Category Archives: John McCain

So… Some Fellow Catholics Are Upset With Me


I knew when I posted “I’m Mad at my Fellow Catholics and I’m Pulling no Punches and Deal With It” post that there probably wouldn’t be a lot of indifference about it. Some would love it, some would hate it.

The blog post was picked up and posted on the discussion forums. The link to the actual thread is found here.

There is a lot of support for my post on the site, as can be reasonably expected. There are also those who either disagree with me, or feel that the post was uncharitable and divisive. I stand by everything I wrote, but proving that I am unafraid to present their view, I thought I’d post their comments here. I responded to a few points later in that thread, and I will post those here as well.

You sound bitter.

Every time I consider returning to the Church something like this reminds me of why I left.

So now that I read the full version I stand by my initial assessment. It seems like “unapologetic” and “pulling no punches” are just cop outs for being rude, judgemental, and disrespectful. Acknowledging that you have done those things in your comments after the fact does not somehow legitimize them as an outflowing of emotion, it just makes it strange than you saw these problems and left them in.

Sounds like a knee jerk reaction to me.

well on this forum you are preaching to the choir.

We will all have to answer to the Lord when we die. I find it strange though that so many are interested in who is in danger of damnation.

I will answer my questions of conscience in the Confessional with a priest. I choose not to look to internet forums to inform me of the state of my soul or my suitability to receive the Lord in Holy Communion.

Doesn’t Christ ask us to look to the splinter in our own eye before well, you know the rest?

The fact that the position of the Church on abortion is settled does not mean it’s position on voting is.

Do not fret. It only leads to evil.

And yet the Church itself, to my knowledge, hasn’t come down firmly on either side of this debate, suggesting that even for Catholics it’s not that simple.

Yes, the Church has decided firmly on abortion being wrong.

Yes, the Church has decided firmly on supporting abortion being wrong.

Has the Church decided firmly on voting being equivalent to “material support”? This is a yes or no question.

For us Catholics the priests, bishops and primarily the Holy Father are in authority over our moral formation and in sheparding our souls..

A fellow layman has no feet to stand on. If they choose to point to authoritative documents and pronouncements they may choose to do this but I contend this is not charitable and may be seen as glib or obnoxious.

Frankly I have no idea why noon-catholics would take time to even post on this forum. though I certainly respect all of my fellow Catholics I contend that the church that our Christian brethren and non-christian brethren find here is NOTHING like the real time church. Except maybe in a SSPX church or something.

You are not likely to find much charity here.

Prior to the election, I witnessed a discussion on another Catholic forum.

The specific discussion was ecomonics vs. abortion rates. The one arguing pro-life above all other issues was writing from a country where people are actually starving to death. When this was pointed out and they were told there were many being born that starved to death, their response was, at least they’re starving to death as Christians!

Abortion is truly not a “single issue”. That’s why the Church wrote about a dignity of life for all. They defined a right to life to include food, shelter, healthcare, education and the ability to work. Without these things, people are going to continue considering abortions.

While republicans picked around the issue without fully trying to overturn the decision, they continued policies that left and are leaving many without the right to life as defined by the Church.

There is no difference of splitting Church teachings to support injustices of one political party, as some are accusing others of. One had to really form a faith based conscience and act in making a moral decision that they felt would help ALL life the most.

People have said, we could find other ways to work on the other issues, yet other ways were not sought out over the last eight years. Now, there was a candidate chosen that voted, admittedly, over 90% of the time with the administration of the last eight years. Those policies were supposed to make the wealthy, wealthier with the idea that that money would make it’s way down to the common person. Yet, the common persons were losing their houses, jobs and going without healthcare. But, they “claimed” to be pro-life!

If as people have been saying, there were other ways to work on the other issues, we are where we are. Now, do we continue to maintain this divide and despair, or do we find other ways to work on the “single issue”? Together, Catholics still have impact with politicians. Politicians who affect the decisions the president makes. Divided, the impact is cut in half.

Does coming together mean, people have to change their outlook to include constant un-charitable attacks and condemnations on the ruling people, as evident on these forums? I do not see this bringing people together, which is sad. We cannot make changes through hate, Christians know this whether they’re willing to overlook their own bitterness over the outcome of this election or not. Love your enemies, even though they may not truly be an enemy, they are placed into feeling that way by the activities going on on these forums and across the country.

Mat 5:43 You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thy enemy.
Mat 5:44 But I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you:
Mat 5:45 That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust.
Mat 5:46 For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? do not even the publicans this?
Mat 5:47 And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more? do not also the heathens this?
Mat 5:48 Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.

