Wednesday, June 16, 2010

American Papist: Obama an Enemy to Catholic Unity

Thomas Peters writes on the President's efforts to strengthen the hand of the "alternative Catholic magisterium" at the expense of the Bishops and Catholic unity:
When I heard that President Obama had sent a personal video message to the Catholic Health Association and to Sr. Carol Keehan at their annual meeting this Monday, thanking them for their work in helping pass the Democrat health care plan, I wasn’t surprised.

But after thinking about this move, shouldn’t I be surprised? After all, when you follow the day-to-day of politics you can miss the big picture. So let’s step back a moment and try to see what shape the forest has taken, and how Obama has been pruning the Catholic faithful back.

The first point to understand is that Obama knows about the debate Catholics are having over him.

That’s why he usually talks only to Catholics who share his agenda. He has been careful to ensure that the terms of his debate with Catholics have always been on his terms. He sends CHA a video and gives Sr. Keehan a pen because he knows that these individuals chose to follow him instead of the bishops. So he makes a place at his table for them and rewards what he sees as their loyalty.

Obama is also keenly aware of his critics, and keeps careful watch over who is opposing his efforts. Obama knew by the end of the healthcare debate, that the bishops were an obstacle to passage of the bill, perhaps even the main obstacle, and he knew this as well. Yet he does not reach out to them. He simply, determinedly, strips them of their institutional allies. He supports those who dissent from them publicly. He gives the politicians who they criticize places of power in his administration. It’s all rather like a German prince in the middle ages who picks his side between the Lutherans and Roman Catholics, not for doctrinal reasons, but because he wants peace in his kingdom – at the cost of the other side.

More to the point in this message, he speaks of the “courage” of those in CHA who lobbied for his health care bill (courage against what? why the opposition of the bishops, of course!). He calls the passage of the bill a “major victory … for the most vulnerable among us” (this coming from the most pro-abortion President in history). This is a particularly stinging line to critics of the health care bill, such as the bishops – who opposed a bill that they were prone to accept otherwise, precisely because they believed (as I do) that it will end up harming the “most vulnerable” unborn (and elderly) among us.

Finally, he says to Sr. Keehan and the CHA, that in passing his bill, they “did so in a way that protects your long-standing beliefs.” In other words, he supports their claim that being Catholic doesn’t mean you have to be obedient to the authority of the bishops or avoid publicly scandalizing the faithful. Obama, I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say, thinks he can interpret what it means to be Catholic better than the bishops when they draw upon two thousand years of tradition.


[Read the whole thing]
(emphasis added)

My Comments:
Tom Peters hits the nail squarely on the head. As I've argued previously (see links below), Obama's entire so-called "Catholic strategy" from the very beginning has been one of divide and conquer in an effort to create an impression that those Catholics who dissent from their Bishops are speaking in an alternative yet nonetheless equally "authentic" Catholic voice.

Dare we call it an effort to promote a "new voice" of Catholicism?


Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
The Catholic Health Association and the Future of Catholic Unity

Sister Carol Keehan Misrepresents Her Support of the Health Care Bill

The Bishops Strike Back Against Dissenting Women Religious [UPDATED]

Bishop Tells Pro-Life Democrat: Nuns Can’t Absolve ObamaCare Vote

Bishop Morlino: “Speaker Pelosi is Not Called by Jesus Christ to Lead the Catholic Faithful”

Sister Carol Disinvited from D.C.-Based John Carroll Society Speaking Gig

Establishing the "Alternative Magisterium"

The Smear, Part 2: Stupak Attacks Catholic Bishops

Archbishop Chaput: A Bad Bill and How We Got It

Archbishop Chaput: Those Confusing the Catholic Stance on Health Care Will Bear the Blame for Anti-Life Effects of Heath Care Bill

Catholic Obama Supporters More Interested in Providing Cover Than Holding Obama's Feet to the Fire

Catholic Nuns Urge Passage of Obama's Health Bill

Obama's Catholic Strategy: Divide and Conquer

Newsweek: Obama More Catholic Than the Pope

Pope Hope I (a.k.a. "The Great")

Pope Greets "Hope"?

