Left, right and sacramental center

confessionboothjpgDay after day, the press releases (left and right) and news reports flow into my inbox. They started late in the 2008 primary season and this digital tide tends to rise sharply in the hours just after One Of Those Appointments by the staff of President Barack Obama.

You know the appointments that I’m talking about, the ones where he names (a) a Planned Parenthood ally to a position linked to abortion policies, (b) a pro-Obama American Catholic to a position linked to abortion policies or (c) a Planned Parenthood ally who is also a pro-Obama American Catholic to a position linked to abortion policies.

The latest person in the firing line is, of course, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, whose political attributes are nailed down in two very different passages in the solid New York Times report on her nomination to serve as secretary of health and human services. First, there’s this:

Ms. Sebelius became one of Mr. Obama’s most valued allies when she endorsed him early in the presidential nomination battle. She has been discussed for a variety of positions, including vice president and other cabinet jobs. A two-term state insurance commissioner and second-term Democratic governor in a reliably Republican state, Ms. Sebelius has a reputation for bipartisanship. …

In selecting Ms. Sebelius, Mr. Obama has decided to risk running headlong into the nation’s volatile abortion wars. Since Ms. Sebelius’s name emerged as a leading candidate for the health job, anti-abortion groups have assailed her record and vowed to fight her confirmation.

Later, reporter Peter Baker provides a strong set of background paragraphs to flesh out the controversy. I think these pretty much cover the whole terrain, although GetReligion readers who are pro-Vatican Catholics may be able to add more details:

Despite a record of working with Republicans in some areas, health care was one where she often had trouble forging bipartisan agreement. She tried raising cigarette taxes to pay for health care for the poor but was rebuffed by a Republican Legislature. She promoted universal health care but never reached that goal. And she proposed consolidating health care programs, but lawmakers made sure she could not control the new independent authority.

Abortion may prove a lightning rod in her confirmation. Ms. Sebelius, a Catholic, has repeatedly vetoed abortion regulations on legal or policy grounds. … Ms. Sebelius has defended her record by pointing to adoption initiatives and falling abortion rates in Kansas, but the archbishop of Kansas City last year said she should not receive communion until repudiating her support for abortion rights.

Anti-abortion leaders also criticize her for hosting a reception at the governor’s mansion in 2007 attended by George Tiller, a prominent Wichita abortion provider. At the time, Dr. Tiller was under investigation and now is about to go on trial for 19 misdemeanor charges of violating state restrictions on late-term abortions, according to news reports.

Now, readers who pay close attention to Catholic social teachings will notice that the reporter has made sure that readers know that Sebelius has staked out a strong record as a liberal, American Catholic — with efforts linked to health care for the poor and for those who struggle to maintain health insurance. I am sure she would say — as she should — that these policy initiatives are linked to her faith.

However, she has also opposed restrictions on abortion on demand, even when dealing with abortions that take place after fetal viability.

Note the clash here, between two parts of the Vatican’s teachings on these issues. A Catholic who backs the church’s teachings on abortion and public life would, at the very least, be seeking whatever restrictions are possible in a given political culture PLUS whatever policies can be enacted to help the poor, especially mothers and their children — born and unborn. The equation has two sides.

Note the disconnect in the following passage from a CNN wire report:

The liberal group Catholics United has come to Sebelius’ defense, saying the Kansas governor has taken several steps to lower the abortion rate in her state. The group also has posted excerpts of a 2006 speech in which Sebelius said she opposed abortion.

“My Catholic faith teaches me that all life is sacred, and personally I believe abortion is wrong,” she said then. “However, I disagree with the suggestion that criminalizing women and their doctors is an effective means of achieving the goal of reducing the number of abortions in our nation.”

In May, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, said that Sebelius’ stance on abortion had “grave spiritual and moral consequences.” He asked that Sebelius no longer receive Communion until she repudiated her stance and made a “worthy sacramental confession.”

