Tag Archives: Barack Obama

To Trump or not to Trump – Notre Dame’s Question

Standard

I have a few thoughts regarding the issue about Notre Dame publicly considering not inviting Donald Trump for a commencement speaker.   Here’s a link to a Washington Post article.

Here are a few excerpts from the article.

Notre Dame University may not extend an invitation to President-elect Donald Trump to this year’s graduation, a move that would break with a decades-long tradition of inviting presidents in their first year to deliver the main commencement address at the South Bend campus…

University President John Jenkins said the 2009 commencement featuring President Obama was a “political circus” that he is loath to repeat at this year’s ceremony…

“My concern a little bit is that, should the new president come, it may be even more of a circus,” he added.

This is the strongest valid point I believe Notre Dame has in taking this position.    I think it’s proper and valid to assess whether or not the speaker is being a major distraction and somehow affecting what should be a celebration of the graduates.    With as politically divided as this country is, it is probably reasonable to believe that people would not be so courteous as to not protest or take the new President’s presence as some personal affront to them.

I have a couple issues with this, but I also understand the reality.   My issues are (1) people should grow up and be respectful, and this shouldn’t be a concern to begin with, (2) I have a real question as to whether or not this is really an honest conclusion on the part of John Jenkins.    Is he prepared to say that, going forward, no Presidents will be invited under the current political environment?    If so, then fine.   But I can’t help but suspect that had Hillary Clinton won, she would be invited to speak.   I can’t know that, but I strongly suspect it.  (3) Why did Notre Dame so adamantly stick to their guns on this in Barack Obama’s first year?    They knew it would be a circus, at least from the standpoint of being a Catholic Institution.    Now, having said all that, if this is a new policy where Notre Dame says that going forward, we just want the day to be about our graduates and our politics are toxic and from this day forward no President or President-Elect will be invited, well, then that’s not a problem.

 

And then there is this:

“I do think the elected leader of the nation should be listened to. And it would be good to have that person on the campus — whoever they are, whatever their views,” Mr. Jenkins told The Observer, the student-run publication of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s.

 

This is hogwash.     At least the “whatever their views” part.   This is an academic institution, but it irks me to no end that these Catholic higher institutions consider discourse of ideas to be a higher calling than their own Catholic identity whenever that discourse of ideas runs afoul of Catholic teaching.    I have no idea with the idea that we should listen courteously to Barack Obama talking about general topics, or religion-neutral policies, whether I agree with his perspective or not.    I take great issue with having Catholic doctrine openly challenged on a Catholic campus.   And it is a perfectly reasonable position, if someone holds very public views expressedly contrary to Catholic Doctrine (not just differences in preferred opinion), to not invite any person – regardless of status or position – who holds those views.

 

Finally:

Conservative cardinals and bishops opposed the invitation of Mr. Obama at the time, citing his views on abortion which run contrary to church teaching. Prominent alumni also lobbied the school to disinvite the president.

Mr. Jenkins has expressed disapproval with the president-elect’s stance on immigration.

 

Eight years ago, Notre Dame ignored Bishops and Priests and expressed that the god of Academia reigns Supreme, and they had to know it would rankle people.   But now, there is no such dilemma.   Yes, it’s true that Trump is controversial, has said some things that are not all that nice, and has in the past held views contrary to Catholic views.   But as a candidate, and so far as a President-Elect, he has taken positions that can only be described as pro-religious freedom, pro-life, and simply not contrary in any way to Catholic doctrine.     Yes, it’s true that there is all sorts of disagreement about how to deal with immigration, and we need to have that debate.   And there is a real moral component to that, but there is room for disagreement.

In the end, I understand where the folks of Notre Dame are coming from.    I just wish I could really believe them.   They do not have a history where I trust that this isn’t just another response by sore-loser, snowflake-ridden, progressive academia presented as something else.

 

 

Advertisements

The Remaking of America Live and in Color!

Standard

Just a reminder:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/jan/20/obama-inauguration-speech-ceremony

The 44th US president, speaking in front of the biggest inauguration crowd in US history, said: “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America.”

I’ll give the man credit.   He kept his word.    I have to say that eight years ago, I didn’t think he was ambitious enough to not only remake America, but also lead the charge to remaking the entire concept of family, held since the beginning of human existence.   He’s an overachiever, our President.

