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Deal Hudson and Deacon Sambi

April 29, 2008

In relation to my previous post, it goes without saying that Deal Hudson is at the front of the line in terms of demanding that pro-abortion politicians be denied communion. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Bush’s outreach man, the original Republicath. He is now fixated on whether nuncio Sambi gave communion to Kerry, Dodd, and Pelosi at the papal Mass in Washington DC– because Bob Novak said so. Well, Deal has the pictures (can you believe these characters sent people to the Mass to get these shots?) He shows Kerry receiving communion from a priest who is clearly not Sambi. But Dodd? Well, Deal is not so sure. Here is the picture:

And here is Deal’s commentary: “The gray-haired priest giving communion to Sen. Dodd could be Sambi, but it’s hard to tell”. Hard to tell? Sorry, Deal, but this man is clearly a deacon!!! I guess when you focus all your energy on using the Church to bash your opponents, you can miss a few minor details.

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117 Comments
  1. Katerina permalink
    April 29, 2008 9:52 pm

    Hahahaha

  2. Policraticus permalink*
    April 29, 2008 10:01 pm

    Oh, brother…the fascination with who’s receiving the Eucharist and who shouldn’t may be a symptom of a deep religious sickness of the soul. I recall St. Paul directing his warning about worthiness to receive to the individual rather than to self-appointed arbiters of sanctity.

  3. Tulipa permalink
    April 29, 2008 11:03 pm

    But what of the scandal these politicians cause other, faithful Catholics? They are in very public, leadership roles, all eyes are upon them, and they mock our belief that all life is sacred and that we are all created in God’s image. Their stances on abortion are radically in opposition to the Church. They embrace and promote mortal sin in a very public way–they fight for abortion, This is very different than your average Joe Blow Catholic who, perhaps, is voting for pro-choice candidates. There is a difference. With power comes responsibility. And, you are a Catholic first, a democrat or republican second. Go, Deal!

  4. Policraticus permalink*
    April 29, 2008 11:29 pm

    They are in very public, leadership roles, all eyes are upon them, and they mock our belief that all life is sacred and that we are all created in God’s image. Their stances on abortion are radically in opposition to the Church.

    Then allow them to eat and drink judgment upon themselves, as St. Paul states. Perhaps you might offer some defense of Deal’s crusade for sacramental regulation. If one is a Catholic first, then why does one concern oneself with the worthiness of others to receive communion? A bit of a Pharisaic move, if you ask me. The one who is to receive the Eucharist must do the discernment. The bishop or priest presiding may discern on a secondary level whether to deny the Eucharist. But it is not Deal or my or your business beyond acknowledging as much. Go, Catholicism!

  5. April 29, 2008 11:42 pm

    Should Deal Hudson be denied Holy Communion for distorting Catholic teaching regarding the uniqueness and complexity of the moral act? His public distortions should be a matter of grave moral concern because they misrepresent the core teaching about what is involved in the moral act.

    Of course, the answer is no. But by the same token, his effort to deny Communion to public officials is just as clearly off the wall as the suggestion above.

    I have posted the following quote from Jacques Maritain before, but no one seems to get its significance. If the following truths are not factored into one’s thinking about a moral act, one fails to appreciate the nature of the moral act. This statement even applies to those acts which are described as “intrinsically evil.”

    Maritain says:

    ““The same moral case never appears twice in the world. To speak absolutely strictly, precedent does not exist. Each time, I find myself in a situation requiring me to do a new thing, to bring into existence an act which must be in conformity with the moral law in a manner and under conditions belonging strictly to ME ALONE and which have never arisen before. Useless to thumb through the dictionary of cases of conscience! Moral treatises will of course tell me the universal rule or rules I am bound to apply; they will NOT tell me how I, the UNIQUE I, am to apply them in the unique context in which I am involved. No knowledge of moral essences, however perfect, meticulous, or detailed it may be and however particularized those essences may be (though they will always remain general); no casuistry, no chain of pure deduction, no science, can exempt me from my judgment of conscience …”

    Tulpia,

    You say:

    “Their stances on abortion are radically in opposition to the Church. They embrace and promote mortal sin in a very public way–they fight for abortion,”

    Who are you talking about? What public official is out there fighting for abortion? Are you sure you know what you’re talking about? It may be that they are fighting against abortion in ways that you don’t see or understand. Just because they don’t follow some specified means to achieve an end doesn’t mean that they are committing a mortal sin.

    You have this formula about who is committing sin and who is not. The problem is that personal sin is not reducible to a formula. Read Maritain above. Try to approach the issue within the context laid down by Maritain and you’ll find it much more difficult to judge another.

    Moral matters are not as simple as some individuals make them out to be.

  6. Tulipa permalink
    April 30, 2008 5:43 am

    Dear Campbell and Policratius,

    Morality ain’t that complex when it comes to killing the unborn and being in a position where you can do something other than promote it with your political agenda as Kerry and Pelosi do.

    You guys are akin to Christians of all stripes averting their gaze from the Nazi agenda.

    And my name isn’t Tulpia–it’s Tulipa.

  7. Tulipa permalink
    April 30, 2008 5:49 am

    And they do fight for abortion when they uphold a woman’s right to choose abortion. We do not uphold the right to murder our born children, now, do we?

  8. Tulipa permalink
    April 30, 2008 5:54 am

    Oops, make that Dear Campbell and Pol-i-cra-ti-cus….

  9. Tulipa permalink
    April 30, 2008 6:20 am

    And what type of bishops do you think John Chrysostom had in mind when he was contemplating the source of skulls with which hell will be paved? Brave bishops like Egan, or those who will not counsel the likes of Pelosi or Kerry? Deal is acting out of overwhelming frustration that many of our American bishops have abdicated their role as shepherds of souls. Leagues of Catholics are appalled at our political landscape and the downward spiral of our culture while the bishops stand by, mute. Are those bishops contemplating their navels and Maritain?

  10. Mike permalink
    April 30, 2008 7:00 am

    You guys are akin to Christians of all stripes averting their gaze from the Nazi agenda.

    Godwin’s Law! And so quickly.

  11. April 30, 2008 8:04 am

    Tulipa,

    You say: “Morality ain’t that complex when it comes to killing the unborn”

    Oh yes it is. The moral act IS that complex. Always.

    You use the word “morality” as some kind of blanket term without distinction whereas the proper place for discussion has to do with the “moral act.” It is the moral act that is at the center of the issue you describe. No one is discussion the integrity of the human person.

    Do you know what the “moral act” is? You speak of universal principles as though they can be applied in the manner of a template. Such application is way off the mark. You describe some form of rationalism or essentialism.

    The way you describe “morality” may suit your needs. But it doesn’t give you the tools from which to make the claims you do.

  12. April 30, 2008 8:06 am

    “Deal is acting out of overwhelming frustration that many of our American bishops have abdicated their role as shepherds of souls.”

    No, Deal is acting like the Baptist minister he once was.

  13. April 30, 2008 8:09 am

    “Brave bishops like Egan”

    Are you using the “cut and paste” method to pick your Bishop?

    Here is a question for you to consider: “Why do Bishop’s disagree when it comes to concrete matters? Could it have something to do with the “moral act”?

  14. April 30, 2008 8:11 am

    “Could it have something to do with the ‘moral act’?”

    It could also have something to do with cowardice.

  15. April 30, 2008 8:12 am

    “And they do fight for abortion when they uphold a woman’s right to choose abortion. ”

    No. That does not logical follow.

    They are attempting to take the decision away from government and put it at the most concrete level — that is, with the women, her doctor, and her pastor. This is the purpose of pro-choice.

    The vast majority of those who are pro-choice have never had, nor would ever have, an abortion.

  16. April 30, 2008 8:14 am

    “It could also have something to do with cowardice.”

    You can’t discuss cowardice in the concrete unless you’re prepared to understand the moral act.

  17. April 30, 2008 8:22 am

    Deal Hudson is a piece of work. We won’t even go into the matter of [...Good idea, we won't.]. A few years ago (July of 2005 to be exact) he issued a broadside defending then Senator Rick Santorum who suggested that Boston’s liberalism was the reason for the clerical abuse scandal. As an example of the immorality in Boston, even in the Catholic Church, Deal wrote the following:

    “The problem of Catholic leadership in Boston was news again last week when the new Director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference — Ed Saunders –was announced.
    Saunders comes to the Conference as long-time lobbyist to the Massachusetts legislature. Catholic pro-life and grassroots leaders are having a hard time accepting the new appointment. They quickly discovered that Saunders had made personal financial contributions to several gay marriage and cloning advocates in the legislature who ran against pro-life candidates in the 2004 election.”

