Analysis by Oswald Sobrino, J.D., M.A., who has published in New Blackfriars (U.K.), Homiletic & Pastoral Review, The Catholic Answer, New Oxford Review, CatholicExchange.com, and the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly. He is a lay graduate student at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit. © 2002-06 Oswald Sobrino.
"There is much in Christianity which can be subjected to exact analysis. But the ultimate things are shrouded in the silent mysteries of God." --Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988)
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Saturday, July 10, 2004President Bush on Marriage: A Sharp Contrast With Kerry-Edwards
In sharp contrast with the Kerry-Edwards ticket, President Bush supports the federal amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman that the Senate will consider on July 15th. Here is the text of President Bush's radio address on marriage given today:
Source: White House website, July 10, 2004, Radio Address.
Both Kerry and Edwards oppose the amendment to protect marriage. Their opposition exposes the lie that the Kerry-Edwards ticket shares traditional American values. The opposition of Edwards to the amendment also emphasizes that Edwards is not, by any means, a traditional Southern Democrat.
Cardinal Ratzinger Emphatic: Communion Must Be Denied
I reproduce in full the July 9th post of Jeff Miller at the Curt Jester blog because it is so signficant. Miller's post is self-explanatory:
Source: The Curt Jester blog by Jeff Miller (emphasis in cover letter added).
It is worth going over to Miller's blog to read the post in its original format.
Taking a Stand on Gay "Marriage"
On July 15th, the U.S. Senate is expected to directly vote on the federal amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. If you have not contacted your senators, please do so, especially if they are still uncommitted. You can express your views to them through this link, which tells you which senators are still uncommitted. It is noteworthy that the Democratic ticket of Kerry and Edwards is listed as opposing the amendment to protect marriage. It is important that you make your views known because there is some talk in the media that there may not be enough Senate votes to pass the amendment.
One undercurrent to the debate on gay marriage is the idea that it is unfair to deny committed same-sex couples all the tangible and intangible benefits, including the label, of legal marriage. That undercurrent is related to the other undercurrent that says people in a gay lifestyle can't help themselves: that is just the way they are.
The response to these arguments is similar to the response to those who claim that one can't deny Communion to pro-abortion politicians because one can't judge the soul of the politician. In neither controversy is anyone asking a human being to judge the soul of another human being. We are speaking about objective, social facts and behavior. We are saying that the objective situation contradicts the truth and so announce to all in society that this behavior is to be avoided.
The struggles of a person with same-sex attractions are to be judged only by Christ. We can rest assured that, unlike human judges, all of us are guaranteed the fairest and most perfect judgment possible from the hands of Christ. Who would want another judge? So, in a way, God is always merciful even, ironically, to those who have freely rejected Him. For, even if you freely reject God and suffer the consequences, it seems possible that you may somehow be aware, even in the state of rejection we call hell, that the judgment is indeed fair, just, and appropriate. There is an element of mercy even in that situation, an element of mercy missing from those who know only too well the pain of being unfairly and unjustly judged. God's mercy is deep indeed. This is surely a mystery that, even in the state of hell, we may be said to be still receiving mercy. So judgment is Christ's, and mercy is guaranteed one way or another.
But we humans are indeed called to judge behavior, to judge facts, and to judge effects. As a group, we make social judgments, teach and enact them in the form of laws, and thereby make a culture. We do not judge the ultimate destinies of individual persons. Our limited and flawed knowledge is incapable of that. We cannot know the whole truth about a person, but we can judge observable actions. Homosexual actions are contrary to the human good of sexuality. Sexuality is inseparable from the procreative union possible with male and female only. To turn against that good is to act against our very humanity. That is the judgment made by those who oppose gay marriage.
On the other side of the debate, some have said that our politicians should argue against gay marriage on the basis that it violates the divine order of creation--that gay marriage is metaphysically impossible. Of course, this argument from creation is correct. But let me suggest a more fruitful approach in the political arena that does not require invoking the fact of divine creation in political debate.
Philosophically, we are called to consider marriage as the foundation of society, the fundamental cell of society. In marriage, we have a partnership different form all partnerships because it produces new life. Life is the most fundamental human good. From a philosophical point of view, the traditional definition of marriage protects the fundamental good of human life and makes that good the center of society. Reasons and argumentation eventually must fall silent. We can write volumes about protecting traditional marriage and reflect deeply and perpetually about it. But, in the end, traditional marriage is a deep, intuitive social judgment that is an expression of the fundamental fact that we are alive. Life is good, so marriage between one man and one woman is good because it gives life. To turn away from that good by teaching another form of marriage is to turn away from life. It is collective suicide.