Notice, again, the subtle effort to pry apart the two halves of the Catholic teachings on the sanctity of life. The key is not whether reporters agree with one side or the other, but whether they realize that the Vatican is calling for an approach to the issue that proclaims the need for both sides of the equation.

There are Catholics on the left who only want one side in public life. There may, in fact, be Catholics (although I have met few, if any) who only want to see restrictions and/or a ban. But the Catholic Church is in the middle, and has proclaimed that practicing Catholics who wish to remain in Communion with the Church should strive to support the whole teachings of the faith.

This is hard, in the context of American politics. Thus, reporters must note the crucial reference by the archbishop to the sacrament of confession. In the end, this debate is about doctrines and sacraments. This is a complex story with three sides and it helps if reporters know this.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • FW Ken

    pro-Vatican Catholics

    Sorry, I’m having a hard time getting my mind around that phrase. Are you referring to Catholics who believe the teachings found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Which was, btw, edited by an Austrian cardinal, not a Roman. You do know that disagreement with “the Vatican” is perfectly acceptable on many matters. The late Avery Cardinal Dulles disagreed with the Vatican trend against capital punishment. And, of course, Catholic social teaching allows for a range of means by which principles can be effectuated.

    Abortion, being murder, is obviously different than discussing how best to help the poor. The criminal justice system concerns itself with both legal management of murder and various preventive issues.

  • SjB

    I have been following the Catholic news with interest the last few weeks and I’m hoping that good things will unfold in the days ahead. I don’t think the pro-abortion Catholic public officials will continue to be able to receive communion much longer.

    I was pleased when the Pope rebuked Pelosi and immediately released a statement of his expectations for all public officials. Recently, I ran across a petition addressed to the American Bishops by the laity asking the Bishops to withhold communion from the public officials who did not support pro-life stances from conception to death. (10,800+ names and counting http://www.pewsitter.com/petition)

    I’ve also been following EWTN’s, The World Over, which is a weekly news program that has been covering the issues regarding Pelosi, Biden, etal. and communion. They will most likely address the Sebelius appointment and problem with her views and her Bishop’s actions with her this Friday evening.

    There is a great deal of pressure coming from many different directions upon the American Bishops to deal with the Catholic anti-life public officials. Like I said earlier, I’m watching with anticipation to see good things in the days ahead. :)

  • Dave

    Has coverage of communion issues ramped up recently since, eg, the middle of last year? Or am I just more aware of it from reading GetReligion?

  • Joe

    Is the term “pro-Vatican Catholic” just focused on aderence to anti-abortion dogma, of does it include other life issues, economic issues, and just war? Is an anti-abortion, pro-death penalty person “pro-Vatican” according to Tmatt? How about an anti-abortion auppprter of the Iraq war and the Bush torture doctrine?

  • http://www.followingthelede.blogspot.com Sabrina

    A number of quick comments:

    Yes, Dave, the talk has ramped up recently, even outside the universe of GR. Certain U.S. Bishops have been very vocal about withholding Communion (Bishop Martino of Scranton, Pa., for example) but there is far from a consensus among the nation’s bishops about this being the correct or appropriate approach.

    Which is why, SjB, I completely disagree with your assessment. There isn’t going to be a quick fix in this discussion — petitions or EWTN reporting notwithstanding.(And as far as informed reporting concerning the U.S. bishops, I’d suggest Catholic News Service might be a better fit than EWTN).

    tmatt says: “There may, in fact, be Catholics (although I have met few, if any) who only want to see restrictions and/or a ban.”

    Really, tmatt? I meet and hear from them all the time. Maybe it’s because I work at a Catholic newspaper. Many of those who contact me or send me commentaries or press releases are lay people who see any attempt (legislative or otherwise) to address anything but overturning Roe v. Wade as a smokescreen and distraction (and sometimes even a betrayal) of pro-life efforts.