There are many, who have devoted their life to the Church and Christ, yet they did not all agree on this election.

I’m not going to speak ill of any of the clergy, number 1, it’s not my place to judge them. I am to look to the clergy for guidance. The problem with this election, the clergy were split. There was not ONE voice. Now the laity are raising up the clergy that speaks an agreement with how they think.

Laity judging, condemning and certainly using a lack of charitability to get their point across to other laity is not how the Church operates. The laity, on either side of the issue, have no authority in Church matters.

The laity need to write or call the Church leaders and say we need guidance, of the same mind and judgment. Once the laity hears the Church’s directions with ONE voice, Catholics will comply. I certainly would.

We both agree abortions need to be stopped. Now how can we proceed to end it from the reality we find ourselves at?

“I’m Mad at my Fellow Catholics.”

That’s just too bad because I believe that the majority of Catholics have made reasoned, well-thought-out, and prayerful decisions about who they vote for,

I realize that some people are Catholic Republicans who now have to deal with losing the White House and the Congress and I understand how that feels. But ranting and raving against fellow Catholics and calling them names? Maybe it’s the 54% who are doing what they are supposed to be doing.

The thread title should be changed to “I don’t think everyone of legal age should have the right to vote.”

Anyway, laity arguing with laity, neither who have authority in Church matters, is not productive, in my opinion. I will be watching for ways to continue to work for moral issues important to all of us. If we continue the divide, we will not have the impact that is currently available to us and things will only get worse.

You don’t get it. Abortion is the most important issue for me too, but the virtue of Prudence requires that I look beyond words to actions and actual effects. It has become abundantly clear to me that the Republicans have been giving lip service to “pro-life” to get Christian votes and doing very little about it, while advancing their real objectives, most of which are anti-Christian. Christ said we are to be “As wise as serpents, and harmless as lambs.” The first part means we shouldn’t take what a politician says he is going to do about abortion at face value. And McCain/Palin made it abundantly clear that pro-life issues were far down the list of issues for them; being pro-life was an afterthought, to get the votes of the “the base”.

Lastly I will say that McCain was not a pro-life candidate. Abortion was not an issue this election. If anyone thought abortion would be outlawed under McCain they are sadly mistaken. If anyone also thought that McCain would be able to get a strongly pro-life Justice to the Supreme Court with a Democratic majority in the Senate, they are also mistaken. If you did not vote for Chuck Baldwin, you did not vote for a pro-life candidate. Your anger would be better channeled to support his movement, to possibly become a viable candidate in an election to come.

If you voted for McCain, you also did evil then, since he supported stem cell research. Cut and dry, right?

We are the laity. Who can tell us who received the information as it was intended? Only the authors, the ONE voice I keep speaking about. If the highly educated, spiritual men of the Church do not agree among themselves on the meaning of the document, surely confusion will ensue.

Apply the confusion to seeking to form a faith formed conscience in which to make a moral decision and I honestly cannot say who is right. I can only say that I am comfortable with my conscience, which includes all sections of life. All sections being parts of an equation that one cannot do without the other.

I will argue the issue no further. I will await the one voice necessary to let me know I am wrong, if I’m wrong. No matter what is spoken from the one voice, I will comply. I can only hope and pray all Catholics will, even if that one voice does not agree with what they thought it should be.

Even though I said I would not enter into the circular and divisive discussions, your persistence to push the issue made me decide to try one last time to try and explain our differences on interpretations, as I see them. If you disagree, that’s fine. We both answer to the one who has authority to judge us and what’s in our hearts. We do not have that right ourselves, according to my faith formed conscience.

My responses:

Prodigal, you wrote:
Again, I know you applied this paragraph to one section of life, the unborn. I apply it to ALL life, the unborn and those already born.

You seem like a nice guy who has thought about this. I personally believe that you have convinced yourself that this is a valid point.

But I think you are reading into this exactly what you want to read into it and appeasing your conscience in the matter. That is rationalization.

You are correct in pointing out that ALL life has dignity and is to be respected. However, certain sins against human dignity outweigh other sins. Further, different people can equally appreciate the human dignity of others and equally love our neighbor, and have completely different perpectives on how we can best deal with these unfortunate souls through government policy.

If you want to equate the evil of abortion with euthanasia, I’m OK with that. Both are intrinsically evil acts. Both are murder. One is more predominant, while the other is more visible, but the act itself is horrific in either case. But this could not be your excuse for voting for Obama, since he said he felt his largest msitake in Congress was coming to the defense of Terri Schiavo.

