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No you can’t wash your hands

November 25, 2008
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No, social conservatives aren’t the problem for the GOP. But they haven’t been the solution, either: Too often, on matters ranging from the Iraq War to domestic policy, they’ve served as enablers of Republican folly, rather than as constructive critics. And calling Catholics who voted for Obama “mindless” and “stupid” is a poor substitute for building the sort of Republican Party that can attract the votes of those millions of Americans, Catholic and otherwise, who voted for the Democrats because they thought, not without reason, that George W. Bush was a disastrous president whose party should not be rewarded with a third term in the White House.  – Ross Douthat, The Atlantic

Douthat is addressing a statement from George Weigel on the election.  I’m glad that Douthat doesn’t let slide the common lament that those that voted for Obama just didn’t care enough about abortion.  Such is not to say that one couldn’t have reasonably concluded, or at least concluded, that advancements in the cause for the unborn under a President McCain outweighed the evil his administration would have wrought.  Many of us simply didn’t believe that to be the case.

In the post-election landscape there has been an eagerness to make sure that those who supported Obama and claim the pro-life mantle were made aware that they shared responsibility for the choices Obama made.  In particular, this seems to be the cry of 3rd Party supporters and deliberate non-voters, as if such folks should be offering advice on prudence, having made choices that insured they would have no influence on policy.  I will not apologize for having interests besides those of the unborn.  While it easy to make the claim that one is selfish for considering society’s other interests, a counterclaim can be made that it is perverse to ask people to die around the world so that abortion can be ended.  Regrettably, the claim isn’t even that strong.  The claim is more that we should have risked the deaths of hundreds of thousands around the world on the off chance that the courts might get around to reversing Roe and the State Legislatures might possibly prohibit it.  No, I can’t wash my hands of any of policies Obama puts forward.  Now perhaps we could get those zealous for the unborn to stop washing their hands of the policies they’ve been supporting, either positively or through omission.

Perhaps that is a bit too acerbic of a note to end this piece.  As I and others have pointed out, one couldn’t wash their hands no matter which way they voted.  We exist in a blood thirsty society, and we don’t lose our membership in that society by casting ballots.

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62 Comments
  1. Katerina permalink*
    November 25, 2008 11:41 am

    Thank you.

  2. November 25, 2008 12:57 pm

    Great post.

  3. Mark DeFrancisis permalink
    November 25, 2008 1:24 pm

    Fantastic!

  4. November 25, 2008 1:27 pm

    “The claim is more that we should have risked the deaths of hundreds of thousands around the world on the off chance that the courts might get around to reversing Roe and the State Legislatures might possibly prohibit it.”

    I suppose if a person talked themselves into the premise that voting for McCain was ‘risking the deaths of hundreds of thousands around the world,’ this might make sense. But outside of left-wing fever swamps, I do not know anyone who believed this. Granted 80%-90% of the people I interact with on a daily basis voted for Obama, but it was because they were pro-choice, or thought he was better for the economy, or whatever other sensible (if not particularly Catholic) reason . Basing one’s vote on hypothetical foreign policy circumstances risking hundreds of thousands of lieves is one of the least persuasive arguments for Obama I’ve heard. As I recall, Obama was the one throwing caution to the wind during the debates, pledging to conduct attacks on the soil of nuclear-armed foreign nations without their consent (e.g. Pakistan).

  5. November 25, 2008 1:58 pm

    Well, yes, but those who voted for Obama didn’t care enough about abortion.

  6. November 25, 2008 2:06 pm

    I agree with almost everything in the post except the claim that those who voted 3rd party made a choice to not influence policy. Given the number of voters in typical elections, especially presidential ones, a single vote for one of the major candidates has as much actual impact on policy as one for a 3rd party candidate. No vote, in and of itself, makes any difference, so if someone’s conscience clearly leads her or him to vote for a third party candidate, then that is both a legitimate option, but also just a pragmatic, from a policy perspective, as a vote for a major party, especially since the votes attracted by 3rd parties can send political signals with policy implications.

  7. November 25, 2008 2:18 pm

    Basing one’s vote on hypothetical foreign policy circumstances risking hundreds of thousands of lieves is one of the least persuasive arguments for Obama I’ve heard.

    I don’t know about that. I find it eminently persuasive, and have for as many years as I’ve been observing the sanguinary tendencies of McCain in foreign policy, a man for whom war always seems to be the answer to foreign policy problems. Consider McCain’s intemperate response to August’s unpleasantness in the Caucasus, the insistence of some of the neocons close to his campaign that Georgia be transformed in to a reprise of Eighties-era Afghanistan, and his insistence upon the expansion of NATO, which will, it can be said infallibly, entail war in the Ukraine, inasmuch as the Russians have no reason to surrender either their Black Sea ports or their influence in a part of Europe where there have always been Russians. Or his dogmatic adherence to the Iraq war, along with his willingness to take the fight to Iran.

    Now, I suspect that Obama will deliver 75% of what Bush/McCain would have delivered on foreign policy, and much of the difference will lie in the absence of the swagger, the idiotic rhetoric of “moral clarity” that the GOP has trafficked in for so long. You know, “We don’t negotiate with terrorist or terrorist regimes.” Except when we do. “Axis of Evil.” “Regime change”. “One-percent doctrine.” Etc.

    Then again, I voted for neither, on both foreign policy and abortion grounds.

  8. Kurt permalink
    November 25, 2008 2:52 pm

    Douthat should leave George Weigel alone. I wish Weigel every success in linking his politics to the 18% of the American people who disapprove of the way the transition is going.

  9. love the girls permalink
    November 25, 2008 2:59 pm

    MZ,

    You voted for a party which has every intention of making your homeland inhospitable to the Faith. Those like morning minion will be happy as clams in that inhospitable culture, but I suspect you and your children will not, and even more important, they will hate you for being Catholic.

    In choosing not to vote, I chose not to vote for those who hate my wife, hate my children and hate their Faith.

    Universal health care will usher in euthanasia, and eventually mandated population control. That is the future you voted for, intentionally or not.

  10. November 25, 2008 3:02 pm

    Why should anyone pay any attention to George Weigel? He willfully misrepresents both the just war tradition and the social doctrine of the Catholic Church (for the record, I’m Orthodox, and our social doctrine, to the extent that anyone troubles to formulate it, is much closer to the Catholic doctrine than to anything Weigel expectorates for our ideological consumption.)) He has been an architect of that “New Fusionist” alliance of social conservatives with neoconservative warmongers. He obviously confuses Milton Friedman and St. Thomas. None of this may be stupid, as he terms his opponents, but it is mendacious and occasionally productive of doctrinal error.

    Let him ride his politics into the abyss.

  11. November 25, 2008 3:29 pm

    While it easy to make the claim that one is selfish for considering society’s other interests, a counterclaim can be made that it is perverse to ask people to die around the world so that abortion can be ended.

