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April 11, 2004

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Part of Kerry's confusion with what the Church teaches is in his apparent belief that Vatican II gave Catholics free reign to decide right and wrong according to their own consciences, however formed. Yet what the Church has always taught is that we ... [Read More]

Comments

Susan

Nice words, Amy. And I do think they're mostly sincere. But I'll only believe that this isn't in large part a partisan effort to affect the outcome of the 2004 presidential election when I see ALL pro-choice politicians targeted in this way, including Republicans such as Gov. Schwarzenegger.

Kerry is not forcing anyone to have an abortion, whereas Bush allowed the deaths of 152 death row prisoners in Texas and has been responsible for thousands more deaths in Iraq, after having blatantly lied and ignored international law in order to invade a country that was not a direct threat to the US.

I cannot in good conscience vote for Bush. If my bishop tells me not to vote for Kerry, I'll consider abstaining. But I don't think the bishops are going to fall for the current effort to make Holy Mother Church a servant of the Republican Party.

Elizabeth Josephine Weston

The fact that Kerry votes for abortion in a particular way does not force or cause someone to have an abortion. I am totally against abortion but criminalizing it is not the answer. Bush's actions and policies are cynical, evil, and verge on idolatry because of his invocation of God. I have prayed that, were I to die in a terrorist attack, that my death be accepted as an act of pennace against the war in Iraq.

Re: Kerry: Were I publicly living in such a way that I was giving scandal to the Church, I would pray for the humility to go to Mass and refrain from receiving Communion. (I pray, first, that I not be led into temptation and not live in a way that would give public scandal to the Church.) I have too much reverence for the Eucharist to profane it.

But Kerry is plainly not a mature Catholic and his decisions are not informed by his Catholicism. That's the danger of a universal Church, you get the sloppy and ill informed and everyone else and not just those who would be martyrs to their faith.

But does Kerry harm the Church? I see a lot of other harm coming to the Church where huge numbers of Catholics are denied the Eucharist because of the discipline of mandatory celibacy and the scandal of the abuse crisis. I'm not saying the Church needs to be pure and clean before it speaks to society, but Kerry's candidacy does not have to become a litmus test for an individual Catholic -- and it is not a barometer of one's own belief in abortion.

Elizabeth Josephine Weston

The fact that Kerry votes for abortion in a particular way does not force or cause someone to have an abortion. I am totally against abortion but criminalizing it is not the answer. Bush's actions and policies are cynical, evil, and verge on idolatry because of his invocation of God. I have prayed that, were I to die in a terrorist attack, that my death be accepted as an act of pennace against the war in Iraq.

Re: Kerry: Were I publicly living in such a way that I was giving scandal to the Church, I would pray for the humility to go to Mass and refrain from receiving Communion. (I pray, first, that I not be led into temptation and not live in a way that would give public scandal to the Church.) I have too much reverence for the Eucharist to profane it.

But Kerry is plainly not a mature Catholic and his decisions are not informed by his Catholicism. That's the danger of a universal Church, you get the sloppy and ill informed and everyone else and not just those who would be martyrs to their faith.

But does Kerry harm the Church? I see a lot of other harm coming to the Church where huge numbers of Catholics are denied the Eucharist because of the discipline of mandatory celibacy and the scandal of the abuse crisis. I'm not saying the Church needs to be pure and clean before it speaks to society, but Kerry's candidacy does not have to become a litmus test for an individual Catholic -- and it is not a barometer of one's own belief in abortion.

Donald R. McClarey

Kerry has used his support for abortion, infanticide in the womb, as a tactic to garner support throughout his political career. When it is pointed out that this is directly contra Catholic teaching his supporters fall all over themselves making excuses for him without facing the simple truth that the lives of the unborn matter as little to him as inconvenient Catholic teachings do.

Fr. Brian Stanley

The fact that Senator Kerry is committed, and strongly so, to providing abortion services to any and all women, without regard to any other circumstances, and is committed to expanding those abortion services through the use of our tax dollars at work, presents a serious, grave problem of immorality that is precisely at odds with Catholic teaching. Yes, it is true that Senator Kerry does not force anyone to have an abortion. But his stand on this matter is in direct contradiction to what the Church expects of a practicing Catholic legislator. It's a huge problem, and I think that Amy has described the situation in a most articulate way.

President Bush is NOT a Catholic, and so the bar is lower for him. I really don't expect him to promote a "Catholic agenda" as president. As a priest, I am pro-life, and therefore, anti-capital punishment, and President Bush's position on executions while governor of Texas was and is a problem. But he did not then nor does he now present himself as a devout, practicing Catholic. And Catholic teaching does not forbid capital punishment across the board. I think the record should be checked about Senator Kerry and his stand on capital punishment. I agree with the earlier comment that Gov. Schwarzennegger needs to be held to the same expectation, as he presents himself as a Catholic in the public arena. Any and every Catholic politician deserves this scrutiny, as they present themselves for our support. And those who set aside their Catholic faith for purposes of convenience and expediency should themselves be set aside by the voters.

Jim

1) I was a teenager in 1960 when JFK ran for the presidency and the (pre-VatII) bishops fell all over themselves to deny that they would try to coerce a Catholic president on policy issues. I guess their successors regret that now, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

2) The child abuse scandal has weakened the moral authority of the bishops. How can one seem to be consistent by denying the Eucharist to a politician who does not follow the Church's teaching on abortion or any other issue, when one has allowed pedophile and ephebophile priests who have raped children to continue to confect the Eucharist and minister to parishes? The bishops know this (esp. in jurisdictions with big scandals like Boston) and are not about to put themselves in a position to have this seeming inconsistency pointed out in local newspapers on page one and the editorial page.

THerese

Kerry is proposing that the Church and the Bishops are wrong. He is publically stating that Catholics can support abortion.

Further he is making the especially dangerous arguement that values that derive or happen to coincide with one's religion have no place in the public forum of ideas. To say that morality that derives from religion has no place in the public forum, is an attack on freedom of expression and religious freedom of of every person. This was not idea of government that our forefathers envisioned. A forced religion-free zone. Every person ought to be free to stand up for what they believe regardless of whether or not those beliefs have religious origins or not. Every person ought to be eligible for office -- including the Supreme Court-- regardless of their religion. Further they ought not be forced to check all manifestations of it in their person at the door.

The only way out of this dangerous morass is declare secularism itself a religion and restore needed balance the separation of state and religion equation. As the state continues to touch more and more of our lives, the only way to honor the separation of state and religion, will be to keep religious thoughts restricted to the space between one's ears. The only way to provide balance is to declare secularism a relgion and restore the original meaning of "the government shall not establish a religoin" clause. Then we will have true diversity and true tolerance of all ideas.

Ken

Fr. Stanley,

While Pres. Bush does support the death penalty, as governor of Texas he had very little authority to do anything about it. To say that he "allowed" the executions is inaccurate: the most power the governor has is to delay the execution for 30 days while the Board of Pardons and Parole reviews the case. In fact, if I remember correctly, he once argued that he was only following the will of the people of Texas. That argument is (to our shame) accurate, if reprehensible. I don't accept it in him, nor in such politicians as Kerry.

