing to listen and learn, I will not relegate my thinking or spiritual well-being to any person. Just because someone pronounces a benediction doesn\u2019t mean I\u2019m going to buckle down and give up my God-given ability to discern what is good and what is shinola. So disagreeing with some cleric doesn\u2019t make me any more anti-Catholic than disagreeing with a Hasidic Rabbi makes me anti-Semitic. C\u2019mon folks. Gimme a break. You can certainly disagree with what I write, but don\u2019t try and win the discussion with \u201cyou\u2019re anti-Catholic,\u201d \u201cyou\u2019re attacking the Catholic Church\u201d or \u201cyou hate Christians.\u2019 I even had one writer claim \u201cyou hate prayer.\u201d What does that mean??? If some church or churchman denigrates women or hopes to keep women in submission because of a skewed reading of some Biblical text, I don\u2019t think I have to buy it - and I\u2019ll say so. If some puffed up cleric fires the flames of dissension by claiming there is a\u00a0 spurious \u201cwar on religion\u201d \u2014 I have no problem calling him on it. Catholic or not. They aren\u2019t the spiritual boss of me. Despite their best marketing efforts, none of these pastors, priests or rabbis have the inside track when it comes to grace, forgiveness or redemption. Some of them try, however, to make you think it it is so. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have nothing against Catholics. I won\u2019t say \u201csome of my best friends are Catholics.\u201d (Although some really are!!) I will say some of the people I admire most in this world are Catholics. Thomas Merton is one of my spiritual and literary heroes. Martyr St. Maximillian Kolbe is a hero. (Auschwitz tattoo number 16670.) St. Franz J\u00e4gerst\u00e4tter is a heroic conscientious objector who disregarded the advice of his bishops and refused to fight in Hitler\u2019s armies. He was martyred for his spirituality. I have Catholic heroes today \u2014 whose names I will not mention. But then there are those who I criticize, (a decent-sized list in fact), and that, apparently, makes me anti-Catholic. Well, I guess you can continue to think what you please, and I will continue to write what I think. But just because I disagree with a pastor, priest or rabbi doesn\u2019t mean I am anti this, that or the other. It means I think, and don\u2019t plan on letting them do the thinking for me simply because they wear a collar, an alb or a yalmulke. I don\u2019t believe God would want me to stop thinking just because an ordained somebody got up and preached a sermon.