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Open Letter

posted by awelborn

John Allen pens one to the president-elect:
Finally, one last piece of unsolicited advice: Mr. President-Elect, whatever else you do, please try to avoid repeating the mistakes of the last Democratic administration with regard to the Vatican.
In his memoirs, former Vatican Ambassador Raymond Flynn tells a depressing story from 1994 illustrating what I mean. During the lead-up to the U.N. conference on population in Cairo in 1994, Pope John Paul II called Flynn to the Vatican on a Saturday morning to personally request a telephone conversation with President Clinton. Flynn relayed the request urgently to the White House that afternoon, and got no response. He called again on Sunday and on Monday, both times with no results. Frustrated, Flynn then got on a plane to Washington on Tuesday. He cooled his heels outside the president’s office that night and most of Wednesday. Finally, he was admitted to the White House’s pre-Cairo war room, where he was told by Assistant Secretary of State Timothy Wirth that “nobody is getting a chance to lobby the president on this one.” Dumbfounded, Flynn explained that the Bishop of Rome is not a lobbyist, and that it would be seen as a profound act of disrespect if the president wouldn’t even get on the phone. After almost a week, Clinton finally agreed to take the pope’s call.
The episode was symptomatic of a basic disinterest within the Clinton team about the Vatican, which at times shaded off into hostility. The result was that the U.S.-Vatican relationship during the Clinton years was more often defined by predictable differences than by imaginative areas of common purpose.



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Ken

posted November 7, 2008 at 12:53 pm


It would help if the Holy Father would put abortion at the top of his list of issues when communicating to politicians.
A key opportunity would be in Benedict’s letter of congratulations to Obama. Instead: “Asked if the pope mentioned any specific issues he was concerned about, Father Lombardi responded, ‘peace, solidarity and justice.’”
http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0805616.htm
Does the liberal president-elect really need to hear that the pope is concerned more about “peace, solidarity and justice” more than the specific issue of abortion?



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Glenn Juday

posted November 7, 2008 at 1:06 pm


This was the non-Catholic president who presented himself for and received Holy Communion (a definitive and solemn act publicly recognizing the authority of the Catholic Church and acceptance of everything that she teaches as matters of Divine and Catholic Faith).
Shortly after came his disgrace and public humiliation.



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Dan

posted November 7, 2008 at 1:26 pm


Mr. Allen: get real. Have you drunk too much of the Kmiec Kool Aid? The American people just elected the darling of the Hollywood liberal left, and by a fairly decisive margin. NARAL and Planned Parenthood will now be running the show. Trust me, sensitivity to the concerns of Pope Benedict will not be high on the list of concerns of this administration. David Geffen will have a hot line to the Oval Office. Pope Benedict will not.



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Catnip

posted November 7, 2008 at 1:26 pm


Here is my response to Allen’s letter:
Mr. Allen,
With all due respect, I think you have misstated a few things in this letter.
The fact that Pope Benedict sent a note of congratulations to Senator Obama, calling it a “historic occasion” is absolutely correct. But this does not, in any way, indicate that the Pope approves of or supports Mr. Obama’s already-expressed vision or policies. Clearly, the Pope will work with Mr. Obama insofar as he can, perhaps especially on Africa, but I’ll be very “surprised” if his relationship with Mr. Obama is either warm or enduring. If you think that the Pope will allow himself to be used to shore up Obama’s base with Catholics, you yourself are off-base. Doctrine does count, after all.
Second, the “robust religiosity” of America that you cite is more apparent than real. Aside from the collapse of the mainline Protestant bodies and the erosion in the Catholic Church, I think what you’re referring to, without being explicit, is the oft-cited strength of evangelical Protestantism. Well, if their strength was in evidence during this election cycle, I didn’t see it. Either they sat on their hands or their “principles” were as up-for-grabs as anyone else’s. Religiosity requires more than putting on a good show.



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bill bannon

posted November 7, 2008 at 1:48 pm


Ken
Benedict may feel in a very weakened position in light of 54% of US Catholics having just voted for a partial birth abortion candidate…or Benedict may have mentioned abortion in the private part of that letter.
I wish he had not congratulated him until later as usual…from your article: ” in past years, the Vatican custom has been that the pope congratulates a new U.S. president only when he formally takes office.”
I wondered today how a Fr. Pavone who has poured out his life and his every day’s work on this issue felt when he saw notice of this congratulations.
Catholics in the US are 25% of both the electorate and 25% of customers to businesses. Some of what we mistake for real respect of Rome is not respect ….but is more along those lines of self interest. To the degree that a secular leader feels that he does not risk the Catholic voting base by going against a Pope…such a leader may well angle to ignore the Pope’s view.
Today’s NY Times had this:
“He (Obama) also did well with Catholics, who make up about a quarter of the American electorate, winning 54 percent of that vote compared with 45 percent for Mr. McCain. Most of the Catholic boost for Mr. Obama came from Hispanic Catholics, who are now 6 percent of the electorate.”