    [Saunders at the time was working as an advocate for the Credit Union movement, something Catholic Social Teaching is a rich proponent of and contributed to candidates who were allies of that cause].

    Deal continues:

    “Marie Sturgis, executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Life said her group is investigating Saunder’s background.”I realize lobbyists do what they have to do, but we are talking about principles here and strong beliefs in some fundamental human rights” she said. “There’s a side of me that wonders if there are personal contributions given to lawmakers and political candidates who are not in synch with what the Church teaches, then doesn’t that call into question the motives of this individual?” (Boston Globe, July 13, 2005)”

    Now, here is the rub. Mr. Saunders is viciously attacked by Deal Hudson because he gave a couple of campaign contributions to candidates that where advocates of Catholic economic empowerment principles (subsidarity and all of that!). While Mr. Saunders is staunchly pro-life himself, because he gave a contribution on some occasions to candidates who were not, he applauds an investigation of Saunders’ background based on the question if he is sincerely pro-life.

    This is done to prove Santorum’s assertion that Boston liberalism created the moral cesspool that led to the abuse scandal.

    Now, here is my point (I know you have travelled far this). Santorum, two years prior to this point, contributed, fundraised and campaigned for pro-choice Senator Arlen Specter against his pro-life primary opponent. Specter won the primary very narrowly with Santorum’s support considered essential for that win.

    Typical Deal.

  18. April 30, 2008 8:25 am

    Gerald-

    You’re fooling yourself if you honestly believe that there aren’t politicians and citizens who view abortion as a public good.

    But hey, keep spinning for your boy, Obama. I am sure he greatly appreciates you providing cover for his radical probaortion agenda.

    You defend Obama, and mock those concerned with scandal. Unbelievable.

  19. April 30, 2008 8:29 am

    Gerald,

    If you defend the choice for abortion, you defend abortion. There is no way around it.

  20. April 30, 2008 8:34 am

    “Deal Hudson is a piece of work.”

    Agreed.

  21. Policraticus permalink*
    April 30, 2008 8:43 am

    If you defend the choice for abortion, you defend abortion. There is no way around it.

    This is a conflation of legality and morality, and the two are not coextensive. If I oppose legal restrictions on prostitution and pornography, do I thereby defend the morality of either? Of course not. The issue here is of legality. Is it the role of the federal government to restrict abortion? Is it the role of the States? Is it a matter of transforming the country morally and spiritually to end abortion rather than through legal means? These are questions that must be addressed first.

    I also think implying that any bishop is a “coward” because he does not go to the presses with his indignation over Giuliani, Kerry, Dodd or Pelosi is absolutely ridiculous.

  22. April 30, 2008 8:44 am

    Who are you talking about? What public official is out there fighting for abortion?

    Gerald, that’s too easy. How about the ones who brag that they are “fighting”? For example, Hillary Clinton: “I will fight to protect a woman’s right to choose.”

  23. April 30, 2008 8:52 am

    feddie,

    “You’re fooling yourself if you honestly believe that there aren’t politicians and citizens who view abortion as a public good.”

    Show me one such person and prove that that is their intent. Start with Kerry, since he is so often maligned by the religious right. Prove Kerry sees abortion as a public good. If you can’t then you’re just engaging in slander. Frankly, I don’t think you can.

    The problem is that you appear incapable of discussing this issue in a serious way. Otherwise you would do so. Instead you launch directly into sarcasm with every post you make. (“But hey, keep spinning for your boy, Obama.”) [I'm sure a black person likes to be called "boy".]

  24. April 30, 2008 8:52 am

    Poli,

    OK, yes, maybe it is. But it’s ok to do this with abortion and not other issues like those you mentioned.

    Why? Because analogously, it’s like opposing murder, but not the choice for murder. If you oppose murder you are clearly going to oppose the choice for murder.

    On second thought, maybe there is no conflation between legality and morality. When pro-abortion advocates make their case, they say they are “pro-choice”? But what is the choice? They are pro-choice-of-abortion. Likewise with Gerald.

  25. Natasha permalink
    April 30, 2008 8:55 am

    This is a conflation of legality and morality, and the two are not coextensive. If I oppose legal restrictions on prostitution and pornography, do I thereby defend the morality of either?

    This depends on the obligations present. If a person tells there spouse they can date whomever they like, then they are sanctioning adultery. Likewise if he claims killing the unborn is not a concern of the State, then he supports abortion.

  26. April 30, 2008 8:56 am

    ““I will fight to protect a woman’s right to choose.””

    This is not a statement about abortion. It is a statement that puts the issue where it belongs: with the woman, her doctor, and her pastor. This is a moral decision that she must struggle with. It is not something the state should meddle in. This is the meaning of Hillary’s statement.

    I’m not an advocate for Hillary. But. at the very least, I believe her meaning should be respected if you are going to criticize her. There is too much conflation of terms in the abortion debate. Way too much.

  27. April 30, 2008 8:57 am

    “Likewise if he claims killing the unborn is not a concern of the State, then he supports abortion.”

    This does not logically follow at all. You’re confusing means and ends, and conflating both.

  28. April 30, 2008 8:58 am

    I rescind those last comments – the last paragraph of my previous post.

  29. Greg permalink
    April 30, 2008 9:01 am

    Policratus,

    I agree. It would be much better if Deal Hudson would focus on converting this nation to a pro-life mentality. If this occurred, all the legal & political ramifications would be taken care of. This has been a fatal flaw of the pro-life movement. So much focus on which politicians to elect or which judges to appoint and so little focus on conversion of heart.

  30. April 30, 2008 9:01 am

    Poli-

    Look, I agree that a priest/bishop should try to handle an issue like this in a pastoral, private manner. And that is exactly what Cardinal Egen did. He pulled Giuliani aside, and told him that he shouldn’t be taking communion because of his proabortion stance. Giuliani apparently agreed not to take communion, and then did just that when the eyes of the world were watching.

    If a bishop fails to call a proabort pol out on an act that brazen, having already counseled him privately not to do so, then he is either a coward or indifferent to the scandal caused by such an act. Given a choice between these two options, I think I would prefer the former.

  31. April 30, 2008 9:03 am

    Democratic politicians don’t say “a woman’s right to choose” because they’re making a philosophical distinction — it’s just a euphemism for abortion. It’s not as if they support a woman’s right to choose a voucher to get her kid into a private school, or a woman’s right to choose how to invest her Social Security money, or a woman’s right to choose to farm land on which an endangered species has been spotted (after all, those are important issues where it’s important that the government do the right thing).

  32. Natasha permalink
    April 30, 2008 9:06 am

    If you leave a loaded gun lying around claiming that you don’t want to impose the choice of not shooting people upon your child, you are responsible for any deaths caused by the child. If you allow a child to host a drinking party at your home and an underage driver kills someone, you will be held legally liable. Yes, the moral agency of the individual actor is important. There are however obligations placed upon men and women by ownership or position. You can’t just claim the State has no interest in protecting human life.

  33. April 30, 2008 9:07 am

    Gerald-

    I agree that I should not have used the word “boy.” While my comment had nothing to do with Obama’s race, I recognize the historical context to which you refer. For that, I apologize to you, your co-bloggers, and Vox Nova’s readers.

  34. April 30, 2008 9:07 am

    “Democratic politicians don’t say “a woman’s right to choose” because they’re making a philosophical distinction — it’s just a euphemism for abortion.”

    The pro-life movement, as it is currently framed, depends in large measure on your statement being true. But it is not true. The issue has to do with the means to bring about the end. Such politicians do not believe the government constitutes the best means. The better means should be decided at the level of the women, the doctor, and the pastor. This is subsidiarity.

  35. April 30, 2008 9:11 am

    “You can’t just claim the State has no interest in protecting human life.”

    The state does have an interest in protecting human life. I agree. But there is no national consensus as to what constitutes human life particularly as regards the unborn. This is a metaphysical question and metaphysics is not a form of knowing that is readily accepted in America.

  36. ben permalink
    April 30, 2008 9:13 am

    When life begins is NOT a metaphysical question. Science clearly tells us that life begins at conception. When RIGHTS begin is the metaphysical question.

  37. April 30, 2008 9:13 am

    Show me one such person and prove that that is their intent.

    It’s impossible to prove someone’s inner intent. But Democratic politicians campaign (as does Obama) to have the government PAY for people to procure abortion. And they oppose any restriction (however modest) that might interfere with a 13-year-old’s ability to get an abortion without any adult involvement. They typically oppose state laws that require women seeking abortion to be shown an ultrasound. None of these positions are consistent with this claim that Democrats all hate abortion and wish it would go away, but just are queasy about criminalizing it. Instead, they’re actively trying to promote it with government funding, and actively trying to prevent women from being shown information that might cause her to choose anything but abortion.

