Religious zealots vs. Obama at Notre Dame

President Obama is set to speak at Notre Dame on May 17th, and some folks aren’t too happy about it. Why? Because he’s pro-choice, and giving him a platform would violate the rules laid out in Catholics in Political Life. The pertinent guideline reads, “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

Interestingly, George W. Bush spoke at Notre Dame’s 2001 commencement. Pretty sure that he’s in favor of the death penalty, and that under his leadership in Texas a whole lot of people were executed.

I guess those “fundamental moral” pro-life principles don’t apply to people after they’re born.


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59 comments for “Religious zealots vs. Obama at Notre Dame

  1. Rusty
    March 24, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Were there no protests in 2001?

  2. March 24, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    More and more a one-issue church.

  3. March 24, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Actually, Catholics boycotted condoleezza rice’s invitation to Boston College a few years back because of her involvement in the Iraq War.

    Bush may have overseen the execution of many criminals during his time in Texas, but Obama is seeing to it that hundreds of thousands of innocent little lives are destroyed this year around the world.

    So really, it shouldn’t be surprising that he gets a bigger protest. And I can’t think what’s more “fundamentally moral” than trying to defend little innocent babies. Though I wouldn’t choose to call it that. To me, this is just common sense.

    I have full coverage of this developing story on my blog if anyone would care to inform themselves.

  4. March 24, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    whoops, typo in my website address. it’s http://blog.americanpapist.com

  5. March 24, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    I actually have no problem with protesting a graduation speaker’s views — if anti-choice students want to protest Obama or turn around while he’s speaking or whatever, go for it. I just think it’s silly to suggest that he shouldn’t have been invited/allowed to speak in the first place because of the Catholics in Political Life rules.

  6. Zelie Martin
    March 24, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I think he shouldn’t be invited because Notre Dame is supposed to be a Catholic University supporting and teaching the doctrines of the Catholic Church. I think that is why most orthodox practicing Catholics are aghast at the invitation.

    Incidentally, Catholic teaching does recognize that there are times the death penalty may be appropriate.

  7. prefer not to say
    March 24, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Hi Zelie,

    As a point of information — what Catholic teaching teaches that the death penalty is appropriate? Is it doctrine or part of a larger conversation?

    I’d just be interested in researching more.

  8. me and not you
    March 24, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    You just go ahead and mention being pro-death penalty in a Catholic church, or Catholic school and see what happens.

    Being from Texas, and having gone to a (relatively) conservative Catholic school–while there were many people were pro death penalty due mostly to their Republicanism (and there were Republicans who played up to all that moralistic jazz), there were some pretty intense conversations about the Republican pro death stance, vs Catholicism (especially during the 2000 election, where people were saying they wouldn’t vote dem because of ‘prolife’ which was immediately countered with, well then you can’t vote rep either). That could real serious real fast, about how you couldn’t consider yourself prolife and be in favor of the death penalty etc etc. The principles of the school that were mandated by the Church were definitely clear about being against the death penalty.

    While I agree that it’s fairly hypocritical for any institution that claims to follow Catholic principles to support any politician that’s not Catholic while also criticizing other politicians for not following Catholic principles (because why would you expect a non Catholic to uphold Catholic principles?), I think that it’s an overstatement to say that Catholicism is “a one issue church” or that Catholics as whole believe that pro life stops at birth. Because AS A WHOLE and according their principles as an institution (aka Catechism) that’s definitely NOT the case.

    That’s like saying feminism is totally and only focused on abortion, and I don’t think many people would agree either that it is, or it should be.

  9. me and not you
    March 24, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Actually Zelie Martin, that’s not true. While the Church does say that in some instances the death penalty could be considered a ‘greater good’ situation, because of the quality of the modern penitentiary system, there is no conceivable need for the death penalty.

    And if you’re going to argue that means that they’re not anti death penalty… well, then, I can just as convincingly argue that the Church is not against abortion, since they say that procedures that may kill a fetus (hysterectomy is the only example I can remember) are allowed.

  10. Mirele
    March 24, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    You say: “Bush may have overseen the execution of many criminals during his time in Texas, but Obama is seeing to it that hundreds of thousands of innocent little lives are destroyed this year around the world.”

    However, I thought Catholic doctrine was that each one of those “innocent little lives” was tainted by Original Sin, and, as a result, deserved hellfire.

    You can’t have it both ways. Either it’s innocent life, or it’s tainted with Original Sin. Which is it?

    By the way, I want to make it clear that I do not consider a blob of cells to be morally equivalent to a born human being. (And I think Original Sin is a crock o’ shite.) Moreover, it’s abundantly clear that to the Vatican and the authorities of the Catholic church, only some human life is valued, specifically, the unborn. The rest of us can scoot right off to hell if we don’t buy into the Vatican’s warped value system. Which, I might remind people, condemned a nine-year-old child’s mother and her doctors to excommunication because they had the temerity to think about the life in front of them rather than the potential life she might have given birth to (but more likely would have died in the process, and the fetuses as well). To say nothing about the so-called pro-life position of the Pope, warning people away from condoms to stop the spread of disease.

    Again, I have to wonder, why do we listen to the pontifications of professional virgins when it comes to matters regarding sex and reproduction? They don’t have any experience in this area.