    Fortunately, the bishops are not so blinkered:

    “Our faith requires us to oppose abortion on demand and to provide help to mothers facing challenging pregnancies,” Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia and Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., said in an October 21 statement. [...] Cardinal Rigali chairs of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities. Bishop Murphy chairs the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.”Providing support for pregnant women so they choose to have their babies is a necessary but not sufficient response to abortion. Similarly, reversal of Roe is a necessary but not sufficient condition for restoring an order of justice in our society’s treatment of defenseless human life,” they said.

    http://www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2008/08-154.shtml

  • Jerry

    Sabrina, thanks for the informative post. Abortion is the #1 issue that brings out the extreme polarity more than probably any other issue today. Your post shows that there is a consensus amongst the great majority on supporting measures that help pregnant women no matter how people feel about the legality of abortion.

    From what I’ve read so far, even anti-abortion Senators like Brownback and Coburn are either supporters of hers or are open to voting for her in spite of her abortion record. I’ll be watching for more stories that speak to their rationale for their position.

    PS: The blockquote button is broken. It adds a space between the cite=”" and angle bracket which is hard to see but looks like this:
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    versus the correct HTML with no space:
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  • dalea

    From Wikipedia:

    Historian John Higham described anti-Catholicism as “the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of paranoiac agitation in American history”.[1] Sentiment against the Roman Catholic Church and its followers, which was prominent in Britain from the English Reformation onwards, was exported to the United States. Two types of anti-Catholic rhetoric existed in colonial society. The first, derived from the heritage of the Protestant Reformation and the religious wars of the sixteenth century, consisted of the “Anti-Christ” and the “Whore of Babylon” variety and dominated anti-Catholic thought until the late seventeenth century. The second was a more secular variety which focused on the supposed intrigue of the Roman Catholics intent on extending medieval despotism worldwide.[2]

    Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr. characterized prejudice against the Catholics as “the deepest bias in the history of the American people”[3] and conservative Peter Viereck once commented that “Catholic baiting is the anti-Semitism of the liberals.” [4]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Catholicism_in_the_United_States

    Coverage of this type just appeals to historic anti-catholicism. Bishops meddling in politics are doing Paul Blanshard’s work for him.

  • tmatt

    JOE:

    Clearly you did not read the post. You missed the central point of the piece.

    DALEA:

    Again, the central point of the piece: The issue is where public policy, in a fallen world, overlaps with sacraments and doctrine. The church cannot ignore the later.

  • SjB

    Sabrina, thanks for the suggestion to watch CNS. I just checked CNS and the story about Sebelius’ Archbishop telling her to refrain from communion until she changed her stand was the latest news story there:

    http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0900966.htm

    I understand your skepticism about good things happening this coming year because of the divisions in the American Catholics over abortion. I certainly could be wrong, but I still have hope because the subject seems to finally be coming to a head. The call to enforce Catholic beliefs is coming from the very top (Pope) to the very bottom (laity). I do not think the pro-abortion Catholic groups will be able to sustain themselves as legitimate Catholics within the Catholic church anymore than the women who have been ordained as priests were able to be accepted by the Catholic church.

    Anyway, Sebelius has already been told to not receive communion from her Archbishop. Pelosi’s bishop has been trying to address her and will hopefully enforce the same ban from communion if she does not reverse her course. The American Bishops will need to start toeing the line since there is so much pressure to deal the situation (from the Pope to the laity). It should be an interesting year. :)

  • SjB

    P.S. Here is another recent news release with a statement from Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, who strongly criticized the Sebelius nomination as “an insult to Catholics” in a March 2 statement. He called Sebelius “one of the most extreme pro-abortion zealots in the nation.” http://www.catholicleague.org/release.php?id=1564

    Yep… it should be an interesting year. :)

  • FW Ken

    Bishops meddling in politics…

    I remember people complaining (bitterly) about preachers “meddling in politics” back in the 60s. The chief meddler in the those days was a Baptist preacher pushing civil rights legislation.

    Sabrina, are you saying that the people who write you are not interested in activities other than re-criminalizing abortion? I certainly consider that a bottom line, but also recognize the Church’s work in social services, education, health care, and so on as integral to our mission.

