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Via Media

Polling Booth

posted by awelborn

Okay, here’s a poll. We’re not talking about authoritative Church teaching here, rather an approach and a program, so a poll is appropriate.
And in the poll, the word “revise” an mean “revise” in any way you like – make the document more specific, vague, printed on recycled paper, what have you.

[polldaddy poll=1081926]

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posted November 6, 2008 at 3:02 pm

I think it needs to be strengthened. Otherwise it will forever be referred to by those looking for loopholes.

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posted November 6, 2008 at 4:35 pm

Not enough choices in this poll for the results to be meaningful.

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posted November 6, 2008 at 5:10 pm

The problem with this document, and for that matter, the entire USCCB (and perhaps the Roman Church) is that hundreds of bishops have no “local” authority, so chaos can prevail at their Synods, etc. The USCCB needs a presiding bishop with authority over the others who can steer the ship with authority. The Pope essentially has to “manage” thousands of bishops – he can’t even “know” them all. So we have bureaucracy and bureaucrats who know how to work the system. “Faithful citizenship” was not written with the thought or care of an Apostolic Exhortation.
Sometimes I think we’d be much better off if we had a Patriarch, like the Ukrainians and other Catholic churches do. The Patriarch could organize the Synod and lay down some definitive teaching. And the buck would stop with him.
But then, it could end up being someone like Cardinal McCarrick, so I guess you should be careful that you wish for. You can only hope that the Pope would be more careful about Patriarchs than bishops, but look at Michael Sabbah…

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Ray from MN

posted November 6, 2008 at 6:03 pm

12,000 words and 42 pages are waaaaay too long. Anything over a few paragraphs in length doesn’t do nothing more than provide weasel clauses for people to use to evade the primary intent of the statement: to safeguard human life to its natural ending.
In particular, paragraphs 34, 35 and 36 of the Faithful Citizenship statement of the Bishops gives jailhouse lawyers, including Doug Kmiec, all the permission they need to vote for whomever they want:
34. Catholics often face difficult choices about how to vote. This is why it is so
important to vote according to a well-formed conscience that perceives the proper relationship among moral goods. A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.
35. There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable
position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons.
Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to
advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental
moral evil.
36. When all candidates hold a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, the
conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the
extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation,
may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.
Clauses like these and the mention of issues like “global warming”, poverty, just wages, and the like sound more like political platform statements of the Democratic Party than instructions of the Catholic Bishops to their flocks.

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Mike Jenkins

posted November 6, 2008 at 6:07 pm

Faithful Citizenship is awesome. Makes me proud to be a member of the church. Why revise it? And we certainly shouldn’t ditch it.

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posted November 6, 2008 at 6:35 pm

I voted ditch it, but then again, I live in Denver, and the whole world knows we have a bishop who does his job.

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posted November 6, 2008 at 8:15 pm

The Pope is our Patriarch. And even in Orthodoxy, the Ecumenical Patriarch is no more powerful than are the others. Check out the autonomy of Russian Orthodoxy, or the Patriarch in France, or Greece, etc. Bartholomew I gets the honor of being primus inter pares, but he can’t actually force the others to do his bidding. It’s a federation, based on respect and communion, like the way bishops in early Christianity “organized” themselves.

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posted November 6, 2008 at 8:20 pm

ENFORCE it. They can revise it all they want. I want to see ENFORCEment!

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posted November 6, 2008 at 8:42 pm

Kozaburo has nailed the underlying issue. She also has identified that having a Patriarch can cut both ways. Patriarch Mahoney or Patriarch Chaput? Quite a difference.

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posted November 6, 2008 at 9:33 pm

The USCCB needs a presiding bishop with authority over the others who can steer the ship with authority.
What ever happened to the principle of subsidiarity?

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posted November 6, 2008 at 10:13 pm

Enforcement? A bishop’s authority is moral authority. There are no ecclesial enforcers, at least not outside of the Muslim world.

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Jack Smith

posted November 6, 2008 at 10:18 pm

When is the last time the Ecumenical Patriarch got together a pan-orthodox gathering? I don’t know the answer, but a Greek Metropolitan told me recently the absence of an effective instrument of unity between the churches was a sadness. But that’s off topic.
Of course, USCCB docs don’t strike with a sense of apostolic speech. FC was a very conscious compromise which intentionally allowed for different interpretations. That’s how it passed as it did. In addition, it was explicitly presented as a resource or compliment to an ordinary’s more direct authority. It was never approved as an authority to which ordinaries are subservient.

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posted November 6, 2008 at 10:29 pm

The Pope isn’t the “Patriarch of the West” anymore

In the 2006 edition of the Vatican’s official yearbook, the pope is no longer referred to with the title “patriarch of the West,” a change with potential ecumenical implications.
The Vatican press office confirmed the deletion of the title March 1, but offered no explanation for the change.
In the 2006 book, the pope is described as “bishop of Rome, vicar of Jesus Christ, successor of the prince of the apostles, supreme pontiff of the universal church, primate of Italy, archbishop and metropolitan of the province of Rome, sovereign of Vatican City State and servant of the servants of God.”
The 2006 edition, which was presented to Pope Benedict XVI Feb. 18 and was to be on sale to the public by March 10, is the first edition printed since Pope Benedict’s April 19 election.
In previous editions, the title “patriarch of the West” had been listed after “supreme pontiff of the universal church.”

