Thursday, May 27, 2004

SOMEONE GETS WHAT'S GOING ON
Via Amy Welborn an article by Tim Ruttan says what I've been trying to say for weeks now.

Has it ocurred to people that giving George Bush the Church's de facto blessing may not be the best thing to do right now? Why not make him sweat, and maybe tmeper his enthusiasm for the death penalty or for foreign war.

Yes, Catholics should end up voting for Bush anyway, but I'm not sure I'm willing to show all my cards just yet.

UPDATE: Ack! I just realized I used about my least favorite blogger tactic -- declaring someone "gets it" when they agree with me.

Oh well...

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

HERE'S MY FRUSTRATION
Faced with a candidate who is pro-choice, we choose not to try to bring him into the fold, and help create an environment where both parties are amenable to pro-life arguments. No, instead we try to drive him as far to the extreme as possible, and urge our bishops to cut off any dialogue with him.

I can't help but think that something other than concern for the unborn is driving this.

Monday, May 24, 2004

WHERE I AM
I am still 100% against abortion and pro-life. I believe bishops have the right to deny communion to pro-choice politicians. Those who say they don't should decide -- is abortion a moral issue that shouldn't be mixed into politics, or a political issue that shouldn't be mixed into religion? Catholic pro-choice politicians who say they need to "serve the interests of diverse constituents" ought to answer how their support for legal abortion serves their unborn constituents.

But there's something about this "deny Kerry communion" effort that really, really bugs me, as any reader can tell.

If the Republicans and Democrats were to switch positions on abortion, I'm honestly not sure how many of these critics would switch with it.

I think that for some the abortion issue is an excuse to vote for tax cuts and possibly unjust wars and pretend that we're not behaving sefishly.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

"I WANT THEM TO TEACH THE FAITH!"
There's lot of comments like this around the Catholic blogs. Usually it means the writer wants his priests or bishops to preach about abortion, contraception, and homosexuality, and not that other fluff like loving your neighbor and all.

Of course, the person making this complaint is already familiar with and has accepted the Church's teachings on these matters, so the complaint that, "I want the bishops to challenge us, not tell us how great we are," rings false to me. It seems more like these folks want the priests and bishops to tell them how great they are for being pro-life and not contracepting.

Which makes them not much different from the rest of us, except for one thing. They want to be told how good they are at the expense of others.

There's a word for that type of attitude. It has five letters and begins with a "p," and is something we're told to avoid.

Monday, May 10, 2004

TO BE WITH US YOU'VE GOT TO REALLY HATE THE ROMANS

  • It's not enough to recognize abortion as a moral evil.
  • It's not enough to favor laws that would outlaw most abortions.
  • It's not enough to favor laws that would outlaw all abortions.
  • It's not enough to oppose medical research that destroys embryos.
  • It's not enough to consider abortion the most important issue when determining to vote for.
  • It's not enough to believe that pro-choice public figures should not be invited to speak at or be honored by Catholic institutions.
  • It's not enough to think that pro-choice politicians should not present themselves for communion.
  • It's not enough to believe that denying communion to pro-choice politicians is a valid pastoral response.

No, in order to be a real pro-life Catholic, you must believe that all bishops and cardinals must deny the Eucharist to pro-choice politicians, or else they are disloyal to Rome.

And this is where I get off the bus.

It's a shame. Technology and experience are turning more and more people to the pro-life point of view. And what do they find there? Stupid internal bickering like this. We could be growing, and instead we're turning on each other.

Meanwhile, 3,000 unborn children are killed every day.

But we sure told Cardinal McCarrick, didn't we?

Ooh, yessir. He'll think twice now. I keep wondering what all this is supposed to accomplish.

"Well, we'll get McCarrick and all the bishops to stand up for the faith, and deny communion to Kerry and other 'pro-aborts' ."
"And what will that accomplish?"

"Well, the Church will be sending a clear message that the pro-choice viewpoint won't be tolerated!"

"And what will that accomplish?"

"Well, then no Catholic could believe that 'pro-choice Catholic' is a consistent position."

"And what will that accomplish?"

"Well,I'll have a good trump card in my comment war debates, and I guess I won't have to be bothered about whether the Iraq war is just or if the death penalty is OK or if we're taking care of the poor enough when I go to vote for Dubya in November, since nobody's being denied the Eucharist over those issues!"

"Oh, great, and what about the 3,000 unborn children killed everyday?"

I'm not sure it's a coincidence that this is coming to a head the same week abuses in prisons were found in the war pursued by our "pro-life" president.

I know this is the clich├Ęd "soft" Catholic Gospel reference (and I'm sure I'll hear about Jesus driving the money changers out of the Temple in response), but I can't help but think of the Pharisees stoning the prostitute. Here we stand, rocks in hand saying, "Please, bishop, can we please throw them at Kerry!?" And some of the bishops, without excusing the sin, say, "Not so fast." And then we leave grumbling.

