Thursday, November 20, 2008

Meanwhile, Back At The Catholic Church...

U. S. Roman Catholic bishops are chagrined that 54% American Catholics voted for Barack Obama despite an aggressive effort to position abortion as the paramount issue of the campaign. The failure of their crusade has caused them to reexamine not their position, but the ways in which they conveyed it. They do not consider that the moral dimension of one's vote might legitimately consider more than abortion or that a personal discomfort with abortion might be outweighed by a greater discomfort with the state's involvement in a personal decision.

Writing as a former Catholic, for me the bishop's reasoning typifies many of the reasons that I turned away from the Church. It seems to me that the moral dimension of one's vote is ultimately a matter of conscience and conviction. Whatever my personal feelings about abortion, I couldn't possibly cast a vote without considering matters of war and peace, poverty and economic justice, environmental justice, and racial reconciliation. That the bishops would question my commitment to Catholicism if I didn't subordinate those issues to abortion is simply offensive. 

Of course, there is self-interested dimension to the vote as well. The bishops express disappointment that so many Catholics voted the economy instead of abortion. They miss that even this has a moral aspect with direct impact on the family: How can an individual cast a vote that he or she thinks may harm the well-being of their immediate family in favor of an abstraction? In the present economic climate, that's simply asking too much of human nature. But the bishops operate at such remove from the day-to-day concerns of their flock that they can't see this.

Like it or not, moral choice is often not a black-and-white affair. This is especially true with one's vote, when multiple moral issues compete. It is entirely possible and legitimate to integrate these in a way that does not subordinate one issue to all others. That the bishops don't or won't recognize this reflects their limitations and a fundamental disrespect for the members of the Church...

Cardinal James Francis Stafford says that Barack Obama is "aggressive, disruptive, and apocalyptic" and warns that America is headed to Gethsemane. If this isn't a case of the pot calling the kettle black, I don't know what is. Oddly enough, his eminence went on to argue that  “man should not be held to a supreme power of state, and a person’s life cannot ultimately be controlled by government.” Not to be a smartass or anything, but isn't this exactly the point of those who favor a woman's right to choose?...

By now, we've all read about the South Carolina priest who wants to deny communion to Obama. No comment, except to point out that there are any number of priests who would never think of politicizing communion and that this one priests extremism shouldn't taint the daily efforts of the great majority...

Quote of the Day: This gem comes from a Palinista blog and refers to Obama voters:
"How awful that people are so swayed by the cult of personality!"

5 comments:

Sylvia K said...

One more thing we have in common --I was a Catholic, too and walked away for pretty much the same reasons plus an extra one or so.

Great quote of the day!

Kathy said...

Very astute observation about the economy having a moral aspect too. It also has a direct effect on abortion, at least for one person I know.

A friend came to me years ago and confessed that she had had an abortion early in her marriage. She already had two children at that point, but her family's finances were precarious and her husband told her to get the abortion or he would leave. She had the abortion in order to preserve her marriage and family.

It took her a long time to make peace with herself and God, and it also kept her separated from the Catholic church for nearly 20 years - needlessly in my opinion. We're all sinners and we should all be welcome in church.

HelenWheels said...

As an ex-Catholic (and damn proud of it), I can't imagine how Catholics today can stand what is going on in that church! It's utterly ridiculous. They need to come out of the dark ages. Sheesh.

I don't even know how the church managed to keep from imploding after all the pedophile cases. Sounds like the congregation is waking up.

K. said...

Ireland had a pedophile priest scandal as well, and it has crippled church-going in the rural areas. This was the political strength of the church there, too.

What really got me about it was the various dioceses claiming that settling or paying out lawsuits would bankrupt them. So what?

My guess is that what has kept the church going in the States is that there are a lot of good and effective priests at the parish level.

K. said...

Sylvia, I'm convinced that recovering Catholics have this aura about them that allows us to seek each other out and make contact. You can't see it any more than you can hear a dog whistle, but you can sense it.