Category: Politics

Posts about politics, Catholic issues in the political realm, and what it means to be Catholic in todays geo-political world.

“You will be hated by all because of MY name”

The Pope’s comments on the France terrorist attacks, are well — interesting. I am sure lots  will be said about it, but someone asked my thoughts.

I have many, but this is what I feel comfortable posting:

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“You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.” -Matthew 10:22

 

Ukraine Revolution?

indepsq

I have not had a chance to write about it yet, but have been following closely the situation in the Ukraine.

As we awake this morning there are reports that the President, Viktor Yanukovych, has resigned or will shortly be resigning.

Yulia Tymoshenko, the face of the Orange Revolution in 2005, has been freed from jail after an overwhelming vote in Parliament.

Once the dust settles a bit I plan to write a more in depth post about this. Until then I may just update this post.

UPDATE: Robertson Family Official Statement

Robertson Family - Duck Dynasty, Duck Commander
Robertson Family – Duck Dynasty, Duck Commander

The following statement is the official Robertson Family response to the decision by A&E TV to “suspend” Phil due to his GQ interview:

We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support.  The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E’s decision.  We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word.  While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Phil would never incite or encourage hate.We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right.We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm.  We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty.   Again, thank you for your continued support of our family.

This is a strong and united stance to take, and it is rather refreshing in today’s world.

For those that think A&E is taking the high road here, and that they are pristine in their place in this situation, remember they once had a show devoted to the Gotti family. For those that don’t know, John Gotti, the patriarch of that family, was a mob boss famous for murder and crime. The family of the reality TV show were made famous simply because of the evil things their father did.

This isn’t about tolerance, morality, or anything of the sort. This is about choosing one set of beliefs over another, all while condemning the latter.

 

Ross Douthat, Conservative Catholics, and Pope Francis

Ross Douthat, conservative and Catholic columnist for the New York Times, labeled his Sunday

Ross Douthat, NYTimes
Ross Douthat, NYTimes

piece this week: “The Pope and the Right.” Now before you go off, read it, and come back either elated or steaming mad, let’s remember one important thing: columnists get paid to make people read them. The more novel, inflamatory, aggressive, or shocking something is – often the better.1

Douthat though isn’t being too much of anything, instead he is simply stating the obvious. He is addressing the elephant in the room, or in some cases, the uncomfortable conversation that many Catholics are having.2 The topic he addresses is one that strikes close to home – how do conservatives (either politically or theological ones, if that is possible) reconcile the pontificate – so far – of Pope Francis?

His most interesting points though, in my opinion, are made when he attempts to give three arguments for why a seemingly “liberal” Pope can actually be reconciled with American conservative principles. His three premises are (in my own summarized form):

  1. Capitalism, or free market ideals, has a better track record than socialist societies at lifting the poor and marginalized out of poverty and maintaining free society.
  2. Solidarity and Subsidiarity are key components to Catholic social teaching – a la the philosophical pillars of such teaching.
  3. Welfare states (i.e. socialist and liberal states) have produced rather toxic social and cultural policies that fly in the face of Catholic doctrine and social teaching. (e.g. low birth rates, charitable roadblocks, and religious persecution.)

The money paragraph though isn’t one where Douthat doubles-down on American conservative principles, or attempts to contort the Pope’s actions and most recent Exhortation to fit the GOP platform. Instead he challenges “conservative” Catholics, such as myself, to reexamine how we interact with the world – socially and politically – and find a way to fit our politics to our faith, and not the other way around. 

As Douthat puts it:

This Catholic case for limited government, however, is not a case for the Ayn Randian temptation inherent to a capitalism-friendly politics. There is no Catholic warrant for valorizing entrepreneurs at the expense of ordinary workers, or for dismissing all regulation as unnecessary and all redistribution as immoral.

And this is where Francis’s vision should matter to American Catholics who usually cast ballots for Republican politicians. The pope’s words shouldn’t inspire them to convert en masse to liberalism, or to worry that the throne of Peter has been seized by a Marxist anti-pope. But they should encourage a much greater integration of Catholic and conservative ideas than we’ve seen since “compassionate conservatism” collapsed, and inspire Catholics to ask more — often much more — of the Republican Party, on a range of policy issues.

Flannery O'Connor on Ayn Rand.
Flannery O’Connor on Ayn Rand.

