Pope Tony Excommunicates Santorum

Well that’s certainly how I read this screed by Morning’s Minion.  It seems that Rick has offended the Magisterium of Vox Nova.

I get annoyed by silly media talk of Santorum’s connections to Opus Dei, everybody’s favorite dark and sinister Catholic cloak-and-dagger society.

Such a promising beginning.  Then it unravels.

The underlying assumption is that Santorum is a deeply orthodox Catholic, with a whiff of old-school authoritarianism about him. But this is nonsense. Opus Dei is a traditionalist Catholic group, heavily influenced by Spanish spirituality. It’s not my cup of tea, but it puts strong emphasis on fidelity to Church teachings, and I assume that means all Church teachings. Santorum, on the other hand, is a classic American right-wing liberal, picking and choosing his Church teachings, and with a spirituality that seems far more evangelical than Catholic. It is no accident that Santorum’s core support comes from right-wing evangelicals, not Catholics. Opus Dei has a vaguely “foreign” feel in the United States. Nobody could possibly say that about Santorum!

Goodness gracious.  My favorite part is where MM describe Santorum’s spirituality as “Evangelical,” whatever that means.  It’s the usual litany of cliches from Tony: right-wing liberals, scary Evangelical bogeymen, accusations of cafeteria Catholicism.  Honestly at this point you can play the Morning’s Minion drinking game and you’d be drunk by the second paragraph.  As for the astute observation that Santorum polls better with Evangelicals than with Catholics – well, I’m not sure if that fact reflects poorly on Santorum or on other Catholics.  Considering that many Catholics share Minion’s, umm, unique perspective on the faith it’s not surprising that Santorum is not doing so well with his co-religionists.

As for the specific charges that Morning’s Minion lays out against Santorum, I’ll link to Lisa Graas’s blog post here, and paste her responses after the jump.  She does a good job dismantling every claim laid against Santorum, and so I have nothing else to add.

CLAIM: Santorum believes strongly in the anti-Catholic theology of American exceptionalism. 

This is the first I’ve heard of American exceptionalism being “anti-Catholic.” It takes a lot of thought to figure out where belief that one’s country is the best country in the world is “anti-Catholic.” I would argue the contrary is true here. From the catechism:

As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life. The manner of this participation may vary from one country or culture to another. “One must pay tribute to those nations whose systems permit the largest possible number of the citizens to take part in public life in a climate of genuine freedom.”

What country offers greater participation for her citizens in public life than America? None that I can think of.

CLAIM: He believes strongly in the anti-Catholic theology of the supremacy of individual freedom, in economic if not in sexual matters. 

The claim is that there is no supremacy of individual freedom in regard to economic matters, but in fact, the Church recognizes the right of private property. Any time property is taken against the will of of the owner, it is theft. In America, we live in a society that is ruled by the people. Any who live in this society agree to submit to the law. The people are being fairly clear that they are opposed to so much theft of private property, as it were, and are ready to move away from what they see as socialism, which itself, along with pure capitalism, is condemned by the Church. Because America is ruled by the people (again, something the Church loves) then Americans will decide how much private property should be taken in the form of taxes to do what needs to be done to make America function as a healthy society. Rick Santorum is on the side of the people, in this regard, and is therefore quite Catholic in his positions on the matter. In regard to “sexual matters,” he is generally for silence in the law on such divisive matters, and for public debate on them, but unfortunately, the Left continues to push sexual matters into the civil law through active measures to usurp current law. This is a threat to religious freedom and to the country’s health as a society considering that the traditional family is being usurped from its place as “better” for America than other relationships. Certainly, the idea that traditional marriage is better for society than other relationships would not be considered “anti-Catholic” by Vox Nova….or would it?

CLAIM: Santorum defines his theology as stemming from the bible (Protestant) as opposed to the single sacred deposit of the Word of God comprising sacred scripture and sacred tradition (Catholic).

I’ve listened to every speech I could have access to…which has amounted to about one speech per day, every day, since May, and I have never heard him say anything about this. Having said that, Catholics believe in the material sufficiency of the Bible. That is, everything that is necessary for salvation can be found at least implicitly in the Holy Scriptures. It is not “anti-Catholic” to hold up the Bible as God’s voice to us and it’s very difficult for me to contain my disgust at the suggestion that it is.

CLAIM: He embraces an anti-Catholic theology of plundering rather than protecting the environment. 

There is no teaching that I am aware of that prohibits us from using natural resources. What we must not do is destroy the environment on the level that could be considered contempt for God and His creation, including and especially human life. Certainly, there is nothing in Rick Santorum’s positions on the environment that reaches the level of contempt for God or for human life. To the contrary, he is for using our natural resources in a manner that enhances life.

CLAIM: He supports a bloodthirsty and pro-death foreign policy. 

Rick Santorum’s foreign policy is based on defense against nuclear attack on America and defense against other threats. Further, the manner in which this charge is leveled seems to be closer to ad hominem than a claim based on fact.

CLAIM: He supports the intrinsically evil act of torture. 

