Tuesday, October 30, 2012

An appeal to Catholic Democrats

If you are a faithful Catholic who still feels loyalty to the Democratic Party, I sympathize. After all, Catholic roots there run deep. But the Democratic Party today is not the party it once was, and we need to make an honest assessment of where the Democrats stand now, in relationship to Christ's Church.

The last two popes and the bishops have taught that there are non-negotiables for Catholics in the public square, which trump all other considerations. Let's look at what our Church says, then let's compare that to the Democrats' positions. The non-negotiables are these:

  • Abortion is intrinsically evil and must never be promoted or condoned.
  • Embryonic stem cell research is intrinsically evil and must never be promoted or condoned.
  • Euthanasia is intrinsically evil and must never be promoted or condoned.
  • The traditional understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman must always be upheld.
  • The right of parents to educate their children must always be upheld.

All other issues (for example, immigration, education, affordable housing, health and welfare, environmental issues, etc.) are considered policy issues. They are issues of prudential judgement, about which Catholics are free to disagree.

As Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix has clarified in a guide for Catholics called, Catholics in the Public Square (Shepherd's Voice):
On each of these [policy] issues, we should do our best to be informed and to support those proposed solutions that seem most likely to be effective. However, when it comes to direct attacks on innocent human life, being right on all the other issues can never justify a wrong choice on this most serious matter.
Indeed, Pope John Paul II wrote:
Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with the maximum determination.  (Christifideles Laici, 38)
In his letter, “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion,” Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) wrote:
Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.
In a 2006 speech to European politicians, Pope Benedict XVI said the following:
As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge clearly today: 
Protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; 
Recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role; 
The protection of the rights of parents to educate their children.

In light of that crystal clear teaching, consider the following:


The Democratic Party Platform 2012, on abortion (my words in black):

The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion [the word "rare" was removed by the Democrats in 2008], regardless of ability to pay [this means taxpayer-funded abortions]. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.

Embryonic Stem Cell Research

The Democratic Party Platform 2012, on embryonic stem cell research:

[T]he President issued an executive order repealing the restrictions on embryonic stem cell research….

Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS)

The Democrats in the States of Washington and Oregon (blue states) were the first to legalize physician-assisted suicide for their citizens. The drive for legalization in other states is also led by Democrats, including the current ballot initiative in Massachusetts (another blue state). A growing number of state Democratic platforms explicitly call for the legalization of PAS.


The Democratic Party Platform 2012, on marriage (my words in black):

We support marriage equality [this is the euphemism for gay "marriage"] and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples…. 
We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act [the federal law that defines marriage as one man, one woman] and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act [which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and give "federal benefits and protections" to same-sex "married" couples].
The support for gay "marriage" was added in 2012 and was reportedly a "non-controversial" addition.

The Right of Parents to Educate Their Children

Democrats and the liberal teachers’ unions to which they are beholden go to great lengths to deny parents a real choice in their children’s education, not only opposing school vouchers for private schools, but also discouraging the growth of public charter schools, which often deviate from the leftist model. Laws that seek to limit or end the legal rights of homeschooling parents also come overwhelmingly from Democrats. 

On every non-negotiable point for Catholics, the Democrats take the wrong side. 

When I first wrote on this topic, I could never have predicted the threat to religious freedom we would face just a year or so later, when Obama threw down his devastating HHS mandate. I knew that in certain states, Democrat policies had tragically forced the closing of Catholic foster care and adoption agencies that had stood for generations, but I never expected a stroke of the pen to threaten the very existence of all Catholic charities, schools, hospitals, and businesses in the nation.

The normally milquetoast US bishops were so alarmed that every single one of them voiced a protest and later organized a nationwide Fortnight for Freedom, encouraging organized prayer, adoration, and fasting. Anti-HHS religious liberty rallies have been held in hundreds of cities across the land, attended by tens of thousands of concerned Catholics and other Christians. Even Pope Benedict himself publicly warned of the "grave threat" to religious freedom in America -- a threat which was not even on the radar screen until Obama, the head of the Democrats, came to power.

The trend in the Democratic Party holds not a shred of hope for its future, as it's trending all one way: Toward radical secularization, with a marginalization of and hostility toward Catholicism that is snowballing to the point where this election cycle showcased multiple Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate reassuring their Democratic base that if elected, they would force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions! And at the Democratic National Convention this year, Democrats removed the last remaining reference to God from their Platform. Only after the public got wind of the removal did they famously stage a bogus voice vote to reinstate it. For now.

Catholics, as unpleasant as it may be, it's time to wake up to the reality of what has happened. A once-proud party in which faithful Catholics could feel comfortable is now positioning itself as an enemy of the Church. The Democratic Party of 2012 is nothing like the Democratic Party of our grandparents, which still had a solid moral grounding. Catholic Democrats today are being used for votes, and they are either unaware or unwilling to admit that the party they love no longer exists -- and is not coming back.

To all sincere Catholics who have not yet left the Democratic Party: Please consider that the Democratic Party has long ago left you.


  1. Well I am British, so I am not going vote obviously. But if I were an American Christian I would have a problem, I would might not be able to vote democrat but I could not in all conscience vote Republican either. From over here the Republican party and indeed its candidates for office of president and vice president seem to have a remarkable bias against the poorest and most vulnerable in society. Their only answer to that charge seems to be 'You got to do it for your self.' or 'Wealth will trickle down' not much sign of that. In the case of the former, 'doing for your self' that might be the American way but it fundamentally anti Christian. Cain asked 'Am I my brother's keeper'? To which the answer is, 'Yes' Christianity is not a religion for individualists, 'And all who believed were together and had all things in common'. We could call that 'commonism'
    I wonder whether your looking at Catholic teaching through the lens of the 'American Way', unavoidable in your context, gives you a particularly American reading of Catholic Truth.

    In short has the Holy Father said that it would be a sin not to vote for Romney? If he has not, should you?

    1. Flying Goose, whence your image of Republicans, Romney or Ryan as having "a bias against the poorest and most vulnerable in society?"

      Upon logical analysis you will find that the facts shatter this myth.

      1. As individuals, Republicans give more of their own money to aid the poor than do Democrats; the same is even more manifestly so when conservatives are compared with liberals.
      2. Romney and Ryan give more of their own money to aid the poor than have Obama and Biden.
      3. Republican policies - specifically conservative ideals - have lifted more people out of poverty whereas Democrat party policies have created poverty for more individuals and distributed its deliterious effects thorughout society. As Ryan recently said, "in the democrats' war against poverty, poverty is winning."

      Thoughtful and dispassionate analysis of policies reveal that actual outcomes, not intentions, should inform and guide policy-making. Democrats are masters at stating intentions while portraying their mortal enemies, the Republicans, as greedy (meaning whatever a Democrat says it means), selfish, stingy and hateful of the less fortunate.

      And you have fallen for this nonsense and propaganda. Please awaken your sensibilities and examine rationally the actual policies, statements and actions of Republicans rather than depending upon a biased media and a lying Democrat political machine to paint false images in your mind. As one of our American authors, Mark Twain, said "If one does not read the newspapers, he is uninformed. If he does read them, he is misinformed."

  2. My apologies, with reference to the last part of my comment, I see that that is not quite what you said.

  3. I would share this wonderful post on Facebook, but unfortunately my Catholic friends who need to hear it the most have very little respect for Church authority and think it's the Church that is wrong on these issues, not the Democratic Party. :-(

  4. Flying Goose, the problem is that the Democratic Party treats EVERY ONE except the wealthiest as a "the most vulnerable" and/or too stupid to take care of themselves. The idea is "we have to give the people free contraception and abortion because they're too dumb to make responsible sexual or financial decisions for themselves". The other attitude is that people shouldn't have to make responsible decisions. Being sexually or financially responsible is just "oppressive".

    I certainly have qualms about the Republican Party, too, but they tend to say that charitable programs are something that each state should decide for itself rather than a national policy. The U.S. is very vast and diverse and what works or needs to be done in one part might not be as necessary in another. Alaska is a very different place than Florida, so maybe taxpayer money should be used differently instead of one-size-fits all charitable programs.

    And in this country, Catholic Charities is the second largest provider of relief for the poor behind the U.S. government, but many of the U.S. government programs wouldn't work if they didn't contract Catholic Charities to handle the day to day administration. And usually programs run by Catholic Charities receive higher quality ratings than those solely run by the government.

  5. Flying Goose, like you I am not American but European (I know, Britain does not usually consider itself European), and I can assure that all of my close and extended family would be or are (I have American family) firmly in the Democrat camp. And yet I cannot see that creating and entrenching dependence on the government, as the Democrats are doing, is particularly Catholic. Leila has recently beautifully explained the principle of subsidiarity the Church promotes, and which is eminently sensible to me. As you may be aware, in Germany and Austria Church taxes are levied from Church members (Catholic and Protestant) which dates back to an agreement with Hitler. It allows the Church, among other things, to operate significant charitable projects. And yet many younger, more conservative Catholics, including a close friend who is a priest and myself, would favor the repeal of that tax. Not in order to pay less to the Church - we already gladly pay this tax in addition to Sunday collections, and would certainly further increase our donations. But it would make the Church more independent from the government, and make every Catholic feel more responsible for, and "own", their contribution to society. We need to take care of our brothers and sisters through our own organizations. The government should only be the last resort. This is good for us, better for those in need, and certainly good for our sense of nationhood.

