It is a false choice

It is a false choice

Sister Joan “I don’t need no steenkin’ pope” Chittister weighs in on the CINO politician question. Based on her history of defiance of the Church’s authority and Catholic teaching, it’s fairly obvious where she comes down. The first hint comes here: “But this election is about whether or not a Catholic can be a politician, exercise a Catholic conscience in a pluralistic world, and stay a practicing Catholic at the same time.” It would seem obvious that it is possible, unless of course your definition of practicing Catholic and mine differ. The sister reveals herself here though:

Now, with the position of a few bishops that Catholic politicians who do not vote in accordance with Catholic teaching cannot receive the Eucharist, the dilemma is obvious: Catholic politicians have one of two choices. They can either relinquish the political arena to the rest of the body politic or they can defy the church. Surely each position is untenable, illogical and destructive of both the church and the place of the Catholic vision of life in the public arena.

Actually, Sister, there is a third choice. They can adhere to the Church’s teachings and run for office. And since those teachings are based on objective Truth,  the successful politician will explain his positions to his constituents in such a way that they grasp the magnificence of the teachings and agree to them.

Chittister assumes that “everyone” is opposed to the principles of Church teaching and that is impossible to get elected by adhering to them. So one must either reject the teaching, reject his faith, or reject politics, she says. I think it’s a false choice, but even so I would remind the good sister of Jesus’ question: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36) What does it a profit a man to gain politicial power and turn his back on God?

  • Dom,

    There is a fourth choice, which is to continue to promote pro-abortion policies and legislation and to refrain from receiving Holy Communion.  IMHO, this is the route that Candidate Kerry will likely follow as the US bishops wake up to Cardinal Arinze’s call to “interpret.”

    Candidate Kerry would be unwise to make a huge issue about this.  I am unconvinced that were he to portray himself as a victim of “Vatican meddling” that there would be any substantial shift among the Catholic electorate, which has not operated as a voting bloc in many years.  Those who are pro-life and supporting President Bush are not likely to say, “Gee, John Kerry is getting slammed by the Catholic Church, and that’s so unfair.  So I think I’ll vote for Kerry, just out of solidarity with his victimhood.”  Similarly, those who are pro-abortion are not likely to say, “Gee, Cardinal Arinze [or hopefully, Archbishop O’Malley] has said that Senator Kerry should not [or hopefully, will not] be allowed to receive Holy Communion.  So I think I’ll reconsider my position on abortion rights and support a pro-life candidate and support the Church’s teaching from the Gospel of Life.

    If Candidate Kerry should choose to use the status of victimhood, hypothetically even going so far as to claim that he is “fasting from the Eucharist” as he is being “reprimanded” from the Church for his political position, and complains about the need for the “separation of church and state” to work “both ways,” with the Church “staying out of the political arena,” he would serve only to energize his base, which is a pretty self-circumscribed group, and not really making any major outreach to moderates. 

    As much as I hope that Cardinal Arinze’s words would serve as an inspiration to the US Bishops, I suffer from no illusions that any bishop other than the usual suspects [Burke, Weigand, Bruskewitz, Chaput and maybe two or three others] will step forward and speak out.  And as much as I hope that this issue would energize any Catholics among those who are undecided, I do not think that this will be among the major issues of the campaign, and Catholic voters will be casting their vote in answer to the following two questions:  Who is best prepared to deal with the issue of security and lead us into a safer world?  Who is best suited to deal with the issue of a stop-and-go economy, and get us through to greater prosperity?

    I say these things as a pastor who preaches regularly about the sanctity of human life, the need for the defense of the unborn, the Gospel of Life.  Despite the repetition, the folks out in the pews are pretty set in their ways, and for the vast “middle group” of moderates or undecideds, the human life issues are not priorities.