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Tom F.

posted November 7, 2008 at 2:04 pm


Ken:
I think the pope knows what he is doing. I think he is well aware of both church teaching and the political landscape in the U.S.



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Mike

posted November 7, 2008 at 2:36 pm


There’s something strange about this letter. It proposes a working relationship between the US and the Vatican, despite prominent differences on life issues.
You know what that sounds like to me? It sounds like the Richard McBriens and Douglas Kmiecs of the world who urged Catholics to vote for Obama despite the Church’s differences with him on life issues.
Does it strike anyone as ironic that the Church might work with President Obama after asking Catholics to think long and hard about voting for him?
Wouldn’t the Vatican support intrinsic evil by working with the Obama administration?
Now that I have seen John Allen’s letter, I want someone in the Catholic community to repeat the exercise from a slightly different perspective: an open letter from the unborn to the Vatican asking Pope Benedict not to work with the Obama administration until Obama and his adminstration demonstrate the “dramatic change of heart” about life issues which John Allen seems to assume is a metaphysical impossibility.
The Pope should lay down the gauntlet, not pick it up.
Mike



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John Farrell

posted November 7, 2008 at 2:48 pm


Boy, I forgot what an @$$hole Clinton was.



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sd

posted November 7, 2008 at 4:38 pm


Mike wrote:
“Wouldn’t the Vatican support intrinsic evil by working with the Obama administration?”
No no no no no. That is a complete – complete – mis-reading of the teachings of the Church. It is the teaching of the church, (and the Apostle Paul; and indeed Jesus for that matter) that Christians owe proper respect and deference to civil authorities on all matters that do not conflict with the authority of God.
The vast majority of the things that an Obama administration will do will be matters of pragmatic governance in support of a sincere attempt to do the public good. And the same can of course be said for the Bush administration. To work with, and indeed support, the administration in these things is not morally problematic whatsoever and indeed is the duty of a proper Christian citizen. On issues where the Obama administration seeks to do evil it is the duty of the proper Christian citizen to oppose him (much as it would have been the duty of a proper Christian citizen to oppose the Bush administration on the use of torture).
One can make a very strong case that based on the abortion issue alone it would be sinful for a Christian to vote for Obama. But once he is elected, working with him, or even supporting him, on all matters unrelated to abortion is not sinful at all. You may or may not agree with his policy goals on matters outside of the life issues. Thus you can choose to support him or oppose him on these matters. But you are not bound by conscience one way or another. Helping him implement his policies on abortion is obviously a different matter entirely.
Given the heat and light generated by this election it cannot be repeated enough times: The Chruch teaches that certain acts are intrinsically evil, but does not teach that certain persons are intrinsically evil.



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Liam

posted November 7, 2008 at 5:54 pm


Wow, so many people in recent days have lost touch with Church teaching on formal and material cooperation and instead gotten in touch with their inner American Calvinist.



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Mike

posted November 7, 2008 at 5:54 pm


sd-
Assume that President Obama, and the democrats, bring FOCA to the floor and pass it. Obama signs it.
In such a scenario would President Obama not be cooperating in intrinsic evil?
And would the Vatican not then be justified in refusing to deal with Obama’s administration?
At a minimum, does it not seem ironic to you that the Church would (between the lines) ask Catholics to think long and hard before voting for Obama, and then turn around and deal with his administration itself, without conditions?
In the context of “Faithful Citizenship,” how can the Church ask American Catholics to take a hard political stand in furtherance of the life issue, and then not do so itself?
I’m not a Church naysayer, believe me. I’m just asking about what the Vatican should do in its dealings with the most pro-abortion administration in history, and how the Vatican’s decisions might impact its “authority” when it asks American Catholics to make hard choices.



