Catholics in the American Revolution

Friday, September 23, AD 2011

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

American Catholics, a very small percentage of the population of the 13 colonies, 1.6 percent, were overwhelmingly patriots and played a role in the American Revolution out of all proportion to the small fragment of the American people they represented.  Among the Catholics who assumed leadership roles in the fight for our liberty were:

General Stephen Moylan  a noted cavalry commander and the first Muster Master-General of the Continental Army.

Captains Joshua Barney and John Barry,  two of the most successful naval commanders in the American Revolution.

Colonel John Fitzgerald was a trusted aide and private secretary to General George Washington.

Father Pierre Gibault, Vicar General of Illinois, whose aid was instrumental in the conquest of the Northwest for America by George Rogers Clark.

Thomas Fitzsimons served as a Pennsylvania militia company commander during the Trenton campaign.  Later in the War he helped found the Pennsylvania state navy.  After the War he was one of the two Catholic signers of the U.S. Constitution in 1787

Colonel Thomas Moore led a Philadelphia regiment in the War.

Major John Doyle led a group of elite riflemen during the War.

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7 Responses to Catholics in the American Revolution

  • Thanks for this report. Any thoughts on the Catholic contribution to the British side? I imagine many Irish soldiers, some Scots, etc. Please share your insights.

  • There were of course quite a few Irish Catholics among the British regulars, probably about 25%, Ireland being a chief recruiting ground for the Royal Army. The French Canadians were almost all on the side of the British Crown during the War, the Quebec Act having granted them a measure of self-government, to the ire of many anti-Catholic Americans. Some Catholic Americans did fight for the crown, but their numbers were quite small, probably in the hundreds. One group was organized in New York calling themselves the Roman Catholic Volunteers. They were eventually disbanded by the British, proving themselves only proficient in plundering and militarily useless. On the other hand the Irish Volunteers, mostly Catholics, were a very good unit that after the War was taken into the Royal Army as a regular unit, the 105th Regiment of Foot.

  • You mentioned Pulaski but not Kosciuszko, who engineering skill ensured the American victory at Saratoga, which led to official French recognition. Pulaski was arguably the father of American cavalry, despite lukewarm support from Washington. As far as Moylan is concerned, he butted heads with Pulaski on several occasions and conspired to undermine Pulaski’s authority, which led to Pulaski resigning to organize his Legion…there is no evidence that Moylan had any battlefield skill…and much to suggest was felt more comfortable with his flask.

  • Pulaski was a brave and talented cavalry commander who had a quarrelsome disposition which undercut his effectiveness. You libel Moylan who was an effective cavalry commander getting valuable information to Washington about the British forces prior to the Battle of Monmouth. Kosciuszko was a good engineer, as he proved throughout the War, but I think you overstate his role in the Saratoga campaign. Morgan and Arnold, along with hordes of enraged American militia were much more important in that victory. I would have mentioned him if I had intended the list to be a comprehensive one, which was not my intent.

  • If anti-Catholicism had not been so prevalent in the Colonies, I suspect Quebec may have entered the war on the American side. When approached by the Americans, Quebec flatly rejected them – not because of love for Great Britain, but because of the Americans’ attitude towards the Catholic Church….yet another episode in history where being anti-Catholic is just plain stupid.

    The French soldiers, sailors and officers were certainly almost 100% Catholic. Let us not overlook the contributions of Spain. Then-Catholic Spain did fight in the War for Independence on the side of the United States. The Spanish Navy wreaked havoc on Great Britain in the Caribbean Sea and the Spaniards kicked the British Navy out of the Mississippi Valley.

    While the numbers of American Catholics in the War for Independence were understandably small, the Catholic contribution from France and Spain played no small part in the defeat of Great Britain. Under the Treaty of Paris, Spain got Florida back from England (later ceded by Madrid to the US in 1821).

    As we know, things did not end well for the Catholic monarchies in France and Spain. France was drained financially after the war and it was only six years after the Treaty of Paris that the Reign of Terror began.

    Spain was invaded by Bonaparte in the first decade of the 19th century and Great Britain, of all nations, fought to liberate Spain. Spain lost almost its entire empire less than 25 years after the Treaty of Paris. Eventually, most of Spain’s landholdings in North America ended up as the American West, which was evangelized by Catholic missionaries long before there was anyone who spoke English settled in the present day US.

  • Yes, Pulaski was quarrelsome…frustrated I suspect by the language barrier and the American distrust of foreign officers, but his problems with Moylan were fundamentally driven by the American lack of understanding of the role and potential of cavalry. Gathering intelligence was an important role and Moylan may have done well in that role, but he was not a battlefield commander. With with rare exceptions, Light Horse Harry Lee being the most prominent, American cavalry played no significant battlefield role in the major battles of the revolution…Tarleton showed what impact a couple of hundred well trained cavalry could have when he scattered the Virginia legislature and almost captured Thomas Jefferson.

    Koscuiszko’s fortifications at Bemis Heights, selected by both he and Arnold, forced the British to try and outflank them, requiring them to fight in wooded terrain giving Morgan’s men and the militia an advantage they would not have enjoyed if the British could just push up the road along the Hudson.

U.S. Involvement in The Great Game Realpolitiks in Gaza

Friday, June 4, AD 2010

With the news of Israel’s blockade of Gaza still hot all around the world because of the Israeli attack on the activist boats- I think it is important to look back and assess how we have got to this point of chaos, confusion and rage.

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46 Responses to U.S. Involvement in The Great Game Realpolitiks in Gaza

  • Excellent analysis, especially on the historical tie between the Christian’s moral responsibility with the Roman Empire and our own responsibility with the American experiment. In this article you call to mind the sad obligation of the prophet. Amos, Micah, Isaiah and Jeremiah had the unhappy responsibility to call the Hebrew community to moral accountability and unfortunately their words went unheeded and Israel had to learn through hardship and suffering. Jesus Christ also spoke the moral truth to a corrupt social power and within a generation Jerusalem was destroyed. What will be are lot.

    We seem to have such an unreflective society and this in the end will make us morally bankrupt as well. But hope in God we have and struggle we must to awaken the American population to the great values that once guided this nation and to the post war principles that it helped to create in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  • Frankly the fact that Hamas was elected in a quasi-Democratic election in Gaza is of no more moral significance to me than the fact that the Nazis came to power in 1933 in German in a legal fashion. Of course the article you cite is completely wrong-headed. Hamas has always had a stronger following in Gaza than Fatah, because Hamas is regarded, rightly, as being much more wedded to the idea of waging war ceaselessly against Israel, which is what most Gazans want. The policies followed by the Hamas government are completely in accord with what a majority of the Gazan population want. Their war against Israel, unfortunately for them, simply, and predictably, is not going well.

  • It seems that what you’re saying is that Hitler should have been supported because he was legally elected. We should not have stopped his rampage throughout Europe or his extermination plans? Or perhaps the world should have waited until Germany’s next election to vote Hitler out of office? No matter the millions of lives which would have been terminated by then? It is legal in our country to perform abortions…should we cease fighting against the extermination of life in the wombs of mothers because, after all, it is the law of the land? I don’t understand you…

  • wow- so Hamas equals Hitler? In essence the Palestinians are Nazis who are just crazy to kill every Israeli they meet? I can’t argue with such fantasies- and I won’t because it is such a worn out rhetorical device used by the Left and Right to cover their own inadequacies in presenting the facts on the ground. I’m looking for more thoughtful comments- anybody out there?

  • wow- so Hamas equals Hitler? In essence the Palestinians are Nazis who are just crazy to kill every Israeli they meet?

    Considering that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians don’t believe that Israel has a right to exist, and that many if not most have little moral problem with strapping bombs to people in order to murder scores of innocent Jews, I’d say the comparison is a little less fantastical than that.

    I’m looking for more thoughtful comments-

    You first.

  • “wow- so Hamas equals Hitler?”

    Not quite Tim. Hamas lacks the power to kill every Jew in Israel. If they had the power, based upon prior statements made by Hamas leaders, I have no doubt they would kill every Jew until Palestine was Judenfrei.

  • I think the analogy holds up fairly well if you consider that the extermination of Jews was an objective of the Nazis, but not necessarily of the German people. A good number of Germans were apathetic over what the Nazis were doing, those who would have strongly objected remained silent and inactive out of fear.

    Similarly, a distinction should be made between the Islamic Palestinian people and Hamas and other groups. Thing is the extermination of Jews has a religious character here and it seems the average Islamic Palestinian is far more likely to be inclined to support Hamas’ rhetoric and objectives than the average German was to the Final Solution. I’m distinguishing between Islamic Palestinians and Christian Palestinians because I think the Christians have have suffered at the hands of Israel and would certainly want things differently, but they don’t necessarily hate Jews and want them cast into the sea.

  • Tim,

    I agree with Donald that the Vanity Fair article is completely wrong-headed (Vanity Fair? Really?). IT starts, it seems to me, from an assumption that Israel = wrong/support of Israel = wrong.

    I also disagree with your analysis of what you describe as our Realpolitik, and I disagree that our Yes should mean Yes and our No should mean No as a practical guide to international relations. While it is an ideal to be pursued, it can’t and won’t work in our international community until *everyone* approaches international relationships this way.

    Our government’s first concern should be the preservation of the state. Our country has a right to exist (as does Israel, as does Iran, as does Turkey, etc.). One could argue that the Palestinian people have a right to a homeland too; of course, they’ve never had one (and that isn’t the fault of the US), so it’s hard to say where that should be.

    As to the way events unfolded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip…well, I for one cannot blame the Bush administration for trying. Was it a correct move to try to force Hamas out? Uh…Yeah it was. Hamas is bad. Fatah is to, but the enemy of my enemy being my friend, Fatah had to look like a pretty good compromise. Are there bad people in Fatah? Of course there are. Apparently, there were some pretty bad people among the “peace activists” on that Turkish-flagged vessel, too (good people don’t beat downed soldiers with pipes).

    Governments sanction actions that harm people all the time in order to pursue their national interests. In the case of a war, a government would sanction the killing of other people (objectively evil) in order to protect its country; cities sanction the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers against evil-doers in order to protect its citizens. Your outlook about America’s support for Israel and work against Hamas in the Gaze Strip is simplistic at best.


  • – I’m a bit unclear what the author of the article thinks should have been done. He blames the US for supporting elections when Fatah was not in a position to win them, but he also blames the US for not accepting the results of the elections when Hamas won. He seems to think that Fatah was a better group to remain in charge — yet he blames the US for backing them and he emphasizes their torture and killing of members of Hamas much more than he emphasizes the (at least equally prevalent) torture and killing of members of Fatah by Hamas. He blames the “quartet” for cutting off aid to the Palestinian Authority, but he also blames them for trying to direct and influence Palestinian affairs. I suppose he could think that we should fund them, but not try to influence them in any way, but even then we’re left with having them in a near constant state of war with Israel, and that doesn’t seem great either.

    – Regarding the comment discussion that has developed: I’m not actually clear why comparisons of Hamas to the National Socialists are necessarily that far off. Both are militiant political parties which gained support through street fighting and popular support for their promise to restore national/ethnic dignity. Both endorse a genocidal racial policy towards a designated enemy group which is seen as at fault for the people’s sufferings — a policy which many of their supporters may not enthusiastically share, but which they are willing to overlook. Both came to power in the wake of poverty, military defeat, occupation and perceived loss of standing in the world. And both promise to reverse all of those misfortunes through greater world prestige and military adventures. It’s not a bad comparison, and unless one has particularly grotesque stereotypes about the nature of ordinary German people in the 30s and 40s, I’m not clear why it’s less flattering to the Gazan population than accuracy would demand.

  • I love it. If people discuss the way Israel seems to follow Nazi policy, we are told about “Godwin’s Law.” And that ends all conversation, like usual. But it is perfectly fine to suggest the Palestinians are like Nazis. Of course, I am sure we will also hear how Native Americans were the Nazis, too…

  • Henry,

    One of the main things people have pointed out in regards to your repeated claims that Israelis are “like Nazis” is that it’s incredibly historically insensitive. Which is true.

    In the comment thread above, the logical sequence was as follows:

    Several people pointed out that if it was necessary to support a political faction merely because they won an election, it would have been necessary to grant recognition to the Nazis after 1933.

    In return, Tim questioned whether people were accusing the Palestinians of being “crazy Nazis”.

    RL and I then both pointed out that the sense in which such a comparison might be apt would be that most Palestinians are not “crazy Nazis”, but have ended up supporting a militaristic and radically anti-Jewish faction for fairly understandable reasons — kind of like many non-Nazi-fanatic Germans did in the ’30s.

    You then show up and accuse everyone of saying that “Palestinians are like Nazis” and then go on to suggest that people will say that Native Americans “were the Nazis” too.

    How about this one: Why is it that you are convinced that Hamas is as admirable as Chief Joseph or Sitting Bull? Has Hamas ever behaved as honorably, or sought the good of their people above their own power? Hamas is an organization that routinely kills and tortures its own people, while seeking to kill Israeli civilians in order to relieve their desire for revenge. Their existence has done nothing but hurt the Palestinian people. Why do you see the need to defend them?

    Defending Hamas is not the same as defending the Palestinian people — one may care about the latter while despising the former.

  • All comparisons of present politics to Nazis and Communists that are devoid of direct connections are a stretch and should be avoided.

    With that said, Henry, there are in fact direct connections between the Nazis and Islamist Palestinians. You can begin with Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, continue to the many efforts to kill Jews for being Jews, and head right on up to the present and beyond with the Hamas charter, a document and an ideology that enjoys very strong support. All of this information is readily available, quite twisted, and beyond historical dispute.

  • Why is it necessary even to compare anyone to anyone here? Granted, there are arguably strong parallels between National Socialism and Islamic militancy as practiced by Hamas; that being said, can’t we just deal with history?

    Israel became a state in 1948, whereupon it was immediately attacked by its Arab neighbors. They one that war. Israel was again attacked in the 50’s, the 60’s (which resulted in the destruction of three countries’ military apparatus and the annexation of the Sinai, the West Bank and Gaza, and the Golan Heights. They were attacked again in 73, again in the 80’s, the 90’s and the 00’s (how do you say that in a word?). Each time, its attackers suffered military defeat at the hands of a much smaller (but better trained, equipped and motivated) IDF.

    Ya can’t blame the 48 war on Israel
    s treatment of Palestinian Arabs. Nor can one blame the ’67 or the ’73 war on that. And it is axiomatic that Israel has a right to protect its existence by any proportionate means necessary; we may argue about the definition of “proportionate”, but it is up to the National Command Authority in Israel to determine what is proportionate, and to be liable for the judgment before God.

    The Palestinians are pawns in a game whose goal is the elimination of the state of Israel. If Hamas would do as it’s been asked, this would all be over. They won’t; it’s not. Why do we beat them up so?

  • I love it. If people discuss the way Israel seems to follow Nazi policy, we are told about “Godwin’s Law.” And that ends all conversation, like usual.

    The ‘conversation’ is unnecessary because the analogy is stupid and malicious and not worth discussing. The most militant sector of public opinion in Israel (KACH, Moledet, &c) has advocating expelling the Arab population and forcing them to take up residence in neighboring states. The most precise analogy might be the post-war Czech government’s dealings with Sudeten Germans or the Croatian government’s dealings with Krajina Serbs during the recent unpleasantness in the Balkans. Neither Gen. Tudjman or Eduard Benes had a political programme that resembled that of the Nazis in the least.

    But it is perfectly fine to suggest the Palestinians are like Nazis.

    Repair to the YouTube Mr. McClarey posted a while back. There is a sector of public opinion in the Arab world which has aspirations very like that. For a majority party to advocate liquidating a neighboring state is highly unsual – nay unique – in the world today. Even absent a considered programme of extermination, such a project would comprehend a great deal of killing. The precedent in the eastern provinces of the Ottoman Empire in 1915-18 is sadly relevant here.

  • Regarding the premise that an elected Hamas government is akin to Hitler’s Nazis being elected- so this scores points for the side that says the U.S. should feel free to use any means to upend the Gazan government- be it pouring money into political alternatives or funding armed resistance or perhaps even overt or covert plans of assassination. This is the slippery slope we are on here at American Catholic blogosphere.

    Here’s a little analogical monkeywrench to loosen up the pro-Israel crowd- and I do mean crowd around these parts.

    Let’s say that there was a “quasi-election” in a large nation and a regime that openly supported the termination of unborn children in the wombs of mothers was “elected” by a majority of the citizens. It is determined that in fact 3-4000 children are murdered each day in this hate-filled society. It is also determined that many of these mothers are profoundly disturbed enough to actually volunteer to take their unborn children into a medical clinic to have the personnel there dispose of these children God entrusted to them. This is the consequence of a mass insanity inculturated by a political and economic order that propagandizes that this is no big deal, that this is an expression of women’s rights and so forth. And the mainstream opposition to this situation is a major political party that claims only that this right to kill unborn children should be an issue decided by individual states- not at the federal level.

    Now suppose you live in another nation that universally recognizes the rights of unborn children to live and be born without fear of termination at the hands of their mothers/fathers/society. Should you use your ample resources to undermine the sovereignty of that evil nation of baby killers? Should you stop at public scoldings or should you send monies secretly to agents of influence who would use those foreign monies in ways illegal to their own nation’s electoral laws? And what about organizing a coup with some handpicked military men, or even stage an invasion if you have a superior military yourself?

    Surely, a nation that kills 3000 children a day in a genocide of unborn, unwanted persons is akin to a democratically-elected Adolf Hitler led Nazi Germany? For even as Hitler attempted to export his brand of Nazi ideology and invade other countries with his military- this modern nation exports the propaganda in many varying forms to the rest of the world encouraging the practice of murdering the unwanted unborn. And it is noted that millions of dollars of private monies are coming from the demented citizenry of this nation to actually fund the killing places on an international level. This is all occuring with an apparent majority of these citizen’s support- these people must for the most part be hideous anti-child, anti-decency- whatever comes of them can only be seen as justified by any truly decent citizen of the world. Why should the good people of the world allow for such Hitler/Nazi-like tendencies to continue without doing something now?? I’m sure there are a few decent members of that society who don’t see the killing of their own little ones as a human right, or as a state’s right to choose- but they are so few and have no powerful position in the mainstream political and economic order- they should be overjoyed for a foreign power such as ours to take control of their situation and nation- and save the children!

  • Tim Shipe:

    The most salient characteristic of the Nazi regime in Germany was its revanchism and the consequent impossibility of developing a stable political equilibrium in Europe absent submission to or destruction of the regime. It presented a much more acute problem for foreign governments than would the incorporation of gross injustices in the mundane social practice of a foreign state.

  • “Surely, a nation that kills 3000 children a day in a genocide of unborn, unwanted persons is akin to a democratically-elected Adolf Hitler led Nazi Germany?”

    The analogy only works Tim if they are engaged in forced abortions, a la China. Legalized abortion is an abomination, but our primary problem is with people utilizing the law to slay their own offspring. Neither Hitler, nor Hamas, would rely on private actors to kill the Jews. All the killing would be by actions of the State. When a regime is dedicated to that type of genocide, I weep no tears over efforts to remove it.

  • Let me get this straight:
    Claim: if it is morally acceptable for the US to intervene against NAZI policy to exterminate Jews, it should be morally acceptable for the US to intervene against Hamas policy to exterminate Jews.
    Counterclaim: If it is not morally acceptable for a hypothetical pro-life nation to intervene against US policy to not prohibit private abortions, then it is not morally acceptable for the US to intervene against Hamas policy to exterminate Jews.
    Is that really the level of argument here?

  • Tim,

    I don’t think anyone here is disputing that it’s fairly natural for those in Gaza to resent the idea of the US messing with their elections or providing support to Fatah in relation to a coup.

    The thing I don’t get about the article, though, (and perhaps you don’t support this aspect of it) is that it seems to be taking both sides and no side. The author blames the US for pushing for elections because Hamas won, but it also blames the US for seeking to leverage Hamas out of power again after the election.

    Yet if the US has simply not encouraged elections in the first place, then Hamas would not have come into power since Fatah wasn’t scheduling open elections.

    Then the author both blames the US for cutting off aid money to the PA because Hamas was elected, and also blames the US for giving aid money to Fatah to fight Hamas. But if the US had not encouraged elections, and had not stopped giving aid money in the first place, than Fatah would have been free to use the money to buy weapons and keep Hamas out of power via kidnapping, assassination, torture and street fighting — which is pretty much how Fatah and Hamas were mixing it up in the first place during the time when Fatah wasn’t holding elections because they weren’t “ready”.

    Now, if the answer is simply that the Palestinians would rather be left alone to have elections or coups or civil wars or whatever occurs, but without the US having a hand in it — which I would certainly understand that. On the other hand, cynical though this may sound, there are some benefits to being a region that the major first world powers are constantly sticking their noses into. The Palestinians have been in a state of recurring strife with the Israelis for sixty years now, and in that struggle they’re massively out-gunned. If the Middle East was an area that no one paid much attention to (like Chechnya or Congo or Sudan or Somalia) would the situation of the Palestinians be better or worse?

    Because there’s so much scrutiny on the area, if the Palestinians are able, somehow, to get some leaders who care more about them than about greed and violence, there are a lot of people who would very much like to see them become a peaceful and state. Israel and Ireland are both good examples of countries which made the transition very quickly from being terrorist states fighting much stronger regional powers to accepted members of the international community.

  • Well, guys, let’s not give the Allies too much credit, either. If the Nazis had never attacked any of their neighbors, but had simply pursued the Final Solution quietly within their borders, it strikes me as doubtful that anyone would have fought a war simply to end the holocaust — at least not till it was far too late.

    It’s the fact that Germany attacked their neighbors that ended in their being fought and defeated.

    The beef people have with Hamas is not that they include many anti-Jewist fanatics among their ranks — it that they tend to launch rockets at the country next door. If they kept things within their borders, the “land for peace” thing would have worked.

  • Perhaps Darwin, although I would note that Sir Winston Churchill was tireless in raising the persecution of the Jews throughout the 1930s in his indictment of Nazi Germany, as he sounded the alarm to a Britain still shell-shocked from World War I. He was joined in this, interestingly enough, by two Englishmen sometimes accused of anti-Semitism: G.K. Chesterton, until his death in 36, and Hilaire Belloc. There were others speaking out in England and elsewhere. Pius XII of course had some involvement in an anti-Hitler plot in January of 1940. If WW2 taught us nothing else, I suspect it is the folly of regarding the type of persecution that Hitler unleashed upon the Jews as ever being simply an internal matter. That, and that when a government has a long record of calling for the extermination of a group, do not be surprised that they will act upon it when they have the power to do so.

  • That, and that when a government has a long record of calling for the extermination of a group, do not be surprised that they will act upon it when they have the power to do so.

    So very very true Don.

  • I certainly agree that some people saw what the Nazis were up to, Don. But it wasn’t till the war started and the Germans were almost to the Channel that Churchill was actually called on to form a government. I fear he would have remained a voice in the wilderness if the Nazis had not actually invaded a British ally.

    That said: As I think about it, Tim, I should apologize for pushing the Nazi analogy further. The 30s being a period that particularly fascinates me (and rejecting the theories that are along the lines of: Ordinary Germans supported the National Socialists because they were eeeeeviiiiil) I’m particularly interested in the question of what pushes people to support extremist/militarist political factions which end up driving them into situations that only hurt them more — but as the “Goodwin’s law” point underscores, usually when Nazi’s are brought up in a conversation it’s because someone is trying to claim that a group of people are so lost to hate that one doesn’t need to think of them as human.

    And I recognize that by bringing up your views on this topic here, it’s already enough like facing a firing squad without terms like “Nazi” being discussed.

  • Darwin,

    I think there were about 800,000 Jews in Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland ca. 1930. Per William Rubenstein, around 360,000 Jews emigrated from Germany during the years running from 1933 to 1939. Absent the war, < 5% of the Jewish population of Europe would have accessible to the SS, so no 'final solution'.

  • When a country faces economic and social stressors, you can have spikes of transient atavism in the political sphere. David Duke’s career in Louisiana during the years running from 1989-93 would be a minor example. The 2d incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan, which had 4,000,000 members in 1924, a quarter that in 1930, and was formally dissolved in 1944, would be another. The Nazi Party was inconsequential in Germany in 1928 and nostalgic parties even more so in the post-war period; their Austrian counterparts were a modest minority readily contained by the Dollfuss-Schuschnigg ministries. One can readily imagine a counter-factual history which would have certain contingencies breaking the other way and the Nazi Party rapidly imploding. They lost support in the last parliamentary election held before Hitler was appointed Chancellor.

    What is disconcerting in comparison is that the — uh – ambitions of Arab particularists of various strains have abided for many decades now.

  • But it is perfectly fine to suggest the Palestinians are like Nazis.

    When you consider that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was Hitler’s guest in Berlin during WWII, that there were Palestinian SS troops, and that “Mein Kampf” is a permanent best-seller on the West Bank (and indeed, throughout the Arab world), I don’t see why Henry considers this some sort of outlandish comparison.

    Godwin’s Law is in effect when you compare people who really aren’t Nazis to Nazis. When you compare people who enthusiastically embrace the goal of making the world Juden-frei to people who enthusiastically embrace the goal of making the world Juden-frei, I call that – an apples-to-apples comparison.