  6. Barbara and Sebastian, thank you!

    I will only add the link for Flying Goose to take a look at, regarding the principle of subsidiarity:


    FG, I would love your take on it. Also, please remember that no conservative I've ever known (and I know plenty) has ever advocated taking away all federal safety nets. Not even close. But that is the narrative that the left has used for decades to push their wasteful, inefficient, dependence-inducing programs of generational welfare. It is a tragedy how the massive social welfare programs here have blown up so big and so out of control. It has stripped the dignity of so many, including those who are able-bodies, able to work, yet sit in the system for year after year, decade after decade. I personally have seen so many people (people I know personally) game the system, and it makes me crazy. Incentives, human nature, human dignity, true charity not degradation -- none of this is taken into consideration by the current system, and we need reform badly.

    Surely you see some of the negative effects of the social welfare state in Europe?

  7. Flying Goose, here is a quote from one of my amazing young priests, who wrote this on his facebook just yesterday:

    "How is it possible that members of the Body of Christ would venture to assert that the Church Jesus has founded can either only be for the poor or only for the unborn, and that the only way to be for the poor is to let the government care for them?"

    Also, another line I heard was the following: "The Church's 'preferential option for the poor' does not equate to a preferential option for massive government entitlement programs."

    Hope that helps.

  8. All that you said is good. I'm a former democrat. 1/3 of the democratic party is still pro-life, even after the "abortion-palooza" of the last Democratic National Convention, when pro-choice was made an official plank of the platform. The challenge for democratic voters is not whether abortion is grievously wrong-- they know it is. The challenge for democratic voters is to trust that Republicans actually care about social justice issues. What reassurance do they have that they won't lose social security, disability, medicare, medicaid? What will happen if they lose their job in today's tough economic times? How will they pay their health bills? With solid answers to these questions, I think 1/3 of democrats could comfortably leave the democratic party.

  9. I am not Catholic, nor do I need to be to agree. If you call on the name of Jesus Christ, you CAN NOT in all conscience vote Democrat. The Republican candidate may not be the best representative of our Christian beliefs but Obama is definitely one of the worst. So, Catholics, Baptists, Reformed, Anglican, whatever our church affiliation might be we should unite in voting Obama out of the office. I think the post explains it very well.

  10. Laura, I'm glad you left! :)

    I think that if the Catholic Democrats took a look for themselves, they would see that the Republicans do not want to leave everyone out to dry. I've been a Republican and run in conservative circles, and I've never seen a Republican or conservative who wants to end all federal help for the poor. But we want to do it more efficiently and with less waste. Also, we want to have the help be as local as possible. But no one wants to rip out the safety net for the truly needy. That is a lie that is being told by the other side.

    Social security? We want to save it. If we stay on this track, it will go bankrupt. Health care? Obamacare has already driven up the cost of premiums and prompted businesses who cannot afford it to stop offering it. So, there is no real help for the poor there. The projections for rising health care costs because of Obamacare makes me want to go crawl under my covers and not come out! Good intentions are not enough. As for jobs, I cannot think of a worse thing to do to an economy than tax the job creators while piling on more regulations. That has never grown an economy. I want to shout from the rooftops: "Small business owners in America are scared to death of Obama!" It is true. They are petrified. That alone should make every American vote him out. Can you imagine trying to grow an economy when the engine of the economy (the small business owner) feels that Obama is their enemy (with good reason)?

    I think any Democrat who is worried about the issues you cite should just really dig in and do a lot more reading on all of those subjects, making sure to get both sides of the story, and really find out what the Republican position is, not a caricature of it.

    Many of us who have been Democrats (I was for a short time, and my husband was a politically active Democrat who interned for Democrats) did not dive into those issues, but just sort of believed the line of the mainstream (liberal) media. It is so refreshing and enlightening to get the real story.

  11. Hypothetical question: What if you felt reasonably sure that the abortion number would decrease more under Obama than under Romney?

    Let's say that Roe v. Wade was overturned. Let's say that the states with the largest number of abortions are the ones that would keep abortion legal across the board using their new states' rights (after all, the most populous cities are in blue states). Then let's say that the states that would ban abortion already have less abortions, anyway. In addition, let's say that Democratic policies reduce poverty and some of the other factors associated with abortion. Now, obviously this is all one big what if, and I don't want to argue about whether it's accurate (I'm inclined to think it is, and you're obviously not, but that's not the point).

    But if you were convinced that there'd be less abortions under Obama, would you vote for him (even though he declares support for abortion) or for Romney?

  12. Well written!

    Here's what I think about the HHS Mandate:


  13. Chris P.--
    To answer your question, I would not vote for Obama even if I thought that his policies would somehow result in fewer abortions than those of a Romney administration. It is explicitly wrong to do (or support) evil, even if good may come of it. Not only is it wrong, it is very dangerous in terms of the actions that can be wrongfully justified.

    As a secondary point, I would argue that I believe the chances of Obama's policies resulting in fewer abortions are almost nil. I would also dispute the idea that Democratic policies reduce poverty. On the contrary, I would argue that, over the long term, those policies tend to entrench poverty.

  14. Chris, what Steve said! (We have the witness of generations of poverty programs from the Democrats to show that they never touch the problem of poverty in America, so that one is especially easy to refute, hypothetical or no.)

    Paul, those were excellent posts!

  15. Chris, this post speaks to the question of serving the good, not effecting (bringing about) the good:


  16. To Sebastian - I applaud your views on supporting charity that is independent from government. Such views seem quite uncommon in Europe, from what I read. I wish you God's blessings in convincing others there to break the grip of the welfare state.

    To Barbara -- you have a great point that one offshoot of Democratic policy is that people are not expected to make responsible decisions on their own. I fear that this, over time will become endemic in our society -- that Americans will lose the sense that important decisions should be made by they themselves as individuals. Further, as a people we may suffer a diminished sense of prudential judgment, having grown accustomed to being protected from the consequences of our bad decisions by our government and its laws, rules, and protection bureaus. This cannot possibly be good. Will we as a nation of individuals become the equivalent of park squirrels?

    Leila - great post!

  17. Sorry to say this so harshly, but it sounds like you're saying that more hypothetical dead babies is okay as long as the hypothetical guy in the White House is sad about it.

  18. While we are called to take care of others, it is not the job of the government to do so. The federal government has very few rights per the Constitution. Plus, charity works better at more local levels than at the federal level. Let people willingly help others instead of being forced to pay for programs on the scale they are.

  19. How is someone heavily dependent on charities any different from someone heavily dependent on the government? Isn't the difference in who's paying, and not in how it actually affects the recipients?

  20. Sorry to say this so harshly, but it sounds like you're saying that more hypothetical dead babies is okay as long as the hypothetical guy in the White House is sad about it.

    Chris, sorry to say this so harshly, but if you employ an ends justify the means mentality (which is what you are suggesting in your hypothetical), then we can do anything to get to a good end. For example, a couple of atheists on this board famously said that it would be moral (yes, MORAL) to rape, torture and kill a six-year-old girl if it would save the life of fifty people. In a Catholic universe, there is never permission to commit evil. Never. This mortal world is not the final word. There is ultimate justice. Our job is to do good always, never commit evil, even in the hopes that good would come. Can you imagine an ends justify the means world? I can. Just look to every single genocide, every single totalitarian regime, every instance of child abuse, or any sin. Almost every willful sin is committed because someone decides it will be worth it, to get them or someone to a good end.

    Did you read the post I linked, about serving the good?

  21. How is someone heavily dependent on charities any different from someone heavily dependent on the government? Isn't the difference in who's paying, and not in how it actually affects the recipients?

    I invite you to visit a Catholic charity, such as Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity homes, or St. Vincent de Paul Society, or a crisis pregnancy center, and then compare that to a government welfare office.

    The difference is care of the whole person, body and soul. The difference is in what the word "charity" actually means -- love. Agape love.

    I would much rather be cared for by those who love me than by a faceless bureaucrat in Washington who doesn't even know my name. It gives a person back his dignity, and leads them to something more transcendent. A federal government program inspires no one, transcends nothing.

  22. If we overturned Roe v. Wade tomorrow and made abortion illegal across the board....I honestly think it will last about three months.

    The reason we are losing the "Culture of Death" war is not because we've lost the laws and policy makers. It is because we have lost the hearts and minds of the American women.

    When otherwise hardworking, intelligent, moral women see no problem with destroying life because it doesn't fit in with their plan at the moment.....all the laws in the world won't make abortion go away. When they have lost sight of the evil of it and when they actually believe they are doing a good and responsible thing (I just can't afford/give the attention/I'm not ready for a child right now) congress can no longer help us.