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Clare

posted November 7, 2008 at 6:21 pm


(I hope this is encouraging to those who are despairing. It’s not an “Obama’s not that bad” post — but a quick behind the scenes that I heard from the source). I do know someone on the President-Elect’s personal hotline, an evangelical pastor who is unwaveringly pro-life. A smart, deeply faithful pastor. He challenged Mr. O about his stance on abortion at a town hall and Mr O’s response? Mr. Obama asked the pastor to stay back and pray over him – quietly, no one else around (except secret service!) … so the pastor did. Mr. O has called a few times since to ask my friend to pray for him, which he does, right there on the phone. How Obama is so wildly off on abortion, I don’t know, but he calls and asks an unwavering evangelical to pray over him. So let’s take hope where we can and all of us join in and pray with belief in Christ’s resurrective power to change Obama’s heart on this issue. After all, the Holy Spirit is the real agent of hope and change.



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Liam

posted November 7, 2008 at 6:26 pm


Not at all. What’s formal cooperation for Obama does not make dealing with him without conditions formal cooperation for the Vatican OR the faithful who are in government, et cet. And the level to which material cooperation must rise before it becomes sinful (and then, on top of that, gravely sinful) has many gradations. It’s important not to make hash of that in favor of an ersatz clarity.



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sd

posted November 7, 2008 at 6:35 pm


Mike,
You are dead wrong on this.
Yes, if Obama and Congress pass FOCA they are committing an act of grave evil.
But the Church teaches that the authority they wield is legitimate and deserving of the obedience and cooperation of Catholic citizens in all areas where they act legitimately in the interest of the public good, as they will do countless times in the next 4 years.
It is the duty of the Catholic citizen to work against abortion. When there is an election, this can be done by voting against pro-choice candidates in favor of pro-life candidates. But once the election is over, the only means of working against abortion open to us are to speak out against abortion, and possibly to engage in acts of peaceful civil disobedience against abortion-enabling laws.
It is not – not not not – a legitimate tactic in the fight against abortion to engage in acts of civil disobedience against the other (non evil) laws supported by the same Obama and Congress. Nor is it being a faithful citizen to refuse to work constrcutively with Obama and Congress on the many issues in which they will not be committing acts of grave evil.
Almost every (and the “almost” is being generous) human government in the history of the world has done acts of evil, often acts of great evil. The Bush administration, for example, has permitted the use of torture, which the Church teaches, along with abortion, to be an intrinsic and grave evil that is never justified.
But the Church, to be engaged in the world, must work with these flawed, evil-doing governments where it is pragmatic to do so in the interests of the greater good of humanity. At times the Church may choose to break off cordial relations with a government entirely (such as the Nazis), where it is clear that that government does so very little good in the world that it would not be productive to work with it. But that is hardly the case with the U.S. government, regardless of how we feel about abortion. The U.S. government is the largest supporter of education, science, healthcare, food relief and a host of other intrinsic goods in the world. The Church would hardly being doing its duty to the gospel to avoid working with it, regardless of who holds power currently.
When 2010 and 2012 come around it will once again be time for Catholics to use the power of the ballot to fight against abortion. But until that time, we are obliged to be faithful citizens, which means working with and supporting the government where it does good, and raising our voices (productively and prudently) where it does not.
Jesus told us to render unto Caesar and St. Paul told us that all authority comes from God. And whatever you think of Obama, he ain;t on the Nero scale of evil.



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Jim

posted November 7, 2008 at 6:37 pm


Well, the Vatican never tried to demonize Obama before the election, so its actions now should not be a surprise.
The bishops, on the other hand, went every which way before the election and some individual bishops did try to demonize Obama……..and now they have to explain why the Vatican is acting the way it is acting.
The Church is still not comfortable interacting with democracies……just the same way it was uneasy interacting with empires and later with feudal systems and monarchies. Eventually, the Church finds its way……….and maybe may even find a way to incorporate some democratic practices. The Church is not about governance structures……it is a guardian of the Christian Faith.
Don’t forget…………….bishops used to be chosen in some parts of Christendom by popular acclamation.



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Chris

posted November 7, 2008 at 7:36 pm


Hypothesis: the Vatican knows what it is doing. It understands the political landscape of America. It has been advised on the factions within the US church. It knows where Obama stands on life issues. And yet it chooses to reach out to Obama, and not mention abortion. Is it just possible – just entertaining a hypothesis, not saying I know for sure – is it just possible that this is a subtle rebuke to “one issue” bishops, that the Vatican actually thinks there is a multidimensionality to politics? Is it possible that the Vatican isn’t entirely in synch with American conservatives? This doesn’t mean that the Vatican agrees with Kmeic. Repeat: the Vatican is not an American conservative, and it isn’t an American liberal either. It just means that, viewed from Rome, what we take for certainties in American politics aren’t quite so certain. Wouldn’t surprise me a bit. I lived in England for eight years, and learned, for example, that British evangelicals are not like American evangelicals; a British evangelical can be quite conservative theologically, and quite liberal politically, for example. Lesson: do not project American political categories on to European Christians. They see things differently from here. And sometimes it helps to see ourselves as others see us.



