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  1. Thales permalink
    August 7, 2012 5:16 pm

    Wait a second… did you just argue that Obama is better on the issue of taxpayer funding abortion than Romney? That’s laughable.

    Obama didn’t “make sure” that taxpayer-funded abortion would not be part of the Affordable Care Act; he was forced into the executive order in order not to lose the whole ACA, just like Pelosi was. It’s absurd to think that Pelosi is better on the topic of taxpayer-funded abortion than Romney. I mean, is there any doubt in any one’s minds that if the political climate was different, Pelosi or Sebelius would seek taxpayer-funded abortion? And is there any evidence to think that Obama views the issue any differently than Pelosi? I see none.

    This issue is related to the HHS mandate, where I think Obama’s true colors were revealed: with the mandate, we now know that Obama thinks contraceptives and pre-implantation abortifacients are a necessary part of women’s health — so much so, that it should be covered over a provider’s conscience or religious objection. Can anyone assure me that Obama doesn’t think that outright abortions services are also a necessary part of women’s health? That’s what most terrifies me about another Obama term: the possibility that he adds abortion services to the HHS mandate.

    It’s interesting that MM has health care for point #1, and argues that a vote for Obama is necessary to support the health of millions. I think the HHS mandate reveals another troubling aspect of Obama: I think it wouldn’t bother him in the least if Catholic hospitals and health providers closed because of their objection to the HHS mandate. This is a trend that really disturbs me—the belief that society is better off with Catholic or Christian institutions closed instead of allowed to continue under some accommodation. Personally, I think the health and care of the sick in society would be worse off without Catholic hospitals and charities.

    • Trellis Smith permalink
      August 8, 2012 3:49 am

      I don’t find much basis for your belief that Obama wishes the closure of Catholic hospitals given the accomodation under the HHS mandate. But I never bought the religious freedom argument concerning employer insurance plans, as the employees’ consciences should not be over riddened by its now morally insulated employer.

      There is an element of blackmail in the bishops’ threat to close down hospitals (most of which would turn more secular)and charities to the poor that is rather unbecoming as it uses the poor as collateral damage in its war with the government.

      I tend to agree that a President’s views have little impact on the prevalance of abortion. I have been also very distrustful of the political labels of prochoice or prolife, neither of which refect the true nuances. One’s moral position can square rightly with the Church’s teachings regarding abortion but not agree with the political solutions proposed by the bishops. Most Americans would not feel that more government regulation or law is required.

      • Thales permalink
        August 8, 2012 11:42 am

        I don’t find much basis for your belief that Obama wishes the closure of Catholic hospitals given the accomodation under the HHS mandate.

        But the accommodation is not acceptable to any of the bishops, Sister Keehan, the CHA, and pretty much every other Catholic player in the debate. They’ve explicitly said so.

        It just seems to me that if Obama was serious about wanting Catholic institutions to stay open and provide services, he’d take the objections of Sister Keehan and others seriously and work out an accommodation. But he hasn’t. If he wants to get contraception to women, there are a 1001 other ways to do it without forcing Catholic institutions to participating in paying for it.

        • Kurt permalink
          August 8, 2012 1:29 pm

          There are many Catholic players in the debate who think the accomodation is workable.

          It is also a bit much to say that support for some sort of employee access to contraception means that a person wills the closure of Catholic hospitals. Such a decision would be made by the hospital board of directors and no one else. In the states that already have these laws, not one hospital has closed.

        • Thales permalink
          August 8, 2012 3:58 pm

          There are many Catholic players in the debate who think the accomodation is workable.

          [shrug] It looks to me that most of the major players disagree with you. Again, it’s puzzling to see Obama not try to work out an accommodation.

        • Kurt permalink
          August 8, 2012 8:00 pm

          Then you don’t look very far beyond your own circles. And it has not been the President who has been unwilling to workk out a solution but the other side.

        • Thales permalink
          August 9, 2012 10:10 am

          Then you don’t look very far beyond your own circles. And it has not been the President who has been unwilling to workk out a solution but the other side.

          Every single bishop in America (an astonishing thing considering how varied and contentious bishops can be), Sister Keehan of the CHA, the heads of arguably the two most prominent Catholic universities of the country (Notre Dame and Catholic U), all tell me that the accommodation is unworkable and that Obama hasn’t been as willing as he should be in order to come to a solution. On the other side, the only people telling me that the accommodation is fine and there is no concern is a few Catholic professors at ND and Georgetown (any one else you can tell me about?). For the time being, I’ll trust the opinion of the former group.

        • Kurt permalink
          August 9, 2012 12:16 pm

          I didn’t ask you who you trust, I could guess at that. There are millions of Catholics who think the accommodation is workable and I will start with myself.

          From the bishops I have heard nothing on what would be acceptable to them short of total capitulation by the Administration allowing each and every boss to decide about contraceptive co-pays. Administration officials have asked about the Diocese of Honolulu model, the Honolulu model further modified to give the Catholic agencies clean hands, Title X as the provider, and other proposals. If you have information on a compromise the bishops would sign off on, please inform me. But it seems to me that while the Administration floats various proposals, the bishops are mute as to even the general outlines of a compromise.

          The Administration was played for a fool once by the bishops. The Administration proposed a compromise based on what a diocese had agreed to under a state level mandate. They didn’t criticize it when it was being vetted and took a week after it was publically announced to reject it (a week in which the bishops were being lobbied by wealthy conservative Republicans to not take this campaign issue away from them).

        • Thales permalink
          August 9, 2012 1:42 pm

          I don’t have any specific information about the nature of the communications that the bishops, Sister Keehan, etc. have with the administration, about the nature of a possible compromise acceptable to both sides, or about the nature of the Administration’s proposals presented to the bishops, Sister Keehan, etc. How could I? Not only am I not involved in any type of communications with the Administration, but I’m no expert on this topic and am not fully informed about all the nuances of this topic (and don’t have the time or opportunity to learn all the nuances of the topic). So I’ll defer to those who are informed on this topic. And with all due respect to yourself, I tend think Sister Keehan is more informed on this topic than you and the millions of Catholics with you (who I doubt are very well informed), so I’ll trust her.

