Scott P. Richert on Rick Santorum…

Catholic Dissenter.

He adds (in the email wherein he sends the link):

The possibility of Gingrich getting the nomination was bad enough; that Santorum may be on the rise is horrifying; and that conservative Catholics will be beside themselves with joy if Gingrich and Santorum team up is enough to bring me close to the edge of despair.

Yesterday, one of my more conspiracy minded readers, demonstrating the acute lack of discernment which “conservative” Catholics have become known for in their one size fits all “It’s a conspiracy by damn libruls” defenses of such luminaries as Maciel, Euteneuer, Corapi and Voris, wrote:

Me thinks you have some sort of fascination with beating up on candidates whom you know most faithful Catholics would support.

No. I have a concern with candidates whom Catholics support even though those candidates defy the teaching of Holy Church. Stop with the moronic conspiracy theorizing and pay attention. It’s not like I haven’t made myself extremely clear on this a dozen times. I don’t care about the tribal needs of conspiracy theorists who perpetually account for criticism of their heroes with the suggestion that the critic is a liberal conspiring against “faithful Catholics”. I don’t care about what “faithful” Catholics support in great numbers if “faithful” Catholics are in defiance of Holy Church (as they are in disproportionately high numbers when it comes to support for torture). I care about the teaching of Holy Church. Santorum is as defiant of Holy Church as Catholics for a Free Choice. He’s just defiant in a way acceptable to the Thing that Used to be Conservatism and to the tribe of “faithful” Catholics who get their moral formation from Talk Radio and not from Holy Church. As such, he seduces the faithful and those who aid and abet this with dumb conspiracy theorizing about insidious liberals are part of the problem, not the solution.

Am I clear yet? The fact is, I will beat up any “Catholic” candidate–Biden, Pelosi, Gingrich, or Santorum–who defies Holy Church and pretends they can be a good Catholic while they do it.

Honestly. It is only in the fever swamps of the party of Crazy that a prolife Catholic, who openly declares “I believe all that the Holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims is revealed by God”, who supports free enterprise, endorses just war theory, says “We’d all be a lot better off if we followed the Magisterium not just when it speaks dogmatically, but even when it offers prudential guidance”, thinks patriotism a great virtue, supports our troops, opposes euthanasia and gay “marriage” and urges devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is suspected of being a damn librul for the sin of opposing torture, unjust war, and failing to fall in line with whatever hairball the GOP burps up.

Crazy.

  • Babs

    What more is there to say, except that you are utterly spot on. Though I may add that those who disagree with your reasoning might do well to defend their own and try to poke holes in yours rather than call names.

  • Kirt Higdon

    Keep up the good fight, Mark.

  • http://www.2catholicmen.blogspot.com Ben

    I was struck last night by some comments by Bill O’Reilly about the Catholic Church’s teaching on artificial contraception while interviewing Rick Santorum on Fox News. I felt I had to post somthing on our blog.
    http://www.2catholicmen.blogspot.com

  • http://www.2catholicmen.blogspot.com Ben

    I was struck last night by some comments by Bill O’Reilly about the Catholic Church’s teaching on artificial contraception while interviewing Senator Rick Santorum on Fox News. I felt I had to post somthign on our blog. http://www.2catholicmen.blogspot.com

  • http://www.2catholicmen.blogspot.com Ben

    I was struck last night by some comments by Bill O’Reilly about the Catholic Church’s teaching on artificial contraception while interviewing Senator Rick Santorum on Fox News so I posted somthing on our blog.

  • Mary

    The thing I dislike about you more “famous” Catholic bloggers is that you use so many words to say so little. Can you just tell me in a sentence ( or two, I’m not unreasonable) why Santorum goes against Catholic teaching so I can move on from there? Thanks ever so much.

    • http://www.likelierthings.com Jon W

      Santorum supports the use of torture and unjust war.

      I think that’s Mark’s problem with him.

