Truth and Consequences

Cardinal Ratzinger once said in an interview that the Church may have to shrink, but it would be a purer more faithful Church if this were to happen (1).  I’ve been reflecting on these words since Election Day, especially in reference to the many Catholics that voted for the most unabashedly pro-choice (pro-abortion) candidate in memory.  A vote for Obama by a Catholic says something about the Catholic, meaning they were poorly catechized.  Why then are these Catholics still in the Church if they don’t believe even the basic tenets of faith?

Well it’s a complicated issue to tackle and one that I have been muddling through recently.  But first I want to make it clear to my readers that I don’t want a smaller Church.  Though I do want the majority, if not all, Catholics to love their faith and practice it.  Yet we don’t have that in the American Church.  Whose responsibility, and/or blame, should this be assigned to?  How do we respond to this predicament?

I wish I had the answers and unfortunately I have more questions.  Is it our parents that failed to pass along the faith along with the parish priest and school?  Or does it reside with the bishop?  What I do have is some analysis and commentary, and it isn’t pretty.

The current state of the American Church needs to be not afraid of the Truth.  In an ever increasing secular society I can understand the trepidation and uneasiness of what I wish the Church would do.  The Church needs to stand for the Truth when the Truth is challenged or misinterpreted.  Don’t worry about the ramifications, remember what Jesus said, “…I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (2)  Besides, if we are attacked and blood is shed, we are only fertilizing the soil for a much stronger and better Church.

Of course there’s going to be a backlash.  I’m not talking about news organizations and politicians attacking the Church.  I’m referencing Catholics within the Church that will attack those of us that practice our faith for standing up for the Truth.  This is a short term repercussion.  It offers opportunities for proper catechesis.  And if proper catechesis fails, then a departure from the Church may be in order for those that don’t want to practice their faith (or at least try).

We run the risk in the long run of having a deeply entrenched Culture of Death to the predicament of our children as well as ourselves.  The more we shrink from conflict, the more we fail in our duties as Christians, the more the devil gets bolder.  Jesus said “But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (3)  This passage not only applies to those that mislead His sheep, but to those in positions of influence such as parents, friends, and coworkers that shrink from their Christian duty of being a witness for Truth.

Being a Christian is never easy, but the eternal rewards more than outweigh the material hardships of this life.  Imagine the American nation with 60 million Catholics voting with a properly formed conscious; we would be able to transform American society to a Culture of Life within a generation!  Yet why am I the only one to imagine this, but many, many bishops and those in authority fail in attaining this vision?

Are they afraid of losing worldly respect?  Are they afraid of losing their sheep?  Are they afraid of losing their tax-exempt status?  Tough questions emanate from tough truths.  We lose a few souls for standing up for the Truth.  The inverse being we mislead many more souls away from the Truth in an effort to not offend and push away those few that may leave.

Whatever happened in trusting the Will of God?  The early Christians stood up for the Truth from their catacombs.  They had to practice their faith in secret because their faith was so strong.  The risk of coming out as a Christian meant death.  Yet we have the Kmiec’s and the Egan’s of this world that would rather cozy up to the Culture of Death (4) so as not to offend anyone and for Wales (5)!

Yes, standing up for Truth will push some, or many, away from the Church.  Do we want a lukewarm Church?  Or do want a faithful Church?  We continue to push away the faithful in order to accommodate the lukewarm.  Do we really want that?  “No man lighteth a candle, and putteth it in a hidden place, nor under a bushel; but upon a candlestick, that they that come in, may see the light.” (6)  And if we put that lamp away we will reap what we sow.  “And the light of the lamp shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth, for all nations have been deceived by thy enchantments.” (7)

I’m not saying to push away the lukewarm, but to evangelize them, catechize them.  And if they don’t listen all we have left to do is pray for them.  But we shouldn’t accommodate them at the expense of the faithful.  Does that mean we’ll have an exodus of the lukewarm?  We won’t know if this will occur or not if we don’t stand up for the Truth now will we?

(1) “Salt of the Earth” by Peter Seewald

(2) Matthew 16:18

(3) Matthew 18:6

(4) To sit next to Obama during the 2008 Al Smith Catholic Charities Gala

(5) U.S. ambassadorship to the Vatican

(6) Luke 11:33

(7) Revelation 18:23

65 Responses to Truth and Consequences

  • Catechizing is one of the most important things we can try to do. I can’t describe how amazing it was to actually learn what the Catholic Church was all about, something that had been absent or dormant in my life for 26 years. I was never properly catechized, and for the most part our CCD lessons were either the stereotypical “cut, color, and draw”, or touchy-feely kumbaya sessions, or simple Bible studies. Nothing about what it really means to be of the Catholic Church.

