Skip to comments.The Archbishop and the Politicians
Posted on 12/07/2003 7:39:23 AM PST by cebadams
I have a challenge for you -- see if you can tell me what all these quotes have in common:
* "I'm spiritual. I'm religious. I'm a strong Christian and I'm a Catholic but I go to Presbyterian Church. Occasionally I go to the Catholic church too. I take communion. I haven't transferred my membership or anything. My wife and I consider ourselves -- she considers herself a Catholic." --Gen. Wesley Clark, in an interview with Beliefnet
* "Under the Constitution, the public has a right to know that, in the end, the votes I cast are driven by my own independent judgment and conscience, not by a set of marching orders given by any church hierarchy, prelate, or associated lobby group." --U.S. Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.)
* "Certainly, the bishop has every right to express his own views to an elected official. But to invoke the moral authority of the church in a threatening way to a legislator seems to cross over a line that has been very carefully drawn and is very well-respected in this country." --William Bablitch, former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice
* "I represent more than just Catholics. I've sworn to uphold the Constitution. ...It's not for people to decide whether I'm a bad Catholic because I'm going about my job in a consistent way; that's for God to decide." --Wisconsin State Rep. Pedro Colon (D-Milwaukee)
* "I'm concerned that the bishop would pressure legislators to vote according to the dictates of the church instead of the wishes of their constituents because that is not consistent with our Democratic ideals. ...When I was elected, I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, and that means I have to represent all the people of all faiths in my district." -- Wisconsin State Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point)
Sadly, but not surprisingly, these are all quotes from current legislators and leading politicians demonstrating their idea of what it means to be a faithful Catholic in the political arena. For them, it's easy -- you really don't have to do much of anything.
Gen. Clark, still hot in pursuit of the Democratic nomination for President, finally clarifies his real religious convictions -- namely, he doesn't seem to have any. I said in an e-letter about two months ago that his campaign told us he was a Catholic who later converted to the Presbyterian faith. At least that would have been respectable -- if you have theological differences with a particular religion, it only makes sense to belong to the one you truly believe to be right.
Unfortunately, Clark doesn't see anything wrong with calling himself one thing and doing another. And that goes for the others listed, as well. None of them realize what should be perfectly obvious: There's a world of difference between calling yourself a Catholic and actually living that faith in your public life.
Take the other politicians on the list. These comments were all in response to a letter sent to three Wisconsin State politicians from their then-bishop, Raymond L. Burke of La Crosse. Burke pointed out to these individuals that their political actions were directly in conflict with the faith they professed -- a troubling disconnect that could be dangerous for their spiritual well-being.
"As a faithful member of the Catholic Church, you have an obligation to fulfill the duties of your office with regard not only to the laws of the state, but also with regard to the moral law," Burke wrote. In a later interview, he explained that if these politicians persisted in their anti-Catholic legislation, "I would simply have to ask them not to present themselves to receive the sacraments because they would not be Catholics in good standing."
Here I have to take my hat off to Bishop Burke -- or I should say, Archbishop Burke. He was recently appointed to the archdiocese of St. Louis, something which I'm sure is great news for Catholics there. Burke is joining the ranks of other brave bishops, like Bishop Weigand in California and Bishop Carlson in South Dakota, who aren't afraid to stand up for the faith and confront the politicians in their dioceses about their anti-life lawmaking.
Bishop Burke sent private letters to these politicians, urging them to reconsider their positions, and included a copy of "Living the Gospel of Life," inviting them to read it and schedule an appointment with him to discuss it. It wasn't a grab for attention or a political move on Burke's part -- he was simply doing his pastoral duty by looking out for the spiritual well-being of his flock.
And those are the "marching orders" the lawmakers are bristling at. Their responses to the bishop's letter sound like those of every other dissenting Catholic politician that has gone before them. Yet they're completely missing the point.
For one, appeals to the Constitution and "separation of church and state" are ridiculous. These politicians have it exactly backwards -- they believe the first amendment means that religion can have no role in public life, when any high-school civics student could tell you it means that government can have no role in restricting religious practice.
Of course, here's where the politicians cry, but what about our non-Catholic constituents? Surely we can't impose "Catholic morality" on them. Again, this is missing the point -- right-to-life issues aren't strictly Catholic. They are held by Protestants, Jews, Muslims, atheists... people of all religious backgrounds. That's because this isn't an issue of religion but of human dignity and can be embraced by anyone, regardless of their beliefs.
Bishop Burke isn't demanding that the seven Sacraments be legally recognized; he's asking that lawmakers not act contrary to their Faith. There's a world of difference between the two.
Look, the bottom line is this. If you can't win an election by being faithful to the beliefs you profess by calling yourself Catholic, you can't simply abandon those beliefs to win. And if you do, you certainly can't blame your constituents for your actions. If you're willing to sacrifice your beliefs to be elected, then it's pointless to pretend you value those beliefs at all. Your priorities lie elsewhere.
My apologies if I ended the week on a down note, but I thought that needed to be said. The positive side is that one of our shepherds is standing up against these people. Our sincerest congratulations go to soon-to-be Archbishop Burke for his fine example of spiritual leadership.
I hope you have a restful weekend,
If you can't win an election by being faithful to the beliefs you profess ... you can't simply abandon those beliefs to win.
The fundamental principle by which we chose must revolve around this very issue that some would label "character" -- forget the speeches, the platform, the advertising.
C-SPAN Republican callers were emphasizing Clark's "nuttiness" this morning, and this stuff is beginning to stick.
Of course, I think Dean is just as nutty, and his instability will begin to exhibit itself the more his massive ego is fed with primary victories.
He is a professing Roman Catholic, right?
At his Sacramento swearing in, a priest from his local Santa Monica church (Saint Monica's, the mother of Saint Augustine) delivered the opening prayer.
And yet, isn't the official position of the Roman Catholic church pro-life and pro-heterosexuality?
Isn't the official position of the Roman Catholic church anti-abortion? Doesn't the Roman Catholic church teach that "Homosexuality is wrong."
So, what is going on? Arnold is pro-gay rights, and pro-abortion.
There is a disconnect here. Explain, please.
P.S. The priest from his local Santa Monica church gave the opening prayer. And in the entire text of his message, not once did he mention the words "Jesus Christ". Maybe this explains the disconnect.
Arnold and his priest are ashamed to mention the name of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Unfortuately, you may be right. Which points up a major problem in the Catholic Church: many priests are what we call a material heretic. That means that they really dissent from the teachings of the Church about sexual morality or have serious reservations. If they were to voice those reservations, they would be called formal heretics, which might harm their standing in the Church. Unfortunately, may of these priests reveal their true beliefs on in their actions. I thin we may safely assume that Arnold's relgious opinions and those of this priest--and probably even those of his bishop-- are very much the same.
I belonged to a church that had "Catholics" that never attended mass and sat on the Church board that told the pastor, yet they still considered themselves Catholics , if they were in the hospital they would list their religion as "Catholic"
That Pastor was as appalled as most RC's would be with that
Heathen politician that is a RINGO
Perhaps the Holy Spirit prevented the name of the Lord to be associated with such a thing.
LOL! Ha! Praise His Holy Sprit!
Indeed A huge Praise God!!
And like Woody ..good to see you AG
You learn something everyday.
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