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A Spotlight on the uses and abuses of Catholic Social Teaching

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

GOP Catholics don't vote for Santorum

The New York Times has a great feature on its Website today showing which groups in 11 states tended to support Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum in yesterday's "Super Tuesday" primary. Among evangelicals, Santorum beat Romney 6 states to five but among Catholics, Romney won 10 states and Santorum just one, Tennessee.

It shows that even among the most politically conservative and active Catholics in the U.S., Santorum is not particularly popular. He, or at least his supporters, would no doubt say the Romney voters are not good Catholics.

 

Rather, I  think it's more that Santorum is heretical in both style and substance. Catholicism is not anti-intellectual but Santorum is militantly so -- global warming is a hoax, evolution is not true, going to college is for "snobs."

 Also, his emphasis on contraception -- sorry, bishops -- leave most people cold, even many conservative or traditional Catholics.

 So Santorum can go to Stubenville, with its conservative Catholic college, and hold events at parishes -- if it was one I belonged to, I would write the bishop -- but the "sense of the people" is not with him, even among Catholics in the GOP.

 

 

 

 

1:00 pm est          Comments

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rick Santorum's Gospel-free Catholicism

Theologian and holy man Rick Santorum magnanimoulsy concedes that President Obama is a Christian, but notes that the president's theology is deficient and more focused on the earth than is

biblically warranted.


Santorum's evil Obama straw man apparently is obsessed with the environment and climate change.


Funny thing is, many progressives would say that the president has not been concerend enough with climate change. How often does he mention it? What has he really done about it?


Santorum is fully aligned with the know-nothings who say that man-made global warming is a liberal plot to take over the world, masterminded by the evil Al Gore.  The impeccable reasoning goes like

this: "Al Gore is a Democrat.  We don't like Al Gore. Therefore man-made global warming is a false, evil plot to take away our freedom." Facts have nothing to do with it.


Funny thing for Super-Catholic Santorum, the popes have been acknowleding climate change going back to 1993. Recent statements by Pope Benedict have acknowledged it also. Does this mean he has fallen prey to an evil liberal plot to control our lives?


Also interesting that Santorum criticizes Obama for not being biblically oriented enough.  One could say that the things  Santorum is obsesssed about in Catholic doctrine are not biblically based at all, such as artificial contraception and abortion. 


(That isn't to say the Catholic Church is wrong about abortion, it's right. But that's an entirely different matter than the fact that Santorum's brand of Catholicism contradicts much of Jesus' teaching in the New Testament, teaching the defines the core of what is means to be a Christian).


Where? For instance, matters like compassion for the poor (Mt. 25), being non-judgemental, non-violent and forgiving (Mt. 5-7) do not seem to make it into Santorum's  theology at all.  He's  judgemental

against the poor and indifferent, too, declaring that "suffering is a part of life."


Given Santorum's pro-plutocracy view of economics, "suffering is a part of life" does not seem to be part of his message for corporations and the rich when it comes to sacrificing some wealth to do more for the common good.


As for non-violence, the fact that Santorum is a pro-war neo-conservative, closely aligned with the neo-con Ethics and Public Policy Center has not been getting nearly enough play so far. (After all, he won't be criticized for that in the GOP!)


Santorum is a Super Catholic but I wonder if he is in fact really a Christian. I do not know the Jesus he is preaching.


12:12 am est          Comments

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Newt the know-northing

Newt Gingrich says that if Obama is re-elected president, he will declare war on the Catholic Church. What hysterical nonsense.

No, he won't. This is absurd. 

Newt, I've been a Catholic 48 more years than you have and I know a lot more about it, and I despise how you are using my Church for your own futile ego trip.

---- 

In other news, Mitt Romney says he was "severely conservative" while governor of Massachusetts. Funny thing, I had the privilege to vote against Romney in Mass. and lived here while he was governor. I didn't notice any severe conservatism. Only the moderate fiscal conservatism paired with the social liberalism of his esteemed Republican predecessor as governor, William Weld.