    Overturn Roe v. Wade and you will have a massive number of women turning out (many who probably would never consider having an abortion) to do anything and everything to change the decision. You'd have clinics and doctors refusing to obey a law they disagree with. You'd turn women against each other with both sides declaring they are on the side that is uplifting and protecting women.

    You would turn an already hot topic into a political bloodbath. And for what?

    A law that the majority of the country disagrees with and ignores? The right to say, at least on paper, Americans are moral- never mind their actual hearts and actions?

    It would be a hollow victory. Let's go after the real problem not just a symptom.

  23. StarFireKK, it's not an either/or. It's both/and. We work to change hearts, and we also work to protect all human beings under the law. That is right and just, and it's what our Church demands of us.

  24. [I'm just going to reprint the entire post here, that I linked above for Chris.]

    People are complex, emotions are complex, and situations are complex.

    But principles based in Truth are simple.

    There is a bedrock Christian principle that has burned itself into my mind and heart since the first time I read this pithy phrase, 17 years ago:

    We serve the good, not effect* the good.

    Ding! Ding! Ding! Bells went off. This was the formula for living the Christian moral life, and it streamlined everything for me.

    Let's go through it:

    We serve the good always. To be a servant of the good means that at every step, in every thought, and with every action, we choose virtue over sin. In fact, we are never, ever permitted to sin. We do sin, of course, but not because it's allowed! Nope, sorry, God never gives us permission to do evil, whether big or little (mortal or venial). As children of God, we are to choose only the good.

    We don't effect [i.e., bring about] the good. That means we don't look to force or manipulate a good outcome in a given situation. In fact, to be concerned primarily with outcome puts us in dangerous moral and spiritual territory, namely falling into an "ends justify the means" mentality. That's the mentality that leads a well-meaning politician to lie in order to win an election. It leads a good student to cheat on an important exam to assure her acceptance into a top university. It leads an employee to steal from his boss so that he can take his wife out for a lovely anniversary dinner. And it leads to the belief that one may directly kill an innocent person in order to save the lives of hundreds.

    In each of those examples (and a million more), the person has ceased to 'serve the good' and decided to 'effect the good'. But when we are willing to do wrong, even in the hopes of a good result, we transgress the moral law and offend God, who is Goodness. (We do everything in God's name, and never would He ask us to do evil in His name, for any reason.)

    Serving the good requires humility and trust, as it obligates us to mind our own actions only, while entrusting outcomes, good or bad, to God.

    That's kind of a relief, isn't it? None of us is needed to be the Savior of the world, and we are not required to set all things right at any cost. We are only required to serve the good -- which means serving God -- in each moment.

    1. And the caveat, as I am a grammar nazi (although not usually in my comments due to lack of time):

      *The use of "effect" here, though seemingly wrong (most would think it should be "affect" since it's a verb), is correct. In this case, to effect = to bring about or complete. "Effect" and "affect" can both be used either as a noun or a verb. "Effect" is usually the one used as a noun, but not in this rare case. As verbs, "to affect" means to produce a change in, and "to effect" means to bring about or make happen.

  25. If we overturned Roe v. Wade tomorrow and made abortion illegal across the board

    One more point, StarFireKK: Overturning Roe v. Wade would simply revert the issue back to the states. It would not have the effect of making abortion illegal across the board. That is a common misunderstanding.

  26. "For example, a couple of atheists on this board famously said that it would be moral (yes, MORAL) to rape, torture and kill a six-year-old girl if it would save the life of fifty people"

    I hope you're not comparing me to those two, because I don't think I'm nearly bad enough to warrant that.


    Recently, you noted that it is not a sin to vote for Mitt Romney, according to Catholic principles. Your post included a reference to "choosing evil" vs "mitigating evil." You reposted Priests For Life's statements:

    "Then just ask a simple question: Which of the two candidates will do less harm to unborn children if elected?"

    "in the case described above, you would not be choosing evil. Why? Because in choosing to limit an evil, you are choosing a good."

    You said:

    "You will not be in sin by voting for Romney. I beg of you not to 'make a statement' this election, but to make sure that Obama is voted out of office for good. There is no greater threat to both the Catholic Church and unborn children in America than four more years of Barack Obama in the White House."

    Now, bad things will happen no matter who is elected. Romney, of course, does support some legal abortions. It sounds like you and the priests said (and I'm sorry if I'm taking these out of context) that whatever will limit abortion more is the better choice, and thus voting for them is not a sin. Of course, both you and the priests presupposed that the candidate who is less in favor of legal abortion would lead to less abortions. But that doesn't have to be true 100% of the time, and I asked you to imagine a situation where it isn't.

    1. *whoever will limit.

      I mean, politicians aren't great, but they still aren't "whats."

  27. My point about charity vs government was that I don't see why only government is said to create "dependency." If you live off other people's help, you live off other people's help. I can imagine a bunch of Social Darwinists ranting about how all charity creates "dependency" and "destroys personal responsibility," and it would be just as valid as when such claims are made about the government.

  28. In government welfare you are just another number, and you meet their criteria or you don't. It's like going to the DMV. And the way some government welfare programs are set up they discourage intact family homes and steps that people might take to get on their own two feet.

    In my experience, most charities work with individuals as individuals to not only help them in the moment but to prepare them to help themselves and others in the future.

  29. I don't think either govt. aid or charity would magically get a person addicted to others' money, unable to care for themself, and unable to remember their aspirations to live off their own work. There are some who don't really want to work, I suppose, but I don't buy the idea that welfare or whatever actually makes you into something you weren't before. The feds may facilitate some people's problems, but that's a different thing from causing them.

    And honestly, if a lazy guy who had no food kept coming to my door, I'd keep feeding him, even if he flatly refused to feed himself.

  30. Barbara, exactly. Chris, you'd have to have experience with how the different approaches actually affect real human beings. People can say anything, but the proof is in the pudding. Also, remember, part of what faith-based charity is about (or should be) is promoting the virtues. Again, body and soul, truth and dignity. Do you think the government worker behind the desk at the welfare office cares for and loves those who come for their check? I'm seriously asking. I really would encourage you to go and watch the difference.

    No, of course I don't think you would agree with that extreme of an ends justify the means example. The point was that there is no limit once you say that some evil is allowed, as long as it brings about a good (in the mind of the person acting).

    Your hypothetical is nonsensical, which is why it's hard to follow. It's like saying, let's say hypothetically that the candidate who wants to make rape illegal ends up instigating more national rapes because of that, but the guy who wants to make rape easy and legal ends up (by means of that policy) making rape much less rare in practice. But, in what universe would this occur?

    But even in that hypothetical case, I would not vote for the guy who wants to repeal rape laws, as he is promoting something very evil. (Again, highly unlikely that promoting and legalizing something would make it more rare, to say the least.)

  31. Chris, if a guy who can work won't work, and instead takes the money from those who do, is that moral? Is it moral for the government to enable them to stay idle? There are folks who need help. Some for life, if they are truly disabled. Others, for a hand up, as they temporarily need help. That is fine, and I support that! But if you knew how much fraud and gaming the system there is, you'd be sick. If you want to voluntarily enable someone who is lazy to keep being lazy (I wouldn't even do that to my children, whom I love), that's your choice, as it's your money (though I would find your enabling to be wrong, and it would not be for the good of the man). But taxpayers aren't given a choice. We are made to feed into a very inefficient, wasteful system, when we could be giving that same money to a charity that actually helps a person on a whole different level. That is our job as Christians.

  32. Many of the Western countries with the lowest abortion rates are also ones with relatively liberal abortion laws. I'm not saying this proves anything, but it is worth considering.

  33. Gah! Leila, I'm following too many threads! Just posted this comment to the wrong thread. Anyway, meant to say:

    Starfire, just because not everyone likes it, doesn't mean it's not the right thing to do to make or repeal a law (even though Roe isn't a law, it's a SCOTUS decision, but still applies). Heck, something like 70% of Americans were against Obamacare and that's now law. They didnt even attempt to change heats and minds. Martin Luther King, Jr was once asked about "forcing his morality" onto other people (I paraphrase) and his answer was, "I can't make people love me but I can keep them from lynching me". It's the same principle with saving unborn babies. We may not change everyone's minds, but we can pass a law to keep them from killing children.

  34. By the way, I've never heard anyone, on either side, say that "all charity creates dependency" so that is a straw man, moot, a non-sequiter, etc. No one has ever argued it that I am aware of. I've never known a soul who does not want to help folks who really need help.

  35. Nicole, excellent point.

    Chris, you know how we could make societies more healthy and bring down the cost of health care? Use a 50-cent bullet to kill all the old and sick people. Sounds crazy, but it's true. Now, would it be moral? Obviously not. We have to live in a moral universe. We don't bring about good by doing evil. Can you agree with that bedrock principle?

  36. First time commenting, but I've been following for a while. Thank you for this post, Leila! I have had these issues rolling around in my head for months and a burden to share these truths with all of my Democrat Catholic friends. I have tried to say what you've so straightforwardly laid out in this post, but I have not been as successful. This will be posted on my FB! Btw, I love your no-nonsense tone! I find it quite refreshing :)

  37. In my "lazy guy with no food" scenario, I meant the choices to be that I would feed him, or he would starve, because he would never, ever feed himself. Obviously real life has nobody like that, but I was just trying to say that I think everyone has a right to the necessities of life, no matter how lazy or worthless they seem.