As to the comment above that criminalizing abortion is not the answer, one must ask what is the proper social response to the murder of unborn babies?

Maureen

Doris Kearns Goodwin (the historian) was just on NBC talking about Kerry and Communion. She of course talked about Kennedy's speech on how he was the Democratic candidate who happened to be Catholic, and that he reserved the right to go to Protestant church services if there was a funeral for a Protestant politician.

At this point, she said something about "the old superstition" that if a Catholic went to a Protestant church he'd "drop dead as soon as he went through the doors or something".

Was this in fact a joke in JFK's speech, or was this a reason/misunderstanding Goodwin made up? I Googled briefly for the speech, but couldn't find a good set of search terms. I know a lot of JFK speeches are online, so presumably this was could be....

I don't want to get upset with Goodwin or JFK if there's no grounds, so somebody tell me?

Oh, and Goodwin otherwise was all for the idea it's not fair for a church to expect its members to follow its teachings in public life.

Maureen

Franklin Jennings

Just as Kerry has forced no one to obtain an abortion, Bush has never forced anyone to commit murder during a strong-arm robbery.

The worst Bush might be guilty of is supporting the death penalty as a private citizen (no sin there), as he has never had the power to do anything more than issue short delays. The worst Kerry might be guilty of is actively protecting, and broadening access to, infanticide in the womb.

A methodist who didn't do anything to stop the execution of cold-blooded murderers because it wasn't within his power, or a Catholic who does everything he can to ensure that Planned Parenthood can someday have one of those nifty McD-esque signs that say "1 Billion Innocent Lives Served (To Moloch) Worldwide."

Is it that tough a choice for some people?

Anastasia

Senator Kerry is usually against the death penalty, believing that life imprisonment is a "tougher" punishment than death. He only favors the death penalty for terrorists - apparently because he doesn't think terrorists deserve the "tougher" punishment of life in prison. These positions were articulated on the Don Imus show, among other places a few months ago. Don't look for logic, consistency or principle in his positions.

Here in Kerry's Massachusetts, we are all complicit in abortion: A friend, an urban high school teacher, noted one of his homeroom students was absent and called her home to see if she was ill. Father said as far as he know she had gone to school. From a school counselor, my friend disovers that the young woman is having an abortion. That the school knows but that the parents do not; school staff has arranged the abortion,brought the girl to the clinic and will bring her back to school when it is over. My friend is told to call the girl's father back and tell him the lie that girl is in school, that everything is fine. My friend a good Catholic, does it. Wracked with guilt, he quit a month later.

No public figure "forced" this young woman to have an abortion. And yet we are all complicit in it because this happens with our money and in our name. Senator Kerry SUPPORTS this status quo - he characterizes anyone who supports even parental notification laws as "extremist" and "outside the mainstream". He doesn't care about this issue. If we choose not to care the scenario I describe could happen to your family - and it will all be legal and protected.

Maureen

Sorry for blegging...I found the answer myself. At least in the main body of the speech, there are _no_ references to Catholic funerals or falling dead at the threshold. It's a fairly reasonable speech, whatever the other Kennedys did afterward, and does draw a line of sorts.

"Whatever issue may come before me as President--on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject--I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.

"But if the time should ever come--and I do not concede any conflict to be even remotely possible--when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office; and I hope any conscientious public servant would do the same."

The birth control thing is obviously a problem. But in point of fact, I don't remember Kennedy doing anything about birth control, much less voting for partial birth abortion. One hopes that Kennedy would never have felt it was in the national interest to kill babies....

http://www.cs.umb.edu/jfklibrary/j091260.htm
This link goes to the full text of the speech. You can also listen to it if you click on "play clip" at the top of the page.

Maureen

Nicole

A couple of questions for all of your much wiser people:

Fr. Stanley says:
President Bush is NOT a Catholic, and so the bar is lower for him.

But, it is my understanding that abortion is a non-negotiable issue right? So, the bar isn't really lower is it? Yes, he is not representing and then misrepresenting himself as a Catholic, but it is still 'the' issue for us as Catholic voters right?

Second, doesn't the CCC state that the death penalty should only be used for self defense? So, althought, as Fr. Stanley says, "And Catholic teaching does not forbid capital punishment across the board," doesn't it pretty much forbit it in most of the circumstances in which it is used today?

Thank you,
Nicole

Fr. Brian Stanley

Nicole,
Yes, it is still a non-negotiable issue for Catholics. But please understand the point: President Bush has no obligation to uphold Catholic teaching. Senator Kerry does, and flaunts his opposition to the teaching of the Church. President Bush has acted in limiting abortions -- federal funding withdrawn, pro-life judges appointed, etc. The question is, which candidate will do more to advance the whole life agenda? And I think Catholics who bother to take the time to investigate both candidates' positions will come to make an informed and correct judgment on which candidate upholds the Church's teachings most consistently.

The Church's position on capital punishment is not one based so much on self defense [maybe you're thinking of the just war theory] as much as it is on the capacity of the state to protect the people and to provide humane conditions for incarceration. In the US, the means are available to give life sentences without parole, in humane conditions. Thus, it is a hard argument to make that capital punishment is morally permissible in the American context. There are other moral theologians who are more nuanced in this debate about capital punishment; there is not that sort of nuance in the Church's position on abortion, so I really don't get the constant comparison between the two issues. And the effect of abortion is far more devastating morally and spiritually in this country than the issue of capital punishment. I think most people understand that.

Eutychus Fell

I saw Doris Kearns Goodwin on NBC, Maureen, and she actually raised the issue of separation of Church and State. To me, that turns the separation clause on it's head. To say that the State cannot tell the people what to do religiously is one thing, but to say that the Church cannot tell people who work for the State what to do religiously... I don't think that's what the establishment clause is all about.

Steve Skojec

I think it worth mentioning that a very noteworthy public precedent for a Bishop correcting a public official is indellibly inscribed in the annals of history.

Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, denounced Catholic Emperor Theodosius I for ordering the execution of a crowd of thousands - many innocent - as an act of revenge for the mob killing of one of his generals:

"In a letter, the saint told the emperor that his hands were stained with blood, that he had no place before Christ's altar, that he was unworthy, in his current state of sin, to receive the body of Christ in the Eucharist, and that he should commit himself to a regimen of prayer to mark the beginning of his penance." (Triumph: The Glory and Power of the Catholic Church, H.W. Crocker III, pg. 74)

Theodosius grew defiant, like Kerry, at the implication that he had done something wrong. If senators don't like to be reprimanded, how much less Roman Emperors? He wrote to Ambrose, claiming that "if he was guilty of murder, so was David of the Old Testament, and surely David was beloved of God." (ibid) Here, we see the twisting of meanings and words that come naturally to politicians of all epochs.

Ambrose remained steadfast, however. He responded simply, "You have imitated David in his crime, imitate then his repentance."