    Indeed, Obama claimed that if his daughter got pregnant, she shouldn’t be “punished” with a child. It’s impossible, I think even for you, to construe that statement as simply stating that abortion is evil but the government shouldn’t get involved. To the contrary, he was necessarily praising abortion as the best option for some people. He’s far from alone in that view, as you are surely aware.

  38. April 30, 2008 9:18 am

    Feddie,

    I knew you were not intending to use the term “boy” as a slur. But we have to be careful because such terms cause great hurt in people’s lives. So, in pointing out the inappropriateness of the term, I was not making a judgment on you personally.

  39. April 30, 2008 9:21 am

    The better means should be decided at the level of the women, the doctor, and the pastor. This is subsidiarity.

    I wonder if any of the other Vox Nova bloggers will call out Mr. Campbell on this breathtaking perversion of Catholic doctrine. What Mr. Campbell is doing is exactly equivalent to someone who says, “There’s no American consensus [which is certainly true] on whether torturing suspected terrorists is wrong, and therefore in keeping with the principle of subsidiarity, we should leave the question of torture to the private choices of individuals and local law enforcement agencies.”

  40. April 30, 2008 9:21 am

    Gerald-

    John Kerry’s record speaks for itself. Time and time again, the man has voted to uphold a women’s right to abort her child. While running for president, Kerry pledged that he wouldn’t appoint anyone to the Supreme Court who wasn’t in favor of upholding Roe v. Wade. NARAL considers Kerry one of its greatest supporters. Kerry also took campaign contributions from abortionists. How much evidence does one need before concluding that an apple is rotten to the core?

    When you talk about abortion being a women’s choice, along with her doctor and pastor, I want to vomit. You may claim to be prolife, but you sound just like the proaborts. What about the choice of the child? How in the world can you not believe that the state has a compelling interest in protecting innocent life? Abortion is not the same as pornography or prostitution. People who engage in such activities always have a choice. There is always an element of free will (unless one of the actors is a slave). The unborn child has no choice in the abortion decision. I know you understand this, but you seem to gloss over this fact while typing your NARAL talking points.

  41. April 30, 2008 9:23 am

    I am sorry is that last comment was overly harsh, Gerald, but I really don’t understand where you’re coming from on this. I am truly baffled by your tortured logic.

  42. April 30, 2008 9:28 am

    “But Democratic politicians campaign (as does Obama) to have the government PAY for people to procure abortion.”

    Yes, because there is an economic factor involved when a women, her doctor, and her pastor make a their decision. The question here is one of equity for poor people. People should have equity in such choices. But this is not a program to promote abortion. That is not its intent. (By the way, Republicans support such programs, too — a side issue though.)

    “And they oppose any restriction (however modest) that might interfere with a 13-year-old’s ability to get an abortion without any adult involvement.”

    The question here is one of jurisprudence. The anthropology that underpins American jurisprudence is that of the autonomous individual. What needs to be change to protect in law the organic relations within a family is the philosophical foundations of jurisprudence. This is not a question of whether one is a Democrat or a Republican. It runs much deeper.

  43. Natasha permalink
    April 30, 2008 9:29 am

    The state does have an interest in protecting human life. I agree. But there is no national consensus as to what constitutes human life particularly as regards the unborn.

    This would seem to mold how the politician goes about achieving the protection of human life. Morality never requires doing the impossible. I think one would have to caution against the tail wagging the dog. That there is no consensus to protect the unborn would give leeway to supporting measures that would not fully achieve protecting the unborn. That there is no consensus does not change the State’s and politican’s obligations to protect them.

  44. Blackadder permalink
    April 30, 2008 9:34 am

    “there is an economic factor involved when a women, her doctor, and her pastor make a their decision. The question here is one of equity for poor people. People should have equity in such choices. But this is not a program to promote abortion. That is not its intent.”

    You know, Gerald, you’ve really outdone yourself here.

  45. April 30, 2008 9:47 am

    Gerald — aside from being impenetrable, your second answer is evasive and irrelevant.

    The first answer is quite telling. No one talks about “equity for poor people” when the subject is anything that is remotely harmful. No one says that poor people have a hard time buying enough heroin, or enough alcohol, or even enough McDonald’s french fries, and therefore the government should help pay for it. The only time when anyone talks about “equity for poor people” is when they think that poor people aren’t able to get enough of something that is GOOD — health insurance, decent housing, etc.

    So you just admitted that you, as well as Democratic politicians, think that abortion is a positive good.

  46. April 30, 2008 9:49 am

    Mr. Campbell, how about we help change our culture and reach a moral consensus by refusing to vote for or even praise people who advocate a society in which such a grave social (and individual) injustice is recognized as a “good” or even a “legitimate option”? Once it’s not feasible for a person with political ambitions to support allowing such grave moral injustices or promote the equitable distribution thereof (you know, help weed out the poor and minorities) maybe we can make some headway.

    We’ve made a great number of things socially unacceptable, Michael Richards went off on a bigoted rant and his career is basically over. Why can’t we consider advocating abortion choice to be offensive and morally repugnant? Seems to me the best place to start if we wish to change toward a more just society.

  47. Phillip permalink
    April 30, 2008 9:51 am

    This from the Summa:

    “Whether it belongs to the human law to repress all vices?

    Objection 1: It would seem that it belongs to human law to repress all vices. For Isidore says (Etym. v, 20) that “laws were made in order that, in fear thereof, man’s audacity might be held in check.” But it would not be held in check sufficiently, unless all evils were repressed by law. Therefore human laws should repress all evils.

    Objection 2: Further, the intention of the lawgiver is to make the citizens virtuous. But a man cannot be virtuous unless he forbear from all kinds of vice. Therefore it belongs to human law to repress all vices.

    Objection 3: Further, human law is derived from the natural law, as stated above (Question [95], Article [2]). But all vices are contrary to the law of nature. Therefore human law should repress all vices.

    On the contrary, We read in De Lib. Arb. i, 5: “It seems to me that the law which is written for the governing of the people rightly permits these things, and that Divine providence punishes them.” But Divine providence punishes nothing but vices. Therefore human law rightly allows some vices, by not repressing them.

    I answer that, As stated above (Question [90], Articles [1],2), law is framed as a rule or measure of human acts. Now a measure should be homogeneous with that which it measures, as stated in Metaph. x, text. 3,4, since different things are measured by different measures. Wherefore laws imposed on men should also be in keeping with their condition, for, as Isidore says (Etym. v, 21), law should be “possible both according to nature, and according to the customs of the country.” Now possibility or faculty of action is due to an interior habit or disposition: since the same thing is not possible to one who has not a virtuous habit, as is possible to one who has. Thus the same is not possible to a child as to a full-grown man: for which reason the law for children is not the same as for adults, since many things are permitted to children, which in an adult are punished by law or at any rate are open to blame. In like manner many things are permissible to men not perfect in virtue, which would be intolerable in a virtuous man.

    Now human law is framed for a number of human beings, the majority of whom are not perfect in virtue. Wherefore human laws do not forbid all vices, from which the virtuous abstain, but only the more grievous vices, from which it is possible for the majority to abstain; and chiefly those that are to the hurt of others, without the prohibition of which human society could not be maintained: thus human law prohibits murder, theft and such like.

    Reply to Objection 1: Audacity seems to refer to the assailing of others. Consequently it belongs to those sins chiefly whereby one’s neighbor is injured: and these sins are forbidden by human law, as stated.

    Reply to Objection 2: The purpose of human law is to lead men to virtue, not suddenly, but gradually. Wherefore it does not lay upon the multitude of imperfect men the burdens of those who are already virtuous, viz. that they should abstain from all evil. Otherwise these imperfect ones, being unable to bear such precepts, would break out into yet greater evils: thus it is written (Pr. 30:33): “He that violently bloweth his nose, bringeth out blood”; and (Mt. 9:17) that if “new wine,” i.e. precepts of a perfect life, “is put into old bottles,” i.e. into imperfect men, “the bottles break, and the wine runneth out,” i.e. the precepts are despised, and those men, from contempt, break into evils worse still.

    Reply to Objection 3: The natural law is a participation in us of the eternal law: while human law falls short of the eternal law. Now Augustine says (De Lib. Arb. i, 5): “The law which is framed for the government of states, allows and leaves unpunished many things that are punished by Divine providence. Nor, if this law does not attempt to do everything, is this a reason why it should be blamed for what it does.” Wherefore, too, human law does not prohibit everything that is forbidden by the natural law.”

    It would seem that the common good, for Aquinas at least, does not require that all vices be prohibited. Thus prostitution may be tolerated. But it does seem that defending the right of the unborn from having their life in the womb terminated may be for the common good. Thoughts?

