Pontifications

Pontifications


Historian’s verdict: Catholic justices can’t be trusted

posted by David Gibson

That headline is perhaps too blunt a summation of an argument by the UCLA professor emerita of history, Joyce Appleby–but not by much. In a column in the Tallahassee Democrat, Appleby argues that Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination raises concerns because six of nine Supreme Court justices would be Catholic–and that has a big downside, because, well, you know Catholics:

This dramatic change in the composition of the Supreme Court can be traced to the country’s protracted struggle to achieve equality. It reflects our better selves, the ones who want to make up for decades of prejudice and discrimination. But because of the Catholic Church’s active opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage and capital punishment, it raises serious questions about the freedom of Catholic justices to judge these issues. Perhaps the time has come to ask them to recuse themselves when cases come before their court on which their church has taken positions binding on its communicants.

SNIP

In truth, religion is not a factor in the majority of decisions that the court will make each year. It might not be relevant at all had not the Catholic Church, with some other denominations, taken public stands on issues of great political significance today.

Abortion comes immediately to mind, but it’s not the only constitutional matter where religion and politics clash. This past week two eminent lawyers, David Boies and Theodore Olson, filed a lawsuit in federal District Court in San Francisco as co-counsel for two gay couples challenging California’s Proposition 8. The California Supreme Court’s upholding of the proposition’s ban on same-sex marriages triggered the action, which seeks relief for gay couples under the Constitution’s protection of equal rights.

The case could go all the way to the Supreme Court, raising questions about the vigorous opposition to same-sex marriages by the church to which five, and possibly six, justices will belong.

Recusal sounds like a radical measure, but we require judges to withdraw from deliberations whenever a personal interest is involved. Surely ingrained convictions exert more power on judgment than mere financial gain. Many will counter that views on abortion, same-sex marriage, and the death penalty are profound moral commitments, not political opinions. Yet who will argue that religious beliefs and the authority of the Catholic Church will have no bearing on the justices when presented with cases touching these powerful concerns?

Umm, I would make that argument–and so would the Catholics on the court would argue the same, left, right, and center. I don’t want to go all “Catholic League” here, but this piece leaves me gobsmacked: Appleby seems like a historian condemned to repeat history–the Nativist part.

H/T: Catholic World News



Advertisement
Comments read comments(14)
post a comment
gmo2

posted June 10, 2009 at 12:21 am


Yet who will argue that religious beliefs and the authority of the Catholic Church will have no bearing on the justices when presented with cases touching these powerful concerns?
Well, I will, although it’s hard to begin when her argument is so awful. Does this person not know that the opinion of Catholics generally do not reflect church teaching? How can she be so insulated from the news to not know that? I am a Catholic but favor SSM. I voted for Obama. Has she never heard of Sebelius, Kerry, Biden, Kennedy? What a dufus. Some Catholics are conservative because that is their outlook, but it has less to do with their Catholicism than it does with their politics.



report abuse
 

C3

posted June 10, 2009 at 1:27 am


We should fear 6 of 9 Catholic SCOTUS Justices but people were all perfectly content with 9 of 9 protesters? I know you were trying to be tempered David but sometimes plain words are needed. You say history is doomed to be repeated, “the Nativist part”. In academia credibility is crucial, I’m just wondering what’s the credibility of a Know-Nothing?
The thing of it is I don’t even support Sotomayor’s nomination, not because she rules at times against Church teaching but because she legislates from the bench. Therefore she is unfit as a Justice where there are no appeals. The out and out Anti-Catholic sentiment in this country along with internal divisions being promoted, (Yes, I’m looking at you Dave) perhaps a few more people of the faith need to get all “catholic league” on matters. Then blatent discriminatory speech such as the piece you just cited wouldn’t be tolerated as it isn’t tolerated by any other groups.
Imagine if she said well we can’t have another woman on the court, you know how they get… Or we can’t have a Hispanic, or a Black, or a homosexual. Which MSM outlet wouldn’t have it as the lead every hour on the hour??? How many gb’s of space would be crammed packed about the offensive hate filled nature of these comments? John Hughes didn’t put up with the Know-Nothings then and I’ll be damned if I put up with those that know even less now…