      • Thomas R

        I think there’s lots of things wrong with Santorum, looking on my own I get a sense that yeah he is really extreme on anti-terrorism issues, but I do wish Mr. Shea was a bit less invective and a bit more explanation or understanding.

        I could see a calm “Yes I understand why you like these things about X, but you should be aware of these other things about him.” Instead he tends to be a lot of bluster, shouting, throwing out terms that make every variance sound the same, or make the US sound like North Korea. So, politically, I truly think he does present himself as almost nuts. Or at least I think he doesn’t do much good to what he’s trying to say, may even do harm to it.

        I really shouldn’t come here then, but I think he’s interesting on non-political topics and there are some sensible people who come here.

        • Thomas R

          Addendum: I should say this isn’t always the case. The problem with blogs, going by what bloggers I’ve read even say, is there’s always a pretty great unevenness. Sometimes a reasonable person posts something they even recognize sounds kind of nuts because it was “heat of the moment” or they were off to do something else or whatever.

          The Host can be pretty sensible and sounds like a pretty good guy. There are more of these “nutty”, to me, bluster-posts than I like in a blogger but I shouldn’t judge too harsh.

  • MM

    He means that, morally speaking, simulated drowning of a few terrorists is the exact same thing as a million abortions a year. Yup, exactly the same gravity.

    • Tominellay

      What is good about pre-emptive war? What is good about torturing prisoners? Why would you prefer someone running for president of your country who announces in a forum that is public and televised, that he favors these policies? Are you not offended that your country’s policies, then, include pre-emptive war and torture?
      Why is the thoughtful man who sees these policies to be obnoxious to America considered insane, or even dangerous?

      …comparing the gravity of this with the gravity of that seems like a detour…

      • MM

        I am not arguing in favor of pre-emptive war or torture. Merely on Mark’s fetish for making moral equivalence between those two things and a million dead babies a year. No doubt Mark will come back and say that I’m engaging in Utilitarianism. Perhaps it is Mark’s modus operandi to afflict the comforted, but the quantity of pixels he spills arguing TORTURE! TORTURE! TORTURE! seems outsized compared to the actual problem. Even if one were to assume the very worst statistics on the numbers tortured and killed through all the wars and renditions etc. doesn’t even approach the scale of the number of deaths per year from abortion. Looking at the total death toll, we’ve already killed more babies than all the deaths in World War II.

        • John H.

          Where did Mark say they were equal issues? They of course are not. So do you vote for a guy that is against all three (abortion, torture, pre-emptive war) and thus vote for Ron Paul. Or do you vote for a guy that is only against the first? It seems Mark is saying that he has a bare-minimum standard of decency, which is actually fairly low, that even Santorum can’t live-up to. Paul seems to be able to meet this standard. That’s not saying much for him, but it is saying that yes, he is a better choice as far as Catholics are concerned than Santorum.

        • Mark Shea

          I’m glad you limit yourself to approving of the torture and murder of only a few people every decade. My own concern not merely about the numbers, but about the precedent in law. Some of us, possessed of the ability to see that ideas have consequences are greatly concerned, not merely about the few victims of the past, but about the potentially great number of victims in the future. We even have the capacity to realize that once a police state approves of torture for swarthy foreigners, it’s just a matter of time before it starts using it on citizens. Have a nice nap.

          • MM

            Uh, reading comprehension Fail on your part, Mark. I explicitly stated in my first sentence that I am NOT arguing for torture or pre-emptive war. Love the implied racism with the “swarthy foreigners” comment – very charitable indeed.

            • Mark Shea

              Since I have never said torture and abortion are “equivalent” in terms of numbers of victims I think the reading comprehension problem is yours. I do hold the quaint notion that one single solitary mortal sin will send me to hell though. Meanwhile, you are making the nonsensical argument that it’s just a few torture and murder victims legally done in by the State’s torture policies, so stop making a fuss.

              I decline. Ideas have consequences and the embrace of consequentialist thinking by “faithful” Catholics is a powerful corrosive to the Faith.