Now, I dont want to spend a lot of time in this post on it, but the link talking about ‘compassionate conservatism’ is interesting and ultimately goes to the larger issue I plan to discuss. Yet, I intend to set that discussion up with this post. So for now, I will leave it at this: Douthat seems to say that what is important for Catholics -specifically American conservative Catholics, in light of Pope Francis, is that we find a way to push for policies that cling to Catholic teaching, but hold fast to conservative principles. The latter not for their own sake, but because our faith animates those principles in our culture.

Pope Francis, love manifested in action.
Pope Francis, love manifested in action.

We should not spend the time of Pope Francis hidden away in Mass3 praying for patience and that God’s will be done. While we want those things, of course, it is that there is so much more we can do – and should do.

While many liberal Catholics4 made plenty of fuss during the Pontificate of Benedict XVI about the direction of the Church, the cry for conservatives to “do what they did” or “follow our own advice” is a false premise. Douthat calls this the “Loyal Opposition” argument. He rejects it, and so do I. It is instead our time to continue with vigilance and fortitude. We spent formative years solidifying our faith, now it is time to solidify the world around us – to animate the social teachings and political policies with our hearts grounded in the teachings of the Church.

  1. Case in point, a recent NYT shocking front picture. []
  2. Some of these conversations are private and dare not reach the narthexes and church basements of our parishes. []
  3. in the usus antiquior of course… []
  4. For the record, I am not a fan of using political terminology to explain theological philosophy, it makes sense in this post. []

War on Religion

Reports say that the U.S. spied on Pope Francis and others during the most recent Papal Conclave.
Reports say that the U.S. spied on Pope Francis and others during the most recent Papal Conclave.

Is nothing sacred?

From the UK Telegraph:

The National Security Agency spied on the future Pope Francis before and during the Vatican conclave at which he was chosen to succeed Benedict XVI, it was claimed on Wednesday.

The American spy agency monitored telephone calls made to and from the residence in Rome where the then Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio stayed during the conclave, the secret election at which cardinals chose him as pontiff on March 13.

The claims were made by Panorama, an Italian weekly news magazine, which said that the NSA monitored the telephone calls of many bishops and cardinals at the Vatican in the lead-up to the conclave, which was held amid tight security in the Sistine Chapel.

The information gleaned was then reportedly divided into four categories — “leadership intentions”, “threats to financial system”, “foreign policy objectives” and “human rights”.

At that time, Benedict XVI was Pope, suggesting that the Vatican may also have been monitored during the last few weeks of his papacy.

There are so many things to say about this. Things are out of control in our country, that is for certain, but this takes things to a whole new level and actually prompts more questions than there are good answers.

Just remember, we battle not flesh and blood, but powers and principalities.

St. Michael, defend us in battle.

World Day of Prayer and Fasting for Syria

Pope Francis has asked the universal Church to spend today in prayer and fasting in the hopes that the hearts of men and women will be transformed and that we will not engage in mutual destruction that comes with war and conflict.

While sometimes War is just for some, if it can be avoided all of humanity benefits.

christian-just-war-popePrayer for Peace to Mary, the Light of Hope

Immaculate Heart of Mary,
help us to conquer the menace of evil,
which so easily takes root
in the hearts of the people of today,
and whose immeasurable effects already
weigh down upon our modern world
and seem to block the paths toward the future.

From famine and war, deliver us.
 From nuclear war, from incalculable self destruction,
from every kind of war, deliver us.
 From sins against human life from its very beginning,
deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity
of the children of God, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments
of God, deliver us.
From the loss of awareness of good and evil,
deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit,
deliver us.

Accept, O Mother of Christ,
 this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual
human beings, laden with the sufferings
of whole societies.
Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit conquer all
sin:
individual sin and the “sin of the world,”
sin in all its manifestations.

Let there be revealed once more in the history of the
world the infinite saving power of the redemption:
the power of the merciful love.
May it put a stop to evil.
May it transform consciences.
May your Immaculate Heart
 reveal for all the light of hope.

Amen.
– Pope John Paul II

 

Peace is the proper effect of charity

“PEACE implies a twofold union, as stated above (A. 1). The first is the result of one’s own appetites being directed to one object; while the other results from one’s own appetite being united with the appetite of another: and each of these unions is effected by charity–the first, in so far as man loves God with his whole heart, by referring all things to Him, so that all his desires tend to one object–the second, in so far as we love our neighbor as ourselves, the result being that we wish to fulfil our neighbor’s will as though it were ours: hence it is reckoned a sign of friendship if people “make choice of the same things” (Ethic. ix, 4), and Tully says (De Amicitia) that friends “like and dislike the same things” (Sallust, Catilin.)”