    Why is it an either/or issue? You Obama Catholics elected Obama (I would guess) on the “hope” that you could “change” his mind with regard to abortion. I don’t understand why you weren’t as eager to elect McCain, and change his mind on your pet issues.

    It seems that the majority of people (and I would imagine the majority of Obama electing Catholics) listed “the economy” as their top issue. They were worried about losing their jobs, or maybe some of their retirement value.

    What if someone told you: “You are about to lose your job. I have a choice for you. If you allow this baby’s skull to be crushed with a rock, you get to keep your job.” I don’t think there’s a question about which way you’d go with that.

    Why is it so easy to turn the wrong way on that dilemma when the baby is out of sight, and hence out of mind?

  12. Paladin permalink
    November 25, 2008 3:58 pm

    M.Z. wrote:

    I will not apologize for having interests besides those of the unborn.

    Nor should you. But is it so outrageous to ask for some right sense of *proportion* when weighing these issues–to ask that the many concern not be “crushed” into a homogenous mish-mash in which “one thing against the Faith is no more or less important than another”? Those who, for example, place “global climate change” above “deliberately killing provably innocent unborn children” have, with all due respect, lost all semblance of sane reason. Add more “liberal social concerns” (many of which are good aims, in and of themselves) to that, and the total still doesn’t come close to the direct evil, the vast scope, and the spiritual horror of a deliberate “choice” to kill that child… or to vote to wipe out all restrictions on that practice, in the eyes of the Catholic Church (and in the eyes of anyone using sane reason)… or to vote for someone who told Planned Parenthood that it was his top priority to expand and safeguard such a practice.

    Like it or not, would someone on the “seamless garment” side of things care to speculate as to why (whether a “nefarious conservative reason”, or not) the Catholic Church invokes the penalty of excommunication against abortion, but not against support for “drilling ANWR”, owning guns, support for the War on Terror, etc.?

  13. Kurt permalink
    November 25, 2008 4:05 pm

    I don’t understand why you weren’t as eager to elect McCain, and change his mind on your pet issues.

    Ummm, maybe because the Obama campaign actually had an outreach effort for ‘all of the above’ Catholics, met with us, listened to us, was willing to include us in his campaign, while the McCain campaign had no outreach to us, refused to meet with us, and was not willing to allow us to play a role in his campaign.

    You can’t go where you are not wanted.

  14. David Nickol permalink
    November 25, 2008 4:08 pm

    What if someone told you: “You are about to lose your job. I have a choice for you. If you allow this baby’s skull to be crushed with a rock, you get to keep your job.” I don’t think there’s a question about which way you’d go with that.

    Tony,

    But that is not the choice that people were faced with in the election. Catholics, using the terms officially presented to them by the Church, were making a choice involving remote material cooperation with evil. There’s a dramatic difference between the scenario you present and the reality of voting for either McCain or Obama.

    Also, if the unfortunate person in your scenario had his own wife and babies to take care of, and a sick child requiring expensive medical care, and he couldn’t afford to lose his insurance coverage, his dilemma might be a bit trickier than you paint it.

  15. digbydolben permalink
    November 25, 2008 4:12 pm

    I don’t understand why you weren’t as eager to elect McCain, and change his mind on your pet issues.

    It’s very simple why not, Tony, if you’d actually pay attention to ANYTHING other than your dogmatic right-wing ideology: Obama is a pragmatist who actually happens to love his country and the people in it–the people who, all during his campaign for the Presidency, successfully wooed him and COMPELLED his love of them; it was obvious to anybody who watched his interactions with crowds and listened to the inflections and tones of his voice and the way he responded to what were actually their pleas for his help.

    McCain, on the other hand, proved with his callous, self-serving choice of a religious fundamentalist bimbo from the boondocks that he didn’t give a damn about the safety of his country, and that he was an opportunist who’d stoop to any kind of polarizing, sensationalist tactic to win the election. He only changed at the last minute, when he’d realised he’d lost and didn’t wish to totally disgrace himself in the historical record.

    Obama CAN be reasoned with by pro-life elements of the Catholic and Protestant churches, but he can’t be dictated to by them, and he can’t be threatened by them with electoral defeats. I really suspect that the reason for that is that he, alone among recent American leaders (except for Ronald Reagan) actually wants to go down in the history books as a lover of his nation and a solver of her problems.

  16. digbydolben permalink
    November 25, 2008 4:16 pm

    Paladin, please, please consider THIS, if only for a moment: there are actually some sensible, educated people who DO NOT AGREE WITH YOU that a foetus is a “child.” If those people honestly believe, after consulting as much of a conscience as modernity has left them with, that a foetus is NOT a “child,” then, according to your “faith,” their vote for Obama is NOT a “mortal sin.”

  17. David Nickol permalink
    November 25, 2008 4:19 pm

    vote for someone who told Planned Parenthood that it was his top priority to expand and safeguard such a practice.

    Paladin,

    Obama did not declare that FOCA was his “top priority” as president. He was asked a long, involved question on how he would protect abortion rights, and he said, “The first thing I would do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.” In other words, “The first thing I would do as president [to protect abortion rights] is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.” There is no question Obama is strongly pro-choice, but he never made abortion his top priority as president (clearly his top priorities are the economy, health care, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan).

    And don’t say he was lying, because the people in the Planned Parenthood audience knew his first act as president couldn’t possibly be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, since it hasn’t been passed yet. And there is no sign that it will be passed.

  18. Phillip permalink
    November 25, 2008 4:48 pm

    Though this is problematic from a pro-life perspective:

    http://www.lifenews.com/nat4607.html

  19. November 25, 2008 4:54 pm

    As one of the people who declined to cast a vote in this Presidential race, I reject the notion that I was thereby choosing to “have no influence on policy”–as if casting a vote for or against Obama were the best or only ways to influence his administration. I have already drafted a document from a parish group expressing strong support for some of his goals and urging him to reconsider proposals that could only prove divisive–FOCA being high on that list. Surely telling him which specific policy changes we favor–and which ones we oppose–is a way to exercise political influence.

    I wish our newly elected President would get many more such messages from Catholics who support the social teachings of the Church. Unfortunately, I think that our longstanding division is evident once again. Catholics who see the right-to-life as the cardinal principle of that teaching are already bad-mouthing every move Obama makes, while those who put the life issues on the back burner are more likely to critcize fellow Catholics than they are to raise their voices against anything their [redacted] wants to do.

  20. November 25, 2008 4:55 pm

    “The claim is more that we should have risked the deaths of hundreds of thousands around the world on the off chance that the courts might get around to reversing Roe and the State Legislatures might possibly prohibit it.”