    Then I stumbled across This Rock magazine from Catholic Answers online by accident. I was actually searching for how people came up with the Bible defining the number pi as 3, and one of the first entries I found was an article by Jimmy Akin about being a little too technical in reading parts of the Bible. I was so fascinated by some of the articles that I saw that I started all the way from the beginning and worked my way through every back issue in order. Then, amazed at what my Church was, I bought myself a Catechism and number of other reading materials, most notably Frank Sheed’s Theology and Sanity. It was eye-opening, to say the least.

    So there’s definitely a problem with catechizing. This is especially so when you have self-proclaimed devout Catholics taking exception to Sarah Palin specifically because she is not pro-choice and not in favor of contraceptive use. This is especially so when you have Catholics who express doubt about original sin and don’t see how that tears apart the faith.

    It is my hope, certainly, that through this blog we can accomplish some amount of catechizing and evangelizing.

  • We definately need to help our fellow Catholics in learning their faith. Since many priests and bishops have been derelict in their duties. At the same time we need to (probably) call out some priests and bishops. Yes, it may see as too critical, but when it is the salvation of souls we’re talking about, we need to step up to the bat.

    Like Katerine said in another column, we may have to be militant like the Macabees to fight off the onslaught of relativism and secularism from within the Church.

  • Maybe if the conservatives (such as many writers here) were not such apologists for the Iraqi War, for example, then American Catholics would not have rejected the Republicans and their ‘values platform’ so handily this year…

    For the record, could I get a score of American Catholic bloggers who were for and against the unjust Iraqi invasion.

  • I was very much in opposition to the war in Iraq.

  • I was against the initial invasion. I’ve been fairly supportive of the U.S. attempts to establish a modicum of stability prior to withdrawal, however. I think you raise a good point – the failures in Iraq explain a large part of the election results this year.

  • A vote for Obama by a Catholic says something about the Catholic, meaning they were poorly catechized.

    Not necessarily. The Catholic vote for Obama can’t so easily be explained as the result of poor catecheses. I’m sure many Obama supporters could pass a test on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and furthermore believe every word of it.

  • “I’m sure many Obama supporters could pass a test on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and furthermore believe every word of it.”

    More’s the pity.

  • “Maybe if the conservatives (such as many writers here) were not such apologists for the Iraqi War, for example, then American Catholics would not have rejected the Republicans and their ‘values platform’ so handily this year…”

    Iraq played no role in the election and that is a shame. Only one in ten voters named it as their chief issue in the exit polls. It was all about the economic meltdown. That and the 600,000,000 spent by Obama are the two chief factors in the outcome of the election.

    I was always in favor of the war, although I regret that the surge was not imlemented in 2005, as urged by McCain, instead of the Spring of 2007. I predict that Obama will keep US troops in Iraq through the 2012 elections, although gradually dreasing the number which is safe enough now since the war appears to have been won.

  • Regrettably, many adults never move beyond the high school mentality of wanting to be in the fashionable crowd. Multiple college degrees, years, and life experiences don’t seem to affect these people. Fashion is a siren song that must be heeded. Obama was fashionable this year. I don’t understand it, but there is no denying it. Faith was a distant second (or third) to fashion. In our affluent society, one can afford to follow any fashion, no matter how insane. It’s sad, but not surpising.

  • I feel it is unfair to place Cardinal Egan and Kmiec in the same breath. You seem to equate them as Obama supporters simply because Cardinal Egan sat next to Obama at that dinner.

    If that is the only evidence you can give, I feel it is slander what you are calling a loyal member of the Magisterium. Cardinal Egan has consistently been on the side of life. He responded sternly to Nancy Pelosi’s remarks on the beginning of life and consistently points out the evils of abortions – even close to the election.
    “It is high time to stop pretending that we do not know what this nation of ours is allowing– and approving– with the killing each year of more than 1,600,000 innocent human beings within their mothers,’ Cardinal Edward Egan of New York wrote in an Oct. 23 archdiocesan newspaper column defending the humanity of the unborn child. ‘One day, please God, when the stranglehold on public opinion in the United States has been released by the extremists for whom abortion is the center of their political and moral life, our nation will, in my judgment, look back on what we have been doing to innocent human beings within their mothers as a crime no less heinous than what was approved by the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott Case in the 19th century, and no less heinous than what was perpetrated by Hitler and Stalin in the 20th.’” – Oct 28, 2008

    He definitely does not sound like Kmiec there.

    Also how can we judge him for sitting next to Obama at a charity event. He may have been trying to engage Obama in exactly what you describe – a discussion of the concerns of Catholic voters and pro-life issues. We do not know and therefore must err on the side of good will toward the Cardinal.