~St. Thomas Aquinas: ST, II-II, q. 29, a. 3.

Defending the faith in the battles of everyday life

guns-255x255Politics and Faith often are not far from one another in American culture and society. Many Catholics shy away from injecting their faith too far into religion, but a proper understanding, I believe, if that our faith must animate and drive our political beliefs.

That being said, I found two articles yesterday worth reading I think they are prime examples of just how that occurs.

The first by Pia De Solenni,: “Guns and Gun Control.” This is often a touchy subject for some Catholics and I believe she does an excellent job at fairly talking about the issue.

Nevertheless, as a Catholic theologian, I am troubled by accounts suggesting that Catholics who don’t support the U.S. bishops on gun control are  akin to Catholics who disagree with fundamental moral teachings like  contraception, abortion and marriage.

Regardless of the passion of some gun-control advocates, there exist clear  distinctions between these issues.

The article is worth the read regardless of what side of this you are on.

The second is about fighting the pro-life battle in the political arena, and not just by defending life, but actually going on the tactical offensive a bit. Dave Weigel talks about how in Virginia a move by an off-shoot of the SBA List is putting messaging about the danger to women’s health through some pro-abortion laws.

Pro-life politicians have talked all year about flipping the script on Democrats and making them struggle to explain their abortion stances. To a very large extent, that was the point of the campaign to spur more coverage of Kermit Gosnell’s murder trial in Philadelphia. Why should Todd Akin have to answer a hypothetical question about the ugly aspects of banning abortion? Make Democrats answer hypotheticals about the ugliest aspects of legalization.

Again, worth the read, and an interesting race developing there in Virginia.

It is important to remember that as Catholics, our beliefs of the faith, our adherence to the Church’s teaching, and our moral convictions are not “stances on issues” but the inner core of our philosophical base. They are what should animate our political beliefs and our social understanding.

As I mentioned yesterday, where we get into trouble is when we attempt to fit our faith to our social and political beliefs – it should be that we fit those to the teachings of the Church and Jesus Christ.

Crisis Magazine: ‘Some Bishops Want Your Guns’

Nicholas Hahn had a very interesting piece in Crisis Magazine yesterday entitled: “Some CrisisBishops Want Your Guns.” The article stemmed from recent comments made by Bishops regarding the tragic events at Newton and President Obama’s recent remarks concerning “Gun Control.”

Hahn explains that while Bishops have a peacemaking role, some seem to be overstepping their roles and Catholic teaching by “signing on” to some of the recent actions being taken against gun rights in the United States.

The heart of his post though is an argument he makes about the rights of Catholics, under Church teaching, for self-defense. As he writes:

Fr. Lombardi isn’t the only one to take aim at your guns. In fact, the U.S. Bishops have been calling for handgun “elimination” as early as 1990. In 2006 the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace suggested that States ought to “impose a strict control on the sale of handguns and small arms. Limiting the purchase of such arms would certainly not infringe upon the rights of anyone.” The Council may not recognize your right to a legitimate defense, but the Catechism of the Catholic Church does. It is “legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow.” And if “he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful.”

Is a gun moderate? Ask a rape victim. Or a child.

The Catechism goes on to affirm defense as “a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm.” In the light of the Catechism, the National Rifle Association’s brave suggestion that teachers (who are “responsible for the lives of others”) be armed doesn’t seem so crazy after all.

So then, do we have a ‘right’ as much as Hahn asserts that we do, to “bear arms” and defend ourselves and our families? Does this defensive right come into play in a gun rights discussion because of proportionality or “equality”?NunsWithGuns1

For Catholics, the idea of a ‘right to bear arms’ is a very complicated set of ideas. If for no other reason than cultural, we do not carry weapons around with us publicly, the way we used to a hundred or two-hundred years ago. Yet it would seem that the philosophical reasons behind a right to defense would still exist today. How guns, gun rights, and technology come into all of that is another question.

Unfortunately, I believe we are at a point where philosophy, pragmatism, and reality are smashing headlong into one another. Depending on which ship you sail most often, you see this problem – the one of violence and tragedy, differently from others. As for me, what animates my beliefs are the sentiment that Hahn writes in his piece:

The Catechism goes on to affirm defense as “a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm.”

As a father, and as someone that views myself naturally as a ‘protector,’ this is what I struggle with everyday. How to reconcile the Catechism, my patriotic beliefs, and my Catholic virtues. That is why I believe my best weapons are the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet.

