46 Responses

  1. Bender says:

    We’ve gone beyond Republican vs. Democrat.

    Now, the battle lines are (a) the party of Thomas More and John Fisher or (b) the party of Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII? Are you with Peter or are you with Caesar?

    Whose side are you on?

    Now, perhaps more than any other time in our history, American Catholics are going to have to ask themselves — are Thomas More, John Fisher, and all the martyrs of the Church just names and stories in books? or were they real people, who have provided us examples of how real witnesses for Christ must conduct themselves, rather than being the poseurs that too many of us are today.

    • Bender says:

      And what are you? As for me:

      I would NEVER be a member of the Party of Slavery (where half the party was violently in support of owning black people as chattel property, and the other half of the party was “pro-choice” on the matter, prefering the popular sovereignty of letting people and states decide for themselves), the Party of Secession, and the Party of Segregation. I should be ashamed to be in any way associated with a party having such a history that rivals that of National Socialism in its evilness, a history that continues with its zeal for abortion and, increasingly, for athiestic socialism (which, in its condescending elitism, talks about helping the poor, but only makes things worse, only keeps the downtrodden on the master’s plantation). Never.

      At the same time, I cannot in all good conscience call myself a Republican, which historically was the party of abolition, Union, and civil rights, but has instead become a party of the spineless and duplicitous, a party of worms who looks to cave on principle at the first opportunity, but who time and again asks, “if only you will elect us, this time, we promise, we really really do promise, this time we will do what we said we would do and we’ll actually do something about the slaughter of 55 million innocent human lives and the destruction of the family and complete repudiation of America as the land of the free.”

      Between Republicans and Democrats, it has become a choice of “no” and “hell no.”

      As for my Catholicism, despite what some might say is an overwhelmingly clear indication of ideological conservativism (actually, classical liberal if you want to get technical), I do strive to keep my politics out of my faith. Or more precisely, for my faith to inform my politics and not the other way around. As a Catholic, I very much want to be one with people of all stripes and colors and flavors, conservative and liberal, traditional and progressive.

      I agree. When it comes to the Faith, we should all be simply “Catholic.”

      • Ursula Anne Baxter says:

        Hello. This is a question. When will the Bishops of America stop supporting Federal Welfare and Federal Income Taxes? These two abominations are the most direct contributers to the decline of America. Our Lord did not teach us that the governnment of any society was responsible for charity and good works. We individuals are responsible to the social good works that are needed. Our Lord did not teach us that it was just and right for a government to confiscate the fruits of our labor by income tax. Alan Keyes likens this system to slavery. I agree with him. Confiscation of personal property is also known as stealing. When did the end stop justifying the means? The original statement in the constitution which said that income shall not be taxed was the morally correct stance. It was a communist plan to impose income tax on America. Welfare is also a communist plan. Their plans are coming to fruition. I am sorry to say that the fact that the communist plans are becoming our standard operating procedures is partly the result of the Catholic Bishops in America. I say this sadly, because I know that Our Lord called each one of them and loves each one of them. Therefore, I am praying that Catholic American Bishops will be enlightened as to how to resist and refuse the current attacks on us by Obamacare (another abomination). With all respect and deep devotion to Mother Church, I thank you for reading this.

        • Clarence White says:

          “Our Lord did not teach us that the governnment of any society was responsible for charity and good works. We individuals are responsible to the social good works that are needed. Our Lord did not teach us that it was just and right for a government to confiscate the fruits of our labor by income tax.”

          You are dead wrong on both counts…Jesus said “Render unto Caesar…” HE UPHELD PAYING TAXES, and never said anything against high tax rates…ever.

          And in Matthew 25, when he says we are to do to “the least of these” as we would do to him…that isa not individual charity…it takes place in the context of the nations being judged. (Matthew 25:32) This is a passage about social policy. Yes, we are to be charitable individuals, but no one…no one…no one…who loves Jesus Christ is opposed to the redistribution of wealth…if you love Jesus you are for the redistribution of wealth. If you oppose the redistribution of wealth you serve Satan…anathema on you.

