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Something is really amiss…

April 18, 2012

..when I find myself agreeing more with the Society of St. Pius X than the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops!!

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41 Comments
  1. johnmcg permalink
    April 18, 2012 10:10 am

    Do you dare examine where something might be amiss?

    • April 18, 2012 11:23 am

      See what Mark Gordon writes below. To that I would add an unfortunte tone of American triumphalism throughout the document, John Courtney Murray on steroids.

  2. April 18, 2012 10:12 am

    Wow! I am with you, Morning’s Minion! I had the same concerns when I read the USCCB’s latest.

  3. Kurt permalink
    April 18, 2012 10:18 am

    The bishops do look silly. There is a proposition they oppose, namely that commerical health insurance companies be mandated to offer their covered beneficiaries contraceptive benefits when their client does not include contraception in the client’s health care plan. In a court trial or in politics, an advocate usually makes every argument for his position, even arguments he does not believe in or ones that contradict other arguments.

    One might think the bishops, even at the risk of being less politically effective, would put a consistent, clear and intellectually solid teaching ahead of just winning the battle. But in this case, one would be mistaken in that thinking.

    The fun part is watching bishops and conservative Catholics who are known to take a hard line against allowing any speaker at a Catholic forum who does not support certain public policy positions of the bishops such as on abortion or marriage, even if the speaker is solely addressing an issue they agree with the bishops on such as workers rights or opposition to unjust wars. These same folks are bending over backwards to invite and feature speakers at their “religious liberty” rallies who dissent from the Church on contraception but concur in opposition to the mandate on insurance companies.

    • April 18, 2012 10:54 am

      Well, Kurt, I totally see the hypocrisy there BUT lets remember that for the bishops (and other Catholics like me) abortion is sort of in a species of its own because we believe it is, you know, cold blooded murder.

      And while a question of “victimless” morality like contraception might be something in civil society we can have allies with across-the-aisle (especially when they are allies in us asserting OUR right NOT to go along with it)…abortion supporters are (and I say this without any hyperbole) basically comparable to KKK members or Nazis to us, which is a rather different thing.

      I think lots of groups would have an aversion to letting a klansman or skinhead come speak for them, even if all he was talking about was funding NASA or something like that. There’s disagreement on “victimless” moral issues (I imagine Jews and Muslims feel the same way about dietary regulation, etc)…and then there are people you don’t even want to be associated with, because you think they hold monstrous and reprehensible positions (because they actually advocate the non-humanity and extermination of other human beings).

      You can fudge and say, “Well, maybe they are against abortion, they just don’t think legislative means are the best way to protect them”…and I see this argument up to a point; I don’t think Catholics are required to support any particular political solution, not even criminalization (although, try to apply that to any BORN group of humans, try to say, “Criminalization of lynchings will actually lead to MORE black deaths, out of retaliation” or something like that, and I really doubt anyone would have given you a hearing back in those days). But that’s really a moot point, as most of these pols stated position is not “Criminalization is imprudent when it comes to maximalizing the salvation of lives” (which I suppose is a tolerable, if extremely suspicious, position) but rather that women have a “right” to abortion, which is a despicable idea, and such politicians should not merely be excluded from our events, but should be put on trial for crimes against humanity.

      On something like gay marriage, however, I agree with you. In that case, the hypocrisy here is blatant. If we can invite pro-contraception Protestants (and, frankly, their heresy in general is the bigger objectionable fish to fry than their pro-contraception position specifically, so there’s already a weird question of priorities there) to speak on unrelated issues, I see no reason why someone supporting gay civil “marriage” (a mere semantic question, in the end, albeit semantics effect social thought, especially when given approbation through officialdom) couldn’t speak on immigration or something like that. And if there is such a double-standard, it’s ridiculous.

      • Kurt permalink
        April 18, 2012 12:08 pm

        BUT lets remember that for the bishops (and other Catholics like me) abortion is sort of in a species of its own because we believe it is, you know, cold blooded murder.

        The bishops, to their credit, (along with Catholics like me) DO NOT believe that abortion is cold blooded murder. Despite the advocacy of abortion rights by part of society and the crude rhetoric of some pro-lifers (I like to think it is just crude rhetoric, maybe they sincerely believe these things), the bishops have been compassion towards women in problem pregnancies.

