In response to President Obama’s ignorant exercise in moral equivalency in invoking the Crusades and the Inquisition, ( as T.Shaw noted fewer people were turned over for execution by the Inquisition, actually Inquisitions, in all of history than die in American abortion clinics on any week day), go here to read about it, Jonah Goldberg quotes from his book Tyranny of Cliches which explains why such Catholic bashing is ahistoric and unfair:
As a fairly secular Jew I cannot and will not speak to the theological questions, in part because I do not want to. But mostly because I do not have to. The core problem with those who glibly invoke one cliché after another about the evils of organized religion and Catholicism is that they betray the progressive tendency to look back on the last two thousand years and see the Catholic Church — and Christianity generally — as holding back humanity from progress, reason, and enlightenment. They fault the Church for not knowing what could not have been known yet and for being too slow to accept new discoveries that only seem obvious to us with the benefit of hindsight. It’s an odd attack from people who boast of their skepticism and yet condemn the Church for being rationally skeptical about scientific breakthroughs.
In short, they look at the tide of secularism and modernity as proof that the Church was an anchor. I put it to you that it was more of sail. Nearly everything we revere about modernity and progress — education, the rule of law, charity, decency, the notion of the universal rights of man, and reason were advanced by the Church for most of the last two thousand years.
But isn’t the greater madness to make a real force for good the enemy because the forces of self-anointed perfection claim to have some glorious blueprint for a flawless world sitting on a desk somewhere? It is a Whiggish and childish luxury to compare the past — or even the present — to a utopian standard. Of course there was corruption, cruelty, and hypocrisy within the Church — because the Church is a human institution. Its dark hypocrisies are the backdrop that allow us to see the luminance of the standard they have, on occasion, fallen short of. The Catholic Church was a spiritual beacon lighting the way forward compared to the world lit only by fire outside the Church doors.
You know that you live in loony tunes times when a secular Jew like Goldberg has a better appreciation for the role of the Church in History than some Catholic bloggers: (Ahem, that is your cue Mark:)
“And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ…
“So this is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith. In today’s world, when hate groups have their own Twitter accounts and bigotry can fester in hidden places in cyberspace, it can be even harder to counteract such intolerance. But God compels us to try. And in this mission, I believe there are a few principles that can guide us, particularly those of us who profess to believe.
“And, first, we should start with some basic humility. I believe that the starting point of faith is some doubt — not being so full of yourself and so confident that you are right and that God speaks only to us, and doesn’t speak to others, that God only cares about us and doesn’t care about others, that somehow we alone are in possession of the truth.” (source)
Father Z and I have similar feelings about what is going on in the Church today:
Some wag out there used his photoshopping skills to Hello-Kitty-ize some heroes of the silver screen.
No… I just don’t have the heart to post Batman. Or Superman, for that matter. I just … can’t.
These days, this is what I feel is being done to our Church right now.
Yes, I wrote “feel”. I’ll start thinking again after a couple shots of espresso and some fresh air. Continue reading
John L. Allen Jr.’s name came up during an introductory meeting between the new owner of The Boston Globe, John W. Henry, and the editor of the same daily, Brian McGrory. It was an auspicious meeting because it was taking place one day after the Boston Red Sox winning the 2013 World Series, which Henry also owns.
Taking note of the popularity of the new Pope and wanting to capitalize on it, Allen’s name was floated to anchor this new online Catholic magazine named Crux. Crux would be an addition to the online publishing niches that the Globe operates. Considering the large Catholic population of the Boston area and the appeal of Pope Francis, it was a natural fit.
Henry was a self made man in financial trading and also successful in breaking the ‘Curse of the Bambino‘ by winning the 2004 World Series. Looking back at Henry’s track record, it can be said that he took bold ventures in unfamiliar territory and did well.
It’s the unofficial end of Summer and it’s my annual gratuitous post of myself day. The pic below was taken in mid-July, but I waited to fix the feed to The American Catholic in order celebrate the Summer. Needless to say, it’s fixed and the Summer is almost over.