Why Obama’s “Compromise” is a Shell Game: A simple Explanation

Standard

On the immediate announcement, it sounded as if President Obama has given Catholic and other concerned people of faith a nugget of goodwill (or, at the very least, a recognition that political damage control was needed).

It is entirely possible that many people will continue to see it that way. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Not only has nothing changed, but the reality of it is that this actually ends up being worse.

Allow me to provide an example or two:

Suppose you donate to the United Way, and you designate your gift to a particular cause or two. While it may appease your sensibilities that you are designating your gift, the reality of it is that the only way this matters is if the vast majority of other donors also designate their gifts. Since most do not, all that happens is that the United Way reallocates all the other fungible donations and the final allocations are exactly the same as if you had not designated your gift at all. Now, if there are no morally offensive programs being supported, you may be OK with that. But if there are morally offensive programs, then you are, in fact, contributing to them in an indirect way. You can appease your conscience by telling yourself that “if everyone else had done what I did, there would be no problem.” But reality being what it is, that is not the case. So, all that happens is that a higher percentage of non-allocated funds are provided for undesignated programs, while a smaller percentage of other peoples’ funds are used to support the programs you designated money to. This is colloquially referred to as a “shell game.”

Why am I talking about this example? It simply provides an illustration of how something can be presented as one thing, but in reality it is something else. In this example, the contributor is made to feel good about giving to a specific group that is meaningful to them, but everyone knows that in the end it really doesn’t affect overall funding by program.

So, let’s explain the new “compromise” in the mandatory contraception debate. Prior to today, certain faith-based groups were told they would have to offer health care coverage that covered the expense of birth control (some of the abortifacient variety). The religious freedom aspect of this aside, there is a cost related to this direct coverage. Let’s just suppose the cost for some employer would be $20,000. This $20,000 hits the health care losses of the insurance company, and the rates for the program are adjusted to reflect this cost. The employer now has a plan that costs more for which they are directly covering something they are morally opposed to.

The compromise presented today is this: Employers, you can opt out. Instead, we’ll make the insurance company cover this at no cost to your employees. Thus, the thinking goes, it is not directly covered by the employer. Unfortunately, this compromise is no compromise at all, and is potentially even more harmful.

1) There is still a direct linkage to the employer’s health care coverage. In other words, if the employer opts out of health coverage, they will get fined as before. If they opt in, there is automatic coverage for birth control services. Regardless of whether or not it’s directly under that plan, or dubbed as a “service” of insurance companies, it is exactly the same thing in practice.
2) The cost doesn’t go away. The coverage is only “free” to the employee (notwithstanding increased premiums) but there is still a cost of coverage. The $20,000 does not stay with the losses of the employer, but get shifted to the expense line of the insurance company. Expenses are built into the rates for coverage, so the employer ultimately pays for the coverage.
3) Now, suppose the insurance company doesn’t load expenses for birth control utilization directly back to the employer’s health plan, but just loads it in equally across employers. The impact of this is concerning: supposing a Catholic ministry with faithful adherents to the Church’s teachings as employees, and supposing they do not use birth control at all, then their health plan costs will actually increase to accommodate the costs of contraceptive utilization of other plans. Thus, this new compromise actually leads to a situation where not only are faith based organizations paying for contraceptive use, but the more faithful the employees are to Church teachings, the more they subsidize the use of contraception in other employee bases!

This needs to be opposed just as ardently as the previous proposal. We can’t petend that everything’s going away just because the administration found a way to better disguise it.

It Appears That I Am Not Alone in My Assessments of Catholics

Standard

As it regards the most recent election results, anyway, the Bishop of St. Louis seems to think that Catholics bailed out on their faith.  Good for him.

Click here for the story.

In our Supreme Court and in our Congress, we have a plethora of so-called Catholics who are failing to live their Catholic identity. Over 50 percent of our electorate voted for a president who is one of the most pro-culture-of-death candidates from a major party to run for the highest office of the land.

Yes, we can thank one-half of our Catholics for bailing out on their faith!

After almost 50 years of having 50 percent of Catholics abandoning their Catholic identity, we cannot expect to turn this culture around by short-term political efforts.