  • Yes, its a very tricky thing to be ‘calling out’ anyone. Much better to look and work closer to home. In our parishes, and parish schools, and parish families.

    My (homeschooled)daughter was devastated Friday night by a (on-line and public) conversation she had with her ‘Catholic school’ highschool friends. They were clear that they felt their ‘opinion’ on things (they were discussing abortion) was AS VALID as what the Church teaches. They have no concept of Truth. Without this most basic understanding, how can we expect them to ‘be Catholic’. They haven’t got a grip on reality.

    How do children who have never gone to public school, always private Catholic school, end up so abysmally ignorant of who they are and who GOD is?

    Families and schools are ill prepared to teach them correctly. They do not have the tools themselves. It requires strong activity at the parish/priest level, and that kind of activity requires a large amount of supportive prayer…and patience. We must do all that we can, but with kindness and patience.

    I also saw that interview with then Cardinal Ratzinger, and I believe it may be true that our numbers will be fewer but truer. Its part of the suffering that can be offered up for all.

  • Blosser and Burgwald are fans of the Iraq War.

  • Um…thanks for the heads up, Michael. I’m sure they’re happy you made their position clear. However, I would like to hear your opinion about the quality of catechesis in our nation, and whether or not that had much to do with the number of Catholics who supported Obama. I’d also listen to your opinion on the quality of catechesis and the number of Catholics who apologize for the Iraq War. Although, if all you’d have to say about that is quoting the Just War Doctrine and how conditions there weren’t met, I’ll be disappointed. I don’t think it is just a difference of opinion of whether the conditions for a just war were in place that has so divided us on this issue; I think it has to be something deeper, something more fundamental. It might just go down to how well we’ve been catechized. So what are your thoughts in that regard?

  • Kyle,

    >>A vote for Obama by a Catholic says something about the Catholic, meaning they were poorly catechized.

    Not necessarily. The Catholic vote for Obama can’t so easily be explained as the result of poor catecheses. I’m sure many Obama supporters could pass a test on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and furthermore believe every word of it.<<

    I may have used a wide stroke, but catechesis goes to the heart of a well formed Catholic. Now if an Obama supporter could pass a catechesis exam doesn’t mean they necessarily agree with their catechesis instruction. Which I believe is an even worse affront to God since they have the knowledge yet fail in their faith to believe in the teachings of the Church.

  • Daledog,

    >>Regrettably, many adults never move beyond the high school mentality of wanting to be in the fashionable crowd. Multiple college degrees, years, and life experiences don’t seem to affect these people. Fashion is a siren song that must be heeded. Obama was fashionable this year. I don’t understand it, but there is no denying it. Faith was a distant second (or third) to fashion. In our affluent society, one can afford to follow any fashion, no matter how insane. It’s sad, but not surpising.<<

    Sadly I agree on many levels on this. Obama will have to mess up pretty bad to not get re-elected in 2012. Style over substance is the order of the day just like Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. Are we going to need to push someone that looks appealing to the eye like say a Mitt Romney?

  • Christine,

    >>Also how can we judge him for sitting next to Obama at a charity event. He may have been trying to engage Obama in exactly what you describe – a discussion of the concerns of Catholic voters and pro-life issues. We do not know and therefore must err on the side of good will toward the Cardinal.<<

    I share your concerns as well. When I was typing this I wasn’t sure on how to address this, but upon further reflection how much are we suppose to comprimise on the lives of innocent unborn children?

    I don’t want to see 4o years from now when Roe v. Wade is overturned explain to my grandchildren why a ‘good’ Cardinal was sitting next to the grim reaper at a Catholic charity event. Reminds me of those Nazi era bishops giving the Hitler salute in pre-World War 2 Germany.

    No, I’m not saying that Cardinal Egan is in the same league as the discredited Doug Kmiec, but I’m tired of begging for crumbs. Compromise is unacceptable and catechesis needs to be improved. Cardinal Egan’s pronouncements would have been unnecessary if most, if not all, bishops were no derelict in their duty to their diocese in catechizing the laity.

    I’m tired and probably done in being ‘grateful’ for a bishop speaking up. Time for action, maybe it’s time to purge the Church of malcontents.

    Just throwing it out there.

    Though, yes Christine, I do recognize the noble efforts of Cardinal Egan speaking up. Just wish there was more.

    Where are the St. Ambrose’s in the USCCB? St. Ambrose was the bishop of Milan that denied Communion to Emperor Theodosius for the slaughter of 3,000 Thesalonians? Even in modern times, the Blessed Pope John XXIII spoke out in Italian politics saying that no Catholic is allowed to vote for the COmmunist party candidates.