If you want to equate capital puinishment with abortion, then that is in error. It is not I who says that, it is the catechism. I am against the death penalty based on our technology and circumstances, and the guidance of JPII. But there is not a doctrinal position against it as an intrinsic evil, and it is something that Catholics can, in good conscience, debate. Therefore, even if we are in error on our application of this as a source of justice, it does not hold the same weight in either egregiousness nor in magnitude. And even if you hold this position, Obama has said nothing abouot any change in policy on this, and so even that cannot be an excuse for voting Obama.

If you want to equate Iraq, or war in general, with an intrinsically evil act, such as abortion, then that is also in error. I understand that JPII was against going into Iraq. I am not personally certain it was ever a good idea, myself. I give great deference to JPII’s position on it, but also recognize it not as a doctrinal statement of faith and morals. And even if in error, it is a question of reasonable debate and different people coming to different conclusions on the matter from a moral perspective. War is an evil in and of itself, but engaging in war is not intrinsically evil. Further, you have said you like to speak in terms of reality, but the reality regarding Iraq as it stands today is that we have reached a point there where the policies of McCain and Obama will be virtually indistinguishable, at least as far as further combat, anticiapted casualties, and so on. If anything, it may in fact be argued that terrorists couold be emboldened there, thinking Obama won’t do anything. I don’t necessarily buy into that, but it could happen. In which case, ironically, an Obama Presidency causes even more casualties going forward. That’s all conjecture, and we don’t know. But all I’m saying is that in magnitude and moral equivalence, this issue, particularly from where we are now, cannot in any way be equated to abortion, and despite the public differences in rhetoric, there is no practical differentiation in the results of the two candidates to be expected here.

This basically leads me to believe that you have put your eggs into the basket of believing that Democratic policies are morally superior to living people outside of the womb who are in need, versus Republican policies. I have major issues with this in the context of what you bolded and underlined, however. Different people have different opinions on this and there is NO DOCRINAL MANDATE on government policy in this area, other than the general admonition that we care for the poor. But many of us believe that too much government is misled compassion that hurts more and more people in the long run. Charity is a good thing, but dependence on charity is not. Tax policy affects the economy, which affects the poor. We can debate all these things ad nauseum, and I suspect we will never agree on the better approach. That’s OK. I can respect that you believe one approach is superior in its effect and impact. I happen to believe more good would come from raising the expectations of private charities and families and getting government and its inefficiencies out of the way. But wahtever side you come down on, neither of us are taking a DOCTRINAL position. We are taking a POLICY position on how to best effect the doctrinal position of caring for our less fortunate brothers and sisters. However, with repect to abortion, the doctrinal position is clear: the very act of it is intrinsically evil.

Thus, there is simply no way that policy views and differences on social justice can or should trump abortion as a moral issue. Not without some serious rationalization. And I believe that an honest reading of the USCCB document says that.

In full disclosure, I am the original author of the linked article. I know it is probably not written in the most charitable of ways, as many define charity (which has for too long been, “keep your mouth shut and don’t make waves and just speak about how much God loves us and don’t mention sin…”). I make no apologies for the article as written. I knew when I hit the submit button on it that many would not appreciate it. I haven’t lost any sleep over it.

You do not fully understand the direction of the Bishops on this matter.

There is, in fact, a gray area, but there is also a non-gray area.

Let’s start with the black and white: If one candidate clearly holds a correct position (from a Catholic perspective) on these major life issues, and the other candidate does not, then the moral obligation is to support that candidate. Only “proportionate” reasons may be applied for this not to apply. While this is a “gray” area, there have been many statements made on the “proportionate” reasons, and in all I have read on the matter from Bishops who have spoken on it, it is a very strict standard. You literally have to believe that the person holds some view or incompetence that would lead directly to policy of an intrinsically evil standard.

Another gray (but not all that gray) area is when one candidate is not perfect. McCain, for example, has supported ESCR. Thsi is problematic, but our guidance here is still quite clear. On 1 of 5 of the issues, McCain is deficient. On 5 of the 5 issues, Obama is deficient. The Church understands that there are elections where a choice like this needs to be made, and in this case you opt for the least deficient standard.

Where the gray-ness comes in is whether or not the Catholic should vote for neither of the two candidates if there is a third candidate who is not deficient in any of these issues. Certainly, that is a good and valid option, and I would never fault anyone for taking that road. My issue is not at all with someone who chooses to do that, even if it – practically speaking – give a half-vote to Obama. It is clearly a vote on principle and a well-formed conscience.

But the Church also realizes that there is a real choice here: if the “best” candidate is, in all practicality, a completely non-viable candidate, and if you believe that NOT voting for the least imperfect candidate could lead to tremendous harm with the election of the other candidate, then it can be very much considered good judgment based on proper discernment and a well-formed conscience to cast your vote for the major candidate who is more in line.