 ---- 

 Rachel Maddow was much more subdued than the other hosts about the Obama change on contraceptive coverage and the Church. I like her, but her nun aunt notwithstanding, her lack of sympathy for the Church is quite apparent.

2:07 pm est          Comments

Friday, February 10, 2012

Hooray for the President

President Obama's Solomon-like decision today both to respect the freedom of religion for the institutional Catholic Church and to provide contraceptive coverage for women who seek to have it, will not satisfy the Obama-haters.

The three Republican candidates for president, of course, are not happy. Gingrich, famously on his third religion (Catholicism) and his third wife (Calista), declares that the President is waging war on the Catholic Church. Bull.

As I noted on Twitter just the other day @banner_religion, the right will no doubt be greatly disappointed that this issue is off the table. Look for bloviating rage to continue going forward.

As for Rick Santorum, see my opinion piece on the home page of this site. He's an über-Catholic on all the sex-related issues, but a reliable plutocrat when it comes to economics. At CPAC today, he said the economy was secondary; what comes first? Social issues, and no doubt the fantasy war he and the right imagine Obama is waging against religion.

 

Oh, also interesting to see Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio now a Catholic again — instead of an evangelical — once hay could be made over Obama and the Catholic Church. 

With this said, I do have to note that I was appalled by the tone-deafness of liberals on MSNBC to legitimate concerns about freedom of religion. Rachel Maddow was particularly infuriating. I'm waiting to see what tone she takes tonight. The hosts so far have been favorable to the president's decision.

 

8:21 pm est          Comments

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The missing voice

Sunday will see the beatification of Pope John Paul II in Rome. This is just one step away from his being declared a saint. John Paul has been put on the fast track to sainthood, expressing the will not only of the Church hierarchy but of millions of Catholics around the world.

 

John Paul II’s personal holiness was beyond question. It shone through in his exuberant travels around the world, when he met with and forgave the man who tried to assassinate him, and in how he carried on in his last years of physical decline to fulfill his duties, his spiritual core radiating through his suffering.

 

And personal holiness is what matters for sainthood, not a pope’s abilities as a leader, administrator or thinker. The failings of John Paul II’s papacy have become increasingly apparent in the six years since his death and have been explored elsewhere. Here, I wish to celebrate a very positive aspect of John Paul’s papacy which has many direct applications to life in the U.S. today: His compelling development of Catholic social teaching. Here are some examples:

 

• John Paul II prophetically opposed Iraq War II and gave only conditional assent to the war in Afghanistan as an act of self defense after 9/11. Indeed, John Paul moved the Church partially away from the shop-worn "Just War" tradition -- which is so easily manipulated to approve whatever war is at hand -- in the direction of complete opposition to war as a problem-solving tool.

 

•To attain the good of peace there must be a clear and conscious acknowledgment that violence is an unacceptable evil and that it never solves problems," John Paul II wrote in his 2005 World Day of Peace message. "Violence is a lie, for it goes against the truth of our faith, the truth of our humanity. Violence destroys what it claims to defend: The dignity, the life, the freedom of human beings."

 

• As with such peacemakers as Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi or Dorothy Day, John Paul II did not view peacemaking as a feel-good sentiment, but as the hardest work in the world. As he wrote in his 2004 World Day of Peace message:

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Mt. 5:9). How could this saying, which is a summons to work in the immense field of peace, find such a powerful echo in the human heart if it did not correspond to an irrepressible yearning and hope dwelling within us? And why else would peacemakers be called children of God, if not because God is by nature the God of peace?"

 

• Being a full-Gospel Catholic, John Paul did not see the sharp division between "life" issues and "peace and justice" issues that seems so stark in the U.S. Church today. He saw things whole. So in his 1995 encyclical letter, "The Gospel of Life," which focuses mainly on abortion, euthanasia, and procedures such as genetic engineering, he included a section that moved the Church away from its traditional approval of the death penalty.