        • Kurt permalink
          August 10, 2012 8:26 am

          I tend think Sister Keehan is more informed on this topic than you and the millions of Catholics with you (who I doubt are very well informed), so I’ll trust her.

          She has proposed that the accomodation be modified so that the insurance companies are reimbursed for the costs of the contraceptives they provide by Title X funds. That is perfectly acceptable to me and it has support from within the Administration. The bishops have not responded to it.

          Yes, I trust Sr. Carol as well.

        • Jordan permalink
          August 10, 2012 9:58 am

          Kurt [August 10, 2012 8:26 am]: That is perfectly acceptable to me and it has support from within the Administration. The bishops have not responded to it.

          Kurt, as you have noted previously on another thread, the Church is implicitly campaigning to repeal the legalization of contraception (i.e. Griswold v. Connecticut et al). Why won’t some of the hierarchs just stop their deceit and openly proclaim that their end is to ban the sale of all contraceptives, both barrier and pharmaceutical? Their intransigence against any accommodation with secular federal government, even compromises which can be argued as quite remote cooperation with evil.

          If some bishops desire to impose confessional legislation on a secular republic, let them loudly proclaim so! Until then, I have little respect for the bishops who waffle. If some of the bishops wish to be political partisans, then that is their prerogative. No American bishop is a Lord Spiritual, despite delusions to the contrary.

        • Kurt permalink
          August 11, 2012 4:10 pm

          I don’t generally read conservative political journals like the Register, but even they report in the article you link: “The CHA letter asked HHS administrators to “find a way to provide and pay for these services directly without requiring any direct or indirect involvement of ‘religious employers,’ as broadly defined.”

          Sr. Carol, myself and many in the Administration could live with Title X paying for these services without the involvement of beneficiaries’ bosses. It is the bishops who have put nothing on the table nor responded to anything on the table.

          Jordan, you are 100% correct. What we are really in the midst of is a social debate on legal access to contraception. So far the only thing the bishops have put on the table is letting every boss (secular or not) decide this for his employees.

        • Thales permalink
          August 16, 2012 10:01 am

          It’s the “has support from within the Administration” that I don’t see but which you keep claiming. I haven’t seen any evidence that the Administration is open to changing its “accommodation” (which is unacceptable to Sr. Keehan).

    • August 8, 2012 5:28 am

      @ Thales — I must have missed the part where you defended Romney’s actual record on the provision of abortion services when he was the chief executive of the state of Massachusetts. Like all other Romney apologists, you can support him only by attacking Obama. Can Catholic hospitals and charities provide health care for the 30 million people that Romney has promised to throw back off the health insurance roles again if he is elected? I don’t think so; they never did so before, did they?

      • Thales permalink
        August 8, 2012 11:54 am

        Rodak,

        I condemn unequivocally Romney’s past words, positions, and actions that supported and furthered abortion services. Does that satisfy you?

        Romney is not perfect. Romney is bad on many issues, and was bad on abortion in the past. But when we vote for a politician, we vote for the person who we think will do best on Issue X (and Y, and Z, etc.) in the future, who will support Issue X, who will introduce policies in favor of Issue X, etc. Can we predict with 100% accuracy what a politician will do on X in the future? No, we can’t. But we do try to get a general sense of what the politician will do on X in the future. In order to get this general sense, we can look at a politician’s past actions, his past words, his character as revealed in the past, his current words, his current actions, his promises, his advisors, his supporters — a whole universe of factors.

        Now, if we look only at Issue X and Issue X is “taxpayer/public support for abortions”, who is the best candidate? There are some factors that strike against Romney and some factors that are in favor of Obama. But when looking at the whole universe of factors, I think it’s obvious that Romney is better on “taxpayer/public support for abortions” than Obama. You disagree?

        • August 10, 2012 10:13 am

          To tell you the truth, I don’t think that anything about Romney is “obvious.” If there was ever a man whose finger was always in the wind, it is Romney. I think that his past actions, weighed against his necessity to play to the current GOP, suggests that once elected he will do nothing to take health coverage away from people who can’t get it without “Obamacare.” I don’t think that either Obama or Romney will push for federally-funded abortion.

    • August 8, 2012 10:01 am

      You are 100 percent factually incorrect. Taxpayer funding of direct abortion is prohibited in the Affordable Care Act. The executive order was simply the icing on the cake, to close any loopholes (the NRLC and others who used the Trojan Horse of abortion funding to oppose healthcare reform were – and still are- desperately looking for loopholes). Furthermore, the ACA offers the first attempt at the federal level to limit the ability of pirvate insurance to cover abortion when taxpayer funds are not involved – at least one plan on every exchange must exclude abortion, and states have the ability to ban abortion plans completely. This is an old and and tiresome debate; let’s not re-open it.

      • Kurt permalink
        August 8, 2012 10:41 am

        Thnak you, MM, for setting the record straight. One additional point, Romney seeks to nullify state laws restricting abortion in health insurance policies.

        Another incorrect point (but I think Thales is just misusing or misunderstanding the term), it is not the providers who are claiming a conscience or religious objection to contraception, as they all currently provide it upon request of the plan sponsor, but some wish to give bosses the right to deny contraception if they assert they have an objection to their employees using contraception.

      • Thales permalink
        August 8, 2012 11:36 am

        MM,

        I think we’re talking past each other because you’re misunderstanding my point.

        First, it sounded to me like you were arguing that Obama is better than Romney when it comes to the issue of taxpayer-funded abortion in general—in other words, if a tax-and-abortion issue comes up in the future, a policy or position coming from Obama would be better than a policy or position coming from Romney on this issue. That’s what I find laughable.

        Second, I know the executive order covers taxpayer-funded abortion in the ACA. I’m not talking about that; I’m talking about the HHS mandate on private insurers. It’s not clear to me that abortions can’t be added to the HHS mandate list of things private insurers have to cover (which doesn’t involve the prohibition of public tax money to abortions). I’ve seen commentary speculating that the HHS could add abortion services to the list (after all, they’ve added pre-implantation abortifacients to the list). If you can point to an argument that abortion can’t be covered by the HHS mandate, I’d be grateful, because I haven’t yet seen that argument made.