Of "Neo-Caths" and "Sharia Catholicism"

Notre Dame's President Jenkins: "We Are Tremendously Proud" to be Acting in Defiance of the US Catholic Bishops

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21 Comments:

At 6/17/2010 9:56 AM, Blogger Rotundo said...

Being catholic MOST CERTAINLY does NOT mean you have to be obedient to the Bishops on political issues. If you think otherwise your understanding of the Magesterium is woefully flawed.

 
At 6/17/2010 10:04 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

No one claimed that.

But disregarding the Bishops on protecting the civil rights of the unborn in law and on not funding the murder of the unborn via "health care" legislation marks one as not a serious Catholic and as one who, quite frankly, doesn't give a damn about the Church's teachings on the sanctity of life.

 
At 6/17/2010 10:34 AM, Blogger Rotundo said...

Thats not what happened. What happened is the bishops looked at the law and said "this allows federal funding of baby murder, therefore we can't support it" and then a bunch of other people, who care very deeply about the church's teaching, and weren't being self-righteous about it as you are, said "thank god this DOESN'T fund abortion, because it is a good bill and therefore we support it"

No one was challenging the Bishops on the right to kill infants, they were saying "look you've misread what this law does, it is a good law" - And not-insignificantly they were right on this and the bishops were wrong the law in fact does not change the status-quo with regard to federal funding of abortion. And also the prospect of helping millions get healthcare is quite in line with Catholic social thought.

 
At 6/17/2010 11:20 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

No. What happened is that a lot of people were determined to support this bill come hell or high water, so they lied about whether this bill maintains the status quo. It most certainly does not.

The Bishops, on the other hand, have always been inclined to support universal health care. So, why didn't they join in with the CHA and the rest of the lefty Catholics to support this bill? Because they KNOW it funds abortion and weren't willing to sacrifice Catholic teaching for the sake of a political win.

Self-righteous, whatever. We already know that the politicized Catholics on the left don't give a damn about abortion or they wouldn't support politicians that fight tooth and nail for abortion on demand, so it's not much of a stretch to believe that those same people would gloss over the abortion funding issue in order to get the health care bill passed. (Of course, the politicized Catholics on the right have their own blind spots when it comes to their support of the GOP.)

 
At 6/17/2010 12:06 PM, Blogger Rotundo said...

I think you are mistaken, have you read the bill? - I can cite many Catholic sources the agree with me on this. Either way I don't mean to be argumentative I just mean to point out that Catholics are not obliged to agree with bishops on all matters.

I do find it very presumptive to assume that all "leftist" Catholics "don't give a damn about abortion" or to assume that they support pro-abortion candidate BECAUSE of that stance. Many people care about many issues, and have to weigh the best outcome. Hypothetically (and I am by know means claiming I believe this to be the case in any specific situation) one can support a pro-abort candidate if they think that that view wont influence policy in the position they are running for. One can support a pro-abort candidate if when weighing the stances on all issue against their opponent they decide they pro-abort candidate is better (for example if the other candidate is also pro-abortion). You can also make an argument for a situation in which an ostensibly pro-life candidate has policy positions one believes will actually work to increase the number of abortions performed, and vice-versa for the pro-choice side. No I know that it is unacceptable to promote one evil at the hope of stopping another, but lets just say the policy initiatives don't touch on that you can envision a scenario where a president promotes social initiatives that reduce actual abortions (not that I claim he was the cause but abortions went down in the 1990s under the Clinton administration), or you can promote initiatives that while pro-life result in MORE abortions (again not that he was the cause, but abortions went UP during the Bush years). My point is that you can create a scenario in which the social benefits of a president that is for example pro-healthcare and anti-torture, or anti-death penalty actually do outweigh the possibility of him making a negative abortion decision.