Theodosius then presented himself to Ambrose, stripped of royal vestments, and begged forgiveness. Ambrose writes of this that,

"Stripping himself of every emblem of royalty he publically in church bewailed his sin. That public penance, which private individuals shrink from, an Emperor was not ashamed to perform; nor was there afterwards a day on which he did not grieve for his mistake." (Quoted in Crocker, pg. 74 - See entry for St. Ambrose in the Catholic Encyclopedia)

It would seem that this is where Emperor Theodosius and Senator Kerry parted ways. Both guilty of legislating the murder of innocents; one repents, the other denies that there is a sin.

Perhaps, however, the current story would be different, and Kerry would do penance or apostacize, if there were only one bishop as courageous as St. Ambrose was. After all - Kerry has not the power to put a bishop to death. Theodosius, had he been other than a faithful Catholic, would have suffered no such obstacle.

John Koontz

I don't know what the bishops ought to do about Kerry and other Catholic politicians who depart from Church teaching on abortion, gay marriage, and such matters. But I think that the failure to do anything about it exacerbates two elements in the current critical narrative about the Church today.

First, that the bishops are feckless. That they are unwilling or unable to confront the grave issues that beset the Church and society today. They looked the other way, this narrative goes, during the crisis of abuse, and now they are looking the other way when confronted with the obvious flouting of their teaching by successful and powerful politicians. This certainly does not help them in their claim to pastoral authority.
(Also, it gives scandal and, as such, is an offense to some and a source of great confusion to others. It appears to indicate that the Church doesn't really mean what it says.)

Secondly, it suggests that the bishops are hypocritical or, at best, deferential to power and/or wealth. It suggests that those Catholics with civil power and authority are somehow exempt from otherwise binding Church norms. It sends a bad message to the politicians, who invest more in their political ideologies than in their faith, as well as to the laity at large, who interpret this accommodation, whether rightly or not, as an example of moral failure on the part of the bishops and not, as the case may be, as an one of pastoral care and restraint.

I think that although these social issues are generally discussed in abstract terms, they always have very concrete, specific implications. And it ought to be a bishop's business to deal with these issues in visible, concrete, and understandable terms.

Gerald

It is a troubling state of affairs when catholics fail to see that a catholic politician who defends so-called abortion rights is quite simply a contradiction in terms. That state of affairs cannot be allowed to go unchallenged, at least not without damage to the Church's teaching and witness. It is Kerry's bishop's duty to do something about it - if he fails to act then the Church is damaged - if he does act Kerry's election prospects may or may not be damaged, indeed his political standing may be enhanced but so be it, that shouldn't be the issue. One can and should lay down a hard and fast rule here -any catholic who publicly supports so-called abortion rights, politician or otherwise, should be censured by the Church and if he or she fails to come around to the Church's teaching he or she should be publicly rebuked and dealt with by their bishop. There is no other option without leaving the Church's witness in tatters. A bishop who can't see that should be in another line of work.

JJ

.... of course, as taxpayers and citizens, don't we all share in some of the guilt for the actions the government takes on our behalf? Whether it be abortion or war, or the death penalty, or any other practice that goes against the teachings of the Church?

I will pray that the Bishops will make the decision to begin to exert more exacting standards on public Catholics ... I will pray that the Bishops will make it clear that those public figures who have the ear of millions of Catholics that they are required to set a good example.

Christopher

Commentators are correct in that criticism of Kerry is certainly applicable to every Catholic politician, regardless of political affiliation, with a pro-abortion voting record.

This problem has been around for quite a while;
because he is running for President, Kerry has drawn the public's attention to the scandal on a national level.

One can certainly find fault with Bush on any number of issues; however, when it comes to support of abortion, the Catholics for Bush blog (http://catholicsforbush.blogspot.com) recently posted Bush's record, which is pretty impressive in comparison to Kerry's. According to them, President Bush:

-Will soon sign Unborn Victims of Violence Act
-Signed the Partial Birth Abortion Act
-Signed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (prohibits doctors from killing babies that survive botched abortions)
-Signed the Adoption Promotion Act (increase incentives for states that encourage the adoption of older children)
-Promises to sign the Child Custody Protection Act (makes it a crime to take a minor across state lines for a secret abortion, if this abridges her parents right to be involved under their home-state law)
-Promises to sign the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (prohibits state and local governments from discriminating against hospitals and other health care providers for refusing to participate in abortions)
-Promises to sign any comprehensive and effective ban on human cloning
-Placed "limits" on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research
-Reinstituted the Mexico City policy (prohibiting federal funding for international abortion providers)
-Directed Department of HHS that Medicaid would no longer cover the abortion pill RU486
-Directed Department of HHS to draft a new policy allowing states to provide medical coverage under CHIPs to unborn children
-Directed Department of Justice to rule that federally controlled substances cannot be used to assist suicides
-Budgeted increased funding for abstinence education to be on par with contraceptive education spending
-Doubled the adoption tax credit from $5,000 to $10,000 per child for adoption expenses
-Directed Department of HHS to Award $8.6 million in Adoption Awareness Grants (raise awareness about adoption as an option for pregnant women)
-Nominated federal judges who would be open to overturning Roe v. Wade
-Promises to nominate federal justices to the Supreme Court who would be open to overturning Roe v. Wade
-Proclaimed National Sanctity of Human Life Day (in 2002, 2003, 2004)
-Proclaimed National Adoption Month (in 2002, 2003)
-Supports Military Abortion Ban
-Stopped efforts to include the right to abortion at the UN Child Summit (2002)
-Established Bioethics Council (to increase understanding of how medicine and science interface with the dignity of life)
-Vocally supports crisis pregnancy centers, and adoption, and parental notification laws

Compared to Kerry's recent endorsement by NARAL as a president "pro-choicers can rely on", in my opnion there's really no question of which president is more allied with the Church on this issue.

Steve Skojec

Gerard, you make an important point.

I think what many people fail to realize is this - while it would be the bishop's duty to correct privately at first, which we cannot know whether or not he has done - it is thereafter his duty to speak publically to avoid the sin of scandal if the politician in question does not acquiesce.

To fail to stand against this is to fail the duty discharged to the bishops by God. This isn't judgement of the souls of bishops on our part, it is a judgement of whether or not the duty of an office is being fulfilled. Personal culpability is none of our concern. But our shepherds are letting their sheep wander over cliffs as they watch silently, as though to say, "I would have called them back, but I didn't want to hurt their feelings."

Hurt some feelings, dear Bishops, we ask you. I hope that you would reprimand me if I was out of line. It should be remembered that Christ came "not to bring peace, but the sword." Martyrdom is the vocation of every Christian, whether a martyrdom of blood, or a martyrdom of social and political persecution.

Gerald

JJ - praying for our bishops is very good, I'll take your cue. But before I do that I wish to point out that abortion is an intrinsic evil, war and capital punishment are not. The Church does not equate abortion with war and capital punishment, never has. There is no wiggle room here: abortion is a modern day slaughter of the innocents and for catholics to be allowed to support it and defend it is simply not sustainable. Kerry's bishop has no wiggle room on this and neither does Kerry. The moral landscape in this country isn't what it was in the early 1960's. To be sure, Kennedy was no altar boy but had he promoted so-called abortion rights his bishop would have had his head on a stick, metaphorically speaking. Does anyone disagree?

