Monthly Archives: November 2008
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have made fighting against the Freedom of Choice Act a high priority in their current meeting. The Catholic Church and the incoming Obama administration are on a collision course in regard to abortion. For every American Catholic the choice couldn’t be starker: which side are you on?
Morning’s Minion over at Vox Nova, recently argued that the pro-life movement should disentangle itself from the Republican party. I think a fairly good argument can be made for this position, although I don’t find it entirely convincing. As anyone familiar with the blogosphere is aware, however, the fact that a good argument can be made for a position does not mean that a good argument currently is being made. Here’s the post:
“It’s a warm spring Sunday at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond. As the minister is about to present Holy Communion, a tall well-dressed black man sitting in the section reserved for African Americans unexpectedly advances to the communion rail; unexpectedly because this has never happened here before.
Lord Jesus, Mighty Warrior and Prince of Peace, through the intercession of St. Michael and Our Lady of Victory, we pray for the protection of our loved ones called to serve in time of war. By Your grace, o Lord, may they be strong and of good courage. And by your grace also, may we at home renounce all fear and anxiety, place our trust fully in your most Merciful Heart, and await in hope. For though we may walk through the shadow of the Valley of death, we shall fear no evil- You are with us.Grant a decisive and just end to this war, lasting peace for all nations, and the safe return home of all our loved ones. AMEN. (CatholicMil.org)
One of the primary tasks of a historian, as I understand it, is to craft a coherent narrative out of the available facts. These narratives are important, as people are often suspicious to the point of irrationality when presented with information that contradicts their preconceptions. For this reason, I think it is worthwhile to push back on a few of the narratives that have been circulating over the past week about the reasons for the Republican defeat. A number of commentators have suggested that the Republican party’s anti-abortion position is hurting the party with social moderates, and that the party going forward needs to distance itself from pro-lifers.
One way to evaluate this advice is to identify the primary causes of the recent Republican loss. Why did 53% of voters choose Barack Obama, when 51% had voted for George Bush four years ago? It seems to me that the three primary reasons were Iraq, the economy, and the McCain campaign, in that order.
TO THE UNKNOWN WARRIOR
You whom the kings saluted; who refused not
The one great pleasure of ignoble days,
Fame without name and glory without gossip,
Whom no biographer befouls with praise.
Who said of you “Defeated”? In the darkness
The dug-out where the limelight never comes,
Nor the big drum of Barnum’s show can shatter
That vibrant stillness after all the drums.
Though the time comes when every Yankee circus
Can use our soldiers for its sandwich-men,
When those that pay the piper call the tune,
You will not dance. You will not move again.
You will not march for Fatty Arbuckle,
Though he have yet a favourable press,
Tender as San Francisco to St. Francis
Or all the angels of Los Angeles.
They shall not storm the last unfallen fortress,
The lonely castle where uncowed and free,
Dwells the unknown and undefeated warrior
That did alone defeat Publicity.
“In good King Charles‘s golden days,
When Loyalty no harm meant;
A Furious High-Church man I was,
And so I gain’d Preferment.
Unto my Flock I daily Preach’d,
Kings are by God appointed,
And Damn’d are those who dare resist,
Or touch the Lord’s Anointed.
Now that America is post-Election 2008, the news media and political pundits — as well as both the Democratic and Republican parties — busy themselves with a host of questions. What went wrong? What went right? What could we have done differently? How can loss ground be made up in the 2010 Midterm Elections and again in the 2012 Presidential Elections? In many ways, people are baffled by the outcome of this election. A few people claimed that there was no way Barack Obama could win as he is the most liberal candidate to run for the United States’ highest-ranking office. Obama not only won, he carried the three major swing states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida and topped it off by turning Indiana, North Carolina, and Virginia from “red” to “blue.” Clinton made the argument in the primary season that no Democrat since 1916 has made it to Pennsylvania Avenue without winning West Virginia. Obama didn’t carry West Virginia. It isn’t conclusive yet, but it seems that he even loss Missouri by a small margin — a state virtually no president (except one) has made it to the White House without winning for over a century.
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.
So the Republican Party is reeling, trying to find its voice and a clear path forward in the aftermath of a terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad defeat. While initially we hear that the party will be led by fresh faces, such as Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal, and that forerunners for 2012 will also include Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, this brief noise has been covered over with the deafening sounds of ligaments snapping from too much finger-pointing. These days, if you want to know who is old-guard in the Republican party, you merely need to see who has his index finger splinted and bandaged.
Today, regarding Kmiec (et al.):
But to claim that a candidate who seems primed to begin disbursing taxpayer dollars in support of abortion and embryo-destructive research as soon as he enters the White House somehow represented the better choice for anti-abortion Americans on anti-abortion grounds is an argument that deserves to met, not with engagement, but with contempt.
He echoes my weekend frustration.
Cardinal Francis George, speaking this morning as president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, said all Americans should “rejoice” that a country which once tolerated slavery has elected an African-American as president – and, in the same breath, he issued a blunt challenge to the new administration on abortion.
“If the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, that African Americans were other people’s property and somehow less than persons, were still settled constitutional law, Mr. Obama would not be President of the United States,” George said.
“Today, as was the case a hundred and fifty years ago, common ground cannot be found by destroying the common good,” he said.
Every election cycle, the New York Times and similar publications run op-eds or features discussing the ‘emerging trend’ (always emerging, never quite emerged) of pro-lifers reconciling themselves to voting for the Democratic party. These articles vary widely in quality, and range from intelligent and provocative (if flawed) to embarrassing, but the most common feature is disenchantment with the current state of the Republican party. I will grant that the case has been easier to make this year given the widespread dissatisfaction with the Republican party (particularly among the chattering classes).
Nevertheless, I think the answer to the title of this post is that, yes, pro-lifers are stuck with, or at least would be best served by, support for the Republican party. Some points for consideration:
One of the joys of the internet is stumbling upon something new and wonderful, at least to the stumbler. I have always had a strong interest in science fiction. I recently came across the Sci-Fi Catholic blog which explores the genre from a Catholic perspective. The proprietor of the blog, D. G. D. Davidson, is a convert to the Faith and a graceful writer.
Religion News Service reports that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ plans to discuss abortion and politics next week in Baltimore have been scuttled”: