Now This Is An Archbishop!

Friday, January 30, AD 2009

archbishop-burke

Hattip to our commenter Phillip.  When Raymond Burke was Archbishop of Saint Louis he was a tireless advocate of the unborn and also tireless in taking to task those who supported abortion.  His elevation to be head of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature in Rome has not diminshed his zeal for the pro-life cause.  In an interview in October of last year he stated that the Democrat party risked transforming itself into the party of death.

Continue reading...

36 Responses to Now This Is An Archbishop!

  • Huzzahs to Archbishop Burke!

    We really need to rid ourselves of such documents like Faithful Citizenship and the Seamless Garment. They do nothing for particular bishops that choose to hide themselves behind official-looking USCCB documents and not stand up for the Truth. They want to remain popular amongst their worldly friends. Other bishops simply disdain the pro-life position altogether because it doesn’t sync up with their favorite party, ie, the Democratic Party (or as Archbishop Burke calls them, the future party of death).

    Too many times has the USCCB and many of their documents been used as a parallel magesterium to justify their liberal agenda’s. It’s gotten to the point where the word “pastoral” is turning a dirty word. A code word for, “the hell am I going to tow the line of the teachings of Jesus, I have compassion! I dare not teach the Truth!”

    In the end, the bishops of each diocese need(s) to step up to the bat and get away from the USCCB.

  • The USCCB- now an inefficient entity in the manner of GM, Citi, too many city and state governments. GIGO here- garbage in, garbage out. Years of blah blah blah statements by the entity clearly contributed to the Catholic majority who voted for the Presidential candidate with the clear, unyielding pro-abortion bias. USCCB was useful during the post-JFK years- the ascending of ethnic Catholics into Americano Mainstream. It incorporated the Don’t Make Waves sentiment of most Americano Catlicks- get along go along don’t be too bold about speaking out. Thus the blah many of our priests deliver posing as Sunday homilies. Thus a culture deprived of the clear, solid teaching that the Church provides on these and other matters. Thus the rhetorical dancing of Cardinal McCarrick, retired D.C. archbishop, surrounding Liveshot Kerry’s fitness to receive Holy Communion. Nuanced beyond anyone’s ability to deduce, as it turns out. The conference is largely a welfare state of career laypeople moving the bishops into moderate-lib standings. I work for the welfare state in PA. I cannot tell you clearly if my position will be intact six months hence. Perhaps we should provide this kind of not so gentle persuasion to the USCCB and its support team. In tough economic times, the USCCB may be a luxury that the Church in the U.S. of A. cannot afford.

  • Gerard E.,

    Amen brother. Amen.

  • Gerard E.,

    How about puting up a pic on your ID. You comment enough to decorate our sidebar.

    Maybe a saint.

  • T- can I use the template for Huckleberry Hound, my childhood idol?

  • Gerard E.,

    You can use whatever you want, just as long as small kids can view it.

  • “But they’re not. The economic situation, or opposition to the war in Iraq, or whatever it may be, those things don’t rise to the same level as something that is always and everywhere evil, namely the killing of innocent and defenceless human life.””

    Some guy in another thread asked my opinion on Archbishop Burke’s statement on Faithful Citizenship. As a Catholic who wholeheartedly agrees with the Seamless Garment vision of what “pro-life” means, I actually agree with the basic idea that Burke expresses. He is right: not all “social justice” issues are of equal weight. He is right that the killing of innocent and defenseless human life is a unique category. The problem comes in when he and other Catholics assume that the unborn are the only innocent and defenseless persons being killed in the world today. Some would extend that to the elderly and the dying, of course. When Burke excludes, for example, “the war in Iraq,” does it not occur to him that 1) innocent and defenseless people are dying by the hundreds of thousands in the war and 2) if the war is unjust, as the Church declared over and over, then the killing involved necessarily involves “innocent persons,” persons who are innocent of whatever the claims are that lead to the war. Even economic matters involve the killing of innocent people; not, perhaps, in the direct, fast way that abortion or bombings do, but the slow death of hunger and poverty. These persons, too, are innocent and defenseless.

    So I agree with Burke, but only to the extent that his argument is not used to exclude painfully obvious cases of the killing of innocent persons for which american Catholics are responsible.

    We really need to rid ourselves of such documents like Faithful Citizenship and the Seamless Garment.

    You obviously have already done the individualist Catholic thing and have rid yourself of those documents, because you have repeatedly expressed your hatred of them. Respectfully, please leave the rest of us who take seriously the Church’s teaching on these matters alone.

    Too many times has the USCCB and many of their documents been used as a parallel magesterium to justify their liberal agenda’s. (sic)

    As I have pointed out to you before, the statements of the USCCB are part of the teaching exercise of the Church, and are thus part of the Magisterium, albeit with a particular kind of authority. You cannot simply dismiss them by charging that they are used as a “parallel Magisterium.”

    You can use whatever you want, just as long as small kids can view it.

    God forbid children read this blog!

  • Michael I.,

    The USCCB is not a parallel magisterium and nowhere do we as Catholics have to be adherents. Only to Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium are Catholics obliged to taking instruction from, not some episcopal national conference.

    God forbid children read this blog!

    You read this blog don’t you? 😉

  • Michael,

    He is right that the killing of innocent and defenseless human life is a unique category. The problem comes in when he and other Catholics assume that the unborn are the only innocent and defenseless persons being killed in the world today. Some would extend that to the elderly and the dying, of course. When Burke excludes, for example, “the war in Iraq,” does it not occur to him that 1) innocent and defenseless people are dying by the hundreds of thousands in the war and 2) if the war is unjust, as the Church declared over and over, then the killing involved necessarily involves “innocent persons,” persons who are innocent of whatever the claims are that lead to the war. Even economic matters involve the killing of innocent people; not, perhaps, in the direct, fast way that abortion or bombings do, but the slow death of hunger and poverty. These persons, too, are innocent and defenseless.

    This is were you and the rest of your social justice liberal friends are off base, and being misled by a false notion of the “Seamless Garment”. Abp. Burke, and the Church are very clear that it is “deliberate” killing of innocent life which is intrinsically evil and can never be defended, and that it is especially heinous in the case of abortion and euthanasia.

    YOU know that the documents bear this out, yet you continue, to obstinately reject these teachings and repeat disseminate your error among the faithful.

    Matt 5:19 He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.

  • The USCCB is not a parallel magisterium and nowhere do we as Catholics have to be adherents.

    Of course they are not a parallel magisterium. They are part of the Magisterium. I set you straight on this some time ago, citing JPII on the matter. Did JPII not sink in? Is JPII a parallel magisterium too? Have you “rid yourself” of everything JPII said that you don’t like?

  • Abp. Burke, and the Church are very clear that it is “deliberate” killing of innocent life which is intrinsically evil and can never be defended, and that it is especially heinous in the case of abortion and euthanasia.

    The Church does not limit the deliberate killing of innocent human life to abortion and euthanasia alone.

    YOU know that the documents bear this out, yet you continue, to obstinately reject these teachings and repeat disseminate your error among the faithful.

    I know the documents well and I do not reject anything about them.

  • Michael I.,

    I highly doubt that the USCCB is part of the Magisterium and the way you interpret I don’t find that wording anywhere.

  • Did you read what I posted some time ago in our discussion on this very blog on this topic?

  • Michael I.,

    If I did I forgot about it.

    Post me the link to your comments or just tell me the document that you are referencing by JP2. Or just post it here in its entirety.

  • Michael J. Iafrate,

    Matt: Abp. Burke, and the Church are very clear that it is “deliberate” killing of innocent life which is intrinsically evil and can never be defended, and that it is especially heinous in the case of abortion and euthanasia.

    The Church does not limit the deliberate killing of innocent human life to abortion and euthanasia alone.

    Ummm… why are you throwing out red herrings? I said it was especially heinous.

    YOU know that the documents bear this out, yet you continue, to obstinately reject these teachings and repeat disseminate your error among the faithful.

    I know the documents well and I do not reject anything about them.

    SO you acknowledge that:
    1. The deliberate killing of innocent life is intrinsically evil, however the unintentional killing, or policies which may result indirectly in loss of life is not.

    2. Abortion and euthanasia are the most serious forms of killing because they attack they target the most innocent and defenseless?

    3. Economics and other prudential matters as to how best to deal with poverty, hunger, maintaining peace, are subject to a variety of opinion as to how best to deal with them.

    If you do, please stop disregarding these teachings in order to try and further your personal inclinations.

    Finally the USCCB is not endowed with doctrinal authority in matters of faith and morals, so it is not magisterial as such. The college of bishops in communion with the Holy See constitute the magisterium.

    This document may help you to conform your understanding of the place of the national councils of bishops in the Church.

    http://benedettoxvi.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/motu_proprio/documents/hf_jp-ii_motu-proprio_22071998_apostolos-suos_en.html

  • Michael I.,

    What Matt “Mark” McDonald said.

  • I believe I posted excerpts from Apostolos Suos. You, and others, are absolutely right to recognize the limited nature of the authority of statements by Episcopal Conferences. But you are wrong to imply that we should “rid ourselves” of them. The authority of a particular document varies depending on a number of criteria. If the document expresses the position of the universal magisterium (as opposed to a local expression of the magisterium) then its authority obviously has more weight. From the passages below, it seems that the acknowledgment of the “limited” nature of the authority of local magisterial teaching is not meant to give the faithful in that area an “out,” so to speak, but to prevent one local church’s teaching from simply being transferred to another, i.e. from saying that the teaching of the u.s. bishops has authority for the church in France, for example.

    It is important to distinguish between different parts and levels of magisterial teaching, and I don’t think you are doing so. It sounds to me like you are using “magisterium” to refer only to papal teaching, when in fact 1) “magisterium” refers to the teaching office of the pope and the bishops 2) there is “universal” magisterial teaching as well as localized expressions of magisterial teaching.

    As far as Faithful Citizenship goes, if you are intending to “rid yourself” of its teaching authority, it seems to me the burden of proof is on YOU to show how its exercise of the teaching office (magisterium) is in disharmony with that of the universal magisterium.

    Some relevant passages:

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/motu_proprio/documents/hf_jp-ii_motu-proprio_22071998_apostolos-suos_en.html

    21. The joint exercise of the episcopal ministry also involves the teaching office. The Code of Canon Law establishes the fundamental norm in this regard: “Although they do not enjoy infallible teaching authority, the Bishops in communion with the head and members of the college, whether as individuals or gathered in Conferences of Bishops or in particular councils, are authentic teachers and instructors of the faith for the faithful entrusted to their care; the faithful must adhere to the authentic teaching of their own Bishops with a sense of religious respect (religioso animi obsequio)”.(79) Apart from this general norm the Code also establishes, more concretely, some areas of doctrinal competence of the Conferences of Bishops, such as providing “that catechisms are issued for its own territory if such seems useful, with the prior approval of the Apostolic See”,(80) and the approval of editions of the books of Sacred Scripture and their translations.(81)

    The concerted voice of the Bishops of a determined territory, when, in communion with the Roman Pontiff, they jointly proclaim the catholic truth in matters of faith and morals, can reach their people more effectively and can make it easier for their faithful to adhere to the magisterium with a sense of religious respect. In faithfully exercising their teaching office, the Bishops serve the word of God, to which their teaching is subject, they listen to it devoutly, guard it scrupulously and explain it faithfully in such a way that the faithful receive it in the best manner possible.(82) Since the doctrine of the faith is a common good of the whole Church and a bond of her communion, the Bishops, assembled in Episcopal Conference, must take special care to follow the magisterium of the universal Church and to communicate it opportunely to the people entrusted to them.

    22. In dealing with new questions and in acting so that the message of Christ enlightens and guides people’s consciences in resolving new problems arising from changes in society, the Bishops assembled in the Episcopal Conference and jointly exercizing their teaching office are well aware of the limits of their pronouncements. While being official and authentic and in communion with the Apostolic See, these pronouncements do not have the characteristics of a universal magisterium. For this reason the Bishops are to be careful to avoid interfering with the doctrinal work of the Bishops of other territories, bearing in mind the wider, even world-wide, resonance which the means of social communication give to the events of a particular region.

    Taking into account that the authentic magisterium of the Bishops, namely what they teach insofar as they are invested with the authority of Christ, must always be in communion with the Head of the College and its members,(83) when the doctrinal declarations of Episcopal Conferences are approved unanimously, they may certainly be issued in the name of the Conferences themselves, and the faithful are obliged to adhere with a sense of religious respect to that authentic magisterium of their own Bishops. However, if this unanimity is lacking, a majority alone of the Bishops of a Conference cannot issue a declaration as authentic teaching of the Conference to which all the faithful of the territory would have to adhere, unless it obtains the recognitio of the Apostolic See, which will not give it if the majority requesting it is not substantial. The intervention of the Apostolic See is analogous to that required by the law in order for the Episcopal Conference to issue general decrees.(84) The recognitio of the Holy See serves furthermore to guarantee that, in dealing with new questions posed by the accelerated social and cultural changes characteristic of present times, the doctrinal response will favour communion and not harm it, and will rather prepare an eventual intervention of the universal magisterium.

  • Michael I.,

    The national episcopal conferences are disciplinary organizations and not defined doctrinally or dogmatically.

    I’m completely entitled to my opinion that they should be severely limited in scope, not part of the Magisterium, and possibly even eliminated.

  • Michael I,

    You, and others, are absolutely right to recognize the limited nature of the authority of statements by Episcopal Conferences. But you are wrong to imply that we should “rid ourselves” of them.

    We are completely within our rights as Catholics to judge that the USCCB is not a good organization, and it’s fruits have shown this. There is no doctrine or dogma that prevents us from opposing it’s continued existence.

  • SO you acknowledge that:
    1. The deliberate killing of innocent life is intrinsically evil, however the unintentional killing, or policies which may result indirectly in loss of life is not.

    Yes, I agree with this, but you are talking about two abstract categories. It is far from clear where to draw the line in many cases. Of course abortion is deliberate. Accidentally hitting someone with your car when you slide on ice is unintentional. The massive amounts of “collateral damage” involved in the u.s. bombing of Iraq involves both intentional and unintentional killing. Even those cases where the killing is claimed to be “unintentional” by the u.s. govt’ is often bogus because care is not taken to prevent preventable killing from occurring, and in such cases responsibility is greater. If I have a gun in my home and I am careless with how I handle the gun and recklessly use it without regard for who will be hurt, I am responsible even if I could somehow claim that shooting someone was “unintentional.”

    In short, the intentional/unintentional distinction is sometimes obvious. Most of the time it is not obvious.

    2. Abortion and euthanasia are the most serious forms of killing because they attack they target the most innocent and defenseless?

    Abortion is certainly a special category and is in some sense the most grave form of killing, absolutely. I’m not sure about the categories “most innocent” and “most defenseless.” When it comes to killing, the Church thinks about “innocence” in terms of whether or not there is some justification for killing the person (i.e. self-defense), not in terms of the person’s general moral state. Bombing an entire city, for example, IS killing innocent people in the sense of killing people when there is no justification for doing so, not in the sense that everyone in the city is sinless. It sounds to me like you are using “innocent” in the latter sense.

    3. Economics and other prudential matters as to how best to deal with poverty, hunger, maintaining peace, are subject to a variety of opinion as to how best to deal with them.

    Of course I agree with this.

    If you do, please stop disregarding these teachings in order to try and further your personal inclinations.

    I’m not disregarding any of it. The seriousness with which the Church takes the killing of human beings is deep and complex. It is much deeper and more complex than you are willing to admit.

  • I’m completely entitled to my opinion that they should be severely limited in scope, not part of the Magisterium, and possibly even eliminated.

    You are in disagreement with JPII and Paul VI.

  • I’m completely entitled to my opinion that they should be severely limited in scope, not part of the Magisterium, and possibly even eliminated.

    You are in disagreement with JPII and Paul VI.,

    While JPII and Paul VI, at least publicly have not called for the elimination of or severe limitation on the episcopal conferences…. they most definitely have suggested that to believe such is contrary to the teaching of the Church.

  • “not suggested” that is.

  • Michael I.,

    What Matt “Mark” McDonald said.

    I sincerely enjoyed the conversation and you certainly got me thinking (hard). Unfortunately I need to leave for confessions and Mass at the beautiful Holy Rosary Church (5:15pm on 3617 Milam St, Houston, TX 77002 — for those that are near and want to receive Jesus).

    Have a great weekend!

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

  • May I point out the use of the word “unanimous” with reference to the statements of such as USCCB. There is no single authority – no pope – in the USCCB.

    And I have heard-tell that many of the statements are drawn up by the employees of the conference. They are a kind of committee agreement. [NB: the committee color is mud].

    The teaching authority of the bishops – of each bishop – is limited to his diocese.

  • And I have heard-tell that many of the statements are drawn up by the employees of the conference.

    This is the same with many papal statements.

  • But papal statements must be approved by one authoritative person: the pope.

  • Mr. Iafrate, you wrote:
    if the war is unjust, as the Church declared over and over, then the killing involved necessarily involves “innocent persons,” persons who are innocent of whatever the claims are that lead to the war.

    Uh, no. As the CCC n.2309 notes, after explaining the conditions for a just war: “The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.” In other words, while the conditions are absolute, there is some leeway in their application, which moreover is the task of those in government. IOW, the Church doesn’t get to make the call.

    Also, you claim people are dying by the hundreds of thousands in the war

    Iraq Body Count lists just under 100,000 civilian deaths for the nearly 6-year period of the war, working out to approx 17,000 per year. Even assuming that all these were deliberate — certainly not true — more infants are murdered by abortionists, in the US alone, in a single week than the civilians killed in the Iraq war in a year.

    And that’s not taking into account the particular conditions that Pope John Paul says makes abortion especially grave.

    The reversal of the Mexico City Policy means that US Aid money will be funneled into abortion-promoting organizations, with the certain result that more babies than ever will be killed abroad.

  • In other words, while the conditions are absolute, there is some leeway in their application, which moreover is the task of those in government. IOW, the Church doesn’t get to make the call.

    The Church reserves the right to “make the call” on EVERYTHING. We do NOT give that kind of authority to the state.

    Funny, how in another thread you were saying to leave certain things to the Church and not the state because the state shouldn’t have that power. Here you are arguing just the opposite.

    Christ and his Church are the only authority for Catholics. Not the state.

    Even assuming that all these were deliberate — certainly not true — more infants are murdered by abortionists, in the US alone, in a single week than the civilians killed in the Iraq war in a year.

    So what? Does this make the deaths of human beings due to an UNJUST WAR less serious? Of course not.

  • Michael,

    necessarily involves “innocent persons,” persons who are innocent of whatever the claims are that lead to the war.

    this is not true at all. An unjust war could involve only the killing of men involved with serious evil, their deaths may be unjust, but that doesn’t make them innocent. The justness of a war does not prevent innocent’s from being killed at all. Even enemy soldiers may be innocent of any sin, and yet they are justly killed if that is the only possible means of neutralizing them as a threat.

    The Church reserves the right to “make the call” on EVERYTHING. We do NOT give that kind of authority to the state.

    This may be true, but she did not take this step in this case, the comments by the Holy Father and various bishops are not in any way given as absolute and definitive. They would never do so without knowing what the president knows.

    Funny, how in another thread you were saying to leave certain things to the Church and not the state because the state shouldn’t have that power. Here you are arguing just the opposite.

    Now you’re arguing with the Church??
    “The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.”

  • Michael,

    one more thing, a question. Do you believe that the Iraq war is a moral equivalent to the holocaust of abortion?

    The reason I ask, is that every time the subject of abortion comes up, you bring up the Iraq war… every time.

  • An unjust war could involve only the killing of men involved with serious evil, their deaths may be unjust, but that doesn’t make them innocent. The justness of a war does not prevent innocent’s from being killed at all. Even enemy soldiers may be innocent of any sin, and yet they are justly killed if that is the only possible means of neutralizing them as a threat.

    You are completely missing my point regarding what it means when the Church talks about killing innocent persons.

    Killing “enemy” soldiers in a war that does not meet just war requirements is still MURDER even if it is justified by the state as a “means of neutralizing them as a threat.” What part of the Church’s authoritative just war teaching do you not understand, or rather, REJECT?

    Do you believe that the Iraq war is a moral equivalent to the holocaust of abortion?

    I agree with the judgment of the Vatican and the USCCB (and the rest of the worldwide Catholic communion, apart from nationalistic american Catholics) that the Iraq War did not meet just war requirements. Thus, the killing taking place in that war is unjustified and, thus, murder. I believe that the killing involved in the holocaust of abortion is also, obviously unjustified, and thus, murder. So yes, because I stand with the Church’s judgment on the Iraq War, I think they are equivalent in the sense that they are both murder. They are not equivalent in a technical sense because they involve different types of killing and different types of political options which contribute to them.

    The reason I ask, is that every time the subject of abortion comes up, you bring up the Iraq war… every time.

    I didn’t bring it up. Burke did. I was referring to his statement.

  • Michael J. Iafrate,
    An unjust war could involve only the killing of men involved with serious evil, their deaths may be unjust, but that doesn’t make them innocent. The justness of a war does not prevent innocent’s from being killed at all. Even enemy soldiers may be innocent of any sin, and yet they are justly killed if that is the only possible means of neutralizing them as a threat.

    You are completely missing my point regarding what it means when the Church talks about killing innocent persons.

    Killing “enemy” soldiers in a war that does not meet just war requirements is still MURDER even if it is justified by the state as a “means of neutralizing them as a threat.” What part of the Church’s authoritative just war teaching do you not understand, or rather, REJECT?

    Nothing in your response contradicts what I said, nor does anything in my statement contradict Church teaching. It was your original statement that the justness of a war affects the innocence of any particular casualties, which it does not.

    Do you believe that the Iraq war is a moral equivalent to the holocaust of abortion?

    I agree with the judgment of the Vatican and the USCCB (and the rest of the worldwide Catholic communion, apart from nationalistic american Catholics) that the Iraq War did not meet just war requirements. Thus, the killing taking place in that war is unjustified and, thus, murder. I believe that the killing involved in the holocaust of abortion is also, obviously unjustified, and thus, murder. So yes, because I stand with the Church’s judgment on the Iraq War, I think they are equivalent in the sense that they are both murder. They are not equivalent in a technical sense because they involve different types of killing and different types of political options which contribute to them.

    Ok, I’m sorry if you didn’t understand the question. Let me define what I mean by “moral equivalence”. I don’t mean that they are the same thing in a technical sense, it is that they are the morally equivalent, meaning neither is more or less morally evil. Let me use an example that might help. 6 million jews were killed in the shoah, merely for the fact they were jewish. I believe that is far worse than say, when North Korea invaded South Korea, where hundreds of thousands died, it is less evil in that it’s intentions where not sppecifically to cause those deaths, that most of the deaths were armed military personnel, and the easiest one, it was a small percentage of those who were killed in the shoah. I believe it would be morally repugnant to minimize the shoah by comparing it to a relatively lesser evil.

    So, do you consider the holocaust of abortion (40 Million worldwide annually) to be morally equivalent to the Iraq war (WHICH IS BY THE WAY…. OVER)?

  • Again, you are completely missing my point regarding what it means when the Church talks about killing innocent persons.

    I don’t mean that they are the same thing in a technical sense, it is that they are the morally equivalent, meaning neither is more or less morally evil.