    I want THAT!

  • DeFrancisis,

    Straw man argument.

    Michael I.,

    Unnecessary conjecture and not relevant to the column I posted.

  • However, I would like to hear your opinion about the quality of catechesis in our nation, and whether or not that had much to do with the number of Catholics who supported Obama. I’d also listen to your opinion on the quality of catechesis and the number of Catholics who apologize for the Iraq War.

    The quality of catechesis in this nation is hit or miss. There are obvious problems and particular challenges in the united states and other “First World” nations.

    Catechesis certainly has effects on how Catholics think and act politically, including how they vote. I think Tito’s claim that Catholics who voted for Obama are clearly uncatechized is absurd. Some of them certainly are probably poorly catechized and others well catechized. Same would be true for Catholics who voted for McCain. Although I did not vote McCain, I would never make the absurd claim that only uncatechized Catholics would have voted for him.

    Michael I.,

    Unnecessary conjecture and not relevant to the column I posted.</I

    Someone asked the question and I responded.

  • Michael, so your opinion is that poor catechesis is not a determining factor of support for one party or another. (When I say opinion, I only mean that I don’t think there’s any data at the moment to support one way or another, so opinion is the best we have.) Now, I think the general stance some of us here have (and others can correct me) is that a properly catechized Catholic should view abortion as the paramount issue, trumping economics, foreign policy, and so on. Thus comes the viewpoint that anyone who places economics or foreign policy ahead of abortion must not be properly catechized. (I’m saying this bluntly, I know, and I apologize for the outrage that this statement will rightfully draw. Many of us here, though, are certain that this is, indeed, the Church’s teaching.) I know you must disagree. So, what is your opinion of what specifically makes a Catholic well catechized in regards to prioritizing abortion, economics, foreign policy, and so on when voting for a political candidate?

    And Mark DeFrancisis, I was a supporter of the Iraq War when it was being proposed, but over time I’ve wondered about whether or not it was a just cause. I certainly don’t want to see any other preemptive wars, but then, I’m not privy to all the information out there. I think, regardless of justification, that we are morally obliged to make sure we leave Iraq better than we found it, and thus we should be there until that is met. Perhaps you have something useful to contribute as to how you believe a well-catechized Catholic could never accept the Iraqi War as just?

  • “A vote for Obama by a Catholic says something about the Catholic, meaning they were poorly catechized. Why then are these Catholics still in the Church if they don’t believe even the basic tenets of faith?”

    Tito,

    You are an ignoramus and a slanderer.

  • Mark DeFrancisis,

    There’s no need for that type of commentary.

    By the way, I like the pic of your dog.

  • Michael, so your opinion is that poor catechesis is not a determining factor of support for one party or another. (When I say opinion, I only mean that I don’t think there’s any data at the moment to support one way or another, so opinion is the best we have.)

    No, my view, which is not an opinion in this case, but seems indisputable, is that “catechesis” is not necessarily a determining factor. It might be in some cases, it may not be in other cases.

    Now, I think the general stance some of us here have (and others can correct me) is that a properly catechized Catholic should view abortion as the paramount issue, trumping economics, foreign policy, and so on. Thus comes the viewpoint that anyone who places economics or foreign policy ahead of abortion must not be properly catechized. (I’m saying this bluntly, I know, and I apologize for the outrage that this statement will rightfully draw. Many of us here, though, are certain that this is, indeed, the Church’s teaching.) I know you must disagree.

    Yes, I disagree. Life issues are paramount. THIS is what the Church teaches. “Economics” and “foreign policy” are vague terms and you can’t really consider those as “issues” that compare with abortion. Thus, I would say of course “foreign policy” is “not as important” as abortion, but abortion is a specific action, “foreign policy” is not. Now, unjust war is specific, and I would place that on the same level of abortion because both actions are the unjustified taking of human life.

    So, what is your opinion of what specifically makes a Catholic well catechized in regards to prioritizing abortion, economics, foreign policy, and so on when voting for a political candidate?

    A well catechized Catholic knows that issues that directly relate to the taking of human life are the most important. A well catechized Catholic knows that this is hardly limited to the issue of abortion. A well catechized Catholic knows that he or she may not be pro-choice. A well catechized Catholic knows that abortion is not simply another issue along side other life issues and that these issues are intrinsically related as manifestations of a culture of redemptive violence. A well catechized Catholic knows that he or she must oppose abortion because it he or she must oppose all unjustified violence. A well catechized Catholic knows that the Church’s just war teaching must be taken absolutely seriously and that it is more important than the judgment of the president of the united states. A well catechized Catholic knows that he or she does not need to “prioritize” abortion because for Catholics there are no second class human beings. A well catechized Catholic knows that he or she must oppose abortion but knows that there are many valid ways of doing so, and indeed that there must be a variety of tactics going on at once in order to end abortion in any meaningful sense. A well catechized Catholic knows that the Church does not endorse one u.s. political party over another even in the case of clear party platforms on the issue of abortion because Catholic social teaching does not fit either or any of the political parties. A well catechized Catholic knows that blaming the victory of a democratic presidential candidate on “poor catechesis” is utterly stupid and amounts to nothing other than an arrogant scapegoating tactic.