  • Lindy

    Two thoughts:

    -Let us make no mistake. The sin of a nation has grave consequences for years. 150 years after the end of slavery, we are still dealing with issues of racism and they seem to deepen. Whatever will we reap from over 30 years of abortion?

    -Re Sebelius’s remarks on abortion: There is no logic there. Can you image saying that you are personally against slavery but making it illegal would have effect on its existence so you are going to go ahead and feel awfully bad about blacks in chains but you’ll wine and dine the slave owners. Insane.

  • Martha

    “And she proposed consolidating health care programs, but lawmakers made sure she could not control the new independent authority.”

    Knowing nothing of how American states run their local goverment affairs, can someone tell me why this is presented as a problem?

    I would imagine the whole point of an INDEPENDENT authority is that it can’t be CONTROLLED by whomever happens to be the governor of the day. Overseen, held accountable, having to report, yes. Not liable to being abused as, say, a means of rewarding supporters by giving them plum jobs, or by dangling access to programs and financing as incentives to ‘vote for me’ – surely that’s a good thing?

    I mean, I know she’s a Democrat and that party is Immaculately Conceived, but suppose – horror of horrors! – a Republican managed to sneak past the electorate and become governor? Wouldn’t you want that evil, greedy beast held in check so he couldn’t range over the hapless body at will, despoiling it at whim?

    (I say this as an outsider who prefers, on the whole, the Democratic Party to the Republican Party, but come on: the coverage can seem a little hagiographic at times).

  • Martha

    “Anti-abortion leaders also criticize her for hosting a reception at the governor’s mansion in 2007 attended by George Tiller, a prominent Wichita abortion provider.”

    I must say, I like the way this makes it sound as if Dr. Tiller just happened to wander by at the same time the reception was going on.

    From the coverage this is receiving in Catholic blogs, I get the impression that the reception was in honour of Dr. Tiller, that he’s been a very strong financial supporter of Governor Sibelius, and that she counts him (and he counts her) as an ally. Nothing accidental or ‘just happened to be in the vicinty’ about his attendance at the reception at all.

  • Martha

    Joe, if you’re counting:

    Pro-Vatican, pro-life, anti-death penalty, anti-torture, anti-Iraq War Catholic.

    Do I fit the bill? :-)

  • Sarah Webber

    Yes, but, Martha, you’re an Irish citizen residing in the state of Ireland. You can have any opinion you want and we Americans can just pat you on the head and say, “Isn’t that nice?”

    For the record, I appreciate how you regularly share your thoughts here at GR; I think the site benefits from your perspective, not to mention your humor. But I think those who disagree with you are apt to take the easy way out and assume since you aren’t an American citizen, your opinion is irrelevant.

  • FW Ken

    Would those be some of the same people who are so deeply concerned about our reputation around the world when it comes to matters more near to their hearts? Like the Iraw war? or our support for Israel?

    And, yes, Martha’s comments often brighten my day, as do those of another Irish woman on another blog.

  • Chris Bolinger

    Hey, Ms. Sebelius! What does your Catholic faith tell you about abortion?

    “My Catholic faith teaches me that all life is sacred, and personally I believe abortion is wrong,” she said

    Thanks! And how does your Catholic faith affect your policies?

    Ms. Sebelius…has repeatedly vetoed abortion regulations on legal or policy grounds…the archbishop of Kansas City last year said she should not receive communion until repudiating her support for abortion rights. Anti-abortion leaders also criticize her for hosting a reception at the governor’s mansion in 2007 attended by George Tiller, a prominent Wichita abortion provider.

    Hey, MSM! Can you continue to report blatant contradictions without calling them into question? Yes, you can!

  • Julia

    GetReligion readers who are pro-Vatican Catholics

    I’m with Joe and others who object to this terminology. I’ve not seen the label pro-Vatican Catholic anywhere else. If somebody is really anti-Vatican, then they should quit the church and probably have already.

    The baseline is Catholic – period – the generally non-dissenting mainstream church member.

    If you are going to qualify that, the preferred terminology is Catholic modified by “dissenting” in regard to a particular issue.