        • August 8, 2012 1:52 pm

          Thales, why are you going down that rabbit hole, looking for the deepest plots and the murkiest loopholes? Why did nobody take the same position with Bush’s healthcare law (which actually is more favorable to abortion funding)? And why are you obsessing about this issue and igoring the bigger issues – not just on the right to life but on the broader issues listed in the post? To take the most obvious: Romney’s solution to the HHS contraception mandate is not to remove the HHS contraception mandate, it is to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act and doom millions.

        • Kurt permalink
          August 8, 2012 1:54 pm

          I’ve seen commentary speculating that the HHS could add abortion services to the list

          Well, it is BS. HHS could consider services covered by all plans (of which abortion is specifically not included) to be preventive and therefore exempt from co-pays. I can’t disprove that HHS couldn’t throw out any reasonable definition of preventive services. But they still have to choose from an already covered service to exempt it from co-pays. The fact you’ve seen commentary just shows that certain elements are willing to be objectively untruthful.

          after all, they’ve added pre-implantation abortifacients to the list

          I don’t’ know where you heard that one, but your source crossed the line to assert a G-D lie. No, the Obama Administration did not “add” abortifacients to the list. If you read the ACA and the HHS regs it reads to include contraception and specifically excludes abortifacients. Your problem is that under the Bush Administration, certain pharmacuticals were classified as contraceptives that you consider abortifacients.

        • Thales permalink
          August 8, 2012 4:32 pm

          MM,

          -Sorry, I know nothing about Bush’s healthcare law. If it supported and furthered abortion services, I condemn it.

          -Thales, why are you going down that rabbit hole, looking for the deepest plots and the murkiest loopholes? And why are you obsessing about this issue and igoring the bigger issues – not just on the right to life but on the broader issues listed in the post?

          Heh. Just trying to keep you honest. It doesn’t help your argument when you make exaggerated claims, or when you ignore legitimate concerns, about Obama. Your argument is weakened, you’re not as persuasive, and it’s easier for someone “not on your side” to dismiss your post out-of-hand. Your argument is stronger if you concede that Obama is not as good as Romney on one issue (say, public support for abortion), and then argue that the relative strength of another issue (say, the importance of keeping the ACA) outweighs the first issue.

          As for where I stand, I’m not certain that the repeal of the ACA would “doom millions.” (Certainly, healthcare for all is absolutely necessary and something has to be done about to fix the current system. If we were creating a system from scratch, I wonder whether state-level single payer systems would be better than the ACA or a federal-level single payer.) I’m open to be persuaded that the common good would be hurt by the repeal of ACA. But as it stands now, it seems to me that the harm of not having the ACA (i.e., our current status quo) is not so large as to outweigh what I think is the grave harm of the severe violation of religious freedom and the creeping notion that Christian institutions and individuals are not entitled to adequate religious accommodations to allow them to participate in the public sphere without violating their principles. I think you would say that the latter evil, which the ACA fosters, is outweighed by the evil of not having the ACA. I’m not yet convinced.

        • Thales permalink
          August 8, 2012 4:36 pm

          Kurt,
          No cursing is necessary. We’ve already had this discussion before and I’ve already made my case on this blog — you can go back and see all the evidence I cited. I’m talking about ella, a drug which can prevent a post-fertilization embryo from implanting, and which many medical professionals call a pre-implantation abortifacient. You disagree with that definition, and that’s fine.

        • Kurt permalink
          August 8, 2012 8:12 pm

          It has nothing to do with my disagreement. Obama did not “add abortion to the list” . You can look at the list in of preventative health care services and abortifacients appear nowhere on the list.

          I know you and some others have issues with the discernment the previous Administration made on this. Regulatory decisions that contradict objective facts can be appealed to the Courts. In the years since, no one with your view has had the guts to go to court. I would be interested in an explantion why.

    • RD Ron permalink
      August 30, 2012 12:24 pm

      So…. I am a pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-family, pro-self defense, pro-personal responsibility CATHOLIC, who was taught the LOVE your neighbor is a command that was given to me not to the US Governement, I have been taught to tithe sense I was a child. My family ran a food pantry (not on the dole), I have worked with the poor in this country and oversees?

      Does the fact that I don’t think that most of the social justice concerns on your list should be taken care of by the federal government, that does them badly, often immorally, usually inefficiently, and most importantly impersonally and with love, make me a better or worse Catholic than Joe Biden, who is for abortion, gay marriage, contraception, and government run welfare, and who gave $369 to charity last year?

      Oh, BTW, I am a Catholic Priest as well, and a poor sinner, no I am not tooting my horn, my point is that Catholics are bound in conscience to oppose intrinsic evil, and to do good, how you do good however is open to interpretation. I think your statist approach kills souls, and will kill our economy, and in the end hurt the poor more than doing nothing. You think my grass roots approach to charity is inefficient and going to leave people with out a safety net. Fine, we can agree to disagree, but YOU CAN NOT pretend that the Church teaches that social justice must be done this way, because she does not. Organizing the secular world is the legitimate competence of the laity, guided by conscience which must be informed by the principles taught but the church. Show me a PRINCIPLE, that the Church teaches, that someone like me does not take seriously in my moral life, and the we can have a discussion. One such principle that your side regularly disregards, aside from subsidarity which of course is the crux of this issue, is that Christian’s have a moral duty to obey just laws. The constitution is just such a law, which sets up a framework for the governance of our nation and in no way envisions Federally funded health care. I have no problem with you thinking that is the proper response to solidarity, but it is immoral to force it on people contrary to the laws of the land, and that goes for every other social welfare program, as well as corporate welfare, etc.

      This or course is equally true for both parties when it comes to the illegal and unethical wars they have been getting us into since the sixties… ACTIONS are louder than words however, and although the Democrats may pay lip service to peace, their actions make them in NO WAY better than the REPUBLICANs, they just lie to you about it to make you feel good…

  2. August 7, 2012 6:17 pm

    @MM — I find your assessment to be fair and reasonably thorough. As a Christian, I believe that one’s entire political focus should be on finding collective ways to aid the disadvantaged among us, regardless of whether that disadvantage is economic, health-related, or socio-cultural in origin. And I wholly agree that health care, lack thereof, is the greatest ongoin scandal in this selfish, rich, hubristic nation. And I agree that Obama’s attitude in that area puts Romney’s to shame. A Mormon really should know better; they take care of their own.