  11. RDSquared
    March 24, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Don’t forget the concept of divorce and birth-control. I believe those are still 100% on the Catholic teachings no-no list.

    On the death penalty, the USCCB web-site has some pretty strong statements against; in addition anti-death penalty being a serious part of the serious Catholic’s version of the “culture-of-life.”

    Finally, I believe Pope John Paul II came out very strongly against the war in Iraq, which has killed tens of not hundreds of thousands of little innocent children (but most of them are not christian and kind of darkish, so, whatever I suppose…)

    Protest all you want, I believe there pro and con rallies when George W spoke their. That’s part of being at a college. But to state that the President shouldn’t be invited because of clashes with Catholic doctrine??? Please…. There’d be nobody to invite, outside of the Pope (unless you consider the systematic covering up of priest pedophilia as not supportive of Catholic teachings…..)

    What’s Latin for “schmucks”?

    A recovering Catholic who considers priests among his good friends (most I’ve meet are pretty sharp folks, especially the Jesuits.)

  12. Zelie Martin
    March 24, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    The Catechism of the Catholic church teaches:

    2267 Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

    If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

    Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”

    The church also differentiates between original sin and actual sin and while all are born with original sin, the unborn never commit actual sin.

    The point however is that the church has been very clear in its stand against abortion and to invite President Obama to speak is a defiant act to the local bishop and the pope, as I would think as well to the Catholic moms and dads forking over tuition for an authentic Catholic education.

  13. William
    March 24, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    I’d just be interested in researching more.

    I’d suggest you read Numbers which records several instances of God’s holy people wiping out entire tribes with nary a note of judgment.

    But really, why bother? Everyone knows that the Catholic Church can make whatever moral pronouncements they would like and avoid accusations of inconsistency with a simple “it’s different because we said so and we’re infallible.” We all know what game is being played here, we all know why some deaths are lauded and others criticized. This is about power, control, and dominance. A state killing a criminal does nothing to endanger the power of the church, women deciding not to make an endless stream potential converts/donors/customers/children-to-rape does. Its as simple as that.

  14. March 24, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, most recent edition, on the limitations of punishment:

    “Assuming the guilty party’s identity and responsibility has been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

    “If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.

    “Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm–without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself–the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity ‘are very rare, if not practically non-existent.'”

    I’m glad to hear that Obama will be at Notre Dame.

  15. March 24, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    You know who killed lots of innocent babies? God. It’s in the bible.

  16. Ben
    March 24, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    “AmericanPapist”, you are spreading misinformation (whether intentionally or not, I don’t know). Obama is no more causing abortion than any other US President has. George W. Bush made a pretense of seeking for the banning of abortion, but he did no such thing (although he certainly did work his hardest to make life difficult for women who did choose to have abortions).

    I suspect you have an ulterior motive that goes beyond abortion.

  17. Kat
    March 24, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    What Thomas said.

    I sat in mass the other day, and heard a homily on the 10 commandments. The one and only thing the priest talked about during the “thou shalt not kill” part was abortion. Nothing else. The entire rest of the sanctity of life doctrine is left in the dust, and even ignored.

  18. Joe from MA
    March 24, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Would a Jewish University invite Adolf Hitler? It clearly would make no sense. He was voted in as a leader of a country as well. It sends the wrong message to even consider making an invitation to someone who attacks the fundamentals of who you are. It is confusing for a leading Catholic University to invite someone to speak that is so fundamentally at odds with the basic teachings of their religion. Since Catholic teaching does not distinquish between the life of the inborn and those who have been born, Obama policies will killl likely kill more than Hitler did. This is why there is outrage.

  19. preying mantis
    March 24, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    “Bush may have overseen the execution of many criminals during his time in Texas, but Obama is seeing to it that hundreds of thousands of innocent little lives are destroyed this year around the world.”

    Man. Iraqi kids really don’t count for shit, do they?

  20. karak
    March 24, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Not to mention:

    Large numbers of Catholics live in Africa.

    Bush slashed the fuck out of African Health Initiative Budgets.

    Bush KILLED CATHOLICS.

  21. Rob
    March 24, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Bush, when he was Governor of Texas, signed the Texas Futile Care Act, which allows hospitals to discontinue life-extending treatment over the wishes of next of kin or the patient’s guardian.

    Also, I agree with Thomas. Why the continuing attempt to turn God into a single-issue deity?

  22. bleh
    March 24, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    Catholics (including those in my family) amuse me with the amount of mental gymnastics they are willing to do to back the church on this abortion mania. Case in point: Joe from Ma above actually tries to slip in a little ad Hitlarium on Obama in his quest to value fetus over people (women are people – human life, but those Catholics forget that fact). No extreme is too far in this obsession about the unborn. It would be enraging if it weren’t so funny.

  23. John
    March 24, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    To understand the conclusion you must accept the premise.

    Assume it is true that abortion does kill. Then, calculate the number of abortions yearly in America. If you accept that assumption, then no human calamity even comes close; Iraq, Africa, nothing. Now ask, if a deity were to have a single issue, would not this be it?

    Of course, if you don’t assume this is true, then this seems ridiculous. However, going up to a pro-lifer and saying “Your beliefs are ridiculous!” is probably as measured a reaction as deciding not to attend a commencement because a pro-choice president is speaking.