report abuse
 

C3

posted June 10, 2009 at 2:12 am


and gmo2 how can you say you’re a Catholic and be IN FAVOR of SSM??
Now I am Catholic(If you couldn’t tell) and I say that SSM can be tolerated as a civil union(this is a secular society) providing the same benefits that traditional marriages allow, without the explicit blessing of the Church, but to be in favor? Nien, Nyet, Non, and again NO!
This is very simple, it is laid out in doctrine and taught in tradition SSM or rather homosexuality goes directly against Chirstian tenets of faith. There is no compromise, there is no ooh we’ll let that slide just this once, it is explicitly written
1 Corinthians 6:9
1 Timothy 1:10
along with the CCC
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
Now I don’t give a hooeypatooey if someone is a homosexual, I know a few and they are treated like any other person, with dignity and respect. I am saying that you cannot pervert Christian doctrine to justify what is deemed to be immoral behavior, and further yet deemed an obstacle to salvation!
So how can you claim to be a Catholic and be in favor of SSM? You can’t. A change in words or opinions I’d humbly offer for you to consider or if you are adamant there is a large variety of protesting denominations that would love to see you on Sunday.



report abuse
 

freelunch

posted June 10, 2009 at 5:27 am


C3,
Christian doctrine does not make the laws of this country. Have you forgotten that the First Amendment keeps religious zealots from imposing their doctrines on others? Your religion does not own the concept of marriage or the naming rights.
The problem we see today is that the bishops are trying, but failing, to force politicians to do exactly what John F Kennedy said he would never do — their bidding, the Vatican’s bidding, in governance. This is a secular country, something that Catholics appreciated for many years, but now they make common cause with evangelicals who despise them in an attempt to destroy religious freedom. I cannot think of any reason any Catholic should listen to American bishops. They are no longer deserving of respect.



report abuse
 

ann

posted June 10, 2009 at 8:26 am


C3, what leads you to believe that God can’t determine what God finds good? I think it is a little dangerous to suggest that the church knows more than God. But then, if we didn’t suggest that, how could we be “saved” and everyone else (also God’s creation) be so unworthy? So I guess I do see the soundness in our argument…it is the only way we can remain “right”.
But then what is the gift of the New Testament all about?



report abuse
 

C3

posted June 10, 2009 at 12:00 pm


FreeLunch,
You are missing the point, I said I could condone SSM, not support or am in favor of, but CONDONE it because we are in a secular society, you seem to of missed that part of my post. As far as naming rights I don’t care what it is called,marriage, civil union call it a Rainbow Connection, what do I care?
I do however care when they wish to expect acceptance from the Church, because as I’ve shown the Church clearly has their opinion on the subject and it is one that doesn’t favor the idea as it is deemed morally reprehensible. This doesn’t mean they are bad people or not worthy of our love and charity it means that they are going against doctrine and tradition that has been taught before there even was a Church.
This isn’t about religous freedom this is about heresy against Church teachings. Methodists, Unitarians, Lutherans etc..can have all the Rainbow Connections they want, that it their right to allow that in their denominations, it’s not like they haven’t strayed already, but in the Catholic Church, never.
I reiterate for emphasis, in a secular society the permittance of SSM should be allowed if it is democratically accepted. This does not, should not, cannot, and will not be accepted by the Catholic Church. Freedom of religion and the seperation of Church and State means people can choose which religion they wish to practice. It doesn’t mean they get to choose which teachings of that religion they should accept or ignore, and it certainly doesn’t give them a right to change those teachings.
To do so makes it a Church of relativity, and that Church most certainly is one build on the ever changing sand dunes of popular opinion.



report abuse
 

C3

posted June 10, 2009 at 12:50 pm


ann
I’m not sure if you were doing a little theraputic typing or what, a bit obscure…
My contention is this; In a secular society all manners of behavior whether or not we find them acceptable need to be tolerated as long as they don’t harm another person. That doesn’t mean that all behavior is acceptable or needs to be accepted by all people. Freedom is a funny thing, you have the freedom to do certain things I and others find offensive and I have the freedom to take offense.
Religion, and more importantly Catholicism give you freedom through obedience. You are free to do whatever you wish as God gave free will. Now this means the power to choose, your actions can be considered negative or positive, you may be attracted or have an aversion to things and that is your God given ability, the ability to choose.
Now some years ago, before Paul came around, even before Jesus made himself known the teachings have been that homosexuality is sinful by nature. This is a belief of many, in this belief system (Catholicism)it was deemed to be so. Others have had other beliefs and have formed their own belief systems. Cool, not a problem.
The problem lies in the fact that nowadays people don’t want to make their own beliefs which are contrary to the belief system they are familiar with(Catholicism)and seperate themselves from this belief system as was done by Lutherans and then the various other offshoots. They want to claim ownership of the belief system they are familiar with(Catholicism) and interject behavior that is incompatable. This is the problem, and cannot be accepted.
It is like saying you’re gonna drive on the left side of the road when the rules of this country are we drive on the right. Now you may get others to drive on the left side and it will be problamatic, accidents, traffic jams, what have you. You also may get people to sympathize and say, “Hey, why can’t they drive on the left side of the road, it is a free country?” Now people will be upset but the fact remains that people will be driving on the right side of the road, and those that really really wish to drive on the left side will move to England so they can have the freedom to drive on the side of the road of their choosing. Which is in exact opposite to the direction of travel in this country.
So just as I’ve shown above is the same with homosexuals and Catholicism, if you really really wish to be a part of the Church you’ll drive on the right side of the road, if not you’ll find someplace that accepts the direction you wish to travel.
The US is a democracy, Catholicism is not. You can get everyone together and change the core beliefs and traditions and scripture of Catholicism but then it wouldn’t be Catholicism, and that truly would be intolerable.