Some will argue that adoption or reproductive technologies, such as artificial insemination, will allow gay couples to have children. But that argument merely reinforces the truth that it is only the union of male and female that produces life. Sooner or later, you always come back to the union of male and female, the font of life.
This same philosophical argument based on the intuition that life is good applies to the abortion controversy. In the end, all human life is sacred because we judge that our own human lives are sacred. In secular terms, we express that sanctity by speaking of innate human dignity. The innate intuitive sense of the dignity of life calls our secular society to reject abortion and to reject altering marriage. You do not have to be religious to believe in a Culture of Life. All you have to be is alive. You do not have to judge or know the ultimate destiny of any person to reject abortion and gay marriage. All you have to judge is that abortion and gay marriage act against life.
Friday, July 09, 2004A Philosopher's View: The Problem With Sodom
Leon Kass is a medical doctor, a professor at the University of Chicago, and, most famously, chairman of President Bush's Council on Bioethics. He is also of Jewish background, with his immediate family background apparently being more secular than religious. Yet, this man has dedicated much time and effort to a philosophic reading of the book of Genesis. It is surely of interest to see what a highly educated non-Christian, especially a Jewish one with obviously deep cultural and hereditary ties to the Hebrew Scriptures, makes of the book of Genesis.
Kass begins his book by explaining what he means by a "philosophic" reading of Genesis:
Leon Kass, The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis (N.Y.: Free Press, 2003), p. 1.
Kass is looking for wisdom in Genesis. He is at pains to tell us that he is not pursuing a "pious" or overtly theological reading of Genesis. But I think he would agree that even the most pious or theological is also looking for wisdom. The difference is that the more explicitly theological approach grants this particular source of wisdom a uniquely authoritative status. But the important point is that Kass is also seeking wisdom in Genesis. We who believe Genesis is of divine origin are, not surprisingly, very much committed to the same quest but with even greater determination given the unique status we believe the Scriptures have as a font of wisdom.
These preliminary remarks are important because they expose a great fallacy and lie repeated often by some Catholic politicians this election year. That fallacy is that religiously rooted wisdom is something private that must be kept isolated from political policy. Wisdom is wisdom. To exile a source of wisdom from public debate just because it speaks of God is philistinism in its worst form. It is to stupidly cut ourselves off from the wisdom offered by a great cultural tradition supported by millennia of human experience--a wisdom we need now more than ever as our society sinks into chaotic moral relativism.
In this essay, I will focus on Kass' interesting remarks on Sodom and the sin of Sodom. Many biblical scholars today will flee the traditional, text-based view that in the famous story of Sodom in Genesis 19, in which the men of Sodom seek to sexually assault the angels or strangers visiting Lot, the Scriptures are condemning homosexual acts. These liberal scholars will instead propose in their revisionist quest that the story is merely about lack of hospitality! The goal is to exclude any prescriptions about sexual behavior from the story and make it just another parable about being nice and welcoming to other people. Of course, this revisionism is part of the agenda to argue sexual sin--or in secular terms, sexual dysfunction-- out of existence in the modern Western mind. The goal is to make sin a virtue so that the sexual excesses of our current society can proceed with the approval of all right-thinking and reasonable people.
Yet, Kass, even with his philosophic reading of Genesis, sees the sexual aspect as central to the story. In contrast to liberal scholars who rewrite the text, Kass reads the text forthrightly and draws wisdom from it even without an overt religious point of view. Kass reads Genesis much as he would read other great classics of Western culture such the works of Plato or Aristotle.
Kass is looking for wisdom, not pursuing a politically correct agenda. Here is some of the wisdom, highly relevant to our current situation, that Kass finds in the famous Sodom story in Genesis 19. In this excerpt, Kass begins commenting at the point that the men of Sodom come to Lot's home seeking the two strangers visiting Lot:
Kass, p. 327 (original emphasis).
Notice that Kass does not evade the plain facts of the story: the men of Sodom are united in the quest to sexually assault the strangers. To put it bluntly, they want anal sex. It is not the passive sin of not welcoming someone, as some liberal scholars would mislead us into thinking. It is a matter of aggressive assault to satisfy a misguided view of pleasure and human interaction.