    It is important to note (as other posters have) that George Bush is ethically clean in Catholic eyes. The Vatican has issued several pronouncements condemning American action in Iraq, and torture is out of the question. In truth there are few truly “Catholic” candidates, whether Republican or Democrat. It is always the lesser of two evils; Bush today, Barack tomorrow.

  24. stlthy
    March 24, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Joe from MA: Godwinned!

    Supporting safe, legal abortion is actually a lot more pro-life than supporting a ban on it. Abortion bans don’t stop abortion; they just make it much less safe and more likely to cause injury and death. Bans on abortion only lead to dead women and dead foetuses.

    Of course, the Catholic church hierarchy loves it when people die for their sexual ‘sins’, so their stance is unshocking.

  25. John
    March 24, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    I’m sorry, I meant the George Bush is not ethically clean.

  26. Dan in Denver
    March 25, 2009 at 12:27 am

    Karak, Bush in fact expanded US aid to Africa dramatically. It’s pretty much the only place in the world where he’s still popular.

    There is discussion and debate within the Catholic church about the death penalty; previous commenters who characterized it as theoretically acceptable but practically not viewed as necessary are fairly summarizing church teaching on the topic. There is no such active debate about abortion; it’s wrong, period, no exceptions. (There are times that a fetus may die as a result of procedures intended to save the life of the mother, but doing such procedures with the intention of killing the fetus is considered the same thing as abortion; there’s not a loophole.)

  27. Dan in Denver
    March 25, 2009 at 12:29 am

    I meant to add – the debate in the church over the Obama invititation isn’t really about Obama, or abortion. It’s about whether Catholic institutions will conform to the teachings of the church, or whether they will strike out on their own moral path. I think Notre Dame can do what they like, but I also think they should stand prepared to be disassociated from the church.

  28. March 25, 2009 at 12:47 am

    It is confusing for a leading Catholic University to invite someone to speak that is so fundamentally at odds with the basic teachings of their religion.

    No, it WOULD be confusing, if there’s wasn’t significant precedent. Viz. GW Bush, 2001.

  29. March 25, 2009 at 5:36 am

    Would a Jewish University invite Adolf Hitler?

    Only 17 comments into it, and we have Godwin! *clap clap*

    AmericanPapist, I recently wrote about how the “innocent life” thing is a red herring. Perhaps you might be interested in my point of view?

    Either way, I think the abortion debate is a great way for the Church to stay relevant. With no offense to Catholics – I mean, my own Orthodox Church is just as persistently dim on the subject.

    I mean, where would they be if they couldn’t pack in special masses full of women who have been convinced that they (the women) have committed evil acts of murder?

  30. Alphonsus
    March 25, 2009 at 7:52 am

    “Again, I have to wonder, why do we listen to the pontifications of professional virgins when it comes to matters regarding sex and reproduction? They don’t have any experience in this area.”

    Hmm… if first-hand experience is necessary for determining the moralityof an action, should only those involved in killing (murderers, but also military and police) have a say in what constitutes murder, manslaughter, etc?

    If ethics (like mathematics) is based on reason, shouldn’t one be able to arrive at a decision without direct experience? If not, what constitutes proper “experience in an area” and who determines what kind and how much experience is necessary? Need they be experienced in experience?

  31. March 25, 2009 at 9:43 am

    The Catholic hierarchy’s singular focus on fetus defense, as the only issue it is really willing to stand in the door over politically, is killing it in the US, and more broadly in the West. What percent of Americans born into Catholic families either convert or no longer practice? Something like 30%?

    The Catholic Church in the US survives as a major religious group only because of (1) immigration from parts of the world where its hold is substantially stronger, which appears to gain it only one generation; and (2) the legacy attachment of folks whose ethnic identity is closely intertwined with historic Catholicism. And even the historic identity of, for example, Irish or Polish ethnicity with Catholicism has been insufficient to hold a young generation who believe the Catholic hierarchy is not only dead wrong on major issues, but also morally bankrupt and estopped by unclean hands from arguing on sexual morality.

    The other day my neighbor, an Irish-American, mass-attending Catholic, from a large, religious family, politically and socially relatively conservative, complained that the focus on abortion in the Church made him question bringing his children to mass. They are even alienating the people that mostly agree with them. It’s not just that the hierarchy insists they’re right — they believe that on every issue. It’s that on abortion they are willing to punish dissent and to try to curtail civil discourse among the laity, where on other issues they will not do that.

    The Catholic hierarchy seems to be dead-set on alienating all but a rump of social conservatives. The Church made a big stand once before, insisting that the laity hew to doctrine despite their strong belief that the Church was wrong. They even got Gallileo to recant. But he ultimately won the battle, and the Church never fully recovered. (Oversimplification, obviously. I recommend MacCullough’s “Reformation”.)

  32. March 25, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Interesting side story about how the ‘Catholic ideal’ is measured at Catholic schools: Among the more progressive Catholic community, lead by Fr. John Dear, there’s a movement that challenges the presence of ROTC on Jesuit campuses (like Loyola and Boston College) in particular.

    The reasons? Because of the dissonance of militarized campuses/teaching people to kill and Christian nonviolence (“teach war no more”), and (at least in some parts of the movement) because it entrenches discrimination on campus via don’t ask/don’t tell, which is at odds with most schools’ anti-discrimination policies.