    I also believe the government should protect that right, including via welfare and food stamp programs (keep in mind that a great many people receiving those things do have jobs, are seeking them, or are getting an education).

  38. "By the way, I've never heard anyone, on either side, say that "all charity creates dependency""

    Of course not. I was using that phrase that nobody says to criticize people who claim that all government aid programs create dependency (and even if you don't claim that, there are people who do). I regard it to be hypocritical to say that government creates dependency, but charity doesn't (I don't think either does).

  39. The Allies purposefully killed many innocent people in World War II. Thanks to their actions, many lives were saved. The Allies saved more innocent lives, I believe, than they took (if we assume the Axis would have continued conquering and killing).

    So should we have never fought World War II? Would we have made a moral choice by letting the Jews die, by letting the Chinese be raped and slaughtered, just as long as we ourselves didn't kill anyone? Would that have been preferable to our actions?

  40. Chris, first a clarification: Are you arguing that it's okay (moral) to directly target and kill some innocent people in order to save other innocent people?

  41. Chris, only someone who is seriously deranged would let himself starve to death if he has the means to feed himself but only waits for someone else to feed him. I mean, that doesn't exist.

    And, I truly have never heard anyone ever say that all government programs -- all government aid -- creates dependency. I do believe that the way the welfare system is set up as is has created dependency in many (not all. How successful do you think these programs have been, which started several generations ago? How is the war on poverty going, and how are we doing getting able bodies folks back to work who have grown up in the system?

  42. Actually, Roe is law. There are two different types of law case law (handed down by the court) and statutory law (laws congress pass.) Roe is case law and is as valid as any law passed by congress.

    I understand it isn't an either/or situation. But the Church has all be said I am required to vote for Romney. I think Romney has a lot of stupid and dangerous ideas which will hurt our country, our economy and our national defense.

    So I am suppose to vote for a man who I think will set this country on a very dangerous path for what.....to make a political stand that isn't going to do a darn bit of good?

    I hate Obama's social policies but you don't have to participate in them. I don't have to have an abortion or use contraception. I'm pretty sure my health insurance premiums are paying for contraception and abortions right now.....

    So why can't I vote on the issues that should ACTUALLY be the government's business? The economy, the national defense, the public safety and welfare, etc.

    I cannot be the only Catholic who feels like we've lost this battle decades ago......we are on the defensive and trying hard not to lose the little ground we have left. And the leaders are telling us to charge....

    "Charge, charge the light brigade."

  43. No, it's not moral. If I were leading a war, for example, I would never target civilians, even if doing so would help my cause. My convictions about that sort of thing might lead to more of my forces dying, so I would only take volunteers who were aware of my moral convictions, and agreed with them.

    However, that was not how WWII was fought. My question: Would it have been more moral not to enter WWII, as opposed to taking the actions we actually did?

  44. "I mean, that doesn't exist"

    Of course not. I said as much. Most of these hypothetical scenarios would probably not happen in real life, like that one you had about the pro-rape candidate.

  45. (Only commenting briefly because I'm camped out in a hotel in the midst of Sandy cleanup)

    The comments about the changing Democratic Party make me think of the Screwtape Letters, and more explicitly, Screwtape Proposes a Toast.

    It's almost eerie.

  46. Renee, thank you! I'm glad you are here!

    Chris, the rape candidate scenario would not happen in real life (although if you listen to the left, they believe we are pro-rape!), but it was analogous to something real. So, give me an analogy to something real and we will go from there.

  47. Chris, I am not an expert on what happened in WWII warfare aside from the big issue of the atomic bombs. Dropping atomic bombs on cities is patently immoral. If that was the only warfare used in WWII, then it would have been better not to have gone in, yes. Thankfully, there are other ways to wage just war.

  48. This whole conversation about the ends and the means has been interesting, but I'd honestly rather discuss welfare and such on another day. Can you answer my WWII question?

  49. StarFireKK, it's not about what affects you, it's about the fact that, whether we win this war against the unborn or not, we were on the right side of humanity. God's children. God's law is higher than any political consideration. So, we ignore the many intrinsic evils that the Democrats advocate and vote in, because we agree with them on the lesser issues? Isn't that a bit like saying, "Can't we ignore the whole Jew-killing thing because Hitler provided healthcare and education to all?"

    I don't see the salient difference.

    We are Catholic. These are non-negotiables. Our souls are at stake. Does none of what the Popes or bishop said above make sense to you? I'm sincerely asking.

  50. Sorry, mine published after yours.

    Anyway, a great deal of the Allied war effort involved bombings. I believe a total millions of tons of bombs were dropped in WWII, and you probably are aware that this involved lots of civilian areas. The firebombing of Tokyo, the near-constant bombing of Germany, and so on. The war, fought without bombing and shelling of civilian areas, would have been unrecognizable, except for certain parts of the Pacific Theatre. The war with Japan would not have been won without bombs. And if Japan wouldn't surrender from bombings, there were plans for a full-scale invasion in which many, many more US and Japanese troops would have died, and probably more civilians too in shellings and crossfire. In addition, the Japanese told some of their older schoolchildren to fight to the death, should the Americans invade. 14-year-olds with knives are innocent in my opinion, no matter what their leaders told them to do. Yet if we had invaded, instead of bombing, then we would have had to kill them too. I don't think there would have been any easy, moral way to do things.

    1. "mine published after yours." Bad phrasing. I mean you must have published while I was still typing.

  51. 4 million Axis civilians died in WWII. Not saying they were all killed intentionally, but that's a lot more people than just Hiroshima and such.

  52. Chris, absolutely any direct targeting of civilians in war, no matter how noble the cause, is immoral and is never permitted. I hope that makes my position (the Church's position) clear. It's just never permissible to willfully do evil in order to bring about even a greater good. Of course, as to culpability of the Americans and allies, that is another issue. Did they know that directly killing those civilians was wrong? Or did they think that it was justified somehow? That is a judgment that only God can make. We are not to judge souls, only actions.

  53. Jesus said: "For what does it profit a man to gain the world, but lose his soul?"

    Even winning the war is not worth the loss of one's soul. I think it was a just war, but some of the tactics used were immoral, without doubt.

  54. Starfire, I agree with much of your underlying thesis -- that it's a real problem that many people don't understand that abortion is wrong. But I differ in how I think we should go about addressing this. If you'll indulge me I'd like to address some of your specific comments.

    Starfire wrote:
    "When otherwise hardworking, intelligent, moral women see no problem with destroying life because it doesn't fit in with their plan at the moment.....all the laws in the world won't make abortion go away. When they have lost sight of the evil of it and when they actually believe they are doing a good and responsible thing (I just can't afford/give the attention/I'm not ready for a child right now) congress can no longer help us."

    --> Starfire, you're right, we have a big problem. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't still change the law to make abortion illegal.

    "Overturn Roe v. Wade and ... you'd turn women against each other with both sides declaring they are on the side that is uplifting and protecting women."

    --> Uh, we already have that now, don't we?

    "You would turn an already hot topic into a political bloodbath. And for what?"

    --> Why worry about a political bloodbath when we already have something like a million unborn lives snuffed out every year? We need to do something immediately. Let's start by making murder illegal and putting those who commit it in jail. Rather quickly there will be fewer abortion doctors and fewer abortions.

    "A law that the majority of the country disagrees with and ignores? The right to say, at least on paper, Americans are moral- never mind their actual hearts and actions?"

    --> There are many sins people commit in their hearts and others they commit in deed. We can work on people's actual hearts too, but I say let's reduce the sins committed in deed against the helpless.

    "It would be a hollow victory. Let's go after the real problem not just a symptom."

    --> You are absolutely right and I would love to hear ideas on how to do so and see actions toward that end. But on a parallel track, what more clear way to demonstrate that our society believes abortion is a barbaric act than to criminalize it and save lives in the process?

    I think the time for gentle persuasion has passed. We need to elevate the issue, and that means no votes for blatantly pro-choice candidates (and the next time we get a chance we should nominate a more fully pro-life GOP candidate). If we insist on making this issue a national priority, we have a chance to convince those people who haven't really thought about it fully.

    1. I love the little arrows, Steve! I'm going to be stealing those.

  55. Chris, by the way, when you said this:

    "I was just trying to say that I think everyone has a right to the necessities of life, no matter how lazy or worthless they seem."

    You are right. Everyone has a right to life and food and shelter, etc. But do they have a right to a cell phone, for example? And, do any duties and responsibilities come with being a human being? For example, if my adult son thought he could live in my house for free and do no work while his dad and I pay for his car and his clothes and his food and his insurance, etc., he would be mistaken. I would be enabling his sin of sloth (one of the seven deadly sins). That would be a sin on my soul. Sometimes, people need to feel the natural consequences of bad choices, don't you think? What kind of loving mother would I be if I let him stay on the couch and eat chips and play video games all day? What kind of man would I be forming? How would that affect society?