Lot panics and even offers his own daughters as substitutes to the mob. Kass continues at this point:
Kass, pp. 327-28.
What a passage! Kass' entire large book (700 pages) is worth that paragraph. In response to Lot's judging them, the Sodomites respond with hate and rage. Just listen to the news, and you will see that hate and rage directed especially against the Catholic Church when she dares to call sin by its name. The psychological roots of that hatred lie, as Kass points out, in denial of what one knows is really true, or in the arrogant rejection of any transcendent moral standard that has any right to judge one's actions. Kass ties together the hostility to strangers, the lust for sodomy, and moral relativism. Here is where the point of lack of hospitality does have a role. Yet, it is not so much a lack of hospitality but the presence of hostility. And the text makes clear that this hostility to the stranger is motivated by lust. Lust is inherently hostile because it does not respect the human. Lust dares not really look you in the eye because lust is seeking to use you, not to know the truth about you. So when the Scriptures speak of the sex act as "knowing" someone, it teaches a great and central truth about the purpose of the sex act. The Sodomites claim to want to "know" the strangers, but they are perverting the meaning of that phrase. What they really want is to use the strangers.
That is why lust can be said to be, in a way, xenophobic. Lust hates the stranger and therefore uses the stranger. The opposite of xenophobia is to see the stranger as a fellow human to be authentically known, not used. To really know the truth about someone is incompatible with lust. The truth about someone as a unique and unrepeatable person demands by its nature respect and commitment, not use or abuse. That is what chastity is: to respect the boundaries because we respect the truth of the person. But first we must look for the truth of the person, and go beyond the body as a mere tool for pleasure. Chastity is a response to reality. Contrary to the way we usually think or speak, lust is not natural in the sense of being realistic. Lust is unnatural in the sense of falsifying the other's reality. Lust conveniently treats the other as a stranger as a prerequisite to assaulting the other.
The truth about male and female is their destiny for complementary union open to new life, as recounted earlier in Genesis. The Sodomites in their lust rejected that truth. Their "exaggerated love of the same" is now being codified, as we speak, in the United States, with Massachusetts in the lead. It is a flight from reality for which we will pay dearly, as we have paid dearly for our earlier flights from reality. And yet, many of our politicians cannot even bring themselves to support an amendment to stop this imminent danger.
Thursday, July 08, 2004Newly Revised Book's Royalties To Support Canonical Petition
Royalties from the newly revised version of the Catholic Analysis book Unpopular Catholic Truths will be donated to support the canonical petition filed by Los Angeles canon lawyer Marc Balestrieri against Sen. Kerry for heresy on the abortion issue. Author royalties from orders placed between today, July 8, 2004, and Election Day, November 2, 2004, will be donated to support the efforts of Balestrieri, whose website is DeFide.com.
The revisions to the Catholic Analysis book make some stylistic improvements to the book plus add new references to John Paul II's book Love and Responsibility, which the Pope wrote as a young Polish bishop in 1960. On the sometimes thorny and confusing issue of whether the primary aim of marriage is procreation or conjugal love, I found that some of the sources I consulted did not satisfactorily address the matter. Then, I came across some passages in Love and Responsibility that hit the nail on the head. This small experience is further evidence that our current Pope was and is a prophet well ahead of his time.
Support Canonical Petition Against Kerry
Recently, Catholic Analysis noted the significance of the canonical petition filed in June calling for discipline of John Kerry by the Archdiocese of Boston because of Kerry's heretical views on abortion (click archives in the side margin for July 1, 2004, "Talk of the Parish: Kerry Charged with Heresy"). Canonist Peter Vere has now gone on the record vouching for the credentials of the lay canonist behind the petition, Marc Balestrieri of Los Angeles, and also vouching for the solid work and research behind the petition. Please read Vere's comments for July 7th at Catholic Light. You will see that our support is needed on this matter. Another lay canonist, Dr. Edward Peters, also views this type of canonical action as "well-grounded" (see A Canon Lawyer's Blog).