    For more voices on this, look here, here, and, maybe most comprehensively, here

  33. ACG
    March 25, 2009 at 9:51 am

    I sat in mass the other day, and heard a homily on the 10 commandments. The one and only thing the priest talked about during the “thou shalt not kill” part was abortion. Nothing else. The entire rest of the sanctity of life doctrine is left in the dust, and even ignored.

    I sat through a similar homily after that same Mass, but this one started with, “Nancy Pelosi stands up and says she’s a Catholic. Well, Nancy, if you say you’re a Catholic, how can you…” At that point, I walked out, and I haven’t been back since.

    As for the Obama/Notre Dame situation, I think you have to balance the tenets of the church with the actual beliefs of the students at the university. There have been several situations where students have voted not to have certain graduation speakers because said speaker conflicted with their own collective views. I see no reason that they shouldn’t allow the students to have at least a bit of a say in this; of course it’s a special situation when the university itself is backed by specific doctrine, but if the majority of students don’t agree with that doctrine, it might be time to look at the way the school relates to the students.

  34. Sailorman
    March 25, 2009 at 10:31 am

    The problem is that religious zealots of any religion are, in essence, basically insane and irrational. So it makes little sense to analyze their actions on a (correct) rational basis.

    It’s like trying to teach celestial navigation to someone who thinks the world is flat. Can’t be done.

  35. William
    March 25, 2009 at 10:32 am

    If ethics (like mathematics) is based on reason, shouldn’t one be able to arrive at a decision without direct experience?

    And theres the fly in your ointment. Ethics cannot ever be based upon reason because, at the bottom, ethics will always rely on a certain set of subjective moral assumptions. Ethics is the reasoned extrapolation of unreasoned standards. The Greeks had their own assumptions about what constituted good, Descartes basically assumed the existence of God and extrapolated from there, Kant used rigid morality to enshrine cultural norms, Locke and Mill used logic to argue for how their conception of good ought to be applied. The bottom of any ethical system, no matter how reasoned or logical, is always purely subjective.

    Now none of this means that one cannot arrive at a decision without direct experience, but what it does mean is that people without personal experience will have an additional level of alienation from the subject than those with personal experience. That distance means they will respond to the question using different emotional and experiential contents, it means they have to subtly change the subject before they are able to respond.

    If not, what constitutes proper “experience in an area” and who determines what kind and how much experience is necessary? Need they be experienced in experience?

    You’re trying to make a subjective task into an objective one. Under the system of ethics you seem to be assuming you need to ask three questions before you even get to “who has the necessary experience.” The first is “can objective truth, or something near enough to it for our purposes, exist;” the second is “can this truth be ascertained and understood by human beings;” and the third is “can this truth be explained, codified, and applied in such a way that all (or most) will be able to understand it?” Thats quite the tall order and, incidentally, would negate the need for such a thing as faith if it were met.

  36. Ali
    March 25, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Again, I have to wonder, why do we listen to the pontifications of professional virgins when it comes to matters regarding sex and reproduction? They don’t have any experience in this area.

    Mirele, I actually agree with everything else you said (hey, there’s a reason I’m a former Catholic) but a couple points about this:
    1) A recent priest at my parent’s church actually has grandchildren. He converted to Catholicism late in life and joined the seminary after his wife died.
    2) Contrary to what Ratzinger wanted us to believe, sadly we have proof that there are a number of priests who don’t take that whole vow of celibacy thing seriously.

  37. Fitz
    March 25, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Bill (writes)

    “But really, why bother? Everyone knows that the Catholic Church can make whatever moral pronouncements they would like and avoid accusations of inconsistency with a simple “it’s different because we said so and we’re infallible.” We all know what game is being played here,”

    The Papal doctrine of infallibility does not and has never operated this way. It is a doctrine of faith & morals that the Pope needs to invoke,. when settling an issue as a matter of Church doctrine. As a matter of fact he has never invoked it.

    As for abortion – Commenter need to remember that opposition of Christians toward abortion go back to the first century Diadache & letter to Dionysus. The Christian religion has always held through good times and bad that abortion is wrong. It would be weak and self-serving for the Church to not appose abortion now because it is politically popular, and we are a fetid, post sexual revolutionary libido driven culture. Our material conditions in the west are such that taking care of children is not nearly as difficult as it was through the ages. We were poorer people in previous ages, and childbirth much more medically dangerous, yet we preserved innocent human life.

  38. prefer not to say
    March 25, 2009 at 11:28 am

    “It is confusing for a leading Catholic University to invite someone to speak that is so fundamentally at odds with the basic teachings of their religion.”

    1) The catechism of the Catholic church proportionally doesn’t devote many pages to abortion, so it is certainly an overstatement to call the church’s stance on it a “basic teaching.” A basic teaching of the church is “respect for all life,” so that would necessarily include an intense resistance to war, capital punishment, mistreatment of children and the elderly, and a tireless campaigning against poverty.

    2) Very little writing in church tradition before 1870 discussed abortion. That’s not because no one had abortions. So, if you respect the long tradition of church teaching, you have to recognize that the church’s intense focus on abortion is very very new.

    “to invite President Obama to speak is a defiant act to the local bishop and the pope, as I would think as well to the Catholic moms and dads forking over tuition for an authentic Catholic education.”