  • Michael I.,

    >>
    A well catechized Catholic knows that blaming the victory of a democratic presidential candidate on “poor catechesis” is utterly stupid and amounts to nothing other than an arrogant scapegoating tactic.
    <<

    I said that those Catholics that voted for Obama were poorly catechized. Unless of course you are making the assumption that the entire American electorate is Catholic which you state clearly in your retort.

    Your comments such as “stupid” and “arrogant scapegoating” doesn’t help advance constructive dialogue here at the American Catholic website.

    I am stating that Catholics that voted for Obama were poorly catechized. Being catechized means understanding and practicing our Catholic faith.

    Here is Merriam-Websters definition:

    “…to instruct systematically especially by questions, answers, and explanations and corrections ; specifically : to give religious instruction in such a manner…”

    Corrections is part of the catechizing process. Thusly, if a Catholic is properly catechized, they have a properly formed conscious and are able to make the appropriate decision to vote as a properly catechized Catholic.

  • I am stating that Catholics that voted for Obama were poorly catechized.

    That view is tremendously stupid and it amounts to nothing more than arrogant scapegoating.

  • Tito,

    How do you think calling anybody who voted for Obama poorly catechized advances constructive dialogue?

    And do not you know that the bishops allowed us to take into consideration the real commitment and ability to effect change that certain purportedly pro- life politicians actually possess?

    Given the track record of the GOP in the past 30 years, many it concluded that their commitment and ability are not very much. Placing this beside their recent war mongering, torture and pro- death penalty stances, many have concluded that Republicans just love to have abortion always around as a perennial wedge issue, as they could not possibly be really committed the the anctity of human life through and through.

    Did you consider, for instance, that John McCain, for instance, told a certain crowd of pro-choice women this year that he was proud of his votes for the Bill Clinton SC appointees?

  • Michael I.,

    Again, with ad hominems.

    Your comments are not advancing the dialogue.

    This is your last warning.

  • Mark DeFrancisis,

    Your argument that 30 years of GOP governance is a straw man argument.

    Again you and Michael I. are not helping with your poor choice of language.

    I am stating my opinion and writing it any other way would devolve into obfuscation.

  • Tito – It’s not an “ad hominem” to say that what you are “arguing” is stupid.

  • Michael I.,

    Could you use another word besides “stupid”. Others may take it the wrong way and think that this website is an echo chamber of name-calling nanobots.

    Like I said, if those that voted for Obama were properly catechized we may not have him as President-Elect.

    Now if you want to take it as an absolute statement that ALL Catholics were poorly catechized that voted for Obama, then I can see how you may view this as impossible (not stupid). But I didn’t say “all”. I just mentioned Catholics by itself. This can imply ‘all’ Catholics, but it can also imply as a general term, ie, most Catholics, etc.

    I don’t want to devolve into near meaningless discussions on what “is” is.

    I can understand to a certain degree that maybe, just maybe, that you may have taken offense to it. But how can I write my opinion without watering down what I believe is a root cause of the problem. That Catholics are poorly catechized in general.

    I myself am still learning what being a Catholic is all about. I was poorly catechized growing up. I’ve heard many, many, such stories as mine…. We went to a Catholic school and came out agnostic… Upon rediscovering my faith I felt cheated out of the great patrimony that is our beautiful and magnificent Catholic faith. But I’m greatful now that I am aware and embrace it and live it the best way I know how.

    Now the flip side of all this is that I don’t mean to imply as well that if we were properly catechized that we would be the perfect robo-Christians. Automatically making all the correct choices in life as we live it. People make mistakes. Sometimes they realize this immediately afterwards, other times after a period of time and reflection.

    I am not condemning those that are poorly catechized. It is not their fault if that is the case. I am not passing on judgement on those that are poorly catechized as well. I am just pointing out that they are poorly catechized.

    I hope that helps.

  • No if you want to take it as an absolute statement that ALL Catholics were poorly catechized that voted for Obama, then I can see how you may view this as impossible (not stupid). But I didn’t say “all”.

    You didn’t use the word “all” but it is undeniable that you implied it:

    A vote for Obama by a Catholic says something about the Catholic, meaning they were poorly catechized.