              • MM

                “Since I have never said torture and abortion are “equivalent” in terms of numbers of victims I think the reading comprehension problem is yours.”
                Never made that claim.

                “I do hold the quaint notion that one single solitary mortal sin will send me to hell though.”
                Never disputed that.

                “Meanwhile, you are making the nonsensical argument that it’s just a few torture and murder victims legally done in by the State’s torture policies, so stop making a fuss.”
                Strawman argument.

                “I decline. Ideas have consequences and the embrace of consequentialist thinking by “faithful” Catholics is a powerful corrosive to the Faith.”
                Please state for me in my remarks where I have embraced consequentialist philosophy. I am merely arguing that in emphasis, you strain out the gnat but swallow the camel.

                • Mark Shea

                  No. In emphasis I address a readership that is full of people who have no problem with torture and are opposed to abortion.

                  • Thomas R

                    But sometimes you seem to be addressing people who I’ve never seen, ever.

                    I’m against torture and that’s a big part of why I did the quixotic “write-in” thing in 2004. Santorum is worrisome on this. But isn’t there a way to express that without making it almost sound like Santorum supporters want to torture innocent Arabs for kicks? Maybe some of them are ignorant or support him in spite of such things.

              • Richard Johnson

                Indeed. If the argument in support of torture is that only a few will die from it, then the same argument can be made for abortion in cases of rape, incest, or the health of the mother. Only a few children will be murdered in these cases.

        • Marthe Lépine

          The number of sins do not make any difference. A mortal sin is a mortal sin is a mortal sin. Even one mortal sin, if unrepented, could mean damnation. The nature of that sin does not matter, if it falls under the definition of a mortal sin, e.g. being of a mortally serious nature and committed freely and knowingly. Even if in your mind there is no real equivalence between one million abortions and a few people being tortured, even to death, it still means that one person guilty of torture and thus going against the Church teaching against the moral evil of torture would be risking damnation if unrepenting just as much as one person procuring one (or many) abortion without repenting, because both actions are intrinsically evil and condemned by the Church. And promoting any one of those two intrinsic evils is unacceptable on the part of a politician. As Mark repeatedly says, opposition to abortion does not absolve all the other sins.

          • Sal

            Marthe,
            Pretty much the best explication of the issue I’ve seen so far.

          • Thomas R

            Although I get this morally it’s a little hard to fathom in real terms.

            Adultery is the same as mass-murder then? A President who supports distributing condoms to Africa is the same as one who supports mandatory abortion?

            I mean for his soul yeah it’s the same. But couldn’t at least some actions send more people to Hell than others? If I suicide-bomb a gay bar haven’t I potentially sent more people to Hell than if I had sex with one guy there than died in my sleep? I mean for me it’s likely Hell either way, and it’s a weird analogy, but…

            • MM

              Thomas,
              You pretty much nailed it. I think there is a loss of a sense of proportion here. In the hypothetical ticking bomb scenario, Mark’s response would be “Well sorry about your relatives getting blown up and all, but at least my conscience is clear that no terrorists were discomfited”.

              • Mark Shea

                No. In the beloved ticking time bomb scenario, I mostly remind torture enthusiasts that they are relying on fantasy films and TV for their moral decision making. Relying on fantasies to justify your very real cowardice is bad morality. Try dealing with the real world.

                • Thomas R

                  I would have to say, in my case, I wasn’t quite meaning to evoke that or say torture is okay.

                  I was just meaning I think proportion does matter at least somewhat. I mean even a restricted use of waterboarding I think is wrong, but I don’t think it’s unfair to say it’s different than nations that have “death camps” or commonly pour acid up people’s noses. And we’ve known, since I was a kid at least, that police interrogators in the US do worse to American criminal suspects than waterboarding. And we even celebrate that in cop shows. Is it somehow more upsetting because it’s soldiers and foreigners?