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Rich Leonardi

posted November 7, 2008 at 8:17 pm


Does the liberal president-elect really need to hear that the pope is concerned more about “peace, solidarity and justice” more than the specific issue of abortion?
Bear in mind this is Father Lombardi’s account. I’m not suggesting he’s lying, but people often observe what they want to observe.
Jesus told us to render unto Caesar and St. Paul told us that all authority comes from God. And whatever you think of Obama, he ain;t on the Nero scale of evil.
FOCA is “Neroic.”



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Thomas Hart

posted November 7, 2008 at 8:30 pm


Oh for crying out loud, the letter is just a polite letter saying congratulations and good luck. The profound differences and remonstrances will come later in encyclicals, pastoral letters, etc.



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Susan Peterson

posted November 7, 2008 at 9:50 pm


I paused to contemplate whether I think FOCA is “Neroic.”
It seems to me that it is more like that other dictator whom to mention on blog threads means that they are at an end.
I think that because the promotion of FOCA is more a systematic approach to the killing of a segment of the population than Nero’s was, less impulsive, more cold and deliberate. It is also killing of a segment of the population based on the idea that they are less than human, more like that other dictator.
I think it remains to be seen if we will see Neroic behavior out of Obama. When things didn’t look good for him, Nero looked for a scapegoat and found the Christians. Honestly, I don’t think we will find Obama burning Christians at night as torches for his private parties! I think there will be many things he will do which will wind up making life more difficult for Christians.
I am not sure what cooperation and noncooperation mean in this case. I would think that one wouldn’t accept a job in his administration, not that many of this will have that choice.
One would continue to obey the laws of the land.
I feel confident that the Pope knows what he is doing. Having read some of his writings, I see absolutely not one hint of either intellectual fuzziness or moral cowardice anywhere. I am sure he is working to establish a relationship in such a way that he may be able to do some good there later. Whether there is any chance of that or not I do not know.
If there were enough Catholics committed to peaceful civil disobedience to stage massive abortion clinic rescues (blockades, sit-ins) it would focus a lot of attention on this issue..and maybe even save a few babies. But this would require a commitment to going to jail, paying huge fines, perhaps losing our houses. I went to one rescue years ago, but soon after that they started applying the RICO statute to rescuers and taking their houses, and I quit. I had another baby around then also, and I thought maybe I was looking at losing my house and having my 9 kids put in foster care.
Now I suppose I could do it although my husband would have to support me. We certainly don’t have to cooperate with the law in those particular cases when it is serving to protect the right to do business of those whose business is killing the unborn.
Susan Peterson



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Karen

posted November 7, 2008 at 11:13 pm


Why does the United States even have an ambassador to the Vatican? The Pope is the head of a CHURCH, and the head of a state only because of a regrettable historical circumstance. (That would be Mussolini’s recognition of Vatican City.) We didn’t recognize the Vatican as a separate entity until Reagan wanted to cater to the right wing.
I am a Protestant and I am personally offended that my tax dollars go to support a full diplomatic establishment to cater to one denomination. Our government can cooperate with Catholic charities just like it does with any other NGO, and treat the Pope with the same respect as any other religious leader, but certainly no more than that. In the United States the Catholic church is simply one among many and shouldn’t expect special treatment.



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Nancy

posted November 7, 2008 at 11:42 pm


As bad as FOCA is, I think the real flashpoint will be similar to when JPII took on Clinton over Cairo, if Obama uses US money and influence to push for population control programs worldwide as well as enshrine abortion as an international human right.
And just wondering, wouldn’t you think the Holy Father would be aware of Abp. Burke’s stance on pro-aborts when he appointed him to his current position.