        But while you have misstated the bishops’ views, I take you as authoritative for your own views that each woman who has an abortion is a cold blooded murderer and should be dealt with as one.

      • keith permalink
        April 18, 2012 2:14 pm

        “gay civil “marriage” (a mere semantic question, in the end, albeit semantics effect social thought, especially when given approbation through officialdom)”

        You hit the nail on the head, but didn’t drive the hammer through hard enough on this point. It is a standard practice of the political left to introduce seemingly innocuous changes to traditionally shared tenets of morality, only to then reveal that the first step was only the proverbial “foot in the door.”

        While I am convinced by the arguments that civil approval of “gay marriage” would have a negative effect on society at large, I feel the bigger danger is evidenced by such recent controversies as the Hosanna Vs. Tabor Supreme Court case where the O. administration seemed to think they were perfectly justified in suing a church for firing a minister, according to certain labor laws.

        For the left, the government is the consensus of the people and is therefore the ultimate judge of moral matters. How often have Pro-Choice activists said, within shouting matches against pro-lifers “Get over it. It’s the law!” The idea that the government coming down on one side of an issue would still allow citizens to publicly and comfortably dissent is obvious in the wake of the recent crack down on Canadian pastors from being critical of Islam from their pulpits, as if this is just a natural extension of hate crime laws.

        It’s also obvious from the rhetoric of advocates that such a mild cultural concession as civil marriage is not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is social acceptance and once the government weighs in the accusations of bigotry and prejudicial policies will increase.

        The whole premise of ideological progressivism is based around the idea of gradual changes of the status quo towards the goals and ultimate end game of a Utopian society of absolute tolerance and equality.

        Stretching back to the Enlightenment these goals have been in direct conflict with traditional Christian values, and especially combative to the Catholic Church as evidenced by the horrendous polemics of Rousseau and Voltaire. Usually this contempt for the Church is manifested initially in anti-clericalism and expands into more coercive/violent actions after absolute power is established, as we saw in France, Mexico, and Spain most clearly (substituting a secular state for the moral authority) and in England and Germany as well (substituting the essentially liberal protestant ideologies built on enlightenment principals).

        Can you convince conservative (in the traditional sense, not GOP sense) Catholics that there is something new and less ideologically aggressive about America’s current brand of political liberalism as personified by Obama? I’m interested in your rationale.

      • April 18, 2012 3:13 pm

        “But while you have misstated the bishops’ views, I take you as authoritative for your own views that each woman who has an abortion is a cold blooded murderer and should be dealt with as one.”

        Where did I ever say that? I said abortion is cold-blooded murder. Objectively, it is, except I suppose in a few very rare cases where it is committed without any premeditation in a storm of passion (in which case it is still murder, but not cold-blooded). The bishops definitely do believe abortion is murder.

        But the abortionist commits the murder directly, not the woman. And of course, for both, there are all sorts of questions about ignorance and duress. Then again, we don’t generally take alleged sincere good intentions or duress as excuse for murder in other circumstances. “I was just following orders” was not an excuse, and neither was “I don’t believe that class of humans is actually human,” after all.

        Do I think we should have compassion for the women? Of course. Not as much as some people (who cast them almost as innocent victims, in what I suspect is half political-ploy to make the pro-life position less controversial) seem to think, but some, of course. I’d feel compassion for a poor kid who shot a guy in a liquor store robbery too. Even if he was using the money for drugs! Because, heck, then he’s a victim of a system of addiction-for-profit, etc.

        However, this “social causes” line of thought eventually leads to devesting everyone of any sort of moral agency. And when the person in question whom you are devesting of agency is a pregnant woman…I have to think that is necessarily rather sexist. The balance between free will and unfavorable circumstances is a question that probably only an individual can answer before God in the internal forum.

        However, the law is the law, and can only look at mitigating factors to a degree. My personal thought is that it would be most prudent politically, especially at first, to go after the abortionists, not so much the women, but ultimately mitigated culpability in the internal form doesn’t change the objective status of a type of act.

      • Kurt permalink
        April 18, 2012 3:32 pm

        Can you convince conservative (in the traditional sense, not GOP sense) Catholics that there is something new and less ideologically aggressive about America’s current brand of political liberalism as personified by Obama? I’m interested in your rationale.