During the Summer I asked my fellow blogger Don for some book recommendations for the French Revolution. Of the few he did mentioned, I picked up Simon Schama’s ‘Citizen’. The reading is in-depth, interesting, and balanced. I’m a bit over halfway finished of the 948 pages and am so far impressed. Considering that we are in the post-Cold War era, I wanted to know a bit more on the French Revolution since their errors have already engulfed Europe and has almost metastasizing here in the United States. The book is good and if there is any criticism of Simon Schama’s work it’s that he views Christianity, in particular the Catholic Church, through a materialistic lens.
My opinion on the subject is that the French Revolution is the confluence of anti-Christian ideas emanating from the so-called era of enlightenment. These very same ideas unleashed the short-term devastation of the rape of nuns, the execution of priests, and the degradation of houses of worship. The long-term affects have furthered the cause of eliminating God from all aspects of life blossoming further in the Communist Revolution in Russia and continued to bear the fruit of death in World Wars I & II. From this compost grew what we now call modern liberalism & democratic socialism.
I admit to some puzzlement as to why the Church in this country is so stridently in favor of illegal immigration. The Church in America being in favor of legal immigration I can understand, with so many Catholics tracing their ancestry to the waves of immigrants from Europe in the 19th and early 20th century. But until the day before yesterday in historical terms the Church was never in favor of illegal immigration. I think much of it tends to be that many of the powers that be within the Church in this country tend to favor the political left in most contexts. They are embarrassed that fights over abortion, gay marriage and religious liberty aligns the Church with political conservatives. Being in favor of illegal immigration allows these clerics to align with political forces they find much more congenial. Jack Cashill at The American Thinker gives us a case in point:
Motives, however, are rarely as simple as money. On the question of the church’s motives, one local Catholic explained how the noisy “peace and justice” cliques within the church seized a new opportunity to lure the Church leftward. As she explained, these cliques were attempting to negate the rightward drift of practicing Catholics on life issues by elevating workers’ rights to a comparable status. In the 2000 election, she noted, they tried the same tactic with the death penalty.
The problem for the P&J crowd is that the Catholic Church considers abortion “always morally evil” — “murder” in fact — but has no official position on immigration, legal or otherwise. One can read all four gospels and every encyclical ever written without encountering a single “undocumented immigrant” swimming across the River Jordan. Serious Catholics treat the hierarchy’s showy preference for immigration issues over life issues as some sort of Job-like test of their fidelity.
I had absolutely no intention of saying anything at the press conference. But with the woman’s lucid argument still resonating in my head, I could not resist the urge to inject a note of realism into the Q & A happy talk that followed the speeches.
The Bishop looked at me as if I had just peed on his shoe. “What are you talking about?” he scoffed. As respectful as I try to be to my Catholic clergy, I did not appreciate the public dissing. “Let me tell you what I mean,” I answered and elaborated in more detail what I had already said.
I had expected the other reporters to give me the evil eye, but they did not. My question seemed to remind them of the role that reporters used to play, “Bishop,” said the next fellow. “You keep saying that the Church is supporting immigration. Isn’t this really about illegal immigration?” I did not have time to listen to the answer. I had a 12 o’clock appointment across town, and I had already spent $9.00 on parking.
A few months later the unions repaid the Catholic Church for its support in a way that left me feeling much more insightful than I actually am. The Los Angeles Times summarized the issue succinctly enough: “California’s leading union organization, bucking organized labor’s long-standing neutrality on the issue of abortion, is for the first time taking a strong stand in favor of abortion rights.”
Specifically, the union asked its 2.1 million members to reject Proposition 85. This initiative would merely have required abortionists to honor the standards of ear-piercers and aspirin dispensers and get parents’ permission before going to work on their daughters.
Spearheading the union assault on parental rights was none other than Dolores Huerta, star of the press conference I had attended at the Cathedral. As the Times noted, Huerta, “a Roman Catholic,” had persuaded a pro-choice group to put its many interns to work passing out pro-abortion propaganda to the union delegates before the vote was taken. The union support proved crucial in defeating Prop 85 by a narrow 53 to 47 margin.