    That’s assuming Obama is putting forth a peaceful foreign policy platform, an assumption which a little research shows to be fairly unfounded. Obama’s statements on the situations in Georgia and Pakistan reflect little deviation from the Bush foreign policy concepts as America as a selfish superpower seeking in foreign policy to pursue the preservation of its own dominance above the concerns of foreign peoples or international law. There is nothing besides vague abstractions to suggest that Obama will save lives and there are concrete statements that suggests that he will risk them.

    So when the Obama presidency begins and the numbers begin to pile up on soil both foreign and domestic, you and the other Obama supporters who eagerly white-washed Obama’s positions on all issues, not just abortion, to make him into the Catholic candidate should be held highly accountable just as Republican Catholics were the last four years.

  21. Policraticus permalink*
    November 25, 2008 5:03 pm

    There is nothing besides vague abstractions to suggest that Obama will save lives and there are concrete statements that suggests that he will risk them.

    Of course, there was that little war in Iraq. But beside that tiny thing, you may be right.

  22. M.Z. permalink
    November 25, 2008 5:04 pm

    Notice: Any comment in my threads that refers to Obama as Messiah, etc., will be deleted. Any comment that argues this policy will be deleted.

  23. Phillip permalink
    November 25, 2008 5:07 pm

    Though of course Joe Biden’s support for the war waters down that thought.

  24. Paladin permalink
    November 25, 2008 5:08 pm

    digbydolben wrote:

    Paladin, please, please consider THIS, if only for a moment: there are actually some sensible, educated people who DO NOT AGREE WITH YOU that a foetus is a “child.”

    Educated, perhaps–given the state of our schools. Sensible? Have you ever watched a video of an abortion, or photos of the aftermath? Or, on a related question: would these hypothetical people still consider a baby, born alive after a botched abortion, as “not a child”? Vagueness seems to be the constant companion of the abortion-tolerant, for some reason…

    Try this, logically: if a fetus (Latin for “little boy”) isn’t a child, would you grant that he/she has a mother? Is the mother human? Unless you’re suggesting that the mother is about to give birth to a bouncing baby giraffe, I can only wonder at your suggestion that this “fetus” somehow magically gets “childhood” whenever a plurality/majority of voters (or judges, in many cases) *decides* that he/she does? Please explain this to me.

  25. Paladin permalink
    November 25, 2008 5:16 pm

    David wrote:

    Obama did not declare that FOCA was his “top priority” as president. He was asked a long, involved question on how he would protect abortion rights, and he said, “The first thing I would do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.” In other words, “The first thing I would do as president [to protect abortion rights] is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.”

    So… given that the definition of “priority” is “that which comes first”, wouldn’t Sen. Obama’s claim meet at least one definition of “top priority”? And if you’re arguing that he considers it of secondary (or lower) *importance*, then why didn’t he qualify that accordingly? More on that, below.

    There is no question Obama is strongly pro-choice, but he never made abortion his top priority as president (clearly his top priorities are the economy, health care, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan).

    Mm-hmm. Even if I concede the point (and I’m not nearly to that point, yet), for the sake of argument, my original point was to portray the near-schizophrenic mentality of so-called “good Catholics” who would vote such a man into office, given his crystal-clear promise of what he was to do, in this matter. That point stands, I think.

    And don’t say he was lying, because the people in the Planned Parenthood audience knew his first act as president couldn’t possibly be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, since it hasn’t been passed yet. And there is no sign that it will be passed.

    And that affects his promise to sign it “first thing”, how? “It’s okay that Obama promised to eradicate all abortion restrictions, because he might not get the chance!” (Personally, I think you’re dreaming, there.) It’s a bit like saying, “It’s okay that so-and-so threatened to kill me; I took all the bullets out of his gun.” When electing a man based on where he will lead this country, don’t you think his *intentions* count, just a bit?

  26. David Nickol permalink
    November 25, 2008 5:33 pm

    Paladin,

    Saying, “The first thing I’d do to tackle problem X” is not making it your top priority unless problem X is your top priority. The only point I am making is that everyone in the audience Obama was speaking to would have understood that he wasn’t saying “Abortion is my top priority” or “The first thing I will do after my inauguration is sign FOCA.” As I said, clearly he is strongly pro-choice, and clearly the distinction I am pointing out makes no difference to you in terms of how you regard him. However, it is simply mistaken to claim that Obama’s top priority as president is abortion or FOCA.

  27. c matt permalink
    November 25, 2008 5:40 pm

    To be fair Paladin, Digby said some people may not think it a child, he didn’t say he agreed with them or that they were correct. Unfortunately, it is true that many people who seem rather sane on almost any other issue can’t seem to grasp the basic fact of the personhood of the unborn. Go figure. Personally, I don’t believe they don’t grasp it (some of the more honest pro-abortionists even admit it), they just refuse to in order to maintain their position. But what can you do? Changing these people’s minds is likely beyond human capability. However, there are a fair number, I hope, who are open to facts.

  28. c matt permalink
    November 25, 2008 5:47 pm

    Actually, those who didn’t vote or voted third party are probably the only ones who can legitimately claim they have washed their hands of whatever abhorrent policies either of the majors puts forward. Going 3P or not voting is the very definition of washing one’s hands of the whole perverted thing.

  29. c matt permalink
    November 25, 2008 5:53 pm

    Perhaps Obama put a better face on his outreach to pro-life Catholics, but I seriously doubt it was sincere, or that it will make much difference in his actual presidency. He will likely skate on FOCA if it never makes it out of Congress, but at some point he will have to make a decision implicating abortion issues (appointments, Mexico City policy). It will be interesting to see if he makes any move toward a pro-life position, but I wouldn’t bet a mortgage backed security on it.

  30. November 25, 2008 6:06 pm

    Bush is very pro-life. Ruining the country was really just done to make abortions unaffordable.

    Interesting that he tightened bankruptcy laws for individuals while bailing out bankrupt corporations – who then go on to stick it to their customers. Starting a war, ruining the country while making a few gestures for the pro-life crowd isn’t exactly enough to make Democrats the devil incarnate by comparison. I know you have that whole intrinsic evil versus non-intrinsic, but that’s not really relevant in the real world. If your daughter or son gets killed for exactly nothing in Iraq, you don’t really care whether it was intrinsic (of course, one might be brainwashed into the whole “hero who died for his country” spiel that’s automatically put on. Exactly what did the Iraq war do for this country, other than contributing to its bankruptcy ? )Especially when the havoc wrought far outweighs any professions to your cause that are dug out come election time. The Democrats play to their crowd, too. In reality, neither party cares all that much – mainly because they know that a 100% ban of abortion has no broad support at all. It’s used as another culture war issue to scare and motivate the base on each side. One thing is clear, abortion isn’t exactly high on the priority list of the American people. They are too busy getting *#*!ed by government and business.