  3. Ryan permalink
    August 8, 2012 12:53 am

    Why must it always be either or? I find both candidates absolutely unacceptable and will not be voting.

  4. August 8, 2012 1:10 am

    ”It is entirely alien to me. It frequently uses the language of Christianity, but it is a foreign Christianity…”

    But it’s a very AMERICAN Christianity, Minion, and it’s profoundly, intrinsically heretical. Because it’s actually a similacrum, a parody, a mutation of orthodox Christianity, it comes as close to being the “Antichrist” of the modern world as anything I could imagine possibly would.

    I said this to Julia HERE.

    Obama is as bad, as debased and as evil a candidate as Romney is, just as our deluded right-wing Catholic pope-idolators and fetus-fetishists in America say he is—he’s as anti-life as the intelligent American Catholic “whole-clothers” insist, too. But, unlike Romney, he does not wish to pursue Christian-Zionist jihad on the behalf of a racist, apartheid state that MOST of the West now accurately perceive as a colonialist hold-over, and MOST of the Muslim world now see, accurately, as a portent of neo-liberal economic colonialism and imperialist retrenchment.

    I really wish more Americans were aware of how public sentiment in the part of the world I live in is so profoundly different from what their propagandizing media is telling them about it.

    They really need to read articles like THIS ONE , and I will bet you dollars to doughnuts that they are well aware of these changes in world perceptions in the Vatican, whose diplomatic cadres can probably run circles around the U.S. State Department. I am also willing to bet that these changes in world opinion will be the deciding factors in the next papal conclave, to choose a successor to the inept Pope Ratzinger—and not the American Catholic “culture wars.”

  5. Jordan permalink
    August 8, 2012 2:27 am

    Increasingly I am convinced that a number of the clergy and laity of American Catholicism desire to fill the vacuum once occupied notably by the Episcopal Church before the peri-Vietnam era. That is, some American Catholics wish for our Church to become a moral voice through a financial and social upward mobility of the institution — to become a institution “at prayer” with what a good number perceive as the party of the wealthy (and by consequence in a strongly capitalistic society, perceived by some as more influential).

    The HHS mandate dispute is just an outlier for a greater trend. I strongly suspect that the new political gamebook for some “conservative” Catholics calls first for the establishment of American Catholicism and influential Catholics as capable capitalists. Only then can the American Catholic institution and members secure lasting conscience protections through legislation and clout in the public square.

    As a committed social democrat, I am certainly appalled by this development. In my view, American Catholicism must stay committed to a market economy which balances the material dignity of citizens with innovative commerce. And yet, I also realize that institutions wax and wane in prosperity and influence.

    Pray especially for the bishops. I have learned well that it is not charitable or wise to label the hierarchy as craven or selfish. I suspect that many of the more “liberal” bishops struggle on the one hand with the temptation for material power as a means to protect institutional liberty, and the call of the Great Commission on the other.

    • Kurt permalink
      August 8, 2012 11:02 am

      Jordan,

      Actually, I think you are wrong that what you describe is conscious desire. While you perfectly describe what is happening in the Catholic Church in the USA, classism is so deep that I think there is no awareness that actions are leading to this.

      We have dioceses whose entire young adult ministry program is college chaplaincies and so-named groups for “young professionals.” There is no program for the 75% of Catholics who do not go to college. Industrial chaplaincies are in the hands of old men and few will be continued when the priest retires or dies. In oppositions to the Church’s past support for labor, some bishops have singled out workers to criticize their participation in the political process. The Catholic faith is in a free fall of decline among working class Americans and in one generation the white working class has gone from the most Catholic part of American society to the most secular.

      The whole contraception fight is centered round a theory of the duty of the boss to enforce morality upon his employees. On other issues as well (gay issues for example) we see the Church giving great deference for the rights of bosses over their workers on moral questions. I assume soon the Church will be asking for a return of the home visits that Henry Ford was famous for.

      And we reform the language of the Mass using complicated words without even a 5 minute review (let only any comprehensive study) as to the pastoral implications for working class Catholics).
      The Catholic Church is on the road to resemble demographically the Episcopal Church of the 19th century – the church of the wealthy establishment.

      • Smith permalink
        August 8, 2012 11:52 am

        In my experiences I find the Church even fails to really establish an adequate outreach to college students, at least at the public institutions I have attended. So I agree the Church needs to be much more involved with the working class, but also pretty much all sectors of society.

        Your liturgy comments are absurd, however, only makes the working class sound too incompetent and stupid to figure out a few words.

        • Kurt permalink
          August 8, 2012 1:57 pm

          Smith,

          There are words in the new text that I am too incompetent and stupid to figure out, so I assume I am not alone.

          More to the point, my work includes writing material from everything from congressional testimony to shop floor fliers. Different styles do need to used to reach differentgroups of people. I didn’t say the new text was inappropriate. I said there should have been some study of the pastoral implications for wroking class Anglophones.

      • digbydolben permalink
        August 8, 2012 7:19 pm

        You are right, but what you are leaving out is that the American Church will very soon be in schism with the World Church. At the next papal conclave, the winners will be the cardinals of the Third World. As theologically and as socially “conservative” as they are, they are POLITICALLY and ECONOMICALLY of the “left”–“liberation theology” has actually made a come-back at the tail end of the papacy of Pope Wojtylwa (who, at the end of his life, was calling the societies of liberal, consumerist capitalism the “cultures of death”) and all during the papacy of Pope Ratzinger. Someone like Oscar Andres Rodriguez Cardinal Maradiaga is more representative of the modern universal Church than any member of the National Council of Catholic Bishops. You ought to look up what HE thinks of the policies of the United States of America!