    Lots of considerations, and since we are talking about individuals, with individual crises and situations (all very different!), then we need the more local, personal response to each situation. If my son were in need of some short term help, I would take him in and help him get back on his feet. If he were ill, then of course I would care for him. If he just wanted to mooch off of me and his dad, I'd kick his ass to the curb (with love, of course!!). ;)

  56. Interesting article about the relationship between the rate of abortion to liberal abortion laws.


  57. Johanne, there's a lot to talk about and pick apart in that piece. First, it just struck me as ironic that Germany is the first example. Doesn't Germany have the lowest birth rate in Europe? Ironically, they don't have to abort themselves out of existence, as they don't even make babies in the first place. They are committing suicide. Second, as far as costs: If a woman does not want to raise a child, she can place the child for adoption (there are millions of couples waiting to adopt infants, even unhealthy infants), and all her costs are paid by the adoptive family. If she chooses to parent, she should check into the various crisis pregnancy centers. We had the annual fundraising dinner for one of our local centers, and they provide all services for free. They also provide emotional and material help to the women after the child's birth (the testimony of the women would move you), and they provide parenting classes and life skills, etc. Best of all, they provide hope and friendship and love to the women. Third, I think we have the most liberal abortion laws in the world (at least we used to, unless someone caught up with us?), as Roe v. Wade made abortion legal for all nine months of pregnancy. Even secular European nations are not that extreme, so I don't know that they have more "liberal" abortion laws than the U.S. (but I will stand corrected if you give me more info). We have liberal laws, and we slaughter millions of little ones (mostly black and minority).

    And again, while the discussion is interesting, it's also irrelevant as to whether or not abortion is right or wrong. As I said, we could save billions in health care costs and pain and suffering if we just take a 50 cent bullet to the head of all the old and sick Americans. But, would that be a moral way to solve our problems, or to make our society healthier and wealthier? Nope, of course not.

    1. There is a lot more to say, but it's late. Bottom line: The only relevant question is, "Is it morally permissible to kill innocent human beings in the womb?" If the answer is yes, then kill by the zillions (why would we care if abortion rates are high or low?). If the answer is no, then all these other points and questions are moot.

  58. Great stuff. Here's an article which answers the question of "Does the Catholic Church tell you how to vote?" http://www.truthandcharityforum.org/does-the-catholic-church-tell-you-how-to-vote/

  59. AKN, excellent article! I will reprint the first few paragraphs for those who might not click the link:

    The mission of Christ entrusted to the Church is of a supernatural order. It is not primarily political, economic or social. From this mission, however, derive teachings for all aspects of human life. This is why the Church rightly claims “the right always and everywhere to announce moral principles, including those pertaining to the social order, and to make judgments on any human affairs to the extent that they are required by the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls” (CCC 2032).

    The Church does not impose on the whole of society that which she requires of Catholics themselves – attending Mass on Sundays, regular participation in the Sacraments, and so on.

    The Church proposes the principles of natural law, which are universal; without them no society can be just. “The natural law, present in the heart of each man and established by reason, is universal in its precepts and its authority extends to all men. It expresses the dignity of the person and determines the basis for his fundamental rights and duties” (CCC 1956).

    Thus, the Church does not tell people which candidate must receive the votes of faithful Catholics, but she does teach the moral criteria with which to vote with a right conscience.

  60. Johanne, what that article fails to mention is that Netherlands has a five-day waiting period before a woman can get an abortion. Waiting periods have been shown to reduce the number of abortions, which is why Planned Parenthood always fights them.

    Most European countries actually have less liberal abortion laws than the U.S. They don't allow termination after the first trimester except for life of mother with no other recourse (whereas most U.S. states are the same as the Netherlands with abortion easily obtained through the second trimester).

    Most European countries that allow abortion at all also require parental notification before a teen has an abortion unless a judge deems otherwise. Most European abortion laws also include clauses for conscientious objection where doctors can refuse to do an abortion if it violates their conscience even if there is no other doctor in the region.

  61. I have not been able to comment, PC problems, anyway on subsidiarity I have had a look at this talk by Fr Robert Barron,
    who explains it all very well. It goes hand in hand with solidarity, we are all in this together. Government he says, is there to discipline the market, (is a disciplined market entirely free? I wonder). I am also caused to think context, where I live, my whole country would be considered local, in your terms. There are five nations in within the United Kingdom, but one can reach the extremities of all of them in car within the day light of a summer day. That is true for most European countries, so even national government is fairly local. That effects our polity. In the US there is that huge tension between the local and the federal, that's why you had a civil war, which the anti federalists lost, as I remember. Nevertheless the tension continues. Thus social programmes of the federal government are going to be seen through the lens of that conflict. We don't have that history so we would not look at it in that way. As a Christian, I don't really care who provides services for those who cannot provided them for themselves. But if you really believe the free market can provide the best services for the least able and most vulnerable, then show me the evidence that it does. Otherwise it seems that it is not the prophets of the Bible that are being heard, but profits of the economically powerful that paid attention to.

  62. Flying Goose, my understanding (especially in light of the burning riots a year or so ago in the UK?) is that you have a problem with your massive welfare state. Do you think that there is dignity in programs that write taxpayer-funded checks to folks who are able bodied but don't work, for decades or generations at a time? What is your responsibility as a Christian to care for the whole person, not just pass the buck to a government to hand folks a check? You think that Mother Teresa, for example, and her sisters, were just another group of social workers or bureaucrats? I see a big difference between government "helping" (in many cases I don't see it as "help", but enabling), and you or I helping.

    And again, the part that people on the left always seem to miss: No one wants to cut aid and assistance (even long term) to those who are truly in need of it. I've never heard anyone propose that.

    All due respect, we don't want to be like the UK, or Greece, or France. That's why our ancestors left Europe and founded this nation. We are different and we'd like to stay that way. Looking at post-Christian western Europe is a warning for many of us, not a model. Do you think your social welfare system works well?

  63. Leila, I can't comment on Greece, and France because I do not live in those countries. That of course is true of the United States as well. So I will back of a bit. Our welfare state is not perfect, as I have said, but it is a lot better than what existed before. I think you would have to spend a long time in my country in order to understand how things, the converse goes for me as well.

    As to our societies being post Christian, well, its true that not many people go to church, but as many say they believe in God over here as go to church regularly in the US. It may well be that there is just a different kind of nominal Christianity over there than there is here. But I am not a sociologist, so its just a hunch.

    When it comes to which way to vote, we have similar issues here. No one party can be called a Christian party, nor would I want to there be one. The Kings had the power in the OT but the prophets preached righteousness. And Fathers went into the desert in reaction to a so called Christian Empire. But that means that a Christian may think about a whole host of issues not just the lightning rod ones. Concentrating on a few issues makes it easy for cynical politicians to manipulate Christian consciences.

    I understand the reasons why people left Europe to find a new life in the new world. But I am also aware that that new world came at the cost of displacing those who were already there and the cost those who were taken there against their will and were forced in to slavery.

    Don't get me wrong Europe also benefited greatly from that vile trade so we are all the beneficiaries of sin.

    Our wealth has come at a huge human cost, and perhaps still does. Two thirds of the world's population still live on a third of its resources. That is not just, and the God revealed in Jesus Christ, is pretty big on justice. Amos 2. v 6-7 springs to mind,
    "For three sins of Israel,
    even for four, I will not relent.
    They sell the innocent for silver,
    and the needy for a pair of sandals.
    7 They trample on the heads of the poor
    as on the dust of the ground
    and deny justice to the oppressed."

    So here is the question that I ask, when not thinking about which way to vote, or whose actions to condemn today, "In what way does my life style adversely affect others, and how should amend my life style in accordance with the honest answer I give to that question".

    It seems to me as Christians we are first of all in the business of repentance, which means to change ones' mindset, from a 'me' focused way of thinking to a God focused way. And what does the Lord require, 'but to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God'. Micah 6:8

    Pax et Bonum

  64. Flying Goose, your points are interesting and open up a whole host of discussions, of course. That is why the Church leaves it to individuals and societies and governments to hash out what is the best program, policy, or approach is the best way to help the poor (these are prudential judgement issues, as you know). There are very few non-negotiables, but they are just that: NON-negotiable. Anyone can claim that they are negotiable, but they have no authority to speak for Christianity. Only the Apostles and their successors have such a right. Christianity is a revealed religion, not an evolving set of philosophies.

    As to poverty in America, I've said many times that the biggest single factor for poverty is not race but single motherhood. The stats for those kids are dismal. But the left won't touch that issue with a ten-foot pole. I read yesterday that now over 40% of America's children are born out of wedlock. How can this be anything other than a disaster, and how have massive, wasteful, impersonal federal welfare programs contributed (or helped?) that statistic, thus helping ease poverty and give children a chance? My contention is that the programs have simply perpetuated the disaster and entrenched poverty. Plenty of folks, much smarter than I, have looked at and analyzed that if you are interested.

    Anyway, again, we disagree on what best would help the poor. We are allowed to use our mind and reason to try to come up with better policies. I think the current ones suck, frankly.