 

Society should only exercise capital punishment when there is no other way to defend society, he wrote: "Today, however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."

 

• Having seen the power of the Solidarity movement in Poland, John Paul II definitely supported the right of workers to unionize. However, he did not exalt unions over employers -- he urged, as always, peaceful and cooperative relationships.

 

"The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church," quoting from his encyclical letter "On Human Work," summarizes his position, "Properly speaking, unions are promoters of the struggle for social justice, for the rights of workers in their particular professions: ‘This struggle should be seen as a normal endeavor "for" the just good ... not a struggle "against" others.’"

 

• The Cold War is now history, but in that epic battle between the West and Communism, John Paul II did not turn a blind eye to the inequities of capitalism. He adhered to the concept of the "universal destination of goods." This is the idea that God created the world for all humanity and so all people have a right to enough resources for a decent life by the fact of their very existence.

 

"One of the greatest injustices in the contemporary world consists precisely in this: That the ones who possess much are relatively few and those who possess almost nothing are many," he wrote in his 1987 encyclical letter, "On Human Concern." "It is the injustice of the poor distribution of the goods and services originally intended for all."

 

Karl Marx is not the only utopian atheist with a popular, but toxic, ideology at odds with Catholic social teaching. The vision of radical individualism of Ayn Rand, including its rejection of altruism, is the polar opposite of such elementary concepts of Catholic social teaching as charity, solidarity and the necessity to consider the common good in all public activities. On the principle of solidarity, John Paul wrote in "On Human Concern:"

 

"The exercise of solidarity within each society is valid when its members recognize one another as persons. Those who are more influential, because they have a greater share of goods and common services, should feel responsible for the weaker and be ready to share with them all they possess," he wrote. "Those who are weaker, for their part, in the same spirit of solidarity, should not adopt a purely passive attitude or one that is destructive of the social fabric, but, while claiming their legitimate rights, should do what they can for the good of all. The intermediate groups, in their turn, should not selfishly insist on their particular interests, but respect the interests of others."

 

The applications to U.S. public life today are obvious. That Catholic social teaching in such fullness has no vocal national champion in our public life today, especially in the Church hierarchy, is a subject for another article.

8:19 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

'Catholic Identity' with Heart

 

My favorite Catholic neo-conservative, George Weigel, gives Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted “full marks” for his Draconian actions regarding an unusual, heart-rending and complex medical situation in a Catholic hospital that resulted in the termination of a pregnancy to save the life of a mother of four young children. 


An article in the Jan. 21 issue of The National Catholic Reporter makes it clear that Weigel sees the bishop’s unnecessarily harsh behavior as a big win for "Catholic identity" and what Weigel calls “the Catholic brand.”


The nun who recommended that it would be better to save the life of the mother rather than that both mother and unborn child die has been excommunicated. The unrepentant Catholic hospital has been stripped of the Eucharist and its Catholic status. All this by Bishop Olmsted. This even though a number theologians have argued that in this case the all-important "intention" of the act was not to kill the unborn child but to save the mother.


It would seem that the picture of Catholic identity held up here is that our leaders are inflexible, punitive, lack common sense, and have no understanding of or sympathy for pregnant women. 


This case, and Weigel's typically facile rhetoric, does serve at least one useful purpose. It brings to mind what indeed should be part of true Catholic identity in a secular world. Yes, Catholics must be pro-life, but an enhanced Catholic identity would  oppose violence in all types of situations. I call this a "comprehensive culture of life," and I would argue that this is what the late Pope John Paul II was arguing for in his 1995 encyclical "The Gosepl of Life." In it, among other things, the late pope further develops Catholic doctrine toward abolition of the death penalty.


As an example of this “comprehensive culture of life,” John Paul II opposed the unjust invasion of Iraq in 2003. You may know that Mr. Weigel was a great cheerleader for this war of agression, touring the country saying that the pope's opposition was just the type of thing popes are expected to say. (Read: You can ignore the pope on this one). I saw Weigel say just this at Williams College; this while peddliing a book called “The Courage to be Catholic.”