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posted November 7, 2008 at 12:10 am

Uh, a follow up survey question should be: Should the U.S. Bishops dispense with the Tax Exempt status? And, does this cherished status actually hobble and muzzle the U.S. Bishops from truly speaking Christ Truth fully and completely in their respective diocese?

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posted November 7, 2008 at 12:34 am

40 to 50 million babies have been murdered and butchered in their mother’s womb since 1973. I repeat–40 to 50. million. Now, how many U.S. Bishops during this same period have suffered martydom or shed once ounce of blood for the cause Christ love for the innocent ones? Are not the 40 50 fifty million aborted souls entitled to God’s Justice for their baby lives being snuffed out? Also, do you think that if the U.S. Bishops spent more time in the confessional, listening to men and women who committed infanticide, that they would be more “passionate” about this crime being illegal once again? These thought came to me during my morning prayer time as I reflected on our Lord’s parable on the Lost Sheep.

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posted November 7, 2008 at 6:49 am

I was speaking “metaphorically.” I know Benedict dropped the title. My point was that we didn’t need yet ANOTHER patriarch for different regions of the West.

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posted November 7, 2008 at 9:05 am

If one believes the job of the bishops is to help people form their consciences rather than tell them how to vote (which I happen to believe if the correct role) then it is hard to see how the document could be shortened to only a few paragraphs as one reader suggests. One hopes the document is only a part of people’s catechesis, but for it to be meaningful it has to lay out the matters in some detail.
Equally important, more has to be done to ensure that more people are actually reading the document. I facilitated a discussion in my parish a couple of weeks before the election to allow people to air questions and talk about issue they had and it was clear that most participants had not read the document.

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posted November 7, 2008 at 9:23 am

It’s a great document which would have had much greater effect if it had not been undermined by a handful of rogue bishops. Not only was the F/C program weakened, the overall credibility of the bishops has been severly diminished.

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Jim Dick

posted November 7, 2008 at 9:50 am

A lot of interesting thoughts here. I think Faithful Citizenship is a pretty good document. I read it when it came out and read it again just in the last couple weeks as my parish adult ed. class discussed the then impending election. It is a balanced document. But it requires – I repeat – REQUIRES – that we (that is, us ordinary folks sitting in the pews) to talk and listen to each other, hash out our thoughts and feelings, struggle with the issues in an adult manner, not pass judgment on each other, and learn that being a Christian (and Catholic) necessitates hard thinking and is a more profound membership than being either a Democrat or a Republican.
Also, as important as voting is for us as citizens of this nation, we make a mistake if we think it will usher in the Kingdom. That is utopian thinking. This applies equally to those of us who voted for Obama or McCain.

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posted November 7, 2008 at 10:02 am

Ditch it. Bishops should Teach, Govern and Sanctify. Let’s start here. Sanctify: focus on Our Lord and his presence in the Sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist. Govern: shepherds need to knock a few stray sheep upside the head. Teach: no more hiding behind anonymous USCCB documents; let each one teach his own diocese – mebbe apostolic letters of some sort?

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Eric W

posted November 7, 2008 at 1:30 pm

I’d like to see the Church be open to voting third party instead of supporting the lesser of two evils every election. There were two pro-life candidates (Libertarian and Constitution Parties) besides McCain.

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posted November 7, 2008 at 1:48 pm

I live in Fairfield County, Connecticut. I never saw the FC document in my parish but it was online. However, the diocese put out a shorter version that clearly stated the issues at stake and the difference between voting for an intrinsic evil like abortion versus capital punishment. It was one page, two sides and you would have to be an idiot not to understand it.
The bottom line is that most Catholics don’t care what the Church teaches anymore or what their bishops say, they vote as 21st century Americans first, not as baptized Catholic Christians. After all, it started with a Catholic didn’t it? JFK gave us permission to compartmentalize our life, to get out of the parish, so to speak. To be Americans 6 days a week and Catholics on Sunday. The awesome sacraments given to us by Christ became isolated events that had nothing to do how we lived our life, rather they were ‘tickets’ to heaven. I heard an interesting comment the other day by a radio host on EWTN: “I know lots of Catholics who have been sacramentalized, but very few who have been evangelized.” I think he hit the nail on the head.
Catholics need to stop hiding behind St Francis as an excuse not to evangelize. You know, ‘Preach the Gospel all the time, using words only when necessary’. Baloney, we need to start using words; words are powerful. Based upon what has happened in this country in the past 30 years, words ARE power. Evangelical catechesis is non existent. My kids learned their faith around the dinner table where we discussed issues, people, whatever was going on and not only were our political beliefs brought to bear but so were our religious beliefs. In fact, they learned rather quickly that the latter informed the former. My husband is Protestant and I am Catholic. Ours is a disagreement on form not substance. And while there was a painful time period when I returned to the Church after 35 years, my children saw our mutual faith get us all through that as well.
I suppose what I hate the most is the embarrassment I felt at hearing that 53% of all Catholics voted for Obama, when 74% of Evangelicals voted for McCain (who by the way, I don’t like either). We need to pray for Church, for unity with our separated brethren and for our country and her politicians. The truth is, I am not going to get all worked up about an Obama presidency, my leader is in charge, no matter what the lefties think.