Thanks, Bishop, for just saying it like it is.

And then, there’s the incomparable Archbishop Raymond Burke (my former Bishop – whom I almost trampled over in one unfortunate incident…) He shares the same point of view of the U.S. Catholic Bishop’s Document on Faithful Citizenship that I do… muddy, confusing, and a direct contributor to electing a pro-abortion President.

ROME, January 27, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A document of the US Catholic Bishops is partly to blame for the abandonment of pro-life teachings by voting Catholics and the election of the “most pro-abortion president” in US history, one of the Vatican’s highest officials said in an interview with LifeSiteNews.com.

Archbishop Raymond Burke, the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, named a document on the election produced by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops that he said “led to confusion” among the faithful and led ultimately to massive support among Catholics for Barack Obama.

The US bishops’ document, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” stated that, under certain circumstances, a Catholic could in good conscience vote for a candidate who supports abortion because of “other grave reasons,” as long as they do not intend to support that pro-abortion position.

Archbishop Burke, the former Archbishop of St. Louise Mo. and recently appointed head of the highest ecclesiastical court in the Catholic Church, told LifeSiteNews.com that although “there were a greater number of bishops who spoke up very clearly and firmly … there was also a number who did not.”

But most damaging, he said, was the document “Faithful Citizenship” that “led to confusion” among the voting Catholic population.

“While it stated that the issue of life was the first and most important issue, it went on in some specific areas to say ‘but there are other issues’ that are of comparable importance without making necessary distinctions.”

Exactly.

And the fruits have started producing. Embryonic stem-cell research has already expanded and will continue to be expanded. Obama almost immediately lifted the ban on overseas abortion funding. This stimulus package contained millions of dollars for contraceptives to Family Planning.

I continue to hold out some glimmer of hope that Catholics who voted for Obama will not be afraid to stand up and fight against FOCA. But I’m not holding my breath.

So… Some Fellow Catholics Are Upset With Me

Standard

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 Catholic.com 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”.
MY FAITH DOES NOT REQUIRE ME TO BE A PATSY FOR THE REPUBLICAN AGENDA.

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.

I’m Mad at my Fellow Catholics. And I’m Pulling no Punches. Deal With it.

Standard

Two weeks ago, our country elected a new President. Since I have a political blog (http://politicaldiatribes.wordpress.com) I will probably be venting over there on a number of issues relating to this historical event.  My comments here will relate to the issues in light of the response from Catholic voters.

This new President, Barack Obama, made history as the first black man or woman to be elected to the highest political office of the land.  He had already made history when he was nominated by his party.   Likewise, Sarah Palin joined Geraldine Ferraro this year as only the second female nominee as part of the ticket, and would have likewise made history had the McCain/Palin ticket prevailed.

In this respect, we can acknowledge the great message of opportunity this displays in our wonderful country.  Every man and woman is equally bestowed with human dignity, and as such, it is with great pride that we can see the political process play out in a way where things that were once stumbling blocks are now considered secondary.  In fact, it can be argued that Obama’s race was actually a positive for him, as many (not just blacks, but other races as well) admit to supporting him at least in part due to the message it would send around the world in the name of diversity.

I join in acknowledging his equality.  It is in that spirit that I will treat him like any other man or woman, and not a bit different.  The things I say about his stated policies and past actions on certain issues will be no different than if I were addressing these same issues about your run-of-the-mill middle-aged white guy.

And his stand on the issues that should be of utmost importance to Catholic voters is, in a word, appalling.

As much as the diversity card makes for nice pomp and circumstance, and as feel-good as his election is to many of us on one level, it is an utter embarrassment to see the Catholic vote as it relates to Obama. 

I guess I should have warned you that you may get ticked off as a reader here.  I personally know a number of regularly church-going Catholics who are not “Catholic in Name Only” who voted for Obama.   And I say here what I would say to each and every one of their faces:  it was absolutely wrong.

So, let me be straight.  I’m angry.  I am NOT angry at people who call themselves Catholic but haven’t been to church in years.  I am not expecting such people to be concerned about faithfulness to the magesterial guidance of the church.   I am not even angry at those who call themselves Catholic and show up twice a year, at Christmas and Easter.   I certainly am not angry about those who proclaim no particular faith – whether it be atheist or agnostic.  I don’t expect them to be all that interested in Papal teachings and letters from our Bishops.

