Friday, June 18, 2010

Catholic Identity

Many organizations that claim a Catholic identity are part of the Call to Action fringe of the Church, which is slowly being excommunicated as individual bishops realize that virtually all of the beliefs that they advocate for are against traditional Church doctrine.

The Church moves very slowly to remove dissidents from her embrace—continually seeking their penance for their dissent—and we need to be patient with that slowness, for it is a sign of her mercy and love.

This article from The Catholic Thing examines that fringe of the Church in relation to its support for a strongly pro-abortion politician.

An excerpt.

“In the 2008 election, Barack Obama clearly stated his intention of making unrestricted abortion the law of the land. And in spite of warnings from some bishops that a vote for him would be sinful, 54 percent of Catholics got on the Obama bandwagon. Arguably, without the Catholic “factor” in swing states, Obama would not have won. President Obama has subsequently packed his cabinet with Catholics. Catholic congressmen led the battle to include abortion coverage in implementing universal health care. How to explain such a definitive departure from an unbroken tradition of opposition to abortion, beginning even in the first centuries of Christianity?

“Educated and sophisticated Catholics, fully aware of where an Obama presidency was heading, often justified their support of Obama by pointing out that aborting over a million babies annually in the United States was just “one issue” in the social-justice portfolio. Other issues such as stopping the war in Iraq and fighting poverty could be regarded as equally important. Often they would cite the “seamless garment” metaphor of the late Cardinal Bernardin. They were apparently unaware or uninterested in the fact that Bernardin himself explicitly deplored the “other issues” interpretation in a 1988 interview published in the National Catholic Register.

“But if the conscience of many Catholics is so different from that of others, what is the explanation for the discrepancy? Aside from the oft-cited circumstances that helped assure an Obama victory in the last election – namely, “Bush derangement syndrome,” the financial crises, the dissatisfaction with the Iraq occupation, etc. – other factors germane to the Catholic electorate need to be taken into account:

“1) Long-standing Catholic affiliation over many decades with the Democratic Party seemed to many (in contrast with the Republican stereotype as the “Party of the rich”) to have values more akin to Catholic social-justice ideals – ideals that led many Catholics to participate in civil-rights movements during the late 1960s. The election of a black president in 2008 symbolically became the final crowning of those efforts with success.

“2) Abortion, for some reason, is not widely viewed as an issue of social justice. When trusted Democratic leaders like Ted Kennedy (largely as a result of a two-day meeting with theologians at Hyannisport in 1964), Al Gore, and John Kerry shifted ideologically from being pro-life to “pro-choice,” the shift was taken as being a mere blip on the political radar screen rather than a sea-change in moral principles or the sacrosanct “liberal” interpretation of human rights. Unlike the case of slavery in the nineteenth century, when public awareness of the plight of oppressed fellow humans could hardly be avoided, the victims of abortion are almost completely invisible. It is much easier than in the case of slavery, which nagged at the conscience of onlookers, to ignore the painful destruction of pre-born children. If abortion is homicide, it is an anomalous case of almost purely private homicide. Any public displays of the effects of abortion in our culture are classified as “obscenity.” Teenagers, for example, have been forbidden by their school principals to wear T-shirts with pictures of aborted fetuses.”