  2. Jo the Housewife says:

    In my 50+ years I have seen MOSTLY 4 categories of Catholics pertaining to Republican/Democrats: 1) Born poor, lack of material possessions/needs (therefore confuses needs with wants), votes Democrat for first 20-30 years, until attains those material needs/wants, and realizes they are no closer (but perhaps further from) happiness (aka love of God) and later vote Republican; 2) Born with all needs/wants met (upper middle class or wealthy) and doesn’t appreciate material things–never worked for them, votes Republican, but then is introduced to the poor, shocked, feels guilty, and works to reverse the roles (wants the mean old rich to be poor and suffer, and the poor old poor to have all its material needs met), and begins to vote Democrat (some all the way Socialist). 3)Then there are those Democrats who have never improved (might have tried) their lot in life and still resent others, and still vote Democrat . 4) And a few who have worked hard all their lives and done what they thought was generous and neighborly, but still resent the “lazy good fer nuthin’s” and will always vote Republican. There are also very wealthy Democrats, but I’ve never known one personally, so I truly don’t know what motivates them. Maybe they are the children of category (2)? This is not necessarily my opinion–but more my observations. What you DIDN’T mention, is how to help voters discern which is the lesser of the evils…most would say abortion is most evil. Do you not agree, or are you standing on the seamless rug of neutrality…which isn’t very helpful to those intrigued by your title and took time to read your article…in hopes of a guidance when they are being pulled equally by friends and relatives…Thank you.

    • Scott says:

      Is abortion more evil than the death penalty? Killing is killing.

      • Rob says:

        Scott,

        Children in the womb are innocent. People on death row are adults who are quite likely (though certainly not always) guilty of heinous crimes committed of their own free will. So I would say that you are comparing apples and oranges here.

        Still, I take your point. I just happen to think that one sin is worse than the other.

        • Fr. Maximilian says:

          The death penalty is not a sin, and the CCC affirms the fact that it is not a sin. The teaching of the Church fully recognizes that the death penalty can be for the State a morally just penalty for certain crimes. And in fact most Popes and Bishops throughout the 2000 year history of the Church supported its use in justice. Thus #8 can be a bit confusing as a person can also honestly state “I stand with Popes and Bishops and the CCC in the just use of the death penalty.”

          • Yes but to be fair Rev. Fr. The catechism also says the use of Capt punishment should be rare if ever. This is what is meant by the just use of it: rare if ever. The catechism speak of the reasons requiring the death penalty as not only rare but as practically “non existent” This article of course is not about the death penalty but, your little interjection is a perfect illustration of what it really is about: that the Catholic Church in the US is poliitically diverse. Yes Fr. sadly, you are a perfect example, for if even the clergy will publicly speak against the bishops and popes and define down when they “must” agree with the pope and bishops publicly (as you have a long history of doing on this blog combox) then the Catholic Church is not only diverse, but generally ineffective. Perhaps Father if you are incapable of of giving assent publicly to even non infallible teachings and prudential jusdgments of your current superiors, you should just be quiet. Show a little more prudence Father.,

      • Ursula Anne Baxter says:

        Rob- Abortion is killing a perfectly innocent human being. The death penalty is reserved for thos convicted of some horrendous crime against human beings. Just sayin!

        • Marson says:

          that einlbang abortion is a grave, mortal sin. The killing of unborn LIFE is the paramount moral issue of our lifetime. There is no equivlency to any other issue. You mention other pro-life issues there are none. Abortion is the killing of innocent life and is done 1.2 million times a year in this country. The death penalty may take the lives of a dozen or more a year, all of whom have been convicted and given multuple chances to prove their innocence. Despite the demagoguery, no one is dying in the streets from a lack of health care. Problems? Yes. But not a lack of morality. The only lack of morality is the 1.2 million abortions in the U.S. each year. It is indefensible and Catholic pro-abortion politicians who claim they are upholding the Faith are therefore lying and bringing scandal upon the Church. You cannot say you believe in a certain type of club and then consistently violate its bylaws, can you? No, you would be thrown out. According to your logic, the rules for the Faith should be less adamant than a civic organization’s! If pro-abortion Catholic politicians believe abortion to be moral, they have excommunicated themselves, as per the Catechism. Everyone knows the rules going in. They are not optional. Either they believe or do not believe. If they do not believe, then they should choose a denomination for their worship. Better, though, is for them to understand the grave sin that abortion is and defend life. There is no way Rep. Kennedy would support a bill to allow the killing of an infant. There is no difference with abortion.- Brother Stephen

  3. Chris in CA says:

    Thank you so much for this post. Finally, someone expresses (better than I could ever do) my frustration with both political parties, Republicans and Democrats. Your observations are spot on (IMO), especially during this polarizing election cycle.

