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How Conservatism….

…became the Thing that Used to be Conservatism.

The Thing That Used to be Liberalism lost its soul some 20 years earlier, when it ceased to be the party of the little guy and became the party that would stick scissors in a baby’s brain in order to get a vote.

I’m interested in conservatism insofar as it actually conserves something good from the Catholic tradition, just as I’m interested in liberalism insofar as it advances the work of the kingdom in works of mercy toward the weak and vulnerable.

I have no interest in either as a brand and I am actively hostile to both when the former conserves and the latter advances evil and stupidity.

Evaluate your party in light of the Tradition, not the Tradition in terms of its utility to your party.

  • Seamus

    when it ceased to be the party of the little guy and became the party that would stick scissors in a baby’s brain in order to get a vote

    This is grossly unfair. They don’t stick scissors in a baby’s brains in order to get votes. They do it because they believe it’s the right thing to do.

    • DTMcCameron

      It is never right to do evil, and there really is nothing more obviously evil than killing an innocent.

    • MarylandBill

      Sure some believe that abortion is somehow legitimate even good, but honestly, I think we are naive to believe that a lot of the politicians, particularly the supposedly Catholic ones don’t know it is wrong, but embrace abortion because it gets them more votes than it looses them. (Just like there are many Republican pols who are pro-life for the same reason).

  • Bill

    It’s amazing to see how fideistic both sides are about their core beliefs.

    Randianism has been covered extensively, but I’ve got to talk about the ghoulishness of left wing worship of abortion. This young woman lady night in an Obama rally you could almost see her eyes blazing if ANY possible restriction on abortion could occur. Baby killing is an absolute core sacrament as Mark describes.

    • John

      “A mature person is one who is does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and all things, and who walks humbly and deals charitably” Eleanor Roosevelt.

      • Ted Seeber

        Of course, she’s also the one who wrote an abortion ban into the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights (it’s right there in article 3, but the liberals love to ignore it).

        • Kurt

          Article 3.
          •Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

          • Ted Seeber

            Yep. And for certain classes of people, particularly the unborn and the infirm, liberals seem to love to violate that. (I’m in Oregon where Euthanasia isn’t just legal anymore, it’s encouraged for certain patients on the low-income Oregon Health Plan).

  • John

    “became the party that would stick scissors in a baby’s brain in order to get a vote.” Sorry, but that is WAY over the top. So, if I vote for a Democrat, do you believe I am supporting scissors in a baby’s brain? When you have limited choices, you can do one of three things…not vote, vote for the (R) or vote for the (D). I will make a choice, though. On another note, you might better advance your argument for abortion with actual facts and statistics, rather than the colorful, and fear inducing, rhetoric of death, murder and baby killing. I don’t care for the left minimizing abortion by referring to “zygotes”, and I don’t care for being called a baby killer by anyone on the right.

    • http://www.thewordinc.org Kevin O’Brien

      John, the left supports with zeal the killing of babies, both born and unborn, as well as the killing of old folks and the destruction of marriage, which is the foundation of the family and of the “domestic state”. Any other way of phrasing this is euphemistic.

      Yes, our choice seems to be between (R) and (D), but choosing a candidate that supports inherent evil – lots of baby killing on the (D) side; torture and a bit less baby killing on the (R) – will get us nowhere.

      • John

        Kevin, I don’t ever recall the left supporting, with zeal, the killing of babies. I believe what they fight for is the right for the woman to choose. My hope, is that my daughters, if ever in that position choose appropriately. BUT, that is based on how I have raised them. Make their decisions, but know there are consequences. Secondly, I also, don’t recall anything on the left about “killing of old folks”. That’s ludicrous. I don’t even know what you are talking about. As for the destruction of marriage, again, what some want is to be able to choose whom they want to spend their life with. My rights begin, where yours end. I have several friends, who have gotten married in NYS in the past year – all male. Them getting “married”, has nothing to do with my life, or any bearing on any choice I may make to get re-married. Frankly, I’m happy for them. If that’s what they want, so be it. They are good people, and they made their choice. Not mine, and not yours. It doesn’t lessen my commitment to my fiance’, nor should it yours to your partner – male or female. I will determine how I will live my life, and raise my family. BUT, I don’t want all choices removed. This kind of rhetoric, makes anyone want to run away.