Said Tod Tamberg, an Archdiocesan spokesman, “It doesn’t preclude us from working together on those areas where we do share common concerns.” The “it” in question is the union’s decision to sanction what the church considers to be murder. In the battle for the Hispanic soul, the Church hierarchy had already surrendered, and God only knows why. Continue reading
One of the sources of ever renewing strength to Catholicism has ever been our converts. My bride is an example of this. A United Methodist when we married, she converted to the Faith after two years. Her doubts about the Eucharist were resolved when she drew my attention to these lines from a translation of Tantum Ergo, the masterpiece of Saint Thomas Aquinas:
Faith tells us that Christ is present,
When our Human senses fail
Now she is a far better Catholic than I, and if I ultimately behold the Beatific Vision it will largely be I think because of her prayers for me.
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, directs our attention to a recent convert:
You guys should have a spring in your step tomorrow morning because you just picked up someone who I would consider to be a MAJOR convert and his family, a guy who may astonish some of you. I’m not going to quote from his outstanding piece because it’s too long and too personal and you really do need to read the whole thing anyway. Continue reading
Hattip to Dale Price. An interesting article written by Michael Brendan Dougherty at The Week. Saint Blog’s is going to be arguing about this one for quite some time:
When you add to this the fact that the cultural formation of most engaged Catholics is primarily the ideological combat of political and cultural factions, they tend to treat the pope as their “party leader,” and to treat “the world” as an opposing party. It’s difficult to describe how distorted this mental image is to true faith, but some examples could suffice.
Look for instance at the reaction of conservative Catholics to the pope’s phone call to Jaquelina Lisbona, a woman in Argentina civilly married to a divorcée, in which Francis supposedly counseled her to practically ignore church teaching on divorce, adultery, confession, and Holy Communion.
Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture speculated, “[F]or all we know, she and her husband are now living as brother and sister, in which case there would be no reason why she could not resume receiving the sacraments.” Of course, if this were the case the parish priest could have determined this without the extraordinary phone call from Christ’s vicar.
Before deleting it (perhaps in embarrassment), Jimmy Akin reminded his readers at the National Catholic Register that the pope has the power to act as the church’s chief legislature and to execute judgments immediately, and so therefore he could annul the first marriage and radically sanction the second, implying all this could be done over the phone. That he would have short-circuited the church’s entire juridical process, undermined faith in the church’s discipline, and undercut Catholic priests seems to bother Akin not at all. This same defense was used to justify the pope’s breaking of liturgical rubrics, essentially employing the Nixon defense that “when the pope does it, it’s not illegal.”
Let me suggest that these two good Catholic men are acting not as church men but as party men, and falling into what Hillary Jane White aptly diagnosed as “papal positivism.” Lawler and Akin are not alone. The bulk of Catholic media is devoted to moon-faced speculation about how the discreet governing decisions, words, and gestures of the pope are accomplishing some larger goal that we further speculate must be in the pope’s head or heart. It’s very easy to make the pope into a saintly superhero when you act as his ventriloquist. Continue reading
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
William Butler Yeats, Second Coming
For any who think that there are not bishops and higher prelates rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of ditching most of the morality in sexual matters taught by the Church since the time of the Crucifixion, Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, gives you the cold shock of reality:
Roman Catholics? Many of us former Anglicans know from bitter experience that the Episcopalianization of churches always starts small. A bishop here, a bishop there:
Two Catholic bishops in the UK have expressed hope that the upcoming Extraordinary Synod on the Family, to be held in Rome in October, will bring about massive changes to the Church’s approach to marriage and human sexuality.
Bishop Terence Drainey of Middleborough told the far-left magazine The Tablet that he is hoping for and expecting a “radical re-examination of human sexuality.”
“The Church has to hold in tension its imperative to proclaim the high Christian ideals to which all should aspire with its desire at the same time to welcome with love and compassion those whose lives are complicated and messy,” the bishop said.
“A careful discussion of this dichotomy could yield pastoral solutions in the areas of family life where many are struggling, enabling the Church more readily to welcome and include these people,” Drainey said.