  • I think there were about 800,000 Jews in Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland ca. 1930. Per William Rubenstein, around 360,000 Jews emigrated from Germany during the years running from 1933 to 1939. Absent the war, < 5% of the Jewish population of Europe would have accessible to the SS, so no 'final solution'.

    I suppose, to the extent it would have been easy to simply drive all the Jews out of Germany and Austria, that’s so. (Actually, as I recall, it wasn’t until part way into the war that it was decided for sure to exterminate the Jews. Prior to that, deporting them somewhere suitably out of the way, I believe Madagascar was considered, was considered by the Nazis.)

    On the other hand, I imagine that if all Jews left the Middle East, the anti-Jewish feeling in Hamas would die off pretty soon there after. It’s hard to hate someone who’s not around.

  • It’s hard to hate someone who’s not around.

    I wouldn’t bet on it. Anti-semitism is still alive and kicking in Europe, which now has very few Jews. One of the truly noxious anti-Semites I “met” on the Internet a few years back was from Wyoming. Are there enough Jews in Wyoming to form a synagogue? Yet he knew all about them, without ever having met one in the flesh.

    Just as there sure seems to be a fair number of fundamentalists living in notably non-Catholic areas who know all about the evils of the Pope and Catholicism although they meet Catholics seldom or never.

  • Well guys my impression taken from first hand observation and from the opinions of the Catholics who are actually living in the Holy Land- overwhelmingly the impression I take away is one that is radically different from the positions you hold- it makes me feel ashamed because the Catholic Church is supposed to be a universal, global brotherhood- what I find here is that most of the American Catholics here and elsewhere are so enamored with the propaganda that comes from non-Catholic sources. It seems that no one here wants to take the Palestinian Catholic viewpoint on the subject of Israel-Palestine- I’m not sure what to make of this- some sense of superiority on the part of Americans in general- you really feel a kinship with secular Jews more than Catholic Arabs? I don’t know what else it is because when facts are presented from a Palestinian viewpoint- even from the Latin Patriarch in the Holy Land- these facts and views are immediately dismissed by this crowd-

  • I’m going to move on to other issues because I feel a sick sense of being an alien in alien territory like being on a pro-abortion site and trying to present a case for the unborn- I’m kicking the dirt off my sandals on this issue on this blog in search of another front where there is at least a chance of finding common ground- there is always the easy pro-life zone- it seems to be the one place I can converse with loud and proud conservatives and not experience that sense of dread knowing what is around the next corner- a huge disconnect of mind and heart. These issues may be prudential issues but real people are being killed over them so I am deadly serious about the differences of opinion but I don’t have the time to give these things the necessary documentation to refute the overwhelming number of naysayers- I wasn hoping to attract more of my like-minded brothers and sisters to help make the case while I take care of my 3 little ones and my very pregnant wife- but alas the debate never got off the ground so I’m checking out- do few things but do them well- I can’t do this debate on my own right now- I would suggest maybe taking in Deal Hudson’s reporting- he is a devout conservative and has had lot’s of contact with Holy Land Catholics in the past few years- I have found him to be very informative- you may want to check out his reports at or email him about the Palestinians- part of the problem I do find is that the Palestinians for the most part have not defending themselves very vigorously here in the U.S.- some times it seems like I am pulling more weight on this issue than many American Catholic Palestinians- maybe they are afraid to speak out publicly? I know they have strong views when I speak to them privately- so this is a bit of a mystery- I admire the fight in those Jews who support the Israeli position here in the U.S.. I like to model my own activism on their example- even as I disagree with their position.

  • For the stray open-mind that may be reading this- for more on Middle East issues from an Arab Catholic witness- check out Monsignor Labib Kobti’s excellent web site God Bless, God please bring justice to the peoples of the Middle East and the Holy Land in particular- this scandal of violence, injustice and indifference must conclude- God Willing

  • Tim,

    I recognize that this is a tough topic in a tough venue for you, so feel free not to respond to this, but I’m trying to bridge some understanding here if possible. (Grabbing a moment while my own pregnant wife is keeping the four kids under control.)

    – Do your Palestinian Christian friends agree that Hamas (and the fact that they managed to get 56% of the vote) is part of the problem, with their rocket attacks on Israel? For instance, with Northern Ireland my first instinct was always to blame the Brits for the impact their actions were having on the Catholic population — but at the same time I loathed the IRA and considered them the instigators.

    – I certainly think that living with and talking with your Palestinian friends, you probably have a better understanding than most of us as to what the impact of Israeli actions are on ordinary, non-militant Palestinians. However, do you think it’s possible that, especially given that travel is pretty locked down and news media is all controlled by one side or the other, ordinary Palestinians may often rather less appreciation for the attacks inflicted on Israel which motivate Israeli actions? For instance, on the flip side, I used to work closely with several Jews who’d grown up in Israel, and could tell stories about taking shelter during rocket attacks and seeing the carnage left by suicide bombings. Obviously, formed by this, they tended to be in favor of very militant responses to Palestinian attacks — since they were familiar with the Israeli side of the picture, which the reprisals were in “the other guy’s” territory. Might this same effect not actually make Palestinian opinion rather biased?

  • Good post, DC. I don’t doubt Tim’s sincerity or his attachment to his Palestinian Catholic friends, but it frankly, disturbs me that he appears to see it as a matter of “rooting for our tribe.”

    Rachel Corrie has gotten a tremendous amount of publicity. But she’s very far from being the only Rachel who has been killed in Israel. Here are some Rachels who had no plays written about them or ships named after them:

    RACHEL Thaler, aged 16, was blown up at a pizzeria in an Israeli shopping mall. She died after an 11-day struggle for life following a suicide bomb attack on a crowd of teenagers on 16 February 2002.

    Even though Thaler was a British citizen, born in London, where her grandparents still live, her death has never been mentioned in a British newspaper.

    Rachel Levy, 17, blown up
    in a Jerusalem grocery store

    Rachel Charhi, 36, blown up
    while sitting in a café

    Rachel Gavish, 50, killed with her
    husband and son while at home

    Rachel Kol, 53, who worked for
    20 years in the neurology lab at
    Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital,
    murdered with her husband in a
    drive-by shooting by the Fatah
    al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, in
    July 2005 (in the midst of a
    supposed Palestinian truce)

    Rachel Ben Abu, 16, killed with
    her teenage friends by a suicide
    bomber at the Netanya shopping
    mall, in July 2005 (in the midst
    of a supposed Palestinian truce)

    Rachel Shabo, 40, murdered with
    her three sons aged 5, 13 and 6,
    while sitting at home

    Should we not care or sympathize with those deaths because those women were Jews and not Catholics?

    Of course, the link is from a non-Catholic source and so, I suppose, can be dismissed as Zionist propaganda.

    Yes, I realize innocents have, tragically, been killed on the other side too. And the Arab Christians there are in a very difficult bind. If the Arabs laid down their arms tomorrow, there would be peace. If the Israelis did so, they would be slaughtered pitilessly, right down to the last infant. I firmly believe that, and that thought really does kinda bother me, even though they’re not my tribe.

  • Darwin- I really appreciate your effort to understand- I do think that American Palestinians as well Americans here now from Israel will have some obvious points-of-view- it helped me in formulating my own view to spend time with both Palestinians in a village 1/3 muslim, 1/3 Catholic, 1/3 Orthodox, and then a few weeks in West Jerusalem living with an American with a Russian Emigree wife. This was in the early 90’s during a lull after the first intifada which was truly serious overkill by the Israelis- and I went into the West Bank and saw what occupation looked like in Hebron- the Israeli military was there to police the Palestinians- something like 100,000 of them so that a couple of hundred of extremist settlers could set up shop and take over some Arab homes and establishments- this was rubbed in the Palestinian faces every day- I was supposed to take a U.S. AID job teaching English there and I turned it down because I really thought that it would be tough for some Palestinians not to respond to me with violence in their frustration.

    The facts as I saw then and have read more extensively about ever since- is that no matter if Palestinians respond collectively without violence- they do not get rewarded with a true statehood on the 1967 border lines- it seems obvious to me that Israel’s leadership has simply been buying time to move more settlers into West Bank and East Jerusalem- and when they provoke violent responses like when they assassinate some Palestinian or build up some settlement- then they respond with overwhelming and extreme force- look at the numbers of Palestinians killed over the years and especially during intifada times- how many suicide bombers were there back during the first intifada in 1987? If Israel were to give to the Palestinians what has been set forth by the UN resolutions and then continued to receive the suicide attacks of rocket attacks- then I would say- yes- this is self-defense time- I would even agree that the US should make their defense of Israel a part of the peace agreement that gives the Palestinians their WEst Bank/East Jerusalem/Gaza State and gives monetary repayment to those Palestinians forced out during the 48 War- recall that as part of geneva conventions you cannot permanently settle on lands taken during war.

    Now here is Pat Buchanan on the Gaza situation:

  • Donna- I did not see your response when I was writing one to Darwin- I am in agreement that civilian deaths all around are horrible- that is where my deepest concern begins and ends- we differ as to who is primarily to blame for the root causes of all the violence, and also what steps should we take with our American resources and clout to do everything we can to bring an end to these tragic circumstances.

    If you look back to the First uprising by the Palestinians from 1987-1993 the First Intifada- and here is a link to Wikipedia on that-

    You find that the Palestinians were responding to Israel’s dominance and some extreme examples of violence, and that in the beginning the Palestinian citizens responded on their own with many acts of non-violent protests, and with youths mostly throwing rocks and such- the Israeli response was not to stop and listen to the just complaints for the need to allow the Palestinian people a homeland of their own to address the situation of the post 1967 borders whereupon the Palestinians of Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem were placed under Israeli occupation- instead of taking the clue that the long term peace depended upon granting autonomy to the Palestinians- Israel instead decided to try to break down the Palestinians at every level- brutal tactics, and increasing Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories just heaped gasoline on the fire and was also illegal by international legal standards- you cannot permanently settle your folks on land taken during a war- and this is exactly what Israel did and actually has continued to do for reasons that appear to indicate that they hope to one day create a duplication of the American experience with the Native Americans- squeeze them out or put them into little tribal land reservations- this strategy is what I believe is the leading cause of the violence putting the Israeli and Palestinians into a quagmire of repeated violent cycles. This has not historically been a Muslim Jihad thing if you just look at the history of the Palestinian people and their leadership- it threatens to become such with the emergence of Hamas as a new model of extreme Palestinian response to the extreme position of Israel’s establishment. If you choose to see all of this as a Hamas-Jihad problem I would suggest that you have come late to the game- I was in the area in the early 90’s and the Palestinians at that time were a mix of secularists, Christians, and Muslims, Hamas had been initially a group supported by Israel to drive a wedge between palestinians who were led by mostly secularists along the PLO model- so don’t give me the storyline that the Palestinians are just a bunch of Islamists who only know about killing infidels- that fiction is one that will only serve the cause of more and perpetual killing of future civilians.

  • Tim, DC and Donna: I was dimayed by the orginal discussion attempting which attempted to paint the issue by tossing around the “nazi” label. Louis Black’s recent contribution at the Daily show to critique this type of politically bantaring hit it home for me to dismiss this type of political arguement.

    But the conversation has thankfully moved on to address the real issues of suffering and our need to create policies of compassion. Our Catholic religious community, the Passionist, has a house in Bethany and in 2005 “The Wall” was built through our property. Priority must be given for the population that is in the midst of suffering must be listened to. Scripture reminds us that the cries of the suffering goes up to heaven. If we do not tend to these systemic forms of violence then God will tend to us for the role we did or did play in tending to our brothers and sisters in the holy land.

    Both sides of the wall have faced great pain and violence. The Palestinian community suffer from a brutal occupation. The Israeli community suffer acts of terrorism to their communities. What makes the situation difficult is that neither side wants to budge. Groups have tried to bridge this ethnic divide and the Jewish voice for Peace stands out for their great work in attempting to reconcile this ethnic violence.

    Our community has a vested interest for peace. Many of our Catholic community comes from Palestine and violence againts the Palestinians makes no distinguishing difference between Muslim and Catholic Arabs. Not that a policy for peace should but of course it is only human to be concerned primarily with ones own family member. To address this concern our UN NGO, Passionist International, has taken to work with other Catholic NGO’s to go back to the legal international framework that started this entire issue. The violence that both sides face is systemic and that system is particularly rooted in the international organization called the UN. It behooves the United States to return the international body where this situation originated and to again work at empowering this body to force both sides to come to the table by applying real international pressure (primarilly through economic pressure) If Israel knew that their military financial subsidy (which is enormous) is about to be touched don’t you think their tone would change. Likewise if the Palestinian people thought for one second that they would get an actual chance to have a real and secure state that their own political tone would not change. I am not a betting man, but I would money on that possibility. A possibility that no one has wanted to really approach because the self interest of so many players have gotten in the way. Below I will share the position for Passionist International.