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saint

posted November 8, 2008 at 8:37 am


The exact contents of the Pope’s letter have not been divulged and will never be.
The L’Osservatore Romano is the Vatican boilerplate that turns many non-Catholics like me off the Vatican machine and makes me think the Catholic church is infested with lunatic lefties not Christians.
Obama a choice that unites? What a load of crock!
Let’s see how long a coalition built on the peace, justice and love of far left radical groups and scum -from Farrakhan,Wright, Pfleger, Ayers, Rezko to Khalidi – a veritable grievance theatre – along with the dregs from the bottom of the Chicago river like Emanuel and Axelrod and half the Daley political machine, coupled with the Pelosis and the Franks and the Bidens along with everyone from the bottom of the the Clinton adminstration cupboard lasts. Even the useful idiots like Buckley and Duberstein and Powell lasts and the Pravda U.S. media could hold that lot together.
Obama is no friend of the church – any church not just the Catholic church – how could he be given his membership of Wright’s heretical hate cult and him channelling funds to nutcases like Pfleger. He is nothing more than a Chicago politician, an empty suit of the worst possible kind.
Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel – himself a zero rating on pro-life issues – has already signalled three things which will be on the table first – children’s healthcare, economic bailout and a reversal of the ban on embryonic stem cell research. Expect PP to come calling up promises next.
If the Vaticanistas don’t get that and like to fawn over thugs like Obama (and yes he is a thug, he just hides behind his attack dogs) then show them the contempt they deserve. Follow rather the lead of your bishops and fight this abominable man and his cronies and his policies.



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gb

posted November 8, 2008 at 8:52 am


sd,
“You are dead wrong on this”.
Let me tell you why. Because as a taxpayer in the USA, I will be forced to contribute to the intrinsic evil of killing kids before they’re born. Please stop trying to sugarcoat this reality.
You say, ” It is not – not not not – a legitimate tactic in the fight against abortion to engage in acts of civil disobedience against the other (non evil) laws supported by the same Obama and Congress. Nor is it being a faithful citizen to refuse to work constrcutively with Obama and Congress on the many issues in which they will not be committing acts of grave evil”.
Tell me, how is it possible to extricate the $$ that are taken from my paycheck and be sure that they’re used to support Non-evil Laws & not the abortion industry?
Can you or anyone assure me that those tax dollars will be used to, say, build roads in Africa rather than force women to accept birth control in order to get an antibiotic (see testimony from the Bejing Conference)?
How do you assuage your conscience with this argument if you say, for example, “I can cooperate with the government in non-evil laws even though they still buy & sell people on auction blocks for slaves”?
Your argument, as reasonable as it sounds, is a straw man in this developing situation.



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Jim

posted November 8, 2008 at 9:02 am


“And just wondering, wouldn’t you think the Holy Father would be aware of Abp. Burke’s stance on pro-aborts when he appointed him to his current position.”
Sure………the same way the Vatican was aware of Cdl. Law’s expertise in personnel management before he got kicked upstairs.
Some minimal pastoral people skills are necessary to be a real shepherd to real people. Abp. Burke is an outstanding canonist and his current assignment is a good one.



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Jordanes

posted November 8, 2008 at 9:23 am


Karen, because you’re a Protestant you wouldn’t understand or accept that Catholics believe the Pope is not just the earthly head of their religion, but is the “prime minister” or prince regent, so to speak, of the King of Heaven and Earth. It’s only fitting, then, that the Church desire that all governments have formal diplomatic relations with the Holy See. Nor do we regard the Church as just one denomination, and the Pope is certainly not just any other religious leader.



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RP Burke

posted November 8, 2008 at 11:18 am


Karen,
You’re badly in need of a history lesson. The city-state of Vatican City is all that remains of the Papal States, an area of varying size over the centuries whose origin was the Holy Roman Empire of the 7th and 8th centuries. It shrunk to the Vatican itself after the uniting of Italy (no more independent grand duchies, either) around the time of our Civil War; Pope Pius IX became the first “prisoner of the Vatican.” So the now very small country has one of the longest histories as a sovereign state, and its ambassadorial corps also one of the longest serving.
So your argument that “no ambassador, as it’s only a church” does not square with the facts. Now the US did not share diplomats with Vatican City until the 1980s, largely because of anti-Catholic beliefs similar to what you expressed; Ronald Reagan cut the Gordian knot and appointed the first ambassador.



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RP Burke

posted November 8, 2008 at 11:20 am


On the larger question of a relationship between Pope Benedict and President-elect Obama:
Why in the world would we ever turn up our nose at an opportunity like this? If you don’t talk, what opportunity of conversion is there?