Bishop Drainey said the issues to be addressed by the Synod and brought up in a Vatican questionnaire are “multifaceted and complex” to which there are no “simple soundbite answers.”
Sound familiar? If you’ve been hanging around here long enough, it better. So you might want to hold off criticizing those Catholics who are worried about such trends or you may see a day when you yearn to hear their voices and find that they’re no longer there. Continue reading
(Cross-posted at Acts of the Apostasy - and no, this one isn’t satire)
It’s not news when irrelevant people spout irrational opinions, because it happens nearly all the time, but hey – it’s been a slow day.
Let’s get right to it. This week the Carter Center’s Mobilizing Faith for Women conference will ask the question, “Can religion be a force for women’s rights instead of a source of women’s oppression?” What’s your answer?
Well, religion can be, and I think there’s a slow, very slow, move around the world to give women equal rights in the eyes of God. What has been the case for many centuries is that the great religions, the major religions, have discriminated against women in a very abusive fashion and set an example for the rest of society to treat women as secondary citizens. In a marriage or in the workplace or wherever, they are discriminated against. And I think the great religions have set the example for that, by ordaining, in effect, that women are not equal to men in the eyes of God.
This has been done and still is done by the Catholic Church ever since the third century, when the Catholic Church ordained that a woman cannot be a priest for instance but a man can. A woman can be a nurse or a teacher but she can’t be a priest. This is wrong, I think. As you may or may not know, the Southern Baptist Convention back now about 13 years ago in Orlando, voted that women were inferior and had to be subservient to their husbands, and ordained that a woman could not be a deacon or a pastor or a chaplain or even a teacher in a classroom in some seminaries where men are in the classroom, boys are in the classroom. So my wife and I withdrew from the Southern Baptist Convention primarily because of that…
In the Islamic world that varies widely depending on what the regime is in the capital. Sometimes they try to impose very strict law, misquoting I think the major points of the Qur’an, and they ordain that a woman is inferior inherently. Ten year old girls can be forced to marry against their wishes, and that women can be treated as slaves in a marriage, and that a woman can’t drive an automobile, some countries don’t let women vote, like Saudi Arabia.
Yeah, the Catholic Church is just like the Islam religion in how women are treated. Practically indistinguishable. And in case he was unclear, later in the interview, Jimmy mentions the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Continue reading
After the events of this week, with the election of the 266th Pope, this quotation from the anti-Catholic writer Lord Macaulay written in 1840 comes vividly to mind:
There is not, and there never was on this earth, a work of human policy so well deserving of examination as the Roman Catholic Church. The history of that Church joins together the two great ages of human civilisation. No other institution is left standing which carries the mind back to the times when the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, and when camelopards and tigers bounded in the Flavian amphitheatre. The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable. The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full of life and youthful vigour. The Catholic Church is still sending forth to the farthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augustin, and still confronting hostile kings with the same spirit with which she confronted Attila. The number of her children is greater than in any former age. Her acquisitions in the New World have more than compensated for what she has lost in the Old. Her spiritual ascendency extends over the vast countries which lie between the plains of the Missouri and Cape Horn, countries which a century hence, may not improbably contain a population as large as that which now inhabits Europe. The members of her communion are certainly not fewer than a hundred and fifty millions; and it will be difficult to show that all other Christian sects united amount to a hundred and twenty millions. Nor do we see any sign which indicates that the term of her long dominion is approaching. She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all. She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca. And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.
Cardinals speak of feeling as if the weight of the world is on their shoulders. While we watch the awe and majesty of a Conclave to pick the next pontiff, the Princes of the Church speak of it with trepidation, some with fear. The 115 cardinals who will pick the next pontiff rightfully feel their solemn responsibility. The Church’s greatest task is to save souls and the man who will figuratively grasp the keys given to St Peter by Jesus assumes an awesome responsibility.