    In the meantime, horrid deeds, both intentional and resulting from incompetence, perpetrated by this administration are dismissed by saying “Well, he is pro-life”. Nobody starting capricious wars and letting his cronies lay complete and utter waste to the economy is “pro-life”. America has become a laughing-stock, mired in a war, the economy destroyed without any inevitability, simply by idiocy and greed. Not to mention fat and in debt till kingdom come. To top it all off, there’s the religious right who actually features such issues as creationism in schools and banning gays from as much as possible. And Sarah Palin is their idol. Sure, she can be entertaining but in the end Red Hot Chili Peppers are right – “hicks don’t mix with politics”.

    As a result, the hopes in Obama are quasi-religious. Obviously, nobody can live up to that. It is the very putrescence of Bush & Co. that ‘made’ Obama. There is no way Obama would be a quasi-messiah if he’d followed Clinton or Bush Sr. Will he be any good ? Obama’d have to make a real effort to be worse than W.

    All you need to know about American politics:
    Clinton got impeached and Bush didn’t.

  31. November 25, 2008 6:33 pm

    Poli,

    “Of course, there was that little war in Iraq. But beside that tiny thing, you may be right.”

    Non sequitur. The decision to go into Iraq was made in 2003, not 2008. Unless you had access to, and used, a crystal ball (in which case, get thee to confession), there was no way to tell whether more lives would be lost under the foreign policy of McCain or Obama. Describing voting for McCain “risking the deaths of hundreds of thousands around the world,” is loading the dice. Voting for Obama given his inexperience could represent a similar risk. We don’t know which foreign policy strategy would have resulted in more deaths – there are too many variables there. Hysterical speculation about ‘hundreds of thousands’ of lives hanging in the balance is analogous to assuming that Obama really will pass FOCA, force all of the Catholic hospitals to shut down, and cause a skyrocketing abortion rate. Uncharitable assumptions are easy to make, but arguments premised on ‘hundreds of thousands of lives’ in unforeseen international circumstances are more partisan shilling than prudential judgment.

  32. November 25, 2008 6:34 pm

    From FUBAR to FOCA.

  33. Paladin permalink
    November 25, 2008 9:54 pm

    David wrote:

    Saying, “The first thing I’d do to tackle problem X” is not making it your top priority unless problem X is your top priority.

    True enough, I admit. I think I could still make a strong case for Obama making abortion one of his highest priorities (given the context & further comments of his, during that same occasion, etc.), but I’ll concede it for now. My main point, however, is still hanging about, looking for an answer…

    Case in point: given his promise to sign FOCA, and given the fact that the sponsors of FOCA are still in Congress–and who have strengthened their numbers (much to the delight of some heterodox Catholics, for some twisted reason), I really fail to see how support for Obama could square with their stated desire to be “faithful Catholics.”

    Much more distressing to me, however, is the fact that–even on this forum–so-called “good Catholics” start defending Obama by DEFENDING the abortion-tolerant position! (E.g. “Many people don’t think it’s a child!”, “It’s unfair to ask a woman to carry a child to term, without financial aid, etc., etc., etc.”, and the like) That’s simply horrifying… and these people seem very much to have separated themselves from the Church altogether, save in name.

  34. kurt permalink
    November 25, 2008 9:57 pm

    Obama didn’t put a better face on his outreach to ‘all of the above’ Catholics. He was the SOLE major party candidate that had an outreach to us. As for his sincerity, that is a matter each Catholic is at liberty to discern for himself. No person is entitled to question the faith of Catholic because of this discernment.

  35. S.B. permalink
    November 25, 2008 10:20 pm

    The claim is more that we should have risked the deaths of hundreds of thousands around the world on the off chance that the courts might get around to reversing Roe and the State Legislatures might possibly prohibit it.

    What facts make you think that this was the relevant calculus? Particularly given that, as pointed out above, Obama distinguished himself from McCain NOT in any ability to time-travel and retroactively wipe out the Iraq War, but in claiming that he (Obama) was MORE willing than McCain to launch attacks within Pakistan?

  36. digbydolben permalink
    November 25, 2008 11:37 pm

    can only wonder at your suggestion that this “fetus” somehow magically gets “childhood” whenever a plurality/majority of voters (or judges, in many cases) *decides* that he/she does? Please explain this to me.

    Paladin, Augustine and Aquinas believed that a foetus got a soul upon BIRTH, and NOT conception. Now, I happen to share the modern Catholic Church’s belief that she is entitled to claim an ability (“led by the Holy Spirit”) to “discover truth” through a historical dialectic. I believe, as a matter of fact, that I believe in that “entitlement” MORE than the recent pope who declared that he could not imagine how any future pope could “find” an ability in women to share in the “sacerdotal role” that men presently hold.

    However, it is, in my opinion, the MORAL DUTY of Catholics to seek to persuade and enlighten the modernist “pagans,” rather than to beat them over the heads with judicial fiats and ballot-box coercions. In the long run, that will be the only way to stop abortions, “unjust wars” and capital punishments.

  37. Mark Sizemore permalink
    November 25, 2008 11:55 pm

    [Good bye.]

  38. Br. Matthew Augustine Miller, OP permalink
    November 26, 2008 1:35 am

    If you appreciate Douthat, you might want to check out the following post from the 19th:

    http://rossdouthat.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/11/eyes_on_the_prize.php

    In that article he makes the prediction:

    Here’s a fearless prediction: On an awful lot of issues, the Obama foreign policy will end cutting to the right of Bill Clinton’s foreign policy, which was already more center-left than left. Even with the GOP brand in the toilet, Republicans are still trusted as much or more than Dems on foreign policy, mostly for somewhat nebulous “toughness” reasons. So why give the Right a chance to play what’s just about its only winning card, when you can satisfy your base with a phased withdrawal from Iraq that’s scheduled to happen anyway while waxing hawkish on Pakistan, Afghanistan … and who knows, maybe Iran as well? (I have a sneaking suspicion that a President Obama will be slightly more likely to authorize airstrikes against Iran than a President McCain would have been.) Meanwhile, on detainee policy, wiretapping, etc. you can earn plaudits from liberals for showily abandoning the worst excesses of the Bush era, while actually holding on to most of the post-9/11 powers that the Bushies claimed. Obama already made fans of Niall Ferguson and Eli Lake; by 2012, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s converted Max Boot as well.

    And low and behold, today Max Boot, of the neocon Commentary Magazine, says this:

    As someone who was skeptical of Obama’s moderate posturing during the campaign, I have to admit that I am gobsmacked by these appointments , most of which could just as easily have come from a President McCain. (Jim Jones is an old friend of McCain’s, and McCain almost certainly would have asked Gates to stay on as well.) This all but puts an end to the 16-month timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, the unconditional summits with dictators, and other foolishness that once emanated from the Obama campaign. His appointments suggest that, if anything, his administration will have a Reapolitiker, rather than a liberal, bent, although Clinton and Steinberg at State should be powerful voices for “neo-liberalism” which is not so different in many respects from “neo-conservativism”.