    So, do you consider the holocaust of abortion (40 Million worldwide annually) to be morally equivalent to the Iraq war (WHICH IS BY THE WAY…. OVER)?

    Yes, they are morally equivalent. Numbers do not enter into it on the level of moral equivalence. Perhaps it might on the level of practical political action, but that is another question. I would also point out that the Shoah is also over, so even if the Iraq War were “over” (and it’s obviously not — what the hell are you smoking?) I’m not sure what the point is. When something is “over,” that means we should take it less seriously? Obviously not, or you would not invoke the Shoah as part of your argument.

  • Michael,

    Yes, they are morally equivalent.

    That’s what I figured you’d say.

    Iraq War were “over” (and it’s obviously not — what the hell are you smoking?)

    What have YOU been smoking? It’s over. Iraq has had several election cycles, they are largely responsible for security, the US has started to withdraw to bases in order to complete the transition and leave the country.

    When something is “over,” that means we should take it less seriously?

    No, but those babies are still being murdered daily, and we ought to take it more urgently (even if you believe it’s somehow no more heinous than the Iraq war, in contradiction to the words of Abp. Burke and the Holy Father).

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.

    Pobrecito.

  • 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.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/sunday/commentary/la-oe-kmiec17-2008oct17,0,4202531.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! 🙂

    Kate

Topic A

Monday, November 3, AD 2008

Mystery writer, apologist, and Dante scholar Dorothy Sayers once said of her fictional creation Lord Peter Wimsey something along the lines of, “Peter is not really Christian. He would have considered it impolite to hold such strong beliefs.” (If someone knows of the exact quotation — I believe it was from one of Sayers’ published letters — I’d be terribly grateful.)

It is, I think, one of the great temptations of people with an intellectual bent to feel apologetic over holding opinions which are too strong. And it is, I fear, because of a cowardice somewhat akin to this that I have felt slightly embarrassed each day as I check the American Catholic webpage and see that in the tag cloud in the right hand column the term “Abortion” is growing larger and larger. I have been no small contributor to this myself. I hesitate to go count, but I think over half my own posts have listed “abortion” as a topic.

Continue reading...

12 Responses to Topic A

  • “And we would refuse to vote for him because we would think the less of ourselves for doing anything to benefit someone with such pernicious views. It is for this same reason that we should, as Catholics, simply refuse to vote for any pro-abortion-rights candidate.”

    I agree that a person’s support for abortion, particularly the extreme resistance to any restrictions embodied by Senator Obama’s record, is indicative of a deeply flawed understanding of the human person and a deeply disturbing callousness towards human beings. At the same time, I think that wife-beating/racial lynchings are imperfect analogies in an important respect. Cultural context matters in evaluating moral actions. A person who supported wife-beating or racial-lynching in ‘modern America,’ rebuked by nearly everyone else in the society, would be a moral monster.

    Anti-Semitism provides a useful illustration, I think. There certainly is a strain, albeit mild, of anti-Semitism in some of Chesterton’s writings. While he was quick to denounce the virulent form that began to develop in Germany shortly before his death, it is not unfair to characterize some of his writings as mildly anti-semitic. In this respect, he was not particularly unique for his cultural circumstance, and it was certainly not a prominent feature of this writing. Now, someone who wrote the type of things he did today would be considered morally odious. Some might refuse to read him on these grounds. Nevertheless, I think that it would be a mistake to refuse to read Chesterton now, because of a flaw that was endemic in his culture. There was nothing particularly distinctive about his mild anti-semitism, except perhaps that it was much milder than many of his contemporaries.

    Similarly, Obama has been raised in a cultural milieu in which support for ‘abortion rights’ is a cherished value, and a litmus test for respectability. Columbia, Harvard Law, the Democratic party, these are all places in which support for abortion rights is utterly unremarkable – that’s what the culture wars are about. To me, Obama’s support for abortion rights is rendered more understandable and less odious placed in this context – a context which does not exist for wife-beating or racial lynching in modern America. A similar point could be made about slavery – the Church implicitly supported it at various points in its history as Dr. Curp discussed in an essay several years ago. Not to put too fine a point on it, but is St. Paul repugnant for accepting slavery as part of the social order?

    I am making the point rather more strongly than I would wish, and of course abortion is a worse evil than mild anti-semitism or slavery. Analogies are difficult, and always fail in one respect or another. Nevertheless, I think Obama’s support for abortion rights is somewhere between Chesterton/anti-semitism, the Church/slavery situation, and the wife-beating, racial lynching analogy. Voting for Obama is not quite like voting for a person who supports wife-beating or racial lynching in modern America; his views, while extreme, are not outside the mainstream of modern political discourse.