Conor Dugan

Some of the comments on this thread are inane.

For instance:

Kerry is not forcing anyone to have an abortion, whereas Bush allowed the deaths of 152 death row prisoners in Texas and has been responsible for thousands more deaths in Iraq, after having blatantly lied and ignored international law in order to invade a country that was not a direct threat to the US.

As Father Stanley Bush's support of capital punishment presents a bit of a problem but please saying he allowed those deaths shows a detachment from the facts. The governor of Texas simply does not have the power to commute sentences that is present in other states. It is much more limited and hemmed in and saying that Bush allowed those deaths is simply not accurate. I really wonder to what degree people allow their baptism into the democratic party color their perception of the facts.

Second, undoubtedly, most if not all of those 152 were not innocent lives. While I agree that they should have been incarcerated rather than killed, there is a substantive difference between captial punishment and abortion.

Third, Kerry as Amy says is an enabler of abortion. He is not merely allowing people to choose to have abortions. He supports public funding of abortion. And NO ONE should be allowed to have an abortion. The choice should not be allowed.

Fourth, I am much more hestitant to come to the clear conclusions that so many others have about the Iraqi war. I wonder how we from the outside without the information the president had can make the judgment that the war was unjust. Again this is a question of prudence and judgment which it seems to me that good people can disagree about. Abortion is not such an issue.

chris k

Mr. Kerry has, by his public statements, and now, his public actions, challenged the authority appointed by the Church over him to guide him in forming his conscience. He is not willing to even turn the other cheek if and when he is publicly admonished, but to challenge even further the right of the bishop to speak for the Church and demand that this authority be obeyed. Now the faithful are being tempted to look both ways unless the diocesan leadership speaks out for them wherever this man may display his challenges. Bishop Smith of NJ has emotionally proclaimed to the faithful that he is the one to speak for the Catholic Church there, not the governor. You have to start somewhere - and the more public the scandal has gotten to be, the greater necessity it is to speak to that large influence. Yes, other more private "practicing" Catholics may be guilty of promoting the abortion mindset to their neighbors, seeing nothing wrong with stem cell research or leaving lots of human lives for the garbage heap in the invitro labs, but admonishing him who puts himself out there as an authority equal to the Church's legitimate ones, can also effect the thinking of those who feel protected in their private darkness. And perhaps then there could flow the nudgings of consciences in them as well.

As far as Goodwin and other current talking heads historians go, they can only relate the facts of history. When they get to connecting some dots which they then relate, just by their historical acknowledgment as happening, to forming some new outline for objective moral law, they're way outside their expertise. They seem to be under the misguided belief that events of the secular arena in any given moment in history have the ability to alter the objective moral law.

Conor Dugan

Here is another comment that I find troubling:

I see a lot of other harm coming to the Church where huge numbers of Catholics are denied the Eucharist because of the discipline of mandatory celibacy and the scandal of the abuse crisis.

Huge numbers of Catholis being denied the Eucharist? I would like to see the support for this statement. To me it seems to be a statement that arises from the conclusion that mandatory celibacy is bad and then making up evidence to support that conclusion. I would like to know where Catholics are being "denied" the Eucharist? Anywhere in the United States? Probably not.

And then I would question the idea that were mandatory celibacy lifted that huge numbers of men would swarm into the seminaries to give us the Eucharist.

I am a bit puckish this morning and these things take us off subject but assertions that are made without any backing get under my skin.

Steve Skojec

It's interesting that The New York Times yesterday quoted Archbishop O'Malley as saying generally that "Catholic" politicians whose views contradict the Church "shouldn't dare come to communion." He imposes this on their own voluntary action of conscience however, not a denial of the sacrament.

This is indeed something, but again, the question of public scandal leads me to conclude that it is simply not enough.

Whitcomb

Conor proclaims that no one should be allowed to have an abortion. This statement is fine as a declaration of one's moral clarity, but it ignores American attitudes on abortion.

You will never totally outlaw abortion, even if Roe v. Wade were overturned. The entire subject would return to the states, and some would legalize it and some would not. This is the best state of affairs that the pro-life movement can hope for.

As to Bush and the death penalty, his attitude on capital punishment was revealed in a magazine article in which he was described as mocking the pleas for mercy from a woman on death row.


Gerald

The article from the NY Times linked by Steve above shows the plot thickening between Kerry and the Church. Kerry has obviously taken up Bishop O'Malley's dare. Looks like we're in for a little showdown. The question is whether the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the United States is up for the challenge do to its basic duty. The ball appears to be in their court - Kerry at least seems to be showing the courage of his political convictions and is appparently banking that the Church will not have a similar resolve - we'll have to wait and see.

Mike Petrik

I don't read Archbishop O'Malley's dare the way Gerald does, as I don't think it was intended to suggest an intention to affirmatively deny Kerry Communion if he tried to receive.

I aso actually think Charlotte Allen makes a good point about the need for bishops to anticipate the consequences of their actions. Bold action can make one feel good for a moment, but can also backfire terribly. I tend to think that many of our bishops our actually very good men who are grappling in good faith with the options before them, and don't assume that lack of courage or resolve is necessarily the linchpin.

Whitcomb's point is a correct one insomuch as absent a constitutional amendment (or a very unlikely reading of the current consitituion by the Supreme Court) our best current hope is a reversal of Roe, which returns the issue to the states. I would quibble with the word "never," however; no one's telescope can see quite *that* far.

Bill H

Dear Whitcomb,

It seems to me that one could quite easily switch the terms "abortion" and "capital punishment" around in your post and still have a true statement. Is it your contention that because a policy is unpopular, one should stop advocating for it even when you believe that it is a moral imperative?

I don't think that most people in the pro-life believe that abortion is going to be banned everywhere in the U.S. anytime soon. But that shouldn't stop us from organizing and educating about abortion. Many social movements that are taken for granted today started out quite unpopular.

Anyhow, this still gets us away from our main topic, which is how a well-known self-identified practicing Catholic is not merely disobeying Church teachings, but publically flaunting that fact.

Fr. Brian Stanley

The esteemed Mike Petrik enters the fray, and I am glad for his observations. I do have a question for Mike, but let me preface it with a comment about Ms. Allen's point about bishops and consequences. If in the course of teaching and, more important, correcting a grave error promoted by some very public Catholic leader, Ms. Allen's point is that the bishops must take into consideration the consequences of such intervention. I assume that she means the consequence would be that some would react negatively to the bishops' correction, and would support the Catholic-in-error. Well, sure, I guess that might happen, but should the bishops really care about those consequences? My question to Mike is this: shouldn't the bishops be more concerned about the ultimate consequences for Senator Kerry's soul, than for the political consequences that may or may not follow from some public repudiation or correction of the Senator? I know that you are politically and historically astute, but I'm not aware of any theological precedence that guides or instructs bishops to avoid political consequences in the pursuit of preaching the truth and correcting error. I always thought error has no rights [but the right to be corrected, with charity and clarity]. If the bishops get into [or perhaps, more accurately, remain in] the mode of second guessing the political ramifications of correcting the wayward-but-still-campaigning Catholic, I fear that the bishops' silence would be far from deafening, but more like deadening.