    3) I certainly think it’s fantasizing to say that parents send their kids to Notre Dame for a “an authentic Catholic education.” Get serious. For $50,000 a year, parents want their kids to go to a prestigious school so they can get hooked up to Notre Dame’s intensely successful alumni network. And for the bragging rights. Parents who want “an authentic Catholic education” (although I’m sceptical that somehow the authenticity of Catholic education begins and ends with its teachings on abortion) can always choose Steubenville, Ave Maria, U of Dallas, or U of Dayton. Parents who want their kids engaged in the world send their kids to Notre Dame.

  39. Fitz
    March 25, 2009 at 11:47 am

    prefer not to say says: (writes)

    1) “The catechism of the Catholic church proportionally doesn’t devote many pages to abortion, so it is certainly an overstatement to call the church’s stance on it a “basic teaching.” This is a particularly strange (and totally false) way to gauge what is “basic teaching” – Such teachings arte gauged morally on prudential grounds. The priority of “thou shalt not kill” has always rested on the fact that it is first necessary to recognize our neighbor’s right to live before we can recognize any other spiritual or human dimension of them.

    2) “you have to recognize that the church’s intense focus on abortion is very very new.” The earliest church writings mention abortion including the 1st century Diadache & letter to Dionysus. These examples are particularly cogent because they are by non-Christians writing about how actual Christians lived in the first century & how they differed dramatically from the people around them.

  40. irish 93
    March 25, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    None of today’s “outraged” protesters had much to say when pro-choice, pro-death penalty, pro-war, pro-torture Condoleezza Rice spoke at Notre Dame’s commencement. At least President Obama agrees with the Catholic Church on most of these issues.

    Support the University’s decision. Sign the petition:

    http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/4ObamaatND

    .

  41. William
    March 25, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    The Papal doctrine of infallibility does not and has never operated this way. It is a doctrine of faith & morals that the Pope needs to invoke,. when settling an issue as a matter of Church doctrine. As a matter of fact he has never invoked it.

    I’ve been around and around on this more than once, so I’ll be quick about it. It doesn’t matter who invokes what, the church claims to be the earthly voice of God and has a long history of deciding things are a certain way because they say so. The particular rituals and words they use are important only to them, to those of us on the outside the sausage is the same no matter how they ground it.

    It would be weak and self-serving for the Church to not appose abortion now because it is politically popular, and we are a fetid, post sexual revolutionary libido driven culture.

    If you absolutely must play the armchair psychosocial critic, please be familiar with the terms you’re using. Every culture/movement/philosophy/work in human history has been libido driven because libidinal energy is, to psychoanalytic theory, what drives all human action. Libido is not a synonym for “sexual desire” but rather a description of demands of the Id, which are both sexual (in a sense which expands far beyond genital stimulation) and destructive.

    As far as weak and self-serving goes, however, I think the church has gotten there already. It makes excuses and compromises constantly, but in other areas it remains rigid. Where it chooses to yield and where it chooses to stand can tell us things about the internal motivations of the group. In this case I believe that the church’s decision to hold by this particular time-honored belief has more to do with social control than with moral ideals. Perhaps this isn’t true of the laity, perhaps it isn’t even a conscious choice, but thats still where I’d place my wager.

    Our material conditions in the west are such that taking care of children is not nearly as difficult as it was through the ages. We were poorer people in previous ages, and childbirth much more medically dangerous, yet we preserved innocent human life.

    The difference between first century Christians and today’s Roman Catholic Church is a simple one. First century Christians were a small and fractious sect which used the beliefs of their faith to govern their own lives. Once they made it to the fourth century and got into bed with the Emperor they quickly began to make it their business to enforce their morality in the lives of others. That is what the Church seeks to do today, it seeks to force individuals who do not adhere to their doctrine to obey it anyway. I don’t care what Catholics do with their own bodies or lives, I do care what they attempt to force others to do at gunpoint.

  42. March 25, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    “None of today’s “outraged” protesters had much to say when pro-choice, pro-death penalty, pro-war, pro-torture Condoleezza Rice spoke at Notre Dame’s commencement. At least President Obama agrees with the Catholic Church on most of these issues.”

    People need to appreciate the sophistication of the Catholic position. Be it pro-death penalty, – a prudential decision that is not always and everywere bad. pro-war – also, not always and everywhere bad..
    pro-torture – always and evetwere bad, but first it need to consitute torture…a real and important argument.

    Pro-abortion- always and everywhere bad, the taking of an innopcent human life.

    Condoleezza Rice is not a poltician. She is not a decision maker in our goveremnt . She mereley carries out the policies of others.

  43. March 25, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    William (writes)

    “I’ve been around and around on this more than once, so I’ll be quick about it. It doesn’t matter who invokes what, the church claims to be the earthly voice of God and has a long history of deciding things are a certain way because they say so. The particular rituals and words they use are important only to them, to those of us on the outside the sausage is the same no matter how they ground it.”

    Clearly you don’t understand how the Church invokes her authority. You even use the doctrine of infallibility as a pre-text to paint her as authoritarian when you knew you did not know what you were talking about. The particular rituals used are religious ceremonies and words are used in a context so as to be exacting. One billion people world wide are Catholics, half the world Christians. She will continue to assert her understanding of right and wrong, just as you will continue to resent her, and portray you unfairly in an effort to obscure the truth.