    As to resources. I am seriously curious why you think, for example, that Africa is a third-world, poverty stricken continent, even though it sits atop untold natural resources and riches? How do you account for this? If I gave up my car or computer or moved to a smaller house, would the folks in Africa then be able to tap into their own God-given, natural resources on their beautiful, rich continent? I'm seriously asking.

    1. Wow, my writing was practically incoherent there, but I hope you got the gist. I really need to proofread my comments.

      If you can only answer two questions, I'd want them to be these:

      1) Why does the left refuse to address the single biggest indicator of poverty in America, which is single motherhood?

      2) What keeps Africa, for example, from developing their own incredible natural resources, and would they be able to do so if I sold most of my possessions?

      One other thought: Is it better for me to give my money to the Church and her charities, or to a massive bureaucracy that will waste it by the billions (and which I do not believe are effective)? And, should I have that choice?

  65. PS: This is the most fascinating (and depressing) discussion of Brits and others who discuss the religious climates in their own nations. Do you agree with the folks from you country?


  66. Leila, here are my responses:

    1) Why does the left refuse to address the single biggest indicator of poverty in America, which is single motherhood?

    I can't speak for the left as I am not on it. However the late Christopher Hitchins he pointed that there is a very well know correlation between poverty, a lack of education and access to reproductive rights. That's not so dissimilar to your own view. To be an unmarried mother means that your access to a proper education is severely curtailed, especially if you are already poor. So far so agreed. Where you and the left disagree is on how to prevent unplanned, unmarried pregnancies. They would argue for contraception, you probably argue for abstinence. They would argue for abortion rights, you might argue for adoption, but tell me different. In the case of the former, my sympathies are with both approaches. We would disagree about that. The case of the latter is more problematic, I personally remain unconvinced by the hyperbolic rhetoric both sides employment. It just shows me that they are not really listening to the deeper reasons either side has for taking their particular stance. These issues will not be resolved by bellicose argument.

    2) What keeps Africa, for example, from developing their own incredible natural resources, and would they be able to do so if I sold most of my possessions?

    Well that's two questions. On the first and this is just an opinion, Africa has not been allowed to develop on its own. Its national borders, were drawn up by European colonialists taking very little account of 'national' boundaries that already existed. Consequently African nations are often divided. However maybe the answer to to look at the success stories, Tanzania which I have some knowledge of springs. Stable and fairly democratic government has enabled a good standard of education to be delivered. That just one example.

    What I would say to you, is that you can not remain exceptionalist in the US. Your vote will effect and has effected people my communities. Young men have fought in your wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of my colleagues have buried some of them. If you vote in the world's most powerful nation, you I am afraid, have responsibilities beyond the borders of your nation. Unless you are going to keep yourselves to yourselves.

    On your possessions, you possess nothing that is not already God's. And to say that this is mine is, as Thomas Merton pointed out, to have stolen it from God.

    I think your final point is a caricature of what happens in our welfare state. Don't believe everything you hear from the rare ultra Conservative in my country.

  67. Part II
    Do you agree with the folks from you country?

    It is not considered polite to talk about politics or religion. That is breaking down. But there is a reason for. The period from 1500 to 1700 was highly charged both politically and religiously. Many people lost their lives. We had a bloody civil war a King was executed. On Monday we remember The Gunpowder Plot when a group of Catholics tried to blow up the King and parliament. This led to a British distrust of things Catholic until very very recently. Even now, along with Guy Fawkes, some Bonfires will also burn images of the Pope. The religious conflicts many of your ancestors fled to the New World to escape, have only really been laid to rest within the last 100 years. That has left a distrust of religion.

    Who is to blame? the religious. The secular is in many ways a reaction against the misdeeds of the religious, Catholic and Protestant. If we want a voice in the public square, then we have to re earn it. It is not a right.

    As to the non negotiables, I return to Our Lord Jesus Christ who said:
    Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord;
    and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
    and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,
    and with all thy strength.
    This is the first commandment.

    And the second is like, namely this:
    Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
    There is none other commandment greater than these.
    On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

  68. Flying Goose:

    1) In our increasingly secular society, which is more copious, accessible, demanded and utilized: a) contraception/abortion, or b) the virtue of chastity and the belief that sex is a privilege of marriage

    And, how's that been working?

    2) Whoa. So, the fact that the African warlords and corrupt government officials oppress and starve and enslave their own citizens is not why the people there cannot advance? It's the fault European imperialists? So, what's the solution?

    We forced your nation to fight in wars? And, yes, we have responsibilities to other nations. Maybe we have too much. How many more billions should we give to needy nations to satisfy you? America is and has been the most generous nation on the face of the planet and in all history. I guess we could "keep ourselves to ourselves" and no longer provide those funds. Are you okay with that?

    Yes, ultimately everything is God's, obviously. But my Catholic Church is a believer in private property rights. I am a Catholic and I am allowed to own things. So, again, not sure how giving up my house will help an African who is being oppressed and starved by a warlord or evil government official? But I'm willing to hear.

    You think of Guy Fawkes, I think of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher.

    "The religious are to blame" for your wars and others? Seriously? First, most everyone was religiously affiliated back in the day (very few atheists on the planet even today), and when conflicts arise as they are wont to do in this fallen sinful world, it would be hard back then to have found an atheist regime or nation that began it. However, the rise of secularism has certainly now produced atheist and godless regimes (check the 20th century), and I daresay we have seen a whole lot of murder (as in the tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions) that was not promulgated by the religious. Surely you can agree? Gosh, one of the most horrifying chapters in European history was the French Revolution. Bloody, evil, horrifying. I believe that was raged in the name of "enlightenment and reason"?

    And what the heck is this??

    If we want a voice in the public square, then we have to re earn it. It is not a right.

    This makes me shiver! If this is the belief and mindset of the British, thank God I am an American! A voice in the public square is ABSOLUTELY a right. God bless America. I am so, so happy to be an American. Thank you for reminding me how special and blessed we are to have the kind of freedom we have.

    FG, what is a human right, and who is the giver of those rights?

    I am off for the day, and I will check in later.

  69. Leila,
    1) In our increasingly secular society, which is more copious, accessible, demanded and utilized: a) contraception/abortion, or b) the virtue of chastity and the belief that sex is a privilege of marriage

    Personally I would advocate the latter, but I am also a realist. Secondly are abortion and contraception morally equivalent. If you think they, how do you substantiate that?

    2) Whoa. So, the fact that the African warlords and corrupt government officials oppress and starve and enslave their own citizens is not why the people there cannot advance? It's the fault European imperialists?

    Not quite what I said. The way we drew the boundaries did not help. But the problems of post colonial Africa are very complex, and neither of us are experts.

    "We forced your nation to fight in wars?"

    Again not quite what I said. We both live in powerful nations, for our nations, isolationism is no longer an option. Voters need to remember that. Standing shoulder to shoulder to with Europeans during the Second World were was very costly in terms of American lives, that is not forgotten over here. Standing shoulder to shoulder to with the US has in a smaller way has been costly for us too. That's all.

    "But my Catholic Church is a believer in private property rights."

    That's its compromise with the world, and mine too. But if one accepts the kingdom of God, one accepts God's kingly rule over all that we consider ours.

    "You think of Guy Fawkes, I think of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher".

    I was explaining something not justifying it. You think of Thomas More and I think of William Tyndale, whose persecution More instigated. Fisher is a different kettle of fish. But both he, More and Tyndale were unjustly murdered, all three are martyrs. Christians did bad things to each other back then. I am glad that we have all moved on.

    "The religious are to blame" No, our fallen human nature.

    "If we want a voice in the public square, then we have to re earn it. It is not a right"

    I wrote in haste, we have a right to speak, of course, but if we want to be listened to then we have to reckon with the choice of others. People do not have to listen.

    If one wants to be heard, one has to work out how to be heard, that's all. I suggest that actions sometimes speak louder than words, and also gain hearing for our words which they otherwise may not have had.

    One of the things I cannot do in this country is print an untruth about another. Is that such a bad thing? It seems to me, I could be wrong that freedom should always be exercised with responsibility, otherwise its just self indulgence.

  70. PS I think we are 7 hours ahead of you, so by the time you get back, I hope you had a nice day but I will be in the land of nod. Tomorrow is Sunday I shall in Church most of the Day.

    This has been an interesting exchange.

  71. Flying Goose, thanks for the clarifications! We are in agreement on several points. Are you an Anglican, by the way?

    Right, we cannot print untruths because that is lying (slander, calumny). I agree. The problem comes when the government takes away my rights to free speech or freedom of religious expression, simply because I am opposed to the political opinion of the day. It's not above a corrupt government to shut down the press or the people under the guise of "they are lying", right? It happens in totalitarian regimes every day. That's why it is so important to have freedom-loving, honest, moral men in power politically.

    As for #1, I didn't ask which you would advocate (though I am glad you would advocate the latter, and if only society once again thought the same), I asked which was more copious, accessible, demanded and utilized, and if it was working out well in quelling poverty? It's almost a rhetorical question.