No, I am angry at the Catholics who should know better, and indeed – in my opinion – do know better.

Let me explain why I am angry.  Because that anger differs by the reasons for voting Obama:

  • The Ignorant:  While perhaps either confused, unaware, uneducated, or disinterested, these people should not vote.  If they do vote, they should educate themselves.  I do not accept ignorance as an excuse.  This was the longest campaign in history, and we live in an age where information is readily available to all of us.  If they sat in the pews, they may not have specifically heard “don’t vote for Obama,” but they most likely heard that one candidate favored abortion rights and the other didn’t.  If you are not concerned enough to investigate at that point, then you are culpable for your own ignorance.
  • The Rationalizer: “I’m a Pro-Life Democrat.”   I am sorry if this offends anyone, but this excuse for voting for Obama is absolutely ridiculous, and dare I say, stupid.   You know what?  I personally vote Republican most of the time.  But I don’t vote Republican because “I’m a Republican.”  I vote for Republicans because they are most in line with my thinking on the most important issues.  To a Catholic, there can be no more important issues than Life Issues: Abortion, Cloning, Embryonic Stem-Cell Research, Marriage between one man-one woman, and Euthanasia.   On every single one of these issues, even with imperfect candidates, the Republican Party lines up much better than the Democratic Party.  No Catholic, in my opinion, should ever identify themselves with either party.  A Catholic saying he or she is a Pro-Life Democrat and then votes for a pro-choice Democrat has just put Party above principle and church.  I am Pro-Life.  I am conservative.  The day the Republicans cease to be my advocate on these issues is the day I tell them to go pound sand while I go vote for someone who will.  And Democratic Catholics should have done this long ago.   The rationalizer will say that they are pro-life and donate money to pro-life causes, but at every turn they find a new excuse for why they vote for a pro-choice Democrat rather than a pro-life Republican.   One time it will be “social justice” (as if there is some doctrinal position that government involvement and programs are the only moral approach to social justice – which also ticks me off).  Another time it will be the economy.  For others it will be their Union affiliation.  They all have something in common:  they have some other interest that they are putting ahead of the issue of the decimation of thousands of innocent babies every single day.   Unions before innocent lives.  Race before abortion.  Gender before abortion.  Social Security before abortion.  “Social Justice, Democrat Style” before abortion.   I am sorry, but if and when the Freedom of Choice Act gets passed, and when Catholic hospitals are threatened with removal of exemption from performing abortions, and when Supreme Court Justices get appointed that set the Pro-Life movement back 30 years, then you will have real culpability before God, and it will be up to you to explain to Him why these other things were more important.
  • The Defier: Some people, by the way, fall into more than one category.   It is one thing to privately vote for Obama with little public fanfare.   It’s still wrong, but not as wrong as publicly supporting him.   I am sorry, but the Papal Encyclicals on the subject of our obligations when it comes to elections make the primacy of certain issues quite clear.  The USCCB (often somewhat spineless in many regards) actually put a document together about our responsibilities that – with careful reading – does make it clear that life issues are primary.   While I know this is not true everywhere, I do know of many Bishops and Priests who sent letters to be read in their dioceses or made clear public statements.   Others may not have, or may have even contributed to confusion.  They will have their own answers to give.  But for those who heard clearly directed messages and chose to not only ignore them, but then publicly and openly support a pro-abortion candidate, this is scandal.  It is divisive.  It promotes confusion.  My pastoral council President did this.   His excuse?  He’s not a “yes” man.  Now, by all other accounts, I have worked with him on many committees and he is a hard worker for the church and has a strong heart for social justice.   But he is horribly misguided here, and I think deep in his heart he knows it.  But he’s also stubborn and won’t be told what to do by any Bishop or Priest.

Collectively, the reason I am angry is because these Catholics are really quite spineless.   If every single Catholic who truly cared – or said they cared – about abortion and the other primary issues of importance would make it very clear to their chosen Democratic Party that they will not stand for being presented with a “Pro-Choice” candidate then this issue would be gone in a very minimal number of elections.   You Catholic Democrats not only have the responsibility to “try and change the party from within” (which I really question just how many actually try and push their Congressperson on this issue) but to stand up to your own party’s evil pursuits.  Make it very clear that a Pro-Life Democrat has your vote, but a Pro-Choice candidate does not.  Then, whether it means not voting, voting for the Republican, or voting for a third party, you DO NOT VOTE FOR THE PRO-CHOICE CANDIDATE. 