        • Debra

          I don’t think he DID suggest they were morally equivalent. I have never read anything on Mark’s blog that suggests voting pro choice is a good option. He said they were serious problems and also go against the teachings of Holy Mother Church, which they do. Therefore, perhaps we should look for another pro life candidate that does NOT support these things.

  • Tim

    Why do people say “me thinks”? It sounds so stupid. Is your commenter trying to be Shakespearean?

    Methinks that that is the real issue here.

    • Marthe Lépine

      I think it is just an old-fashioned kind of slang, that I have often seen attributed to Irishmen in some of the mystery novels I have been reading.

  • Mike Petrik

    I think Santorum is wrong on waterboarding, and I think Catholics are free to disagree about the moral case of our invasion of Iraq. I do note that Ron Paul is not Jesus and Jesus isn’t running.
    Regarding Church teaching on torture — the teaching that torture is always morally wrong (i.e., intrinsically evil) is a rather recent development in Church teaching, and for a rather obvious reason. The natural law objections to torture simply are not as obvious to people, even people with fairly sensitive moral compasses, as are objections to most other evil acts. The principle that one may not intentionally murder an innocent person is accessible to most people insomuch as it is written on their hearts in a way that they can identify or observe. The idea that one cannot torture a wrongdoer in order to save a victim of that wrongdoer is not nearly as intuitively obvious, and even the Church herself took quite a few centuries before it spoke clearly on the matter. Now that the Church has spoken clearly, I willingly submit my conscience to Her teaching — even though I’m pretty sure I’d give in to temptation and torture a wrongdoer under extreme enough circumstances. Added to the intuitively difficult nature of the teaching, is the fact that waterboarding is an odd form of torture compared to most — distinguishable on a several grounds even if the distinctions are not really valid if one thinks them through with sufficient care. The bottom line is while I disagree with Santorum’s moral assessment of waterboarding, I find his view somewhat unsurprising and rather forgiveable. Even such clear thinkers as Jimmy Akin have found this issue a troubling one. While I agree with Mark that Santorum is wrong on waterboarding, I think his criticisms of Santorum are over the top, lacking in measure, and quite uncharitable.

    • John H.

      Mike,

      Catholics are not free to disagree with the Church’s principles regarding what is a just war. And as far as Iraq goes, the Church has made it clear that it was an unjust action on our part:
      http://www.zenit.org/article-5398?l=english
      A “preventative/preemptive” war violates the limits of what constitutes a just war.

      • Mike Petrik

        John,
        Catholics are indeed not free to disagree with the Church’s principles regarding what is a just war. Applying those principles to facts is a matter of prudence, and Catholics can and do disagree in these prudential applications. The Church has over the centuries expressed its prudential judgments with regard to wars and foreign policy generally, which it can and perhaps should do, but its record in this respect is not especially encouraging or reliable. And the proscription against so-called preemptive wars is not as clear cut as you make it out to be. Many bishops have been emphatic on this point.

        • http://catholicism.about.com Scott P. Richert

          Someone apparently forgot to tell Pope Benedict that the “proscription against so-called preemptive wars is not as clear cut as you make it out to be.”

          The “concept of a ‘preventive war’ does not appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church,” Cardinal Ratzinger noted.

          • Mark Shea

            Poor Pope Benedict. If only he had the nuanced understanding of the Faith that American defenders of the War Party had.

            • Mike Petrik

              Cardinal R was and is correct in that Catholic just war teaching contains elements that must be satisfied. None of those elements contains the words “preventative war.” Any war of any type must simply satisfy the elements — this is not open to question. Whether a particular war does so is a prudential discernment. That’s it for me. As an apparent supporter of something known as the War Party, I sinply don’t travel in the sarcasm and hubris that is the signature of this Blog.

              • Ed Mechmann

                “Prudential” does not mean a purely subjective standard, in which each individual is the measure of the morality of a war. Prudence is the virtue of discerning correctly the will of God in a particular practical situation. That means following the guidance of the teaching authority of the Church, which includes Pope and bishops — none of whom, ever, have approved a pre-emptive attack on another sovereign nation. A useful resource in this regard is the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

          • Jim C

            The concept of “chocolate ice cream” does not appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It does not follow that the Catholic Church proscribes eating chocolate ice cream.