Zogby Poll: No Significant Edwards Bounce
Given the stakes for Catholics in this election, this site will comment more and more on developments in the presidential campaign in the coming months. We cannot ignore what is at stake for Catholics. Two major things are at stake for those committed to a traditional Judeo-Christian point of view: a Kerry presidency would roll back all of the progress on pro-life issues made in the past few years and would put a big wind in the sails of the gay marriage movement that is adamant about transforming our culture and our children. The third major thing at stake is of particular relevance to Catholics: Kerry is the stereotypical liberal Catholic who picks and chooses his beliefs. A Kerry presidency would say to Catholics and non-Catholics that a practicing Catholic can support abortion, embryo stem cell research, and the gay lifestyle. Such a misleading and highly prominent face of Catholicism would directly undermine the New Evangelization of John Paul II which challenges the secular West to respect life, sexuality, and marriage.
And so, it is indeed worthwhile to look at the polls. John Zogby who conducts the widely cited Zogby Poll has this to say today based on his most recent poll conducted after Kerry selected Edwards: "No Big Bounce for Kerry." Here is, in more detail, what Zogby says about the effect of Kerry's selection of John Edwards as a running mate:
Source: Zogby.com, July 8, 2004, "Kerry-Edwards Pulls In Ahead of Bush-Cheney 48%-46%; No Big Bounce for Kerry; Country Still Evenly Divided in Red and Blue States; Nearly One in Ten Likely Voters Say that “Their Vote is Not Counted Accurately,” New Zogby America Poll Reveals"(emphasis added).
Zogby shows that Kerry-Edwards leads Bush-Cheney by only two points: 48% to 46%, even in the immediate euphoria about Edwards. There is no significant Edwards bounce. In fact, it is more accurate to say that there is absolutely no Edwards bounce based on Zogby's own polling data. In June, Zogby's poll showed Kerry leading Bush by two points (44% to 42%). In this latest poll after Edwards was chosen, Zogby still shows the new Democratic ticket leading Bush by a statistically insignificant two points (48% to 46%). So, according to Zogby's own data, Kerry gets no bounce from the Edwards selection. The race remains tied. And keep in mind that, in my opinion based on comparing polls in the past, the Zogby poll tends to underestimate support for Bush. So the fact that Zogby says there is no big bounce is news. The way Zogby presents and talks about the detailed results of even this poll confirms to me that he tilts against Bush. So it is a big deal when it is Zogby, of all people, who takes the wind out of Democratic enthusiasm for the Edwards selection.
All of this focus on polls is to underline the fact that the trend among a small subgroup of voters, such as practicing Catholics, can have a major impact on a very close race. The people who visit this site are part of that subgroup. Your vote will count. Remain energized throughout July, especially when the Democratic Convention takes place at the end of the month. There is a lot at stake.
Update: Another poll also shows no bounce so far for the Edwards pick. See "Bush Gains Slight Lead Over Kerry," Associated Press, July 8, 2004.
Wednesday, July 07, 2004Babies That Survive Abortion
Take a gulp and read this Lifesite.net story reporting how the British Medical Association has now, finally, taken the position that babies that survive abortion deserve medical care ("Babies that Survive Abortion 'Deserve Life' Says British Medical Association," July 6, 2004). And we in the West are the civilized ones, and I always thought Britain was a civilized nation. There is a thin line between civilization and barbarism in the West. Traditional Christianity, as opposed to liberal Christianity, is that line, that bulwark of civilization. Once you drop the traditional Christian view of the person, literally all hell is let loose on earth. Again, the illogic is staggering: if the survivor of a murder attempt deserves care, how can the murder attempt itself be justified in the first place? This story confirms what we knew all along but what most of us manage to bury deep in our consciousness: mankind is fully and routinely capable of the most unimaginable evil and cruelty. These are the lengths we go to and the evils that we tolerate rather than simply saying no to the lifestyle of fornication.
Cardinal McCarrick's Sinking Credibility
Cardinal McCarrick of Washington, D.C., is increasingly being viewed as watering down the Vatican view on pro-abortion politicians. Today's Washington Times summarizes the situation and gives this quote by pro-life Catholic and former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn that summarizes the sorry state of the Catholic Chuch in the United States:
Source: Washington Times, July 7, 2004, "McCarrick tempered letter on pro-choice politicians," by Julia Duin.
A recent July 6th post by Jamie Blosser at Catholic(?) Kerry Watch makes the same point on McCarrick with a detailed comparison of McCarrick's statement compared to the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger. This whole situation gives us an inkling of what it must have felt for sex abuse victims to deal with so many disingenuous dioceses in the past few years. In the end, courage in proclaiming the truth would be so much easier and so much nobler.