The procession from St Peter’s to the Sistine Chapel may be one of the most moving and beautiful events a believer (and even a non-believer) may ever witness. As the Litany of the Saints is chanted the cardinals process into the Sistine Chapel, pulling themselves away from the outside world to pray and vote for the Successor of St. Peter. For the truly faithful, the days of the Conclave are often one of the rare moments in the public life of the Church where the mainstream media isn’t dictating who the cardinals should pick and why the Church’s Teachings need to be changed. Now some will attempt to do just that, but it often comes across as shallow and shrill due to the solemnity of the moment.
Monday on ABC’s World News Tonight, Diane Sawyer interviewed South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier. His Eminence, who was present at the last Conclave, was asked what it was like picking the future pontiff. The Cardinal from Durban spoke of looking at Michelangelo’s Last Judgment painted above him in the Sistine Chapel, and pleading for Jesus to help him make the right decision. Continue reading
Both World Wars Were A Catalyst For Religious Growth; What Future Tragedy Will It Take For Another Revival?
Sadly it often takes tragedies for religious faith to grow. It seems an unfortunate part of our fallen nature. We have been hit by a spate of tragedies as of late; in its wake we often see churches full of worshippers seeking answers where once there were but a few. Following both world wars, there existed a religious resurgence that unlike the recent tragedies did not ebb and flow. It remained constant due in large part to the horrific loses of human life.
Modernism was alive and well and condemned by the likes of Pope Pius X even before the Guns of August began in 1914. The Catholic and Protestant churches were increasingly seeing relativistic elements entering their seminaries. However unlike recent times, they were quickly addressed. Though we are gaining the upper hand, it has been 40 years since Pope Paul VI lamented that “The Smoke of Satan” had entered the Church. In my just released book; The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn, I speak about the positive events occurring within the Church, as well as those movements who aim to do us harm. In addition, the book delves into how we got into this mess in the first place.
Following World War I there was a great return to religious devotions, especially those having to do with the Blessed Mother. The events of Fatima which had occurred during the war and were being followed closely around the Catholic globe. As I mentioned in my article on the Schoenstatt Movement, the likes of Father Josef Kentenich chastised theological authorities who were giving short shrift to these devotions as well as those who dismissed popular devotions to those who recently passed away like the future Saint Therese of Lisieux (The Little Flower.) Father Kentenich reminded these scoffers that Jesus did indeed say that we must become like little children if we are to enter the Kingdom.
The well heeled of Europe and many American ex pats found their way to Paris to rebel against the religious side of the equation. On the whole, they were a gloomy lot who seemed to drown their sorrows in all matter of drink and sexual exploits which only made them more unbearable. Some even found their way to more exotic locales like Casablanca, as did the fictional Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) in the epic film Casablanca. Continue reading
Let me explain, in as clear and precise terms as I can, why social conservatives are not going anywhere, nor should they go anywhere, but should remain right at the heart of the conservative movement and gain acceptance among libertarians as well, and should reject as the foolish garbage that it is all suggestions to the contrary.
First, our principles are not electoral losers. Leftists believe they are on “the right side of history”, comparing the campaign for “marriage equality” with every civil rights struggle of past eras. They believe that this fact is reflected in the way the youth vote splits and the purported reasons why. At the same time, they gloat and brag about the size of the Democratic share of the minority vote.
The merits of the “marriage equality” campaign don’t need to be discussed here. I’ve discussed them to death on this blog in previous posts. The fact remains that minorities are opposed to “marriage equality.” If Hispanics can be won over to the GOP on the immigration issue, it will put a stop to this “wrong side of history” nonsense for a generation. The uncomfortable alliance between racial minorities who hold socially conservative views and white liberals will finally be blown apart. Unlike them, when racial minorities finally do side with the GOP en masse, we won’t attribute white liberal hatred for them to “racism” (even though it sure looks like it sometimes). This is a battle of values, not skin colors, and a failure to see that is one of the reasons why the white liberal left will never win the future they mistakenly believe to be theirs.
Some six years ago my first book; The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism came out, which detailed the Good news happening in the Catholic Church. Since then and especially this year, I am often asked is the tide still turning? Rest assured I am not looking at the world and the Catholic Church through rose colored glasses, the book not only gives positive spin on what is going on through stories and anecdotal evidence, but I outline a lot of statistical and demographic data to prove my point.