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posted November 7, 2008 at 4:35 pm

From where I sit, and considering the diocese in which I’m attempting to form my conscience and raise my kids, I’d say that Chris is right.
Most Catholics I know don’t give a darn about voting in alignment with any Church teaching. I’d say the economy drove many people to vote for Obama and when I speak to people about abortion they routinely say “Oh, that doesn’t even come into play when I think about voting.” I would bet that other issues are similarly ignored.
My husband often says that “people just want to be comfortable.” I think he’s right and not just in terms of material comforts.
As for FC, please. In our diocese it has been repeatedly used by leadership as justification for voting for pro-abort politicians from the national level to the local level. In 2004, our local church had sessions on the 2004 version of FC. The three person, “expert” panel wouldn’t even acknowledge that some issues carried more moral weight than others. We were also told that the principle of double effect was, in fact, a time when the church allowed abortion. And we were told that every activity can be sinful, even going to Mass (the rationale being that when you are in Mass, you are ignoring a person in need).
What Bishop Martino walked in on in Scranton sounds like what happened in my church. The big difference being our Bishop would never have taken the people to task for their distortions.

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posted November 7, 2008 at 8:05 pm

If we have to have it shorten it to drasticly and dump the loophole.
Note to my Diocese of Savannah’s newspaper “Southern Cross”. The coverage of the election over the past 3 months was muddled and mushy. The 11/6/08 editorial was a praise job of the Dems and Obama – abortion was given a short shrift and was not called the intrinsic evail it is but rather “a sign of contradiction”.
Thanks be to God my pastor speaks clearly and forcefully about Church teachings, including but not limited to, abortion.

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posted November 8, 2008 at 12:17 pm

Recent disappointing development:

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Bro. AJK

posted November 8, 2008 at 2:46 pm

Many on this thread have floated the idea of a patriarch. Perhaps “primate” would be a better term. Canada and Poland both have primates, and I think Baltimore is often called our primatial see in the States.

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posted November 8, 2008 at 3:47 pm

When the Bishops remind the faithful how much “hard time” in purgatory (or hell?) for those practicing catholics who vote for abortion candiates (and are therefore complicit in this murderous act), then, and only then, will you begin to see a change of heart. Let’s face it, as long as the Bishops and priest fail to educate the faithful (and themselves?) as to what effect these decisions have on our eternal soul, the faithful see these moments as just another day at the voting booth.

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posted November 8, 2008 at 6:22 pm

That presumes the faithful know what purgatory is, and believe that it exists.

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posted November 8, 2008 at 11:59 pm

That’s why I stated, “as long as the bishops and priest fail to educate the faithful (and themselves). . .
To echo the great line in Cool Hand Luke, “what we have here is a failure to communicate.” That’s if folks. This crime (abortion) against humanity is truly a failure on the bishops and priest part to communicate to the catholic faithful the eternal consquences of this crime. It is that simple. IN FACT, OUR BELOVED JESUS HIMSELF SAID, “BETTER FOR YOU TO HAVE A MILLSTONE tIED AROUND YOUR NECK AND THROWN INTO THE SEA THAN TO LEAD ONE OF THESE LITTLE ONES ASTRAY.” Don’t you think this applies to abortion to.

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Blake Helgoth

posted November 9, 2008 at 1:00 am

I vote to ditch it. It is filled with the ‘seemless garment’ arguement which comes across as saying that all moral injustices are equal. I know that it was strengthened, and there are some very explicit statements to the contrary. However, unless you have a good grasp of moral theology and even a background in Cannon Law, it gets confusing. If this document was designed to clear up anyones thinking, then it is clearly a failure! This is the effect of compromise, we get mud. We need it simple and clear. Oh, on a nother note, since when does the a Bishops Conference even have the authority to issue such a document? I say, let Bishops be Bishops again and gettison the bureaucracy. They spend way to much time on these things anyway.

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Jeanne in Tampa

posted November 10, 2008 at 5:45 pm

Keep it. I like that these issues such as war and social justice are just as important.
I don’t think it was a failure. Most folks don’t read long treatises by bishops. They need to be more easier to understand for folks who do not have an education.
Keep it simple if they do change. it.

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Chris Eich

posted November 13, 2008 at 2:00 am

Amusingly, I cast the 666th vote (for “Ditch it”).

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