    Another great qoute in this regard from Alex Massie: “Still, at the most basic level, the new President whistles the same old tune. His job is to maintain, preserve and protect american hegemony.”

    Yay for change!

  39. November 26, 2008 2:59 am

    “Augustine and Aquinas believed that a foetus got a soul upon BIRTH, and NOT conception.”

    No, ensoulment happened 40 days after conception for a boy, 80 for a girl — or so we always hear.

  40. Kurt permalink
    November 26, 2008 9:58 am

    Brother Matthew,

    I do appreciate Douthat and I’m thrilled Obama is following the centerist foreign policy programme that during the campaign I suspected and hoped he would (the source of the hope being listening carefully to him and actually reading his policy papers).

    With all due respect to the Catholic Peace Movement, there are still a good number of us Catholics around who particpated in the “Cold War Liberalism” of Humphrey, S. Jackson, and Kirkland. Many of us rode on that Shachtmanite Train, we just got off at an earlier stop than the Neo-Cons.

  41. Paladin permalink
    November 26, 2008 10:18 am

    digbydolben wrote:

    Paladin, Augustine and Aquinas believed that a foetus got a soul upon BIRTH, and NOT conception.

    First, I’m afraid that’s incorrect on both counts: St. Augustine pleaded ignorance on the question of ensoulment, and St. Thomas was of the “40 days for males, 80 days for females” opinion. Both of these were incorrect, mind you–but that’s quite beside the point, when considering the views of both of these men on abortion (which you’re seeking to do, I assume). Both condemned abortion at *any* point in the pregnancy, *utterly*… and that was *without* the benefit of more correct knowledge of biology, etc. Citing these Saints in an attempt to suggest that “the issue is still open for debate, even in Catholic teaching” is–with all due respect–stuff and nonsense, from beginning to end… and both of these Saints were (in contrast to modern heterodox “Catholics”) completely obedient to the teachings of Christ’s Catholic Church. Remember the quote from St. Augustine, Himself? “Roma locuta est; causa finita est.” (Rome has spoken; the cause is finished.) We would do well to follow his example, and accept the Church’s clear and unambiguous teaching on this matter.

  42. Paladin permalink
    November 26, 2008 10:34 am

    Sorry… I forgot the following paragraph:

    digbydolben wrote: However, it is, in my opinion, the MORAL DUTY of Catholics to seek to persuade and enlighten the modernist “pagans,” rather than to beat them over the heads with judicial fiats and ballot-box coercions. In the long run, that will be the only way to stop abortions, “unjust wars” and capital punishments.

    Three questions, about this:

    1) Would you also use this paradigm for rape? Should we make it legal, and then work to “persuade and enlighten” (which is a good thing–don’t get me wrong!) I’m sure there are a few nut-cases in the USA (and elsewhere) who would be delighted to be given a “free choice” to rape or not to rape, without judicial fiats and ballot-box coercions getting in the way. After all, how long have we had anti-rape laws? Given the 95,136 USA rapes in 2007, alone, the “legal fiat” method certainly doesn’t seem to be working very well.

    (Seriously… I’m not looking for a hysterical, polemics-laden dismissal of this argument–as I’ve seen from many abortion-tolerant people, before; I truly want to know your answer. Why treat abortion differently, simply out of a fear of non-effectiveness of the laws?)

    2) Are you suggesting that it’s impossible to “change hearts and minds” *and* prohibit crimes through civil law, at the same time?

    3) Are you taking Catholic teaching into account, in your answer, or is it a private opinion which abstracts from Catholic teaching completely?

  43. digbydolben permalink
    November 26, 2008 12:03 pm

    “Paladin,” et. al., I believe I said that I’m quite willing to AGREE with the modern Catholic Church’s FINDING that “ensoulment” takes place at the “moment” of conception (so long as YOU are willing to agree that we don’t exactly KNOW what that “moment” is–given that science is telling us that fertilization by one spermatazoa may take up to 48 hours)–but, fine, I agree that the Church has EVERY RIGHT to use scientific evidence to re-set the “moment of conception.” (And I wish the “modern Catholic Church” would be as refined regarding new “scientific evidence” about genetic pre-determination of sexual orientation as well!)

    Regarding your questions about laws against abortion: I’m a “CONSERVATIVE” regarding civil (not canon) law, and I believe that civil laws should ALWAYS be ones that are enforceable: I don’t believe that a law that would re-criminalise abortion in a Western democracy would be enforceable. I also believe that such a re-criminalisation would ignite civil strife on a level that the “conservative” Catholics (who seem oblivious of the pervasiveness of radical feminism in our cultures) have no inkling of, because they seem only to talk to other “conservatives” about this issue.

    There’s a workable consensus in our societies about rape, whereas there really isn’t one about abortion.

    And, by the way, I’m NOT “abortion-tolerant” in my PRIVATE life: I would have absolutely nothing to do, personally, with any woman who chose abortion over giving life. If I already knew her, I might try to bring her to recognition and remorse for what she had done; if I merely heard of her, however, I’d steer a wide course away from her. Women who abort children horrify me; I cannot conceive how anybody would want one as a wife, a mother or a girlfriend;however, I see no practical solution to this problem in turning them into criminals.

  44. digbydolben permalink
    November 26, 2008 12:18 pm

    Oh, and “Paladin,” about “changing hearts and minds” while at the same time re-criminalising abortion: yes, I believe that, given the trends in the culture in recent decades, it WOULD be seen by those huge proportions of the population who’ve been influenced by radical feminism as an effort to use the legislative or judicial processes in an arrogantly coercive fashion tantamount to a declaration of violent war upon that population. And the sacred laws of karmaya (quite compatible, on one level, with Christian theology) have ALWAYS dictated that the effects of violence always redound AGAINST the original instigator of the violence; in the great American Civil War, the actual victor, for almost a century, was actually the American South, whose violent racism, romantic class-consciousness and cult of the military were more firmly established in the society than they had previously been.

    I believe that resorting to violent coercion of the radical feminists by the supposedly “Christian” elements of society would UNDERMINE the intellectual integrity and credibility of the Christian Churches in the West and preclude their effectiveness in the long struggle against re-emerging pagan morality that I foresee.

  45. November 26, 2008 1:04 pm

    Why the deleted trackback M.Z.? Is that standard, or were you mad at DC – who btw apologized?