  • Freedom Flotilla and Israel’s Attack:
    The attack by Israeli forces on a flotilla carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza might have left more than 10 activists dead. The survivors, mostly Turkish, have been taken to Ahshod, where dozens have been hospitalized.

    As Christians, we tend to naturally sympathize with the Jewish people because of the connection of Christian origins with Judaism, and because of the suffering the Jewish people endured with the Holocaust. Post September 11, we also tend to view terrorist organizations will little sympathy and therefore can identify with Israel, feeling it is justified in its actions of blockading Gaza. So perhaps some important clarifications are needed to gain some perspective on what is happening.

    It is true that innocents, including children, have been killed on and by both sides in the conflict that has raged between Palestinians and Israelis, and both sides have violated international law in doing so. But the violence by Israelis and Palestinians does not have the same roots, nor are the 2 sides culpable in the same way.

    Palestine has been under military occupation for some time, and this in itself is illegal. All Israeli violence in the occupied territories stands in violation of international law – specifically the Geneva Conventions that identify the obligations of an occupying power to protect the occupied population.

    The blockade is a de facto occupation of the territory, asserting control over the land and halting vital aid. The amount of material and food provided is inadequate, precipitating a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. Building materials such as cement are disallowed. Occasionally, Israel will dispense with strictness and show a tempered quality of mercy, but given the destruction of homes in Gaza and the need for building materials, that quality is thin.

    Palestinian violence is the violence of resistance, and has escalated as conditions of life and loss of hope breed greater desperation. It is carried out primarily by individual Palestinians and those linked to armed factions, and is aimed mostly at soldiers and settlers in the occupied territories. The rocket attacks in recent years have targeted civilians and are themselves a violation of international law. But the overall right of an occupied population to resist a foreign military occupation, including through use of arms against military targets, is recognized as lawful under international law.

    Israel has every right to arrest and try anyone attempting to attack civilians inside the country. But it does not have the right to occupy a neighboring country, not block aid to the civilian population. And, if it is serious about ending attacks on its own civilians, it must be serious about ending that occupation.

    It is an important fact to remember that Israel’s admission to the United Nations in 1948 was conditioned on its willingness to abide by General Assembly resolution 194, which states, “Refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return,” something Israel has never complied with.

    Also, Security Council Resolution 242, passed after the 1967 war, identifies “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.” That is understood to mean that the territory Israel captured by war must be returned; that to keep it is inadmissible.

    Unfortunately the combination of the U.S.-Israeli “special relationship” and the vast superiority of Israel’s power in the region, with the 5th most powerful nuclear arsenal in the world and one of the most powerful conventional militaries anywhere, means that other countries in the region and around the world will tend to limit their diplomatic imagination to what they think Israel will accept. That means acquiescence to continued U.S. control of any negotiations. And here in lies the danger, for the U.S. position has never placed international law and U.N. resolutions at its centre.

    Branding activists as terrorists and denying the human situation in Gaza will not help an Israeli cause that is proving more alienating the longer it persists. If there is an inquiry into this incident, it will have to be wide ranging and international.

  • Thanks John for your extensive comments- we will see if anyone who spoke out earlier will take up your challenging perspective.

    As for my own use of the “Nazi” comparables- I did so only to show that such linkages can be cover almost any political situation where there is a conflict with Jewish involvement if one wants to play the Holocaust card in the Israel-Palestine Conflict- but it could also be applied to any situation where there are mass killings taking place with seeming public indifference of support- like the Germans who mostly accepted Hitler’s plans, or much closer to home- Americans who don’t see or don’t want to see the humanity of human lives being terminated in abortion clinics- some 50 million lives according to reports I’ve heard- so when I see the Palestinians- Hamas in particular called out as Hitler Wanna-Be’s- I think that is more than a bit much- it is way to tough to separate out how much of Hamas’ rage against the Jews is really just rage against the Machine of Israeli occupation and assassinations et al. And we have to make clear that our own society is full of contradictions such as our stated ideals of democratic self-determination and aversion to foreign influences- and then taking on the right to intervene in all kinds of ways in places all over the world without really defining how our interests are coinciding with the interests befitting a majority Christian nation.

    Finally- to Donna et al- it is important to place special interest on Catholic Palestine and take care to help with special concern the Catholic Palestinian community- this is something that the Church has always upheld- one of the defenses of the Pope during WWII was that he was compelled to attempt to defend his flock wherever they may be- the reason being is that for the Church to fulfill her evangelical mission She must spread and inculturate everywhere- The Church implanted first by foreign missionaries, is to become impregnated with indigenous priests and bishops- this is what has happened in the Palestinian community- as evidenced by the Latin Patriarchs in the Holy Land- we need to take special interest in listening to their cries, their perspectives must be taken deep, deep into our consciences especially when they are calling out their American Catholic brothers and sisters- I am and I have been listening very intently- I don’t believe that many of the commentators here at American Catholic are quite getting the significanse of this necessary point of contact between Catholic communities. If we are indeed concerned over the possibility of a global radical Islamist movement- then we should do everything in our power to assist the smaller Catholic communities in the Middle East- they are the seeds of hope for the future- to be peacemakers, to be the bridge between peoples- Middle Eastern and Western. Now according to Fr. Mitch Pacwa of EWTN, he estimates that in Israel upwards to 80% of the citizens of Israel who are “Jewish” are actually atheistic or agnostic- so “Jewish” has come to indicate something cultural/biological for some and not really connected to a belief in the Torah/Judaism. This is relevant since we are always debating the Israel-Palestine conflict along the lines of how being on the side of Israel is to be on the side of those closest to us and our way of living and believing- this would be true only if by “we” we are referring to the secular liberal American society- which I don’t think most conservative Catholic commentators are suggesting. So this is just more food for thought for those who have taken a hard position in favor of “Israel- good guy- yesterday and today- Palestinians- violent- not appreciative of Israel’s good faith offers- Islamic radicals bent on wiping out all Jews- just like Hitler”. I will continue to challenge those who pen such beliefs at every turn- they may feel like they and Israel are receiving so much unfair criticism all the time- but just follow the money and the military hardware- Israel has received billions of American public and private dollars every single year for decades- Israel has received American political support in international bodies at every turn as well- American Catholic Israel supporters are hardly the “Davids” in this debate- they are the all-time, big-time, winners if one judges by the facts of where all the American establishment clout has been directed- short answer- it hasn’t been to support the Palestinian Catholics and their leadership’s views on how Americans should act in the Holy Land. I stand with my brother and sister Catholics in the Holy Land- if you wish as Catholics to stand with the mostly secularized Israelis- that is your call- I’m just here to challenge your stated positions and check your influence as Catholic witnesses who are actually harming the Catholic peoples of the Holy Land- contradictions abound here at American Catholic.

  • No sooner did I post the above – then I read that the Vatican shares the perspective that religious freedom is vital in our relationships with Muslim countries- as I wrote a blog entry about a couple of weeks ago about- and also blame is attached to Israel for undermining the Catholic community in the Holy Land- read the article for yourself at

  • Tim,

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply, I hope that you’ll feel that I live up to the tone in responding to it.

    I must admit, if I’m understanding your description of when Palestinians would see as a suitable point to consider attacks against Israel unacceptable:

    If Israel were to give to the Palestinians what has been set forth by the UN resolutions and then continued to receive the suicide attacks of rocket attacks- then I would say- yes- this is self-defense time- I would even agree that the US should make their defense of Israel a part of the peace agreement that gives the Palestinians their WEst Bank/East Jerusalem/Gaza State and gives monetary repayment to those Palestinians forced out during the 48 War

    it gives me very little hope that there will ever be peace in the region. It represents pretty much a best-case demand, and I can’t think of any situation in history where insurgent nationalists have received that. (Also, a few elements are notably one-sided: I don’t imagine anyone is stepping forward to compensate the equal number of Jews expelled from surrounding Arab countries in the ’48 war.)

    Consider, by comparison, the way the Irish won independence:

    During the Irish War of Independence of 1919-1921 (which was only the most recent of centuries of Irish rebellion against British rule), the Irish civilian population suffered frequent reprisals from British military/police organizations such as the Black and Tans. One egregious example was the football massacre on Bloody Sunday, when in reprisal for the targeted assassination of 13 British intelligence officers and military personnel, British auxiliaries sent to look for IRA gunmen at a soccer match ended up firing randomly into the crowd with rifles, pistols, and a machine gun mounted on an armoured car.

    In the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921, the Irish delegation led by Michael Collins got far less than they had hoped for. They sought a united and independent Irish republic — they got an Irish Free State, which had to acknowledge the British crown, and they didn’t get Ulster.

    In many ways, perhaps, it was the same as the situation that Arafat found himself in the Camp David Summit. Fortunately, however, Collins was a much greater man than Arafat. The treaty was put up for a public referendum, and Collins (who had won popularity through his leadership of the IRA during the war) supported it publicly.

    When the treaty was in fact passed, a significant minority of the revolutionaries refused to accept it, and the Irish Civil War began. Irish Free State leaders who until months ago had seen their comrades tortured or put before firing squads by the British, had to turn to the British for arms and supplies and fight their own former comrades in order to secure the imperfect free state.

    That was the price for freedom and peace. Once the Irish had shown themselves as a peaceful and responsible neighbor, and once the wounds felt on both sides had healed, there was no violence when Ireland declared full sovereignty in 1937, or left the commonwealth in 1949.

    Keenly though the Palestinians feel their injustices, it’s important to understand that the Israelis also believe themselves in the right — and given the amount of blood spilled at this point there will never be peace if the condition for stopping the violence is that the Palestinians get everything they want. One can only pray that there will someday be a Palestinian leader with the moral and personal courage of a Collins (who was himself killed in the Civil War).

    recall that as part of geneva conventions you cannot permanently settle on lands taken during war.

    I probably shouldn’t bring this up, since it’s a tangential point, but this strikes me as an example of how the UN and modern international agreements are sometimes more an obstacle to peace than a move towards it. The fact is, wars have, throughout history, resulted in the acquisition of territory. And indeed, there’s a certain irony that it was enacted in 1949, as from 1945 to 1950, the Allied powers had set new boundaries in Europe as a result of being the victors in the war, and engaged in the largest act of ethnic cleansing in recorded history: deporting around 14 million ethnic Germans from Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania and the Netherlands in order to make the ethnic makeup of Europe match the newly drawn borders and assure that a resurgent Germany would never again justify aggression by claiming they were only “liberating” the German-speaking populations in neighboring countries.

    By holding out the promise that property loss 60+ years ago will somehow be made right at some point in the future, if only people will hang around in refugee status indefinitely, I think our international community probably makes nasty conflicts of ethnic nationalism (such as that in the Middle East) even worse than they would otherwise be.

  • Tim Shipe,

    The Arab leadership passed on three clear opportunities to obtain an Arab state on portions of the former mandatory Palestine demographically dominated by Arabs. That, without a lot of deal-breaking paraphenalia, is simply not a political goal of theirs.

  • The highest ranking Catholic in the Holy Land (just recently retired), has been the Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah ( The Patriarch has been pleading for years that American Catholics need to work to change the American policy of financing Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory. He has stated that: “ The State of Israel encompasses 78% of historical Palestine…the remaining 22% was occupied by Israel in 1967, and this is all Palestinians want- a small part of what they had before 1947. They want that 22% to be free of occupation, all of it. Israel cannot have both things- security and occupation. They must give up occupation for security.” (As quoted in the St. Anthony Messenger). The Church has stood behind the Geneva Conventions regarding the right of people displaced by war to return to their homes, and the UN Resolutions 194, 224, and 478, as well as Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of human rights.

    I’ll stand by the Holy Land Catholics- if American Catholic commentators want to deny them and write off their view of their own immediate situation then that’s your deal- I can only urge you do some Deal Hudson type of research instead of relying on whatever dubious sources you have been up to this point- has anyone commenting here actually spent any time in a Palestinian city, town, or village?

  • By holding out the promise that property loss 60+ years ago will somehow be made right at some point in the future, if only people will hang around in refugee status indefinitely, I think our international community probably makes nasty conflicts of ethnic nationalism (such as that in the Middle East) even worse than they would otherwise be.

    Exactly so. Since 1948, the Palis have lived as human title deeds on the West Bank and Gaza. That was not done out of concern for the Palestinians’ well-being (I believe their fellow Arabs could care less) but solely out of a desire to hurt the Israelis.

    Tim, again, you might discount this source because it’s not Catholic, but the renowned Israeli novelist Amos Oz wrote back in 2002 that he recalled his parents telling him that in the Poland of the 1930’s, graffiti abounded saying “Jews to Palestine.” Now graffiti writers in Europe scrawl (and American journalists say): “Jews out of Palestine.”

    Amos said “We are not supposed to be in Europe. We are not supposed to be in Palestine. The message is: don’t be.