        I’ll say this, according to the Guttmacher Institute, abortion rates are falling in this country. “Between 1994 and 2004, the abortion rate for Hispanic women fell by 20%, from 35 to 28 per 1,000 women aged 15–44. This was less than the 30% decline among non-Hispanic white women (from 15 to 11 per 1,000), but more than the 15% decline among black women (from 59 to 50 per 1,000). These widely varying rates reflect disparities in unintended pregnancy, as well as in access to the most effective contraceptive methods.” There is still work to be done, but it is not as out of control as many would like us to believe.

        There are other ways to address the “killing of babies”, that don’t include calling people baby killers and murders.

        As for your last line, there are no absolutes in life. Absolutism leaves no room for discussion. In a country that is FAR from perfect, to expect perfection, as you see it, is unrealistic. We strive to form a more perfect union. Not demand one.

        • Jon

          I’m not sure if you are in fact a Catholic, but if so your post seems to indicate that you may not have a full grasp on all of the Church’s teachings, much like myself until very recently.

          When you say, “Them getting “married”, has nothing to do with my life, or any bearing on any choice I may make to get re-married. Frankly, I’m happy for them. If that’s what they want, so be it.” you are in fact sort of dismissing the principle of solidarity. The fact of the matter if that someone is doing something that is not good for themselves, we have an obligation to try and help them see the error of their ways. NOT force them, as you point out and as too many right-leaning individuals sometimes seem to forget, but we are in fact called to be our brother’s keeper.

          Furthermore, this line “…there are no absolutes in life. Absolutism leaves no room for discussion.” is very problematic. Yes, there are absolutes in life. We must be careful in making the claim that we have them firmly in our grasp, but to suggest they do not even exist indicates that you have on some level bought into the relativistic worldview that dominates modern culture. I would submit (as does the Church) that intentionally killing innocent life is one of those absolutes. There really is not a whole lot of room for “discussion” on the principle in the sense that we might find some sort of compromise.

          Lastly, I agree wholeheartedly with this point, “In a country that is FAR from perfect, to expect perfection, as you see it, is unrealistic. We strive to form a more perfect union. Not demand one.” However, I would suggest that this is actually the reason why I tend to be more sympathetic toward Republican candidates in the current environment. They are far from perfect, but it comes down to a matter of proportionate reason. Unintentionally support 1+ million innocent deaths each year sanctioned under domestic law, or unintentionally support the torture of a handful of known war criminals and a military expedition that is arguably unjust under traditional Catholic teaching? Both are grave evils but proportionate reason would suggest the first is a more urgent issue.

          • John

            Jon, I am a Catholic. Yes. Perfect Catholic? No. Work in progress, as we all are.

            I’m not sure if my friends are doing something that is good for them. They seem to be happy with their decision. I will respect that, and I feel that I have no right, unless asked my opinion. I have not been asked. I understand the principle of solidiatry and, subsidiatry, but I don’t see the connection to helping them understand their “mistakes”. I believe we can help others overcome their own issues, when they are open to it. Not before. You can work for change, but solidaiatry requires a respect of the rights of others. I respect their right, without endorsing it.

            As for the 1+ million babies being dismembered, please understand that abortion has been around longer than 1973. It is not good now, nor was it then. But, rates are falling. But, not as much in minority communities. Maybe that’s where we practice our solidiatry, as opposed to preaching in the blogosphere to the converted.

            I live my life, as best as I can, and hope that I can be an example of good to my family and my kids. Which really is subsidiatry. I prefer to practice that as best as I can.

            • Ted Seeber

              Given what you espoused- not a perfect Catholic is an understatement, since you support the sins listed in paragraphs 2300-2400 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

              • John

                What, Ted? Respecting the Dead? Peace? And, Avoiding War? Which ones of 2300-2400 did I break??? Or, are you just blowing it out your arse.