  48. April 30, 2008 9:52 am

    Feddie,

    Kerry’s record is public. But the logic is not. Kerry (I’m only using him as an example) is struggling to make a determination as to the best means to address the challenge posed by the unborn. We have a jurisprudence that is inadequate to the challenge. We have no national consensus of the status of the unborn. We have conflicting opinions within the body-politic. We have a culture that is at odds with protecting the unborn. We don’t even protect very well the living, let alone the unborn. In short, there is no basis for agreement. The complications that hover about this issue range far and wide — and this is only an inadequate sketch of the problem.

    Kerry has decided the best place to resolve the contradictions for now lies with the mother, her doctor, and the pastor. He is not trying to impose a universal judgment on the matter. He is not saying that abortion is an intrinsic right. He is saying that this is the best we can do given the nature of the predicament.

    As for those who disagree with him, there is nothing wrong with trying to change the underlying dynamics of this issue. Try to change jurisprudence in the law schools, for instance. Try to win over ‘hearts and minds’ about the sanctity of the life of the unborn. If you’re a lawyer, do what you can. If your an educator do what you can. If you’re a politician, do what you can. But no one is going to make transformative changes in this country by themselves, or within any short period of time. Be prepared for the long haul. The struggle over race has been going on for over four centuries! And it is still going on.

    It doesn’t help to demonize those who are doing what they have determined to be the best means for now. Remember: this debate has, for the most part, never been about ends. It has always been about means.

  49. April 30, 2008 9:58 am

    blackadder,

    “You know, Gerald, you’ve really outdone yourself here.”

    An exclamatory statement says nothing — unless there is a common agreement, which there isn’t.

    The problem is that too many people who set forth their opinion on this issue don’t understand the position they are contesting. They never engage the opposing position. They end up arguing with themselves.

  50. April 30, 2008 10:01 am

    “That there is no consensus does not change the State’s and politican’s obligations to protect them.”

    The question here is “how”? Like I said, it’s about the means.

  51. April 30, 2008 10:04 am

    SB,

    You miss the point. No one is demanding that any individual use appropriated monies to get an abortion. The money is simply available. The choice is still the mother, the doctor, and the pastor. Subsidiarity.

  52. April 30, 2008 10:05 am

    Remember: this debate has, for the most part, never been about ends. It has always been about means.

    I disagree. The modern genesis of the abortion debate is rooted in the Eugenics movement, then co-opted by feminist movement. The “pro-choice” position has never been about bringing about an end to abortion. RvW, was purposely brought before the courts for the very purpose of making abortion legal and readily available for anyone who so “chose”. Those who defend RvW, desire subsidizing abortion, or call it a “right” do not want to see an end to the practice.

  53. ben permalink
    April 30, 2008 10:07 am

    “We don’t even protect the living, let alone the unborn.”

    Shouldn’t this be “We don’t even protect the born, let alone the unborn”?

  54. Morning's Minion permalink*
    April 30, 2008 10:08 am

    You know, I would have preferred this debate to take place in the earlier post on this issue, where I attempted to make a substantive argument against the Deal Hudson position. This post was more designed to show that Deal Hudson, the great Catholic watchdog, doesn’t even know the difference between a priest and a deacon. I’m sorry, but that is elementary.

    But to the substantive points: I will not repeat the arguments from yesterday (http://vox-nova.com/2008/04/29/communion-wars-again/#comments), and many of you are anyway saying similar things here. But let me ask a question of those who support Hudson-Novak, a question based on a point I made yesterday: do you believe that public advocates of torture should be banned from receiving communion? What would you say to all Catholic legislators who supported Bush’s “enhanced interrogation techniques”? And what about Catholic private citizens who otherwise provide manifest support– people like NRO’s Kathryn Jean Lopez? Should she be turned away from communion?

  55. Morning's Minion permalink*
    April 30, 2008 10:10 am

    Hudson used to be a baptist minister? I did not know that, but it certainly explains a lot.

  56. April 30, 2008 10:10 am

    Rich Lugari,

    What you are suggesting is more in line with how I would approach the matter. We need to begin to address this problem more strategically. Right now, everything is at an impasse. We need new thinking. The direction you suggest has great promise. Ultimately, it’s about hearts and minds.

  57. April 30, 2008 10:13 am

    As for those who disagree with him, there is nothing wrong with trying to change the underlying dynamics of this issue. Try to change jurisprudence in the law schools, for instance. Try to win over ‘hearts and minds’ about the sanctity of the life of the unborn. If you’re a lawyer, do what you can. If your an educator do what you can. If you’re a politician, do what you can.

    The problem, Gerald, is that neither you nor Democratic politicians in general are doing “what you can” to change hearts and minds about the sanctity of the life of the unborn — unless you mean that in the opposite sense, i.e., trying to convince people that the unborn don’t really have any sanctity of life.

    You miss the point. No one is demanding that any individual use appropriated monies to get an abortion. The money is simply available. The choice is still the mother, the doctor, and the pastor. Subsidiarity.

    Noticeably, you don’t deny believing that abortion is a positive good. When you say that paying for abortion is in the interest of “equity for poor people,” that necessarily implies that abortion is a good thing, that poor people benefit from having it made more available to them. No one would ever speak of “equity” in providing people with a thing that is bad for them.

    And for the second time, referring to “subsidiarity” here is a misuse of language and an perversion of Catholic doctrine.

  58. Policraticus permalink*
    April 30, 2008 10:15 am

    Good stuff, Zach. I think we agree the legal/moral distinction with respect to abortion is complex.

    If a bishop fails to call a proabort pol out on an act that brazen, having already counseled him privately not to do so, then he is either a coward or indifferent to the scandal caused by such an act.

    Has a private meeting already taken place? If not, then why go public? If so, why go public? The issue is taking the state of one’s soul (via worthiness to receive the Eucharist) to the presses.

    Related: And to what degree has Giuliani participated in formal evil? Has he passed legislation? Has he opened further access to abortion? Is his support for the choice to abort merely rhetorical?

  59. Policraticus permalink*
    April 30, 2008 10:17 am

    The problem, Gerald, is that neither you nor Democratic politicians in general are doing “what you can” to change hearts and minds about the sanctity of the life of the unborn — unless you mean that in the opposite sense, i.e., trying to convince people that the unborn don’t really have any sanctity of life.

    You have evidence and knowledge that Gerald is doing nothing to change hearts and minds?

    And for the second time, referring to “subsidiarity” here is a misuse of language and an perversion of Catholic doctrine.

    I’m not sure you understand “subsidiarity” much less are in position to claim perversian of the principle. Your assertions on doctrine and Gerald’s efforts are baseless, and I think I am not the only one here who outright dismisses your points on account of them.

  60. April 30, 2008 10:19 am

    “I disagree. The modern genesis of the abortion debate is rooted in the Eugenics movement, then co-opted by feminist movement.”

    Yes, I’m familiar with Margaret Sanger. But do you think Rep. So & So is aware of all that. Nope. .

    Members of Congress are running on autopilot within the failed political context that has been around the 40 or more years. This is a major problem. Nothing will be resolved if the current debate continues to be the center of gravity. New directions need to be explored.

    Rick, I’m sure you know more about this issue than any Member of Congress. Yet they make the decisions about law and monies.

  61. April 30, 2008 10:22 am

    MM-

    If Rick Santorum were to publicly say, “I support torture,” then yes, I believe he should be denied communion.

    The problem, as you well know, is one of line-drawing. If you and I think X is torture, and Santorum genuinely doesn’t beleive X to be torture, then I don’t think he should be denied communion. As I’ve stated in the past, I am not interested in such line drawing. That is why I oppose anything that I believe even remotely resembles torture. I am not interested at all in flirting with an intrinsically evil act.

  62. Blackadder permalink
    April 30, 2008 10:22 am

    Policraticus,

    Surely you don’t mean to suggest that Gerald’s comments (saying that subsidiary requires making abortion a matter between a woman, her doctor, and her pastor; saying that providing taxpayer support for abortion is not supporting abortion but it only a matter of equity, etc.) are anything but pure rubbish and a perversion of Catholic teaching?

  63. April 30, 2008 10:22 am

    You have evidence and knowledge that Gerald is doing nothing to change hearts and minds?

    Good question.

  64. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    April 30, 2008 10:23 am

    Policraticus,

    Considering that subsidiarity is about the higher order aiding the lower order achieve heaven, many of us would fail to see how legalized abortion is compatible with subsidiarity.

  65. April 30, 2008 10:23 am

    “And for the second time, referring to “subsidiarity” here is a misuse of language and an perversion of Catholic doctrine.”