That is utterly false. He supports doing the minimum necessary to save human lives. If prisoners have information about threats to the lives of hundreds (or even millions) of people, he supports (and is well within Catholic teaching) using force against them until they provide the information. It is mistakenly argued that this is an “end justifies the means” position when, in fact, it is perfectly in keeping with just war doctrine. The use of force to obtain justice is morally licit. It is in the context of war against millions of people that Rick Santorum supports the use of force against prisoners, not to extract confessions to crimes or to intimidate the individual, but to save lives.

CLAIM: He seeks to cast out the immigrant, which goes directly against the “biblical values” he loves so much.

No, he wants to deport those who are here illegally, but as the grandson of immigrants, he welcomes all who seek to come here legally. He also wants to build a border fence mainly for national security reasons.

 

19 Responses to Pope Tony Excommunicates Santorum

  • Who brought popcorn? This could be entertaining…

  • Many of MM’s points are over the top, but some, at least, do require more careful consideration.

    American Exceptionalism

    Well, it depends upon what MM means by American Exceptionalism. I can’t venture over to VN without my blood pressure rising to unhealthy levels, so I can only guess that he does not mean it is anti-Catholic to love one’s country or be proud of its achievements, but rather American Exceptionalism is the belief that America is somehow exempt or “excepted” from moral standards that pertain to other countries. The attitude of “when other contries do it, it’s wrong; but when America does it, it’s ok.” E.g., torturing is wrong when Iran does it, but not when we do it.

    Rick Santorum supports the use of force against prisoners, not to extract confessions to crimes or to intimidate the individual, but to save lives.

    But you do the same thing the pro-choicers do – that is, you leave off what is implicit in the action. Pro-choicers always talk about freedom of choice, but rarely say the freedom to choose what? To murder.

    Likewise, you say Rick supports the use of force, not to intimidate the individual, but to save lives. But how does he save these lives? By intimidating (if not worse) the individual. You can say this is not “ends justifies the means” but that’s exactly what it is. Even just war doctrine does not support torture. Just war doctrine relates to two things – having a just reason to go to war (which is what Grass is probably alluding to) and conducting the war in a just manner. One can be justified to go to war, but conduct the war in an an unjust manner (e.g., by torturing prisoners) and thereby still transgress just war teaching.

    It is also very vague on what is meant by force in this context – how much? Whatever it takes? Are there any limits? If so, what are they? If enemies did the same action to our citizens, would it be different (eg, if Japanese forces captured one of the Enola Gay pilots before the bombings, would they be allowed to “apply force” to find out the intended targets?).

  • By the way, his screed does seem to offer at least a “left-handed” compliment to Opus Dei. Maybe he’s getting soft.

  • All you need to know about Tony A is that he has now on at least 2 occasions (and I’m sure there are more) made his stand with the most anti-Catholic administration in this nation’s history and against the Bishops of his own Church on matters of utmost importance: (1) the Stupak Amendment, which would have clearly and unequivocally included Hyde Amendment type language in ObamaCare; and (2) the HHS mandate. Tony routinely on these matters disparages those Bishops as out of touch and ignorant and partisan, while pretending that Obama is the embodiment of Catholic Social Teaching.

    Tony says Santorum is “anti-Catholic”? Then let’s be honest about Tony: he’s not a Catholic at all – he’s a Democrat first, last, and always. He’s a hard-core, left-wing statist hiding behind a fascade of Catholicism as a means of pushing what is at its core a secularist, anti-Catholic agenda that sees the government picking winners and losers in internal Church affairs, and determining Church doctrine and which Church activities constitute the practice of “religion” and which do not.

    Following Santorum’s preferred agenda would not threaten the Catholic Church or the Catholic faith in the least. Following Tony’s preferred agenda has brought this country as close to the precipace of anti-religious tyranny as we’ve ever been.

    NOW tell me who’s “anti-Catholic”?

  • , but rather American Exceptionalism is the belief that America is somehow exempt or “excepted” from moral standards that pertain to other countries.

    Tony doesn’t explain what he means by this, but this is certainly not what Santorum believes.

    As for the bullet about torture, this is admittedly one area where I have some quibbles with Santorum (and thus with Lisa’s defense of him). I won’t go into further detail because I really don’t want Catholic combox discussion #9235029554222 about whether or not the use of waterboarding is intrinsically evil.

  • Here are a few more targets for Pope Tony to excommunicate on the charge of American Exceptionalism:

    “Nor, perchance did the fact which We now recall take place without some design of divine Providence. Precisely at the epoch when the American colonies, having, with Catholic aid, achieved liberty and independence, coalesced into a constitutional Republic the ecclesiastical hierarchy was happily established amongst you; and at the very time when the popular suffrage placed the great Washington at the helm of the Republic, the first bishop was set by apostolic authority over the American Church. The well-known friendship and familiar intercourse which subsisted between these two men seems to be an evidence that the United States ought to be conjoined in concord and amity with the Catholic Church. And not without cause; for without morality the State cannot endure-a truth which that illustrious citizen of yours, whom We have just mentioned, with a keenness of insight worthy of his genius and statesmanship perceived and proclaimed. But the best and strongest support of morality is religion.”