        • Jordan permalink
          August 9, 2012 1:58 am

          digbydolben [August 8, 2012 7:19 pm]: Agreed. It’s quite interesting how the most probable election of a non-European and non-“western” Pope at the next conclave will, in some respects, present a more economically flavored division between American and world Catholicism. I suspect that certain papabile, such as Malcolm Cdl. Ranjith of Colombo, might follow along Pope Benedict XVI’s focus on conservative liturgical and theological interests over a economically progressive message. Then again, even Pope Benedict has publicly praised social democracy and has reiterated Pope John Paul II’s opposition to American wars of global influence. This precedent has been dismissed by not a few theoconservative American Catholics as nigh irrelevant to American ‘culture wars’. Rather, I would say that the American theocons purposefully ignore the economic ideological wisdom of the world Church.

          As an ex-liturgical fundamentalist, I should also note that the Extraordinary Form and a highly “tridentinized” Ordinary Form (the ‘Reform of the Reform’) figure prominently in many American Catholic theocon cliques. There is a strong notion that liturgical orthopraxis, and not social justice, constitute the primary conduit for the renovation of society. I also suspect that the election of a non-Ratzingerian Pope next time will cast this orthopraxis in a very strange, and out-of-touch, light against the world Church.

        • Smith permalink
          August 9, 2012 5:02 am

          There will not be a schism (at least not for the reasons you laid out), but it will be interesting.

  6. August 8, 2012 7:52 am

    In order to define The Catholic prospective on culture, society, and politics, you must begin at The Beginning, by recognizing that God did not create us and order us according to sexual attraction as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, polysexual…, which would sexual objectify the human person in direct violation of His own Commandment regarding lust and the sin of adultery, but rather, from the moment of our conception, when we were brought into being, God created us in His Image, equal in Dignity, while being complementary as male and female, and ordered us to live in Loving relationship as husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters…

    • Kurt permalink
      August 8, 2012 10:44 am

      when we were brought into being, God created us in His Image, equal in Dignity, while being complementary as male and female, and ordered us to live in Loving relationship as husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters…

      That certainly is the Protestant argument against clerical celibacy. Stated word for word as they would.

    • digbydolben permalink
      August 8, 2012 10:53 am

      Catholicism has never been anti-science, not since Aquinas reconciled Aristotle with Christ, but what YOU are proposing is what modern science, including psychiatry–and I mean CLINICAL psychiatry, not the bogus “social science” of “psychology”–is more and more telling us, is patently false: yes, you are right; there IS a “yin” and “yang”–a male/female dichotomy that is complementary, but what you and all the other reactionary romantics of of “Theology of the Body” are refusing to see is that that “complementariness” exists, quite often, if not usually, WITHIN individuals, and that the Christian evangel is just as much a command to live together fraternally, as same-sex lovers, as it is to live together in the sometimes quite arbitrary duality you propose. In fact, the ORTHODOX Christian admonition, the one JESUS CHRIST enjoined, and which is so conveniently forgotten by modern–particularly American–Catholic “family idolators” is to live together in love, but as “EUNUCHS” “for the Kingdom’s sake.”

  7. Julia Smucker permalink*
    August 8, 2012 9:19 am

    MM, I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said here, but I still can’t quite get there with Obama, for the same reasons you mention. Honestly, I wish I could. I’m as scared by the prospect of a Romney presidency as you are, and when I hear Obama speak, I want to like him, maybe because I too still find his intelligence refreshing. But as you say, there really hasn’t been much practical difference between his foreign policy and Bush’s, and that to me puts him beyond the margins of acceptability. For a minute you almost made me want to hold my nose and vote for him anyway, but I can’t get past all those assassinations and drones – which I am quite sure Democrats would be up in arms about if all this were happening under a Republican president (rightly so, of course, but they are wrong to turn a blind eye to the same evils committed by one of their own). Especially since he signed that NDAA authorizing indefinite detentions (why is nobody talking about that?!), I just can’t bring myself to do it.

    • August 8, 2012 10:04 am

      These are all valid reasons to oppose him. I would only say that on pretty much all grounds, the alternative would be far worse. We have a tendency to idealize the act of voting in a democracy. As a student of Church history, I’m well aware that the Church has gotten into bed with some pretty unsavoury leaders over the centuries. The standard must simply be: who will do the least harm to the common good today? And in all others, get directly involved to change things.

      • August 10, 2012 1:23 pm

        As a student of Church history, I’m well aware that the Church has gotten into bed with some pretty unsavoury leaders over the centuries.

        And this has greatly weakened the Church’s voice, and that of he followers, even to this day.

        That we have made a mistake and survived does not mean we should continue to do so.

        I’ve eaten a number of unhealthy meals in my life, and not suffered significant health problems. That doesn’t mean I should continue to do so.

        The standard must simply be: who will do the least harm to the common good today?

        I think we need to demand better than that, or else we’re never going to get it.

        • Kurt permalink
          August 10, 2012 2:21 pm

          John,

          You are right. And we need to understand we a blessed by being able to freely select out leaders (at least most of us; I’m still left out). Pickign between Obama and Romney looks pretty good compared to having a strongman imposed upon us.

    • digbydolben permalink
      August 8, 2012 10:56 am

      Excuse me, Julia, but Obama is in favour of DIPLOMACY as an active ingredient in foreign policy, and the Republicans, patently and stridently are not. Any practicioner of foreign policy–any diplomat,and that includes those in the Vatican–will tell you that that’s a HUGE difference in foreign policy. Almost everyone in the Muslim world is now coming to grips with the idea that the election of Romney means WAR.

      • Smith permalink
        August 8, 2012 11:55 am

        Digby,

        Can you point out some sources to back up your last comment? I wouldn’t be surprised that the Middle East isn’t thrilled with the idea of Romney, but what you said seems far more serious.

        • digbydolben permalink
          August 8, 2012 7:21 pm

          Read the editorial pages of al Jazeera, available on line, and which are echoed by the opinion pieces of the English-language press here in India.

      • Julia Smucker permalink*
        August 8, 2012 2:55 pm

        Diplomacy like in Libya?

        Or how about telling that to the thousand-plus Pakistanis killed by drone strikes, any number of whom are noncombatant civilians considered guilty by location until (posthumously) proven innocent? Obama’s being a Democrat does not make him any less of a hawk.