                I’m not sure that I have listed a support for sins. Respecting ones rights, even though I may not agree with them? Saying that I am against abortion, and that maybe we can address it in other ways…through actual solidiatry, as opposed to branding and pontificating?

                • Ted Seeber

                  I was thinking of the sins against chastity. And I did not say you were guilty of them yourself, but rather, that you support those in our society who ARE guilty of them.

                  And I go so far as to include respecting the dead (have you ever been to a funeral for the victim of an abortion?) and peace (which goes to the other side, who seems to glorify in abortion-by-cruise-missile if the victim and the victim’s mother are not American and in a place where oil exists) because they too are a part of this Libertine attitude of “my side can do no wrong”.

            • Jon

              Right on John. None of us is a perfect Catholic. I have at one point or another held many of the same views that you seem to espouse in your comments. Reading your post looked like something I might have written myself a couple years ago. Some kind folks were able to point out some of the errors in my thinking in such a way that I could sense the charity in their words… My only intention was to make you aware of our duty to actually admonish sinners in a charitable way when they are in fact in error. It’s a Spiritual Work of Mercy. If they are not open to your opinion, then by all means there’s no real sense in forcing it upon them. But I just know that in a culture that tells us all opinions are equal, there is the incessant danger of a de facto denial of absolute truths, even for those of us who claim to recognize objective truth. In other words, we don’t have to FORCE our friends to be on the right side, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re still wrong and we ought not to forget it ourselves and we ought not to hide that from them when the opportunities do arise.

              As for abortion, I agree that simply outlawing abortion will not solve the ills that many seem to think. Racism against blacks sure didn’t end in America with the outlawing of slavery or even Jim Crow laws, but it was still quite an important landmark, no?

              I really didn’t mean to be preaching to the choir so I’m sorry if it came across that way. I just know that those of us who are “converted” still need to be pushed along toward increased sanctification as well, in our ideas as well as our actions. Anyways, all the best to you and your family on that journey.

        • http://agapas.me Bob LeBlanc

          “As for your last line, there are no absolutes in life.”

          Absolutely! Er, wait….

          LOL

        • Ted Seeber

          “Kevin, I don’t ever recall the left supporting, with zeal, the killing of babies. I believe what they fight for is the right for the woman to choose.”

          Good example of the left supporting, with zeal, the killing of babies, because we all know the only “right for the woman to choose” that the left supports is the choice of murder.

    • Ted Seeber

      ” So, if I vote for a Democrat, do you believe I am supporting scissors in a baby’s brain?”

      Now that Democrats for Life has been frozen out of the platform creation process, yes, you would be. There is no reason left for a pro-life Democrat to support the party. None at all.

      • John

        Thanks, Ted. You’ve sealed the deal for jerk of the day! Who said I was supporting the Democratic Party? I said, “if I vote for a Democrat”. You are in such a hurry to blast anyone that doesn’t fall in line, that you didn’t even READ what I had written. Good job.

        • Ted Seeber

          Last I saw, voting for a Democrat is supporting the party, isn’t it? But the Democratic party does not want your votes if you are pro-life; they told Democrats for Life to take a hike and kicked them out of the process.

          • Kurt

            The Party did not. Democrats for Life was fully involved in the process. We did not prevail with our desired language but in no way were excluded, kicked out, or told we were not wanted.

            Our Republican friends did win much better language in their Platform on the issue of abortion, to which Speaker Boehner, when asked about the abortion plank, quickly declared the Platform meaningless and a document no one reads.

            • Ted Seeber

              I fail to understand how them saying “we choose Planned Parenthood over you” isn’t kicking you out of the party permanently.

              I don’t see how ANY pro-life person can support the farce that abortion has made out of our country at all. There is NO hope of the Democratic party ever accepting Democrats for Life in any way, shape or form.

              And the Republicans? They’re just playing a con game.

              Our only real hope for the unborn is a complete change of attitude on our part; starting with funding charities to support the mothers of the poor and holding funerals for the unborn.

            • Ted Seeber
  • RS

    Sure, they believe they’re simply supporting a woman’s right to choose what she does with her own body.

    The problem is that when you realize exactly what is happening in that process, and how the child is involves and dismembered, and you STILL persist in supporting such things, you cease to be pro-choice and instead become pro-abortion.