I am sure you will come up with specifics about the above that you find holes with, so ire-iterate I am just creating some hypothetical arguments to point out that a lefty CAN in good conscience vote for pro-abortion candidates in some cases. We can argue whether that lefty's logic is flawed, and it may well be, but it is at least hypothetically possible for the good of a pro-abort politician's policies to outweigh the potential bad of that single issue.

 
At 6/17/2010 12:20 PM, Blogger Rotundo said...

From "Forming Consciences" by the USCCB:

"35. There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable
position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons.
Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to
advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental
moral evil."

 
At 6/17/2010 12:40 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

I am well aware that Catholics who oppose abortion are not morally foreclosed from voting for pro-abortion candidates (in fact, I blogged extensively on that very issue during the 2008 election). Nevertheless, while it is not correct to say that Catholics MAY NOT vote for pro-aborts, I believe strongly that they SHOULD NOT. And I can't, for the life of me (no pun intended), understand why they would.

I don't mean to be argumentative, but will merely state that if abortion truly is what the Catholic Church claims it to be, I don't see how any Catholic could, in good conscience, support a party or a politician so completely wedded to legalized abortion on demand. I doubt Catholics on the left would vote for a segregationist just because they agree with him on virtually every other issue. So why doesn't the murder of 1 million unborn per annum with the complicity of a party dedicated to the preservation of the "right" to do so equally repulse them?

If the murder of 1 million of one's neighbors isn't at the top of someone's list when they cast their votes, then I can only conclude that the matter is not of significant import to them.

 
At 6/17/2010 12:47 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

And, again, the Bishops had no incentive for lying, misleading, or not being full apprised of what the health care bill did and didn't do. They support universal healthcare, but NOT at the expense of Catholic moral teaching.

Those who supported the healthcare bill would have done so regardless of whether it covered abortion. They wanted the healthcare bill win more than they wanted to protect the unborn. So, they had every incentive to lie and mislead regarding whether abortion was funded.

Quite simply, I have no reason to disbelieve the Bishops - who ALSO want universal healthcare - and EVERY reason to disbelieve those for whom abortion quite obviously is just not quite that important when weighed against their party's agenda.

And, yes, I did read the relevant portions of the healthcare bill pertaining to abortion funding. I am a lawyer and I don't tend to blog extensively about things about which I don't know what I'm talking. I agree with the Bishops' assessment, and see the holes big enough to drive a Mack truch through in the Senate bill's Casey language.

Abortion WILL be funded under the new healthcare regime.

 
At 6/17/2010 12:57 PM, Blogger Rotundo said...

I simply dispute your inflammatory use of "legalized abortion on demand". However I will of course agree that abortion is different than many, if not all, other issues that the church teaches precisely because of the divide you mention when you say "if abortion truly is what the Catholic Church claims it to be". There is a fundamental divide as to what abortion is.

I can pick another issue, say the first amendment, no Catholic would argue in favor of Atheism for instance, but one can reasonably argue why the first amendment is a good idea, and why laws prohibiting anti-catholic views are bad. One can even make these arguments without stepping outside of church teaching.

The problem with abortion is the divide, pro-abortion folks don't even understand where the pro-life group is coming from because they aren't arguing the same point. This I believe creates a situation where both sides view the other as irrational (one saying "how can you be in favor of murdering children?" they other making some claim about oppressing women) and primes the pump for over reaction. So the Bishops fearful of remotely supporting a grave evil come out against a bill that in FACT doesn't change the status-quo, so honestly shouldn't even be discussed based on this issue. Now the status quo may be wrong, or not however that would be a topic FOR A DIFFERENT bill.

You sided with the Bishops, and believe their analysis to be correct. However, you choose to paint it as if the folks disagreeing with the bishops are in favor of murdering children, when in fact they have publicly stated that they agree with the stance of the church and just disagree with the reading of the law. You may be able to discern what their internal views are, but as far as I am concerned that is between them and their confessor.

 
At 6/18/2010 8:21 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

"I simply dispute your inflammatory use of "legalized abortion on demand"."