        Maybe start with the fact that is was the Bush Administration and not President Obama that began the action against the Lutheran school (not a church) over the issue as to if a female school teacher is or is not a minister.

        The move on to the silence of Catholic conservatives on the Bush Administration’s mandates on what are deemed to be abortion causing drugs.

  4. Mark Gordon permalink
    April 18, 2012 10:42 am

    By continuing to make a liberal rather than Catholic argument in order to oppose what they (properly) view as a liberal encroachment, the bishops have validated the liberal premise that the Catholic Church is just one private voice among many in society. In so doing they have renounced their claim to teach the truth (as opposed to mere opinion) and furthered the secularization of the public square.

    The bishops have chosen to argue against the HHS mandate on the basis of “religious liberty” and the American Constitution rather than on the basis of the truth and universal applicability Church’s own teaching on contraception. As Cardinal Dolan has time and again assured anyone who will listen, “This is not about contraception.” In his outstanding piece on this topic, Patrick Deneen summarizes Cardinal Dolan’s argument this way: “We have a certain set of private beliefs that aren’t harming anyone. Leave us alone, and we’ll be quiet.”

    • Mark Gordon permalink
      April 18, 2012 10:46 am

      From Deneen’s piece, cited above: “The response of American Catholics to the HHS mandate has (perhaps necessarily) been framed in dominantly liberal terms that give it a chance of receiving a hearing in today’s public sphere and within its Courts. But it should be acknowledged (as the response to the “Compromise” reveals) that the Church will ultimately lose the argument simply due to the fact that the way it is framed already represents a capitulation to liberal premises. Doubtless, an argument that stated more explicitly the Church’s opposition to birth control would be even more quickly dismissed (but, first, caricatured and mocked) than the current invocation of “religious freedom.” But, the real debate is not over religious freedom, in fact: it is over the very nature of humanity and the way in which we order our polities and societies. Catholicism is one of the few remaining voices of principle and depth that can articulate an forceful and learned alternative to today’s dominant liberal worldview. That it truncates those arguments for the sake of prudential engagement in a contemporary skirmish should not shroud the nature of the deeper conflict. That conflict will continue apace, and Catholics do themselves no favors if they do not understand the true nature of the battle, and the fact that current arguments aid and abet their opponent.”

      • April 18, 2012 11:25 am

        See, if only the SSPX could have phrased things this articulately rather than in their bizarro freak-out self-caricature way.

        Because they do have a huge point, as Deneen says: framing things in these terms (which the Church has been doing since Vatican II) is ALREADY a capitulation to liberal premises…so they shouldn’t be surprised if people carry those premises to their ACTUAL logical conclusions.

        And this cozying-up-to The World and modernity is actually one of the major causes of a fundamentalist outlook among certain “neoconservative Catholic” voices (a different sort of fundamentalism than radical traditionalists themselves espouse): namely, there is this idea that, due to the “splendor of truth”…liberalism (in the 18th-century sense) will actually HELP the Catholic cause, because then everyone will personally internalize the Faith for himself. Then it won’t just be this sort of tribal conformity, but each individual’s personal choice. And certainly, I guess, that sort of personal choice and internalization is ideal. However, that doesn’t mean the “tribal conformity” model is positively BAD either.

        However, this expectation that there could still be universal conformity through personal free choice WITHOUT the massive State/social pressure that maintained Christendom through that tribal conformity…that it could “coincidentally” wind up with each individual freely personally embracing it “on their own”…is naive. Most people are not going to have faith “on their own.” And even Christendom, even many of those who did make that ideal personal internalization (among the clerical class, especially)…didn’t really do it “on their own,” but as a blossoming of what started as that tribal conformity.

        However, the frustration born of not seeing this expectation plays out in practice as a sort of vitriol, even rage, at the masses among the neocons, because the assumption becomes something like, “We let you decide on your own, trusting you’d still make the right choice, and you didn’t! So you’re ingrates, and must not be honestly discerning truth for yourself, but rather motivated by pure self-will or hedonism or spiritual sloth or willful obstinance!” Because the idea for these neocons is something like the trope of giving someone a “choice” and then throwing a tantrum when they don’t make the choice you want. The paradoxical notion that everyone MUST choose FREELY Catholicism (or some other ideology)…winds up ironically with a sort of “1984” totalitarianism-style attitude where they don’t merely want to force you do something, but want to extract a submission to doing it freely. “And you’re gonna LIKE it too!” is the idea. Ironically, this leads to a greater hatred against the other who, without coercion, doesn’t make the right choice (because, really, our choices always take place in a social/relational context).