    • Jason C.

      I’ve got pro-life bonafides to show I’m committed to the issue more than most. That said, I believe pro-abortion to be an imperfect label for the crowd that argues that abortion is a fundamental right for women. (Pro-choice is, as well all know, a false label.) But I’ve yet to come up with anything as aphoristic as pro-abortion to describe this crowd. So I generally refer to them as supporters of legal abortion.

      Their terms for us aren’t that bad actually; we call ourselves pro-life, because we literally are. They call us anti-abortion. That label is 100% correct as to my views (and the Catholic Church’s). But that does not make anti-anti-abortion folks pro-abortion. Many do not support the act of abortion, but merely its continued availability (hence the use of safe, legal, and rare–i.e., it’s a bad thing).

      Feel free to keep calling them pro-abortion, but I think it is mostly inaccurate and, many times, disingenuous. My two cents.

      • Ted Seeber

        “Safe legal and rare” and yet they spend $340 billion a year on it, and have a genocide record worse than Stalin.

        There is no such thing as a good abortion. There is no such thing as a right to choose murder.

  • Richard Johnson

    Strange how easy it seems to chastise John, a relatively anonymous commenter, regarding his support for “dismembering unborn children”, but so difficult to chastise Paul Ryan, a presumptive VP candidate, for supporting the same only in limited circumstances.

    Somehow I doubt that John’s position on abortion is going to affect public policy. Paul Ryan, on the other hand, is positioning himself to become the “see, Catholics can be reasonable with regards to abortion exceptions” candidate.

    But hey, let’s jump on an anonymous commenter and give the policy maker a relative pass. Carry on.

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

      Oh, Ryan has now said he supports it? I only heard he had said he was deferring to Romney’s position as candidate. If he now says he personally accepts it and has changed his mind, that is something different.

      • Mark Shea

        So as long as he’s “personally opposed” whatever he actually does as a matter of policy is okay. I wish I’d known that when Bill Clinton was biting his lip and hoping to keep abortion safe, legal and rare. It would have cleared up so many thorny moral issues.

        • Jon

          With all due respect, that’s apples and oranges. The man co-sponsored the Sanctity of Human Life Act to define the beginning of life at the moment of fertilization. He HAS made his personal opinions a matter of public policy within the limits of the authority granted to him. As a VP candidate, I suspect he would view Romney’s policies as only an incremental advancement and has basically said as much (calling it “a step in the right direction”). But as VP, you don’t get to completely set the platform. If you think that’s reason enough not to be involved with the Romney ticket at all, that is one thing. But to compare him to the infamous Bill Clinton statement is unfair.

          • Mark Shea

            What Ryan has done is what Bill Clinton did. Clinton was “prolife” until it got in the way of his acquiring power. Now Ryan has done the same thing. Only he wants to have his cake and eat it by making clear he will use his office to permit some killing of innocents, but that he wants you to know he is Personally Opposed to what he is using his office to do.

            • Jon

              So, you disagree with Pope John Paul II? Or you know something about Ryan’s true motives that the rest of us simply don’t? Put simply, it matters which direction we’re headed.

              “A particular problem of conscience can arise in cases where a legislative vote would be decisive for the passage of a more restrictive law, aimed at limiting the number of authorized abortions, in place of a more permissive law already passed or ready to be voted on. Such cases are not infrequent. It is a fact that while in some parts of the world there continue to be campaigns to introduce laws favouring abortion, often supported by powerful international organizations, in other nations-particularly those which have already experienced the bitter fruits of such permissive legislation-there are growing signs of a rethinking in this matter. In a case like the one just mentioned, when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.”