    In other words, if a Catholic (any Catholic) voted for Obama, it is because he or she was poorly catechized.

    Why then are these Catholics still in the Church if they don’t believe even the basic tenets of faith?

    If you think that the idea that Catholics may not vote for pro-choice politicians is a “basic tenet” of the Catholic faith, maybe you are the one who needs some catechesis.

    You cite no evidence that Catholics in america are poorly catechized, and no evidence that Catholics who voted democrat are poorly catechized. You merely assert that it is the case. Lay out your argument as to why “proper catechesis” would mean voting in this case for John McCain. Otherwise, this post is what I said it is: CENSORED FOR INAPPROPRIATE LANGUAGE BY AMERICAN CATHOLIC

  • Michael I.,

    Do you want anecdotal evidence? Primary or secondary evidence? Field or lab evidence?

    I am stating my opinion in explaining the issues confronting the Church in this electoral year.

    Your many attempts at slander, obfuscation, and other diversionary tactics are not helping your argument.

    Please refrain from such language or we’re going to moderate your comments.

    God bless you Michael.

  • Nice. Censoring my critique of your unfounded ideas under the guise of censoring particular words I have used in my critique. You’re something else.

    Please, any evidence will do. Evidence of your claims, evidence that you think before you write, anything.

    Otherwise, your posts appear quite silly. Is the word “silly” going to be censored too?

  • Michael I.,

    I personally like it when you comment on the American Catholic website. Most of the time you ask good, inquisitive, and self-examining questions. You help promote the dialogue and offer valuable insight from a unique point of view.

    I think you have a lot to offer, especially with that big brain of yours.

    And no, “silly” is not a bad word.

    I love you man.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

  • Tito,

    My love for you grows and deepens with each passing day.

    Now please, provide some evidence for your claim that Catholics who voted for Obama must have been poorly catechized.

    Feel free to use me as an example, since I voted for Obama and you said in this post that I have been poorly catechized.

  • Michael,

    I’m not a fan of the Iraq War. I was (and am) inclined to think that was just, although I’m open to discussion. More definitively, I thought and think that the arguments offered by many of its opponents are very weak (e.g. “Bush lied, people died!”).

    None of this makes me a “fan”.

  • As to the larger discussion, there seems little doubt that many Catholics are poorly catechized and that many of them are not very faithful (e.g. based on Mass attendance). If you look at the exit polling (and other polls), those Catholics who do *not* attend Mass weekly tended to vote for Obama, although not exclusively (clearly Obama didn’t have the corner on poorly catechized Catholics).

    Based on the evidence we have, is it likely that *many* Catholics who voted for Obama *were* poorly catechized? I think so. Does that mean that if a Catholic voted for Obama they must have been poorly catechized? No.

  • More definitively, I thought and think that the arguments offered by many of its opponents are very weak (e.g. “Bush lied, people died!”).

    “Bush lied, people died” is not an argument, but a protest chant. (Admittedly, a weak chant, and not one that has ever come out of my mouth!) However, it is based on reality. The Bush administration fabricated evidence and a connection between 9/11 and Iraq and continues to exploit these fabrications. Wars justified by falsehoods are, by definition, not just. How do these untruths factor into your reflection on whether or not the war is just?

  • If one does not go to Mass, does that mean one has not been properly catechized? Mass attendance means one has been properly catechized? Huh?

  • There may not be a relationship of causation between Mass attendance & degree of catechetical formation, but I think there’s certainly a relationship of correlation… they tend to go together. I don’t know of many well-catechized Catholics who don’t attend Mass regularly, personally or via studies.

    As to the fabrication of evidence, we’ve discussed this before, but without resolution: the contention that Saddam had WMDs was held by the Clinton administration, the UN and numerous European countries (many of whom nonetheless opposed the war). Did they all *lie* no. Were they and the Bush administration all mistaken? Yes. *That* is my objection to the “Bush lied, people died” chant. (I’d like to come to *some* resolution on this before addressing the 9/11-Iraq issue, if that’s okay.)

  • I don’t know of many well-catechized Catholics who don’t attend Mass regularly, personally or via studies.

    That’s strange. I do. I also know countless Catholics who attend Mass regularly who are also poorly catechized.

    I suppose, though, this all depends on what you and I (and silly but undeniably lovable Tito) mean by “properly catechized.” To Tito, a properly catechized Catholic loves america unapologetically and uncritically. To you, it is conceivable that a “properly catechized” Catholic could approve of the war in Iraq. To me, both of these positions represent a crisis of catechesis.