And it is so good to hear from Conor Dugan. I did not know about the constraints upon the chief executive of the State of Texas in re capital punishment, and being prohibited from commuting death sentences. I agree with your observation that partisanship has a way of corrupting the accurate recollection of facts.

Whitcomb

Re outlawing abortion:

Okay, maybe I should never say never. And I don't mean to discourage people from trying to change the law.

I'm just trying to be realistic. I seriously doubt that abortion will ever be outlawed entirely.



kyle

Whitcomb, many conservatives would like to see exactly the situation you describe regarding abortion on federalism grounds, but that isn't the only available position, and I don't think it's the best Catholic one.

I believe there is a constitutional, not "just" a natural, God-given right to life, and there's nothing stopping a court from deciding that way. The right to life is, in fact, presupposed by every other right. If there is a "hidden" right in the Constitution, it's that one. I would have no problem with a court ruling that abortion is always a violation of a person's constitutional rights -- because it is. The court wiped out laws in over 40 states with Roe. To me, the problem is not that it wiped out those laws but that it wiped them out in the wrong direction, and I'd be fine with a reversal of Roe that set a federal pro-life standard legislated through the courts. That's a kind of judicial activism in keeping with that court's mission.

I suppose that position means I'll be kicked out of all the best federalism clubs, and we all know how those rock, but I think this position fits best with the church's teaching. A careful examination of the argument Pope John Paul II makes in Evangelium Vitae around paragraph 70 makes clear how grave our concern should be if a person's right to life is subject to majority vote. Such a system is a threat to democracy itself, and in fact makes a mockery of the very idea of democracy.

On a tangent: Sen. Kerry's position on abortion is certainly odious and, so far as I'm concerned, disqualifying. But from a Catholic standpoint, I'm very curious what others think about whether his persistent and grave mischaracterizations about the nature of the church, conscience and its relation to governance are not of even greater concern.

Also, for Susan and others, at least in the Catholic blogs there was vigorous, if not universal, opposition to The Terminator's candidacy in California.

Nicole

Conor writes:
Second, undoubtedly, most if not all of those 152 were not innocent lives. While I agree that they should have been incarcerated rather than killed, there is a substantive difference between captial punishment and abortion.

I do accept this, but I still can't seem to understand the capital punishment thing. It seems there is always (not by you in particular, but in general) a brush off of support of the death penalty by saying either that it isn't forbidden totally, that it isn't intrinsically evil, and/or that the prisoners are hardly innocent lives.

But, if the CCC states that it is only to be used to protect society from danger, then it seems clear that there aren't very many cases to use it today. The one I can think of is if a terrorist would inspire more murders if alive in jail. So, why the brush off of Catholics who suport the death penalty? Yes, it isn't on the level of abortion, but still, it shouldn't be brushed off right? Or, are we saying that abortion is more important and if their stance on abortion is in line, then it is OK to overlook the death penalty? I hope this doesn't come across as combative. I'm just trying to understand this. :-)

Thanks,
Nicole

Franklin Jennings

Nicole, you make your own point earlier on.

"(The Death Penalty) isn't forbidden totally, that it isn't intrinsically evil, and/or that the prisoners are hardly innocent lives."

George Bush and I may make different prudential judgements regarding the execution of murderers, or different judgements regarding the efficacy of life imprisonment to protect society from these murderers, but I doubt we disagree on the moral issue at stake.

When it comes to abortion, Kerry and I do not reach different prudential judgements, we disagree on the very morality of the act, period.

Couple that with the fact that every time someone criticises Kerry's position, the defense offered by his supporters is "Bush was governor of a state with the death penalty" and the whole thing quickly becomes tiresome.

Franklin Jennings

Oops

Out of practise after Lent. I will do better with html in the future!

Nicole

Franklin, yes, I agree the thing where people automatically excuse the Kerry abortion record because of the death penalty is tiresome.

But, I guess my question still remains, is it acceptable for Catholics to support the death penalty in circumstances other than listed in the CCC simply because it isn't 'intrinsically evil?' That doesn't make sense to me, but it seems to be the way it is judging by the comment boxes, so I'm just trying to clarify.

Thanks,
Nicole

Franklin Jennings

Nicole,

You said "other than those listed in the CCC." In such a case, no, it isn't, but I have NEVER met a single Catholic who supported the death penalty outside the limits of the CCC.

CCC 2266-2267

2266 The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people's rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted by the guilty party, it assumes the value of expiation. Punishment then, in addition to defending public order and protecting people's safety, has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible, it must contribute to the correction of the guilty party.67

2267 Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."68

A catholic, with a properly informed conscience, who believes that in some cases execution is the only punishment that can achieve the "primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense" (think Adolph Eichmann), or that non-lethal means simply are not sufficient to protect society, is perfectly in accord with the Catechism. The Pope and I do not see capital punishment in the same way, we do not hold the same prudential judgements, as private individuals. But until he makes a pronouncement with real teeth demonstrating my view is not in keeping with the Catechism, I'm a good Catholic. (After he does I still will be because I will surrender my own judgement for that of Peter's.)

Comparing the Death Penalty to Abortion is a fool's gambit meant to cloud the issue, to the detriment of innocent victims.

Nicole

Thank you Franklin, that really helps.

God Bless,
Nicole

Patrick Rothwell

"Well, sure, I guess that might happen, but should the bishops really care about those consequences? My question to Mike is this: shouldn't the bishops be more concerned about the ultimate consequences for Senator Kerry's soul, than for the political consequences that may or may not follow from some public repudiation or correction of the Senator? I know that you are politically and historically astute, but I'm not aware of any theological precedence that guides or instructs bishops to avoid political consequences in the pursuit of preaching the truth and correcting error. I always thought error has no rights [but the right to be corrected, with charity and clarity]. If the bishops get into [or perhaps, more accurately, remain in] the mode of second guessing the political ramifications of correcting the wayward-but-still-campaigning Catholic, I fear that the bishops' silence would be far from deafening, but more like deadening."

I guess, then, Pius XII must have failed in his papal duties because he failed to issue a public, explicit denunciation of the Shoah or even the Nazi genocidal campaign against Catholic Poles. After all, the souls of those Catholic-in-name-only Nazis from Berlin to Auschtwitz participating in the genoide were at stake thereby trumping any negative temporal consequences to the Church and society that might occur.

Maclin Horton

Amy-

(sound of applause)

Franklin-

Comparing the Death Penalty to Abortion is a fool's gambit meant to cloud the issue, to the detriment of innocent victims.

Well said. Unfortunately there are many fools, or at least people who function as fools by not thinking past our sound-bite culture, for whom it is nevertheless an effective gambit.

I was distressed by the Vatican's emphasis (rather sudden, as it appeared to this layman) on the death penalty a few years back. It seemed obvious to me that it would work powerfully to undermine the pro-life political effort by allowing just what we are seeing, i.e., the sloppy if not dishonest equating of the two concerns.

A death penalty position comparable to Kerry's view on abortion would be to advocate something like a law allowing local police to use lethal force against anyone they suspect of a crime.