report abuse
 

ann

posted June 10, 2009 at 4:25 pm


C3,
Unclear about the “theraputic typing” comment so won’t.
However, my point, (and don’t get me wrong I appreciate the condescending lecture) is that we are an evolving Church. Your argument is that someone should deny who they are, who God made them to be, so that they fall in line with church doctrine. So someone who may devote thier life to God (and there are many) but are admitted homosexuals are not welcome in our Church. You are suggesting that only those who follow the rules are welcome. Hmmm…and all this time I thought that the church was exactly the place that God calls us sinners to be united in the Eucharist with Christ. By the way, our Redeemer.
Recently, a homosexual friend of mine who has devoted his life to Gospel work, who has lived a truly Catholic life told me he decided that he was not going to be kept away from the Eucharist. This is someone who fully understands what Eucharist is…this is someone who discerned God’s call back to union with God. You would come between that?? That is bold indeed!
Further, to suggest that every idea or doctrine that the Church has is above question is downright terrifying. The Church is the people called by God. Jesus gave us two rules, Love God with all your heart all your mind and love your neighbor as you love yourself. If you recall Jesus took the Pharisees and Scribes to task about forcing people to follow the rules and not caring about them as fellow humans. They were so concerned with the OUTWARD appearance of things (looking right) that they forgot about the needs of the people that Jesus came to minister to. Sense any parralels here?
PS: The car analogy is weak…it conflicts with your initial paragraph.



report abuse
 

C3

posted June 11, 2009 at 1:22 am


ann,
2 things first, If I was giving you a “condecending lecture” I must reevaluate the means in which I attempt to convey my points because that wasn’t my attempt. My firm resolve and conviction in the way things are isn’t a lecture it is my opinion, as you have yours. Mine just happens to more closely align with the Pope, the Vicar of Christ and head of the Catholic Church. If you don’t like my analogy that’s all fine and good, it was an off the cuff endeavor to which I thought painted a pretty clear picture. In no way does the analogy conflict with my initial paragraph as the context of my initial paragraph involved secular society while the analogy clearly was in relation to the Church.
Now to the heart of the matter. You say we are an evolving Church. This is only partly true. The Church stands outside of time, the Church was founded by Christ who is who always was. The Alpha the Omega. We as people, as disciples of Christ evolve in our understanding of Him through the teachings of the Church. We don’t decide one day to take the centuries of knowledge, of scripture, of tradition and throw it out the door simply because we aren’t content that our behavior isn’t approved. That times are changing so the Church has to change with the times. The Church through Peter was given Christ’s Authority here on earth.
In your attempt to “evolve” the Church you are attempting to remove the Church’s Authority which if you are Catholic must believe was given to the Church by Christ Himself! You are claiming that you the individual, your interpretation of Christ’s teachings supercedes that of the Church. This then leads one to believe that you are a protester that hasn’t quite come to grips with the fact.
I can say this because if you believe something that is opposite of what the Church teaches than you are not in communion with Her. You are protesting. It’s nothing to be ashamed of really, there’s quite a number of protesters around nowadays and as I said many, many would love to see your warm, smiling face.
To say that it is “the way God made you” is not really owning up to one’s own actions now isn’t it? I mean it could be said that if everyone used the excuse “this is the way God made me” than society or civilization rather would never of come into existance. Order, Authority these are what created civilization. Not a bunch of people running around willy nilly doing as they damn well pleased shouting
Jesus was a Jew and the divine keeper of the law. Jesus taught many things more than simply the 2 you mentioned in an attempt at relativism and rationalization. Read Matthew Chapt 5 especially verses 21-28. He doesn’t soften the Law he increases its strictness!
Whoever commits murder is liable to the court, but whoever has anger for his brother also is guilty. Don’t commit adultery, but who ever has lust in his heart is already guilty of adultery!!!
While nothing was specifically said by Jesus on the matter at hand you can glean a glimpse of where it would lead.
Finally I don’t personally wish to see anyone turned away at the alter. To break bread and invite all into the house of God is or should be every Catholics and protesters main intent. But if they bring mud into your home do you clean the mess and ask them to wash, or do you say nothing or worse provide them with encouragement and the means to soil the rest of the guests in your home?