Flashback: "John Edwards: A True Professional"
Back on February 2, 2004, when John Edwards was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, Catholic Analysis pointed out his deep capacity for moral hypocrisy on the abortion issue. Now that we face four months of John Edwards' toothy grin, it is time to review the dark truth behind the sunny, folksy exterior:
Here is the position on abortion of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, currently a senator from North Carolina:
Source: Official John Edwards Campaign Website.
If you had any doubt how pro-abortion activists and their slew of Democratic presidential candidates view President Bush, you can put those doubts to rest. The pro-abortion activists and politicians view President Bush as an enemy of the right to an abortion. Sometimes your most rabid opponents offer the best evidence for your integrity.
But apart from Edwards' voicing the uniform, ecstatic Democratic embrace of abortion, Sen. Edwards, as a former trial lawyer, has put into the record distinct evidence of his own lack of integrity. Here is an excerpt from a recent front-page New York Times article on the personal injury trial work of John Edwards. The excerpt describes Edwards in 1985 making his argument before a jury on behalf of a baby girl who suffered permanent brain damage due to a doctor's failure to perform an immediate Caesarean section:
In 1985, a 31-year-old North Carolina lawyer named John Edwards stood before a jury and channeled the words of an unborn baby girl.
Source: New York Times On-line, "In Trial Work, Edwards Left a Trademark," Jan. 31, 2004, Campaign 2004 section (free reg'n required for internet access) (emphasis added).
So, in 1985, John Edwards stands before a jury and argues passionately and convincingly that an unborn little girl needed medical help, but that a negligent doctor refused to heed that unborn child's signals for help. In 1985, John Edwards argued in a court of law as an officer of the court that the unborn child was a live human being who had a right to life. Today, John Edwards is making another argument before another "jury," the jury of America's voters. But, today John Edwards is arguing for the right to kill that unborn child in direct contradiction to his argument in the 1985 trial.
Can the two arguments be reconciled? Of course not. Either the unborn child has or hasn't a right to life. Now, the artful dodger can say that in the case of the injured child at the trial the mother wanted the child to be delivered safely, but that in an abortion the mother has rejected that outcome. So, in the end, we have the famous defense of abortion offered by another illogical Democratic candidate, Wesley Clark: "Life begins with the mother's decision" (see Catholic Analysis for Jan. 15, 2004, Update No. 1).
But the truth of the matter is that life is an objective reality independent of the desires of the mother or anyone else. If it were merely a subjective reality dependent on the wishes of the mother, then there would never be a need for intervention by a real physician with real tools to dismember a real unborn or partially born child. What Wesley Clark and by implication John Edwards mean is that the mother decides if the unborn child will be killed or not. It is not a question of when life begins but of when life ends. In the United States today, it is the mother who decides when the unborn or partially born child will die: "Life ends with the mother's decision."
Why does life end when the mother decides? The only answer our society can give today is that all or part of the child is still in the body of the mother. Once all of the child is outside of the body of the mother our society claims that it will prosecute for murder any mother who decides to end the life of the child (although even this stance is not clear given that some children who are aborted have been born alive and allowed to die by being refused any care) . As others have pointed out, we have made murder depend on location. John Edwards got a $6.5 million verdict for one mother who wanted her unborn child, and now he is seeking a favorable verdict from voters who want the freedom to kill unborn children. As a true professional, John Edwards is eager to please: he will say anything to get a favorable verdict regardless of obstacles of logic and integrity.
As a native Southerner, I have been exposed to my share of Southern populists and their legacy up close. They have always disappointed. The new Southern populist of the moment, John Edwards, is clearly in the inglorious tradition of Huey Long, Bill Clinton, and former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards (who, by the way, now sits in a federal prison).
Tuesday, July 06, 2004Kerry + Edwards= Partial Birth Abortion, According to NRLC
Here is a press release on John Edwards issued today by the National Right to Life Committee:
Don't let anyone mislead you into thinking that this election will not make a difference, or that staying at home on election day is an option. If Kerry-Edwards wins, the roll-back of pro-life measures instituted under President Bush will begin. As they say, you can take that to the bank.
Recommended Political News Source: RealClearPolitics.com
Most of the media, as we all know too well, is biased in favor of the Kerry-Edwards ticket and will remain so throughout the electon. This bias includes even some pollsters. So, if you want a respected and informed source of political news and analysis that is highly current and up-to-date, you can do no better, in my opinion, than Realclearpolitics.com. Even media pundits turn to it to get the latest view of the presidential campaign. And, if you are a pro-life voter with relevant news, you can contact the editors to let them know about how energized pro-life voters are in this campaign. Here is a link from Realclearpolitics.com commenting on today's selection of Edwards. There is also a link available on the blogroll located in the side margin of Catholic Analysis.