Last week there was some controversy over the bishops issuing statements opposing the Missouri legislature's cutting of Medicaid. Now, imagine there was some Catholic advocacy group for the poor. They took $500,000 and used it not to actually help poor people, not to work to pass legislation to help the poor, but to shame bishops into denying the Eucharist to legislatures who had voted to cut the funding.

Now I ask you, if an advocacy group did this, how seriously would you take their concern for the poor?

Do these people have any idea how all this bickering looks to those outside the pro-life movement?

It's all such a tremendous waste of time money and effort.

Meanwhile 3,000 babies will be killed.

But we sure told McCarrick a thing or two, didn't we?

UPDATE: I know, I know -- people fighting to deny the Eucharist to legislators who voted for Medicaid cuts would be on much shakier theological ground than those pushing to deny it to pro-choice politicians. My point is what would we think of a movement claiming to serve the poor that went about its goal by trying to shame bishops into denying the Eucharist to politicians it opposed.

Friday, May 07, 2004

ON THE KERRY THING
To my regret, I jumped back into the Catholic blogs this week, to all too predictably find, in a week when it was exposed that American soldiers were torturing Iraqi prisoners, some people still think the greatest crisis facing us is that some bishops don't think denying John Kerry and other pro-choice Catholic politicians communion is such a great idea.

I'm going to engage in some speculation, here. I simply don't think the best use of our time and effort in defending the unborn is to pester the bishops to deny politicians communion. And I'm not sure it matters to these advocates, since it doesn't seem to be what it's about, anyway.

Take this for example(via Mark Shea's blog). There's a, how do I put this?, glee there that seems a tad out of place in the service of confronting one spiritual fathers for insufficiently defending children's lives in a way similar to attitudes that contributed to the Holocaust, as in this passage:

Cardinal McCarrick Innitzer met privately with Kerry Hitler in mid-April. He said the encounter lasted nearly an hour and was "a good meeting, a meeting where we discussed many things." He declined to elaborate, saying that when he meets someone "as a priest" he does not think it appropriate to give details. "In present circumstances it is necessary to emphasise that the duty of the Church is the cure of souls— through worship, the sacraments, and preaching. She must remain aloof from all else," Innitzer said.


These advocates are fond of saying how serious an issue abortion is, and how there is no room for compromise. It seems strange that a moral failure on this would be an occasion for guffaws.

And I don't think it helps the pro-life cause at all to compare someone who favors keeping abortion legal to someone who institued the systemized exterminiation of 6 million Jews and started a bloody world war. That's how we start losing credibility.

I'm going to get in trouble for saying this, but I have a real hard time believing that the "deny Kerry communion" movement is really all about defending unborn children. It seems to be a lot about power, and getting to be "right."

I wonder if all these people have considered the opportunity Kerry's candidacy presents. What if Kerry were to change his views on abortion, as the Democratic candidate for president? Wouldn't that completely change the dynamics of the debate? Wouldn't that be a flood of rain in a parched land? Isn't it possible that McCarrick and others recognize this opportunity?

You might say it's unlikely this would happen, but it's even less likely if the bishops excommunicate him or all deny him communion.

But this conversion isn't what many of these folks want. They want to be able to go into the voting booth, vote Republican, and leave the booth believing they've contributed to bringing about a Culture of Life. If the pro-choice stranglehold on the Democratic party were to be loosened, life wouldn't be quite so easy, would it? I think there's a lot of folks out there who fear, rather than welcome this development.

Plus, there's also the joy many Catholics seem to take in declaring themselves more orthodox, and better than the bishops. Take a look at this thread and see how people are willing to bend over backwards in order to translate and interpret a bishop's comments in order to criticize him.

I think I'll go back to my Easter "fast."

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

THE MAIN PROBLEM
I am beginning to be convinced that one of the main sicknesses of American culture these days is that when someone raises an issue of injustice in the world, we respond by questioning where the messenger was when some other injustice was being committed by people we're less sympathetic too.

Veterans of pro-life debates are likely most familiar with this tactic. Witness for the unborn, and you'll be given all sorts of unsolicited advice about things you should do if you "really care so much about children."

Missouri bishops remind us not to negelct the poor when cutting the state budget, and are lecured about why they don't do more about life issues even though they do plenty.

And now, faced with the abuse and torture of prisoners in Iraq, some are asking "where were these people when Saddam was decapitating people?"

We're all so eager to change the subject when we're actually challenged.

Monday, May 03, 2004

CRY ME A RIVER
Pro-choiceers can't stop being outraged that Karen Hughes dared to use the words "abortion" and "9/11" in the same sentence.

This shows how bereft of ideas the pro-choice movement is. Technology and experience are making it clearer that abortion is killing, and saying "killing's OK" isn't a winning argument.

So, all they have left to do is cry foul about how mean and terrible those pro-lifers are, even if they have to stretch to do it.
ATROCITIES ARE A PART OF WAR
Which is why people like me say the standard for when we pursue war ought to be pretty damn high.