    • Scott says:

      I am going to vote for the party that is least driving the polarization – I think we all know who that is.

      • Ursula Anne Baxter says:

        The Democrat Party, at the level of National Politics, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the International Communist Party. Only SOME of the Republicans are Communists. Devisive? How do you reach a compromise with someone who is only interested in killing you? You don’t. You just stick to your own principles, and DO NOT COMPROMISE. So, is that what you are calling divisive?

  4. Ann says:

    Excellent article.

  5. Will says:

    Where are the Saints of yesteryear who would stand up and call a heretic what they are? Nancy Pelosi and Kathleen Sebelius are no more Catholic than President Obama. Being Baptized Catholic doesn’t mean you are Catholic. And that goes for any number of Republican “Catholic” politicians as well.

    • Ursula Anne Baxter says:

      You are too right. We have all experienced heartache as we wached these evil people being allowed to recieve the Body and Blood of Christ. Scandal!

  6. SWP says:

    I like to share with people excerpts from the encyclical Caritas in Veritate, esp #51:

    “The Church has a responsibility towards creation and she must assert this responsibility in the public sphere. In so doing, she must defend not only earth, water and air as gifts of creation that belong to everyone. She must above all protect mankind from self-destruction. There is need for what might be called a human ecology, correctly understood. The deterioration of nature is in fact closely connected to the culture that shapes human coexistence: when “human ecology”[124] is respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits. Just as human virtues are interrelated, such that the weakening of one places others at risk, so the ecological system is based on respect for a plan that affects both the health of society and its good relationship with nature.

    In order to protect nature, it is not enough to intervene with economic incentives or deterrents; not even an apposite education is sufficient. These are important steps, but the decisive issue is the overall moral tenor of society. If there is a lack of respect for the right to life and to a natural death, if human conception, gestation and birth are made artificial, if human embryos are sacrificed to research, the conscience of society ends up losing the concept of human ecology and, along with it, that of environmental ecology. It is contradictory to insist that future generations respect the natural environment when our educational systems and laws do not help them to respect themselves. The book of nature is one and indivisible: it takes in not only the environment but also life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations: in a word, integral human development. Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other. Herein lies a grave contradiction in our mentality and practice today: one which demeans the person, disrupts the environment and damages society.”

    To be Catholic is to vigorously defend Truth.

    • Ursula Anne Baxter says:

      Amen! Remember where Gorbachov went as soon as he left Russia? He went to defend and protect the ‘enviroment’. With friends like him, who need enemies?

  7. Nathan says:

    Great post! We all need to ask ourselves are we Catholics who tend to vote Republican or Democrat or are we Republicans (or Democrats) that happen to attend a Catholic parish. Of course, we are all called to the former – the latter inevitably running the risk of falling into dissent from Church teaching.

  8. Jo the Housewife says:

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20071130_spe-salvi_en.html Everyone should read this encyclical by Pope Benedict. It truly explains a lot of what is going on in our country, our culture, and where we as Christians should be in the world (not of it).

  9. Ed says:

    “Frankly the Catholic Church is just too big and diverse, our teachings too ancient, biblical and Catholic to fit into a narrow little label like liberal or conservative, ”

    Included in that diversity are the 80-95% (depending on which survey) of catholic women that obstinately use birth control, the majority (based on yesterday’s survey) of catholics that support insurance coverage of contraceptive devices and services, the 40-50% (depending on which survey) of catholics that say abortion is appropriate under one or more circumstances, the 54% of catholics that voted for Obama, etc.

    So, when the Bishops get a chance to take a break from wallowing in their self-righteous indignation at Obama, maybe they should reflect on just why Obama was “confused” about (i.e., is quite aware of ) what most Catholics (not what the clergy or the most faithful in the Church) truly believe .

