Priest warns of “wolves in sheeps clothing” with “sinister” intent to misrepresent the Church’s teaching, then spends seven minutes doing to the Church’s teaching what Salvador Dali used to do to clocks. Brace yourself.
America magazine has posted the text of new interviews with our two Catholic vice presidential candidates, Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan. It’s interesting and helpful. It’s also brief, which probably makes it too easy to try to criticize either candidate for what they say or don’t say in answers of a few sentences to big and wide-ranging questions.
But the headline to the whole thing, to my mind, is this: Neither candidate reports, when asked, experiencing any conflict whatsoever between his political life and his Catholic faith. (See the final question of both interviews.) I confess to being flabbergasted.
Joe Biden has never felt conflicted, in the least, throughout a long political career that has consistently defended and supported legal abortion? He didn’t feel conflict sitting in that room in those moments of decision-making about carrying out the assassination of Osama bin Laden? He hasn’t occasionally even wondered about the wisdom of the HHS contraception mandates that his boss’s administration has championed?
Paul Ryan didn’t have any hesitations as he worked out and formally offered a federal budget proposal that includes steep cuts to food stamps, healthcare for children and the disabled, and basic social programs? There has never been a single peep of protest from his Catholic heart and mind as he has gone about championing the cold individualism of Ayn Rand?
I’m not saying I expect either man to suddenly burst into tears and cry out some loud mea culpas. They’re trying to win an election, after all. But it would have been a simple affirmation of their humanity to hear Biden say, “Yeah, I have struggled mightily with this abortion issue, because after all we’re talking about millions of abortions every year here, and that’s a lot of fetuses that my church says deserve the protection of law, but in the end, I’ve just had to follow my conscience and allow women to make up their own minds”; or to hear Ryan say, “When the U.S. bishops conference and so many prominent ethicists and theologians and religious sisters and other leaders in the church all came down so strongly against my budget proposal, it did cause me to think again about the sort of budget I’d put together, and I do regret that if passed it might make life a little harder for some folks, but I know in the end that it’s just too important that we get this deficit thing straightened out, for the sake of all of us.”
Is that what it takes to run for such high office — a completely unquestioning self-confidence in one’s every conviction and idea, able to withstand even the fundamental opposition of the teachings and witness of the church which has supposedly formed the bedrock of one’s faith and moral convictions throughout one’s entire life?
Maybe I’m just envious. The older I get, the more riddled with second-guessing self-doubt I become! The more I experience life, the more I realize there are so many different ways to look at the events, ideas, and problems that fill it that I just have to be missing something in most cases.
This is a weekend for American Catholics to rejoice and give thanks! Tomorrow the Pope will create seven new saints for the universal Church, and two of them are American figures.
Marianne Cope was the Sister of Saint Joseph who is best known for her ministry to the lepers on the Hawaiian island of Molokai, after responding with several of other members of her community to the request of St. Damien of Molokai for help. Before moving to Molokai, she lived in Syracuse, NY, and founded a hospital there. (Unfortunately, Rome Reports is mistakenly saying in their report this week that she lived in Philadelphia! A better video, though not brand new, is here.)
The other is Kateri Tekakwitha, who becomes the first native American saint! Kateri was born and raised in central New York state.
Frankly, we’re especially excited about this among my own family, because we’ve had some personal contact with each of these great women. My wife and kids and I lived outside of Syracuse, NY, for 4 years. During that time, we were able to visit the tomb of Marianne Cope, which is at convent of the Sisters of Saint Joseph there.
We were also able to visit the site of the Mohawk village where Kateri lived most of her life. It’s outside of what is today Fonda, NY, and is now the National Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine. (I think what my kids remember most is that it was an incredibly hot July day, and they mostly wanted to get back in the car for the air conditioning!)
St. Marianne Cope, pray for us.
St. Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.
I find that I see things differently than Fr. Dwight Longenecker a bit more often than not. But his most recent blog post, “Abortion and Politics – The Plain Facts,” is full of good sense. It’s a healthy dose of realism in season of much unrealistic talk. The money quote, for me:
What response should a Catholic take? A Catholic should weigh up the two candidates and ask not so much which one will make the country exactly the way we want it to be, but which one will do less harm?
I’ve been wringing my hands in recent weeks over whether I might need to resort to voting for a third party candidate in the presidential election, just so I don’t have to feel grimy on election day. Fr. Longenecker’s post has provided an occasion for me to take a breath, relax a bit, and think, “Maybe not.”
The full piece is here.
It’s ten years ago today that Pope John Paul II introduced the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary to the Catholic faithful, with his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae. He published the document on the twenty-fifth anniversary of his election to the papacy, so it really was in a sense a very personal gift of the Pope to his people. He wrote:
With these words, dear brothers and sisters, I set the first year of my Pontificate within the daily rhythm of the Rosary. Today, as I begin the twenty-fifth year of my service as the Successor of Peter, I wish to do the same. How many graces have I received in these years from the Blessed Virgin through the Rosary: Magnificat anima mea Dominum! I wish to lift up my thanks to the Lord in the words of his Most Holy Mother, under whose protection I have placed my Petrine ministry: Totus Tuus!
Today is, in my opinion, a moment to give thanks for this gift, one that I have myself enjoyed and benefitted spiritually from in an ongoing way. I know many, many others would heartily agree.
The entire letter is well worth another look!
U.S. Catholic has posted an article I’ve written on Catholic teaching on the universal destination of goods, titled “How Much Do You Really Own?” Here’s a snippet:
If you think folks scream “Stay out of my private life!” at the mention of Catholic teaching on abortion, contraception, or marriage, just wait until word gets out—and it hasn’t—that the church’s understanding of what it really means to own something is different than that of most Americans. And the church has something to say about what each of us morally can and can’t do with what we own.
Make no mistake, the universal destination of goods is an idea that pope after pope has insisted must have a place in our public life. John Paul II called it “the first principle of the whole ethical and social order.”
Let’s be clear: the church supports our right to own private property. Pope Leo XIII argued in the Catholic Church’s first social encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891) that this right is found in natural law. He said people need private property to live a decent life, a life of dignity. We have to provide for ourselves and our families, and to do this effectively, he said, we need to be able to own stuff, to possess things in a stable and permanent way. But Leo XIII went on to say that while it’s one thing to have a right to possess things, it is entirely another to think we have a right to do whatever we want with what we own.
But isn’t that what “owning something” means? It’s mine to do with whatever I want? Nope, says the pope.
Read the entire piece here.
Catching up after being at the GU conference I mentioned in the last post (which was quite good), I see that a few days ago, a group of more than 150 Catholic theologians from universities around the country offered “On All of Our Shoulders: A Catholic Call to Protect the Endangered Common Good.” It’s well worth a read.
Charles Camosy responds well to the question, “Is it partisan?”, here. It’s clear that these theologians would not have felt the need to issue this statement in the first place had some prominent American bishops not chosen, in recent months, to focus with laser-precision on certain issues, and with specific approaches to those issues, that put Republican politicians and policies in the best light possible. Camosy writes of “the context out of which this statement comes”: “There is no confusion about how the views of Biden and other pro-choice Democrats line up with Church teaching. However, there is tremendous confusion about the matters of Catholic Social Doctrine brought up in ‘On All of Our Shoulders’ — and this is why we crafted and circulated it.”