        To solve this, really, you need to either sacrifice the individualist notion of “freedom” that is the basis of pluralist society, or sacrifice the idea that anyone “has to” do anything, that there is any “ought.” Trying to have them both just winds up in a contradiction.

      • johnmcg permalink
        April 18, 2012 12:55 pm

        Though I get the feeling that if the bishops had framed their objections as you prefer, the criticism would be that the bishops were demonstrating how out of touch they are, grounding their opposition in a worldview that has long passed by, and they need to learn how to communicate in a language that is understood by those immersed in today’s culture, who are the ones who need to be convincing.

        Heads they’re embracing modern liberalism too much; Tails they’re wedded to an obsolete vision.

      • April 18, 2012 3:16 pm

        No one is saying they should have responded according to a ridiculous triumphalist SSPX-style rhetoric.

        However, there’s not just “heads” and “tails”…the task for our age is how to re-engage the world without selling out to it, to find the third way.

    • April 18, 2012 4:03 pm

      By continuing to make a liberal rather than Catholic argument in order to oppose what they (properly) view as a liberal encroachment, the bishops have validated the liberal premise that the Catholic Church is just one private voice among many in society. In so doing they have renounced their claim to teach the truth (as opposed to mere opinion) and furthered the secularization of the public square.

      I don’t see these as mutually exclusive, Mark. Socially, the Church IS just one voice among many in society, a society that is fragmented and pluralistic, but being one among many doesn’t mean that what it has to say is of equal or less value than the other voices in society have to offer. The Church has to make the case for its worldview and way of life just like everyone else. Acknowledging that fact doesn’t mean the church has renounced its claim to teach the truth. It does mean that the Church can’t “instruct” the wider society in the way it instructs its followers. The wider society doesn’t buy into its authority and finds its teachings and arguments wanting. And so the Church, just like everyone else interested in shaping and directing society, has to compete in the marketplace of ideas. In order to do that, the Church, like everyone else, has to have some basic freedoms, e.g., religious liberty. The Church has done well to listen to wisdom from liberalism because liberalism actually addresses the the competition of multiple incompatible comprehensive doctrines within a democratic society.

  5. Agellius permalink
    April 18, 2012 10:51 am

    As something is amiss when I find myself agreeing with MM! ; )

  6. Thales permalink
    April 18, 2012 11:03 am

    I think there is some merit to the criticism that the Bishops shouldn’t be staking their position against the HHS mandate with the language of religious liberty and liberalism. And that’s why I like Deneen’s article. But I’ll ask the same question that I asked when I last read Deneen’s article:

    Deneen basically concedes that the Bishops’ liberalism argument is “(perhaps) necessar[y]” because an alternative argument against the HHS mandate “would be even more quickly dismissed (but, first, caricatured and mocked) than the current invocation of “religious freedom.'” So what are the Bishops to do? What’s the better strategy to oppose the mandate if premising it on religious liberty is not the way to go?

    • April 18, 2012 3:19 pm

      As I say above: that’s the 1.1 billion dollar (or soul) question for the Catholic Church today. First, this false dichotomy must be escaped as if the only choices are a reactionary (and laughable, given the real situation on the ground) triumphalism, or else conceding to the world’s paradigm and trying to argue our position paradoxically from premises which are foreign to it. The third way has to be found. What would that look like?

      I think the comments thread under Deneen’s article is very interesting in elucidating some of the problems and meta-problems that cause us to be stuck in this apparent impasse.

  7. Greg permalink
    April 18, 2012 11:29 am

    There is always cofession for that.

  8. Brian Martin permalink
    April 18, 2012 1:00 pm

    It seems to me they are using the language and legal system of the United States as a first layer of arguments. The problem people seem to be having is that the Bishops are making what amounts to be a political and statement rather than a Religious statemen. Doesn’t it make sense, however, to use the language and laws of the United States…especially with it’s Constitutional Protections of Religious Liberty (Which in my understanding the Sociaty of Pius X would consider meaningless because one cannot be free to choose other than the Truth, which flies in the face of Vatican II teaching, right?) Why would the first step not be to use the language of the Constitution to attempt to protect the Church’s right to practice it’s faith? Obviously if it comes down to Law vs. Church teaching, then the Church would disobey the Law. But that is down the road, if and when we lose the Constitutional protections.