  46. Paladin permalink
    November 26, 2008 4:38 pm

    digbydolben,

    I appreciate the thorough response; and please understand–my passion is for *truth*, regardless of my feelings (or yours, or anyone else’s) on these matters; I don’t come here to offend. Case in point: if my “heart” tells me to do [x], but [x] is truly wrong, then my heart is wrong; simple as that–and anyone who rightly informs me that [x] is wrong is doing a good thing by telling me… no matter *how* upset I might get at them! I’m very much of the Jeremiah 17:9 school of thought, when approaching “the heart”. The heart is good (and created by God), but it’s not a good driver for anyone’s life.

    As to your comments:

    but, fine, I agree that the Church has EVERY RIGHT to use scientific evidence to re-set the “moment of conception.”

    The “moment of conception” has always been a point of science, not of faith/morals; and the Church has always been silent about it in Her teachings, per se. She [the Church], when decrying the inhuman crime of abortion, is concerned with attempts to kill that embryonic baby who exists as a person *once such conception occurs*… not with pinpointing when it happens in thus-and-so case. Did you mean, “reset the presumed moment of ensoulment”?

    Do remember that the Church has, from the first century, condemned every abortion (regardless of theological opinions about the time of ensoulment) as a grave evil; the so-called “ensoulment controversy” (which was in the sphere of private theologians, and not in the official teaching of the Church–again, because it’s an issue germane to science, and not to faith/morals, per se) doesn’t help modern heterodox Catholics in their attempts to rationalize abortion-tolerance while still thinking of themselves as “good Catholics”. That’s my main point.

    (And I wish the “modern Catholic Church” would be as refined regarding new “scientific evidence” about genetic pre-determination of sexual orientation as well!)

    At the risk of running further off-topic: that will never happen. The fact that homosexuality is objectively disordered (i.e. a disease–with physical, psychological and spiritual effects) is “de fide”–i.e. part of the Sacred Deposit of Faith, and not subject to contradiction by any Catholic, or by any hypothetical “future decisions” of the Church. The Church can no more declare homosexuality to be “not disordered” than She can declare there to be four Persons in the Blessed Trinity! The same can be said for abortion.

    Re: your second post’s comments about “force of law” vs. “changing hearts and minds”: do I understand you correctly, that you think the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments (and all laws prohibiting slavery, etc.) were a mistake, and that the North should’ve “worked to change hearts and minds” without the force of law?

    Lastly, you wrote: There’s a workable consensus in our societies about rape, whereas there really isn’t one about abortion.

    Surely you see that this is irrelevant, morally speaking? If even 99% of a country were to be in favour of rape, that would not make it morally right, thereby… and it would not make any laws against it any less morally imperative. Civil laws exist to reflect and defend the Natural Moral Law; not the other way around! The morality of abortion is not, and cannot be, simply a matter of “consensus”–as if 51% of a give population can redefine all of reality, to suit its pleasure!

  47. digbydolben permalink
    November 27, 2008 12:31 am

    Paladin, obviously we differ strongly on so many issues that it’s impossible to continue this discussion: I actually DO believe that the Church IS empowered to modify doctrines, but always in the Spirit of those teachings, as more and more scientific “truth” accumulates. It’s sort of like that you are a “strict constructionist” (and somewhat of a religious “fundamentalist,” to boot!), and I am a “liberal” regarding doctrine.

    In the same regard, I don’t agree with you that “homosexuality” is a “disease” with “physical, psychological and spiritual effects.” I think that’s absurd, and an extremely retrograde position, socially and politically. It contradicts the whole history of art and culture, especially in the West (and including much “Christian” art, too, viz. the arts of the Renaissance, the Mannerists and Michelangelo). It even contradicts certain strong tendiencies in Christian mysticism, which use homoerotics as symbols of divine love (as does Sufi mystic poetry, in Islam). There are absolutely none of these artistic phenomena which are “perverted,” or which contribute to a degradation of morals.

    And, regarding your questions about the Amendments to the Constitution that brought equality for African Americans: yes, I DO believe the earlier of them came too violently and precipitously, and instigated a reaction that CAUSED the “Jim Crow” laws of the South, which, in very many cases, were actually WORSE for blacks in the South than most of the aspects of chattel slavery: the economic slavery of the early capitalist periods of some societies CAN be worse than feudalistic slavery, and, in the case of the American South (remember, I AM a former “Southerner” who has SEEN, in my youth, “sharecropping” and “coloured only” water fountains, etc.), I believe they were.

  48. David Nickol permalink
    November 27, 2008 10:10 am

    “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

  49. November 27, 2008 4:55 pm

    My Thanksgiving letter

    What to be thankful for ? That this is the last Thanksgiving with Bush in the White House. Unlike the turkey, he shouldn’t be pardoned. No, he can’t wash the blood off his hands. Oh, but you see, God willed it. Bush’s God. Quite the bastard, I hear.

    Iraq’s sweet. Hey, everyone likes an opportunity to die for nothing. Oh, they made the ‘final sacrifice’. They ‘died for their country’. They died for and because of Bush. That’s it. Thanks for playing. Flag on coffin neatly folded and handed to a wife or mother notwithstanding. There are still plenty around who can be sold on that shameful lie. Bush sheds tears frequently. It still doesn’t occur to him that it is his fault and that it is pointless. Oh but we can’t quit now because otherwise all those soldiers would have died or lost limbs in vain ! MORE of them need to have this chance ! He believes his own propaganda. His whisperers don’t. Oh but he’s pro-life. After his reign, nobody can afford an abortion.

    Who really knows what it means to die in some godforsaken place for the grand schemes of the commander in chief ? And those who are related to those who died are frequently sold on the propaganda that equals supporting the troops with keeping them in harm’s way ad infinitum. Oh but Taps what played so nicely. 21 gun salute. I hear he died in the dusty streets from the bullets of just one gun. I’ll leave you with the lyrics to a popular country song that aren’t satirical. It baffles the mind that people can be sold on that $#!@. It’s one thing to, say, defend your country from the Nazis. But, those just causes are few and far in between. Other than Afghanistan, no American has died ‘for his country’ since World War II ended.

    Trace Adkins, Arlington

    I never thought that this is where I’d settle down,
    I thought I’d die an old man back in my hometown,
    They gave me this plot of land, me and some other men,
    for a job well done.

    There’s a big white house sits on a hill just up the road,
    The man inside he cried the day they brought me home,
    They folded up a flag, and told my mom and dad, ‘We’re proud of your son’.

    And I’m proud to be on this peaceful piece of property,
    I’m on sacred ground and I’m in the best of company,
    I’m thankful for those thankful for the things I’ve done,
    I can rest in peace, I’m one of the chosen ones,
    I made it to Arlington.

    I remember daddy brought me here when I was eight,
    We searched all day to find out where my granddad lay,
    And when we finally found that cross,
    He said, ‘Son this is what it cost, to keep us free’.
    Now here I am a thousand stones away from him,
    He recognized me on the first day I came in,
    And it gave me a chill, when he clicked his heels, and saluted me.

    And every time I hear, twenty-one guns,
    I know they brought another hero home, to us.