In a perfect world, Catholics would have voted as they should have in the primaries to begin with and nominated someone who holds to all these values. I did that, and then when my guy wasn’t nominated, I had to make a decision based on the nominated candidates.

I openly question whether those Catholics who voted for Obama and talk about how they feel it is the right moral decision to do so, whether or not they will be willing to write letters and protest and do whatever is necessary to push the guy they elected away from signing FOCA or implementing other immoral policies. Will they be willing to send the message that, despite their support this time around, he will lose that support if he pursues these intrinsically evil policies? I would hope ALL of those Catholics would do that, and not just the Catholics who opposed Obama. Any of those Catholics that do not, I think it all the more shows that they have placed party and politics ahead of truth.

A rebuttal to my last post, with my responses:

1) Please support your statement that the Church realizes this.

response: I am not at the moment in a position to spend much more time doing google searches and citing documents. What I can say is that I have heard enough discussion from trusted sources on this very question, people who claim fidelity to the Magesterium, say as much. Papal Encyclicals and Council Documents are often accompanied after the fact by much clarification for those who have an interest in pursuing such clarification.

2) John McCain did not have a chance to win this election either.
Response: This is clearly fallacious. The argument here is that if the Catholic vote shifts to McCain, he wins easily. If you argue this insensibility within the context of the argument being made then you don’t even realize what we’re arguing about.

3) I said earlier that, being more forward thinking, you could have lost the battle but not the war. What I meant was this:
As a thought experiment, let’s presuppose that abortion doesn’t really matter to most “swing voters” – everyone it does matter to is either a strong Republican or strong Democrat.
Let’s say all the Catholics and fundamentalist protestants had switched support for the anti-abortion third party candidate. This will siphon Republican votes only under this scenario. McCain goes down hard in 2008.

I understand this argument, and again, I am not arguing against those who voted third party. You seem more concerned about criticizing Catholics who voted for McCain over his stand on ESCR than you are about criticizing Catholics who voted for Obama while claiming to be pro-life. And while I understand the purity of your argument, your position makes no sense to me. My argument is that Catholics should have (1) voted for a completely pro-life candidate in the primaries on BOTH tickets, and then (2) the election can be based on all these other issues. Absent #1, individual Catholics have a choice to make.

Your approach would make much more sense if there is not a huge difference on these issues between the major candidates. For example, I definitely would have voted 3rd party if Giuliani had been the GOP nominee. So I am not a blind partisan. I look at the issues important to me, and I’m only partisan to the extent they line up. I’d vote for a pro-life Democrat, too. I am NOT anti-Democrat. I am “anti-Democratic Platform on Life Issues.” I’m fine with that. They chose that platfdorm, not me. But the stark reality is that, despite McCain’s imperfections, there was such a huge difference on these issues that I truly felt my best vote was for McCain.

What happens in 2012, after the Republicans realized that the only reason for the split votes was abortion? They adopt the pro-life stance as a major component of the party platform at convention, you have a major party fighting for that issue as one of the, if not THE most pressing issue of the day, and you set about getting the so-called pro-life Republicans to actually contest the issue.

But you(strongly pro-life, anti-Democratic Catholics) didn’t do what might have worked. What you did was ridicule, judge, and insult your Democratic leaning brethren. Which, you know, doesn’t work.

Response: This is patently false. In my view, what I saw was a bunch of Catholics try to be pastoral, and try to be nice, and not making waves, and then when the Bishops wrote letters to be read at Mass I saw Obama supporters shrug and roll their eyes, or even laugh. I saw little insulting going on. I did see some Bishops stand up for truth. I saw other laypersons try to do the same. Your characterization is wrong, and this will be my last response to you on that matter. Most of what I saw was charitable, and the rest was proper admonishment, as we are directed to do by St. Paul.

And I know you think my missive was insulting. You have a right to your opinion. I think that’s a shallow reading. It was not insulting. It was calling a spade a spade. It’s how I operate. I’m sure some people felt that Jesus was insulting when he tossed over the money-changer’s tables, too.

Nobody – NOBODY – was more insulted and ridiculed than Palin. And there is no greater reason she was ridiculed than the fact that she held more traditional, pro-life, values. I’m sure others will disagree. That’s fine. But that is my opinion. So don’t talk to me about how we were insulting. The far left was downright hateful and vitriolic every step of the way. There reaches a point where some feel compelled to respond in kind, and that’s unfortunate. But it was not emblematic of the whole.

I’m sure the discussion will continue. I won’t post any more on it here, but check out the forum, if interested.