    “ they quickly began to make it their business to enforce their morality in the lives of others. That is what the Church seeks to do today, it seeks to force individuals who do not adhere to their doctrine to obey it anyway. I don’t care what Catholics do with their own bodies or lives, I do care what they attempt to force others to do at gunpoint.”

    The Church neither has the power or authority to force their morality on other people. She can only tell her adherents and those in public authority what the right thing to do is. They must then act in a way to either conform civil law to make it moral or act in a way as to bring injustice into the world. We are approaching a time when it will become clear who is “enforcing their morality on others” – unpopular and unjustly enacted laws will try and force Catholics and Catholic institutions to conform to unjust actions. They will and do use the power of the state to coerce individuals and institutions to act in a way contrary to their consciousness and clear Church teaching.

  44. Kat
    March 25, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    The overfixation of abortion above all other issues falling under sanctity of life (death penalty, torture, etc.) puts all the focus on one issue, and the lack of any focus on the other issues almost gives the other issues a pass. Many Catholics even openly support some pretty disturbing stuff (and I’m not talking about the rare occasion would be considered “within doctrine”)

    For instance, the same Catholic friend who gets all teary-eyed talking about all the murdered babies and pulls her kids from school to drive three hours to the March for Life rally will forward me chain e-mails cheering on the likes of Sheriff Joe. As devout as she is, the hierarchy simply is not sending her (or any Catholics) the message that anything but abortion is bad.

  45. Ben
    March 26, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Fitz,

    Do you have the strength of conviction to say what you’ve said to those who have lost loved ones in the war in Iraq? That their concern for those they’ve lost doesn’t matter as much as the grief you get (or that you claim to get, anyway) from abortion?

  46. Mirele
    March 26, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Ali: That’s why I called them “professional virgins.” Actual virginity never enters into it.

  47. Mirele
    March 26, 2009 at 8:53 am

    Fitz: Have you ever looked at the rates of maternal mortality in premodern times? “…yet we preserved innocent human life”–at the expense of the mothers who bore them, who died during or after childbirth. In other words, we women are just “containers” yet again for the idea of “innocent life” and our lives do not matter in the face of that “innocence.”

    Oh yeah, and I’m going to ask you the question I asked above and wasn’t answered: how can you call it “innocent” human life when your own theology says that we’re all born with the taint of Original Sin? According to your theologians, not one of us is innocent. So why the “innocent” language?

  48. Ali
    March 26, 2009 at 9:11 am

    The Church neither has the power or authority to force their morality on other people.
    Really, than why does that Catholic Church have a seat at the UN? Wasn’t it Catholic churches (along with Mormons) who primarilly backrolled the Yes on 8 campaign in California? The Crusades? The Pope telling women in Africa he’s rather see them die from AIDS then have them commit the “sin” of wearing condems to protect themselves and their children?

  49. William
    March 26, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Clearly you don’t understand how the Church invokes her authority.

    No, I simply disregard what the church says and pay attention to what it does. Think of it as faith versus works if that helps. I don’t care how the church officially invokes the authority it claims. I’m not a Catholic, so the rituals and pomp are irrelevant. I’m only interested in the fact that the church presents itself as an authority. It isn’t the middle ages, us apostates and heathens don’t have to play by the Church’s rules anymore.

    One billion people world wide are Catholics, half the world Christians

    Again, irrelevant. One billion people in the world live under a repressive Chinese dictatorship, that doesn’t say much as to the validity of it’s violations.

    . She will continue to assert her understanding of right and wrong, just as you will continue to resent her, and portray you unfairly in an effort to obscure the truth.

    Well thats me, always oppressing the highly influential and staggering wealthy society of dashing hats.

    The Church neither has the power or authority to force their morality on other people.

    Historically I believe that people from the Cathars to French Huguenots might disagree there. Currently, I’m guessing people in Africa who have been denied condoms due to the Church’s lobbying might pick a bone or two with that statement as well.

    She can only tell her adherents and those in public authority what the right thing to do is.

    But the Church uses it’s wealth and influence to demand that states use their coercive power to enforce the ideals the church claims are right. Oppression by proxy is the same as oppression with one’s own hands. Just because the church has the cash to farm out it’s dirty work doesn’t mean it can dodge responsibility.

    They must then act in a way to either conform civil law to make it moral or act in a way as to bring injustice into the world.

    Ahh, but the church is in no way coercive there, right?

    We are approaching a time when it will become clear who is “enforcing their morality on others” – unpopular and unjustly enacted laws will try and force Catholics and Catholic institutions to conform to unjust actions.

    Well, you always have the option of not engaging in certain activities. No one is going to take a Catholic doctor from his bed and force him at gunpoint to perform an abortion. One might tell a Catholic pharmacist to do his job or find another line of work, however. I’m not eligible to be a priest because I couldn’t do the job due to moral objections, the same is true of Catholics who would like to enforce their morality upon others by taking positions of power and then witholding services.

    They will and do use the power of the state to coerce individuals and institutions to act in a way contrary to their consciousness and clear Church teaching.

    Really? Aside from doctors, hospitals, and pharmacists being required to do the same thing anyone else in their position is required to do, care to give an example?