  • I completely agree that many Mass-attending Catholics are poorly catechized. But how can you be well-catechized and not attend Mass? Perhaps it does depend on our definition of catechesis; I think it’s common to see it merely as intellectual knowledge, in which case I’d agree with you. But the ecclesial documents on catechesis indicate that it’s much more than that, that it’s, in essence, discipleship, and I don’t know how someone could intentionally not attend Mass and be considered a well-formed disciple.

    To you, it is conceivable that a “properly catechized” Catholic could approve of the war in Iraq.

    Yes, because there’s a difference between my opinion and definitive Catholic doctrine, and I know they aren’t the same. :-)

  • BTW, what about the whole “lie” thing?

  • But the ecclesial documents on catechesis indicate that it’s much more than that, that it’s, in essence, discipleship, and I don’t know how someone could intentionally not attend Mass and be considered a well-formed disciple.

    I agree that catechesis is not mere knowledge but discipleship. I do know plenty of people who are well-formed disciples who are not Catholic and so they do not attend Mass. I know several well-formed disciples who were raised Catholic and for one reason or another are not in the habit of going to Mass. There are countless reasons why this might occur: habit, alienation, etc.

    Surely, though, Tito knows people both online and in real life who are good, Mass-attending Catholics who voted for Barack Obama and who he still insists were/are not “properly catechized.” I want to know what he bases this on, and if he is including all of these Catholics that he personally knows when he makes these sweeping claims. Is he really saying that folks like myself, Katerina, MM, etc. have been “poorly catechized”?

  • Michael,

    This is not an attack.. this is a sincere question.

    Are saying that you do not go to Mass, but are properly catechized?

  • Maybe I’m being overly analytical here, but it seems to be that if we take it that A is a person who does not attend mass then either A is uninformed as to the importance of attending the sacrifice of the mass every Sunday according to Catholic doctrine or A is informed but rejects that doctrine. If the former case, then A is certainly not “well catechized”. If the latter, then I suppose whether A is well catechized is a matter of one’s definition of catechesis, as Burgwald pointed out.

    If catechesis is considered information, then perhaps these people are either well informed but reject the doctrine (in which case I suppose one could call them heretics, from a Catholic point of view) or else they are well informed but choose not to follow it even thought they don’t reject it, in which case I suppose a term such as “disobedient” might apply.

    If catechesis is considered to be the combination of information and active discipleship, it would seem impossible to be both well catechized and not regularly attend mass.

  • Bret – I usually go to Mass twice a week.

    Darwin – Don’t worry, you’re not being overly analytical. In fact, I’d say you’re not being thoughtful enough. Clearly the two options you present are not the only two possibilities. I know some people who know they should go to Mass, but they don’t. They are not uninformed, but neither do they reject the Catholic teaching that weekly Mass attendance is important.

  • Many of you also need to expand your understanding of what “discipleship” means.

  • “I know some people who know they should go to Mass, but they don’t. They are not uninformed, but neither do they reject the Catholic teaching that weekly Mass attendance is important.”

    Since we are all being pedantic and analytical here, it’s fair to note that Darwin’s schema took account of this possibility, labeling it ‘disobedient’.

    For what it is worth, my definition of ‘well-catechized’ includes a combination of intellectual instruction in the Faith, as well as the experience of knowing individuals seriously attempting to live it out. Given the choice between one or the other, I would choose the latter.

  • Thanks, John. I read too quickly. I’m not sure “disobedient” would cover all of the people in that category, or would describe their reasons for not going to Mass, but point taken.

    I hope these thoughts and descriptions we are all contributing will assist Tito in amending his stupid silly assertion that Catholics who voted for Obama are poorly catechized. But he seems to be missing. Maybe he’s busy catechizing some democrats?

  • I would not have put things the way that Tito did, but it does strike me that if Catholics were in fact both well catechized and living out their faith, that they probably would have voted fairly heavily against Obama.

    Basically, there are two possible elements here: One may be ignorant of the Church’s teaching about the human dignity of the unborn and that this dignity should be reflected in positive law — or one may reject or disobey that teaching — or one may accept the teaching, but hold beliefs about the issues at play in the last election such that one holds that there was some other proportionate issue to justify voting for Obama.

    I take it that Michael would fall in this final category.

    However, I do agree with Tito that if the Catholics in this country were uniformly well catechized, they would have voted quite heavily against Obama. Although some who take the Church’s teachings about life issues seriously are persuaded that voting for Obama somehow fits with that — most people aren’t.

  • Akrasia and the divided will are mysteries, are they not? I know I have been personally humbled by them.

    Tito,

    I apologize for the unnecessary name-calling. But please, consider the content of our objections.

  • …or one may accept the teaching, but hold beliefs about the issues at play in the last election such that one holds that there was some other proportionate issue to justify voting for Obama.