    Yes, I agree. But it is the way Republicans have used subsidiarity. It has been used to get the decision-making down to the local level because the assumption is that the least government is the best government.

    So I agree with you. This is an ideological use of subsidiarity but it is the one that is in play in American politics.

  66. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    April 30, 2008 10:25 am

    Regarding the subsidy of abortion, Gerald is correct that this isn’t quite the problem it is made out to be. If abortion is considered health care, then ensuring that the poor have access to health care is a legitimate policy goal. The error is treating abortion as a legitimate form of health care, not ensuring equitable provision of health care.

  67. April 30, 2008 10:26 am

    MM,

    Yes, I would much rather see bishops using their disciplinary powers to provide leadership on the issues of torture _and_ abortion than doing so on neither one.

    And although I fully expect that some bishops would use that leadership in ways that I would disagree with, it seems to me that _something_ is needed to regain in the Catholic population that if you are a public figure (politician, nationally syndicated writer, etc.) who publicly identifies as Catholic, it matters what you say.

    Now of course, it wouldn’t surprise me if some of the people you seem to be looking down on (K-Lo of NRO, for example) would be more amenable to guidance from their bishops than politicians like Giuliani and Kerry and Pelosi have proved to be. But we would have to wait and see.

  68. April 30, 2008 10:30 am

    Poli.-

    My understanding from Cardinal Egen is that he met with Giuliani and they came to an understanding that he would not receive communion.

    As mayor, Giuliani, among other things, supported legislation to publicly finance abortion for poor women; something your co-blogger Gerald apparently supports.

    Y’all cannot have it both ways. You cannot say on the one hand, “the most important thing is to change the hearts and minds of women who would seek an abortion,” and then defend politicians whose statements of abortion advocacy help to foster the very Culture of Death that prevents such a transformation of hearts and minds.

  69. April 30, 2008 10:30 am

    More sucking up to Gerald, I see.

    You have evidence and knowledge that Gerald is doing nothing to change hearts and minds?

    I don’t know what he’s doing elsewhere, but I can read what he says right here. Right here, on Vox Nova, he is attempting not to persuade anyone of the sanctity of life, but to persuade people that abortion is a positive good.

    I’m not sure you understand “subsidiarity” much less are in position to claim perversian of the principle. Your assertions on doctrine and Gerald’s efforts are baseless, and I think I am not the only one here who outright dismisses your points on account of them.

    There is no intellectually honest argument to be made that “subsidiarity” — in Catholic terms — means “individuals have the right to abortion.” Do you seriously disagree? If so, make the argument.

  70. April 30, 2008 10:32 am

    You have evidence and knowledge that Gerald is doing nothing to change hearts and minds?

    Good question.

    It may well be that Gerald does a great deal to change hearts and minds on the issue of abortion in the rest of his life, but in this particular forum he mostly weighs in on the issue to insist that we cannot possibly have a good reason to look on pro-choice politicians with opprobium. It may be that this is not, given the audience, in active danger of causing any of us to favor abortion, but it certainly shows no signs of giving those who do favor the legality (and one must admit, the plentiful practice) of abortion in our country any reason to stop.

    I have no real doubt that Gerald thinks he believes that abortion is evil, but he seems against anything that would involve actually taking steps against it — except when he makes the rather contradictory case that voting for his beloved Obama would somehow make the country more pro-life.

  71. April 30, 2008 10:32 am

    Poli? Gerald has now agreed with me on what I said about subsidiarity!* Are you now going to accuse him of taking a “baseless” position?

    *Based on tit-for-tat reasoning that makes no sense here, but so be it.

  72. Policraticus permalink*
    April 30, 2008 10:46 am

    I don’t know what he’s doing elsewhere, but I can read what he says right here. Right here, on Vox Nova, he is attempting not to persuade anyone of the sanctity of life, but to persuade people that abortion is a positive good.

    This is a deliberate caricature of Gerald’s position. When did he state that abortion is a “positive good”?

    Gerald has now agreed with me on what I said about subsidiarity!* Are you now going to accuse him of taking a “baseless” position?

    I stated that I do not believe you know what subsidiarity is from the Catholic perspective. Defend your assertion.

  73. April 30, 2008 10:48 am

    I have no real doubt that Gerald thinks he believes that abortion is evil,

    Why do you think this? As I’ve pointed out twice — with no disagreement from Gerald himself or anyone else — it makes no sense for Gerald to have defended government subsidies to abortion as a matter of “equity” UNLESS he was presupposing that abortion is a legitimate and good thing to which people are entitled.

    Again, if we were talking about heroin, or high-class New York prostitutes, or fraudulent tax shelters, or any other harmful thing, no one would say, “Well, rich people are able to take advantage of these things, and therefore the government should fund them for poor people as well, as a matter of equity.” You just don’t talk about “equity” in delivering a harmful thing to people.

  74. April 30, 2008 10:48 am

    Darwin C,

    “but in this particular forum he mostly weighs in on the issue to insist that we cannot possibly have a good reason to look on pro-choice politicians with opprobium.”

    I’m suggesting something deeper. I’m suggesting that there is a lack of understanding by both sides as to the nature of the problem and the nature of their opponents position.

    One would think that those who are pro-life would benefit by having their assumptions challenged — particularly the assumptions they hold about their opponents position. To engage in this way can only strengthen their own position — and it might possibly lead to new strategic decisions and approaches that would affect the debate as a whole.

    You may be satisfied with the status quo. I am not. It is not enough to be right.

  75. Morning's Minion permalink*
    April 30, 2008 10:50 am

    Darwin and Feddie:

    I agree that the bishops could show more leadership, in their teaching role, to emphasize all aspects of the culture of life.

    As for Santorum not believing there is anything wrong with waterboarding, you might well be right, but I would say this is irrelevant. After all, the pro-abortion politicians also believe they are the good guys, they are the ones who believe they are supporting life and health. Except that they are not. And that’s really what makes an act intrinsically evil: it can’t be made virtuous by will power (see Anscombe on intention).

  76. April 30, 2008 10:50 am

    Poli — in answer to your first question, I’ve explained that three times now. Please read above. It’s not a “deliberate caricature,” but simply a logical necessity that follows upon any claim that abortion is a matter of “equity.”

    All I’ve said about “subsidiarity” is that it is not a concept that can or should be used in Catholic doctrine to defend abortion. If you think that my assertion somehow demonstrates that I don’t “know what subsidiarity is,” then you are the ignorant one.

  77. April 30, 2008 10:56 am

    “And that’s really what makes an act intrinsically evil: it can’t be made virtuous by will power (see Anscombe on intention).”

    This is true. But a person still has to make a judgment of conscience, and that is unique. It is here — the moral act — that the problem in ethics and politics resides.

  78. April 30, 2008 10:59 am

    “it makes no sense for Gerald to have defended government subsidies to abortion as a matter of “equity” UNLESS he was presupposing that abortion is a legitimate and good thing to which people are entitled.”

    This does not follow. You’re unwilling to make distinctions. The moral act is too complicate not to make distinctions.

  79. April 30, 2008 11:03 am

    “All I’ve said about “subsidiarity” is that it is not a concept that can or should be used in Catholic doctrine to defend abortion.”

    Subsidiarity is not being used to defend abortion. You insist it is. It is not.

  80. April 30, 2008 11:03 am

    That’s not at all responsive, Gerald. In what way does it make any sense to praise the provision of X to the poor as a matter of “equity,” if one also purports to think that X is evil and detrimental? Name one specific example.

  81. Blackadder permalink
    April 30, 2008 11:06 am

    Stuart is right. If abortion is really bad, saying that “equity” requires the government to pay for it in the case of poor women makes no sense. And saying that subsidiarity requires legal abortion makes no sense whatsoever.

  82. April 30, 2008 11:06 am

    I am not sure why Deal Hudson is the source of much angst here. A pretty short forward column that in no way was a tirade and in fact corrected some false information is mostly what is presented here.

    Hudson and others are discussing something that will be of some debate in various Catholic outlets and secular media.

    That being said there is a bit of scandal here and to dismiss those concerns is just not living in the real world.

    THese Catholic Politicians knew as sure as anything that their taking communion would bring this on

    I wonder. I went throught quite a painful divorce. If my Marriage is never declared Null I have resolved not to remarry. Not only because it is against God’s law but to be away from the Sacraments well I could imagine. THat has huge consequences for a only child and a person that has no children. Even at my early age it makes me look on as to my old age in sadness. Dying alone appears more a likely possibility

    There are more of us than you imagine. We all have friends tell us and in fact plead with us that God Understands. TO go ahead remarry without an annulment and take communion because it is our RIGHT.

    When I see other people that take that other path as I described above I have to admit it demoralizes me some. I guess I could take part and rationalize it away and be part of their group and create more scandal. Or to be more exact undermines what the Church teaches.