    We’re thankful for those thankful for the things we’ve done,
    We can rest in peace, ’cause we were the chosen ones,
    We made it to Arlington, yea, dust to dust
    Don’t cry for us, we made it to Arlington.

    “Son this is what it cost to keep us free” – This paranoia, that everyone is after ‘our freedom’ (which is somewhat illusory to begin with), combined with “They hate us because we’re free” is the perfect recipe for perpetual war. Western Europe stopped being sold on this propaganda because of World War II. I guess America hasn’t suffered enough to ‘get it’. A grateful nation thanks you that your son’s leg was left back in Iraq. He left it there for our freedom. His brother even got atomized for it. His remains are roughly the same size as the folded flag we present you today.

    Gott, Kaiser und Vaterland !

  50. November 27, 2008 7:13 pm

    What if someone told you: “You are about to lose your job. I have a choice for you. If you allow this baby’s skull to be crushed with a rock, you get to keep your job.” I don’t think there’s a question about which way you’d go with that.

    Emotionalism of a tremendously sick variety.

    Happy pagan Thanksgiving, everyone.

  51. Paladin permalink
    November 28, 2008 4:29 pm

    Emotionalism of a tremendously sick variety.

    (*sigh*) And ad hominems of a non-particular and bland variety are better? I think his argument deserves something a bit more involved than a back-handed dismissal…

    Re: digbydolben: perhaps this could cut to the chase: how, exactly, do you determine true right (as opposed to your personal tastes) from true wrong (as opposed to what fills you with distaste, or which violates your personal opinions)? Personal opinions can be catastrophically wrong, you know; at least, you seem to think that the opinions of those who disagree with you are quite wrong… true? So how do you settle you mind on “true morality”, vs. subjective wiffle-waffle?

  52. digbydolben permalink
    November 29, 2008 1:58 am

    Paladin, I allow my conscience (the aboriginal “Word of God,” as Newman called it) to be informed by individuals and institutions and traditions which I respect. However, in the end, I follow my own conscience–as I hope everybody else does.

  53. Paladin permalink
    November 29, 2008 4:40 pm

    digbydolben: well and good, so far as it goes… but are you simply trusting ultimate truth to a “toss of the dice”? Or worse, have you simply despaired of finding objective truth, and are content simply to muddle about with the opinions and feelings which seem best to you? The “aboriginal Word of God” (which is a metaphor, as Cardinal Newman well knew) isn’t of much use, if it contradicts (or otherwise detaches from) the *actual* Word of God (written and unwritten). From what I can tell, you’ve fallen into a sort of “moral agnostic pragmatism” by which you’re content to “do the best you can”–which is too often a euphemism for “follow that which doesn’t clash with my personal opinion”.

    Case in point: I’ve (personally) respected people who’ve later proven to be untrustworthy–and I wasn’t even forming my conscience from their example! However do you decide who’s reliable (apart from an appeal to your tastes, opinions, and feelings)? Rape, for example, is either evil, or it’s not–regardless of any opinion (or “consensus” of opinions), right? So… how do you decide?

  54. digbydolben permalink
    November 30, 2008 3:49 am

    Paladin, your whole approach here seems to me to be spiritually immature and, if I may make so bold as to say so, extraordinarily un-prayerful.

    I think God speaks to folks in the inner recesses of their hearts and consciences just as much as He does in Sacred Scripture. People WILL get things “wrong,” they WILL interpret things they THINK they hear as “messages from God,” and, perhaps, they may be faulted for it in THIS world. In the next, however, I think they will be wholly exonerated. I also think they get exonerated by objective historians.

    You seem to like “rape” as a test case, so consider THIS: what you’d probably call “rape” was absolutely normal in the Church-sanctioned child marriages of the medieval and “early modern” periods of the history of Christendom. What would appear to be “violence” to you and to me would have been considered–even by the “victims” of the connubial “rape”–to be the “gentle ministrations” of the husband to get his child-bride beyond her “first fears.” I myself have seen, in Sri Lanka, a panicked young bride who ran screaming from her “honeymoon apartment” in a five-star hotel in Colombo, be thrown back into the arms of her older husband BY HER FAMILY, who apologized to the groom and HIS family for her “bad manners.”

    So, what’s the standard for judging what is “rape”? Considering how dogmatic and fundamentalist you are, you probably want some age qualification, or some sort of process to determine “mutual consent.” That wouldn’t work at all in the historic past or in some of the societies I’ve had experience of, during my travels, but do you know what WOULD?–a determination of the level of CRUELTY involved. Of course, that is a judgment call for an imaginative artist or a brilliant moral theologian, rather than some dogmatic clerical politician, like one of the anti-abortion clerical rabble-rouser whom you and your ilk seem to favour. But, in fact, that’s the kind of sensitivity and prayerfulness that is called for in making ALL of these kinds of judgments. And, of course, they mainly don’t involve judging OTHER FOLKS: they involve removing the “beams” from OUR eyes!

  55. Paladin permalink
    December 1, 2008 9:22 am

    digbydolben,

    You wrote, “Paladin, your whole approach here seems to me to be spiritually immature and, if I may make so bold as to say so, extraordinarily un-prayerful.

    I’m tempted to say that I must’ve hit a nerve, somewhere, if you’re now regressing to ad hominem insults; would you please be so kind as to avoid that–especially since I’ve tried my best to avoid insulting you in like fashion? “Spiritually immature” is logically useless, question-begging, and downright rude. Knock it off, ok?

    It may save time if I point out, now: appeals to emotion will get nowhere. Believe me, I have the fallen human capacity to rant and rave with the best of them, and I have no reason to believe that my passion for my beliefs is any less fervent than yours (not to be dismissed, simply because I choose to speak and act with restraint). But that will end in a mere “heart against heart bash-fest”, with nothing to show for it but hurt feelings, raging diatribes, and the like. Nuh-uh; been there, done that, not going back.

    If your position is really true, then it’ll stand up to scrutiny. If you’re feeling threatened by scrutiny, I’m not sure what to do about that… save to reassure you that I mean you no harm, I wish you well, and I’m trying my best to discern (and promote) actual truth (above and beyond mere feelings, opinions, or other non-truth-related things).

    Case in point: you display a great deal of vitriol in your anger-filled points on rape; but you haven’t come close to answering the original question. To make it easier, here’s a definition that should suffice for the moment, since–I assume–we’re both Catholic:

    “Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act. Graver still is the rape of children committed by parents (incest) or those responsible for the education of the children entrusted to them.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2356)

    So… would you say that *that* is wrong? If so, why? Not because the Catechism says so, apparently…

  56. digbydolben permalink
    December 1, 2008 12:12 pm

    No, NOT “because the Catechism says so,” because, unfortunately for the reputation of the Roman and Apostolic Church, the “violation of the sexual intimacy of the other person” did not preclude the Church’s approval of the FORCED MARRIAGE OF FEMALE CHILDREN to high-status older men–no matter what was the “physical and moral integrity to which” they had “a right.”