            It may be that preventive war is inconsistent with the Church’s just-war teaching, but Benedict’s statement is not evidence for that proposition.

            • Ed Mechmann

              The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church: “it is one thing to wage a war of self-defence; it is quite another to seek to impose domination on another nation. The possession of war potential does not justify the use of force for political or military objectives.” (500, citing Gaudium et Spes 79)

            • Mark Shea

              This has to be the dumbest thing I’ve read today.

              • Mike Petrik

                Mark, that is only because you are not as smart as you think you are. Your strong suit is arrogance.

                • Mark Shea

                  God bless you, Mike.

      • Thomas R

        What is meant by pre-emptive/preventive war here? I’m thinking “war to prevent things because they could happen” but does that mean we couldn’t attack a country for violence/aggression it clearly says will happen? Like if a country had sent its Christians, or Muslims for that matter, to internment camps and said “Tomorrow we start killing them all” would war be allowed? If not what would be allowed? If Iran gets a nuke and said “The nuclear bombing of Tel Aviv begins tomorrow” what would the right response be?

        In case I sound too “Right version of a Pro-Choice Catholic” I’ll say some on the torture issue. From what I can see of the 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia there was always some difficulty on torture, even in the Middle Ages. It was to be done once and even then “Conscientious and sensible judges quite properly attached no great importance to confessions extracted by torture. ” And there was an understandable concern on how it effected all concerned, meaning those doing it too. I think in most cases other means would be as successful as torture. Plus I think when you allow torture you’re likely going to make interrogation be something attractive to sadists who will want to torture because they like it. Or it will bring out sadism in a person and soldiers have enough angst as is, it’s cruel to add “releasing sadism in them.”

      • str

        How often are going to link to this article with fundamentaly only gives church official X giving his (partly) subjective take on a given situation?

        And, yes, I happen to agree with him on the justification of that paricular war but it is not proper to claim that a just war may only be waged after the other side has already attacked.

        If even non-infallible statements by Popes are not binding, why should statements by non-Popes or future Popes be?

  • Mark Shea

    Yeah. I’ve asked the web elves to get rid of it. I have no control over that or I’d get rid of it myself.

  • Arnold

    We often hear from Mark what Catholic politicians are unacceptable and unworthy of his vote. Does he know and is he willing to divulge the names of any prominent Catholic politicians who would meet his seal of approval (not his endorsement) and therefore, be worthy of his vote? Does such a person exist on this planet?

    • Mark Shea

      Any Catholic pol who does not endorse grave evil. Since none are running for President or Congress in my state, I’m unaware of any. I’m not choosy about whether a pol is Catholic or not. Merely competent and unwilling to do grave evil. And I don’t scrutinize candidates in other states as a general rule, unless they are outrageously bad (Pelosi, for instance).

  • matthew m

    Just out of curiousity, whom would you support from the pool of candiates. Given the “O” is the incumbent for the party of loons, Ron Paul is too libertarian (and more likely a Perot factor, and would not win against the “O”); Gingrich a CINO and “establishment”; and Santorum, (according to your commentaries), not “pro-life” enough, and Romney well enough said about him….
    Would it not be better to really focus on the good qualities? Let’s us face facts, the reality is that neither party’s traditional platforms are fully consistent with the teachings of the Holy Mother Church. And, yes we do have to take the good with the bad. When I asked a respected colleague (a Franciscan), how he could support the “O” in the election, he gave me an educated answer, but would pray for him on the pro-choice issue. He believed the “social justice” agenda was more important, etc. While I disagreed with reason and logic, I respected his decision.
    The point is that while one may critique Mr. Santorum or any of the others, I believe that if he is willing to really make his Faith and beliefs truly part of his value system, and let God be his guide and center of his life; then I believe that when it comes to actually having to issue “torture” or executing a justifible military action, then he will make the right choice. This for me would be a drastic and far better change over the rampant relativism and the false “separation of church and state”, which was not intended by the forefathers.