    Pope Leo XIII

    “Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility. Americans know this from experience – almost every town in this country has its monuments honoring those who sacrificed their lives in defense of freedom, both at home and abroad. The preservation of freedom calls for the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good and a sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate. It also demands the courage to engage in civic life and to bring one’s deepest beliefs and values to reasoned public debate. In a word, freedom is ever new. It is a challenge held out to each generation, and it must constantly be won over for the cause of good (cf. Spe Salvi, 24). Few have understood this as clearly as the late Pope John Paul II. In reflecting on the spiritual victory of freedom over totalitarianism in his native Poland and in eastern Europe, he reminded us that history shows, time and again, that “in a world without truth, freedom loses its foundation”, and a democracy without values can lose its very soul (cf. Centesimus Annus, 46). Those prophetic words in some sense echo the conviction of President Washington, expressed in his Farewell Address, that religion and morality represent “indispensable supports” of political prosperity.”

    Pope Bendict XVI

    “Respect for religious conviction played no small part in the birth and early development of the United States. Thus John Dickinson, Chairman of the Committee for the Declaration of Independence, said in 1776: “Our liberties do not come from charters; for these are only the declaration of preexisting rights. They do not depend on parchments or seals; but come from the King of Kings and the Lord of all the earth.” Indeed it may be asked whether the American democratic experiment would have been possible, or how well it will succeed in the future, without a deeply rooted vision of divine providence over the individual and over the fate of nations.”

    Pope John Paul II

    “A few days after the liberation of Rome, Lieutenant General Mark Clark, Commander of the Fifth Allied Army, paid his respects to the Pope: “I am afraid you have been disturbed by the noise of my tanks. I am sorry.” Pius XII smiled and replied: “General, any time you come to liberate Rome, you can make just as much noise as you like.””
    Pius XII

    Then we have Pio Nono who contributed a block of marble for the building of the Washington Monument.

    Pope Tony had better buy his bulls of excommunication by the gross.

  • The comments are hysterical, as Tony is being chided for being too soft on Opus Dei.

  • Well, I went too far in saying that Tony is not a Catholic at all, and for that I apologize. I certainly don’t want to be in the business of excommunicating those with whom I have philosophical, theological, and political differences. That’s a bit above my “paygrade”.

    But the rest of my comment stands. Tony is FAR more guilty of promoting an “anti-Catholic” agenda than Santorum is.

  • Does Vox Nova generally lend itself to be nothing more than liberal propaganda with strategically placed Catholic fig leaves?

    Santorum is one of the most pro-family, pro-life, faithful to the Magisterium Catholics we’ve seen run for the highest office in the land and they deign to attack him?

  • “Does Vox Nova generally lend itself to be nothing more than liberal propaganda with strategically placed Catholic fig leaves?”

    When it ventures into the political realm, with certain honorable exceptions among their writers, yes.

  • Jay, the only — ONLY — evidence for Morning’s Minion’s Catholicism is his own insistence upon it. He’s one of those I’ve been saying that bishops need to bring into line. He needs to get with the Church, or get out of it.

  • One commits a horrid error when one equates big-government socialism with the Gospels . . .

    VN needs to read and believe the Gospels, not Marx and Lenin.

    Someone tell them their definition of “social justice” is not the alibi for every mortal sin in the Book.

    Gospel “Planks in their eyes” – hundreds of aerial drone murders; 45,000,000 abortions; hundreds of millions of contraceptions; endless aggressive wars; every day fomenting mass class envy/hatred; gay privileges; etc.

    Speck – three mass murderers water-boarded; tax cuts for the hated rich; what-have-you; trying to keep it so as working class Americans can afford food and fuel; and etc.

    Capital punishment hasn’t been outlawed by Uncle Joe Biden’s boss, either.

  • Lisa is outright wrong about the torture issue. No need to rehash the arguments for the regular readers here. Newcomers can google ‘catholic waterboarding’ to get what they need.

  • There are quite orthodox thinkers who do not believe every act of coercive force is torture. Some very good ones outside the self-appointed, non-trained “experts.”

    Some intelligent and non-inflammatory discussion of the topic:

    http://www.aina.org/news/20090430085120.jsp

  • Water-boarding is so last administration. That was then.

    This is now. The Obama regime savagely (human dignity! Veritatus Splendor!!) ) kills them with unmanned aerial drones.

  • I, too, have tangled with Tony before over multiple issues. I am happier to report we have come to an amiable truce. While Tony’s critiques of American Catholicism’s tendency to see the faith through an overly-American prism can be over-the-top, they also can be a helpful corrective.

    The problem, I think, comes from the fact that I think it can be fairly said likewise that Tony sees the faith through lenses that are too uncritical of continental European assumptions and concerns.

    Also, it would help if Tony would read Santorum’s “It Takes A Family.” Santorum’s conservatism is a lot more solidarity-oriented and less-atomistic individualist than the standard American conservative template.

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