    No, you have not “hit a nerve,” “Paladin,” because I was TAUGHT by my Jesuit spiritual directors when I was young that those who wished the Catholic Church to tell them what to with the Church’s theological principles and her general spiritual directives in every instance regarding moral choices they had to make were, indeed, “spiritually immature” and customarily “un-prayerful.”

    You and your ilk seem to fit the bill nicely when you rant and rail that Catholics like me (yes, I am, despite myself) have to vote in some particular fashion or have to consider same-sex relationships abominable or have to consider that ALL incidences of abortion are so morally perverse that they have to be criminalized statutorily.

    As I said before, there really is no point to any discussion between us: Newman said that all serious disagreements among serious men are actually disagreements about theology, and yours and mine are very, very serious, actually: we don’t view God in the same way, so let’s drop the discussion, shall we?

  57. Paladin permalink
    December 1, 2008 3:04 pm

    digbydolben,

    If you need to break off the discussion, I certainly can’t stop you; and again, it wasn’t my intention to upset you (which certainly seems to have happened–the amount of anger in your post makes me wince, frankly). But I don’t think it’s wrong of me to ask you to think about what you’re doing, and to question your starting assumptions–even if they were given to you by Jesuit spiritual directors. You’re all too eager to question the Magisterium of the Church; why are you so reluctant to question your spiritual directors? Do these isolated Jesuits (and no disrespect meant to them–I’m assuming that they were good and holy men with every good intention) have the charism of infallibility, where the Church Magisterium does not?

    Here’s my point (again): you seem to be using nothing but your emotions (and dark, rage-based ones, at that) and your opinions to settle your mind on these matters; and, especially when dealing with issues of life and death, you’re simply not justified in doing that!

    Two points will illustrate what I mean, I think. How you get from “young brides” to “girls dragged, screaming, into the bridal chamber”, I’m not sure; the Church has certainly tolerated the former, and She has always condemned the latter. Can you not see that a toleration for young brides does not at all equate to a toleration for forced sexual intercourse? If a man finds that his wife is unwilling to have sexual intercourse, then he is morally obliged to abstain! “Dragging a woman back to unforced intercourse” would be morally wrong, whether the bride was age 13 or age 63! I assume you’re trying to use this example to show that the Church Magisterium has no moral credibility with you; but it’s completely intellectually dishonest of you to throw up a “straw man” argument, accuse the Church wrongly of it, and then try to use that to justify your own rejection of Her! If you “feel” like rejecting the Church, or you feel “more at home” with some other body of teaching, then say so; but don’t pretend to use this fallacious attack as any sort of legitimate reason for it!

    Secondly: I’m afraid I have to tell you that your Jesuit instructors–to whom I attribute no malice–have seriously (if probably unintentionally) misled you. Here’s a quote from the Sacred Constitution of the Society of Jesus (i.e. Jesuits):

    “And although we are taught in the Gospel and through the orthodox Faith to recognize and steadfastly profess that all the faithful of Christ are subject to the Roman Pontiff as their head and as the Vicar of Christ, yet we have adjudged that, for the special promotion of greater humility in our society and the perfect mortification of every individual and the sacrifice of our own wills we should each be bound by a peculiar vow, in addition to the general obligation, that whatever the present Roman Pontiff, or any future one, may from time to time decree regarding the welfare of souls and the propagation of the Faith, we are pledged to obey WITHOUT EVASION OR EXCUSE, instantly, so far as in us lies [...]
    (emphasis mine)

    That doesn’t sound like “decide for yourself what to do, regardless of what the ‘Roman and Apostolic Church’ says”, to me. I’m sorry to say this, but your Jesuit spiritual directors had betrayed their vows, as well as the particular charism of allegiance of the Society of Jesus. Moreover, they’ve caused scandal, by leading you to embrace their errors… and to hold to them tenaciously, because of the affection you hold for them personally. May God forgive them.

    But let this be clear: what you describe is in complete violation of the Rule of the Jesuit order, and it’s a violation of the obligations incumbent on every faithful Catholic. I wish I could soften that… but I cannot.

  58. Paladin permalink
    December 1, 2008 3:30 pm

    Sorry… bad typo:

    Dragging a woman back to unforced intercourse” would be morally wrong, whether the bride was age 13 or age 63!

    …should be:

    Dragging a woman back to forced intercourse” would be morally wrong, whether the bride was age 13 or age 63!

    I think I was trying to say “forced” and “unwilling” at the same time, and mangled it…

  59. digbydolben permalink
    December 1, 2008 3:39 pm

    Paladin, you are a pompous fool: “obey” does not mean “agree”; it does not mean that one cannot keep one’s “moral reservations”; it does not mean that the Jesuit principle of “obedience” does not INCLUDE the DUTY to share one’s “moral reservations” with one’s superiors, and it does NOT mean that one cannot leave the Jesuit order with absolutely no onus of guilt or blame, if the moral reservations of one’s conscience (held by Newman, for instance, to be a HIGHER authority for an individual than the Roman Pontiff–did you know that?) preclude an ability to obey one’s Jesuit superior. And leaving the Jesuit order because one disagrees with non-dogmatic teachings of the Roman Pontiff does not separate one from the Church or even from one’s sacerdotal order.

    The fact is that many Jesuits have been all the more esteemed by their brethren when they have separated or even laicized themselves because of crises of conscience. These are a class of men, of priests, that totalitarian dogmatists like you clearly don’t understand, and they are of far more profound and earnest spirituality than the various kinds of craven, lickspittle careerists that recent pontiffs have packed the American hierarchy with–as is well attested to by those sycophants’ responses to the recent child-rape scandals.

    Newman, in his “Letter to the Duke of Norfolk,” stipulates that to obey a directive of a religious superior when one’s individual conscience tells one that it is wrongful or in error may constitute a MORTAL SIN.

    And YOURS are the “straw men” (the sly intellectual duplicitousness of which are the principal reason why this will be the last time I attempt to engage in this fruitless exchange with you), because I have NEVER said I “reject” the Magisterium of the Church–only that I disagree AND reject certain historical distortions by that same Magisterium of what constitutes true religion–as when they most certainly DID teach that child-brides had to “submit” to the ministrations of their elderly husbands.

  60. S.B. permalink
    December 1, 2008 4:05 pm

    Of course, if those child brides had been male (that is, if they had been victims of pederasty), digby would be claiming that Jesus himself was indifferent to their plight (as shown by the fact that Jesus didn’t condemn the supposed pederasty of the Roman centurion).

  61. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    December 1, 2008 4:08 pm

    This thread has exhausted itself.

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