              Blessed John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 73

              • Mark Shea
              • Jon

                Thanks I did miss that. I understand your point in that piece, and much as I admire your work, if there’s a conflict between what you say and what the Pope says in an encyclical, well I’m going to go with the Pope. Really, I’m not trying to be an ass but it seems that you’re saying that you simply disagree with Evangelium Vitae?? Correct me if I’m wrong…

                • Mark Shea

                  You’re wrong. :)

                • Jon

                  Good :) Seriously, though if you could elaborate. I genuinely like to hear how you think about this kind of stuff because it’s often quite different from my own machinations. I think if you’re skeptical of Ryan’s intentions, fine. I’m skeptical of basically anything within 100 mile radius of Washington. But he really does seem to be almost the exact case that the Pope writes about as being permissible. And it is a possibility (remote though it may be) that for once we may actually have a politician who cares to apply the Church’s teaching and may even be aware of the late Pope’s writings on this matter. Doesn’t mean we have to agree with all of his policy decisions, particularly some of the more touchy economic ones, but don’t you think it’s a bit much to basically be calling this guy a heretic?

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

          So what you are saying is there is no way a Catholic can run on a ticket as VP unless the presidential candidate is a practicing, faithful Catholic? There simply doesn’t seem to be another way it could work out that I’m seeing.

          • Mark Shea

            No. I’m not saying that. I’m saying a Catholic veep should not embrace grave intrinsic evil while bullshitting us that he is “personally opposed” to the evil he is, in fact, embracing.

            • Jon

              Again Mark, you are ascribing to the man certain nefarious intentions that you simply have no way of knowing! Is he bullshitting us? Maybe. But his staunch opposition to procured abortion and support of Church teachings on the beginning of life at the moment of conception is a matter of public record. The (former) Pope says that is good enough for us Catholics to give him the benefit of the doubt. Seems to me you simply don’t want to do that

              • Mark Shea

                Bill Clinton’s opposition to abortion was a matter of public record too, till he changed his position in order to acquire power as a Democrat pol. To do that, he embraced the proposition that some innocent life could be killed (basically any innocent life his political base wished to kill). Ryan has done exactly the same thing. The only difference is that Ryan’s base has a smaller pool of innocent human sacrificial victims they approve of murdering. (Domestically, that is. In unjust wars against foreigners with funny names they have all sorts of room for killing–and they *love* torture–a huge applause getter, even when the victims are innocent). But the principle is exactly the same: Ryan is now on record as approving of the death of innocents who stand in the way of his acquiring power. He is not prolife anymore. He is anti-abortion when it does not threaten his shot at power.

                • Jon

                  No offense but now you’re just sounding partisan. “They” love torture? I thought we were talking about one man’s position on abortion?

                  That said, I understand your frame of reference wrt to the Clinton administration. The issue I think is that Clinton’s policies must be judged within their respective spheres. IF his intentions as POTUS were to incrementally improve the legislative landscape on abortion, then we can say that he in fact did act morally. I would suspect you’d be hard pressed to make that case but admittedly I’m not that well-versed on his policies since I was not of voting age at the time of 92 or 96 election. But the point is that he could’ve made some form of compromise SO LONG AS he continued to work toward a fully pro-life vision of the country. Clearly he didn’t do that and THAT was the real issue… Only time will tell with Ryan (if he even gets elected) but you can’t convict the guy in advance for sins he hasn’t even committed yet

                  • Jon

                    …by “within their respective spheres” I meant to say that practically speaking it would be impossible to compare his record as Gov or Ark exactly side by side with his record as POTUS, given the fact that the constraints of each situation are different (legal precedent, checks/balances, etc.)… Same thing applies for Ryan

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

              Bullshitting? Ryan? Are you sure? I mean, in the olden days, we used to call that an accusation. An accusation does well with some form of evidence. You don’t need a quote of course. But do we know that he is, in fact, bullshitting? Are there other cases in which evidence shows a propensity toward bullshitting? Does he have a history of bullshitting? Is there a collective witness of speeches and writings that one can appeal to in order to support the idea that he is likely bullshitting? Again, given the Catechism’s call for us to be careful to interpret insofar as possible our neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way, and its insistence that every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it, I’m inclined to take Ryan at his word that he still feels strongly aligned with Catholic teaching on the subject of abortion, unless there’s a new interview or statement I’ve missed. Which brings us back to the question of being on the ticket of a non-Catholic president.