Honestly writing a book requires a great deal of time and patience, and though I had enough material for about half a book, I was waiting for the right time to finish it. However last summer, I felt God really pushing me to get this out. Providentially many events within the Church and the political realm helped to convince me that now was the time. I am glad I listened and finished the book this spring because recently my wife and I welcomed another baby into our home, and with two small children, writing a book would have been very difficult.
The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn (Aquinas and More publishing) picks up where my previous book left off detailing the Good News occurring in the Church, but also, and this is very important, I address why the Catholic Church and religion in general is coming under attack in our modern world. Readers of my articles and first book continually asked my why we are facing these attacks? This is nothing new. Ever since the French Revolution in 1793 the Catholic Church and religion in general in the Western world has come under attack from powerful forces that for some demented reason have a problem with God.
In the book, I take a look at timelines in World History and examine revolutions like the American Revolution where religion was embraced compared to those like the French Revolution where it was attacked. This helps us in 2012 figure out why some in government and academia don’t like the Catholic Church and for that matter most religious institutions. The book also looks at the HHS Mandate and the political upheaval that unjust mandate has brought. Continue reading
President Barack Obama’s debate performances could never equal the expectations of the secular faithful. Many on the far left envisioned an American society where religion was about as important to the populace and politically influential as it is in Sweden. The land of the midnight sun has been a great hope to liberals ever since religion began to erode there in the 1950s and abortion became commonplace in the 1960s. Governor Michael Dukakis famously poured over Sweden’s great Welfare state enterprise to see what he might learn, which of course led to his electoral demise in 1988.
With all of his rhetorical skills, President Obama could never make Americans have a come to Pierre Trudeau, Willy Brandt, Jose Luis Zapatero (pick your favorite Western Democratic Socialist) moment like many Americans have a Come to Jesus moment over failings in their lives. Instead of realizing that not everyone can be suckered into buying Big Government swampland, the Left has taken their frustrations out on the President. If only he were talking more about rising and falling oceans and making them believe we are the ones we have been waiting for; the Left attacks the messenger and not the message.
Frank Rich, the New York Times columnist laments about this in a long New York magazine article. The writer for the Old Gray Lady states the Americans are somehow too dumb to become like Europeans and surrender their lives to government and not God. He sees little hope and concludes the Tea Party will always prevail in the American persona rather than government control. Talk about a brain trust, can you imagine the anti-religious nuggets thrown around the water cooler when Bill Keller, the former New York Times editor was present. You may recall Keller infamously dubbed himself a “Collapsed Catholic,” fortunately reported to us by former Newsweek Religion Editor Kenneth Woodward, who is not Catholic and hardly a friend of conservatives, but a principled man who couldn’t take any more of the Times’ hypocrisy directed at the Church. I would strongly suggest you read this The New York magazine article for if conservatives mouthed these same thoughts about minorities instead of suburbanites and rural residents, we would be blacklisted.
In my just released book, The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn, I note how the Left turned on Al Smith (the first Catholic standard bearer) after he formed the Liberty League in the mid and late 1930s and told Americans he could no longer support President Roosevelt. This startling development occurred after a number of questionable instances came to light including the Supreme Court Packing Case and the Roosevelt 1938 purge of Conservative Democrats. By 1940 unemployment was still at 14% and if had not been for World War II who knows how long unemployment would have remained in double digits. Continue reading
A few years ago I would have thought the title of my piece was too extreme- I bought into the charisma of Barack Obama- never publicly supported him- but I thought he was someone who could bridge some of the serious difficulties that pro-life Democrats faced within my political party. I read his books, I thought he respected the Catholic Church as much as a secular political liberal could be expected to. Around that time I was trying to work from the inside of the Democratic party- running for Florida State House as a pro-life Democrat, and later serving as Vice President for the Florida Democats for Life organization. This was also the time period where I was invited to become part of a national Catholic Democrats listserve which included such notaries as : Vicki Kennedy, Lisa Sowle Cahill of Boston College, Rev. William D’Antonio and Rev. Anthony Pogorel of the Catholic University of America, Peggy Steinfels of Fordham University, Rev. Thomas Reese of Georgetown, Vincent Miller of Georgetown/U. of Dayton, Dan Maguire of Marquette, Doug Kmeic of Pepperdine, Suzanne Morse of NCR, Chris Korzen of Catholics United, Alexia Kelly of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Steve Callahan of the AFL-CIO, and others (Eric LeCompte, Nicholas Carfardi, James Salt, Morna Murray, Fred Rotondaro, Kari Lundgren). I never agreed to keep all that passed before my eyes confidential, but I never publicly revealed the basic content until now.