Above all else, Catholic identity should identify us for all the world with our Master, the one who said to turn the other cheek, to forgive, to care for the least of His brothers and sisters.


This would mean that U.S. bishops would speak out against our hyper-violent society, in which, according to New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, more than 150,000 Americans have been murdered since the beginning of the 21st century. (Where’s our “War on Murder?”)


Closer adherence of Catholic identity with Jesus Christ would require our bishops to speak out forcefully against our interventionist foreign policy. And how about a prophetic stand against the U.S. defense budget, larger than that of the rest of the world's combined? 


But not only bishops. If more and more Catholics became pro-life in every aspect of our lives, Catholic identity would not only be more faithful to the Gospel but Catholics would be much more influential, as Catholics, in our public life.


The term "Catholic identity" also brings to mind the fundamentalist, sectarian stance which would  have the "orthodox" not engage in dialogue or cooperative effort with those of other views in order to maintain iron-clad fidelity to true doctrine. 


Again, this may be “Catholic identity,” as defined by pre-Vatican II Baroque Catholicsm, but it is not in fidelity with the example of our Master, who hung out with sinners, tax collectors, women with shady pasts, etc. He also engaged and debated the Pharisees, those guardians of "orthodoxy."


Such engagement in the thick of the world, at times encountering hostility, was difficult and challenging for Him no doubt. But He was motivated by love and sustained by prayer. What a wonderful identity Catholics would have if both laity and hierarchy exemplified love and prayer in their enagement with the world.


There is plenty of injustice and crime and killing in the world — including the United States — for Catholics to confront without persecuting a dedicated nun who made the best call she could in a complicated and tragic situation.


12:23 am est          Comments

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bishops' Statement on Arizona Shootings

Here is the official statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on the shootings. The statement is fine. However, I would be interested in the official analysis of the "wider implications" of this horrendous event, should there ever be one. 

 

Archbishop Dolan Calls for Prayers, Greater Respect for Human Life in Wake of Arizona Shooting

WASHINGTON -- (January 10, 2011) The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) renewed their call for respect for human life, as the nation mourned for those affected by the shooting that killed six, including John M. Roll, the chief judge for the United States District Court for Arizona, and wounded at least a dozen others, including U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. The incident occurred on the morning of January 8, when Giffords was meeting with constituents outside a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona.
            
“Our prayers and concern are with those most immediately affected by this violence,” said Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the USCCB. “We commend to God those who have died and we pray for the families who lost loved ones and for those who are suffering from their wounds. We also pray for the person who committed these acts and those who are responsible for his care.”
            
“While we as bishops are also concerned about the wider implications of the Tucson incident, we caution against drawing any hasty conclusions about the motives of the assailant until we know more from law enforcement authorities.” Archbishop Dolan said. “Violence of any kind must be condemned. When the target of a violent act is a public official, it shakes the confidence of the nation in its ability to protect its leaders and those who want to participate in the democratic process. As bishops we call once more for respect for the life and dignity of every person as we work together for the common good, seeking to address the various social and political issues that face us as a nation.”

1:28 pm est          Comments

Saturday, January 8, 2011

“Violence is a lie, for it goes against the truth of our faith, the truth of our humanity. Violence destroys what it claims to defend: the dignity, the life, the freedom of human beings.”

These words of Pope John Paul II stand our for me in the wake of this abominable attack on a Congresswoman and the killing and critical wounding of many others today in Arizona.

We Americans are addicted to violent rhetoric and to violence itself. This tragedy is an opportunity for our Catholic Bishops in the U.S. to speak out in a prophetic way against all violence, not just the violence of abortion.