      • Richard Johnson

        When Joe Biden accepted nomination as VP in 2008 was he chastised for supporting Obama’s abortion position? Was the fact that Biden supported the PBA ban relevant to the discussion? Or was he immediately lumped in with the position of the Obama administration regarding PBA and other forms of abortion?

        How many innocents need to be considered worthy of death before a traditionalist Catholic stands up and says, “no, I cannot be a part of this?” From the tone of so many of the comments here in favor of Ryan, it seems like a few hundred a year is fine.

        • Jon

          Do you pay taxes?

          • Ted Seeber

            For the last 20 years, I have written in large letters on my tax return “Paid under protest”

          • Richard Johnson

            Do federal taxes go to pay for abortions? Also, a quote from Mark’s post on Kreitzberg’s piece.

            “And, unlike the voter who can appeal to the principle of remote material cooperation for the sake of some proportional good–a lawmaker who declares that he will support destruction of human life when politically expedient has no such excuse. He is saying he will use the power we give him to support abortion in some cases, not that he will use his power to oppose abortion in all cases. His cooperation with evil, unlike ours, is not remote. It is direct and the stated policy of his administration with his name, as well as his boss’, on the press release.”

            The question now is will Ryan’s compromise on the abortion exceptions be used to pressure other Catholic legislators to make a similar compromise for “political expediency.” After all, the argument will go, even a ban with exceptions is better than what we have now.

    • Jon

      First off, no one is trying to “chastise” John. He’s a grown man who stated his opinions, some of which MAY be at odds with Church teaching. There was an attempt to flesh out this man’s thoughts and exchange ideas, nothing more.

      That said, I understand your concern regarding Paul Ryan. I have had the same concerns and that is part of the reason why I have been checking this site more often lately, because I would actually expect Mr. Shea to call Mr. Ryan to task if he starts really straying. But for now, Ryan (IMHO) seems to be at least saying the right things in response to this unfortunate development… http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/08/paul-ryan-rape-incest-abortion.php

      • John

        Thanks, Jon.

        Was not able to respond yesterday afternoon. I’m sure some of my feelings/opinions are not in line with the church. If someone wants to argue that I tacitly approve abortion, because I may vote for a Democrat, so be it. Suggesting that I am pro abortion, is untrue. In my life I have never directly supported it, nor will I for casual reasons or to make someone’s lifestyle easier for them to handle.

        With that said, I don’t believe a ban, or making abortion illegal is the answer. I’m pretty sure at this point, if it’s one of my daughters that’s faced with the situation where her life is in jeopardy during the pregnancy, I know what my choice, or council, will be, and I’ll want EVERY option available. That is why I believe there are no absolutes. There is ALWAYS grey area.

        Let me give a shout out to Jason C. It’s obvious, that he has given much thought to the labeling of people, or groups in regards to this. He is correct. Several other posters here also make very compelling cases for Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. Sometimes, admitting your feelings is as good as your actions. Good actions/ideas always start with good words.

        Best,

        John

  • Richard Johnson

    It’s a very good thing that words mean more than actions, and since Joe Biden said in an interview he supports the Church’s teaching on when life begins, I trust all here will cut him the same slack as Ryan.

    http://www.ontheissues.org/2012/Joe_Biden_Abortion.htm

    Q: You have changed your position on abortion. When you came to the Senate, you believed that Roe v. Wade was not correctly decided and that you also believed the right of abortion was not secured by the Constitution. Why did you change your mind?
    A: Well, I was 29 years old when I came to the US Senate, and I have learned a lot. Look, I’m a practicing Catholic, and it is the biggest dilemma for me in terms of comporting my religious and cultural views with my political responsibility.
    Q: Do you believe that life begins at conception?
    A: I am prepared to accept my church’s view. I think it’s a tough one. I have to accept that on faith. That’s why the late-term abortion ban, where there’s clearly viability.
    Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Apr 29, 2007

    • Jon

      That’s precisely the point. Ryan has sponsored and even written legislation in support of life. He HAS acted, unlike Biden.

      • Richard Johnson

        But, but…Biden supported and voted for the PBA ban!!!!

  • Richard Johnson

    I think this simple statement coming from Paul Ryan would be well received.