  9. keith permalink
    April 18, 2012 1:26 pm

    Abortion is and always has been an inherently evil act. It is done with impunity, and in fact with encouragement from a society scared to death of a mythical apocalyptic population bomb, dwindling resources and expanding welfare rolls.

    Some of you seem to naively assume that Democratic politicians, as their rhetoric asserts, are simply interested in the rights of individuals and personally abhor abortion. On the contrary, the philosophical bent of the left in this area is centered on specific desired outcomes using abortion as social engineering tool. This can be seen most clearly in the widespread support starting in the late 60’s for coerced sterilizations and abortions in poor countries (in exchange for aid dollars) as was carried by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the UN Population Fund. India and China, for example, were praised for enforcing one child policies, being recognized as models in fight against the “population bomb.” Despite the fact that human life expectancy and quality of life both have risen, throughout history, with the rise of the population, and despite the obvious signs of the harmful social effects of births dropping bellow replacement rates (rising health care costs, lower GDP, etc.)

    Arguments are also made, by prominent liberal thinkers, that abortion is beneficial to the good of society to the extent that it eliminates future criminals, “humanely” prevents disabled individuals from the pain of existing, and allows women to be promiscuous without impunity–which is obviously a right.

    There are frequent additions to this obscene roll call of immoral justifications, for example: —-In its controversial 1998 feature on the cost of a child, U.S. News & World Report declared unequivocally: “A child, financially speaking, looks more like a high-priced consumer item with no warranty. It’s the decision to remain childless that offers the real investment opportunity.” — (from Priests for life.org)

    As a Catholic, to support a political movement which holds to incontrovertibly be true such central tenets of anti-humanism, one has to have made a convincing moral argument FOR aligning yourself with adherents to this way of thought, not simply to show that the other side of the political spectrum, in its own fashion, falls short of the ideal. I don’t see you doing that effectively. What I see is you lashing out at conservative Catholics, for their perceived political blind spots, almost in a defensive mode, convincing yourself that the GOP is just as or more despicable for their political ideology as the DEMs. That could just be a biased interpretation, or it could be your intent.

    “abortion supporters are (and I say this without any hyperbole) basically comparable to KKK members or Nazis to us, which is a rather different thing.”

    In other words, you, Morning’s Minion, don’t seem to keen on convincing us that abortion supporters aren’t morally and ethically related to supporters of the annihilation of the Jews, but rather more interested in accusing their opponents as hypocritical tyrants, or idiots if you prefer the other standard liberal rhetorical model.

    Could you make a detailed post advocating for support of politicians involved in the pro-choice movement? I’m sure you could, but my personal belief is such a post would be 1) more difficult. 2) more interesting.

    • April 18, 2012 2:31 pm

      Happy to debate this issue (and have done so a million times!) but I would rather keep the discussion related to the issue in the post right now.

      But I will say one thing. I live and work among secular liberals. They are some of my closest friends. But the picture you paint bears no resemblance to their outlook. Their outlook is one of individual freedom and autonomy – the state does not have the right to tell people what to do in sexual matters, and to force a woman to bear a child against her will. That is the argument. It is EXACTLY the same as the argument used by the liberal right on economics – the state has no right to people to purchase health insurance, to force people to pay taxes to support welfare etc.

      • keith permalink
        April 18, 2012 4:28 pm

        ” the state does not have the right to tell people what to do in sexual matters, and to force a woman to bear a child against her will. That is the argument. It is EXACTLY the same as the argument used by the liberal right on economics – the state has no right to people to purchase health insurance, to force people to pay taxes to support welfare etc.”

        My point is that the rhetoric and personal position of the rank and file social liberal you work with is not the barometer on the actual purpose and effect of the political movement itself. In the same way the goal of Stalinism is not the equality of peoples, but the centralization of power with the end purpose of creating the “New Soviet Man” through social engineering, fulfilling the historical destiny of the rule by proletariat.

        Likewise, liberals accuse the conspiratorial GOP of simply manipulating rank and file republican voters by advocating for pro-life causes, when what we all know they REALLY want to wage a “war on women” and “eliminate access to contraceptives” as part of their nascent fascist tendencies.