    By the way, you shouldn't be a "realist" when it comes to sin. Just because someone is going to sin, doesn't mean you as a Christian facilitate it or make it a "safer" sin, under the guise of being a realist. That is not what Christ calls us to at all. We love the sinner, but we never facilitate or cooperate with the sin.

    Both contraception and abortion are mortal sins, but they are not morally equivalent. Here is what Blessed John Paul II had to say about that, from Evangelium Vitae:

    Indeed, the pro- abortion culture is especially strong precisely where the Church's teaching on contraception is rejected. Certainly, from the moral point of view contraception and abortion are specifically different evils: the former contradicts the full truth of the sexual act as the proper expression of conjugal love, while the latter destroys the life of a human being; the former is opposed to the virtue of chastity in marriage, the latter is opposed to the virtue of justice and directly violates the divine commandment "You shall not kill".

    But despite their differences of nature and moral gravity, contraception and abortion are often closely connected, as fruits of the same tree. It is true that in many cases contraception and even abortion are practised under the pressure of real-life difficulties, which nonetheless can never exonerate from striving to observe God's law fully. Still, in very many other instances such practices are rooted in a hedonistic mentality unwilling to accept responsibility in matters of sexuality, and they imply a self-centered concept of freedom, which regards procreation as an obstacle to personal fulfilment. The life which could result from a sexual encounter thus becomes an enemy to be avoided at all costs, and abortion becomes the only possible decisive response to failed contraception.

    To be continued...

  72. If one wants to be heard, one has to work out how to be heard, that's all. I suggest that actions sometimes speak louder than words, and also gain hearing for our words which they otherwise may not have had.

    We speak the truth in love, and we speak it without fear. We respect others, but we do not compromise when it comes to sin. We vote (another form of speech), and we advocate for just laws. The time for silence is really over.

    What did you think of the link to Jen's Conversion Diary, if you had time? The comments from those in the UK? Did their thoughts ring true to your own experiences?

    1. In other words, regarding my first paragraph in response to yours, people are dying to hear the truth. Our souls thirst for truth in this relativistic age. But truth must be proclaimed in order to be heard, no? If we are worried the the truth will offend, then are we really good soldiers for Christ? Again, I'm not suggesting a club to beat people with, but rather a clarion call. The world craves truth, goodness and beauty and is in terrible pain and confusion (and sin) without it.

  73. As a now unemployed Mom with no current income, I would still NEVER vote for Obama/Biden. Their way of doing things would be to keep me oppressed and dependent on the system. Romney/Ryan will help me find the jobs they are going to make possible and allow me to work at my potential. BIG DIFFERENCE.


  74. " The time for silence is really over"
    I think it has only just begun. But this is not about being silenced but rather more about being silent.
    You speak about proclaiming the truth, by which I take you mean knowledge of which you are certain. A claim to knowledge must substantiated, whereas my own 'ignorance' need only be confessed. The problem with the kind of knowledge you speak is that you would find it difficult to publicly verify it. Now I know that the counter argument will be that this is revealed truth. But that is all too circular. It cannot be checked by any thing other than an appeal to the same revelation. It is a form of fideism, a seeking to make your truth impervious to outside criticism.
    If you want to proclaim a truth publicly then it has to be subject to an external, that is a public critique, otherwise why should anyone take it seriously?

    "Both contraception and abortion are mortal sins"

    On the latter many non Catholics would agree, on the former non Catholic Christians would not agree. The Catholic Church has taken a particular line on this, one I have to say that seems to be based on Aristotle's very, very dated biology. But I am happy to be further enlightened on why the Catholic Church takes this particular line.

    This will probably lead to the issue of authority. I note that earlier you said this.

    "But my Catholic Church is a believer in private property rights."

    Which is interesting given what St Benedict thinks about private property.

    "If anyone should be found to have something
    that he did not receive from the Abbot,
    let him undergo the most severe discipline.

    And in order that this vice of private ownership
    may be cut out by the roots,
    the Abbot should provide all the necessary articles:
    cowl, tunic, stockings, shoes, belt,
    knife, stylus, needle, handkerchief, writing tablets;
    that all pretext of need may be taken away.
    Yet the Abbot should always keep in mind
    the sentence from the Acts of the Apostles
    that "distribution was made to each according as anyone had need" (Acts 4:35)." RSB 55

    The believers of the Apostolic Church certain held everything in common.

    Acts 4: 32ff
    32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need."

    I am provoked to wonder whether a church that allows private property is in fact the successor to the Apostles?

  75. Flying Goose, of which church are you a member?

    Yes, the early Church lived communally. And they were all under the authority of Apostles (you are right about authority being the issue -- who is yours?). That same Catholic Church allows private property. Are you actually arguing that there is no right to private property? If so, I hope you do not own anything, or you are in grave sin. My Church itself owns property (and had much of it stolen, even in your own land, I might add), but I'm interested to hear what your church teaches on that, and why you are a member if it teaches something sinful as good? (Assuming you are don't live in community and that you own private property.)

    St. Benedict was speaking to his brothers in his community, who lived in obedience to the rule, not to laity or the general Church.

    As to the matter of folks believing or not believing in the sinfulness of contraception or abortion or any of the moral law: It matters not one whit. If they don't believe the moral law, then tough cookies. It does not change the moral law. Do you think that Jesus or the Church would change his mind or change her teaching based on people rejecting it? Honestly, that is just silly. I am guessing you don't really mean that, or maybe you could elaborate?

    You may want to read this:


    and this:


    and this:


    to be continued...

  76. The time for silence is now? Really, this intrigues me. I have never heard this as a tenet of Christianity. Where is that coming from?

    You ask: Why should anyone take the Church and her teachings seriously? Because the Church was founded by Christ, who is God, and because the Church is the giver of Truth to the world, that's why. If people don't want to hear it, then they don't have to. It's called free will. The Church proposes, not imposes. But silence? Not ever in 2,000 years has that been the call of Christians. The Church has outlasted every empire she's faced and there is a supernatural reason for that. You quote the Bible a lot, but why? Has it some kind of authority? And why do you skip the Great Commission and the command never to be silent?

    I'm not quite clear about your idea of Christianity. You say you are one, but do you not believe it to be reasonable? Do you not believe it can be known? Do you not believe it to be true for all? Yes, the Truth is revealed by God, but He placed a brain in our heads that can find that truth, and a heart which can embrace it. As for the moral law, it is universal (the natural law) and can be ascertained by the light of human reason. As for points of doctrine (Trinity, grace, sacraments, Marian doctrines, etc.), they are revealed by Christ through His Church, and in no way contradict any other part of the Deposit of Faith. You act as if no one could ever find his way into the Church and into the Truth, other than some unreasonable leap of blind faith, leaving reality behind, but in fact the very opposite has been the case throughout the millennia.

    I may be missing something, but am I getting your position right? Is that what you are saying?

    If so, I am very interested in your church and what it teaches (as truth) and why you are a part of it.


  77. PS, I am remind of this passage that I love:


  78. I have already read sorry you are not allowed to do that and I respectfully disagree.

    Philosophically you are not entitled to the certainties you espouse. We can all play those games. But I am not interested in that, I am more interested in what truth is and how can we know it?

    On St Benedict, we are all members of the laity, monks and clergy included.

    Property is held in trust, I did not bring it into the world and I cannot take it with, I try as best I can to take no more than I need. Humanly that is difficult, I do believe it is the ideal we are all called to, most of us, my self included, fail. I too am a sinner.

    On conc= contraception, please tell me why it is a sin. Not just because the Catholic church says so, what are its reasons for saying so?

  79. You think espousing and proclaiming truths as Jesus did and asks us to is playing games?

    Let's take this one at a time:

    You need to get very specific regarding the basis of your beliefs here. Where does Jesus command us to be silent about truth?

    If you are a Christian, then give me Christian teaching on this.

    Also, what is your authority as a Christian?

  80. One more quick foundational question. When you say you respectfully disagree with my "Sorry, You're Not Allowed To Do That", do you mean that you disagree that Christianity is a revealed religion?

  81. In reply to the above, no I don't disagree, it is revealed religion. But that makes it necessarily circular. It cannot be checked by any thing other than an appeal to its own revelation. Which is fine from a personal point of view, but how do you get people to accept propositions that cannot be publicly verified.

  82. "You need to get very specific regarding the basis of your beliefs here. Where does Jesus command us to be silent about truth?"

    "WHEN false witnesses testified against our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, He remained silent; and when unfounded charges were brought against Him, He returned no answer, believing that His whole life and conduct among the Jews were a better refutation than any answer to the false testimony, or than any formal defence"
    Origen. Contra Celsus

  83. Flying Goose, as to your first comment above, countless souls across the ages have been converted due to evidence of the truth of Christ and His Church and revelation. The soul is made by God to respond to truth and to be compelled by it. Our job is to speak the truth of Christ, it's the job of the other soul to accept or reject it.

    As to your second point: No, that is Christ choosing not to respond to false accusations about Himself. You are free to do the same if someone falsely accuses you. However, during that very same trial, Jesus said: I have come for one reason -- to testify to the Truth.