My reason for going public now is due to the recent event where the Worcester Bishop Robert McManus weighed in to prevent Vicki Kennedy from speaking at the Anna Maria College commencement. The press I read portrayed the Bishop as being overly vindictive and Kennedy milked the rejection, playing innocent, as though she is doing nothing to try to upend the Catholic Church as we know it- as a Hierarchical Institution. It was my experience on the Catholic Dem listserve that Vicki Kennedy was essentially my nemesis. I defended the Church as a Hierarchy, and the official teachings on abortion et al, and she took me to task almost every time I wrote pro-orthodox Catholic commentary- with plenty of Amens from her fellow travelers on the listserve. I did receive a few positive private emails from some on the listserve, but on the whole it was a very discouraging experience trying to defend the Church as a convert, who would be at a total loss if the Catholic Church put no stock in the teaching authority of the Pope and the Bishops, and taught that contraceptives, legal abortion, and gay marriage were just fine and dandy things. So Soon after posting this on the listserve-
“It is deeply troubling to me that this Catholic Democrats listserve membership seems more intent on finding reasons to pull some kind of palace coup against the Catholic Church Magisterium and Hierarchy in general, than to address specific issues related to the Catholic interests in American politics. I am a convert to Catholicism, I knew what I was signing up for in becoming a Catholic, I accepted the teachings and authority lines as prescribed by the latest Catechism. I simply cannot understand why those who seem to relish openly trashing the Apostolic successors retain membership in the Church- that is something that I can only address as an appeal to someone else’s good conscience. Most of my family is of the Protestant variety, I understand that thinking and worldview but reject it, but they are acting in good conscience- they don’t believe what the Catholic Church teaches about her role, so they don’t invest in the Catholic narrative and authority line. Maybe what I’m finding here at Catholic Democrats are many good protestants but not orthodox Catholics as I understand things?
You can remove me from your rolls if it displeases many here that I don’t conform to the groupthink on display here, otherwise I will continue to offer my two bits to challenge the establishment views of liberal, anti-Catholic Hierarchical voices which parallel the hard Catholic Right- in their wrongheadedness- in my humble opinion anyway. One is certainly free to criticize the clerical/Hierarchical handling of sexual abuse cases over the years- but how this all fits in with being a Democratic Party member is something I can’t fathom. Tim Shipe”
My offer to leave was accepted after Vicki Kennedy wrote a smack-down on me; and shortly thereafter I severed my own Democratic party membership and ended my leadership role with Florida Dems for Life- I took Archbishop Chaput route of becoming a political Independent and remain such today.
To come up to speed- back a couple of years ago- I knew that the most powerful and connected Catholic Democrats in our country were interested in more than just getting more traction on Catholic social justice issues in our American political system- I would describe the agenda/mind-set of Vicki Kennedy et al for the most part as the following:
1. Obama embodies the Catholic social tradition- he’s a better guide than the out-of-touch Pope/Bishops 2. Democrats for Life leaders were not welcome – despite my own inclusion for a time- Kennedy seemingly successfully squashed the idea of Kristen Day being invited to be part of the listserve 3. The Bishops who were outspoken for advocating the primacy of the right to life for the unborn were demonized, mocked, ridiculed, and at times the idea of trying to bring on an IRS investigation on these type of Bishops was being encouraged by some ( especially if they dared to consider withholding Communion from Pro-choice Dem leaders) 4. Bishops were described as “self-designated custodians of ‘the tradition’”. 5. Catholic Dems could aptly be self-described for the most part as “intra-Catholic warriors” 6. The Clergy Scandals were to be used to help bring the end of the Bishops line of authority- teaching and otherwise 7. This authority should pass to those who know best- the secular-minded Catholic professors and their liberal political activist friends- since there really can’t be such a thing as a Holy Spirit-guided Catholic Church with Popes and Bishops playing a key role- I suppose they could still hold onto ceremonial roles like the Kings in Europe.