Franklin Jennings

Mr. Horton,

I do not think it was imprudent for our Pope to speak out against the death penalty, initially. But surely he saw, early on, how it was being used as a cudgel by Catholics who, for what ever reason, care more about maintaining the Democrat power structure than 40 million lives lost. Once that became obvious, it was quite imprudent for him to continue on the topic. He has provided cover for those who bathe in the blood of children, pure and simple.

Of course, no one is perfect, and I do hope this mistake will not harm his reputation hundreds of years from now.

katie

Many thanks to Franklin for his articulate explanation to Nicole - this moral equivalency thing is making me crazy!

katie

Many thanks to Franklin for his articulate explanation to Nicole - this moral equivalency thing is making me crazy!

Mike Benz

The distinction that Amy drew in her opening comments—between "judging" John Kerry, personally, and assessing the consistency of his stance with that of the Catholic Church—is an important one.

But I'm afraid it is too subtle for the American public.

Remember Kerry's response recently to charges that he was off the Catholic reservation? Kerry: Who is saying that? Let them cast the first stone!

In effect, Kerry was saying: who can rightfully judge me and my faith?

In America, this response, while logically faulty, works. People will almost always side with the person being "judged", and against the person or persons casting judgment.

Amy points out that personal judgment is NOT what is intended here, and she is right. But, unfortunately, this distinction will be lost on the voting public—Including the vast majority of Catholic voters.

Kerry knows that, and he will continue to play the "judgment" card.

Mike Petrik

Dear Fr. Stanley,
Many thanks for your kind (indeed charitable) comments as well as your thoughtful (as always) remarks.
I'm afraid I do not have a very thoughtful response to offer -- I continue to be pre-occupied by professional and other obligations. But my impulsive response is that I agree that souls matter more than politics even when the politics are such that lives are at stake, which is in fact the case to the extent that the pro-life movement might be subjected to a political backlash. For this reason I would hope that Archbishop O'Malley or his designate would seek a private meeting with Senator Kerry in order to properly catechize him. The response of most people to public admonitions is, I'm afraid, more reflexive than reflective. If that doesn't work then perhaps a public statement that Communion will not be offered to Kerry would be in order, but one must at least consider the possibility that such a statement would be counter-productive -- i.e. cynically used by Kerry or other pro-aborts to rally support for the right of women to choose in the face of a domineering anti-women church that is trying to raze the wall of separation bla bla bla.

Steve Skojec

Patrick,

Your comparison between Pius XII and the current situation with the bishops would be a very deft one, if it were legitimate. However, I have a problem with your facts. I'll quote some salient points from an apologetics piece on this subject, rather than make my own arguments at this time:

--Before he became Pope Pius XII, Cardinal Pacelli drafted the papal encyclical, MIT BRENNEDNDER SORGE, in which Pius XI denounced Nazi paganism and racism; the document was smuggled into Germany in March, 1937 and read from all Catholic pulpits, which infuriated the Nazis;

--In 1942, the Catholic hierarchy of Amsterdam spoke out vigorously against the Nazi treatment of the Jews; the Nazi response was a redoubling of round-ups and deportations; by the end of the war, 90 percent of the Jews in Amsterdam were liquidated. Jewish relief officials were in complete agreement that a public attack by the Vatican against the Nazis would a) not have the slightest effect on Hitler and b) would seriously jeopardize the lives of Jews who were being hidden in convents, monasteries, etc.;

--Nevertheless, Pius's Christmas message in 1942 decried the fact that hundreds of thousands were being persecuted "solely because of their race or ancestory." The German ambassador to the Vatican complained that Pius was "clearly speaking on behalf of the Jews." A NEW YORK TIMES editorial on Christmas day, 1942 praised Pius as "a lonely voice crying out of the silence of a continent";

In fact, according to another account:

"The New York Times editorial on December 25, 1941 (Late Day edition, p. 24):

The voice of Pius XII is a lonely voice in the silence and darkness enveloping Europe this Christmas... he is about the only ruler left on the Continent of Europe who dares to raise his voice at all... the Pope put himself squarely against Hitlerism... he left no doubt that the Nazi aims are also irreconcilable with his own conception of a Christian peace."

I'd say that if the New York Times was aware of his criticism over here, chances are, so were the Nazis.

That being the case, there was a real prudential judgement here, above and beyond what politicians and people would think of this Pope - when Catholics spoke out, as the second point I listed illustrates, Jews were killed.

When speaking out against a abortion and pro-abortion politicians causes a marked increase in the number of abortions performed, then you can try to make this parallel. As the situation stands, however, it doesn't bear up to even reasonable scrutiny.

James Kabala

Patrick Rothwell:
Thank you for bringing up this issue again. The denouncers of the modern American episcopacy and the defenders of Pius XII are usually the same people. Their arguments that excommunication of Hitler would have been futile are quite similar to those made by Cardinal McCarrick et al. in the meeting with Deal Hudson and friends - arguments that were mocked throughout St. Blog's. The cognitive dissonance here is incredible, and I wish someone would address it.
If someone were to say, "I genuinely believe that John Kerry is a worse man than Adolf Hitler was," I would consider that a defensible position - we are leading in the death count, 40 million to 6 million (12 million or so if non-Jews are included). However, no one seems to do even this. They just seem to keep their beliefs about Pius XII in one compartment of their brain and their beliefs about "spineless" American bishops in another, and never the twain shall meet. The only explanation I can see for this is a naive belief that everything before Vatican II was great and must be defended, but anything a spineless "Novus Ordo" bishop does, or fails to do, is fair game.
P.S. Undoubtedly there were many Nazis who received the Eucharist between 1933 and 1945, but is there any documentation as to whether Hitler himself ever did? Defenders of Pius XII assure us that Hitler was no longer a practicing Catholic, and I am sure that that is true as far as the interior state of his soul goes, but did he ever attend Mass or receive the sacraments just for show or to fool the people? Even if he did not, what about Goebbels, Goerring, or Himmler? Sad to say, all three of those men were baptized and raised as Catholics.

Patrick Rothwell

"For this reason I would hope that Archbishop O'Malley or his designate would seek a private meeting with Senator Kerry in order to properly catechize him. The response of most people to public admonitions is, I'm afraid, more reflexive than reflective. If that doesn't work then perhaps a public statement that Communion will not be offered to Kerry would be in order, but one must at least consider the possibility that such a statement would be counter-productive -- i.e. cynically used by Kerry or other pro-aborts to rally support for the right of women to choose in the face of a domineering anti-women church that is trying to raze the wall of separation bla bla bla."

Speaking for Patrick Rothwell only, it may be better for the bishops to tread a little lightly on Kerry, but allow Catholic pro-life laity to take the flack in their place and doing the dirty work in the public square, thereby preserving the possibility that Bush might squeak out a Bush victory and setting the stage for the possibility of federalist justices who can strike down Roe v. Wade. Frankly, I do not want this campaign to turn into a public referendum on the Roman Catholic Church which we would lose and could have extremely grave reprecussions on the Church in this country. Denying Kerry communion for his pro-abortion views would insure that would happen.