    “I’m very proud of my pro-life record. I’ve always adopted the idea, the position, that the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life. As a Catholic I fully accept Church teaching on this issue. And yes, I believe my running mate, Mitt Romney, is wrong in supporting abortion exceptions. As his VP I will work to change his position on this issue to one that protects ALL unborn children, regardless of the manner of conception.”

    The statements he has given sound remarkably like those made by so many other Catholic legislators who end up supporting at least some abortions. If Paul Ryan is the man of principle that so many of his supporters believe him to be, issuing a statement like this would prove it. It would also prove that the Romney/Ryan ticket was indeed something new in the world of politics…a ticket where the VP is not a simple yes-man.

    • Jon

      This I agree with. I’m just not prepared to throw him under the bus completely if I don’t see such a statement forthwith, particularly since the man has an extended track record of supporting pro-life legislation vis-a-vis abortion.

      Look, I think some folks don’t like his economic policies (perhaps justifiably so) and are now trying to use this whole Akin/Romney-reaction debacle as a means to discredit Ryan’s positions on life issues. Let’s hold his feet to the fire, sure, but let’s not throw stones at the guy for a position that he has publicly denounced to one extent or another.

      • Richard Johnson

        1) Where has Ryan publicly denounced Romney’s position on abortion? (Assuming that is what you meant)

        2) Where has Ryan publicly denounced Rand’s philosophy regarding the poor and charity? (In case you meant this)

        • Jon

          1) “I’ve always adopted the idea, the position, that the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life.” — recent interview… he also has opposed various “health of the mother” initiatives in the past, calling them “a loophole wide enough to drive a Mack truck through”

          2)Not so sure on his economic policies myself. Much more uncertainty there, imho.

          • Richard Johnson

            So essentially you are saying that it’s OK to tolerate, even assist, a small amount of grave evil in order to defeat a larger amount of it.

            For years there have been people willing to “stand in the middle” with regards to abortion, to try to, in their words, “slow the slaughter of innocents.” Yet consistently traditionalist Catholics in the pro-life community have refused to work with these folks, even if it might mean a decrease in the number of abortions by 75% or more.

            Were/are these traditional, Magesterium-believing Catholics wrong to take this position? Should they have compromised their position (and gone against Church teaching) in favor of a pragmatic approach to slowing rather than stopping abortion, as Paul Ryan seems quite willing to do?

    • Jon

      PS as a side note, I think it would be a wonderful witness to his faith if he were to stand up and say, “You know what, I just can’t be a part of this ticket without a complete commitment to life.” I’m just not 100% convinced that a Catholic in his particular circumstance is required to completely distance himself. St Thomas More continued to speak truth to King Henry for quite a few years in the royal court and did not step down from his position until he had actually received the King’s own approval to do so. He toed the line between being associated with evil policies and still being the voice in the room for the good. Let’s hope and pray that Ryan may be able to do the same thing for Romney.

      • Richard Johnson

        Are we talking about the same St. Thomas More here? The one who was executed by King Henry for, among other things, refusing to accept the King’s rejection of Catholicism?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_More

        • Jon

          Yes! He didn’t just jump ship the second the King rejected Catholicism though. And that’s the point I was trying to make. He stuck around and was the voice of reason until the powers that be said “No More.” How many good Catholic people in his village may have been “scandalized” by his going to court every day with the Pope-rejecting king? And yet he continued to go for some time (I think a couple years or so) until he received actual permission from the King to stay home. Then they killed him, of course, but the point was that he ultimately gave greater witness by sticking around long enough to rock the boat rather than just running away from the King at the first sign of admittedly deep disagreement.
          I’m not saying Paul Ryan is necessarily the next Thomas More, but perhaps we ought to pray that he might be rather than ascribing to him certain motives that we have no way of knowing. His previous public actions vis-a-vis abortion policy have earned him that privilege (see the Evangelium Vitae quote I posted above).

          • Mark Shea

            The attempt to link Ryan to More is a real stretch. Last week we were likewise told he was Aquinas to Rand’s Aristotle.

            Embarrassing.

