I Missed the Seminar [UPDATED]
You can always tell when the local "progressive" Catholics have had one of their "voting for the common good" seminars by the appearance of "seminar letters" in the next month's issue of the Catholic Chronicle.
See if you notice a connection between this letter from a retired priest of the Diocese of Toledo:
Bishop Blair's First Thursday talk (Chronicle, March 7) could be a good warning and clue for the choices we Catholics and others need to ponder during the coming months.and this one from a parishioner at Toledo St. Catherine:
While it is clear in our United States history that separation of church and state has worked well for our country, office seekers in recent years have brought religion into their campaigning creating divisions and divisiveness.
We recall signs like "Catholics for candidate X," leading some outsiders to believe that all of us had to vote that way. The only thing we should look for and believe in is "Catholics for Jesus." ...
I was amazed and dumbfounded all at the same time when I read the article "Peace activists commemorate war anniversary" (Chronicle, April 4). If some members in these Catholic groups who helped organize the "Arlington Midwest: The Human Cost of War" did their homework back in the 2004 presidential election, there wouldn't have been the farce "Catholics Against Kerry," a second term for Bush/Cheney, white markers with 4000-plus names of brave deat American soldiers on the Lucas County Courthouse lawn or our economy in shambles because of this war ...Wow. Two separate letters in this month's Chronicle addressing the "Catholics For X" and "Catholics Against Y" phenomenon. I hadn't realized that this was such a widespread concern among most Catholics. Or at least not among those who don't attend seminars that teach one how to accuse pro-life Catholics and/or "values voters" of ignoring the "overall common good" in favor of "divisive" politics that "focus on a narrow spectrum of issues regarding family and sexuality" to the exclusion of "more fundamental and comprehensive commitments about the dignity of the human person."
Now, I want to clarify that there is nothing really objectionable to what these gentlemen wrote in their letters to the editor. I, for one, am also tired of the partisanship that grips Catholics on both the right and the left during election years. I'm weary already of the Catholic effort on behalf of McCain, which seeks to gloss over his serious weaknesses on issues such as embryonic stem-cell research, military adventurism, and his overall hostility toward those who have concerns about social issues such as abortion and same-sex "marriage". And I can only describe myself as "dismayed" by the Catholic effort on behalf of Obama, which pretends that hearts and minds can be changed on the issue of abortion if we only elect the guy who appears to be more radically pro-abortion than Hillary Clinton.
What I object to is the implication in the letters that this sort of "divisive" campaigning is one-sided. But that's the purpose of these seminars: to try to turn the tables on those who have been successful in making issues like abortion prominent in our national debate.
Good effort, guys. Professor Gaillardetz has taught you well. Hope you got a lot out of the seminar.
UPDATE (5 May)
And let me add that, despite my disgust with Catholic partisanship, as someone who was involved early on in the "Catholics Against Rudy" effort, I think it is important for Catholics to speak out against those candidates whose Catholic faith don't match their actions in the public square.
Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Obama’s Catholic Advisory Council [UPDATED]
John McCain Gains Support From Prominent Catholic Pro-Life Advocates
Bishop Blair: "Truly Grave Moral Reasons" and "Serious Moral Soul-Searching" Before "Could Be Morally Permissible" to Vote for Pro-Abortion Candidate
Bishop Blair Calls Upon Voters to Examine Consciences
Bishop Blair to Speak on "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship"
Catholics in Alliance Respond With Letter to Editor
Continue to Raise Our Voices on Issue of Voting
In January's Catholic Chronicle - "Vote Your Values" Revisited
Vote Your Values
"NOT An Approved Catholic Voter Guide"
Toledo Blade: "Catholic Voting Guide Gives Church Perspective"