    There are Catholics who dissent against the Church teaching on the issue of abortion.

    Others dissent on the issue of liturgy.

    Others dissent on the issue of altar girls or the liturgical dancers in the Greek goddess get-ups.

    Others dissent against having the old Mass available on a regular basis.

    Others don’t particularly like Rerum Novarum but that doesn’t make them anti-Vatican.

    Catholic means “universal” and indicates the person is in union with the universal teaching of the church and the Pope. That teaching is the same all over the world, not just in the Vatican.

    All Catholics are pro-Vatican with possible dissent on some issue(s). Catholics don’t have to agree with 100% – they just have to assent and accept it.

    But if somebody dissents against the Vatican qua Vatican (I’m assuming you mean the Pope and the Church itself) they aren’t Catholic. I mean why would somebody stay in the Catholic Church if he/she didn’t believe in a Pope? that makes them an Anglican or Baptist, right?

    BTW the ability to see posts before posting is broken.

  • Susan

    I echo Juia #19. The whole point of this blog is to get the religious context.

    I am guessing from the context, if one accepts the teaching of the Magisterium, one is pro-Vatican.

    Given that the teaching of the Magisterium is the core understanding of our belief, if one does not accept the teachings, one is likely to be some form of Protestant Christian or possibly another religion entirely.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Where did this phrase “pro-Vatican Catholic” come from in Get Religion. Virtually every Catholic I know who is strongly against abortion and seeking to protect children from extermination considers themselves pro-life Catholics. They regard their stand and the stand of the Vatican as mandatory if one is going to claim to be The Church which is the standard bearer of the values and ethics of the courageous pro-life First Century Christians. You know, the ones who defended the sacredness of human life even as they were being hunted down to be exterminated themselves by pagan Roman authorities. What these pro-choice “Catholics” are is ambitious, promotion seeking politicians who will do anything for advancement or publicity–even honor a doctor known for his partial-birth abortion business and his protection of men who are guilty of rape. These “Catholics” are merely doing Satan’s work. And “Yes!” abortion is a polarizing issue. That is because the child is either dead or alive at the end of the day. There is no in-between status for the child.
    To refer to pro-life Catholics as merely pro-Vatican Catholics is to (probably unwittingly) trash the very moral and historical roots of Catholic pro-life teaching. Although I agree with the premise given by t.matt that Catholic moral teaching (after life itself is guaranteed) is very much on the side of a country having a very, very strong safety net for those who may need help and support. And, frankly, I think this is one reason for the schizophrenia and bobbing around of so many Catholic voters–a situation that the MSM seems to avoid doing much in-depth analysis of. Probably because in so many cases major components of the MSM want to keep alive the lieing fable that pro-lifers care more for the unborn than for the already born.

  • Roberto

    Yes, but, Martha, you’re an Irish citizen residing in the state of Ireland. You can have any opinion you want and we Americans can just pat you on the head and say, “Isn’t that nice?”

    Well, I’m an American residing in the U.S. and my views/positions are identical to Martha’s. Maybe I should emigrate.

  • Kevin Codd

    Redistribution of wealth does NOT help the poor. Can we please look at history and see that poverty cannot be eliminated (especially not by socialism and/or any action by a government). So yes, a Catholic should seek “whatever policies can be enacted to help the poor,” but let’s acknowledge that such policies are not those being proposed by Sebelius or any other liberal.

    Look past the euphemisms are realize what phrases like “efforts linked to health care for the poor and for those who struggle to maintain health insurance” really mean.

  • Ben

    I dunno, I kind of like the coinage “pro-Vatican Catholic.” It seems to me you do have a set of Catholics who are particularly appreciative of their religion as it emanates from the top — the encyclicals, the decisive political decisions by whomever is the current pope to focus on certain things, whether it’s anti-communism or reconsidering inter-religious dialogue. Then there’s a set of Catholics who are maybe less interested in theology or curia politics but who find a local priest and a particular parish life that nourishes them at the level of lived experiences. The latter group might have more heterodox beliefs or care very little for the great political and theological struggles that happen at the global, Vatican level. But these folks too, it seems to me, are a part of the Catholic community, just like the pro-Vatican Catholics, and it’s helpful to have a way to distinguish the two.