The Abortion Ticket is Complete
Throughout this week, the "news" will not be surprising. John Kerry of Massachusetts has chosen John Edwards of North Carolina as his running mate. The abortion ticket is complete because, like Kerry, Edwards supports Roe v. Wade and even voted, like Kerry, against banning partial birth abortion (see link on the Edwards record). John Edwards is also a reliable pro-abortion crusader. In the time of Lincoln, the Democratic Party, north and south, was the party of slavery. Today, the Democratic Party, north and south, is the party of abortion. No pro-life Democratic politician, of the few there are, had even the remotest chance of being picked to join the ticket. In addition, both Senators Kerry and Edwards oppose a federal amendment to protect marriage. That issue will come up for an important vote in the Senate in a few days. The entire Democratic ticket will oppose the only way to protect the traditional legal definition of marriage.
Lincoln and the Great Domestic Evil
In 1859, Abraham Lincoln campaigned for Republican candidates in the Midwest. In one of those campaign speeches, he attacked the position on slavery of northern Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas. Lincoln focused on the Supreme Court's infamous Dred Scott decision which declared that a black man was not a "person" entitled to the protections of the U.S. Constitution. Here is Lincoln taking on Senator Douglas, also referred to as "Judge Douglas," by recalling Douglas' response to Lincoln's question about the Dred Scott decision:
Abraham Lincoln, "Speech at Columbus, Ohio," Sept. 16, 1859, in Lincoln: Speeches, Letters, Miscellaneous Writings, Presidential Messages, and Proclamations (The Library of America, 1989), pp. 49-50.
Senator Douglas in effect made the absurd statement that “a thing may be lawfully driven away from where it has a lawful right to be.” Another northern Democratic senator recently made an equally absurd statement. Northern Democratic Senator John Kerry told an Iowa newspaper that, while he continues to support Roe v. Wade, he believes that human life does indeed begin at conception. Now, as Lincoln did, we must first remove all the trash, all the verbiage, all the obfuscation that surrounds the statement of Sen. Kerry. And when we do so, we are left with a statement as absurd as that of Sen. Douglas: that a fetus may be lawfully killed even when that fetus is a human person. Like Douglas, Kerry seeks to have it both ways in order to curry political favor with all points of view. But the contradiction is too glaring and too overwhelming for that attempt to be successful. You cannot recognize innocent human life and at the same time be for its legalized murder. It is a contradiction that cannot stand.
In Lincoln’s time, the Republican Party stood against the spread of slavery. Today, to the discomfort of many cradle Democrats, it is only the Republican Party that stands against the unchecked flourishing of abortion on demand. Lincoln recognized that slavery had to be contained and ultimately made to disappear. Today, it is only the Republican Party that takes the stand that abortion on demand must be contained and ultimately made to disappear. This year is the one hundredth fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Republican Party, the Party of Lincoln. It is indeed amazing to see the debate over the Dred Scott decision and the protection of slavery repeated today in the debate over Roe v. Wade and the protection of abortion on demand.
The abortion issue, as slavery was, is not just one among several issues that the parties debate. Abortion is the fundamental issue. The Democrats expect us to swallow the contradiction. Following Sen. Douglas, Sen. Kerry has made a similarly disastrous gaffe that does not hold up in the face of common sense. Fortunately, today, the Party of Lincoln is still willing to limit and ultimately eradicate our great domestic evil. Now that is a choice worth celebrating.
Update: Others have also noticed how the rhetorical strategy of Senator Douglas is the same sort of rhetorical strategy used today by pro-abortion Catholic politicians. See View from the Core, July 8, 2004.
Monday, July 05, 2004No Other Word For It: "Diabolical"
Over the weekend, John Kerry said that he believes that "life begins at conception" but in the same breath reiterated his support for Roe v. Wade (Washington Post, "Kerry Says He Believes Life Starts at Conception," July 5, 2004, by Jonathan Finer).
In the church canon law suit filed in June against Kerry, one of the offenses for which Kerry is denounced reads as follows:
Source: "Denunciation of U.S. Senator John F. Kerry for Heresy" (filed 6/14/04), available at DeFide.com.