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elmo

posted November 8, 2008 at 11:46 am


Folks are reading this letter like it was tea leaves. Yes, we know what it says, but what does it mean??
I wouldn’t read more into it than what it says, which is congratulations on your election. The Church looks forward to working with you where she can. No hidden rebukes of any bishops on the one hand. No material cooperation with evil implied on the other.



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Michael Fronda

posted November 8, 2008 at 12:50 pm


Karen,
What a misguided view you hold. I am not going to argue with about whether or not the “birth” of the Vatican state was an “unfortunate” historical accident. Whatever the circumstances of the birth of the Vatican, it is a sovereign state. That the US did not recognize this state until the 1980s is a shame on the US. Moreover, there have been many states throughout history whose political leaders were also church leaders, or whose governments are theocratic. Should we cut off diplomatic ties with those nations? I am offended that you reject its legitimacy merely because its head of state is also a religious leader.



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Tom Kelty

posted November 8, 2008 at 1:20 pm


Peter Steinfels in the religion section of today’s NYTimes, makes some interesting comments about the NCCB gathering next week in Baltimore. He cites Albany NY Bishop Howard Hubbard favorably twice on his stance of single issue politics. Given the extreme statements and the histrionics a few Bishops employed, it is time to re-examine how they communicate complex truths. Hubbard sums it up neatly, asking,” I hope the Bishops have a frank discussion as we assess how effective we were in communicating our message.” Simply redrafting the document will not cut it.
The Bishops face a much broader task in regaining public respect and trust after the debacle of the sex abuse crisis. The stench endures as does their denial or their claim that it is now history.
I have a bad feeling that next week, they will follow the easy path to please Burke in Rome.
They should listen To Hubbard.



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Tom Kelty

posted November 8, 2008 at 1:34 pm


11/8 1:25 pm
Catholic News Service says the NCCB has removed the item from the agenda.
This is a hell of a way to run a railroad and it says much about the mind set that runs the church. They are accountable to no one and will go to any end to preserve their power.
It is one more vivid exercise of the absolute power style that cries to heaven for review. The Bishops will never regain public trust until they recognize their need for fundamental reforms.
While we are at it, they need to get rid of all the absurd hats and capes, the watered silk and fancy shoes. They scandalize the poor and hungry.



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Mike

posted November 8, 2008 at 4:14 pm


sd-
You make good points on the intrinsic evil issue. I probably shouldn’t have gone down that road, since it wasn’t really my main point anyway.
I am more interested to know how the Church can/should deal with the Obama administration without contradicting its teachings about the primacy of the “life” issues. In 2012, and in other Presidential election years, there will again be appeals to American Catholics to “put life first” in their voting decisions. How does the Vatican “put life first” in its dealings with the Obama administration while at the same time it engages the Obama administration on subsidiary issues?
It seems to me that the potential exists for an inconsistency that could harm the Church’s election-year teaching that American Catholics should “put life first.”
Maybe the answer is simply that the Vatican must carefully walk a tightrope.
If FOCA is introduced in Congress, I for one hope the Vatican gets down off the tightrope and holds no punches.
Mike



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Jim

posted November 8, 2008 at 11:00 pm


Mike,
Maybe the people look at the bishops’ actions and find them at odds with their words. Do they run their dioceses and archdioceses as if life issues were the first priority? Have they stuck their necks out in defense of life? Have they risked their careers and security to make life issues first?
In general, they are a cautious bunch, measuring words and calculating costs…………..no better or worse than most of us sinners.
But not exactly leadership models.
Maybe American Catholics are scared about the future of this country and feel as if they have to look elsewhere for leadership.
Maybe leadership should be a product of elevation to the episcopacy, but I think it should be a prerequisite.



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Dan

posted November 9, 2008 at 2:29 am


We will get nowhere until we start a third party. Until we do, our votes will be split.
Any Catholic who votes is supporting intrinsic evil. You either support killing millions of babies, or you support killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, scores of prisoners, potentially millions through pollution and global warming, and countless through gun violence and lack of health care. Put another way, one party is 10% in support of Catholic teaching, but claims it’s o.k. to blow off the other 90% since abortion outweighs the rest. The other party makes a real effort to follow Christian principles on a broad range of issues, but blows it on something so central to the gospel that it boggles the mind.
Lets stop arguing over which evil to support. Let’s form a Catholic party, or maybe a Christian party. I’m not sure about the including Protestants. They are solid on abortion, but they didn’t back the Pope on Iraq, they tend to be pro capital punishment, and many lack preferential love for the poor, even preaching the “prosperity gospel,” such as Joel Osteen.