        I think critiques of the ideological rouse of the GOP’s pseudo-religious belief in Adam Smith economics of the “invisible hand of the market” etc. are much more credible.

        On another front: I think it was correct to criticize the labeling “cold blooded murder” as applied to individuals who procure abortions. There are social and psychological aspects to the act that make it different in practice from say shooting someone with a shotgun, but we also must not loose sight of the fact that it is still deemed an inherently moral sin, in no means contingent on a correct knowledge of its gravity. While some pro-life rhetoric might be inappropriate, any attempt to obfuscate the absolute nature of the prohibition on abortion, from the prospective of Catholic doctrine, is even more reprehensible in my view.

        The pagans in Rome didn’t find the “pro-life” position of the Church any more tolerable than the modern pagans today. We must not acquiesce to the “way of death” in any of its political garbs, whether it be the malformed economics of the GOP, or the malformed individualism of the DEMs. I think it is possible to weigh the pros and cons and come to a reasonable conclusion. That is the discussion I hope will proceed on this blog in the future.

      • keith permalink
        April 18, 2012 4:31 pm

        Inherently mortal sin*

  10. ctd permalink
    April 18, 2012 2:07 pm

    But the SSPX’s statement is basically a rejection of Dignitatis Humanae. The Americanist sections notwithstanding how is the bishops’ statement not consistent with Dignitatis Humanae?

    • April 18, 2012 2:42 pm

      Very good question! I admit I haven’t fully thought through this yet, but I would answer along the following lines:

      The USCCB follows Murray’s adulation of the American constitution – the famous “articles of peace”. Here, Murray used the arguments of negative freedom (“freedom from”) to justify religious freedom. But for Catholics, freedom has always been seen as positive rather than negative (“freedom for” not “freedom from”). On this area, the SSPX is entirely correct (put aside the inflammatory “error has no rights” hyperbole). Murray’s argument also leads logically to the very privatization of faith that the bishops oppose. I’m following David Schindler here – there is a direct path from Murray to Catholics neocons like Novak and Weigel, and this stands apart from the understanding of the Church from the communion perspective.

      While Murray was clearly a major influence on Dignitatis Humanae, I do not believe he was the defining influence. In fact, you can see a clear tension between the negative and position notions of freedom running through DH. To me, this is the key phrase, though: “It is in accordance with their dignity as persons-that is, beings endowed with reason and free will and therefore privileged to bear personal responsibility-that all men should be at once impelled by nature and also bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth”. In other words, the right to religious freedom has as its root the dignity of the human person, not the autonomy of the individual.

      If anybody has any references to this tension within DH, please share – I would like to read more on this!

      • April 18, 2012 4:07 pm

        But for Catholics, freedom has always been seen as positive rather than negative (“freedom for” not “freedom from”).

        I see freedom as both. The two are not mutually exclusive. Each reveals a truth.

      • Mark Gordon permalink
        April 18, 2012 10:23 pm

        There is also a direct line from Murray to the Hyannisport Conclave and Cuomo’s Notre Dame speech on abortion. “Personally opposed, but …” has its roots in DH and is deployed by both left and right, from Kennedy to Santorum.

    • April 18, 2012 3:21 pm

      The rapproachment (coming shortly) with the SSPX should make it clear that Dignitatis Humanae is (in one sense) not any sort of dogma, and up for debate as a legitimate question of interpretation among Catholics. It may be time to conclude that it doesn’t work.

      • April 18, 2012 8:36 pm

        But you’re on record elsewhere as saying that in a truly Catholic state capital punishment for heresy or dissent is appropriate! If that’s an ideal, then I’ll take Dignitatis Humanae, with any number of flaws, even if it doesn’t “work”, any day of the week!

      • ctd permalink
        April 19, 2012 11:53 am

        Well, if we are free to choose which documents of Vatican II we want to accept, then the heck with it all.

  11. Ryan permalink
    April 18, 2012 2:23 pm

    The Bishops never miss a chance to engage in Constitution Worship! Just like “arch conservative” Justice Scalia who said in Planned Parenthood v. Casey “If the Constitution allowed for abortion I would be in favor of it” We also have other “traditional Catholics” (even some regrettably on this site) who claim Ron Paul perfectly articulates Catholic Social Teaching.

