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May 08, 2009


Until you get to the turtles, that is.

Few, if any, Catholics see use of birth control as an equally serious issue with abortion. And while the church now completely opposes the death penalty, this was not the case until comparatively recently, when Sr. Helen Prejean met and convinced the former pope. It's understandable (though far from laudable) that some catholics aren't used to the idea yet.
The silence about unjust war and torture, though, makes me agree with your assessment that this is a political show.

I also now see that Burke opposes the granting of an honorary degree to Obama, not the invitation. This is a great deal more understandable in my opinion.

An activist in robes.

Few, if any, Catholics see use of birth control as an equally serious issue with abortion.

That would be lay Catholics, and some sensible priests and rather more sensible nuns.

According to doctrine, using birth control is a mortal sin; having an abortion is a mortal sin.

According to Catholic doctrine, however, for a woman to have unprotected sex and an abortion every few months which she can confess, repent, and do penance for, is actually less serious an issue (one mortal sin every few months) than using contraception regularly and consistently would be (a mortal sin each day which cannot be confessed or repented since it is an essential part of forgiveness to resolve not to commit the sin again).

There are no degrees of mortal sin: contraception is, according to Catholic doctrine, intrinsically evil.

According to a Catholic friend, this aspect of doctrine is almost certainly why so many believing Catholics attend Mass regularly, but don't go to Communion any more - what is the point, when you don't intend to confess or repent a routinely-committed mortal sin?

This is a nice companion to Kevin's post today: "Are Churchgoers Nicer?"

Signs point to "not necessarily."

careful, publius--if you want that seat on the supreme court, you'd better get used to making nice with the catholics.

especially those whose flowing robes conceal republican party hacks.

"Few, if any, Catholics see use of birth control as an equally serious issue with abortion."

The Pope and Canon Law? I was unaware the Catholic Church was a democracy.

"It's understandable (though far from laudable) that some catholics aren't used to the idea yet."

It's understandable that Archbishops aren't used to Canon Law?

HUMANAE VITAE was published in 1968. Forty years isn't long enough for an Archbishop, and other Catholics, to become used to the Vatican's encyclicles?

It's not one of Catholicism's more obscure documents and points, to my knowledge.

"the Vatican's encyclicles"

Encyclicals, even.

so many believing Catholics attend Mass regularly, but don't go to Communion any more

don't go to Confession any more - I have no idea what the Communion rate is, but everyone says the Confession rate is way down from what it was thirty years ago.

Amen to this post. It is immensely frustrating, as a Catholic, to see politically-motivated Catholics claim to speak for The Church, using doctrine as an excuse while conveniently remaining silent/ignoring doctrine that condemns political goals they happen to support.

The Catholic Church has made it very clear that the death penalty and abortion are very different topics, morally and theologically.

Catholics in good standing can support the death penalty and even an increase in executions, if their own prudential judgement calls for it.

Abortion is always an intrinsic evil.

Some teachings:

Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Ratzinger) "stated succinctly, emphatically and unambiguously as follows":

"Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia." (1)


What Ardent Practicing Catholics Do (2)
By Fr. John De Celles, 9/1/2008

"Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is … a grave and clear obligation to oppose them … [I]t is therefore never licit to … "take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it."

In other words: it is always a grave or mortal sin for a politician to support abortion.

Now, some will want to say that these bishops-and I- are crossing the line from Religion into to politics. But it was the Speaker of the House (Nancy Pelosi) who started this. The bishops, and I, are not crossing into politics; she, and other pro-abortion Catholic politicians, regularly cross over into teaching theology and doctrine, And it's our job to try clean up their mess.

But there's something more than that here. On Sunday, before the whole nation, she claimed to be an "ardent, practicing Catholic." Imagine if someone came in here and said "I'm a mafia hit man and I'm proud of it." Or "I deal drugs to little children." Or "I think black people are animals and it's okay to make them slaves, or at least keep them out of my children's school."

Are these "ardent practicing Catholics"? No, they are not."

And neither is a person who ardently supports and votes to fund killing 1 to 1.5 million unborn babies every single year. Especially if that person is in a position of great power trying to get others to follow her. Someone, for example, like a Catholic Speaker of the House, or a Catholic candidate for Vice President of the United States, or a Catholic senior Senator who is stands as the leading icon his political party. Like the proud and unrepentant murderer or drug dealer, they are not ardent Catholics. They are, in very plain terms, very bad Catholics."