    Needless to say because of this I am not to sympahatic to the above politicos. We can play around with words all we like but we know the Church views this issue of abortion differently than many other issues. SO does the public. That is why when Pope Benedict made his statements about Mexican Bishops, Abortion Politics, and Communion there was such world wide interest. THat is one reason why a number of Catholic Congressmen in response starting yelling about the separation of Chruch and State and how Benedict was violating that. All over a situation in Mexico mind you

  83. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    April 30, 2008 11:09 am

    Blackadder, SB, et al,

    The question of equity is in regards to health care. The interest in funding abortion is not qua abortion but as the provision of health care.

  84. ben permalink
    April 30, 2008 11:11 am

    Gerald,

    When you speak of the moral act being complicated are you saying something more than simply that the person seaking the abortion does not know nor agree that they are commiting evil? If so, what else are you saying?

  85. ben permalink
    April 30, 2008 11:15 am

    jh,

    You have a huge cross to bear. Hold firm to the Faith that has been given to you. Please be assured of my prayers. Your reward in heaven will be great.

  86. April 30, 2008 11:17 am

    MM,

    I think one of the problems with the whole line of debate is that many people assume that receiving sanction from the bishops would not change someone’s position on an issue.

    Now, in our modern, ideological and individualistic society, that may be the case a tragic amount of the time — especially after things have been so lax for so long that a change would be seen a pure politics.

    However, engage in a thought experiment in which Katherine Lopez’s bishop has been denouncing and if necessary excommunicting pro-choice politicians for the last thirty years. Say she writes a nationally synicated editorial in which she passionately endorses torture, and then her bishop calls he up and explains that this is against Catholic teaching, and why, and that if she continues to publicly advocate torture, he will be forced to deny her communion.

    Now, if she is at all open to being morally guided by the Church, this would cause her to examine her assumptions and quite possibly change her mind. That would quite arguably be a good thing.

    You’ve basically argued: Okay fine, you want to deny out politicians and punits communion, how would you feel if we denied yours.

    In the end, I think that’s the wrong way to see it. What we should all want is to see our bishops provide strong and courageous moral guidance, using the tool of excommunication to do so if necessary. If we were to somehow achieve such a world, it would be good for everyone — even Democrats.

  87. April 30, 2008 11:17 am

    MZ:

    The question of equity is in regards to health care. The interest in funding abortion is not qua abortion but as the provision of health care.

    That is not a useful distinction, as it just puts the moral question a step back. The point is, no one would say that abortion should be funded “as the provision of health care” unless he thought of abortion as morally good (or at least neutral).

    The argument you’re making is akin to this: Imagine that a politician argued that the government should pay for child pornography for people who want it but can’t afford it. An objector might point out, “You must think that child pornography is good or at least neutral; if you really thought it was evil, you wouldn’t want to pay for it.” And then the politician responded with an argument akin to yours; “Oh, it’s not that I think child pornography is good, but I just want equity in the provision of reading material.”

    I think all of us would be able to perceive the farcical nature of that argument. If you really think child pornography is at all bad, then the last thing you would want is to “help” those people who otherwise couldn’t get their hands on it.

  88. April 30, 2008 11:22 am

    Subsidiarity is not being used to defend abortion. You insist it is. It is not.

    So you take back what you wrote a few minutes ago? That is: “The better means should be decided at the level of the women, the doctor, and the pastor. This is subsidiarity.”

  89. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    April 30, 2008 11:26 am

    SB,

    The issue there would not be the desire to have edifying reading material available to teh masses. The issue would be defining pornography as edifying reading material. Oddly enough we do have these debates, since librarians of late have been on a high horse about liberty. And there are many people who sincerely believe we should close libraries if they are going to allow filth. (Recall the controversy over libraries purchasing Madonna’s book 15 years ago or so.)

    As it stands, if one can choose to fund abortion services as part of providing health care, one is obligated to choose not to fund them. However, if such a choice is not present, then it is licit to support the legislation even with the abortion funding provision. I forget the Cardinal’s name off hand, and I know MM linked to his piece in the last couple days.

    If your argument is just that legislators who introduce bills specifically to fund abortion are formalizing their desire for abortion, then I have no argument.

  90. April 30, 2008 11:27 am

    “The question of equity is in regards to health care. The interest in funding abortion is not qua abortion but as the provision of health care.”

    This is correct.

  91. April 30, 2008 11:29 am

    M.Z., I get what you’re saying, but disagree. The term “health care” when concerning abortion, seems more of a semantic device. The whole health care thing enters only after one decides that an individual possesses a “right” to their body, that is so absolute that even supersedes the right of their offspring to live. From there comes the notion that they can do something to “end the circumstance they find themselves in”, and the preferred method of such is having a medical procedure done.

    I hope I’m being clear. It’s primarily about enabling the poor to take advantage of this “right to choose” (and perhaps some other unseemly motives). “Health care” being convenient and positive sounding rhetoric, as well as the well-crafted term “pro-choice”.

  92. April 30, 2008 11:30 am

    MZ — I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. This whole sub-discussion began when I pointed out that Democrats typically oppose the Hyde Amendment and want to bring abortion into the fold of stuff that the government pays for, and Gerald defended that action as a matter of “equity for the poor.” So, in essence, Gerald was defending the very thing that you concede is wrong, i.e., attempting to define abortion as a positive component of “health care.”

  93. April 30, 2008 11:44 am

    Thanks Ben

    Again I do see my and countless other Catholics in the same situation related to the above scenario.

    There is a lot going on when say that “Amen” before recieving Communion. Beyond the personal there is the show of UNity and in my view assent to what the Curch teaches.

    How this works as to pro abortion politicans in real life I am not sure. For instance when does Rudy no longer become a ” a pro choice politicains” and just a Catholic that might have pro choice views. I think that is important.

    I don’t think the Bishops or those Bishops leaning that way to denyinhg COmmunion to pro choice Politicians are demanding they do a great act of Public Penace before they are able to receive again.

  94. April 30, 2008 12:00 pm

    ben,

    “When you speak of the moral act being complicated are you saying something more than simply that the person seaking the abortion does not know nor agree that they are commiting evil? If so, what else are you saying?”

    Judging from this morning’s discussion, productivity in the US has fallen dramatically today! LOL

    Well, first of all, I refer you to my Maritain quote up towards the top of this post. He’s talking about the primacy of conscience.

    More specifically, the moral act is the place where the universal and the particular intersect. Another way of putting it is that the universal principles– for example, those principles in the philosophy of man and metaphysics which provide the logical basis for saying that the person exists from the moment of conception and that this person has an intrinsic worth that cannot be violated — come together with all the various elements of contingency (circumstances, situation, level of education, how formed a conscience, history, material factors, conflicting goods, etc). At this intersection and within this context, the practical intellect determines what is the good in a unique situation — not the good in the abstract but the good that can be chosen in this concrete context. Now the good chosen may be nothing but the appearance of a good, but it is perceived as a good nonetheless. The will chooses the good as perceived out of this complex situation.

    It is within this framework — most often it’s a real mess — the individual has to decide upon a coarse of action. The act chosen is the moral act. It is an act of a unique person in a unique predicament to arrive at a unique and perceived good. It may not be possible to obtain the good one desires.

    Too often, discussions about the morality of this or that take place in the abstract. They thus are, properly speaking, taking place in the speculative order, not the practical order (the order of ethics and politics). I see this tendency happening especially in the debate on abortion. Most of the arguments presented are in the abstract. They don’t address the confluence of factors — and here I’m including contingency and the universal principles — that must be considered before any decision can be made.

    I realize this is vague and unsatisfactory. But it’s the moral act is the heart of the matter.

  95. Br. Matthew Augustine, OP permalink
    April 30, 2008 12:22 pm

    Gerald,

    You and I have had many discussions regarding your viewpoint. Given our discussions, I hope the following is an accurate representation of your view:

    As a society, we lack a consensus regarding the status of the unborn (a speculative or metaphysical question). As long as we lack a substantial consensus in this regard, attempts to address abortion at the legal level will fail. Invoking the principle of subsidiarity, we can say that the best way to redress abortion is through the intervention of individuals closest in the social web to the woman facing the decision to abort (her doctor, pastor, family members, etc).

    Let me know if this doesn’t sufficiently or fairly represent your viewpoint. The following are problems I see with your viewpoint, as I’ve presented it.