    One of the reasons I cannot support the Democratic party in any respect is that it is dedicated to the propagation of an ‘abortion rights’ culture that requires its politicians (see, e.g. Kennedy/Kerry/Biden) to vote for abortion rights as a precondition for national office. I think the post draws attention to an important consideration, but perhaps overstates the case.

  • As Lincoln said about slavery in letter to A.G. Hodges on April 4, 1864, “If slavery isn’t wrong, nothing is wrong.” Abortion is an evil of such a vast magnitude, the deliberate destruction of the most innocent among us, that it makes a mockery of any pretense that our society has to observing a moral code. In a society where abortion is celebrated as a constitutional right, there is no evil that cannot, and will not, be embraced as a good depending upon passing intellectual fashions and popular prejudices. For Christians not to fight against abortion makes a sham of the faith that we say we have in an all-loving God who shed His blood for our salvation.

  • Hey, Vox Nova guys, I got this one covered for you:

    So wait. You’re telling me that a whole bunch of bloated government programs isn’t enough to cover up the systematic slaughter of children?

    A free government colonoscopy here or there definitely cancels out the aforementioned slaughter. As such, Obama is the candidate that more truly reflects Catholic social teachings. Plus, being an omnipotent being of light, he will go back in time and uninvade Iraq.

    For all this, a million or two dead babies a year is a small price to pay.

  • fus01,

    I think you make some solid points, and I’d meant to draw this out a little more in the post, but here, I think, is the key point: Moral evils are often not obviousl for what they are at the time. As you say, mild anti-semitism may not have seemed a distinctive quality in 1900.

    And yet, how is it that we develop the kind of total unacceptability of a moral evil that wife-beating or racial lynching have today? By directing moral opprobium at them even before there is anything resembling a consensus.

    In 1700, it would not have been seen as at all out of the ordinary in many parts of the Western World, for a man to beat his wife regularly. And yet, I would hope that if I lived then I would think much less of a man I knew to beat his wife — even if the overwhelming consensus of society was that this was not big deal.

    Similarly, I would say that a morally decent person should have been able to know in 1920 that racial lynchings were a hideously wrong act, and should have treated people who joked that apples and black men both looked good hanging on a tree appropriately.

    So while I wouldn’t say that Obama is a wicked person (actually, I don’t think that category exists to nearly the extent that people give it credit to — people do wicked things, but it’s not because they are wicked) I do think that he should be treated as if he is a wicked person unless he changes his position on this issue. The only way we can put things totally beyond the bounds of sociall acceptability is by treating them as if they already are — and then winning out in the cultural arena in the long run.

  • Darwin,

    Your point about whether Obama is wicked is an interesting one. However, as I understand these things, we as Christians believe that evil is not something that has an ontological exististance, but that it is merely the absence of good. In that case, Obama has more than demonstrated an absence of good. Wouldn’t that make him, by definition, an evil man?

    /Not trying to flame…this is an honest question.

  • Good post, Darwin. For many of us abortion is the primary issue because it is the most fundamental and glaring injustice of our state. The abortion issue is about the right to life, the fundamental reason for and justification of a state. It’s about being our brother’s keeper, caring for the poor and the least of these, and it’s about caring for the well being of women. Someone who can tolerate or call abortion a good or a right is someone who can go horribly wrong on any issue, if they’re right on another issue now, they’re only right by accident and it can change – for if it’s good to kill an innocent child in the womb because he is inconvenient, how much easier it is to kill handicapped, the infirm, or foreign populations.

    Unfortunately the victims of abortion are concealed from us. We hear not the screams, we see not the destruction of their bodies, we don’t get to give them a burial, we don’t see the destruction of the mother’s soul, of her body, of her psyche. I think this plays a role in how many Americans, including some Catholics, can be comfortable with the status quo or consider it a lesser of many issues.

    If all Catholics in this country, about a quarter of the voters, refused to vote for a pro-abortion politician, we’d be able to convert one party or both from the inside out, not just on the abortion issue, but all other life issues. But as it stands, as a body, we’re quite divided – torn between partisan politics and putting economic issues first. If I’m right, that as an unified bloc, us Catholics could easily transform this country on abortion, other right to life issues, and a host of justice and quality of life issues, it seems a great moral failure of the Church in America.

  • Heh, there were no comments when I started my reply. I’m sorry for having echoed a number of earlier points.

  • Darwin makes a great point: If you’re really against abortion (as some pro-Obama Catholics claim to be), it makes no sense to say, “There is currently no consensus against abortion, and therefore we should give up ever trying to form a consensus against abortion.” The latter half is a complete non sequitur. If you really think something is evil, and if you realize that society isn’t in agreement, then you should be working all the harder to bring society to a consensus.

  • It is not a matter of politics or divisiveness or “wedge issues”. It is simply a matter of moral decency.