Dispute away, but you own it. That's exactly what the legal regime of Roe v. Wade allows, and the Democrat part is explicity wedded to the preservation of Roe v. Wade. If you vote for the party that supports that, sorry, but you DO own it.

"you choose to paint it as if the folks disagreeing with the bishops are in favor of murdering children, when in fact they have publicly stated that they agree with the stance of the church and just disagree with the reading of the law. You may be able to discern what their internal views are, but as far as I am concerned that is between them and their confessor."

I judge actions, not hearts. Voting for people and policies that promote legalized abortion lead to ... SHOCKER ... more abortion. I merely (1) assume that people intend the consequences of their votes, or (2) when the consequences are mass murder on such a scale as we have with abortion, conclude that one's actions in continuing to vote that way gives the casual observer the impression of a callous indifference to said consequences.

 
At 6/18/2010 9:31 AM, Blogger Rotundo said...

You are demonstrably wrong. During the last period in which the pro-life party was in power REAL abortions increased, and during the period prior in which the 'pro-choice' part was in power real abortions DECREASED. Therefore voting for a 'pro-choice' candidate did not in fact result in more murder, quite the opposite happened actually.

Either way its two separate issues, I concede the point on voting for Democrats (despite the quote I posted FROM the US Bishops showing that I side with them on the issue). My real issue with your blog post, as I've stated, is that you self-righteously keep claiming that the CHA went against the bishops on THIS law because they like abortion, or some such claim. When that is demeaning to them, demeaning to yourself, disingenuous and just plain mean.

 
At 6/18/2010 9:35 AM, Blogger Rotundo said...

I will add, to clarify, you may well be correct on all your points that they are fostering disunity, etc, etc. That is irrelevant to the fact that claiming the CHA is some how publicly taking a pro-abortion stance is irresponsible. They have specifically stated that they supported the law BECAUSE it didn't fund abortion (which it doesn't) NOT in spite of that fact.

 
At 6/18/2010 9:58 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

"During the last period in which the pro-life party was in power REAL abortions increased, and during the period prior in which the 'pro-choice' part was in power real abortions DECREASED."

Not true. There are plenty of posts right here on this blog if you care to search for them that show this claim to be false. I knew as soon as I wrote that line that someone would misunderstand what I was saying and drag out the old canard about how abortions increase under Republicans and decrease under Democrats. By "more abortion", I mean the continuation of legalized abortion - legalized abortion continues to occur because Catholics continue to vote for politicians who fight any effort to curtail it. If Catholics would refuse to vote for such people, then we'd actually see some REAL change.

But, even though this wasn't the meaning of my use of the term "more abortion", I will say that I believe the passage of a health care bill that funds abortion (which, I think most people who consider themselves to be "pro-life" and who make abortion their primary concern conclude to be the case) will lead to "more abortion".

"My real issue with your blog post, as I've stated, is that you self-righteously keep claiming that the CHA went against the bishops on THIS law because they like abortion, or some such claim."

"Or some such claim", indeed. Since you will be unable to identify exactly where in my blog post I made "some such claim".

Where in my post did I claim that the CHA has embraced the so-called "pro-choice" position?

I merely quoted from Tom Peter's piece in which he argued that the CHA had worked with the President to foster division among Catholics and had created a situation whereby the Bishops' teaching authority was undermined. I agreed with his assertion.

My primary concern in this was that the CHA allowed itself to be used by people with an agenda as a "parallel magisterium", to quote Cardinal George.

 
At 6/18/2010 10:08 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

"(despite the quote I posted FROM the US Bishops showing that I side with them on the issue)"

And, as I noted, I agree with the Bishops position, as well, and was one of the few Catholic bloggers on the right side of the spectrum who blogged extensively in support of the Bishops' Faithful Citizenship document during the 2008 election season. My point, again, is that while Catholics are not morally forbidden from voting for pro-abortion candidates (i.e. those who, for political reasons or otherwise, claim Catholics MAY NOT morally do so are just plain wrong), I believe that they SHOULD NOT do so. And that's my interpretation of Faithful Citizenship, especially given the caveat about "proportionate reasons".