James Kabala

Steve Skojec:
I wrote my remarks above before your remarks were posted. I would like to reply to your remarks now.
American bishops have denounced abortion. I know that most people get their jollies by claiming that no bishop, nowhere (except maybe Bruzkewitz) ever does anything right, but it is ridiculous to pretend that American bishops never speak out against abortion. I agree that they rarely make clear that abortion is a more important issue than the death penalty, welfare reform, etc., and that many buy into the "seamless garment" baloney, but they have nonetheless denounced abortion repeatedly and consistently. The annual March on Life, while attended by zero Presidents, is attended by dozens of bishops.
In the cases of both Pius and the modern episcopacy, denunciations were made, but the final step of excommunication was not taken. It is by no means impossible to distinguish between the two situations, but it is more difficult than Mr. Skojec allows. Many have argued in the case of Kerry that his receipt of the Eucharist is such a great sacrilege that it should be stopped at all costs. This is certainly a view adopted by Pius himself in his later excommunication of anyone who voted Communist. If this is so, then it should have been true in the case of the Holocaust as well. Furthermore, I would like to know if the Netherlands incident was really as unambiguous an incident of "speaking out = more deaths" as it has been made out to be. Can anyone here provide detailed information about it?

Mike Benz

I disagree with those who argue that overturning Roe would not represent significant change.

While it's true that the question would be returned to the States, many "red" States would outlaw abortion altogether. That, by itself, would be progress.

Eventually, more than 75% of States might be anti-abortion. That would permit a Constitutional amendment, banning abortion, to be adopted. I don't think we're ready for such an amendment today (though I would obviously welcome it).

Overturning Roe could, I believe, put abortion on a "course of ultimate extinction".

Lincoln made a very similar argument in opposing the spread of slavery to the territories in the late 1850s. I think that Lincoln's slavery argument has relevance today as it relates to Roe.

Steve Skojec

James, what part of "occupying army" doesn't compute in this equation? There is a substantial difference between an army that will kill more people if someone speaks up, and a system of government and law that kills more people because no one speaks up.

This isn't a pre/post Vatican II argument, so please don't twist it into one.

The fact that Pius XII is credited by his Jewish contemporaries as having done a tremendous amount to help shelter people from the holocaust should be a significant indicator of where he was. However, he did make public pronouncements, as I mentioned, against the advice of organizations like the Red Cross, who knew that his speech would be rewarded with the deaths of thousands more innocents.

Tell me please, Mr. Kabala, where a Pope's moral culpability lies when he knows that the blood of innocents will be shed if he speaks? If it were only his own life at risk, things would be different. But there were many more lives at stake than that.

Why is this distinction unclear? Why is it not evident that he discharged a public duty to speak out while working privately to do even more? Why do you not realize the difference between speech that puts one at the mercy of public opinion and speech that puts thousands, even millions, under the threat of a gas chamber or the barrel of a Panzer tank?

Patrick Rothwell

Steve, that apologetics piece is wrong because Pope Pius XII never explicitly mentioned Nazi persecution of Jews as Jews and never expressly protested the Nazis systemic murder of Jews in the death camps of Germany and Poland. At most, the world understood that the Pope disapproved of Nazi persecution of Jews - albeit crypticly. In contrast, virtually the entire American episcopate - including the nasty liberal bishops that conservatives love to hate - have denounced BY NAME the evils of abortion and the supposed right to abortion - and have done so repeatedly. Pius - on the other hand - failed to mention the mass murder of Jews even once, though I would argue he had legitimate reasons for keeping his head down.

"When speaking out against a abortion and pro-abortion politicians causes a marked increase in the number of abortions performed, then you can try to make this parallel. As the situation stands, however, it doesn't bear up to even reasonable scrutiny."

Unfortunately, in a democracy that in fact can happen. If, as I stated above, Archbishop O'Malley publicly denies Kerry communion, then there is a significant risk that the liberal media and Kerry's allies will turn the election in part into a referendum on the Roman Catholic Church and the "religious right." The Church would probably lose that referendum. The election is so close that such an issue could easily turn out enough swing voters or an energized Kerry base to result in a narrow defeat for Bush. A Kerry win would mean (a) immediate Federal government subsidized abortions in this country and abroad thereby increasing abortions in the short-term and (b) judicial appointments that would further entrench the so-called right to choose an abortion in our laws and legal system. Pro-lifers need to - somehow - energize the pro-life base without energizing the other side. That requires careful & even stealthy callibration - not an easy thing to do.


Liam

Re Kyle's suggestion of the natural law approach to establishing a constitutional right to life for the unborn:

You might be shocked to realize that the Supreme Court justice most likely to prevent and condemn that approach would be...Justice Antonin Scalia.

kyle

Liam, you overstate it (MOST likely to prevent it?), but I'm not shocked by your basic point. I do suspect you're right that many people who think as I do would be surprised.

Donald R. McClarey

Patrick, the Nazis viewed the address of the Pope referred to in the 1941 New York Times editorial as being an attack on their policies in refence to the Jews. An SS report at the time stated that the Pope was clearly attacking the Nazis for their treatment of the Jews. The so-called "silence" of Pius XII is a canard stemming from the play The Deputy in 1962 and written by a former member of the Hitler Youth who found it more convenient to blame Pius XII for Hitler than blaming the Germans. During the War everyone, Nazis, Allies, Jews and Gentiles, knew whose side the Pope was on.

Donald R. McClarey

Comment in SS report after Pope's Christmas message of 1942. "The Pope has repudiated the National Socialist New European Order. His speech is one long attack on everything we stand for. God, he says, regards all peoples and races as worthy of the same consideration. Here he is clearly speaking in behalf of the Jews and makes himself a mouthpiece of the Jewish war criminals."

Steve Skojec

Patrick, thanks for fleshing out your argument for me. I think you make some very good points, especially concerning the potential within democracy to reward Catholic action with a stronger pro-abortion constituency, but I still think this is a different issue than Pius XII/WWII - and I will tell you why:

1.) The immediate repercussions of the actions of Pius XII. He saw the cause-and-effect of Catholic anti-Nazi sentiment, and had real moral considerations - as you alluded to - for not speaking out by name against Nazism, especially while he remained the last bastion in Italy standing against the Fascist tide. He was literally surrounded, and was not so in the Communist crisis. If this was for selfish motives, again, it's problematic. But he's also the head of state of a small nation, and the lives and well being of its citizens were also in his hands. Not to mention those fugitives, many of them Jews, who had been given refuge there, against the rules of the occupying army.

2.) Yes, the American Bishops have come out in a strong stance against abortion in the abstract, as Pius XII did against the murder and detainment of people because of their race, in the abstract. However, the American Bishops have not been known for coming out against specific advocates of abortion, especially high profile Catholic politicians like Kerry. This is tantamount to your accusation that Pius XII didn't come out in name against Nazism, though the consequences of his doing so, and the consequences the American Bishops would face for said action, are incommensurate.