          • Jon

            Not attempting to link Ryan to More as such, which I tried to make clear in the end of my post (but clearly failed :) ). Simply using More’s response as an independent example of how sometimes the knee-jerk reaction is not always the best one. And sometimes God works in mysterious ways… sometimes even ways that may upset other good and holy peoples’ sensibilities!

          • Richard Johnson

            Excuse me, but More didn’t go around saying, “I have consistently said that the Pope is the only legitimate head of the Church on earth, but I’m not the King and the King rules.” He made such a nuisance of himself that the King had him killed, though out of mercy it was a beheading rather than the usual treatment of a traitor. Sorry…color it fail unless we start seeing Ryan making some very public statements about Romney’s errors on abortion, or for that matter refusing to honor Romney with his presence if he does not change his mind.

            “His previous public actions vis-a-vis abortion policy have earned him that privilege (see the Evangelium Vitae quote I posted above).”

            Strange this notion that previous good behavior earns someone the “privilege” of compromising or joining in with sin. Where in the teachings is this gem hidden?

  • Richard Johnson

    “This I agree with. I’m just not prepared to throw him under the bus completely if I don’t see such a statement forthwith, particularly since the man has an extended track record of supporting pro-life legislation vis-a-vis abortion.”

    One of the problems, however, is that if Romney/Ryan are victorious this fall then Ryan’s pro-life voice will leave the legislature. His final act in the pro-life domain will be to compromise his otherwise staunch pro-life stance in order to gain a position that, arguably, is the most impotent political office in the nation.

    As a legislator Ryan was adamant about there being NO EXCEPTIONS in any legislation he sponsored. Yet here in the interview you quoted we have him saying:

    “Let’s remember, I’m joining the Romney-Ryan ticket and the president makes policy,” Ryan told the station. “And in this case, the future president Mitt Romney has exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. Which is a vast improvement of where we are right now.”

    This begs the question…if it is politically expedient for him to compromise his beliefs now in support of a policy that is a “vast improvement of where we are right now”, why wasn’t it politically expedient of him to offer a similar compromise in his previous legislative efforts. Or, conversely, if he was willing to stand on principle before, why is he willing to abandon that principle now?

  • Irenist

    What would the right response be to a politician who opposed abortion in cases of rape and incest, but would not ban it in cases where the life of the mother was endangered? A legitimate application of the principle of double effect there?

    • Ted Seeber

      I’m in this boat to some extent, so here’s how my reasoning goes:
      Doctors are not God. They have limited abilities. Abortion, even to save the life of the mother, is still evil. BUT Triage isn’t. Doctors need the right to, in good conscience, examine a pregnant woman as two patients that may have competing interests, and save the one they are able to save, and save both if they are able to save both. Sometimes that can mean an abortion. Sometimes that can mean letting the mother die in the midst of a cesarean to save the child.

      And that is the proper application of the principle of double effect to the case of a pregnant woman in an emergency room.

      • Richard Johnson

        OK…a question. To those who are saying we should not throw Ryan under the bus for this decision, I would ask the following. What can he do as Vice President in a Romney/Ryan administration that he could not do as a Republican leader in the House under a Romney/? administration? For example, if he were to be tapped as Majority Leader or Majority Whip in the next House, would he be more effective on the abortion issue without having to so publicly compromise his Catholicism?

        • Ted Seeber

          As VP, he has the tiebreaker vote in the Senate, and that could matter if they could get a Personhood Definition resolution pushed through.

          As Majority Leader or Majority Whip, he holds some influence, but not as directly.

          • Richard Johnson

            Majority Leader and Majority Whip work with the Speaker to set the agenda and determine which bills will come to a vote. They also work at lining up the party members to support various bills. They have impact on a day-to-day basis.

            The VP only attends the Senate sessions when it is known that a vote will be close. He cannot speak for/against a measure as he is technically not a member of the body. And if the GOP wins the number of Senate seats expected this fall the VP would likely only be there to open the session and close it.

          • Richard Johnson

            Allow me to summarize:

            Rep .Eric Cantor, House Majority Leader
            Vice President Joe Biden

            Which of these two men have greater influence on the legislation that moves through the two houses of Congress?


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