 
At 6/18/2010 12:12 PM, Blogger Rotundo said...

As for your second-to-last post:

"But disregarding the Bishops on protecting the civil rights of the unborn in law and on not funding the murder of the unborn via "health care" legislation marks one as not a serious Catholic and as one who, quite frankly, doesn't give a damn about the Church's teachings on the sanctity of life."

There you go.

Also I agree completely with your last post.

 
At 6/18/2010 1:01 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

First, nowhere in that comment is CHA specifically identified, as it was more of a general statement regarding those who always seem to disregard the Bishops when it comes to abortion.

Second, that comment is a far cry from saying that someone is "pro-choice" or "pro-abortion". It is a commentary on those for whom abortion is just not very high on the list of priorities when it comes to pursuing social justice aims.

And I stand by that. If abortion is truly what the Church claims it to be, and the Bishops have espoused certain principles regarding what the appropriate pro-life political response should be, and those principles are continuously ignored by those in pursuit of other goals, then it is safe to say that, by their actions, they have shown that abortion just isn't very high on the list of priorities.

So, I reiterate that at no time have I ever stated that the CHA is pro-abortion; rather, it is my belief that universal health care is at the top of their list of social justice priorities, and that they would have and did support the health care bill REGARDLESS of its implications for abortion funding.

In other words, I'm not saying, nor do I believe, that CHA is pro-abortion; just that they're not very serious about the issue if it stands in the way of their primary goals.

 
At 6/18/2010 10:04 PM, Blogger Rotundo said...

"So, I reiterate that at no time have I ever stated that the CHA is pro-abortion; rather, it is my belief that universal health care is at the top of their list of social justice priorities, and that they would have and did support the health care bill REGARDLESS of its implications for abortion funding."

A) You are splitting hairs by being vague enough in the previous comment to get around in.

B) They have repeatedly stated that this was not the case, so are you saying they are publicly lieing ?

 
At 6/21/2010 8:38 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

"A) You are splitting hairs by being vague enough in the previous comment to get around in."

No, distinctions matter. That's why you'll see Catholics who support "abortions rights" candidates twist themselves into knots to try to make the case that those candidates are "pro-choice" and not "pro-abortion".

There's not a dime's worth of difference between "pro-choice" and "pro-abortion", yet the distinction continues to be made.

The distinction I'm drawing, on the other hand, is a REAL distinction. I'm not calling CHA either "pro-choice" or "pro-abortion". Instead, I'm saying that I'll take them at their word that they probably DO oppose legalized abortion, just not enough to let it stand in the way of what they saw as their "best chance" to get health care reform.

"B) They have repeatedly stated that this was not the case, so are you saying they are publicly lieing ?"

Now why would I do that? It's not like all the good health-care reform-minded sisters accused the Bishops of publicly lying (making "false claims") or anything.

By the way, if I'm being "self-righteous" about this, then I'm in good company. Here you can read what the Director of the Office of Public Policy and Social Concerns for the Archdiocese of San Francisco had to say about this matter. Hardly some "right winger", he expresses sentiments that sure look awfully familiar. Regardless of what they may have stated publicly to the contrary, the sisters just had "other priorities".

By the way, I find it ironic that you expressed agreement with Cardinal George's recent statement, in which he lumps CHA in with what His Eminence refers to as "so-called Catholic groups".

 
At 6/21/2010 10:28 AM, Blogger Rotundo said...

The quality of the company you share in no way makes being self-righteous a virtue.

 
At 6/21/2010 11:16 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

I don't believe either of us were being "self righteous" to begin with.

No, the "self righteous" card is merely something, along with being "judgmental", of which commenters such as yourself like to accuse others with whom you disagree in order to shut off debate.

It's quite predictable, actually.

 
At 6/21/2010 1:12 PM, Blogger Rotundo said...

I only aim to please. And what's more pleasing than predictability?

 

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