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Joseph R. Wilson

posted November 9, 2008 at 1:33 pm


I think that President Obama plans to get right down to it when he takes office and liberalize federal funding for embryo-destructive stem cell research. This will be an opportunity for our Church’s leaders to engage an important life issue. Bishops, stand up!



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Susan Peterson

posted November 9, 2008 at 7:53 pm


But Dan, lots of Catholics are not pacifists and believe it is correct to go to war when our country or its interests are threatened. Lots of Catholics believe that the best way to help the poor is to have an economy which is purring right along creating jobs, and that giveaway type programs should be minimized as much as possible as they are not helpful for people in the long run. Lots of Catholics think global warming is at best an unproved scientific theory and at worst a lot of hooey. Lots of Catholics believe that the second amendment supports the rights of citizens to keep and bear arms. (and scores of prisoners? where did you hear that?) Oh yes, and lots of Catholics think that capitol punishment is a right the state always has when it is needed to protect its citizens, and that that situation might still arise in rare cases today. Did I miss anything? Oh yes, health care. Lots of Catholics believe that is best left to the private sector. I think we need a better system than we have, for sure. But you can’t say we “kill” people by not providing them with free health care, as there isn’t any intrinsic right to access to every possible cure for every possible disease.
In other words, a lot of Catholics are conservatives. And all of these issues are ones on which Catholics are free to differ.
Yes, we have to care for the poor, but we don’t have to believe that it is governments job to care for the poor.
If you believe in the whole liberal agenda, but also think abortion is wrong and should be illegal, you have a perfectly acceptable Catholic position. But conservatives also have a perfectly acceptable Catholic position.
So I don’t think you are going to get unanimity in your “Catholic” party.
Susan Peterson



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Jim

posted November 9, 2008 at 8:38 pm


Susan is right……..very right.
Conservatives have triangulated this issue perfectly. You MUST agree with them. They say they are pro-life.
Of course, Reagan, Bush I, Dole, McCain, Giuliani and Romney have had their differences with the pro-life position…………but you still MUST vote for the GOP.
They say they are pro-life.



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Glenn Juday

posted November 9, 2008 at 9:06 pm


By the day, by the hour, by the minute I become more and more convinced that the path for the Church to revive involves a sharper and sharper definition of contradiction.
The Church harbors irreconcilable contradictions within herself – among lay faithful, priests, and clearly among bishops. And the differences do not involve small matters, rather, their entire cosmic world-view.
There are Catholics for whom secular power, cultural acceptance and ascendancy, political means to achieve results, rationalism, an exclusively horizontal religious view, self-invented liturgical forms constantly in flux are the ultimate reference point for their view of the Catholic Faith.
Likewise, there are Catholics for whom the Church’s spiritual mission is paramount (with powerlessness in this world a given), who are prepared to be despised as a sign of contradiction, who see prayer and growth in holiness as the only enduring source of change, believe in a supernatural faith that manifests miracles as a matter of course, hold a vertical religious view that only then proceeds to the horizontal, who seek a received liturgical form deeply fixed in tradition.
This is not a stable situation. It cannot go on indefinitely. Much as we might like to work this out slowly and carefully, with lots of polished dialog, witty repartee, and opportunities for low-key change over generations, at times history (in the world-view of the first group) or God (in the world-view of the second group) demands a resolution. One will wax and one will wane. Christ Himself told us to read the signs of the times.
The first group cannot be reconciled with the Catholic Faith as received in continuity and stated in definitive teaching, at least as far as they conceive of their world-view now. The second group cannot concede ground to what they believe are the errors and non-allowable innovations of the first group.
We have grown accustomed to the issue being stuck in this position; it seems essentially normal to us. But it is not. Events are shifting. How will the cold impersonal events play out (worldview of the first group) or how will God accomplish His purposes (worldview of the second group)?
Scripture, patterns of Divine pedagogy, history, the words of Christ Himself provide the answer.
This may not be the precise moment, we may indeed have to fall further into covenant faithlessness. But sooner or later, Sacred Scripture tells us, A house divided against itself cannot stand. Who will follow an uncertain trumpet? He who is not with me is against me. I will not leave you orphans, I will be with you to the end of time.
The irreconcilable comes out into the open. What must be accepted as Faith is rejected. What cannot change, remains. Those who must choose, decide. The basis of division becomes clearer. What is Catholic is clearer, often more difficult, but purer. What is not Catholic may live for a time, but it withers, forgets, looses even the will to have identity. What is more purely Catholic attracts, inspires, reproduces and multiplies.
The false truce is over. Events are in motion. The Church must sharpen the contradiction, live (or die) with the consequences, and be reborn from the dead.