    Where, Tim, do you think the Jews should be?

  • This article appeared in the Asian Times:

    It may seem odd to blame the Jews for the misery of Middle East Christians, but many Christian Arabs do so – less because they are Christians than because they are Arabs. The Christian religion is flourishing inside the Jewish side. Only 50,000 Christian Arabs
    remain in the West Bank territories, and their numbers continue to erode. Hebrew-speaking Christians, mainly immigrants from Eastern Europe or the Philippines, make up a prospective Christian congregation of perhaps 300,000 in the State of Israel, double the number of a decade ago.

    The brief flourishing and slow decline of Christian Arab life is one of the last century’s stranger stories. Until the Turks killed the Armenians and expelled the Greeks, Orthodoxy dominated Levantine. The victorious allies carved out Lebanon in 1926 with a Christian majority, mostly Maronites in communion with Rome. Under the Ottomans, Levantine commerce had been Greek or Jewish, but with the ruin of the Ottomans and the founding of Lebanon, Arab Christians had their moment in the sun. Beirut became the banking center and playground for Arab oil states.

    The French designed Lebanon’s constitution on the strength of a 1932 census showing a Christian majority, guaranteeing a slight Christian advantage in political representation. With the Christian population at barely 30% of the total and 23% of the population under 20 – Lebanon’s government refuses to take a census – Lebanon long since has lost its viability. The closing of the Christian womb has ensured eventual Muslim dominance.

    Precise data are unobtainable, for demographics is politics in Lebanon, but Lebanon’s Christians became as infertile as their European counterparts. Muslims, particularly the impoverished and marginalized Shi’ites, had more babies. In 1971, the Shi’ite fertility rate was 3.8 babies per female, against only 2 for Maronite Christians, or just below replacement. Precise data are not available, but Christian fertility is well below replacement today.

    Lebanon was a Catholic project from the outset, and the Vatican’s thinking about the region is colored nostalgia for a dying Christian community and a searing sense of regret for what might have been. If only the State of Israel hadn’t spoiled everything, many Arab Christians think, the Christian minority would have wielded enormous influence in the Arab world. It is true that in many Arab countries, Christians comprised a disproportionate share of merchants and intellectuals. But the same was true of the 130,000 Jews of Iraq before 1947, who owned half the businesses in Baghdad.

    Contrary to the Arab narrative, the peak of Arab Christian influence occurred a generation after the founding of the State of Israel, when Boutros Boutros-Ghali became Egypt’s foreign minister in 1977, and Tariq Aziz became Foreign Minister of Iraq in 1983. In fact, the founding of the State of Israel propelled Christian Arabs into leadership positions in Arab governments. The Arab monarchies installed by the British in Egypt, Jordan and Iraq failed miserably in their efforts to crush the new Jewish State in the 1947-1948 War of Independence. Young military officers replaced the old colonial regimes with nationalist governments, starting with Gamal Abdel Nasser’s 1952 coup in Egypt.

    Nationalism opened the door of political leadership to Arab Christians. The Syrian Christian Michel Aflaq founded the Ba’ath party which later took power in Syria and Iraq. The rise of secular Arab movements with strong Christian influence was a response to the Arab failure to prevent the founding of the State of Israel. After the Turkish destruction of Orthodox Christian populations in the Levant, the Arab Christian elite – for centuries graced by not a single name the world remembers – saw its chance to shine. Lebanon, previously a backwater, and the pugnacious Maronite population, a marginal group except for their ties to France, improbably emerged as the focal point of Levantine Christianity.

    But Arab nationalism failed just as miserably as did the monarchies invented by the British after the Turks were thrown out. Having rolled the dice with Arab nationalism, Arab Christians were left with diminished leverage and declining numbers on the ground in the advent of political Islam. Both in politics and demographics, the Arab Christians largely had themselves to blame. Understandably, they find it more palatable to blame the Jews.

    A case in point is Father Samir Khalid Samir, a Jesuit of Egyptian Arab origin who prominently advises Pope Benedict XVI on Islam. I reviewed his fine book 111 Questions on Islam last March [1]. Samir is circulating what he calls a “Decalogue for Peace”, leaked August 9 on the website of veteran Vatican analyst Sandro Magister [2].

    According to Samir:
    The problem goes back to the creation of the state of Israel and the partition of Palestine in 1948 decided by the superpowers without taking into account the population already present in the (Holy) Land. There resides the real root of all the wars that followed. To repair a serious injustice committed in Europe against a third of the world Jewish population, Europe (supported by the superpowers) decided to commit a new injustice against the Palestinian population, who are innocent of the martyrdom of the Jews. The original decision-making was shaped largely as reparation by the superpowers for doing little or nothing to end a systematically organized persecution against the European Jews as a ‘race’.
    Samir’s plan includes international troops on Israel’s borders, recognition of the Palestinian right of return, an international commission to decide the future of Jerusalem – in short, what the Israelis would consider the end of their sovereignty and the liquidation of the Jewish State. That a prominent Vatican Islam expert would take such a stance speaks volumes about the power of nostalgia.

    There is not a single fact in place in Samir’s presentation.

    Leave aside the fact that the League of Nations in 1922 confirmed the object of the British mandate to establish a homeland for Jewish people in Palestine, and that preparations for the Jewish State were complete before World War II. Leave aside also the pope’s Biblical belief that the Jews are in the Land of Israel because God has commanded them to be there. The fact is that most Israelis, contrary to Samir, descend not from the Jews driven out of Europe by the Holocaust, but rather from Jews driven out of Arab countries after 1947.

    There were 600,000 Jews in Israel on the day of its founding; an additional 700,000 were expelled from Arab lands, including Iraq, where the Jews had lived for 1,000 years prior to the arrival of the Arabs. By expelling the Jews, the Arab countries created a population concentration in Israel that made possible the country’s emergence as a regional superpower. The results were an exchange of populations of roughly equal numbers, Palestinians leaving the new State of Israel and Jewish refugees arriving from Arab countries.

    No, Tim, I haven’t lived in or visited any Palestinian Christian communities. I haven’t lived in or visited any Israeli Jewish ones either. Have you ever considered that your closeness to Palestinian Catholics might be distorting your views a bit?

    Palestinian Christians might think they’ll get a better shake under Muslim Arab rule than under Israeli rule. The facts seem to point in a different direction.

  • Tim, your recommendation makes sense only under the assumption that American aid to Israel in an impediment to some sort of settlement. That aid gives the Jewish population the wherewithal for greater resistance, but that is not a problem for the United States and would not be much of a problem for the Arab population either if the Arab leadership and populace maintained a set of political goals which could be incorporated into a stable political equilibrium. They do not, and no amount of ‘research’ by Deal Hudson or gas from the Latin Patriarch are going to change that one bit.

    Why do the Jews have a state? Because they built one. What problem do you have in the Fertile Crescent? The entrepreneurial sector have other things to do with their lives than cope with the environment created by that region’s wretched political elite and emigrate – to the Gulf emirates, to the United States, to France. The process is most advanced on the West Bank and Gaza where the field has been left to capos, gangbangers, and ululating hags.

  • I have to say that I spent only two weeks in Israel and the West Bank. Went there with a Franciscan priest who lived there for 19 years. Met with both Israelis and Palestinians. Found both prejudiced in their own way. Felt hate towards the other by both. Israelis can be biased. Like American Catholics, so can Palestinian Catholics also be biased.

Ted Kennedy, A Devoted Father

Thursday, August 27, AD 2009
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and his estranged wife Joan pose with their son Patrick who graduated from Fessenden School in West Newton on June 2, 1983. Joining in are son Edward Kennedy Jr. (L) and daughter Kara (R). Patrick is the youngest son and graduated Magna Cum laude from the 47-member ninth grade class at the exclusive all boys school. (UPI Photo/Jim Bourg/Files)

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and his estranged wife Joan pose with their son Patrick who graduated from Fessenden School in West Newton on June 2, 1983. Joining in are son Edward Kennedy Jr. (L) and daughter Kara (R). Patrick is the youngest son and graduated Magna Cum laude from the 47-member ninth grade class at the exclusive all boys school. (UPI Photo/Jim Bourg/Files)

Ted Kennedy was a devoted father.

Many years ago, before my complete embrace of our Catholic faith, I used to read a lot on Ted Kennedy due to my fascination of his political career and of his father, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.  There were many good and bad things I encountered, though what stood out above all was his devotion to his children.

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32 Responses to Ted Kennedy, A Devoted Father

  • Tito, here I have to draw the line. Ted Kennedy was a terrible parent for his kids. His constant womanizing and alcohol abuse demonstrated a complete lack of concern for the figure he cut before the world and before his kids. I join you in prayers for the man’s soul, but I differ with you strongly that Kennedy has anything to teach anyone about being a parent except as a strongly negative example.

  • From the Curt Jester blog site:

    “Sen. Kennedy who was once pro-life became quite a vigorous proponent of legal abortion. This much at least most of the Catholic articles reference kind of a caveat so they could also praise him. No mention that he also supported contraception, cloning, ESCR, homosexual acts, homosexual marriage, and opposed the Defense of Marriage Act. When a Senate bill was put forth to attempt to save Terri Schiavo, Sen. Kennedy was the leader of the opposition. So when it came to five non-negotiable teachings of the Catholic Church, Mr. Kennedy was 0 for 5.”… Read More

    Social justice and the common good begin with submission to the teaching of the Body of Christ, His Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Ted Kennedy consistently defied Holy Mother Church when it came to the most important thing: the innocent lives of the unborn.

  • All of the dramatic coverage of the death of Ted Kennedy is so unbelievably pathetic. The “Lion” of the senate; how silly and melodramatic. Look, the guy is dead so he will be judged by God and God alone. The eternal decision is unknown to us as we are merely humans. One thing is certain, judgement will occur. That said, I will speak of worldly matters.

    I think Kennedy was a pompous, drunken zealot who benefited from inherited wealth and soaked the federal payroll for 47 years as a US Senator. Once again, the founders never imagined “career politicians.” My biggest issue with Kennedy is personal. As a Catholic, he was an embarassment. He divorced and remarried, which is an issue but not the most alarming by any stretch. Much more emphatic, he took opposite and public positions on the five “non-negotiable” issues of the Catholic faith. These are Abortion, Euthanasia, Embryonic stem cell research, Human cloning and Deviate homosexual marriage. Deviate is my word.

    I would not deny him a Catholic funeral but I would not allow one of those showbiz events as though he lived his Catholic faith, which of course, he did not.

    Please understand, repentance is a hallmark of the Christian faith. All of us can make grave errors of judgement here on our earthly journey. Failure to recognize these, repent for them and seek forgiveness risks eternal separation from God. There is no other alternative.

    Certainly, Kennedy was not a great man. He did, however, have the great benefit of being born into wealth, never having to work for a living and then putting on this absurd dog and pony show of being the champion of the common man.

    What a joke.

  • The Onion couldn’t have said it better.

  • One the obituaries includes a little vignette that pretty much sums up his parenting skills:

    In 1991, Kennedy roused his nephew William Kennedy Smith and his son Patrick from bed to go out for drinks while staying at the family’s Palm Beach, Fla., estate. Later that night, a woman Smith met at a bar accused him of raping her at the home.

    Smith was acquitted, but the senator’s carousing — and testimony about him wandering about the house in his shirttails and no pants — further damaged his reputation.

  • This reminds me in many ways how Ted Kennedy exhibited some of the traits of Saint Joseph.

    Tito, like the others above have said, I’m all for offering prayers for the repose of his soul. But really, this is stretching things mightily too far.

  • I am aware of his faults (terrible faults).

    I just wanted to highlight something good about the man. Not all his actions as a father are commendable, but he is human (which doesn’t excuse them, just saying).

  • I don’t think anyone has forgotten his faults (the media is not going to show someone’s good side, the faults get a lot more views!) But to say that he has no positive traits is a little cold hearted.

    I was raised by my father and he was by no means perfect, but he was still a staple for me. I’m sure his kids would appreciate some positive aspects of their father being posted and not all the horrible mistakes he made in the past.

    There is one part I may think is overboard, but I do not know that man’s heart……truly the only one who does wouldn’t posting on this board.

  • Tito, I think YOU are the commendable one. My heart doesn’t feel kindness toward Senator Kennedy, but it is folks like you that perhaps can pray him into the House of the Lord, if he isn’t there already. I personally think he owes an apology to fifty million souls and not deserving to be languishing in a place of refreshment, light and peace.

  • The body is not even in the ground, and the vultures are out in full force.

  • True Mr. Defrancisis. Even I was surprised when the Lying Worthless Political Hack, a\k\a Nancy Pelosi, used the occasion of Kennedy’s death to push for ObamaCare.