    • Nate says:

      Great post Ed. This is the elephant in the room. The bishops have let the building burn for the last fifty years (at least the ones who weren’t actually pouring gasoline on the fire) and are now mad at Obama for kicking over the few charred timbers that remain. We are a little past the point where a mere letter from the bishop is going to change things.

    • Ursula Anne Baxter says:

      People who do not accept the teachings of the church are probably just dramatically under-educated in the truth concerning the teaching. When the full explanation is well taught and understood, most people just find themselves in agreement.

  10. Jan says:

    Monsignor, the biggest problem facing us is that we are not free to be “simply Catholic. Politicians keep the waters so muddied that it’s impossible to just be. Since we have to live in this world, in this country, we are obliged, sadly, to choose between the lesser of evils. Otherwise you end up with someone like Obama in the White House – that’s worked out real well, hasn’t it. Instead of investing time and energy in vital areas, our bishops and the rest of us are busy trying to protect our rights under the Constitution, which apparently means nothing to Obama and his Legion.

    The biggest issue? We have consciences. They don’t.

  11. Nate says:

    You are right, the Church isn’t represented in this country by a political party. However, to argue that both parties are wrong on some issues and, therefore, both parties are equally bad is to be obtuse. The Democratic Party and its supporters want to undermine and destroy the Church and Her teachings. And most American Catholics will happily support that agenda in exchange for their monthly thirty pieces of silver from the government. Also, please stop labeling conservatives as anti-Catholic on what are prudential issues where orthodox Catholics can differ.

    • anti-catholic?? You missed the whole point of the post, likely because you read it politically. Try to see past your politics and understand the actual point of the article which is that the Catholic Church is politically diverse. Your snide and divisive comments serve only to illustrate that very point.

      • Peter says:

        Peace be with you, Monsegnior.

      • Ursula Anne Baxter says:

        Msgr. Pope, The faction within the Church which has pushed ‘social justice’, meaning ‘communism’, not real Christian Charity, is the very cause of people voting for Democrats who are pretending to give real help to people but are pro-abortion. A majority of the Catholic vote went to Obama. That fact is a clear sign that ‘something’ is badly skewed within the Catholic community in America. To begin with, welfare does not help anyone. All it does is perpetuate evil. “If you want more of something-subsidize it.” “If you want less of something-tax it.” Just so! We subsidize poverty and get horrible ghettos, children giving birth to and rearing other children, lack of moral standards, the disappearance of the Father in the home and the destruction of the family in society. Is that what you want to subsidize? For the love of Heaven! End Welfare!. Now, Income. Tax income, and you get less of it. That is what has happened. Do you realize that every single position and strategy of the Democrat Party is one of the Ten Commandments-turned on its head? That sounds like Satan to me. How can any Catholic be confused about who to vote for this year? Can you say Santorum? Most Respectfully, Ursula

      • Suzan says:

        Theological hosnety is indeed not risk-free, but I would not think it is a major factor in Catholics losing their faith. 81% leave the Church in search of a better liturgy.

  12. Kathy I. says:

    Very interesting article and also the comments. It is quite a conundrum – or more simply put, we are in quite a mess. I have found it very difficult to choose a candidate, and this has been for a few years. Half my life I voted strictly Democratic, the other half Republican. Now I find myself without a party that truly represents me on all the issues – some of them quite important to me. I have voted Republican for the last few years and I am sad to say I am sometimes ashamed of that. However when left with the alternative I felt I had no other choice. I really want another choice and feel we need a grass roots movement in this country to make that possible. I think there are lots of people like us who feel this way.

  13. Kurt says:

    Good article. The Church is neither D nor R and the lay faithful should be both D and R. Let us have a faithful Catholic presence in both political parties, affirming the Party when it reflects Catholic values and being a dissenting minority when it does not. That will do more for the faith than telling people how to vote.

  14. Julia says:

    Thank you, Msgr. Pope, for this reminder that the Catholic conscience should transcend the political parties. If you don’t mind my adding this, this is what I have also tried to say on my most recent post at Vox Nova.
    http://vox-nova.com/2012/02/05/to-prophesy-from-the-center/

  15. Kurt says:

    And again to a very good article, I will offer one small quibble.