  • FW Ken

    I suppose if you were talking about ultramontanism, “pro-Vatican” might be a fair term.

    Ben – what you are describing is protestant congregationalism, not the Catholic religion, however the sign on the door reads. Certainly, any number of folk who mark “Catholic” on a list live their religion that way, but that makes them genuine Catholics no more than walking on the field in Texas stadium makes me a Dallas Cowboy.

    Conflating political with dogmatic issues doesn’t help your argument, either. Of course Catholics disagree about all sorts of thing (the best means of helping the poor, for example, or the best way to fight political oppression), but there are certain basics about which we cannot disagree and call ourselves “Catholic” with any integrity. You know, I picked that up in a Church History class, taught by an Episcopalian from a text written by a Baptist.

    BTW, Rerum Novarum begins by establishing the right of private property and the primacy of the family in matters of economics. It’s hardly a Catholic Communist Manifesto.

  • Julia

    there’s a set of Catholics who are maybe less interested in theology or curia politics but who find a local priest and a particular parish life that nourishes them at the level of lived experiences. The latter group might have more heterodox beliefs or care very little for the great political and theological struggles that happen at the global, Vatican level

    These people are not anti-Vatican just because they don’t take an interest in the day to day doings at the Vatican.

    Would you call folks who are are not political and not news junkies “anti-White House”? No, they are still good Americans. But if somebody didn’t think our laws should be based on the Constitution and we shouldn’t have a President, then maybe they aren’t such good American citizens and could be considered anti-American – because they don’t believe in the basis of our government.

  • Ben

    Ken,

    Yup, there are certain basics with which we cannot disagree, and those are called dogma. Below that threshold, a person isn’t Catholic. But there’s a lot of room between that low bar and those “pro-Vatican Catholics” who find it very important to be in lock-step with the top of the hierarchy in Rome on all doctrinal decisions and emphases. That’s why I think tmatt’s term is useful.

    Catholicism sits somewhere on the religious identity spectrum between Judaism and Hinduism — where membership really is by blood not ideology — and Shakers, where it’s the opposite.

    You’re attempting to portray Catholicism as far too exclusionary a religion when in fact it’s very definition is “universal.” It’s the mark of protestantism to carve out a pure niche of believers and set them apart from the wider church.

    Identity in Catholicism isn’t individual-oriented enough to make it purely a matter of doctrinal litmus test. We celebrate family ties as bonds that confer and help sustain religious identity: our parents and godparents baptize us, we ask for intercessions through mother Mary, and even some of the most wayward Catholics will keep ties to the faith for the sake of their earthly mothers. It’s forms of protestantism that talk about being individually saved through a personal relationship with Jesus. Catholicism? It’s less Luther’s idea of being the bride of Christ and more akin to being the middle child in a big family. Your identity and allegiances are tangled up with your family — even the brothers you can’t stand — unless you very purposely cut yourself off.

    It’s a big tent, Ken. I’m glad you came into it. But please don’t start trying to boot people out that you don’t feel belong.

  • Ben

    Julia,

    You wrote:

    …if somebody didn’t think our laws should be based on the Constitution and we shouldn’t have a President, then maybe they aren’t such good American citizens and could be considered anti-American – because they don’t believe in the basis of our government.

    I like this analogy because I think it’s a very good example of dogma — there are core tenants that even if you were American (or Catholic) by birthright you’d be anti-American (not Catholic) if you didn’t accept them.

    But there’s an awful lot of Americans who are anti-big government. They don’t hate America, far from it, they just tend not to like some of the more expansive decisions made by people in Rome, oops, I mean Washington DC.