        I’m not saying Romney would be any better; he’d quite possibly be worse as far as Iran is concerned. But I can’t excuse Obama on that basis. Indeed, his signing of the NDAA while promising not to apply it under his own administration strikes me as downright manipulative, playing to the fear that his would-be successor would have even less regard for human life and dignity than he has shown by such an action. Either that or it was simply a cowardly concession to political pressure to do what he knew was the wrong thing.

        • digbydolben permalink
          August 8, 2012 7:06 pm

          Well, Iran and Syria ARE the locus of the looming geo-political catastrophe, because Russia and China are NOT going to sit idly by and allow the Americans and the Europeans to take Assad and his evil regime out. Also, if you lived in my part of the world, perhaps you’d better appreciate what kind of a rogue nation Pakistan is. I’m NOT in support of what Obama does with his drones, but he’s probably in a more desperate quandary about what to do with a country whose intelligence forces cannot be controlled by a civilian government and which give active support to terrorist murderers inside India and which are closely linked to the Taliban. It is widely known here, that Musharaff gave the green light to them to murder Benazir Bhutto by standing her security down in Rawalpindi.
          I repeat: the looming catastrophe in Syria and Iran has all the potential of spreading rapidly to Lebanon, to Iraq, and then to Pakistan and India. I live in Mumbai. You should see the MILES of oil tankers queued up in Mumbai harbor, off-loading this country’s petrol. If the Gulf of Hormuz were closed for even one or two days, on account of Iranian retaliation against a nuclear strike by the berserk Netanyahu regime in Jerusalem, the economy of India would go into free-fall immediately. You, Julia, have no idea of what kinds of multiple crises Obama is dealing with, probably on a daily basis, and he’s dealing with them in a cold–admittedly brutal–but rational way. The modern Republican Party, were it in power, would deal with them in such a way as their “bloody-shirt,” demagogic tactics indicate.

        • Smith permalink
          August 9, 2012 5:09 am

          Even if all that we’re true Digby, it does not justify his actions. As for the Republicans your probably right, but again Obama’s actions have still been deeply offensive and immoral.

    • digbydolben permalink
      August 11, 2012 12:50 pm

      Obama on civil liberties and terrorism is bad, but he’s not so bad as you “conservative” Catholics are saying he is:

      http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/jul/12/obama-and-terror-hovering-questions/?page=1

      And Romney would be far, far worse.

      • Julia Smucker permalink*
        August 11, 2012 3:35 pm

        Who are you calling “conservative”?

        • digbydolben permalink
          August 11, 2012 10:57 pm

          Respond to the article, please. You really, really need to read it.

        • Julia Smucker permalink*
          August 13, 2012 11:15 am

          Fine. This article is not giving Obama a free pass either. The author is right on when he says, “Koh, Brennan, and Obama may well deserve our trust, but that’s not enough; the process needs to be one that would be seen as legitimate even if the decision-makers were John Yoo, David Addington, and George W. Bush.” If making a better effort than Bush to reconcile draconian foreign policy with rule of law still means launching military action without congressional approval, ordering citizen assassinations without due process and drone strikes without imminent threat, and authorizing indefinite detentions without trial, that is far, far from enough. These things are a moral outrage no matter who is in office.

  8. Kurt permalink
    August 8, 2012 9:45 am

    Thales raises his suspicions and assumptions and guesses about the President. Looking at what suspicions and guesses and assumptions one could entertain about Romney and his past support for abortion rights (and current position to nullify state laws restricting abortion in health insurance polcies), it seems every Catholic is free to judge the two candidates on their gut feelings. Nothing wrong with that so long as it is evenly applied. So let’s not have any silly talk about how it is non-negotiable to accept at face value a candidate’s stated position on abortion. Catholics can look at candidate’s records, policy statements, personal characteristics, and how the present themselves.

    In the end, Catholics are under no obligation to follow some formula invented by others to justify their choice. When a Catholic discerns his gut tells him who to vote for, no earthly authority or person has any right to question his faith or principles.

    • digbydolben permalink
      August 8, 2012 10:58 am

      I agree with this, but the voice of this aged–and well-informed, and much traveled–“gut” tells me that the election of a Republican President in the modern geo-political theatre, means WAR.

      • Kurt permalink
        August 8, 2012 12:37 pm

        DD —

        We must have had the same breakfast because my gut tells me that as well. Not only war, but based on Romney’s recent performance, a war that the USA will be defeated in. That should worry both the peaceniks on the left and the national security centerists.

  9. Thales permalink
    August 8, 2012 12:11 pm

    MM,

    A few other criticisms:

    -In your “Abortion” reason, you ignored Obama being worse on the Mexico City policy, federal funding of Planned Parenthood, human embryo stem cell research, abortion restriction legislation, and abortion-conscience-clause legislation. Now you might think that these cons are outweighed by other pros (or the cons aren’t even cons to begin with), but your argument is weakened if you just ignore them.

    -Also, in your “Abortion” reason, you dismiss the notion of Supreme Court appointments. I just wanted to remind you that it has made a difference in the past: the partial-birth abortion case is proof. As for “the sequence of radical decisions against the common good,” what cases are you talking about?

    -I really don’t follow the logic of your “Gay Marriage” reason, for why Romney is worse than Obama on the topic of gay marriage from the perspective of a Catholic voter.

  10. Jordan permalink
    August 8, 2012 5:21 pm

    Thales [August 8, 2012 4:32 pm]: I think you would say that the latter evil, which the ACA fosters, is outweighed by the evil of not having the ACA. I’m not yet convinced.

    While I am sympathetic to the basic notion of conscientious exemption from legislation, the Church must realize that any socialization of medicine will result in some proximate relationship to what it considers to be objective evil (i.e. Catholics paying for others’ contraception.) I am willing to accept a certain degree of relation to evil in order to insure more Americans. The only way to not assent to any proximate degree of evil is, as you have noted, to completely reject ACA. I respect your viewpoint even if it is the latter. However, I am convinced that a point arrives where perhaps you and I could agree to a socialized program.