    You have no permission to keep the gospel to yourself. You are commanded to go out and speak the truth of Christ to others. Again, show me where Christ or Christianity has ever said anything different?

    We are to evangelize the world. That is very different than choosing to stay silent if someone slanders you because you love Christ.

    For example: If someone goes on a public vendetta against me personally, and my life and my blogs, etc., I may very well stay silent in defense of myself. I may very well not return their slander with anything but a "God bless you and keep you." But as for keeping silent about the gospel? Never! That would continue, no matter how badly I was personally attacked.

    I hope that distinction makes sense.

  84. Flying Goose, do you believe that the Christian Faith is opposed to human reason?

  85. It can be, if people think and speak about it in an irrational way.

    Thus those people who believe, contrary to the evidence, but on the basis of 'revealed truth', that the universe is less than 10,000 years old, do have a Christian faith that is opposed to reason.

  86. "The soul is made by God to respond to truth and to be compelled by it."

    That's an assertion of belief, its one I generally share, although I would want to be clear about what we meant by the word soul, which is by no means clear in scripture. I am not sure about compelling, I think free will has to come in somewhere.

    I agree with Augustine, namely

    "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."

    But this is an assertion of belief, it not a statement of knowledge. That is in an entirely different philosophical category.

  87. Flying Goose, I do not speak for Protestantism, and where Protestantism deviates from Catholicism (i.e., the Church that Christ founded) on issues of doctrine and morals, then it has deviated from the truth of Christianity.

    So, if you want to say that Protestants should stay silent about their erroneous scientific understandings, that's fine (although I would never tell them they must be silent, I would just challenge their understanding), but that has nothing to do with Catholics proclaiming the gospel.

    Christ founded a Church and left the Apostles and their successors to teach in his name. I trust the God-Man who raised from the dead, and I trust his Church that has taught the truth for 2,000 years.

    Actually, St. Augustine was speaking truth. The human heart was made for God. We know this as an absolute truth of the Christian Faith. It is not philosophy; it is just a fact that is true. If you are a Christian you know it is a fact, not simply an opinion of Augustine that you happen to agree with.

    Being compelled does not mean we have to follow through, by the way. That is what is meant by free will. We are compelled by sin (concupiscence) but we still have free will to resist it and to choose good. In the same way, we are compelled by goodness, though we are never forced to choose good; we may choose evil instead.

    By the soul, I mean what the Church means. We Catholics are not sola scriptura Christians. The Bible is one part of our revealed truth, one part of our Sacred Tradition (the written part).

    If you are Anglican (you haven't yet told me?) then you are not strictly sola scriptura, either, correct?

  88. The human heart was made for God. We know this as an absolute truth of the Christian Faith. It is not philosophy; it is just a fact that is true.

    What makes this a "fact that is true" and an "absolute truth?"

  89. Johanne, Christians believe as an absolute truth that God made us in His own image and likeness, and that each person was made, out of pure love, for Him. To be one with His heart. Every person was made for complete union with God. It's our home.

    That is a tenet of Christianity, as true as any other tenet of our Faith ("Faith" meaning what we believe).

    I guess in answer to your question, God makes it an absolute truth, as He is the author of all Life and all Truth.

    We are made by Love, to love and be loved. All else springs from that. There is nothing else.

  90. I am a baptized lay man ordained in the Church of England.

    "I trust his Church that has taught the truth for 2,000 years."

    "I trust his Church" I too trust, that's the point, that is what faith is, trust. I believe, I don't know.

    Why do I believe in one God,the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth of all that is, seen and unseen. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God,
    Begotten of his Father before all worlds,
    God of God, Light of Light,
    Very God of very God,
    Begotten, not made,
    Being of one substance with the Father,
    By whom all things were made; and so on... Because that is what we believe. Its what makes us Christians and not Hindus, who believe something else. Its about a choice for Christ. 'Your people will be my people and your God will be my God...'

    But notice the creed does not start with;
    γινώσκομέν, (We Know) but rather with Πιστεύομεν (We believe)?

    "has taught the truth for 2,000 years." When did the church ecumenically accept that Jesus was fully God and fully human?

  91. You asked me whether I am an Anglican and I did not use the word. That perhaps need some explanation. It seems to me that what we call the Anglican Communion has its origins in the reformation and the British Empire. So today it is largely although not exclusively made of Episcopally led churches in former colonies which are in communion with the See of Canterbury. But when we look at it like that it makes the See of Canterbury look like the See of Rome. Which it really is not. Canterbury is provincial See, Rome is a Patriarchate. So I would prefer to think of myself as a baptized Christian, in communion with many Episcopally led churches, but not in full Communion with the See of Rome. That seems to me to be a better description than the shorthand and 'Anglican'.

  92. Flying Goose, thank you for the clarifications.

    Do you mean, "When did the Church clarify that Jesus was fully God and fully human" in the face of major heresy? That would have been at Nicea. But to imply that the Church taught otherwise (i.e., that she ever taught the heresy that Christ was only a man, or that Christ was never a man) is untrue. If you are claiming that, please show me any evidence. Remember, the infallible teaching authority lies with the Pope and the body of bishops.

    As for belief vs. knowing: Are you suggesting that Christians can't know that the things we believe are true? Or that the Church (and Christ) do not and did not teach truth as truth, but only a possibility? I really am confused as to what you are getting at.

    Do you believe that your Faith is True? Do you believe that the Creed is True?

    Also, what/who is your authority as a Christian?

    I have just awakened, still a little sleepy! Off to get some breakfast….

  93. It was actually at Chalcedon in 451, some 125 after Nicea. But I am being picky, My point is that if you imagine that Christian orthodoxy arrived pristine with the Apostles then its seems to me that you take no account of the development of doctrine. Doctrine development in the face of controversy. Many of the ante Nicene Fathers believed things that were later repudiated, what is important is the Fathers themselves were not.

    On authority, that is more problematic, as a philosopher I wish to take nothing on authority. We begin in ignorance and proceed through rational inquiry, reflection, experimentation and research to knowledge. But that knowledge is always contingent upon what we might yet find out.

    As a Christian I accept the teaching of the church set out in the first 7 ecumenical councils. Howwhat a partial and not the whole picture. 'We look into a glass darkly'.

  94. "Are you suggesting that Christians can't know that the things we believe are true?"

    Yes, because Knowledge is in a different category to Belief.

    As my mother always responds to those who say "I will believe it when I see it," "well that would be knowing, not believing".

  95. Flying Goose, do you believe that the Revolutionary War happened? I do. I believe it to be true. Can we know it happened? I believe we can.

    I think you have an authority problem in your branch of Christianity, but I think many Protestants and folks in the "via media" know it, too.

    I absolutely believe in development of doctrine. We can know things more deeply as time goes on, much like we can see more detail on the furniture in a room in which the light is turned from dim to bright. But what never happens is a reversal or change in essence of any part of the Deposit of Faith -- the "furniture in the room" has not been added to or subtracted from. It's just been more greatly illuminated.

    Hope that makes sense.

    The Deposit of Faith stands, has always stood, and will always stand. And we can believe (I won't use "know" if you don't like it) that it's absolutely true.

  96. Flying Goose, I think you would enjoy my friend Kim's conversion story:


    Also, how much Newman have you read?

  97. "the "furniture in the room" has not been added to or subtracted from. It's just been more greatly illuminated."

    I quite like that, where we differ I think is in our respective estimations of the level of illumination.

    I will read your friends story. But I will say this on the outset, I have know Catholics all my life, my God mother is a Catholic, one of my best friends is a Catholic Priest. I regularly retreat to a Trappist Monastery. I am not unaware of the attractions of the Catholic Church. One of the things that keeps me where I am is intellectual freedom. If one is not intellectually free, it can be difficult to pursue a line of inquiry to its logical conclusion.

    On Newman, not much, yet, he is in the pipeline, but there are few in front of him.

  98. Flying Goose, thank you. We may be closer than I first thought. I will say, it is irrelevant how much or how little illumination is there, as the amount of light would never reverse a truth, either moral or doctrinal, but only help us understand it better and mine its riches. The truth itself would never change.

    I think you will find Newman intellectually satisfying, and dare I say, freeing? :)

    I love this line by Chesterton (put him on your list!):

    It is impossible to be just to the Catholic Church. The moment men cease to pull against it they feel a tug towards it. The moment they cease to shout it down they begin to listen to it with pleasure. The moment they try to be fair to it they begin to be fond of it. But when that affection has passed a certain point it begins to take on the tragic and menacing grandeur of a great love affair.

    and of course, this:

    The outsiders stand by and see, or think they see, the convert entering with bowed head a sort of small temple which they are convinced is fitted up inside like a prison, if not a torture-chamber. But all they really know about it is that he has passed through a door. They do not know that he has not gone into the inner darkness, but out into the broad daylight.


    When [the convert] has entered into the Church, he finds that the Church is much larger inside than it is outside.

    You're going to make a great Catholic! ;)

  99. Sorry to jump back in, but quick question: Why is euthanasia intrinsically evil?

  100. No problem, Chris.

    Because it is murder. It is killing the sick or inconvenient.


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