  • FW Ken

    Ben,

    You wrote:

    … who find a local priest and a particular parish life that nourishes them at the level of lived experiences. The latter group might have more heterodox beliefs

    People who find a “local priest” and a particular parish life are, by definition, the opposite of “universal”. In any case, I wasn’t talking about Catholic vs. protestant soteriology, I was talking about the ecclesiology you described. If these folk compound their problem with heterodox beliefs, well… that compounds the problem, doesn’t it?

    Yes, I am a convert, which means two things: I’m not much into tribal Catholicism. There’s nothing wrong with tribal Catholics, unless that’s all they are (a problem in any established religious group). I’m just not impressed with pro-choice politicians dragging out their rosaries and parading their altar server creds. I became Catholic because I believe the Catholic Church is that Church founded by Christ through the apostles. If I didn’t believe that, I would have stayed Episcopalian. They have better liturgy and are, generally, much nicer people.

    But please don’t start trying to boot people out that you don’t feel belong.

    Misrepresenting my comment, particularly in a smug, condescending manner, is pretty silly, don’t you think? We aren’t talking about vague, ethereal “heterdox beliefs” in this thread. We are talking about abortion, the murder of unborn children.

  • Julia

    Ken’s not trying to boot anybody.

    BUT it’s the Pope that holds us together. If VATICAN is shorthand for the Pope, then you really aren’t Catholic if you don’t accept the Pope. I’m not talking about disagreeing with the Pope on some things. I’m not even talking about abortion. All Catholics accept that the Pope is what holds the Church together, regardless if you believe absolutely everything the Church teaches.

    The teaching of the Church has been around a long, long time. The Pope has lived at St John Lateran, his cathedral; he has lived in Avignon; nobody’s sure where the Popes before Constantine lived; he has lived in the palace where the Italian President now lives. The Vatican is where he lives now and it’s where the beauracracy is located.

    It would be better to describe somebody as agreeing with the Pope on abortion or agreeing with JPII on the death penalty, etc. Pro-Vatican sounds like a Protestant idea, or at worst – a mind-slave, the way some of you describe it.

    Aren’t all Anglicans pro-Lambeth or pro-Archbishop of Canterbury – even though they might disagree with him or the church’s policies about some thimgs? If an Anglican doesn’t see a need for an Archbishop of Canterbury or Lambeth, then he/she is wanting to re-invent Anglicanism.

    Same with Catholics.

  • Susan

    I may see this a little differently than does Julia. (More likely, I am interpreting Julia too narrowly.)

    I am RC because of the doctrine which I understand to be the focus of the Magisterium and which we understand to be protected from human error. It comes to us (RCs)through Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. One of the gifts of the Magisterium is the Catechism.

    For me, yes, the Holy Father is very important as a symbol … but it is because he is our primary bishop which also means that he is the primary teacher for Roman Catholics. It is what he says, what he teaches that makes him important.

  • Ben

    Sorry for being smug, Ken. If you’re willing to use the phrase “tribal Catholics” that rings okay to me, because they aren’t being defined away as entirely non-Catholic. And all I was trying to explain initially is that I also am fine with the phrase “Pro-Vatican Catholic.” Both these terms recognize there’s a diversity within the church and attempt to express it without defining either group as outsiders.

  • dalea

    Since this is becoming a general discussion, should it be moved to the coffeeshop?

    Geography: she is governor of Kansas; Kansas City is in Missouri.

    Kevin says:

    Redistribution of wealth does NOT help the poor. Can we please look at history and see that poverty cannot be eliminated (especially not by socialism and/or any action by a government).

    This would depend on how you define ‘distribution’ and ‘wealth’. If a tax on the well to do pays for a clean water system that the poor also use, the poor have been helped. The governments of Norway, Sweden and Denmark have pretty much eliminated poverty. Your statements can be demonstrated to be false.

  • FW Ken

    dalea –

    There are two Kansas Citys, each with it’s own Catholic diocese. There is a diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri; there is also an “Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas”. And yes, that’s it’s formal name.

    Ben – that’s fine; it occurred to me after posting that your #27 more-or-less re-stated my #25, until you popped off that last line. The real question: what is the opposite number to “pro-Vatican” Catholic.


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