report abuse
 

ann

posted June 11, 2009 at 8:49 am


If you need to catergorize me as a protestor so be it, but really I am in the collective, not interpretting as “I” see fit but discerning through (church ordained) reading, listening to the various homilies of my life, different Catholic Church based experiences but primarily prayer. I focus my energy on the plank in my own eye. Feel free to worship the Church, I will worship God through the gifts he has given in his Son and the Holy Spirit. And as the example that Christ gave us when he washed the feet of his disciples, if someone brings mud into my home I will be the servant I am called to be and clean it up. I will presume that there is something much larger than my own understanding at play.



report abuse
 

C3

posted June 11, 2009 at 1:45 pm


You feel the need to question the authenticity of my devotion to God when claiming me to worship the Church with the added implication that my devotion is to the Church first and God second or not at all. I simply am conveying where I see fault in your logic. You wish to make things personal. To judge.
In that I would say it should serve you well to really work on getting that plank out because it is plain to see the plank is truly blinding you from God’s will. I worship God and come to a better understanding of Him through the teachings of the Church. You wish to do so without the Church’s guidance. I’m then baffled at where you feel justified in your indignation when someone “labels” you a protester.
To be clear, I haven’t labeled you a protester as if I’m judging you like you’ve clearly demonstrated to have judged me. I’ve classified you as one. As one would classify an apple a fruit or a head of lettuce a vegetable. I’ve never given any ill will toward you and have been painstakingly gentle in my approach. In that I see my attempts at gentle persuasion have failed and my time on this particular subject with you has come to its conclusion. I wish you all th best and look forward to perhaps sharing another conversation with you again. God Bless.



report abuse
 

ssab

posted June 11, 2009 at 2:22 pm


Is she crazy? 51% of Catholics are pro choice, 2/3 support gay adoption, and 2/3 support gay civil unions. We’ve got to figure that the vast majority of married Catholics use artificial contraception. Are there seriously Catholics out there who take the words of their bishops over their own conscience, especially a Supreme Court Justice? Sotomayor even says that she attends mass only on special occasions. I’ve attached a link to an incendiary left-wing Catholic site that belabors this point.



report abuse
 

ssab

posted June 11, 2009 at 2:24 pm


Sorry, I posted the wrong link. Here it is.



report abuse
 

C3

posted June 11, 2009 at 5:12 pm


ssab,
then 51% and 2/3’s of “catholics” should look into becoming Methodist.
I wonder how many of these are the same ones I see running into the Church 10 minutes into service and run right out after recieving communion?
The parallels I’m sure would astound.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Pontifications. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Faith, Media and Culture Prayer, Plain and Simple Happy Blogging!!!  

posted 2:38:01pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Moving on, and many, many thanks...
So...my recent vacation and related absences also coincided with an offer from PoliticsDaily.com to cover religion for them, as editor Melinda Henneberger announces here in her roundup on the site's very successful first 100 days. That means, in short, that I'll have to sign off from blogging h

posted 8:29:24pm Aug. 02, 2009 | read full post »

Calvin at 500, Calvinism 2.0
If you thought you knew John Calvin--who turned 500 last week--you probably don't know enough. For example, that he was French, born Jean Cauvin. And if he was in fact scandalized by dancing, he was also a lot more complex than that. I explored the new look Calvin in an essay at PoliticsDaily, "Patr

posted 11:53:35am Jul. 16, 2009 | read full post »

Apologia pro vita sua...Kinda
 In my defense, I've had computer outages and family reunions and a few days of single-parenthood, which is always a bracing reminder of what many parents go through all the time. And this weekend it's off for a week's vacation. Anyway, hence the long absence. Apologies to those who have chec

posted 10:51:36am Jul. 16, 2009 | read full post »

When Benny met Barry: "I'll pray for you!"
The first word via Vatican Radio and first image (that I saw) via Rocco: Speaking to Vatican Radio, Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi said "moral values in international politics, immigration and the Catholic Church's contribution in developing countries" were key topics of discussio

posted 12:54:28pm Jul. 10, 2009 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.