    1. (We’ve discussed this one before) Assuming that a certain consensus needs to be reached before the legal regime can be changed presupposes a reduction of the purpose of law to its function of coercing behavior, i.e., law is merely crafted to cause certain effects and if it cannot cause such such effects (ending the practice of abortion) it is useless and counterproductive. However, the reason for law is both to reflect and protect the dignity of the human person. Human law should reflect both the speculative and practical orders (as the two orders are, in reality, one in the unity of the intellect-i.e. their is not two intellects- one practical and one speculative- but rather one intellect which both apprehends truth and pursues the goodness of what it apprehends ). In fact, the law’s accurate representation of the dignity of the human person is a necessary condition for its function of promoting the common good. The very existence of laws which permit one person to kill another, of laws which deny human persons their rightful status and dignity, impede a society from progress in attaining the common good. Therefore, it is not the case that we can wait until conditions change for the better before we address the legality of abortion, but the the legality of abortion itself impedes the possibility of a change for the better.

    2. Evangelium Vitae ~93 states that the individuals and associations closest to the individual have a special mission to “work to ensure that the laws and institutions of the State in no way violate the right to life, from conception to natural death, but rather protect and promote it.” Therefore, while it is true that doctors, family members and clergy should do all they can to convince a woman to choose life, their special responsibility, one of great urgency which cannot be abrogated by an appeal to so-called practicality, is to work tirelessly to change (lawless) laws which permit the killing of human persons.

    3. As the Compedium of Social Doctrine states (~187): Before subsidiarity can even be put into practice, certain conditions must be present, including the safeguarding of human rights and the promotion and protection of the human person. If these conditions are not present, the principle cannot be applied in a meaningful way.

    Finally, I would second Ben’s call for some clarification regarding your appeal to Maritain and the uniqueness of every moral act. What are you getting at here? Are you saying that their is no class of actions which can be morally prohibited outright, since each action is unique?

  96. Br. Matthew Augustine, OP permalink
    April 30, 2008 12:25 pm

    Ok, I see your last comment addresses my last question. Disregard the last paragraph.

  97. Br. Matthew Augustine, OP permalink
    April 30, 2008 12:51 pm

    Regarding the original topic of the post, while it is certainly unseemly to have people photographing others approaching the body and blood of Christ with the intention of fighting an ecclesial and political battle in the public arena, and while there are probably many people who desire pro-choice politicians to be denied communion out of spite (as opposed to charity), nevertheless I cannot affirm with Poli that we ought to be content with allowing people to eat and drink condemnation on themselves. St. Paul certainly wasn’t content with allowing such a state of affairs to go unchallenged, but, through reproof and excommunication, did his best to ensure that the body and blood of the Lord was not desecrated. While this is special responsibility of pastors and ministers of the Eucharist, lay people should be able to express their concerns that pastors and ministers are failing in this regard, provided that such concerns stem from charity and not merely scoring political points on their adversaries.

  98. ben permalink
    April 30, 2008 12:58 pm

    Gerald,

    Okay, so you are saying that there is no way that anybody except the moral actor can judge the action because they do not know the circumstances?

    Or maybe that is not what you ae saying, because you also say that the particular moral act is an interaction between the universal principle and the particular circumstances of the individual. So the universal does have some application to the unique circumstances of the actor. This would seem to be a reasonable justification for law–not just about abortion, but also other forms of murder and theft and that sort of thing.

    What prevents the judgement that there exist no particular circumstances under which abortion is justified? What does Maritain’s obsevation about the unique character of each moral act posit that would do away with the category of intrinsically evil acts? It seems that every evil act is unique in the same way that every good act is unique. Uniqueness of circumstances does not prevent the formation of universal principles.

    There is also a religious principle in play here. Of course the moral actor knows the particularities of his unique moral situation better than everyone but God. But, God certainly knows the unique circumstances of the moral actor better than he knows them himself. God also knows his conscience and the demands of his conscience better than he knows them himself. Further, God has revealed to the Church, his body on Earth, that abortion is intrinsically and categorically evil.

    So, not only do we have a universal derived from natural reason telling us abortion is immoral in all circumstances (useful for discussing law), we have a revalation from God that tells us with certainty and in every set of unique circumstances and according to every conscience that abortion is evil. This is what faith teaches about abortion.

  99. April 30, 2008 1:19 pm

    Ben, Bro. Matthew,

    I’m leaving now for a meeting. I’ll review your comments when I return later.

  100. bill permalink
    April 30, 2008 1:49 pm

    Here is a question in its most simple and primitive form.

    Who here supports abortion and who here does not?

    Now putting aside the question of conscience, ethics, morals, bishops, Church etc… if from tomorrow forward we could all agree including all and every citizen that abortion would be outlawed and become the law of the land, and as such would be followed as humanly as possible, as say are laws against murder, which we all know still happen but I hope agree is a wrong, then specifically Gerald but there are others would agree that abortion is plain and simply wrong and a evil act.

    Remember Gerald put aside the, I want to change it but I want it done so as not to offended and have everyone agree argument. Yes or no is abortion evil and if we could get a huge majority consensus from the American public to that would you agree to it, contrary to what a few might want.

  101. April 30, 2008 1:50 pm

    Gerald —

    I think we got sidetracked. You had challenged us to show that any Democrat views abortion as a good thing. Unsurprisingly, you could not respond to this point:

    Obama claimed that if his daughter got pregnant, she shouldn’t be “punished” with a child. It’s impossible, I think even for you, to construe that statement as simply stating that abortion is evil but the government shouldn’t get involved. To the contrary, Obama was necessarily praising abortion as the best option for his daughter — and by implication for other people in the same situation.

    Obama is far from alone in that view of abortion, as you are surely aware.

  102. Jen permalink
    April 30, 2008 4:07 pm

    Deal Hudson is a kook. He and others of his ilk would seem to attend Mass largely for the purpose photographing or marking down “infractions” which are then disseminated for the purpose of (a) scoring political points (b) blackmailing “wayward” clergy (c) gaining status with fellow kooks. Deal & Co have replaced the low-tech missalette as a form for worship, preferring instead camera phones, tape recorders and clipboards (for taking names). The Baptists must have had quite a celebration (Praise God!) the day this kook departed from their ranks.

    “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank Thee that I am not like other men–extortionists, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.”

    Luke 18 or Deal 2008 ?
    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  103. radicalcatholicmom permalink
    April 30, 2008 4:13 pm

    “Obama is far from alone in that view of abortion, as you are surely aware.”

    Very true. Most of my pro-abortion friends are adamant that if their daughters were to get pregnant as teens they would be forced to have an abortion. Very disturbing. Very anti-choice.

    Regarding MM’s original post. I am disturbed that there is a holier than thou crowd at Mass documenting those worthy to receive the sacraments and those not. To me, it seems as if this is between the priest and the person. I think people need to put down their cameras, close their eyes so as not be distracted, and PRAY at Mass.

  104. April 30, 2008 4:25 pm

    Jen I don’t think Deal Hudson was taking the pictures :)

    If I recall correctly this was some anto abortion organization that was doing that and these pcitures have been circulating all over the web. Goodness someone said that the Papal Nuncio gave communion to A pro-Choice Senator and Deal does a picture showing that is not the case

    Now we have put him in kook ville. The Catholic Churhc has their share of kooks and oddities but I don’t think we can put Deal Hudson and the gang at Inside Catholic in that category

  105. April 30, 2008 5:59 pm

    Just curious if anybody’s read The Discipline Regarding the Denial of Holy Communion to Those Obstinately Persevering in Manifest Grave Sin by Archbishop Burke? — what looks to be a substantial study of this topic?

  106. April 30, 2008 6:03 pm

    Bro. Matthew,

    I’ll go with your second paragraph. My perspective is much more involved, but what you have is not something I would argue with now. On to your points.

    1. I concur that the law has more than one purpose. But, unless I’m missing something altogether here, you are talking about a law that does not exist.

    Now, let me ask: how are you going to get such a law passed. I don’t see any such law moving through Congress. Why? Maybe it has something to do with a lack of consensus. In the Senate, it will more than likely take a consensus of 60 votes to pass such a law.

    “Therefore, it is not the case that we can wait until conditions change for the better before we address the legality of abortion.”

    But you’re going to have to wait. Your going to have to create the conditions for passing the law. Aren’t you? I believe that by working to reduce the incidence of abortion you will be working to improve those conditions and thereby move towards the end you seek.

    2. Evangelium Vitae — I have no problem with the passage you quoted. But, once again, it doesn’t designate how best to “protect and promote” the “right to life”. It states a general principle. But it doesn’t give much guidance as to the means that would best facilitate movement towards the good that is set forth. This explains why we discuss these matters.

    Any strategy would be different in the US, or Ghana, or China, or North Korea. It would be different at this time and place than another time and place. It would have to address all the contingencies that are relevant.