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Jordanes

posted November 9, 2008 at 11:37 pm


Tom Kelty said: “Catholic News Service says the NCCB has removed the item from the agenda.”
No, CNS doesn’t have anything about the agenda being changed at the November meeting of the USCCB (there is no longer an NCCB and hasn’t been one for many years). You’re probably referring to Religion News Service, not Catholic News Service.
Regarding your statement that the bishops should listen to Hubbard rather than going to “easy” route of listening to Burke, Hubbard is not a bishop to be listened to, and it’s hardly taking an easy route to follow Burke’s lead — quite the opposite. The easy, comfortable route is to go Hubbard’s way.



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Rob F.

posted November 11, 2008 at 12:51 pm


sd said, “The Bush administration … has permitted the use of torture”.
The Bush administration has not permitted the use of torture. It has prosecuted torturers. Its DOJ investigates allegations of torture. Its military has court martialed its personel who have been alleged to commit torture.



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Julia

posted November 11, 2008 at 3:04 pm


“Why does the United States even have an ambassador to the Vatican? The Pope is the head of a CHURCH, and the head of a state only because of a regrettable historical circumstance. (That would be Mussolini’s recognition of Vatican City.)”
Nobody has suggested that we not have an ambassador to England because the Queen of England is the head of the Anglican Church (aka Church of England).
We need to remember that Benedict wears two hats: one as the head of the church and one as the head of state of one of the nations of the world. Benedict is working hard to have an official recognition with China, for heaven’s sake.
We also need to remember that we have a different relationship to Obama than Benedict does. We are the citizens of the country who vote for our own American leader and the representatives and laws that govern us. Benedict is the head of one of the countries of the world – he has no say in who is the head of our country – and has no way to vote him out of office.
If Benedict was not civil to Obama as a fellow head of state, the civic entity known as Vatican City would have to treat the rest of Europe, and most of the world, the same way. What a pyhrric victory that would be. Think through the consequences of Benedict’s harrangueing or lecturing Obama right off the bat. He would lose the ability to exert any influence when the appropriate time presented itself.
I’m a Republican living in a county and state with NO Republican elected officials. Should I boycott the ballot box and lecture the Democratic official living next door? Or try to get my point of view heard the best I can by being civil to those elected to run my county and state? That’s pretty much the situation in which Benedict finds himself.



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str1977

posted November 13, 2008 at 6:52 pm


Dan’s plan of founding a Catholic party – a small party – would only lead to the ghettoisation of Catholics (or at least those Catholics that would join that party) and their votes, making them irrelevant in actual political decisions. The clout of pro-lifers in the traditional parties (i.e. mostly in the Republican Party) would be severely hampered if not ended.
Dan is also severely wrong on his facts: there is no US army killing “hundreds of thousands” in Iraq. I believe the invasion was wrong (out of pragmatic reasons) but also that now the US has to put the thing back together again – no matter how difficult it is and how many Americans die. And it is not the US that is killing “hundreds of thousands” over there (not even going into a discussion about numbers).
To even mention the gun issue (if you support severe gun control, go and amend the constitution) or health care, makes it doubtful whether the protest was in earnest.



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str1977

posted November 13, 2008 at 7:03 pm


A small correction to some remarks on the status of the Pope:
Vatican City State is not a “country” but it is an independent, sovereign state (and just as legitimate in that regard as the existence of the US as a sovereign state).
But diplomatic relations of the US or any country is not with the Vatican City but with the Holy See, which is a sovereign diplomatic entity and never stopped to be one even between 1870 and 1929. Such a status is not necessarily linked to being a state with territory as the Maltese Order is also a sovereign diplomatic entity.
But of course it is only right and proper that the US has relations to the Holy See just any other country. The only reasons speaking against it would be anti-Catholic bigotry.
Finally, when the Pope comments on American issues it is not as head of state or as a diplomat but as head of the Church. As such he has just as much a right to comment as any American-born religious or social leader as the Catholic Church is a part of American society. Denying him this would be like telling a Protestant pastor (say MLK) that he cannot quote from the Bible as it is not an American book.



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