  • The sooner we realize that the people we are fighting do not merely want a Palestinian state, or the elimination of Israel, or the pullout of American presence in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq or any other Arab nation, the sooner we will come to realize that the people we are fighting want to eliminate Western Civilization, period.  They do not want any Christians or Christianity, period.  Ditto for Jews and Judaism, and Buddhists and Buddhism, and any other non-Islamic religion.  Those we fight have not the slightest notion of tolerance or pluralism.  They do not want Western entertainment, period.  They do not want democracy, period.  They do not want any liberated women, period.  You think the Catholic Church is oppressive to women and others?  You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

    What critics of this war on terrorism do not understand is that we could withdraw all our military personnel from all over the world, right now, and return them to the US, we could abandon Israel completely, we could endorse the PLO, the Islamic Jihad, al-Qaeda and any other Islamo-fascist group, we could funnel billions of dollars into the West Bank or any other Arab/Muslim entity, and they would still want to crash planes into US skyscrapers, they would still want to detonate dirty bombs in America.  And that is because it’s not our support of Israel they hate, or our overthrowing Saddam Hussein they hate, or our failure to acknowledge or support them.  They hate how we think and what we think.  They hate that Western thought has been the predominant force in the world for the past millenium.  They detest our definitions of Good, True, and Just.  They object to our existence on purely religious grounds:  we are the infidel, and the infidel must be destroyed, as Allah demands it.  There can be no pluralistic tolerance, Christians and Jews and Muslims and Buddhists and Jainists and whoever else out there [including agnostics and atheists] living happily and peacefully in wonderful coexistence.  No, not for these guys.  Heck, we could elect a Muslim president here, and that would not be enough:  the Muslim president would only become a huge target for other Muslim assassins, ala Anwar Sadat.  Let us not kid ourselves:  they don’t even want us to convert to Islam.  They want us eliminated, period.  You know, scorched earth policy, then salt the ground afterwards so that nothing will grow there.  That is why this cannot be a police matter, as Mr. Kerry would suggest.  The war on terrorism is not a law enforcement matter, merely a routine round-up of criminal miscreants.  It is a clash of civilizations [although some might characterize it as a clash of a civilization with an anti-civilization] and it is THE titanic moral, political and spiritual struggle of this new century.

    I am fascinated that Hilaire Belloc’s critique of Islam, written in the early part of the 20th century, still rings especially true today.  I am under no delusions that there will be any effective negotiations with these Islamo-fascists. By the way, I do not equate these Islamo-fascists with all other Muslims; we are at war with a fanatical group within Islam, but a group from which their particularly violent interpretation of Islam cannot be easily separated or sifted out of the Islamic world, which has shown a particularly non-Western tolerance for this virulent brand of fascism.

  • Fr. Stanley,

    One of the things I most enjoy about this blog is reading your commentary. It’s spot on.

  • Greg,

    Sorry, we [Michigan Catholic and I] seemed to have hijacked Dom’s comment box.  We kind of careened off of Kerry using Catholicism as a campaign issue to what will be the issues that the average [Catholic] voter will be considering.  In the long run, I’ll betcha dollars to doughnuts that it won’t be whether or not JFK II receives Holy Communion at a Catholic parish.  The issues will be security and economy, in that order.  The foray into Middle East politics stems from the issue of national security.

    As far as Senator Kerry’s Catholicism goes [which ain’t very far, it would appear], his situation with the Church represents a “teachable moment,” in the words of Fr. Jungmann, that the bishops best employ if they take seriously their charge to be moral teachers.  In fact, this is an excellent opportunity for them to rebuild credibility through a consistent demonstration of Catholic moral principles.  That having been said, I won’t be holding my breath in anticipation of the USCCB or any of the more prominent members of the US hierarchy to address these concerns in any meaningful way [Their Excellencies Chaput, Burke, Bruskewitz, Weigand exempted]. 

    How does Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB, get so respected?  Well, part of it is those esteemed initials after her name:  she belongs to the oldest religious community for women in the Church, the Benedictines.  She’s written a ton of books and has been outspoken and out speaking for what seems like most of the twentieth century. 

    And thanks, goat.