I can see clearly now that President Obama has been very conscious of this war for control within the Church- and his choice of Vice President and HHS Secretary- Biden and Sebelius, respectively, was a conspicuous power move to set in place the acceptability of dissenting Catholic leaders and thought into the mainstream of American societal structures and popular imaginations. The fact that Obama “evolved” on Gay Marriage with help from his Catholic buddy Joe Biden, and his determination to mandate contraception as a must-have “medicine” through the offices of Catholic Kathleen Sebelius- all of this plays right into the larger goals of the Catholic Democratic party elite. There has been no such evolution in his comprehension and compassion for the thousands of unborn humans killed every day in abortions, and the threat to religious liberties is finely focused on the authority of Catholic Bishops and the official teachings of the Catholic Magisterium. I believe the Catholic Dems elite would like to re-make American Catholic Bishops in the image of the Anglican church in England- with Obama playing a kind of King Henry VIII role in forcing power transfers ( counting on public/Catholic lay apathy).
My conclusion is this- I am not in disagreement with the Catholic Dems elite on an across-the-board basis- I am not a conservative ideologue any more than I am a liberal one. There are political issues where I go left and others where I go right or down the middle- I make the honest effort to stay as close to the official social doctrine teachings of principles, and even the prudential judgment application of those principles as the Bishops and Vatican officials advise. I find that the same powers-that-be that are given Holy Spirit assistance to teach firm principles, are also pretty darn good at putting forth ideas for applying those principles into the real world of political legislation and the like- but I acknowledge it’s not an exact science with one formula fits all simplicities, however. That’s how I would describe my own efforts in being a wanna-be orthodox, faithful Catholic on matters of social doctrine. Others may disagree- I have no doubt that the Catholic Dem elites I list above are well-intentioned- but I believe they are threatening great harm to many souls and to the future of our Catholic Church as the Hierarchical Institution – founded by Jesus Christ. Reforms should be taken up in a spirit that respects the obedience of Faith. I don’t abide by clergy abuses and incompetent administrative decisions made by Catholic bishops- but you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater- just as you don’t kill babies in the womb to solve the problems of women and their mates.
The divide between the truth of the election results and the punditry of the mainstream media is seemingly growing every major primary election night. Perhaps none more than the recent Super Tuesday results, especially those of Ohio. How could it possibly be that Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania Senator won the youth vote, all voters under 44, and the married women vote? If one listens to the mainstream media, especially that of NBC, MSNBC and the New York Times one would think the only people voting for Rick Santorum would be rust belt pre-Vatican II ordained Catholic priests, and an amalgamation of southern characters such as Jed Clampett, Mr. Haney, as well as some assorted extras from the set of Deliverance. However, the true exit poll results tell us something quite different.
The mainstream media seemed shocked that Rick Santorum didn’t win the Catholic vote and won the Evangelical Vote as well as the others I indicated earlier; young people and married women. I want to delve into the nitty grtty of the statistics and demographics in a few paragraphs but first let me give you some background on those in the heartland who became liberals even though they grew up in GOP circles and folks like myself who became conservative after growing up in a Democratic household.
I grew up in a working class steel and railroad town in Ohio. My family, like many around us was Democrat in party affiliation and social conservative in our mindset. I was educated in Catholic schools (during the 1970s & 80s) and though it was the warm fuzzy era of Catholic education, our nuns and lay teachers never completely bought into the liberal model that was so the rage in cool, upscale areas. Continue reading