Euthanasia: Fancy Suicide?

By now, many of us have read about the 45yr old twin brothers in Belgium that chose to be euthanized. Their decision stemmed from the fact that they were born deaf and were going to go blind.

deaf+twins

Here is an account of the situation:

David Dufour, the doctor who presided over the euthanasia, said the twins had died together and had taken the decision in “full conscience”.

“They were very happy. It was a relief to see the end of their suffering,” he said. “They had a cup of coffee in the hall, it went well and a rich conversation. Then the separation from their parents and brother was very serene. At the last there was a little wave of their hands and then they were gone.”

They were happy? Does happiness lead a person to ask to be killed? Suffering… what suffering? The pain of loss? Granted, it would be an unimaginable hardship to have the loss of TWO senses.

What makes this so horrifying is that we abhor suicide in our world, as we should, but somehow Euthanasia is somehow becoming acceptable, and in some places REQUIRED. But what is the line of demarcation?

As Terry points out, “These poor men must not have understood that they have a soul, and that God exists, and that he loves them:  That what is invisible is important.”

Isn’t this just an “fancy suicide” then? Just people with a hole in their heart that want to justify their weakness through a doctor’s order? It is simply ugliness putting on pretty clothes, and nothing more.

This isn’t mercy. Mercy is justice ignored for the sake of love. This is love ignored for the sake of fear, weakness, and doubt.

Michigan: Pro-Life Omnibus Bill Moves to Gov’s Desk

From Right to Life of Michigan’s Blog:

The Prolife Bus moves to Gov. Snyder

As with any journey which includes unexpected roadblocks and detours, when you have arrived at your destination there is cause for celebration.

Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing said, “Prolife people never gave up, never got off the Prolife Bus. They knew this legislation was needed.”

The Prolife Bus or Omnibus bill, H.B. 5711, addresses the persistent pattern of neglect in regulating abortion clinic practices in Michigan. There was a long overdue need for governmental reforms. Women’s safety was being compromised. But that will change when the Prolife Bus bill is signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder.

On December 14, in the wee hours of the morning, the concurring votes were taken in the Michigan House and Senate, both by overwhelming 2 to 1 margins. The last stop for the Prolife Bus bill is the Governor’s desk.

In the 2011-2012 session, a Partial Birth Abortion Ban was enacted; abortion coverage from ALL insurance plans in Michigan was eliminated; and the first omnibus prolife bill in the history of Michigan was passed. This is historic and unprecedented.

Dedicated prolife people and faithful prolife lawmakers made all of these accomplishments possible. It is time to celebrate and thank our prolife legislators with calls and e-mail messages!

Every victory is worthy.

Guns and the Problem of Misinformation

121218045837-us-guns-handgun-smith-and-wesson-story-topThe “Gun Rights Issue” is once again a top-3 hot-button issue in American politics. The massacre and tragedy in Newtown placed it back into the spotlight for obvious reason, and yet the discussion that has been occurring is so blurred with emotion, misinformation, and faulty reasoning that I honestly dont know if we have moved the ball forward or backwards.1

The issue has so many facets, that when we talk about guns in general, and the laws surrounding them, it hardly even happens where everyone is on the same page. In fact, two pundits can be on the same tv or radio program, and be talking so far past one another that the average listener gets nothing out of it but for the points (regardless of their factual accuracy) they choose to listen to and remember.  Continue reading

  1. Here I only mean to say in finding a solution to preventing and limiting further tragedies. []

Silence…working hard at it.

Silence
Silence

Just when I wanted to start getting back into more regular posting, some pretty major and tragic events happen and it makes me want to take a bit of time to really think about things.

There are few times when words “fix” things, except when they come in the form of an apology. Here, there is so much to say, and so little that needs to be said… right now. My initial thoughts, that I am comfortable sharing, are that nothing we do now, or moving forward, will fix anything in the past. It is the foolishness and pride of man to think that he can undo the past through future action. And while we study “history” to make sure that we don’t repeat the past, pride again strikes when we again make decisions to think that we can outsmart evil or defeat it. Continue reading

538-latest-polls-election--e1352158383761

Why Most Of Us Were Wrong

So, that didn’t go as I predicted. But I wasn’t the only one, and in fact a lot of people are surprised. The numbers which are finally becoming a lot clearer paint a rather interesting picture. There will be a lot of speculation and postmortem analysis in other posts, but here are some factual observations that can be made as to why my prediction was so off. This post is more about the prediction failure than the campaign failure. Continue reading