It is estimated that 25% of the U.S. is Catholic.  That is about 75 million people.  Let’s say a third are non-practicing.  Let’s say a third are semi-practicing, and then the other third are “devout.”  About 50% of Catholics voted for Obama.   I’m not sure how those groups break out, exactly, but even if only a third of the lower group votes against Obama, and the middle group splits, if the top tier all votes for the Pro-Life candidate, then this election easily goes to McCain.  Pure and simple.  And knowing that Catholics hold this potential and we do not use it for good ticks me off.   We will pay for it, trust me.

Now, before I end my rant, let me be clear about a couple things:

  1. I am in no way saying McCain was a perfect candidate.  And I am not even saying he was perfect on all five of those issues (embryonic stem-cell research was a question).   But he very clearly, to any thinking person, lined up dramatically more on these key issues than Obama/Biden did.
  2. I have used some very harsh and  critical language above.  I don’t take it lightly, and perhaps I am still too emotional about this (it’s a good thing I didn’t type this up immediately after the election).  In doing so, I may come across as judgmental.  Perhaps I am, but this whole “Thou shall not judge” line is the most misapplied line of the gospel.   I cannot judge someone’s heart, but we are called to judge actions.   I realize I probably come close to doing the former, but I stand by the comments.   Also, I fully understand that there is a “lest you be judged” element to this.  Believe me, I will be the first to say loudly that I humbly accept that I have my share of sins to be accountable for.  I am not perfect, and I can only pray that my destination is Purgatory!  So I acknowledge that I am a sinner and that I will be rightly judged for all my indiscretions.   So I do see the plank in my eye.  And by my reading, having observed that, I can follow the example of St. Paul and call out my fellow Christians when I see grave error being perpetrated. 
  3. I realize there are other “life” issues of concern.  Capital Punishment and the War in Iraq come to mind.   Whatever your thoughts are on these, using this as a trump to the other issues I listed are still cop-outs.  Perhaps I can be more forgiving on these, but you are still wrong, and still culpable.  The bishops have made it very clear that these issues, as important as they are, are debatable issues among Catholics in good conscience, and simply cannot and do not carry the same weight as the other issues.  Whether this is simply ignored or you are ill-informed, that is the reality.

Well, there.  I’ve done it.  I am sick to death of seeing Catholics who agree with me being afraid to say these things.  So I did it for them.  I am tired of hearing chuckled comments from Catholic Obama supporters, as if their defiance of the Bishop is some kind of an amusing joke.   I am sick of saying nothing while the emboldened defiers feel as if they speak for everyone around them and that everyone who is really enlightened can see their point of view.

I’m sick of all of it.  It is time for those who wish to stand on firm Catholic teaching to stand up to these people and their comments.  I have vowed to – as charitably as possible, but firmly and clearly – stand my ground to all such Catholics who have in the past been so bold.  It is a scandal, and it must end.

I’d end with “before it’s too late,” but I have a nagging suspicion it may already be too late.

The Coming of the Obamessiah – Link to Blog

Standard

Originally posted on http://digitaldiatribes.wordpress.com on June 11, 2008.

Just for kicks, I’m linking to Mark Shea’s blog on the coming Obamessiah.

To give a quick taste of this clearly tongue-in-cheek post:

And it came to pass that Obama called his delegates to himself. And going up on an exceeding high mountain, he opened his mouth and spake, saying:

I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.

The Obamessiah bringing peace, joy, roses and unicorns to the faithfulNow, what I find funny about this is that I heard Obama say that last week and thought “You gotta be kidding me. How full of himself is he?” Looks like I’m not the only one to pick up on it.

Vote for Obama, and the oceans shall heal thyselves.

Um… sure.

A while ago, I alluded to this whole phenomenon of the Obamessiah. Pretty weird stuff, if you ask me. But, whatever your stripes, if nothing else, I thought Shea’s piece was funny. I guess if you like Obama, you may not think so.