And so, with eerie timing, here is Kerry doing exactly what this count of the church suit alleges. He is teaching others that being pro-choice is fully compatible with the Catholic belief that life begins at conception. To make matters worse, he made the statement in an interview before attending Mass and receiving Communion in Iowa--an outing which he made into a campaign event by attending with his close supporter Iowa Governor Thomas Vilsak, also a pro-abortion Catholic. Kerry is thus manipulating his reception of the Eucharist and Mass attendance for maximum political gain. This practice was recently denounced in the bishops' statement entitled "Catholics in Political Life":
Source: U.S.C.C.B. Conference (second-to-last paragraph).
True to form, Kerry made the statement that life begins at conception in the face of Catholics increasingly troubled by his views on abortion. It is by now the shared opinion of many in this country that Kerry just tells people what they want to hear. So when faced with troubled Catholics, he gives them the statement that life begins at conception to make them feel that, deep down, he is a good Catholic who is really pro-life. But, of course, it is a great lie. When addressing pro-abortion rallies, Kerry plays the pro-abortion extremist.
When I first read the canonical Denunciation of Kerry, I wondered at the use of the word "diabolical," given my personal view that inflammatory phrases can be counterproductive. As an attorney, I assumed the shocking word was in the denunciation as a required term of art in canon law pleadings. But, now, after seeing Kerry's latest breathtaking effort at deception, I see that the word is completely apt. To teach others as a prominent public figure who will be in the center of the public eye for the next four months that Catholic belief is compatible with Roe v. Wade is a great lie. And lies are diabolical for we know from Scripture who is the father of lies. Tomorrow morning I plan to join the heresy suit against Kerry. If Kerry can show chutzpah, so can we. Many of us again and again urge our bishops to be bold. It is now time for us to be bold too. It is no exaggeration to say that for American Catholics 2004 is a historic year of decision even more so than for other Americans.
Sunday, July 04, 200414th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isaiah 66:10-14c; Galatians 6:14-18; Luke 10:1-12, 17-20
Beginning with the Gospel reading, we see Jesus sending out the seventy-two to visit the towns and places Jesus himself intended to visit. These seventy-two are to proclaim that the kingdom of God is at hand. The conclusion is unavoidable: the seventy-two are in effect proclaiming that the kingdom of God will be present when Jesus comes to a particular place. Jesus' coming will confirm peace or complete the judgment against a particular place. Those who reject the seventy-two will suffer a worse fate than Sodom. To those who reject them, the seventy-two are, by Jesus' command, to shake off the dust of that town clinging to their feet against that place.
The kingdom of God comes in the person of Jesus, and it brings peace and the healing of the sick, or it brings judgment. The beginning of that peace involves the healing of the sick. The beginning of that judgment involves a separation of the seventy-two from those rejecting the kingdom. Here again is the dramatic character of the Gospel: it requires a dramatic decision of acceptance or rejection. The place that rejects the Gospel will experience no peace.
In Galatians, Paul boasts only in the cross of Christ because "the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Paul will not deal with the world on its own terms, but only in terms of the cross. Paul is indifferent to anything else. Paul's boast in the cross and indifference to the world completes the image of the seventy-two shaking the dust off their feet. When the Gospel is rejected, the Christian moves on to other places.
Today, we have the tendency to be much more accepting of those rejecting the Gospel. We tend to be too accepting of a secular society with the result that our witness becomes muted. In authentic Christianity, there will always be an element of judgment and of separation. There is indeed an element of exclusion which is the result of free decisions. In modern America, one of the greatest secular sins is to be "exclusive." Exclusivity is indeed bad if it is closed to the conversion of the other through a pre-judgment. But exclusivity that results from the free rejection of the Gospel is not bad in itself, but merely the accurate reflection of the free decision of one rejecting the Gospel. One way in which we avoid committing the secular sin of excluding anyone even if he or she rejects the Gospel is to fail to preach the authentic Gospel in the first place. Instead, we preach something quite contrary to the Gospel: that no decision need be made for or against the Gospel.
In Isaiah 66, the prophet presents in rich images the salvation that the Lord will bring to Jerusalem. The other sections of Isaiah 66, not read today, present, like the Gospel, the other side of reality: judgment. Our rejection of the Gospel brings judgment. It is an inevitable consequence of our free decision. We do no one a favor by clouding that reality.