  

 

10:36 pm est          Comments

Monday, December 6, 2010

Captains of a drifting ship

This column, published on the religion page of the Bennington Banner, on Dec. 4, 2010, is an expanded version of my previous blog post here:

Mark Rondeau

We live in strange times. The recent release of a book excerpt in which Pope Benedict XVI indicates his opinion that use of condoms to prevent the spread of the HIV virus can in some circumstances be a moral action set off a media extravaganza.

 

Clearly, what the Catholic Church holds and teaches still matters, or at least generates wide interest, especially with anything dealing with sexuality.

Yet, the response of many, not only outside the church but almost equally within -- at least in the West -- is too often to nod and dismiss the pronouncement as irrelevant.

 

John J. Dilulio Jr. has an excellent column in the Nov. 29 issue of "America," titled "Blending In." He notes that when it comes to voting, U.S. Catholics are pretty much indistinguishable from the rest of the population. "On nearly every public policy issue on which there is good national polling data...Catholics as a group come as close to any religious denomination does to mirroring what most Americans believe."

 

This could be seen in their voting patterns in the last two national elections: Democratic in 2008, Republican in 2010. Long gone are the days when John F. Kennedy ran for the presidency, and Catholics were somehow seen as less than fully American. Yet, the march into the political and cultural mainstream has come at a price, Dilulio writes.

 

"The country’s Catholic bishops face a flock that includes large numbers of people who hold positions at odds with church teaching (on abortion, the death penalty, programs to assist the poor and many other issues)."

 

My belief, buttressed by much of what I have seen, read and experienced in recent years, is that a majority of Catholics let their politics lead their faith, rather than using their faith to determine their politics. This is true of both liberals and conservatives, but is most striking, and disturbing, in the U.S. on the right.

 

For instance, I do not have polling data, but I can easily imagine several hundreds of thousands of Tea Party Catholics, totally at odds with church teaching on war, the universal destination of goods, the preferential option for the poor, the common good and the death penalty, reverently invoking the notions of Ayn Rand, who believed in radical selfishness and that the individual was god.

 

Dilulio concludes on a somber note: "Have American Catholics been folded so completely into the nation’s political and cultural mainstream that they can no longer be its political salt and cultural light, or so divided among themselves that they can never speak truth to power in one faith-filled voice? I pray not, but I fear so."

 

Teaching doesn’t register

 

Clearly, Catholic teaching about economic justice, the environment, war and life -- while still influential (and often distorted) in some spheres -- is a pretty much a cipher to the average American Catholic. And by all indications it will remain so. Not only do the U.S. bishops speak with a muted voice compared to the past, they are moving increasingly to a focus on abortion and gay marriage to the exclusion of all else. Economic justice, war, the death penalty, be damned.

As an editorial in the Nov. 26 issue of the National Catholic Reporter regarding the recent U.S. bishops’ national meeting notes, "Just how deeply insular and inward looking the [U.S. bishops’] conference has become was apparent in the fact that the agenda for this year’s meeting, conducted amid the greatest recession since the Great Depression, contained no mention of the poor, the jobless or the state of the economy."

 

This is ironic and sad, for the social teaching of the Catholic Church is considered part of its evangelization effort. In his social encyclical issued 23 years ago, "On Social Concern, ("Sollicitudo Rei Socialis"), Pope John Paul II wrote that "the teaching and spreading of her social doctrine are part of the church’s evangelizing mission."

 

He adds, "The condemnation of evils and injustices is also part of that ministry of evangelization in the social field which is an aspect of the Church’s prophetic role."

 

But, judging by the priorities of the U.S. bishops, endless wars, rising inequality, massive unemployment while corporations make record profits, governmental gridlock on climate change, and a whole host of other concerns hold little merit. In a further irony, Pope Benedict, just last year, laid out a bold vision for the future and broke new ground in Catholic social teaching with his encyclical "Caritas in Veritate."

 

Have the bishops made a wide effort to promulgate this encyclical? No. To apply it to the situation in the U.S.? No. To hold widely publicized discussions of it at Catholic colleges and universities? No.