    • Mark Shea

      Just out of curiousity, whom would you support from the pool of candiates.

      Do you actually read my blog or just skim it?

      • matthew m.

        I just stubbled upon it recently, and have not had the chance to read too much as yet. Sorry for any “pre-emptive” comments, without having the proper ammo!

    • Thomas R

      Yeah, as I understand him he feels one should avoid materially supporting any evil. So it is valid, or even necessary, to withdraw support from any candidate if all candidates wish to use the Presidency to support an evil. An individual vote is unlikely to change the election, but it “changes you.” It says something about what you support.

      Perhaps ironically much of this is things I’ve said to people myself. I just have a sense that continually not supporting an electable candidate may “change me” or “say things about me” that I’m no longer sure I like. To continuously say Presidential choices are bogus I kind-of fear is to marginalize oneself. I may do the quixotic thing anyway, I don’t like Romney and I hate the way the Establishment is forcing him on us, but I do want to vote for a mainstream candidate if I feel I can. I do want to feel I’m part of this nation’s political process as long as I continue living in it.

  • Daniel

    Mark, after having read several of your posts on this issue, I still do not understand why you condemn Santorum so very strongly.

    With regard to torture: my understanding is that Santorum does *not* believe that waterboarding is truly considered torture. He might well be wrong, but to my mind it seems very unfair to accuse the man of endorsing torture, if in fact he technically does not. Again, it seems the question “is waterboarding torture” has not been unanimously resolved in the affirmative; even Fr. Brian Harrison, when he issued his clarification, allowed that “whether or not it reached the point of torture does remain a seriously disputed question among reasonable and well-informed people”. If this is fair (and I think it is), then I fail to see how Santorum’s position on this point can merit such strong condemnation.

    With regard to just/unjust war: Cardinal Ratzinger himself stated that “Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father… on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion… There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.” Thus I do not understand how you can fairly group Santorum (and maybe Gingrich, but definitely Santorum) with the likes of Joe Biden or Nancy Pelosi. Even if it is obvious that Santorum *was* wrong about the morality of the Iraq war, that fact alone would *not* fairly put him in the same league with Biden and Pelosi, or any other politician who publicly breaks with Catholic teaching.

    I’m not sure if you’ll have the opportunity to respond to these points, but I just with you would distinguish more carefully between [A] candidates who “defy the teaching of Holy Church” (abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage, etc), and [B] candidates who, even if they are wrong, only differ regarding issues on which there can be “legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics”.

    Similar arguments to my position can be found in this article, which probably says some things a little more clearly than I do: http://www.catholicvote.org/discuss/index.php?p=24728

    • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

      I’ve been visiting Catholic blogs for almost seven years, since my own journey into the Catholic Church. I have seen this:

      “legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics”

      become a much smaller circle over those years. It certainly has changed in terms of what does and doesn’t belong in that circle.

  • str

    Having disagreed with Mark on this before, I would like to state that fleeing objections by shouting “conspiracy” is never a good response.

    Even if there were a conspiracy (and there clearly isn’t), this would not make the objections untrue.

    So while I disagree with Mark and especially his emphasis, he is right to pursue things as he sees them.

  • cathy

    This is my first visit to this site. I’m not as educated as you gentlemen are, so I’m not familiar with some of the terms you are discussing. I’m just a mother and grandmother. On Monday, many of us will take a day off from work and travel to Washington, D.C., for the March for Life. To me, nothing is more important than to elect the most pro-life candidate who has a chance of defeating the most pro-abortion president in our country’s history. This is especially important in the 2012 election because one or possibly more vacancies on the Supreme Court will be filled during the next presidential term. The lives of our innocent little ones must be protected. First. Then we can deal with the other issues.


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