The Real Lessons of the Hagee Case
Austin Ruse, president of the New York and Washington DC-based Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) and a member of John McCain's Catholic advisory committee, writes on the John Hagee imbroglio at a new website called The Catholic Thing (tip o' the hat to the man with the black hat):
Pastor John Hagee partly deserved what he got in the recent kafuffle over his lurid remarks about the Catholic Church. If you are going to throw punches at Catholicism in public, you can expect to get a few thrown back at you. But the actions taken against him by some Catholics went too far, and may come with a hidden cost for Catholic/Evangelical relations and for John McCain, too.My Comments:
Doctrinal disagreement is old news. What's new is how harmoniously orthodox believers of all faiths, even despite our profound differences, have banded together in modern times to fight a greater threat than each other: radical secularism. The strength of this alliance lies in our common view that beliefs should not be watered down or apologized for. They are bracketed, while all sides join together against a common foe.
This did not happen by accident. Great strides have been made in the past quarter century between Evangelicals and Catholics. Where once there was open hostility -- aimed mostly at Catholics -- there is now a closeness and common purpose that can only be considered providential. Human agency has helped, of course, most notably “Catholics and Evangelicals Together,” the majestic project of Father Richard John Neuhaus, Charles Colson, and others, which meets regularly to work out common understandings or civil disagreements over doctrinal issues.
A parallel development has been the great coming together of Evangelicals and Catholics in the fight against abortion. This coalition has grown into a potent force that has changed the face of American politics and kept such issues as abortion and marriage on the hottest burner in American politics – and even encouraged similar efforts internationally. But it has done much more. It has nurtured greater friendship, understanding, and even love among Evangelicals and Catholics.
The Catholics I know who work on these and other equally important cultural questions often assume that some of their Evangelical allies believe the Church is the Whore of Babylon or that we worship Mary or other such things. And so what? They’re wrong. We know it. Following the teaching of recent popes, we work for Christian unity, knowing it will not come soon. In the meantime, we have other fish to fry.
Let's be clear about one thing. Those on the Catholic right who complained about the GOP candidates' associations with Hagee were concerned primarily about the lack of respect toward Catholics that his public pronouncements evinced; NOT about the doctrinal differences. And, to some extent, some of us were concerned about what smacked of hypocrisy arising from the fact that McCain would embrace Hagee after having pilloried Bush (even accusing him of holding an insensitivity toward Catholics) over merely speaking at Bob Jones University 8 years ago.
Now let's get to the Catholic left. Those folks harped on the Hagee affair primarily as an effort toward driving a wedge between Catholics and Evangelicals (so, who's being "divisive"?) who have worked together harmoniously over the years to promote the pro-life agenda that the Catholic left either opposes outright or sees as a matter of inconvenience standing in the way of electing their candidates of "choice" (pun intended). They don't like that sort of ecumenisism with those sorts of Christians.
Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Deal Hudson: "Are Religious Conservatives and the GOP Heading for Divorce?"
John McCain's "Profiles in Courage": A Couple of Examples of Why I Have Not Backed McCain ...
Hagee Takes Arrow Out of Obamoloch Catholic Quiver: Controversial Evangelical Apologizes to Catholics [UPDATED]
Catholic Left Beats McCain with Hagee Stick
How Significant is Hagee's McCain Endorsement?
Deal Hudson: "McCain Campaign Learns Its Lesson About Catholics"
Deal Hudson on "Mike Huckabee's Anti-Catholic Problem"