 

The sad fact is that the Catholic Church in the U.S. -- particularly the hierarchy -- seems exhausted. Statistics point out that among native-born Americans, the Catholic Church keeps losing members to other faiths and to no faith at all.

 

In their recent book, "American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us," Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell report that "All things considered, roughly 60 percent of all Americans today who were raised in America as Catholics are no longer practicing Catholics, half of them having left the church entirely and half remaining nominally Catholic, but rarely, if ever, taking any part in the life of the church."

 

First things first

 

The influx of Catholic Latinos, which boosts the total number of active U.S. Catholics, seems to give many bishops an excuse to hop on the merry-go-round called denial. I would love to see the church’s rich, but widely underappreciated, social teaching used as a tool for evangelization among those across the political spectrum. But first the Catholic Church needs to be leading its people -- especially the young -- to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is the first and supreme requirement of evangelization.

 

With more and more given this solid and indispensable foundation, then perhaps Catholics would let their faith determine their politics and find a common set of priorities and a new voice, a voice free from the enforced conformity of political ideology at either end of the spectrum.

 

Mark E. Rondeau is the religion editor of the Banner and a Catholic.


 

 

1:33 pm est          Comments

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Total Fail: Catholic Social Teaching and Evangelization

We live in strange times. The recent release of a book excerpt in which Pope Benedict XVI indicates his opinion that use of condoms to prevent the spread of the HIV virus can in some circumstances be a moral action set off a media extravaganza.


Clearly, what the Catholic Church holds and teaches still matters, or at least generates wide interest, especially in anything dealing with sexuality.


Yet, the response of many to a papal pronouncement or published opinion, not only outside the church but almost equally within, is to nod and dismiss the message as irrelevant. 


John J. Dilulio Jr. has an excellent column in the Nov. 29 issue of “America,” titled “Blending In.”


He notes that when it comes to voting, U.S. Catholics are pretty much indistinguishable from the rest of the population. “On nearly every public policy issue on which there is good national polling data...Catholics as a group come as close to any religious denomination does to mirroring what most Americans believe.”


This could be seen in their voting patterns in the last two natonal elections: Democratic in 2008, Republican in 2010. 


Long gone are the days when John F. Kennedy ran for the presidency, and Catholics were somehow seen as less than fully American. Yet, the march into the political and cultural mainstream has come at a price, Dilulio writes.


“The country’s Catholic bishops face a flock that includes large numbers of people who hold positions at odds with church teaching (on abortion, the death penalty, programs to assist the poor and many other issues).”


My belief, butressed by much of what I have seen, read and experienced in recent years, is that a majority of Catholics let their politics lead their faith, rather than using their faith to determine their politics. This is true of both liberals and conservatives, but is most striking, and disturbing, in the U.S. on the right.


For instance, I do not have polling data, but I can easily imagine hundreds of thousands of Tea Party Catholics, totally at odds with church teaching on war, the universal destination of goods, the preferential option for the poor, the common good and the death penalty, reverently invoking the notions of the anti-Catholic Ayn Rand.


Dilulio concludes on a somber note: “Have American Catholics been folded so completely into the nation’s political and cultural mainstream that they can no longer be its political salt and cultural light, or so divided among themselves that they can never speak truth to power in one faith-filled voice? I pray not, but I fear so.”


Clearly, Catholic teaching about economic justice, the environment, war and life — while still influential (and often distorted) in some spheres — is a pretty much a cipher to the average American Catholic. And by all indications it will remain so. Not only do the U.S. bishops speak with a muted voice compared to the past, they are moving increasingly to a focus on abortion and gay marriage to the exclusion of all else. Economic justice, war, the death penalty, be damned.


As an editoral in the Nov. 26 issue of the National Catholic Reporter notes, “Just how deeply insular and inward looking the [U.S. bishops’] conference has become was apparent in the fact that the agenda for this year’s meeting, conducted amid the greatest recession since the Great Depression, contained no mention of the poor, the jobless or the state of the economy.”