    Consider the following solution to the “HHS issue” (highly improbable, but politically possible). Congress passes, and Obama signs, a bill which issues a voucher (debit card?) to every woman of majority age according to the state in which she lives. This voucher would cover the state average cost for a yearly supply of a generic pharmaceutical contraception. States would administer the voucher, but the funding would come from a combination of state and federal taxes (perhaps payroll) and (hypothetically) the individual mandate. Women who do not need, want, or object to, contraception use would simply not use the entitlement.

    The Pill would still be available only by prescription. A doctor or NP would still need to write a script. Catholic physicians and physicians working for Catholic institutions could simply opt not to write scripts for the Pill.

    All persons who work, including devout Catholics, would have an infinitesimal participation in evil (public subsidization of contraception). Even so, no Catholic institution would be required to directly subsidize contraception through insurance premium contributions.

    Is this a morally acceptable means to preserve ACA and the relative liberty of the Church and devoutly Catholic individuals?

  11. Josh DeCuir permalink
    August 9, 2012 8:56 am

    With respect to financial reform, you are aware, of course, that the “too big to fail” banks are now bigger than they were before the passage of Dodd-Frank? Furthermore, you are aware, I am sure, that Dodd-Frank is so hopelessly complicated – most of it is not yet even in place – that it will only drive bigger banks because the regulatory costs forced on smaller banks will ensure that they cannot compete. What Dodd-Frank accomplishes, then, is nothing less than the institutionalization of Too Big To Fail. If you really want financial reform, surely you would be supporting Jon Huntsman’s call to simply break up the banks & re-impose limits on their size, thereby ensuring the most effective “regulator” keeps them from getting too big: competition.

    One factual clarification: the “de-regulation” of the financial industry didn’t happen in the ’80s under Reagan; a simple search would tell you it happened in the good ole ’90s under Clinton, Bob Rubin & Larry Summers.

  12. Rick Garnett permalink
    August 10, 2012 11:03 am

    MM — a few quick thoughts (not as detailed, I confess, as your post!) in response, at Mirror of Justice: http://mirrorofjustice.blogs.com/mirrorofjustice/2012/08/a-quick-response-to-a-few-pro-obama-arguments-at-vox-nova.html

    Best, Rick

    • August 10, 2012 1:34 pm

      Thanks Rick – I appreciate these points, which are certainly fair and substantive!

  13. Rat-biter permalink
    August 10, 2012 5:38 pm

    If US Catholics suppose, believe, or are convinced that voting for Obama is sinful – what alternatives have they, other than abstaining ? Are there any ?

  14. Bill Kurtz permalink
    August 10, 2012 9:46 pm

    Thales asked about “radical decisions against the common good” by our “pro-life” Supreme Court justices. How about Citizens United?
    It’s interesting, to say the least, how several justices aren’t willing to go against the Roe v. Wade precedent (less than 40 years old), but were willing to overturn 100 years of precedent in Citizens United. Shows where their priorities are.

  15. Rick Garnett permalink
    August 11, 2012 12:45 pm

    Mr. Kurtz — with all due respect, the claim (often made, I understand) that Citizens United overruled “100 years of precedent” is not true. The Austin case, overruled in Citizens United, was decided in 1990 (and had become an outlier). And, it is also not true that the GOP-appointed justices who voted to overrule Austin “aren’t willing to go against the Roe v. Wade precedent.” At least two of the five have voted to overrule Roe (in Casey), and all five of them — even Kennedy — have voted to uphold *every* restriction on abortion to reach the Supreme Court since Casey was decided. It has not been necessary, in any of the Court’s since Casey, to overrule Roe in order to uphold the regulation at issue. Finally, the “priority” that Citizens United reveals is the priority of the freedom of speech — for unions, citizens groups, tribes, churches, non-profits, etc.

    • Bill Kurtz permalink
      August 11, 2012 9:20 pm

      Mr. Garnett, I’m referring to the Tillman Act, passed in 1907, which banned corporate contributions in federal political races. Clarence Thomas noted this in public remarks defending the Citizens United decision as a blow against racism (!) since the 1907 law’s sponsor, Sen. Ben Tillman was a vociferous segregationist. Are you saying the Tillman Act still applies?
      As for the priority of Citizens United, it’s obviously pure Hamiltonianism – “those who own the country ought to govern it”.

  16. August 13, 2012 10:36 am

    It’s clear that we are voting for the oligarchy either way:

    http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2012/08/11/the-next-election-high-stake-outcomes-based-non-issues/

    The Next Election: High Stake Outcomes Based on Non-issues

    Paul Craig Roberts

    The election of the next puppet president of the “world’s only superpower” is about two and one-half months off, and what are the campaign issues? There aren’t any worthy of the name.

    Romney won’t release his tax returns, despite the fact that release is a customary and expected act. Either the non-release is a strategy to suck in Democrats to make the election issue allegations that Romney is another mega-rich guy who doesn’t pay taxes, only to have the issue collapse with a late release that shows enormous taxes paid, or Romney’s tax returns, as a candidate who advocates lower taxes for the rich, don’t bear scrutiny.

    What are Romney’s issues? The candidate says that his first act will be to repeal Obamacare, a program that Romney himself first enacted as governor of Massachusetts. This will cost Romney political contributions from the insurance industry, which is thankful for the 50 million new private insurance policies that Obamacare, written not by Obama but by the private insurance companies, provides at public expense. It is not to the insurance industry’s benefit to have a single payer system like other western countries.

    Romney’s other issue is to blame Obama for America’s unemployment caused by the offshoring of the US economy by Republican corporate CEOs. In order to enhance their compensation packages, the Republican CEOs sent millions of America’s best jobs to India, China and elsewhere. The lower cost of labor in these offshore sites means much higher earnings, which drives up share prices for shareholders and drives up performance bonuses for management, while wrecking US employment, GDP growth and tax base and driving up the deficit in the balance of payments.

    America’s main economic problem–the relocation of the US economy offshore–is not a campaign issue. Therefore, the US economy’s main problem will remain unaddressed.
    (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/aug/10/illinois-workers-bain-outsourcing)

    The real issues can nowhere be found in the campaigns or in the media. There is no mention of the Bush/Obama destruction of the US Constitution and its legal protections of citizens from arbitrary government power. Due process no longer exists for anyone who the executive branch suspects of being connected in any way to Washington’s chosen enemies. US citizens can be thrown into dungeons for life on suspicion alone without any evidence ever being presented to a court, and they can be executed any place on earth, along with whoever happens to be with them at the time, on suspicion alone.

