Monday, May 05, 2008

Catholics, Mormons at Odds Over Genealogical Records?

Well, a day has come that I hoped would not. Kimberly Powell reports that the Vatican has ordered Catholic dioceses not to allow access to their records for microfilming or digitizing. Here are my sudden and unorganized thoughts:

  1. As both of my regular readers know, I am a Catholic, and there are a number of Catholics in the GeneaBlogosphere, including Kimberly Powell, Jasia, and Donna Pointkouski, to mention just a few.
  2. I don't think any Catholic blogger or genealogist has ever denigrated the LDS faith. Indeed, most of us are quite grateful for the tremendous service the Mormons have provided us and everyone.
  3. The LDS Church has been more than generous in sharing their extremely costly research endeavors with the world at little or no cost. I would hope that my church, had it been in their shoes, would be as magnanimous. In fact, what the Mormons have done is downright Christian.
  4. Catholics and our faith are actually strengthened in a way by knowing and understanding our past and appreciating our ancestors. Curiously, we have the Mormons to thank for that.
  5. Of course, there are fundamental doctrinal differences between the two churches that might never be bridged. But we can still practice charity toward each other.
  6. In the comments to Kimberly's report, I detect some strong animosities towards both Catholics and Mormons. Let's not go there. We each as groups and individuals have had enough persecution for our beliefs.
  7. I rarely have been as excited as I was a few weeks ago when I discovered that the LDS-affiliated FamilySearch Labs had digitized and placed on-line the records of the Catholic Diocese of Bellevile, Illinois. I found a treasure trove of information about the Micheau family that I'm researching. I, for one Catholic, am very grateful for the LDS efforts.
  8. I can appreciate my LDS friends without endorsing or condemning their faith. Please no comments about the theology of that statement.
  9. If the Mormons want to claim some of my family as theirs, I'm not offended.
  10. All being said, this is a most unfortunate turn of events for all. When it comes to genealogy, we all need each other.


Miriam said...

Craig, hear, hear! Well said.

It is always disheartening to hear of any institution, whether governmental, religious, or private, barring access to records on grounds based in fear of something (loss of privacy, terrorism, fraud, baptism of ancestors, etc.). We all lose when this occurs.

Anonymous said...


I posted a few unorganized thoughts over at my blog, too. I find it more humorous than offensive, and it's a shame that our records may not be available to others in the future.


A. Spence said...

I agree. Why keep all that info to themselves?!?!