    3. Compendium — ” Before subsidiarity can even be put into practice, certain conditions must be present.” Yes, this is true. But are those conditions present? Only in part. What is missing is the core — namely, a perspective of the dignity of the human person? How does that become a part of a nation’s consciousness and thereby institutionalized?

    What I have been saying is that the hard practical questions are not being asked or addressed.

    Well, I hope I’m getting your point, at least to some extent.

    If we looked at these exchanges more in the vein of a strategy session than a debate, perhaps it would be helpful. I don’t know.

  107. Karl permalink
    April 30, 2008 6:15 pm

    Dear Chrpstopher,

    I read Burke’s Holy Communion Piece but I did not study it.

    I read it from the perspective of a man who has formally defected from the Catholic Church over its liberal pastoral policies towards those who unjustly divorce their spouses, yet are allowed to receive communion, by going to confession, “living as brother and sister” with their adulterous partner and continuing to persecute their abandoned spouse.

    I have yet to find a Bishop who will address my problems with this policy, including Archbishop Burke, who failed to respond to a letter sent to him by Bai MacFarlane concerning my difficulties with the practices utilized in the Catholic Church.

    I consider abortion less important than unjust divorce. But about that let me just say that I have not met many people who are radically opposed to divorce that is unjust and support abortion, but I have met very many people who literally hate abortion but who are on second and third marriages. That tells me all I need to know about the relevence of both of these issues.

  108. April 30, 2008 6:46 pm

    Ben,

    [I would like to hear your philosophical rationale why the taking of the life of the unborn differs from the taking of the life of a child, a young man or women, or an old man or woman. Why is the taking of the life of the unborn intrinsically evil and the taking of other lives not so?]

    As for your comments, you ask: “What prevents the judgement that there exist no particular circumstances under which abortion is justified?”

    I’m not arguing that abortion is justified. Never have. In principle, I don’t believe abortion is justified and would argue so. I assume we agree on that point.

    But that is not the issue I have been addressing. To be sure, the point that abortion is not justified must be taken into account in practical decision-making — even if only to reflect on it in the back of one’s mind (like victory in war) — but there are many other factors that come into play as well which diminish the form of this principle on the act itself. [In my note about the moral act, I spell some of the things that are involved. Yet, none of these factors (e.g., contingency, ignorance, etc.) are used to justify abortion. ]

    No one can impose by fiat this principle on the whole of society. I can’t do it. No one can. Nor would I attempt to do so. It is not within the realm of practical possibility.

    But one can design strategies that will move a society to move towards an absolute respect for the dignity of the human person. To realize this end, much of America will have to be transformed.

    The fact that personal dignity can be argue in the intellectual order and from revelation does not change the situation. Universals, whatever their origin, are considered in the speculative order. But when they meet contingency in the moral act, their power to give form to matter is greatly diminished. That’s why progress in history moves along hesitatingly.

    Hope I addressed your point.

  109. April 30, 2008 7:08 pm

    Gerald,

    I suspect that most pro-lifers agree with your point that it is not currently possible to pass comprehensive anti-abortion legislation. And yet, I’m not clear why you seem to think that the fact that such legislation cannot be passed at this time means that we should not bother our heads about electing those who say they would support legislation against abortion, rather than those who say they actively want to protect the “right to abortion”.

    Now, I do agree with you that we will need to achieve further change of the culture before we are able to change our nation’s laws so that they do not enshrine abortion. What, however, I (and it would seem many others) am unclear on is how you think that goal of changing the culture can be achieved by enthusiastically lending your support to someone (Obama) who so totally disagrees with you on the topic. Obama has shown no inclination at all to provide the unborn with any protection or to denounce abortion as the killing of innocent human life. So even if we are to take it that he is such a brilliant speaker and leader that he will change the minds of hearts of Americans on many issues — it would seem in that case that he would change their minds to discount the human lives of unborn children. (Unless somehow his rhetorical brilliance consists of convincing people to hold positions opposite to his own.)

    So far as I can tell, your thinking in this regards is basically that Obama clearly loves people in general so much, that when we’re all inspired to follow his example everyone will wake up and realize they need to respect the lives of the unborn as well — even though Obama in no way says that that is the case. In that sense, you and others like Professor Kmiec are essentially treating Obama as a tabula rasa for your own beliefs: assuming that he must somehow, at some deeper level agree with you, even when he gives nothing but contrary indications.

  110. April 30, 2008 7:40 pm

    (Unless somehow his rhetorical brilliance consists of convincing people to hold positions opposite to his own.)

    Exactly — it’s just wishful thinking to suppose that Obama, of all people, would inculcate a “culture” of respect for the unborn life that he himself has described as a punishment.

  111. Ben,a Wife permalink
    April 30, 2008 9:50 pm

    This is ridiculously complicated. Abortion is intrinsically evil, bar none. Obama supporters should remember this. Avoid sin, near occassions of sin, and do not lead others to sin. Basic stuff.

  112. Tulipa permalink
    April 30, 2008 10:04 pm

    Brother Augustine, Thank You.

    jh, May God bless and keep you and shine His Light upon you. Never fear, you are always in His hands and He has great things in store for you.

    Gerald Campbell and Policraticus, Thank you for a rollicking romp through the blogosphere. God Bless and Keep You. Let’s all pray to St. Hillary tonight, that she will intercede for Obama, HRC, Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Kerry and Deal Hudson.

  113. Tulipa permalink
    April 30, 2008 10:07 pm

    Oops, make that “so HE will intercede for Obama, HRC, Ms. Pelosi, Mr, Kerry and Deal Hudson”….

  114. April 30, 2008 10:42 pm

    Christopher B.,

    That’s actually one of the articles that convinced me that an EM has the responsibility to deny someone communion (within the right conditions, of course). I also think that some Catholics do see this issue as some kind of political game and it’s disgusting that the way they approach this issue is the same way the media has fun with politics. We better be careful about conde,ning bishops for the simple fact that we do not know what is going on in the background.

    I understand Gerald’s points in this thread, although I think his quotation of Maritain didn’t have much weight as much as he liked it to be. I think his argument could be held apart from that quote.

    Anyway, the crucial issue on this matter is not necessarily canon law. It runs much deeper. It seems to me that the problem here, the crucial issue, is our understanding of **FREEDOM***. How do we understand freedom? Are we free to come up to communion when we hold such and such positions? Or is freedom a responsibility before a fact, an exceptional fact? This lack of understanding of true freedom comes from a skepticism: Christ cannot be my life. He cannot really be everything to me. Because if we are not skeptics, then to say “Yes” to Christ, to affirm and embrace that Christ can be everything means that we must embrace the Church in her entirety. So I think the theological problem underneath this issue is freedom, to realize our capacity to adhere to Being.

    I wish I could write more on this. Off to my A. MacIntyre paper!

  115. May 1, 2008 8:28 am

    Gerald —

    In Florida, the bill to require women getting an abortion to be shown an ultrasound failed to pass, thanks to a few Republicans who joined the Democrats. Again, that position cannot possibly be explained by this notion that Democrats dislike abortion itself but dislike criminalization even more. This bill had nothing to do with criminalization. The problem is that most Democrats are against any law that might ever result in a woman choosing anything except abortion.

  116. Ralph not Waldo permalink
    May 2, 2008 5:02 am

    St. Thomas’ principle, that absent direct harm to others it is permissible to allow vice if a majority of the governed do not agree on the morality of an act, clearly excludes the act of abortion. Abortion directly and objectively harms another. To try to claim that abortion is covered by this principle is to claim that out-of-womb infanticide and euthenasia are covered as well. Why? Because many who deny the life and/or humanity of the fetus do so on the basis of its appearance–because it doesn’t look like a mature man–which opens the door to the murder of people at any stage of development not considered the ideal, perfectly mature stage, while others deny it because at early stages of development the unborn can’t survive outside the womb on its own. But many sick people, accident victims, elderly people, etc. cannot survive on their own without external support either, so they too will in principle be killable under the rule that “we don’t agree that they’re fully human, therefore laws allowing their killing are licit.”

    It would seem that objective truth–that life and humanity are present from conception–is much more significant in this argument than our pro-choice friends want to admit.

  117. May 2, 2008 9:55 pm

    It’s impossible to prove someone’s inner intent.yet sinful intent is required for a sin to be motal. Hence the reason people are not barred from communion because of legislation they support or don’t support.

    On another matter, Senator Obama never said anything about his daughter having an abortion. The issue was be believed she should be provided accurate information about human reproduction so that she would not have to suffer teenage motherhood. Yes, he used the imperfect phrase “punished with a baby.” (Suggesting in fact that he expected his teenage pregnant daughter not to abort but to give birth). The political hacks jumping on this (save those who are authentically joyful when their unmarried teenage daughters announce they will be having a blessed event) are totally out of line.

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