  12. keith permalink
    April 18, 2012 6:00 pm

    Does it come down to whether its hypocritical for the Church on one hand to criticize Enlightenment Liberalism as corrupt when its ethical tenants are threatened, only to use its language when it can be beneficial to achieving political consensus?

    I would reply, like Kyle, that it is possible to affirm both definitions of freedom and remain in harmony, at least to a certain extent. The issue SSPX has with the document stems from their outright condemnation of everything to do with modernism, but part of the message of Vatican II is that the Church can use modern language and concepts and reconcile them to timeless Catholic dogma. I can’t imagine any of the proponents of the “E.J. Dionne position” (ie “The bishops are simply engaging in partisan politics to manipulate the flock to vote against Obama in Nov.”) wanting to take back the conciliatory tone of Vatican II.

    The Bishops are obviously trying to do what any successful political movement needs to do to succeed, build consensus. By using the language of the enlightenment framers of the constitution they are not affirming an enlightenment world view, they are pointing to the rule book saying “Even by your own rules, you are falling short.”

    To imply that its hypocritical to affirm religious freedom in the American sense, while also condemning some of the concepts which underlay its conception as they relate to other areas, is missing the point. To say that something in corrupt, is not to say it is completely useless and without affirming qualities.

    I’m glad to be a part of a Church that can understand that nuance, and can use the right judgment required to appropriate ideas originating from other ideologies without exchanging or forsaking its own for the right of their use.

    Catholics in America are American citizens. Paul was a Roman citizen and used that privilege to advance the cause of the Church in Rome. The Church has always made the use of the political sphere advocating for justice and proper governance. Granted, there are grave errors, but it is not an error to use the language of the America when the topic at hand is politics in America.

    Would it have been inadmissible for a Catholic priest in communist Poland to affirm aspects of communist ideology, or use its terms to create political consensus even with the overall incompatibility of their world views? Of course. I don’t see why you can’t show the same courtesy to our bishops.

    Scenario: Imagine the US started rounding up all undocumented immigrants and matching them back to Mexico, ala the Trail of Tears, with dehumanizing treatment along the way. Would the Bishops be wrong to try to build consensus among Catholics and all Americans by employing enlightenment notions of freedom and appealing to the law of the land?

    I think part of the reality is that politically left Catholics think the Bishops are making a mountain out of a mole hill, and are simply using dishonest rhetoric to “bash” their political icon. If that’s how you choose to view the bishops, good luck.

    • keith permalink
      April 18, 2012 6:05 pm

      that is “of course not”* I gotta look at these essays more clearly before hitting the submit button, or better yet stop myself from posting essays three times a day.

      But you provoke me to it MM!

    • Mark Gordon permalink
      April 18, 2012 10:27 pm

      Tenets, not “tenants.”

  13. Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
    April 19, 2012 12:07 am

    That is so perfect! Thanks i needed that!

  14. Julia Smucker permalink*
    April 20, 2012 3:19 pm

    I had the same little twilight-zone moment as MM, but I think I see where the irony comes from. The danger side of the postconciliar sense of engagement with the world (cf. the brilliant and much-needed Gaudium et Spes) is when our “world” gets narrowed down to nationalism, hence the profoundly disturbing spots in the USCCB document that verge on civil religion. The extreme sectarianism of the SSPX, ironically, almost shields them from this danger, except for the “original Catholic soul” bit. Of course, their dogmatic rejection of Dignitatis Humanae, as ctd has pointed out above, is equally disturbing. Happy medium between idolatrous “Americanism” and hypocritical Noah’s-Ark sectarianism, anyone?

    On a different note, what has been frequently under-acknowledged is that the bishops are pointing to immigration laws and related social ministries as religious liberty concerns alongside the infamous contraception mandate and a number of other things. There seems to be a tangle of legitimate and misplaced fears in there, and I’m not up to untangling it at the moment, but it at least disproves the accusation that the bishops ONLY care about sexual morality, abortion and birth control.

  15. Agellius permalink
    April 20, 2012 3:30 pm

    Julia writes, “There seems to be a tangle of legitimate and misplaced fears in there, and I’m not up to untangling it at the moment, but it at least disproves the accusation that the bishops ONLY care about sexual morality, abortion and birth control.”

    People think they ONLY care about those things? I would be surprised to learn that the USCCB cares about sexual morality and birth control at all.

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