3.) The reasons I say these consequences are incommensurate are ennumerated in my post addressed to Mr. Kabala. I would say in response to your assertion about energizing a party base in a democracy, however, that the assertion of the American Bishops could also energize the pro-life base, because finally someone with moral authority will stand up and rally the troops, and tell the other side "we're not going to take it anymore".

One of the reason pro-lifers are demoralized is that we feel so scattered and alone. Our constituency is represented to some extent in the March for Life, but that's simply not enough. We have courageous men like Sen. Rick Santorum who stand up on the floor of the Senate and take to task those that try to mitigate abortion into something other than murder. We know what kind of a minority he's in.

Our Church tells us abortion is the worst kind of evil, but doesn't authorize us to take any action beyond prayer and protest against it. When we look to the stronger voice of our Bishops to castigate those who make a show of their Catholicism and then trump these evils as something they unequivocally support, and all we get are mumbles and grumbles while the majority of nominal Catholics in the country become more firmly cemented in their belief that they can run amok with central Catholic tenets of belief and still use the "Catholic" name to describe themselves.

What happens instead is this - we sit in chatrooms and online message boards debating whether or not the Bishops should do their job, and meanwhile the babies get slaughtered and the statistics rise. Speaking of World War II, doesn't it make you feel a little bit like those Germans who didn't do anything to stop the Nazis and the holocaust? We talk about justifying the Iraq war and Capital punishment, but the very fact that this issue hasn't driven our nation to the brink of Civil War is indicative of an overwhelming desensitization on the issue. When I get up in the morning, I think about coffee and what kind of Jelly to put on my toast, not how I am going to fight to save all the babies who will be murdered in the womb today. And that's because I've been forced to put it in the back of my mind by the sheer inanity of inaction and lack of moral example.

We need leaders who are willing to fight for this, who make it a bigger priority than liturgy committees and the Bishop's Annual Appeal. For heaven's sake, Pope Urban II instituted a crusade for less!

I wonder how Christ would handle this crisis? I somehow doubt he would be so quiet.

Steve Skojec

Liam, you're right that Scalia takes a strict constitutionalist approach to the abortion question, but not one that is so abstracted that abortion becomes a non-issue. In his opinion in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, you can see that he clearly questions the basis for the legality of abortion at all, from a Constitutional perspective, despite the fact that he would like to remit this question to the states.

He also makes some interesting points about how judicial activism, of which Roe is probably the most disturbing example, is turning the Supreme Court into a body that suffers protests, as though they represent the will of the people instead of justice itself, which is objective and therefore has no constituents.

A good read, all in all.

c matt

Getting back to Susan's comment that Kerry isn't forcing anyone to get an abortion (addressed by others), I would offer one observation - the Bishops, if they acted to refuse communion/ex-communicate Kerry would no more be forcing Kerry to stop supporting abortion than Kerry is forcing anyone to have one. All the Bishops would be doing is to simply show Kerry, and the world, that Kerry is no longer Catholic by Kerry's own admission. That's it. Kerry can choose to be Catholic, or choose to support abortion through political power. The choice is Kerry's, as it is with every individual. We only know of Kerry's choice because he is in the public eye.

But he can't have it both ways - Kerry does not get to define Catholicism, the Catholic Church gets to do that. If he had integrity and balls, he'd change his stand or leave the Church. But, unfortunately, it looks like most of our bishops are not going to put him to the choice.

c matt

Final comment:

This is far less about Kerry (or Kennedy, or Daschle, or Schwarzzen...Schwarzen... you know who) as it is about the bishops.

Mike Benz

My prediction is that the task force will make a strong statement on this subject sometime over the Summer, and that the statement will present problems for Kerry and pose a challenge to Catholic voters at an important juncture in the election process. I don't think that the Bishops will do nothing. They will do something, even if that "something" does not relate to the Eucharist.

I wonder whether the Vatican will sit on the task force to do more than seems currently to be in the offing. That cannot be ruled out.

Did you all see the commentary over at Catholic Analysis? I thought it was pretty well supported.

caroline

Trying to see this from what might be Kerry's point of view. If he along with so many modern Catholics and even priests, I am told, no longer see the Eucharist as the Body and Blood of Christ but merely as a symbol of unity, then he might well and with good conscience receive the Eucharist as a sign of unity with those Christians, whether Catholic or Protestant, with whom he feels united and of whom there are indeed many. For those of us who believe that the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Christ, then it's reception in the state of mortal sin is sacrilege. Seems to me that what is really lying at the bottom of this controversy is the state of what Catholics believe when they receive the Eucharist. So often in our discussions of the Situation I have been struck by the lack of outrage against sacrilege committed by priests repeatedly celebrating the Eucharist as they repeatedly abuse. Outrage against the abuse, by all means, but where is the outrage against the sacrilege?

Stacey

Caroline wrote: "For those of us who believe that the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Christ, then it's reception in the state of mortal sin is sacrilege. Seems to me that what is really lying at the bottom of this controversy is the state of what Catholics believe when they receive the Eucharist. ...I have been struck by the lack of outrage against sacrilege committed by priests repeatedly celebrating the Eucharist as they repeatedly abuse. Outrage against the abuse, by all means, but where is the outrage against the sacrilege?"

Nail. Head. That is what it comes down to. What is obvious is that Kerry knows nothing about what the Catholic Church teaches on the subject. For one, if he did, he would not receive communion (not the Eucharist...without a valid priesthood, all Protestants have is bread and wine--or grape juice!--regardless of what they believe) in a Protestant church. But as Caroline pointed out, it's quite obvious that a number of Catholics don't understand or believe what the Church teaches, either, or else no one would want for Kerry to receive Holy Communion in a Catholic church, thereby committing the sin of sacrilege against Our Lord in the Eucharist, which is yet another mortal sin, objectively speaking. This makes Kerry's situation with regards to the salvation of his immortal soul worse, not better. Even if giving scandal were not an issue (which of course it is) why is it that so many of those who should know better show so little concern for Kerry's soul? They would be helping him by denying him the Eucharist, not hurting him!

amanda

Im doing a project for school on career intrests. I wanted to interview a historian for my project, so if you could help me ot that would be great! Thanks.

Amanda

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영화는 물론 토익 애니매이션 만화 성인물 등등..
서로가 가진 자료들을 공유해보세요.. 이것이 p2p의 장점입니다
한번 방문해보시면 절대 후회없는 p2p세계로 오실수있습니다.


http://yahanp2p.ub.to/ ◀이 주소로 가시면됩니다.
http://yahanp2p.ub.to/ ◀이 주소로 가시면됩니다.
http://yahanp2p.ub.to/ ◀이 주소로 가시면됩니다.

게시판 운영자님께 광고성글을 남겨 대단히 죄송합니다.
삭제 비번은 5012 입니다. 다시는 글남기지 않겠습니다.
즐거운하루되세요,.

Fred Dawes


The fact is most catholics and that church would sell out the usa for mexico any day of the week if told to. its a sad fact if you don't like what i say, so what! long live the usa and to hell with any other idea, god is a joke from the mideast just like the muslims and the jews. the real god is the ideals of the bill of right not some big guy killing people in the sky! anyway i am not into mass murder or greek god heads.

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