This is ironic and sad, for the social teaching of the Catholic Church is considered part of its evangelization effort.


In his social encylical issued 23 years ago, “On Social Concern,     (“Sollicitudo Rei Socialis”), Pope John Paul II wrote that “the teaching and spreading of her social doctrine are part of the church’s evangelizing mission.”


He adds, “The condemnation of evils and injustices is also part of that ministry of evangelization in the social field which is an aspect of the Church’s prophetic role.”


But, judging by the priorities of the U.S. bishops, endless wars, rising inequality, massive unemployment while corporations make record profits, governmental gridlock on climate change, and a whole host of other concerns merit silence.


In a further irony, Pope Benedict, just last year, laid out a bold vision for the future and broke new ground in Catholic social teaching with his encyclical “Caritas in Veritate.”


Have the bishops made a wide effort to promulgate this encyclical? No. To apply it to the situation in the U.S.? No. To hold widely publicized discussions of it at Catholic colleges and universities? No.


The sad fact is that the Catholic Church in the U.S. — particularly the hierarchy — seems exhausted. Statistics point out that among native-born Americans, the Catholic Church keeps losing members to other faiths and to no faith at all. The influx of Catholic Latinos, which keeps up the total number of U.S. Catholics, seems to give many bishops an excuse to hop on the merry-go-round called denial.


Though I would love to see CST used as a tool for evangelization among those across the political spectrum, the Catholic Church first needs to be leading its people — especially the young — to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is the first and supreme requirement of evangelization.


With more and more given this solid and indispensible foundation, then perhaps Catholics would let their faith determine their politics and find a common set of priorities and a new voice, a voice free from the enforced conformity of political ideology.

9:30 pm est          Comments

Friday, November 19, 2010

Noted with pleasure

I noted with pleasure earlier this week that the bishops of my state have written to urge passage of the START Treaty.  

 

Mass. Catholic bishops urge nuclear treaty support

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Roman Catholic bishops are urging the

adoption of a nuclear arms treaty.

In a letter to Massachusetts U.S. Sens. John Kerry and Scott Brown,

the bishops say they support the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty

signed by President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

The deal, also known as the START treaty, but must be ratified by the

U.S. Senate.

The bishops say their support for the elimination of nuclear weapons

is based on a commitment to preserving human life and dignity.

Kerry helped shepherd the new START Treaty through the Senate Foreign

Relations Committee. Brown has yet to take a position.

The letter was signed by Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Fall River

Bishop George Coleman, Springfield Bishop Timothy McDonnell and

Worcester Bishop Robert McManus.

 

 

4:44 pm est          Comments

Monday, November 15, 2010

More on Rubio, evangelicals and CST

To expand on my last post. Rubio may indeed be an “honorable statesman,” even if he is misguided. Out of fairness, I should note that Catholics in general have a lot to learn from evangelicals about taking their faith seriously, frequent prayer and Scripture reading, sharing their faith, and in making people feel welcome in church.


But when it comes to Tea Party and Republican orthodoxy, the selfishness-is-good, self-sacrifice-is-for-losers philosophy of Ayn Rand is just the opposite of “a profoundly Catholic Christian humanism.” Yet so many politically "conservative" Catholics embrace it.


Rubio, in embodying the hyper--individualistic ideals of the Tea Party does not get a pass just because he opposes abortion. Even some athiests and agnostics oppose abortion. There is much more to Catholic social teaching than opposition to abortion on demand as practiced in the U.S., but most Catholics are woefully ignorant of it.


Catholic Social Teaching is a rich tradition, most fully developed in the last 120 years, a tradition that people and activists of ofther faiths envy. See this in the Oct. 25 issue of America by David Golemboski, an associate lobbyist  in Washington, D.C. with the national Catholic social justice lobby Network:


“Advocates for non-Catholic traditions have often said to me that they envy the Catholic Church for its richly developed and clearly articulated social principles. Catholic teaching resonates outside Catholicism. And the language of Catholic social teaching (human dignity, civic participation, preferential option for the poor) is used widely by faith-based coalitions to express shared priorities.”