But the reason I say all this is not because I want to embarrass them or even correct them — they’re not even here. It’s because of you. Because back in the 1850’s when Catholic bishops, priests, and politicians were either silent or on the wrong side of the slavery debate, they risked not only their souls, but the souls of every other Catholic they influenced. I cannot do that, and I won’t do that.

Some would say, well Father, what about those people who support the war in Iraq, or the death penalty, or oppose undocumented aliens? Aren’t those just as important, and aren’t Catholic politicians who support those “bad Catholics” too?

Simple answer: no. Not one of those issues, or any other similar issues, except for the attack on traditional marriage is a matter of absolute intrinsic evil in itself. Not all wars are unjust — and good Catholics can disagree on facts and judgments. Same thing with the other issues: facts are debatable, as are solutions to problems."

(1) "More Concerned with 'Comfort' than Christ?", Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick: Catholic Online, 7/11/2004 NOTE: Ratzinger was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and delivered this with guidance to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

(2) "What Ardent Practicing Catholics Do: Correcting Pelosi", National Review Online, 9/1/2008 6:00AM


Cardinals, Bishops and Congressmen Slam Pelosi on Abortion

New York Cardinal - Pelosi Not Worthy of "Providing Leadership in a Civilized Democracy"

Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail [email protected], 713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas

Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

Don't these sorts of pronouncements disqualify observant Catholics from serving in any public office in the United States? How could an observant Catholic honestly swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States, when the Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, bars the government from criminalizing abortion?

If an observant Catholic believes that enforcing the laws of the United States will endanger his immortal soul, he can't possibly intend to enforce the laws. So why would he want to have that obligation, unless it was to enforce Catholic dogma in place of the laws?

Don't these sorts of pronouncements disqualify observant Catholics from serving in any public office in the United States?

This is exactly the argument that JFK faced when running for President. His response is the classic; I wonder how many current politicians would have the nerve to say this:

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the President -- should he be Catholic -- how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference, and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him, or the people who might elect him.

It's intrinsically evil for women to get to decide how many children to have, and when. It's intrinsically evil for lesbians and gay men to fall in love, to make love, to pledge lifelong love to each other.

But calling for the deaths of innocent people - or raping pre-teenage girls - somehow, to the Catholic church hierarchy, that's not intrinsically evil.

You know, I don't believe any religion is good or evil, only what people do. But when you look at the kind of logic that says a woman deserves excommunication for saving her daughter's life, but not the man whose rape could have killed the girl - and men who are not even ashamed by promoting this kind of "morality" in public: well, it makes the Bush administration look good by comparison. At least they have some shame about what they were doing: but the hierarchy of the Catholic Church has none.

I have to say: I really like the idea of encyclicles. Maybe if I put a copy of a book of canon law outside next winter, some will form.

I have been waiting for years for the church to take action against those who encourage pride, gluttony, lust, wrath, sloth, and the other deadly sins. Advertising executives, for instance, or Rush Limbaugh. Even pedophiles within their own ranks. And yet, strange to say, the results have been disappointing.

"Maybe if I put a copy of a book of canon law outside next winter, some will form."

The idea could snowball.

Abortion is always an intrinsic evil.

Which is why a bishop would rather that a nine-year-old rape victim die because she became pregnant than admit that "always" is a really, really stupid claim and allow an abortion that saves her life.

To the extent Burke is only upset about granting the honorary degree, I still stand by the argument. Just substitute "granting an honorary degree" for "letting anyone speak".

The honorary degrees are the quid pro quo. He's whining about being ignored because the American bishops are of no interest to American Catholics, except when they destroy the finances of the Church. Are there any bishops who would win a retention election if such were allowed?

Confessing at least once a year is officially a membership equirement in the RCC. I think, if we took all official canons/decrees/etc. at their word there would be few if any Roman Catholics left.
Jesurgislac is fully right in one thing:
Interviews in Poland at the time when John Paul II visited there some time in the eighties corroborate the claim that equaling abortion and contraception increases abortion because young Polish women in order to minimize the number of their sins would choose the occasional abortion over the constant use of contraceptives.
The RCC's proclaimed God is a Gotcha!-God that eagerly observes all human beings waiting for a chance to interpret anything as a mortal sin to be followed by the eternal barbecue. The sophistry of His ground personnel knows no limits there. Fortunately most Catholics these days have more sense.

Would our quasi-reformed Nazi Pope deny communion to an avowed Holocaust denier?

Wait, said anti-semite priest has now been un-excommunicated and therefore can transsubstantiate the host into the actual body of Jesus himself. Nevermind.

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