    There is something else behind the life issues that makes this much more than single issue voting or wedge politics. Bill Clinton said it about abortion, but what the Democratic Party really wants is that religion be safe (that is, tamed), legal (not overturning the First Amendment any time soon, but…), and rare (let’s be more like Europeans and keep the churches as museum pieces, can’t we?).

    If you don’t believe this, then it’s probably because you’re not living in a place or running in the circles where this thought movement is taking shape. Obama and his allies aren’t saying this stuff in Ohio and Pennsylvania where they know it won’t play, but as the “clinging to religion and guns” soundbite captured, this kind of thing is playing well in NY, LA, and SF–in other words, in the circles of power where the platform of the Democratic Party is built.

    I live in Los Angeles. I also went to an “elite” university in the Bay Area. So I know all too well what is going on inside the belly of the beast. I see the electoral maps turning blue in “heartland” places like OH and PA, and all I can think is, “They have no idea.” All of those well-intentioned, working-class people (probably of a religious bent to some degree) voting Democratic because they think the Dems are for the little guy… All the while unaware that there is a latent agenda to wipe out religious practice as we know it in this country. Never forget just how much like Europe the Left wants us to become… That includes the dismal church attendance figures, too.

    It’s not going to happen overnight. It probably won’t happen in four years of an Obama administration, either. The groundwork is being laid, though. The life and family issues are the vanguard of the policy; first is the establishment of the “right” to abortion or gay marriage. Then there is the enforcement of these “rights” against religious conscience.

    Unless some of those well-intentioned religious people in the flyover states wake up and realize what the Left is all about in this country, we’re going to get the government we deserve.

  • “The only way we can put things totally beyond the bounds of social acceptability is by treating them as if they already are — and then winning out in the cultural arena in the long run.”

    I agree with the larger point, but it is a two-pronged effort. Pro-lifers need to:

    1) Emphasize that abortion is morally repugnant so that in the long-term this view predominates.
    2) Work with people in the mushy middle currently to enact whatever abortion restrictions are feasible in today’s political climate (that would be a much broader array of restrictions if Roe was overturned).

    I think that these goals are in tension to a certain extent. One cannot vehemently denounce people who support abortion only in cases of rape or incest, for example, then expect such people to enthusiastically join you in advancing the pro-life agenda. I guess this is as appropriate a forum as any to be making the strongest case, since it is a Catholic blog, but I think comparing Obama to someone in the modern U.S. who supports lynching is not entirely fair given the cultural context.

    That said, perhaps a stronger denunciation is necessary, given the apparent indifference of bloggers like Morning’s Minion to the fact that a vote for the Democratic party provides support to the strongest force for the legalization and normalization of abortion in American society.

  • Steve,

    Let me leave aside the question of whether evil is a deprivation (we agree on that, but I think it’s an irrelevant point to your question) for a second.

    I think one of the great modern errors is to classify persons as “good people” and “bad people” and then make assertions like, “No sane, well educated and good person would support X” as if “good people” is some sort of category. There’s some sort of an assumed underlying dualism of good vs. bad people which is then used to make “this must be basically okay because ‘good people’ support it” judgement.

    So my point was basically, I won’t want to attempt to classify Obama as a “bad person” in this modern parlance — I simply want to make it clear that he has endorsed bad positions and thus we should not vote for him.

    fus01,

    but I think comparing Obama to someone in the modern U.S. who supports lynching is not entirely fair given the cultural context.

    It’s perhaps a small distinction, but it is, I believe, and important one: I wouldn’t compare Obama to someone who supported lynching or wife-beating in modern America. I think there’s a big culpability gap there since, as you point out, he inhabits a culture where abortion is assumed to be a good.

    However, I think that we should, as Catholics, be no more willing to vote for him than for someone who supported lynching or wife-beating.

    That said, clearly you’re right that we need to work with those who partly agree with us. And in that sense, I’m quite open to voting for the “lesser of two evils” a fair amount of the time. (Lincoln was not, after all, an abolitionist — he just wanted to whittle away at slavery.)

  • Good point – I thought about mentioning Lincoln in the prior comment. The border states like KY were not included under the Emancipation Proclamation (“I hope to have God on my side, but I must have KY”). In any case, thanks for the thought-provoking post.

The Moral Content of Politics

Monday, October 20, AD 2008

Amy Welborn had a post the other day making a very important point, summing up much of what I’ve been thinking but not successfully putting into words for much of the interminable lead-up to this election. Amy asks:

[I]s Catholic politico-talk, particularly in the present moment, as most of us are engaging in it, taking place essentially on the level of vague assertions, associations and concepts? And – are we avoiding and ignoring the way that government and political processes actually work?

She singles out two particular areas in which Catholic bloggers have often imbued politics with too much weight, and thus divorced it from what it is.

Continue reading...

2 Responses to The Moral Content of Politics