    Last May federal district court judge Katherine Forrest ruled that indefinite detention of US citizens is unconstitutional and issued an injunction against the Obama regime using this police state measure in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Obama regime gave the federal judge the finger. During the week of August 6-10 the Justice (sic) Department’s Brownshirt lawyers refused to tell Judge Forrest if the Obama regime is complying with the injunction. The position of the Obama regime is: “we are above the law and do not answer to federal courts.” One would think that Romney would be all over this, but he isn’t because he wants the power himself. (http://rt.com/usa/news/ndaa-injunction-tangerine-detention-376/print/)

    The Obama police state will shop around and find a federal appeals court dominated by Republican Brownshirt judges and get Judge Forrest’s ruling overturned. All those Republican federal judges we had to have to save us from liberal Democrats will now complete our deliverance to a total police state where all power rests in an unaccountable executive branch.This is what the Republican Federalist Society has wanted for years, and they are on the verge of obtaining it.

    That the United States has degenerated into a police state in the short period of ten years should be the campaign issue. Who would ever have thought such a thing possible. Yet, there is no mention of the destruction of the rule of law in the name of a hoax “war on terror.”

    The Bush regime created the propaganda that “they (Muslims) hate us for our freedom and democracy,” but how can Muslims hate us for what does not exist? The arbitrary unaccountable power asserted by the executive branch is totally incompatible with freedom and democracy. Yet, neither Obama nor Romney makes this an issue. And neither does the media.

    There is no war on terror. There is war on countries that are not Washington’s puppet states. Unaccountable Washington is currently slaughtering thousands of Muslims in a variety of countries and is preparing Syria as its next holocaust. Washington, taking advantage of the splits between Sunnis and Shi’ites and between Islamists and secular Muslims, has organized a rebellion in Syria in order to overthrow a government that is not a puppet of Washington and Israel.

    Among the foreigners streaming into Syria to overthrow the secular state in which Sunni and Shia Arabs have lived peacefully, are the Islamist extremists that Washington has squandered $6 trillion fighting for 11 years. The extremists are on Washington’s side. They want the secular Syrian government overthrown, because it is not an Islamic government.

    This suits Washington’s policy, so now the taxes extracted from hard-pressed Americans are flowing to the Islamists that Americans have been fighting.

    Speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations on August 8, Obama’s national security aid John Brennan defended the diversion of American taxpayers’ money to the outside forces Washington has organized, financed and provided with military weapons to overthrow the government of Syria. John Brennan said, with a straight face, that the Obama administration is careful that the financial and military aid does not go to the rebels affiliated with al Qaeda. Brennan has to make this claim, because the Obama regime, being in cahoots with al Qaeda, is in violation of its own NDAA and is subject to arrest and indefinite detention.

    Does anyone believe that Washington, determined to overthrow the Syrian government, is refusing to arm the most effective part of the fighting force that is involved? Is there anyone so naive not to know that military aid to “rebels” is fungible?

    Having suffered damage to its superpower reputation by being fought to a standoff by a few thousand al Qaeda in Iraq and Afghanistan, Washington learned that the trick was to employ al Qaeda not as an enemy but as an ally.

    The test case was in Libya, where the US-al Qaeda alliance worked to overthrow the Libyan government. The advantage for Washington is that Libya is now beset by warring factions and is no longer a country that could get in Washington’s way.

    Libya is the roadmap for Syria.

    Syria made its mistake when it thought it could pacify Washington by taking Washington’s side in the first war against Iraq, thus confirming for Washington that Arabs are incapable of sticking together and thus are an easy mark to be overthrown.

    If Syria falls, Washington will have murdered yet another nation. But this is not a part of the presidential debate. Both candidates agree that Washington should prevail in establishing a puppet state in Syria. Even Amnesty International has been suborned and lends its influence to the demonization of the Syrian government. Only the US is moral, indispensable, virtuous, humane, a light upon mankind. By definition, any opponent chosen by Washington is debauched, evil, sinful, a country that suppresses dissent and tortures its opponents, something Washington would never do, being, of course, the “light unto the world.”

    Unlike the 1957 plot by British Prime Minister Harald Macmillan and US President Dwight Eisenhower to foment an “uprising” in Syria and assassinate the Syrian leadership (see http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=32254), the Obama administration cloaks its intervention in humanitarian language, as do the rebels while they murder and execute civilians who support the Assad government. The presstitute western media describes the mayhem and murder as “humanitarian intervention,” and the brainwashed western public reposes in its moral superiority.

    After Syria is destroyed, the last independent country in the region is Iran. Iran has also been weakened, not by Washington’s embargo, an act of war in itself, but by Washington’s financing of the “Green Revolution.” Iran now has a fifth column within itself.

    Iran, the second oldest country after China, is now surrounded by 40 or more US military bases and is confronted by four US fleets in its own Persian Gulf.

    There is a large number of nominal Muslims interested only in money and power who are working with Washington to overthrow the Syrian and Iranian governments.

    If Iran falls, with both Russia and China surrounded by US missiles and military bases, the world as we know it will enter its final stage. Will Russia and China, having sacrificed all their buffers without a fight, surrender and be content to be ruled by puppet governments, or will they resist?

    Don’t expect the packaged political campaign of the next couple of months to deal with any significant issue. Americans are oblivious of their fate, and so apparently is the rest of the world.

    The selection of the next president of the US will depend on one thing alone–which of the two candidates financed by the ruling private oligarchy has the most effective propaganda.

    Whether you vote Republican or Democrat, the oligarchs will win.

    • digbydolben permalink
      August 13, 2012 7:53 pm

      You know what? I pretty much agree with all of this, but I just want to stave off Armageddon for as long as possible. America itself is, indeed, a lost cause, but Armageddon will come later rather than sooner with Obama at the helm.

      • August 14, 2012 1:52 pm

        Losing one’s soul is not worth gaining a little more time before the Judgment. Voting for either Obama or Romney is voting for evil, pure and simple.

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