    I take it that Michael would fall in this final category.

    Yes, except as I have said repeatedly, it does not come down to any one issue.

    Although some who take the Church’s teachings about life issues seriously are persuaded that voting for Obama somehow fits with that — most people aren’t.

    Well, we shouldn’t expect Catholics to get “overly analytical,” now, should we?

  • Mark DeFrancisis & Michael I.,

    I did consider the content of your objections. My analysis stems from personal observations of friends and acquaintances. My previous comments, in addition to Chris Burgwald’s and Darwin’s comments have answered your objections better than I could have articulated them.

    Again, it is not the fault of the Catholic if he or she is poorly catechized.

    Mark, no offense taken. Thanks for your thoughts. I like reading your comments (as well as Michael’s). They challenge me to learn more about our faith (I’m assuming your Catholic).

  • As to ‘obedience’, the guidance of the Bishops who are in communion with the Pope should not be ignored. Unfortunately, many people who consider themselves ‘catechized’, rely too heavily on their own reading of things, and not enough on the Shepherds guidance. This leads them to believe that whatever conclusion they arrive at concerning things like life issues, is JUST AS VALID as what the Church, through the Bishops , is teaching.

    I would not call that well catechized, any way you define ‘catechized’.

  • My analysis stems from personal observations of friends and acquaintances.

    But you did not “analyze” anything.

    Again, it is not the fault of the Catholic if he or she is poorly catechized.

    Again, you have given no evidence that Catholics who voted for Obama are poorly catechized.

    Are you including MM, Katerina, and myself among the “poorly catechized” Catholics you are pointing to, or not?

  • Michael I.,

    The thrust of my column was on the consequences of bishops either standing up for the faith or not.

    Now it can reasonably be assumed that if one is uninformed one can make an incorrect decision. Hence the reason why I brought up proper catechesis.

    Chris Burgwald made an excellent point that church-going Christians voted more for McCain than Obama and the inverse for non-church going Christians. You have cause and effect.

    Now I don’t know about MM and Katerina. For one reason or another I thought MM was voting for Obama and Kat was not voting for either McCain nor Obama. But I don’t understand why you want to bring them into the discussion since it doesn’t advance your point.

  • Chris Burgwald made an excellent point that church-going Christians voted more for McCain than Obama and the inverse for non-church going Christians. You have cause and effect.

    Dr. Burgwald also refrained from drawing the same stupid silly conclusion that you did, saying that he wouldn’t consider it a simple cause and effect.

    Now I don’t know about MM and Katerina. For one reason or another I thought MM was voting for Obama and Kat was not voting for either McCain nor Obama. But I don’t understand why you want to bring them into the discussion since it doesn’t advance your point.

    Last I heard, both of them voted for Obama. As did I. I didn’t mention them in order to advance a point. I am asking you a direct question, which you don’t seem to have the guts to answer: Are you including MM, Katerina, and myself among the “poorly catechized” Catholics you are pointing to, or not?

  • Michael I.,

    You’re over the line and going hebephrenic.

    Stop it.

  • Tito,

    With all due respect, this post is completely over the line, and you have in no place defended your opening claim remotely adequately.

    In fact, your responses are becoming, dare I say, hebephrenic.

  • Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

    From time to time discussions in the combox can get heated and emotions raw. We at American Catholic want to provide a charitable forum for an exchange of ideas that contribute to the advancement of dialogue in a Christian manner. We encourage those, whether Christian or not, to comment and participate in a positive manner the overall dialogue in order to grow more in faith and charity. Sometimes this can be abused so we ask in advance to reconsider and be prudent in what you are typing in the combox. Recoqnize the dignity in the person you are responding to and treat that person as you would want to be treated. Remember there are those that read the comboxes here and witness the give and take.

    Be prudent and think before clicking the ‘Submit Comment’ tab. Because you never know who is reading your comments that they may be close to conversion. So if they witness something contrary to our Christian faith we will push them further away from Christ.

    Thank you all for contributing to this experiment here at American Catholic. Remember, brick by brick will we bring the kingdom of Heaven ever closer to realization.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito Edwards

  • Tito, have you seen what the USCCB is doing? Wasn’t sure if you had heard since it’s pretty recent.

    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20081112/D94D7AHG0.html

    Maybe you can find a St. Ambrose or two here.

  • Christine,

    Yes I did see that.

    I’ve been monitoring the news coming out since yesterday afternoon. I’ve been quite busy and wanted to post a long column on what has been going on last night, but it got to late.

    I’ll be posting something tonight (maybe several) concerning the interesting news coming from the USCCB (maybe other AC contributors might take up this task as well).

    Thanks for the heads up.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

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