  • Back from sabbatical. Too rich to not comment. Yea yea Teddy was good father. But not good uncle- on the scene the night that nephew Willie Smith got a little too close and personal with young lady resisting his Kennedyesque charms. Will give you that he was surrogate Dad to the offspring of Jack and Bobby. Great job- numerous of Bobby’s kids have led horrorshow lives. Briefly saw piece with Matt, son of Joe, son of Bobby last night. Whose Mom was Philly Main Line debutante who fell for Bobby’s eldest son. Gave birth to Matt and twin bro Joe Jr. Pitched a huge fit when hubbo dumped her for staff cutie. Nice try, Tito. I get you want to say kind words for deceased and will not guess how God ruled when he arrived at St. Peter’s Gate. But the 2-on-2 sessions with Chris Dodd in D.C. bistros…..Triggering the corsening political debate with the Robert Bork Land of Back Alley Abortions Speech…..turning on pro-life sentiments in early 70s to become big time abort advocate…..and oh yeah 40 years since he swam out of the Chappaquidick River. Leaving Mary Jo to suffocate in the back of the Olds. Hope he found peace in the other life. But kinda lame to praise his (limited) parental skills.

  • Good to see you back Gerard! I was wondering where you were.

  • Hi, Don. Dealing with issues like passing of dear mother this summer. Forgot to mention real reason why Jacqueline Kennedy sought the hand of Ari Onassis- to pick up enough scratch so that Caroline and John Jr. wouldn’t have to rely on Uncle Teddy. Cannot imagine much delight for Jackie particularly when Mr. O. was in frisky mood. But both youngsters turned out well- even with Caroline’s brief and unsuccessful dip into political pool.

  • My condolences Gerard and may she now be enjoying the Beatific Vision. I hadn’t heard that about Jackie, but it doesn’t surprise me. No one in his immediate family expected much of Ted. I think Joe Kennedy viewed Ted as a spare in case anything happened to the older boys. Little did he know.

  • “I am aware of his faults (terrible faults). I just wanted to highlight something good about the man.”

    So promoting the murder of hundreds, if not, thousands of babies are nothing more than terrible human faults.

    That seems like saying that although Hitler was responsible for murdering hundreds of Jews; but, hey, the guy is human! Give him a break!

    Besides, he happened to resurrect what once was a devestated Germany!

    Genocide as that shouldn’t be a biggee; so shouldn’t the killing of hundreds of babies, too!

  • I don’t mean any offense to anyone on here, but even if he did do more than just “terrible faults”, it wouldn’t be mine, yours, or anyone else’s in this physical world to judge that. To merely point out a good characteristic is the same as pointing out a bad one, but to condemn a person isn’t any of our responsibilities.

  • What we may not judge is the state of someone’s soul. We most certainly may and SHOULD judge the intrinsic rightness or wrongness of someone’s actions.

    I remain puzzled that people don’t (or won’t) get that distinction.

  • “…but to condemn a person isn’t any of our responsiblities.”

    Sure… I’ll be sure to have amended several of our history books that paint historical figures such as Hitler from the evil men they actually were and, instead, substitute a “Kumbaya” ecumenical version more pleasing to all.

    Heil, Hitler — You Poor Misunderstood Wreck!

  • I didn’t say to agree with them, the point of history is to learn what went wrong and right so that we do not repeat mistakes. So by not doing what the people who did heinous things did, it is my way of not agreeing with their choices. I don’t agree with Kennedy’s political career or a lot of other people’s for that matter, but just because you might say something nice about someone that has NOTHING to do with the bad they did, that doesn’t mean you are advocating their faults or following their example. It is okay to say that he loved his kids. Not to mention you have no idea his relationship with God, so to say something like he is “not deserving to be languishing in a place of refreshment, light, and peace” is truly NONE of our responsibility. To say that he is a horrible father may not be the opinion of his children, or maybe it is, but it isn’t ours to judge those things.

  • Latasha:

    “So by not doing what the people who did heinous things did…”

    How, exactly, do you suppose we teach people that what these figures did was actually heinous when you would dare paint them in such a way so as to actually legitimize their actions by making them appear as if without stain?

    Sorry — but I shall teach my own children the evil figure that was Hitler so that they know, for a fact, that he was evil exactly because of the heinous things he did.

    You would make it appear the a person, regardless of such heinous things such as promoting genocide, are nevertheless inculpable and, even more, stainless!

    You are given to such a mindset that would make relativists rejoice and sheer tyranny applaud!

  • E.,

    I never said not to condemn actions, I’m guilty of that EVERY day. I never said to paint people as a stainless figure, I also do that probably close to every day. What I was saying that is that it is okay to say something good about someone without agreeing to every horrible thing they did. Also, I am outright disagreeing to at least one comment about how someone personally didn’t think that he deserved eternal peace. We are human, we do not walk on water, we all sin so based on that, none of us know that man’s relationship with his maker, so to say he doesn’t deserve those things is taking God’s role into our own and that is what I disagree with.

    Also, as a parental figure, I said below that there were parts of this article that went overboard and I do not agree with, but if this was my father (faults of his included) I wouldn’t want him to be remembered for only the bad things. That is all I was trying to say, I wasn’t condoning him or Hitler (obviously, but since he was brought up I figured I needed to clarify that.)

  • Latasha,
    You are right in that God wills that we not judge. I suppose I’ve been snared by the devil again! It was my intent to applaud Tito for his graciousness and to point out my lack of same. It might be appropriate for you to pray to God for me that I receive the grace to forgive Senator Kennedy for his complicity in the murder of fifty million defenseless souls — and that I might be able to forgive him and pray for his salvation.

  • Latasha:

    “To say that he is a horrible father may not be the opinion of his children, or maybe it is, but it isn’t ours to judge those things.”

    So, when a father is found to have kept his own daughters locked up in the cellar for several decades as mere prisoners and, moreover, molested and even raped them, converting his very children to little more than sex slaves; is it still not ours to judge the father as actually being wicked, even more — given these remarkably heinous circumstances, exceptionally evil?

    In other words, there are such times when we should call good “good” and evil “evil”.

  • There are probably very few, if any, sinful, evil or corrupt people who have NO redeeming qualities whatsoever. After all, no one can be effectively evil or corrupt without having SOME good qualities (intelligence, charm, attractiveness, artistic or academic talent, etc.) that were originally given to them by God.

    To admit that Ted Kennedy indulged in or was complicit in some very objectively morally evil things (adultery, drunkeness, a reckless homicide, legalized abortion, etc.) is not to deny that he did some good things along the way, or that he was, apparently, personally generous, witty and charming, or that he provided emotional support and guidance to his fatherless nephews and nieces.

    The notion that saints do no wrong and sinners do no right, I think, blinds us to the way in which we are ALL capable of committing or taking part in great evils and also (with God’s grace) capable of heroic virtue.

  • Elaine Krewer:

    Yours is perhaps the most balanced and arguably most enlightening comment.

    Most villains often possess, in spite of the utter corruption of their souls, even small hints of redeeming qualities.

    That is not to say, however, that exponents for such things as the explicit murdering of entire peoplese (in this immediate case, mere babies) are not, on the whole, villains; indeed, it only proves, all the more, just how villainous these actually are.

  • Of course I hope he made it into Heaven. But….

    I can’t think of any man less like St. Joseph than Senator Edward Kennedy. St. Joseph was a just man, poor and worked for a living. There’s a quick strikeout for you baseball fans. But let’s give him another time at bat. Can you imagine a greater contrast than one between a man who lived a celibate life alongside the most perfect and beautiful woman created by almighty God and a twice-married drunken slob who couldn’t seem to stop donating semen to bar-sluts like an irresponsible, rich frat boy?

    Every time I hear his accomplishments touted I can’t help hearing the phrase “What profiteth it a man…” Yes, profiteth; I can’t help it if I was raised with the King James Bible. Less Catholics in the world like Ted Kennedy will mean more conversions to the faith. Rest in peace… good riddance.

  • Latasha, Jay, and Elaine,

    Thank you for driving making my point.


    Take a chill pill.


    Right on.


    I said some of the traits.

    I also didn’t imply that “some” of those traits he did well “all” of the time.

    Ted Kennedy did many good things as a father. Not all, not most, many. And I appreciate and like that about the man.

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  • Ohhhh…. some of the traits, OK. I see. Being that those are likely traits that every non-filicidal father in the world shares with St. Joseph, I’m not sure why it was included other than to add to the volume of spaghetti thrown against the wall to see if at least some of it sticks. By definition, a saint is a person who achieves a heroic degree of virtue and sanctity. It is not defined as someone who practices a modicum of decency. (Matt 7:11 may apply)I’ve already spoken to that, so I’ll merely suggest that your concept of what defines heroism is quite different than mine.

    The narrative of Teddy Kennedy as exemplary father is primarily a strain on the imagination and belittles the efforts of many good fathers who don’t have professional photographers following them to capture their best moments for posterity.

Christian Hipsters: A Tool For Self-Diagnosis

Thursday, March 5, AD 2009

This has already been making the rounds, but the weekend is almost here, and I thought it would be an opportunity to focus more on the culture part of AC. Per Brett McCracken, here is a partial list of the common traits of Christian hipsters:

Things they don’t like:
Christian hipsters don’t like megachurches, altar calls, and door-to-door evangelism. They don’t really like John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart or youth pastors who talk too much about Braveheart. In general, they tend not to like Mel Gibson and have come to really dislike The Passion for being overly bloody and maybe a little sadistic. They don’t like people like Pat Robertson, who on The 700 Club famously said that America should “take Hugo Chavez out”; and they don’t particularly like The 700 Club either, except to make fun of it. They don’t like evangelical leaders who get too involved in politics, such as James Dobson or Jerry Falwell, who once said of terrorists that America should “blow them all away in the name of the Lord.” They don’t like TBN, PAX, or Joel Osteen. They do have a wry fondness for Benny Hinn, however.

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4 Responses to Christian Hipsters: A Tool For Self-Diagnosis

  • Well, having looking through the criteria, I’m definitely not a hipster, though I share some of the likes a dislikes. For example, I don’t like megachurches, but I am increasingly in favor of door-to-door evangelism. I think Catholics might consider doing a little more visible activity like that. I think our laity (though it might just be me) are pretty lazy about spreading the Word. I do like Mel Gibson, and I think the bloodier I picture the Passion, the better. Christ suffered the weight of every single sin of mankind. That extent of suffering is absolutely mind-boggling. I love the Pope, the liturgy, and Lent. Incense is not so much a concern (because my wife reacts violently to it), and I feel incredibly awkward with the timeless phrases.

    The worrisome thing is that a hipster likes what is hip. That might be good for the moment, if the perspective if that there is something “hip” about Christianity, but on the other hand, if that perspective ever changes, will these hipsters dump Christianity as yesterday’s fad? Moreover, is their interest in Christianity a matter of status, of being in a particular crowd, rather than in Christianity itself? (Well, these questions aren’t limited to the hipsters. I ask these of myself continually.)

    Anyway, I don’t know much about it, myself. I’ll simply try to reserve any judgment, because the temptation is always to ask, “Are they genuine?” And that does them a great disservice.

  • I am increasingly in favor of door-to-door evangelism. I think Catholics might consider doing a little more visible activity like that. I think our laity (though it might just be me) are pretty lazy about spreading the Word….Moreover, is their interest in Christianity a matter of status, of being in a particular crowd, rather than in Christianity itself?

    I agree, and you’ve highlighted one of the reasons I found the list somewhat puzzling. On the one hand, the term ‘Christian hipster’ seems to denote an interest in aesthetics and artistic integrity. For example, old Cathedrals really are beautiful; Chesterton, Lewis, O’Connor, etc. are phenomenal writers and thinkers; CCM is generally bad because it is a contrived imitation of popular music.

    On the other hand, it seems to denote a sort of guarded and deliberate detachment from committing oneself entirely to Christ. For example, door-to-door evangelization is out (we wouldn’t want to feel uncomfortable!); as are altar calls (a public commitment to Christ). And, while there are plenty of reasons to dislike Jerry Falwell, the 700 club etc., the fact that hipsters like the equally political Jim Wallis suggests it is the zeitgeist rather than a dislike of the mixture of faith and politics that may be motivating their behavior. Either way, it’s an interesting list.

  • I interviewed with Brett McCracken on video about his views on Christian Hipsters:

  • I generally fit into much of this list’s criteria, but I hardly think “hipster” is the right term. Not being into Christian music and manufactured pop-Christian culture, and preferring some intellectual rigor does not a hipster make. But it’s still a generally good thing, I suppose….