    As the self-proclaimed Pope of liberalism, I will say that when the Catholic Church talks of subsidiarity we liberals stand with her. Understandably, liberals do not accpet interposition and nullification, massive resistance and unrestrained capitalism, but the Church has never meant that when she has spoke of subsidiarity. Whatever secular conservatives call subsidiarity, I cannot think of a single instance of an example the Church has given of subsidiarity in which American liberals did not agree.

    Certainly, in economics, collective bargaining between workers and management has long been promoted by Catholicism and liberals as an alternatives to decisions being made by distant corporations or governments. The SNAP program (formerly food stamps) is an excellent example of each level serving in its proper role, with federal financing and nutrition research, state administration, private sector delivery and non=profit CBOs doing much of the outreach and direct contact.

  16. ThirstforTruth says:

    If I may, a few observations:
    (1) As the good monseiger stated in the beginning, the HHS edict ( I think mandate is not calling this as it is) is PRIMARILY an issue concerning respect for freedom of conscience for all Americans, regardless of faith or no faith. It is only secondarily about contraception which is mainly the focus given by the media and the President.
    (2) President Obama et al wish to make this an issue of contraception as that would most effectively divide not only Catholics ( those who contracept artificially from those who do not…the far greater proportion being the first)but assure him the vote of the vast majority of voting women.( this is an election year)
    (3) As for question: Are Catholics largely Democrats or Republicans? Historically the vast majority have been
    Democrats…especially among the hierarchy. For this reason the USCCB has been most reluctant to take issue with President Obama whom many see as closer to the ideal of ” social justice” so dear to their hearts. It is also the reason few Bishops have spoken out against abortion or nominal Catholics in the Obama Administration. Also very few publically objected to his being given an honorary degree at Notre Dame ( only less than 75 out of over 400 bishops).
    (4) Even now, in this latest skirmmish between the Church and the Obama Administration, only a small proportion of the Bishops have publically joined the fray e.g. pastoral letters. Something like 170 out of again
    over 400 Bishops.
    (5) That the majority of Catholic women contracept artificially should surprise no one! I am approaching my
    75th year and have yet to hear a homily on Humanae Vitae or the evils of artificial contraception. That silence from the pulpit has not presented much competition for the souls of Catholic women who hear the roar of secular feminism 24/7 for the past 44 years! ( since Humanae Vitae).
    (6) The affiliation or affinity of the hierarchy for the Democratic Party is what gave us the Acorn scandal.
    Given all the above ( won’t even mention the annual Al Smith dinner given every year by the Archdiosese of New York, when Catholic hierarchy and Democratic pols sit down for an evening of fellowship and roisterous good fun in the name of faith and politics) I would say it is safe to say sadly that the Church has most identified with the Democratic Party in the past. Given what has happened now, with those chickens coming home to roost, it might also be safe to say repentence is in order! Rick Santorum for President, anybody?

  17. mdepie says:

    Rick Santorum is an excellent choice for President for the serious Catholic. What is surprising and perhaps disappointing is that the phenomena that we are made aware of the myriad issues the Church needs to be concerned with. Fair enough and from my view point the problem is that the Hierarchy often does make a clear distinction between the essential issues ( like abortion) and contingent ones ( like how to fight poverty) Hear in Santorum we have the unusual candidate who is really pretty good on all of the issues, so for those concerned mostly with “social justice” we have someone who fought to help the third world poor ( restructure developing countries debt, AIDS relief efforts) helped this countries poor ( welfare reform), and has been stellar on the pro-life issues. I am surprised and not a little disappointed that those in the Catholic blogosphere who have a platform to some degree have not called more attention to him.

  18. Kurt says:

    It seems that the President is moving to a fair and reasonable resolution to the issue of the HHS contraception mandate. Under discussion is the Hawaii model in which a religious employer is allowed to exclude contraceptive coverage. However, in Hawaii the employer must inform the employee that they can obtain contraceptive coverage directly from the insurer, if they want it, and the insurer must offer coverage at the price difference between what if offers insurance with and without contraception (since the market price is rarely more, the employee usually pays nothing). The plan that is under discussion further tweaks the Hawaii plan so that it is the insurance company and not the religious employer that informs the employee of this benefit.