    Quit your whining. The church had it’s thousand years of power and squandered it on pogroms, plagues, and crusades. Now its dying because, in attempt to make itself relevant, it has come too far into a new world it simply cannot adapt to. Live your own life, allow others to live theirs. Tolerate the sin and horror around you because you cannot stem it’s tide without becoming even worse than the monsters you would fight. Your time is over, bow out gracefully, turn the other cheek, and if we are so vile then your god can punish us on his schedule. Don’t be so arrogant as to assume that you are his right hand, don’t play the victim when you seek to inflict upon others, don’t try to take the moral high ground when you defend an organization that has been responsible for more death and suffering than any save (perhaps) the German, Russian, and Chinese dictatorships. You can’t make your assertions true by stating them loudly, and we are no longer awed by your fancy hats.

  50. William
    March 26, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Really, than why does that Catholic Church have a seat at the UN? Wasn’t it Catholic churches (along with Mormons) who primarilly backrolled the Yes on 8 campaign in California? The Crusades? The Pope telling women in Africa he’s rather see them die from AIDS then have them commit the “sin” of wearing condems to protect themselves and their children?

    Clearly you’re obscuring the truth and misunderstanding history and church teachings. Those things are preserving morality because the church has said they are. Any deaths which might have resulted were the will of God and, as such, not for us to question. The seat on the UN is justified because Vatican City is it’s own nation. Proposition 8 was an assault upon the Church and if it hadn’t have been passed priests would have been legally required to engage in sodomy with grown men, an abomination in the eyes of god, rather than with young boys as god and the Greeks intended. The Crusades are irrelevant because everyone makes mistakes and those damned dirty Moors stole our holy land, besides, it was mostly kings who were responsible for that anyway…the Church just followed along so it could provide for the souls of the crusaders. And condoms are abortion, any idiot can see that! Of course the pope would rather see women die of AIDS and go to heaven than use condoms and go to hell.

  51. March 26, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    “(perhaps) the German, Russian, and Chinese dictatorships” Yes: This centuries worst regimes have been expressly atheistic regimes. They asserted the power of the State as absolute over any subsidiary.

    While your busy pointing fingers at the Church, they are busy acquiring power at the expenses of a democratic public. They have carefully cultivated your distaste for any external authority while (at the same time) convincing you that they (the State) is the ultimate protector of your liberties. Once you hand all of your power over to them – Including the ability to influence your government through democratic means, it will become clear to you who really has all the power.

  52. March 26, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    “Of course the pope would rather see women die of AIDS and go to heaven than use condoms and go to hell.”

    Dr. Edward Green, Director of of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard School of Public Health said, in a interview published today,

    “I am a liberal on social issues and it’s difficult to admit, but the Pope is indeed right. The best evidence we have shows that condoms do not work as an intervention intended to reduce HIV infection rates in Africa.”

    Green went on to say, “[w]hat we see in fact is an association between greater condom use and higher infection rates.”

    http://www.ilsussidiario.net/articolo.aspx?articolo=14614

  53. William
    March 26, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Yes: This centuries worst regimes have been expressly atheistic regimes. They asserted the power of the State as absolute over any subsidiary.

    One could argue that the church was responsible in no small part for at least some of the horror of the European regimes. After all, it was the church that engaged in aggressive jew-baiting and blood-libel for 1000 or so years and made anti-Semitism a European sport.

    Also, the Church has only had a problem with state authority when it interfered with it’s own power. Best mind your glass house, friend.

    They have carefully cultivated your distaste for any external authority while (at the same time) convincing you that they (the State) is the ultimate protector of your liberties.

    Because I’m commenting on a feminist blog I must be a blind statist, hmm? I’m actually neither an atheist nor someone with any faith in the ability of government to do much beyond put brown people in jail and waste money. Nor do I have a distaste for external authority. What I have a distaste for is elderly white men telling me they have a direct link to a god I do not worship and that that link gives them the right to infringe upon my liberty. I don’t need them to hem my rights any more than I need the state to protect them.

    Once you hand all of your power over to them

    Which, interestingly, I never even hinted at. I’m sure your mind jumping to your opponents gleefully giving their lives to a higher authority tells us nothing of your mentality.

    Including the ability to influence your government through democratic means,

    There is influencing your government, and then there is using it as a proxy to bend others to the will of your god. One is compatible to a free society, one is not. It seems that your conception of freedom ends at the right to worship a very specific god under a very specific set of circumstances.

    it will become clear to you who really has all the power.

    Sadly, that will be the same person it has always been: whatever asshole manages to build the biggest coalition of thugs and financiers.

    Dr. Edward Green, Director of of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard School of Public Health

    This Dr. Edward Green?
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4511418

    Hmm….one wonders which is taken out of context. Well, NPR is about as biased in my eyes as a Church publication, so lets go right to the source.

    Here is his “ABC” of prevention

    http://www.harvardaidsprp.org/research/Green&Herling_ABC_Approach_Feb07(2).pdf

    Lets see, ABC, what does that stand for? “Abstain, Be faithful, or use Condoms.”

    Nice of you to play though, Fitz.

  54. Fitz
    March 27, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    #1. Your links don’t work.

    And ABC stands for the program itself. They teach abstinence to young people, Faithfulness to the married & target condoms to high risk populations like prostitutes and truck drivers.

    So I quote Dr. Edward Green, Director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard School of Public Health and what he said directly in an interview published just the other day.