35 Responses to If You Should Disagree With Your Brother, Even 70 Times 70….

  • “they are our brothers and sisters in Christ”

    A distinction they share with all of humanity. Unfortunately they supported for election to the highest office in the land a man who clearly does not believe that the unborn share in this relationship to Christ. Defense of the unborn simply was not high on the agenda of Catholics who supported Obama. Surprise! If all Catholics voted in line with the teaching of the Church as to abortion for just one election cycle, legal abortion would be history in this country. That we do not is a damning indictment of how seriously many Catholics in this country take their faith. Catholic votes keep abortion legal in this country and have done so since 1973. The election of Obama was simply the latest in a long line of electing leaders with Catholic votes who have not the slightest concern for the unborn and who wage a never-ending fight against the pro-life movement.

  • First of all, the USCCB carries zero weight because we are led by the Magisterium, Tradition, and Scripture. The USCCB is not a parallel magisterium.

    Secondly, I strongly disagree that a Catholic who voted for Obama is a good Catholic. If you want to play the notorious V.N. game of semantics, then a vote for McCain makes you a bad Catholic and a vote for Obama makes you an even worse Catholic.

    Catholics who voted for Obama should and will be held accountable for the deaths of millions of unborn children. Their participation in any political debate has been marginalized at best, but most likely should be discounted because of their horrible and depraved decision.

    What we know is is that Obama is the most pro-abortion candidate ever voted into office. To “assume” of imaginary budgetry constraints, or any assumption for that matter, can mitigate someones vote for Obama is incorrect.

    I do agree we should show prudence and charity to those that have voted for Obama, even when they don’t reciprocate, but they should still be held accountable for their depraved decision in the ’08 elections.

  • But Catholics who felt that Obama was the lesser of two evils are not the enemy; they are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and our disagreements with them should reflect that recognition. …but writing people out of the debate for the next four years because of their conclusions about Obama is neither the right thing to do nor is it likely to be very productive.

    This is where you lost me, John. Up to that point, it was a great post.

    First, these people certainly acted in bad faith, as is readily evidenced by their refusal to consider or answer opposing viewpoints, their refusal to be taught by the bishops, and the exceptionally poor arguments they put forward. The rationalization was simply, “neither candidate is perfect on the life issues, so life is no longer an issue.” That’s not arguing in good faith, and it calls into doubt their commitment to Catholic teaching on the life issues.

    And it’s the pro-Obama folks who’ve been working to read conservatives out of the debate. Which is odd, as we’re pretty well marginalized for at least the next year. I have been calling on them to join the debate; I’ve said that it’s only the pro-Obama Catholics who have any chance of persuading their fellow Democrats to abandon their embrace of the culture of death, and bring an ethic of life to their administration of the country. But none of the pro-Obama bloggers at Vox Nova have made such an effort, neither have the higher-profile pro-Obama Catholics, like Kmiec, Cafardi and others.

    After so much effort to convince their fellow Catholics to vote for Obama, why no effort to convince their fellow Democrats to vote Catholic — that is, pro-life? And this failure, too, calls into question their commitment to Catholic teaching on the life issues.

    Also, their open contempt for those who actually make the pro-life arguments calls into question their commitment to Catholic teaching on the life issues.

    This is a scandal, and it should be called that, and those who are perpetrating the scandal should be called out on it.

    I don’t say this because I’m a better Catholic than they are. I make no claims for any superiority about my faith, or my practice of religion. But on this issue, I think there are more cardinals, archbishops and bishops, and even a pope, who agree with me. My own archbishop, Cardinal George (also USCCB president), wrote that one cannot work for the common good while supporting the legal status quo on abortion. But that’s just exactly what these people have done. And they have a responsibility — which they have utterly neglected — to try to mitigate what they have achieved.

  • I did not vote for Mr. Obama, and would agree that many of the reasons offered by others as justification for doing so were greatly lacking. That said, the way some of the folks who ended up voting for Obama have been treated by some of their fellow Catholics has, in my opinion, been quite disgraceful. Telling someone who voted for Obama that they have blood on their hands, or speculating as to how many abortions they have had is just not a good way to win people over to your point of view. It’s not really very Christian, either.

    I realize that such bad behavior is confined to the minority, but to the person on the receiving end of this sort of treatment, even a few instances tend to leave a deep impression.

  • As usual, Tito ‘argues’ by fiat.


  • Mark,

    I don’t completely agree with Tito on this question, but he’s laid out his reasons for thinking as he does. If you have a comment on it, comment, but don’t snipe.

  • DC,

    Your defense of his antics speaks volumes. And your calling them reasons is incredibe.

  • I think overall I agree with you, John Henry, though I probably would have emphasized things differently. A couple things:

    Though voting is an important political and moral act, and I am generally grateful that we live in a country where we are given a choice (though a limitted one) in who shall rule us, I think that often we emphasize it’s importance too much. Our individual votes count for fairly little. And while I appreciate (and to a great extent agree with) Donald’s point that if all Catholics took abortion seriously as an issue, we wouldn’t have legal abortion — the fact of the matter is that of the 25% of the US population who identify as Catholic, less than half even go to mass. Of the maybe 10% of the population who are even remotely serious Catholics, more than half voted against Obama anyway. If every single serious Catholic had voted for Obama, he just would have won by less, but he still would have won.

    Similarly, I’m not sure that I think that the difference in absolute numbers of abortions would be very great between the options of Obama and McCain. I think it pretty disgraceful to vote for a candidate such as Obama who supports abortion so enthusiastically, but I don’t think it’s numerically accurate to say that their votes for Obama cost huge numbers of lives. Though I would hope they would take pause to consider that they’ve cast a vote (in some cases enthusiastically) for someone who doesn’t care a whit about those lives. (That some of the same people got themselves all worked up about Bush being apparently indifferent to appeals from convicted murders makes it all the odder.)

    So while I think that a vote for Obama was a bad choice, and a fairly obviously bad choice if one thought about it rationally and with full information, I don’t think that it was, on the scale of great life mistakes, all that large. I would certainly say that we are morally culpable for our votes, but I don’t think that votes are themselves among the more monumental moral decisions we make — though for those who spend large amounts of times advocating for their choice of vote (Kmiec seems the standout example here) some people seem to have managed to overthrow both mind and morals in the process of tyring to justify a vote which would have seemed unacceptable to their selves of just a few years earlier. Still even in such a case, I think it was the need to constantly justify the planned vote which was so morally corrosive, not the vote itself.

    And don’t get me wrong, some of the constant Obama apologists are fairly disingenuous writers — or at least deeply unpleasant personalities — it’s just not their votes per se that I find offense, but rather their apologetics for people and positions I find unacceptable.

    Finally, if people find themselves unpersuaded by all the above let me make this very pragmatic point: Votes are cast. Obama is elected. In some ways (dreary ways, but real none the less) I myself find it a bit liberating, in that I have hopes that the pro-life movement and the conservative movement will both return to health and dynamism much more quickly while out of power (hopefully by the 2010 midterms) than they would have with a squeaker of a McCain victory.

    One of our biggest dangers now in trying to convey to our fellow Catholics and the world what we believe is good and right in regards to politics is bitterness. Even if it’s accurate to say that any Catholic who voted for Obama is a pretty pathetic excuse for one (and I don’t necessarily say that, because I think the human conscience has a pretty massive capacity for honest self delusion — and some of these folks were sorely tempted because they believe, wrongly in my opinion, that progressive policies would do miracles for our country) repeating that contention overmuch will not achieve much besides making those people hate us a great deal. (And frankly, I’m already a little concerned at how readily a few writers draw away from other Catholics and Catholic movements in order to cling to their Obama votes which they’re being given so much grief over.)

    I think we’d be better served by erasing from our minds who voted for whom and going at the issues hammer and tongs as the happy warriors we ought to be. It may not convince those who’ve now staked their political and intellectual identities on supporting Obama, but it does allow us to present a positive and persuasive message to all those in the online world ready to listen.

    And if history is any gauge, I would imagine that in four to eight years there will be plenty of disillusioned Obama supporters to win over, just as now some of those trumpeting their Obama support were pretty sanguine about Bush seven years ago.

    If we choose instead to try to put too much energy into making people rue their Obama votes — I fear we shall only make both them and us bitter.

  • Mark,

    If you want volumes, read my above comment.

    As I said, I don’t agree with Tito’s take, and if you read my comment you’ll see how and why. But if you want to rebutt someone, as seems to be your desire, try using more than 20 words.

  • DC,

    I have been trying to extricate an argument in Tito’s words. Here’s the best I could do:

    THe USCCB is not the Magisterium

    Catholics who voted for Obama are not good Catholics

    Therefore,THey should be discounted in all they say.

    We should also hold them accountable.

  • Has the Vatican explicitly condemned ‘Faithful Citizenship.” Mentioned it much in a critical fashion during the past year? If so, I missed it.

    While Tito is right in saying that the USCCB is not the Magisterium, it seems that the onus is on him to show how terribly it contradicts magisterial statements/teaching.

  • You would also think that Tito would be happy that those who supported Obama are trying to challenge him on life issues.

    It seems as though Tito believes that politicians only listen to those who are not their supportesr, or, at least, that you cannot criticize anyone for whom you have voted.

    Actually, I am not quite sure what his thinking is, as it does not seem to make much sense either way.

    I do not want to be presumptuous, but something of the above may be why he and his ilk think that they have to be, for example, such supporters fof President Bush’s disaster-laden foreign policy these past years, including his waging a war that the Vatican clearly said was unjust at its inception.

  • Brendan/Darwin, John Henry, Black Adder,

    Excellent points on how we should prudentially move forward from this election. Painting those that voted for Obama as participants in the culture of death doesn’t help the cause as much. And I’m referring to myself.

    Being on the front lines, ie, praying at abortion clinics, marching in prayer vigils, passing out literature, etc, etc, one tends to get emotinally involved. Hence I get a bit perturbed when I read outrageous and disingenuous arguments from some in the v.N. about how voting for Obama is a vote for pro-life.

    Black Adder,

    Thanks for being civil. I agree, if one is on the receiving end of a comment such as mine, I can only imagine how they must feel. I disagree that this behavior could be unChristian. My reasons are that I find it difficult to fathom how one who is properly catechized and very knowledgeable about their Catholic faith can turnaround and cast a vote for Obama and then ask others to work with them in reducing abortions. When, in this instance, McCain would not be signing FOCA, promising Planned Parenthood unmitigated abortions for everyone, and many other executive, legislative, and judicial acts that will *increase* the number of abortions.

    With that said, being a Christian isn’t easy, but how you framed your argument does help me consider the human aspect of it all and I’ll pray more for improved prudential judgement.

    John Henry,

    I forgot to say this in my original comment, you wrote a very good and thought out post. Keep up the great work!

    Mark DeFrancisis,

    I got a chuckle reading your “pobrecito” comment while viewing that awesome and cute pic of your pet sausage dog.

    Oh, and don’t presume. I make the same mistake of presumptiousness and you shouldn’t either.

  • Tito,

    Do you realize yet that the drafter of the VN letter, Henry, did NOT vote for Obama?

    And please understand, pobrecito is in my book a term of endearment.

  • Mark,

    Yes. Though I didn’t point him out in any of these comments in this column.

    As far as pobrecito, I didn’t take it as anything but funny (in a good way). I know you mean well and our emotions can get the best of us at times. I know you mean no harm.

    And when I refer to your pic, I really do like that pic. You have an awesome looking dog.

  • Tito.

    The rhyme is too irresistible.

  • Mark,

    I too laugh at myself.

    One of my friends favorites are “Tito Bandito”. But basically they all like calling me “Tito”, even though I don’t look like a “Tito”. I’ve given up introducing myself to my given Christian name. Though I don’t mind being called either.

    And yes, if you were to know me in person, you would be laughing at me as well, I’m a big goofball.

  • “If every single serious Catholic had voted for Obama, he just would have won by less, but he still would have won.”

    True Darwin. Most people who claim to be Catholic in this country are Catholic only in an ancestral or tribal sense at best. As I said, a damning indictment. However, the people this post is directed toward do claim to be serious Catholics. I actually have far more sympathy for a Catholic who hasn’t been to mass for decades and voted for Obama, they could at least claim to be doing so out of rank ignorance and indifference, than I do someone who celebrates his or her Catholicism and still votes for a candidate who views abortion as a sacred right.

  • My comments in this thread should not be taken as indicating any reluctance on my part to work with anyone who voted for Obama who now wishes to enter the lists in opposition to his pro-abortion policies. In my pro-life work I join forces all the time with women who have had abortions and men and women who have been pro-abort in the past. I always welcome converts. However, I do believe that it is beyond absurd for people who claim to be pro-life to vote for a pro-abort when there is a pro-life candidate to vote for, and that for Catholics to do so is a scandal.

  • Donald, I agree that there was little-to-no case to be made that Obama was better for pro-lifers, and the best predictive indicator for how I will vote in any given national election is a candidate’s position on abortion. However, as I discussed above I am not persuaded that it would be unreasonable (as opposed to incorrect) for a Catholic to believe that there would be little change in the abortion rate under either McCain or Obama, and that Obama was significantly better on the other issues.