12:25 am est          Comments

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Marco Rubio and Catholic Social Teaching

On Nov. 5 in his “Distinctly Catholic” blog, Michael Sean Winters asks “Is Seanator-Elect Marco Rubio a Catholic?” Winters cites an article in Telegraph.co.uk. 

 

In the article, Damian Thompson writes that the Tea Party darling  and rising GOP star from Florida “appears to have deserted the Catholic Church. He attends the evangelical Protestant Christ Fellowship Church in Miami, and donates lots of money to it as well. That is no secret – but until this week it wasn’t widely reported.”

 

Rubio’s new church seems to be aligned with the Southern Baptist Convention, though this is not clear. Thompson cites another blog, “by the well-known Catholic blogger the “Liberal Traditionalist,” a law student from Florida called Eric Giunta, who wrote a post entitled “Marco Rubio: Catholic or Southern Baptist? Voters deserve to know.”

 

Giunta writes:

 

“Rubio is by all accounts an honorable statesman, and a true conservative whose policy proposals seem to be informed by a profoundly Catholic Christian humanism. I supported his Senate candidacy, and he certainly deserved the Catholic vote (and others as well).”

 

Now, I do not care a whit if Rubio has left the Catholic Church. What I take issue with is the paragraph immediately above. I passionately disagree that the money-first, market-worshipping, hyper-individualistic politics of the Rubio or the Tea Party are informed by anything approaching “a profoundly Catholic Christian humanism.”

 

This last phrase sounds like something made up by neo-conservative Catholic George Weigel. What does it mean? It’s just an apologetic, bombastic phrase meant to give a “Catholic” seal of approval  to a candidate a political conservative wants to support anyway.

 

What we need is to compare Rubio’s positions to those of actual Catholic social doctrine. Does he support the preferential option for the poor? I don’t think so. Does he support universal access to health care, not just in theory, but in actual effort and practice? I don’t think so. Does he actively support the principle of the universal destination of goods — meaning that everyone is entitled to a living wage and a share of the world’s resources? I don’t think so. Does he support nuclear disarmament? I don’t think so.

 

I also disagree with Winters bringing up the fact that the Catholic right should, perhaps, denounce Rubio as an “apostate” — even though it’s clearly offered as a rhetorical ploy. Even the sarcastic suggestion is pointless. Salvation can be found elsewhere than just Catholicism — and the hyper-individualistic, make-it-up-as-you go, and nationalistic and militaristic bent of so much of American evangelicalism suits Rubio’s politics much better than does Catholicism.

12:47 am est          Comments

Saturday, November 6, 2010

More faith-based social justice, not less

I would like to second this thought from Father John Dear, SJ, printed in his online column of March 23 on the National Catholic Reporter Website:

"When demagogue Glenn Beck urged Christians recently to quit any church that used the words "social justice" or "economic justice," he betrayed the depth of our cultural darkness. But poor Glenn Beck cannot even imagine the church's true political calling to be a disarmament movement, a revolutionary community of active nonviolence in resistance to war and empire."

The horrific massacre of Iraqi 60 Christians at church in in Baghdad last Sunday by terrorists points out yet again the folly and immorality of the U.S. invasion of that country. Christians were not singled out for special persecution under Hussein, the tyrant who was an American ally in the 1970s. 

 

 

 

 

 


11:40 pm edt          Comments

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Greetings to All

This blog will not be a conservative Catholic rant. It also will not speak out in opposition to Church doctrine. Rather, it's purpose is to emphasize Catholic social teaching in its fullness. This means opposition to abortion but it also means opposition to war, in fact opposition to violence in all its forms. It means a preferential option for the poor. It means welcoming the stranger. And it also means charity toward those who disagree with us.

Stay tuned... 

11:53 pm edt          Comments

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