    The Catholic Church in Hawaii has accepted the Hawaii plan when it was enacted in 1999. Given that reality, it seems that the even more accommodating proposal being discussed solves this problem.

    • Ursula Anne Baxter says:

      You must not be old enough to remember freedom. Back in the day, the Federal Government had NOTHING to do with health care. That is exactly the way it should be. The Federal Government cannot do anything right except the Constitutionally Authorized acts of government. Get an OLD Constitution out and begin to list the things which are authorized. NOT MUCH. Income tax, for instance, was specifically DISALLOWED. There was good reason for this. We have been infiltrated by the Communists for over 100 years-but it doesn’t have to continue. May God sustain us.

  19. ThirstforTruth says:

    If the just announced “compromise” of the Obama Adminstration is acceptable to the Catholic Church than
    we have indeed become contributors to the downfall of America! This “compromise” is another power grab
    by the Obama Administration which has no more authority over the Insurance Industry than it does over the Catholic Church! To say this is a compromise is dishonest and dangerous as this represents still another
    unconstitutional grab for power. And sending Kathleen Sibilious out to tell still more lies to the women of
    America …that this is only about Women’s Health is laughable. When is Kathleen going to stop the lies…
    that pregnancy is a disease and an endangerment to women’s health…and that abortion is good for our
    families. When will she disclose the current and conclusive studies ( a very good one in Great Britain)
    that show the rising incidence of breast cancer in the last few decades correlates directly to the increase
    in abortions..and use of artificial contraception. If we accept that American women are “entitled” by the Constitution to abortifaciants, contraceptive pills, abortion, etc. How long will it be before American women
    are told by government that they WILL practice artifical contraception after they have had the 2 child limit
    allowed by government…and that they WILL have an abortion if they defy that government edict? Wake
    up America? This current Administration is all about duping people. They duped the Bishops once…will
    the Bishops be duped again? Stay tuned and see. Rick Santorum can only be helped by this fiasco…he
    is perfectly positioned now to take the Obama Admnistration on.

  20. Susan J. says:

    The pro life issue must determine the voter’s choice..to protect the most defenseless from death is a greater good than any of the other goods associated with the democratic party, enunciated above, even though they are good in themselves. Msgr Pope seems to be evading this basic truth. The democrats like to be known for helping the poor but in reality they are helping to kill as many of them as possible through abortion. Poor is better than dead. How can any good catholic vote for a pro choice democrat? They can not. If you don’t believe me, come out to Germantown Marylan on a Monday morning while Dr Carhart kills ninth month unborn viable babies. That is the fruit of our Maryland democrats.

  21. John Terranova says:

    After struggling with “labels” for myself I think when asked I will simply reply, “I am Both/And.”

  22. Mei says:

    Theologians vs. Bishops: this is dpesersing. It?s starting to look like a case of compelling arguments on one side, appeal to authority on the other.The original document of the Bishop’s Committee on doctrine is an argument, not an appeal to authority.Contrawise, the CTSA reply focuses primarily on issues of authority and roles in the Church, rather than on theological argument.?Bishops as Teachers? asserts that catechetics since the 1970s has failed to pass on the basics of the faith, and this demands a change in how theology is taught to uninformed Catholic undergraduates. Students don?t have sufficient background to negotiate the wide variety of opinions in the theological academy. Undergrad theology must become catechetical ? that is, it must stick to teaching the basics of the Faith to the uncatechized.That’s not how I read it at all. Wuerl’s discussion is primarily descriptive, not normative. He writes that books used in religious studies/theology courses at Catholic colleges and universities must be seen as de facto catechetical and formational texts. The Bishops teach that every use of artificial conception is morally wrong. But as we learned this week, some 98% of US Catholic women disagree.That’s a complete misreading of the statistic. That people do something doesn’t ipso facto mean that they think it’s morally right. I bet you could survey Catholics and find most of them have stolen something and used the Lord’s name in vain in their life. That wouldn’t mean they disgree with the second and seventh commandements.

  23. Karl says:

    I think I may just change my party affiliation from Republican to Independent.

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