    As to whether these people are pro-life it depends on your perspective. I am pro-health care reform, and I think Obama was a much better candidate than McCain on that score; but I am not a single-issue health care reform voter, and so I did not vote for President-elect Obama. If your definition of a pro-lifer is someone who is a single-issue voter, then yes, these people were not pro-lifers. But I am pro- a lot of things; voting is a choice that weights those things.

  • As to whether these people are pro-life it depends on your perspective.

    My perspective is that if life issues are not a priority for you, then you’re not pro-life.

    I oppose the death penalty. That is, I believe that it is Constitutional, but that legislatures should abolish it. But if I were on a jury, I might vote to apply the death penalty, given our current laws.

    But I don’t often tell people I’m anti-death-penalty, because it’s not important enough to influence my vote, except among candidates who are the same on other issues I hold to be more urgent. I claim no moral “credit” for this stance, and I wouldn’t expect people who consider the abolition of the death penalty to be important to count me as one of them.

  • Pro-lifers aiming for a pro-life national consensus need to ask themselves whether that consensus can be achieved without a reform of the most pro-abortion rights party.

    Can’t that reform only be advanced by weasely pro-life Democrats co-operating with pro-choice Democrats?

    No pro-life Democrat can advance unless he scratches other Dems’ backs and helps them get elected.

    Granted, there are significant ethical dangers in this co-operation. But doesn’t the most principled opposition to pro-choice politicians result in a Catch-22 of political deadlock?

  • Just get a few things straight, I, Kmiec, Cafardi, or anyone else haven’t thrown socons under the bus. Socons threw us out once we stopped following along with a host of issues other than abortion. Complaints about the war, etc., were met with “but what about abortion?” When discussing the election I didn’t bother justifying Obama’s superiority on other issues, because the one-issue abortion voters didn’t care about them. The purpose of persuasive writing is to persuade, and I had better things to do than try to persuade people that ultimately thought the economy and foreign policy were unimportant compared to the evil of abortion. Sure, other issues might be nice to chat about and even have firmly held opinions, but no matter what Republicans did on other issues and no matter how little they offered toward the end of abortion, it didn’t matter.

    As far as disengenuous charges go, I and others have our grievances as well. If you told me T-Bone steak was the most important thing to you in the world, and all I ever saw you eat were burnt sirloins, I would question your commitment to T-Bone steak. Folks keep saying that these burnt sirloins will eventually become T-Bones, but I’m not seeing it. And I don’t think I’m going to see a T-Bone until I stop accepting burnt sirloins. Many choose not to believe that I and others oppose abortion. At this point, I’m pretty much done trying to persuade folks otherwise. If you want to eat burnt sirloins and call them T-Bones, that’s your choice. I’ll enjoy my rubber chicken dinner with potatoes and corn. When a real T-Bone goes on the menu, I’ll eat it.

  • What about love thy enemy as thyself?

    What about take the stake out of your own eye before condeming the toothpick in your brother’s eye?

    paraphrased of course.

  • Katerine – Could you clarify who that statement was directed towards?

    M.Z. – Thanks for responding – I have lots of thoughts, but not much time to respond. A quick question, though. Could you explain how this argument from Kmiec is pro-life? My problem with Kmiec is that he held himself out as a pro-lifer, only to pull off the mask and reveal he was a pro-choicer. I think he was a fraud (as, apparently, does Douthat whom you are fond of quoting). Anyway, here’s Kmiec:

    Sometimes the law must simply leave space for the exercise of individual judgment, because our religious or scientific differences of opinion are for the moment too profound to be bridged collectively. When these differences are great and persistent, as they unfortunately have been on abortion, the common political ideal may consist only of that space. This does not, of course, leave the right to life undecided or unprotected. Nor for that matter does the reservation of space for individual determination usurp for Caesar the things that are God’s, or vice versa. Rather, it allows this sensitive moral decision to depend on religious freedom and the voice of God as articulated in each individual’s voluntary embrace of one of many faiths.,0,4202531.story

    Is that pro-life?

  • Given that the paragraph was predicated on legal abolition not being possible at the present time, yes. It’s not how I would have phrased things. You (and others) may not be aware that I was quite critical of his intial commentary.

  • “When a real T-Bone goes on the menu, I’ll eat it.”

    Well we both can hope that happens at some point in the near future. I was not and am not a fan of Mr. McCain. Maybe Jindal will be more substantive, but even if he is, it may be wise for him to wait for 2016. You are far too generous to Kmiec; the man is a poseur, or as other Catholic legal academics have described him, ‘contemptible’.

  • Can’t that reform only be advanced by weasely pro-life Democrats co-operating with pro-choice Democrats?

    No pro-life Democrat can advance unless he scratches other Dems’ backs and helps them get elected.

    Yes, indeed. My complaint is that there seems to be no such visible efforts by “pro-life” Democrats.

    Henry Karlson’s petition (of which I was one of the original signers) is not an effort by an Obama supporter to reform the Democrats’ embrace of abortion.

  • Pingback: To The “Traitor,” Go The Spoils? Kmiec & The Ambassadorship « The American Catholic: Politics and Culture from a Catholic perspective
  • If all Catholics voted in line with the teaching of the Church as to abortion for just one election cycle, legal abortion would be history in this country.

    If all Catholics voted in line with the teachings of the Church on ALL issues for just one election cycle, we would have a more just society, and respect for peace and life.

  • Thank you, Tito. No one would be happier than I if Catholics monolithically decided to support a full platform of Catholic social teachings, from abortion, capital punishment, peace, labor, social justice and family policy, and then recruited a slate of candidates pledged to such a platform.

    Lacking that event, I actually support something I rarely read on the blogs — pluralism. I think we are best served having Catholics in every party and every camp.

  • John, I’m glad you wrote this. I am 100% in agreement. Thank you Katherine for your spot on comments. I’ve mused over this post for a few days and I’d like to make several points and I hope they are not taken in the wrong way — I mean them in all good charity.

    It’s self-evident that all of these issues are critical and what’s at stake here is human life. It is understandable to be emotionally involved, but this in itself does not justify a lot of our behavior. This is especially true of me personally prior to election. If I could have go back, there are many things I’ve said that I would take back.

    Now I’m very disheartened by many people’s opinions on this. It’s a human reality and in some respect, I’ll just have to deal with it. The heart of my frustration is really rooted in the fact (as is the heart of everyone’s frustration) is that I see this from a different perspective.

    Granted, I voted for John McCain, other Catholics for reasons I’m sure many (not all) thought about as long and as hard as I did made a different judgment. Now in regard to this, there is always this profound temptation to attack other people’s orthodoxy. Sure, I’d be quick to agree with someone that “person A” has misunderstood, or at least misapplied the Church’s teaching, but that does not mean the person isn’t orthodox and doesn’t fully believe in the “fullness of truth” that the Church embraces. In many ways, discussion of such people has been less than charitable. I cannot conceive of the Lord talking about people or to people in the way I’ve seen (or even done myself). So, let’s be honest with ourselves, before we toot ourselves as the “good” Catholics and as scholars on social justice aware of what it really is that we need to do, let’s not forget the basics and foundation of our faith: charity. It doesn’t take faith to realize that you will not convert someone or win them over demonizing them (or their political party) and telling them in an uncharitably way that the death and suffering of thousands of innocent children is their fault. I’m not saying they didn’t materially cooperate in evil, I’m saying we ought to be careful about what we say it, how we say it, and why we’re saying it.

    I don’t think we can just sit and judge someone’s orthodoxy by a single action. Sure, we can judge an act to be not in accord with the moral law, but to say that “no good Catholic” does this or that is really, in my view, divisive rhetoric. I know what you’re saying, but I find that such talk is not constructive toward any good, it only reaffirms the “us” versus “them” mentality. We can judge the objective good or evil of an actions, but we do not know people’s hearts nor do we know their subjective culpability. This is not to say we should just tolerate evil because people have good intentions, but let’s not start the game of saying who is a “good Catholic” and who’s not based on political decisions.

    It occurs to me that my wording can make my point seem a bit dubious, e.g. a pro-choice Catholic can be a “good Catholic.” That’s not what I’m arguing. I’m talking more along the lines of agreeing on fundamental principles but prudentially applying them differently; now in one respect, one can say this or that is a miscalculation and a bad application of those principles, but to judge the interior of the person based solely on an isolated action, out of the context of their whole lived Catholic life in my view is quite an injustice.

    Quite a lot can be learned from listening to someone you disagree with. I’ve noticed that many pro-life Americans who voted for the Democrats believe that other critical issues of importance to them is not a priority for the Republican Party. In my experience, I’ve seen people then rebuke them saying no other issue has the priority of abortion. But that’s a part of the problem! Instead of rebuking them (and I’m not saying you shouldn’t make that clarification that abortion is not just one issue), how often do you stop to see their point even if you don’t agree with them? Need I tell you about the medical problems that my grandmother faces that places a financial burden on my immediate family and given the fact that there is no person in my family I’m closer to, there was a profound temptation for me to vote for the Democrats in this election on the basis of health care? Not just for my grandmother, but for thousands of people with the same problem. We might disagree on that, but talk about reform hasn’t been a GOP issue — 12 years they had every opportunity, none taken. Why is there this mentality or perception that the GOP is not the party of African Americans and Hispanics? Given the fact that this past year they had the whitest, richest delegates in history and that the party doesn’t look or seem inclusive. There is hardly talk about poverty, health care, and other issues that directly impact people. How long have these issues seemed like they were on the backburner? Since when was there a GOP candidate advocating health care reform to deal with the 47 million uninsured before the Democrats made it an issue? I’ve seen many people emphasizing the primacy of abortion dismiss these other issues as if they are items in a cafeteria just as they denounce other “cafeteria” Catholics for overlooking the unborn — are you more justified?

    I’m taken back by the statement that pro-life Democrats don’t do anything about abortion, nevermind the fact that countless pieces of legislation couldn’t have passed at the federal and state level without our votes; the same is true of the election of candidates–I’m sure pro-life Democrats have tipped some few elections in favor of Republican candidates. I thought we were all on the same team. Nevermind the uphill battle many pro-life Democrats face in primaries or just to stay in office with the party loading cash into the campaign of pro-choice Democrats. Do you try to help pro-life Democrats get elected with your money? Do you encourage pro-life Democrats to support those candidates so they don’t lose their seat to a pro-choice Democrat? Do you really think we’re going to end abortion with only one party? I can’t speak on behalf of all pro-life Democrats, but the same argument can be made about the urgency of the issue of abortion to the GOP at large. There is so much talk about the Supreme Court when after Roe v. Wade, seven of the current nine were appointed by Republicans and yet only four of them are pro-life. If abortion were the repugnant, horrid evil that the GOP really made it out to be, there would be a lot more effort to bring about its demise — and I’m not saying the Democrats don’t fight them tooth and nail, but one can hardly deny other aspects of their agenda have been carried out with such swiftness and fervor you begin to wonder…

    One last point. If we’re going to get upset by the “absurdity” of, say, the gay rights’ movement, instead of being reactive, be proactive. So when no one is praying for homosexuals at Mass, why not ask someone if it can be included for just one Sunday? Inquire as to why there is communal support for homosexuals in less than half the dioceses in the country. If we want them to oblige to the natural law, are we willing to reach out to them? The same people screaming and yelling about the family are saying one thing and doing another. If you think liberals are just nuts on environmental issues, how about more proactive engagement rather than disagreeing without offering a solution. When Catholics as a majority don’t vote in accord with Church teaching or cause public scandal by dissenting, volunteer your time and teach a CCE class — plant seeds and the Lord your God will have a rich harvest. The sexual revolution and other “progressive” movements didn’t come up out of thin air. We (all of us) speak like Catholics and live like Pharisees. The harvest is rich and the laborers are few. Work for the Lord in His vineyard. If we spent as much effort doing as we do complaining and attacking one another, the world would be a much better place.

    I really don’t wish to sound partisan, but in many ways, it seems to me that Catholic Democrats have concerns that really are dismissed as trivial and “non-issues” because abortion is fundamental (not that I’m disagreeing with that). I’m of the view that a “partisan-looking” attack on the Democrats not only allows the Republicans to get too comfortable and often enough get by, I think to the spectator it makes Catholics look biased. I’m surely not denying major problems in regard to the Democrats, but the way the GOP gets glossed over really disconcerns me and I sometimes wonder if other Catholics aren’t conservative first. That’s my view and you’re free to disagree with me.

  • Eric and Katherine,

    We won’t let Obama Catholics off the hook for voting incorrectly, but I agree we have many more issues that we can cooperate on with them. It’s a difficult balance to keep, but your comments should be considered when engaging with them in working together for the common good.

  • Tito,

    Thank you. I hope we have many opportunities to work together. And while maybe the favor is not returned, you are forgiven for voting for McCain! 🙂