    “I am a liberal on social issues and it’s difficult to admit, but the Pope is indeed right. The best evidence we have shows that condoms do not work as an intervention intended to reduce HIV infection rates in Africa.”

    Green went on to say, “[w]hat we see in fact is an association between greater condom use and higher infection rates.”

    Notice he is speaking directly on point as to the Church’s position on condoms alone as a effective and ethical means of prevention.

    http://www.ilsussidiario.net/articolo.aspx?articolo=14614

  55. William
    March 27, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Ahh, Fitz, but that seems to run counter to the actual marketing of the ABC program. http://www.harvardaidsprp.org/research/

    You can keep quoting the same tired Catholic source, but the body of this man’s work seems to contradict the statement you’ve quote. One of the things he has studied is cultural effects and how various programs work within cultures. A problem he identified was that condoms do not work as an intervention because people in certain cultures either refuse to use them, use them incorrectly, or use them during sexual behaviors which make condom breakage more likely.

    Still, its kind of a moot point. I’m getting bored and I’m pretty sure no on here is hearing anything new. Be seeing you.

  56. Fitz
    March 27, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    It seems its only moot point because is directly contradicts your point. For years the left has decried abstention and faithfulness as unrealistic – correspondingly it has credited the Church (wrongly) for emphasizing these points and causing death by AIDS.

    All the while it has thrown condoms at the problem because this hygienic precaution fits there insistence on not being moralizers.

    As the real body of Dr. Edward Green work points out, the left was wrong. Be it Bush’s support of these programs or the Catholic Church insistence on chastity – they turned out to be correct. Increased condoms use and distribution don’t correlate with less disease, but (as predicted) more disease. A comprehensive program the emphasizes cultural conditions – works with traditional attitudes and reinforces them, is the best approach.

    We are seeing HIV decline in at least 8 or 9 countries in Africa. In every case, the proportion of men and women reporting multiple sexual partners has decreased a few years before we see the decline. Yet most AIDS programs emphasize condoms, testing, and drugs. So this broad behaviour change has come about in spite of national AIDS programs that have put the emphasis in the wrong places (for Africa). I’m happy to report that the two countries with the highest infection rates, Swaziland and Botswana, have both launched campaigns aimed at discouraging multiple and concurrent sexual partners. Abstinence among teenagers is also a factor, obviously. If people begin to have sex at a later age, they end up having fewer numbers of sex partners during their lifetime, and this decreases chances of HIV infection.

  57. William
    March 30, 2009 at 2:52 am

    It seems its only moot point because is directly contradicts your point.

    Actually, even if it were true that wouldn’t be the case. My point was that the rise of political Christianity was perhaps the most damaging political event in western history. Even if the church was responsible for zero deaths in Africa they’d still challenging Fascism and Communism for deadliest western ideology.

    For years the left has decried abstention and faithfulness as unrealistic

    To be fair, thats true only of those voices on the left who have come to the realization that the one stable human trait throughout time, place, and culture is the tendency to grind their junk against someone else’s junk.

    correspondingly it has credited the Church (wrongly) for emphasizing these points and causing death by AIDS.

    I counter your assertion of absolute truth with bold moral relativism. Also, snarky disregard.

    All the while it has thrown condoms at the problem because this hygienic precaution fits there insistence on not being moralizers.

    I deny the existence of morals, therefore I do not fear being a moralizer. Also, throwing condoms would seem to be counter productive as it might damage the condom. I prefer placing them in bowls where people congregate. Worked wonders for combating AIDS in the gay community in the US. But hey, who cares, they’re just sodomites, amirite?

    As the real body of Dr. Edward Green work points out,

    The real body as revealed by the transcript of an interview found on an internet magazine with an Italian title and pictures of men in robes with golden hats, not the actual website of Dr. Green’s org. Still, I’m sure they’re trustworthy fellows without bias. Besides, skepticism is for communists.

    the left was wrong.

    Theres that absolute truth attached to a subjective judgment again. I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

    Be it Bush’s support of these programs or the Catholic Church insistence on chastity

    Also known as a waste of money and a lack of fun.

    they turned out to be correct.

    Depending on how you frame the question, the data, and what cultural effects might have influenced both. Thats before we begin to consider the effect of misinformation on cultural beliefs and consider what potential damage a legacy of violent colonialism justified by bringing Jesus to the naked black savages might have had.

    Increased condoms use and distribution don’t correlate with less disease, but (as predicted) more disease.

    Correlation does not imply cause. That is a basic maxim of research that only becomes more salient as the number of confounding variables increases.

    A comprehensive program the emphasizes cultural conditions works with traditional attitudes and reinforces them, is the best approach.

    Agreed. Now which culture are we going to choose? From which tribe? Of which faith? From which time period? What if cultural mores contradict effective prevention?

    Or, heres a thought. What happens when all the arguing about this bullshit leads to a situation where a given region has nearly a 50% infection rate? What happens when the arguing and the cultural chess lets a disease get so out of control that the best prevention becomes tribalism? Dr. Green has a few papers about that real life situation on his page. But I’m sure time is better spent vomiting about how your religious beliefs will lead to a cure in a pandemic. Just keep letting blood, and whatever you do don’t listen to those heathens with their medicine.

  58. Fitz
    March 31, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Sorry to burst your Bubble…(if your still out there)
    In today’s Washington Post (Page A15), Edward Green writes:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/27/AR2009032702825

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