From the Combox

Here’s a comment from someone who doesn’t sign his name:

Father, you should keep your political opinions to yourself. I’m sick to death of all the right wing political garbage coming from the church lately. Your blog is becoming more and more offensive everyday. If you don’t like President Obama, don’t vote for him. In the meantime, shut up.

Nice. I especially like the respect and good manners that come with such intelligent debate.

Let’s think things through. Criticism of the “left’ does not mean endorsement of the “right” or vice versa. As a Catholic I criticize both sides in the political debate and that is as it should be.

So let’s get something absolutely straight. On this blog I have every right as an American citizen to speak about the issues of the day. As a priest I have not only the right, but the responsibility to speak about moral issues like abortion and immigration, the death penalty, corrupt financial dealings and what the church calls ‘the preferential option for the poor.” I also have not only the right, but the responsibility to speak about the issue which is most important at this time: religious liberty.

I will continue to do so, and I will do so regardless of the political party or politician who I criticize. If anyone is interested, I am indeed critical of the present administration. I am critical of their wanton and ignorant attack on religious freedom in this country, and I am most disgusted and alarmed by their relentless attack on the sanctity of human life. A child is not a punishment, and abortion is not a blessing.

If people are further interested in my views I am also disgusted with the financial mismanagement, corporate greed, corruption and relentless pride of the shameless high rolling bankers, financiers and international men of power. I am dismayed at the warlike nature of the country I love–the astronomical amount of money we spend on ‘defense’, which too often has meant the pointless invasion of other countries in order to promote and expand ‘our strategic interests’.

However, in keeping with the policies of the Catholic Church, and under the discipline of the Catholic priesthood I will not promote a particular candidate or a particular political party, nor will I tell my people what person or party to vote for.

This will not be difficult for me to do as I find both sides equally obnoxious, and I personally will only be voting for one over the other as one might choose between eel pie and fish eye soup.

  • EO

    Could not agree with you more Father.

  • Deacon Dean

    Right On!!!

  • http://a-star-of-hope.blogspot.com JoAnna

    Well said, Father.

  • Thaddeus

    Eel pie and fish eye soup? I just LOVE the analogy (lesser of two evils). If you don’t mind, I might just use that one (or something similar)!

  • http://knowledgehungry.wordpress.com Jeanne G.

    If your commenter doesn’t like your politics, he doesn’t have to read your blog.

    • Denise

      Agreed 100%!

  • Bernie

    Good for you Father, I totally agree with you.

  • Sonja Maierhauser

    Fr. Longenecker,
    long live free speech and those with the courage and skill to do so in such an engaging and intelligent manner as yourself!!

  • Ckos

    So basically that person is saying he’s tired of hearing you accurately critique and point out the truth and many failures of this administration. Truth hurts!

    And this is coming from someone who leans left
    but realizes this administration is inept, dangerous and needs to go. My Church takes precedence over any political leaning.

  • Ckos

    So basically that person is saying he’s tired of hearing you accurately critique and point out the truth and many failures of this administration. Truth hurts!

    And this is coming from someone who leans left
    but realizes this administration is inept, dangerous and needs to go. My Church takes precedence over any political leaning.

    Thank you for an excellent blog Father!

  • Peter Brown

    Isn’t this the normal case for Catholics in a republic? (And don’t even get me started on the case of Catholics in any *other* kind of government.) Regardless of which group of sinners is in power, the government’s interests just will not (in a fallen world) align with those of the Kingdom, except perhaps accidentally and for a short time. (And if they did, there’s no guarantee that I in my own sinfulness would discern it correctly.) We’re *always* going to be choosing between eel pie and fish-eye soup.

    Just praise God that we get *some* voice in the country’s choice, and that as Americans we actually have a realistic expectation that we can change our government without anybody getting killed. There are an awful lot of folks in the world who can’t say that.

  • flyingvic

    In what is essentially a two-party system, if a priest says that it would be a sin to vote for Candidate X while keeping silent about Candidate Y, does that then not effectively constitute a recommendation for Candidate Y?

    And if it is a duty to cast a vote, what is any faithful Christian to make of a choice between, say, George W “God told me to go to War” Bush and, say, Barack “Women’s Reproductive Health” Obama?

    • Jim

      Point one. If you are not obliged to choose between cheese or meat and I argue against meat, then you may agree with me and skip lunch. You don’t have to eat cheese.

      Point two. Count the death toll perhaps?
      Mr Bush’s wars: deaths in the low tens of thousands (majority male)
      Mr Obama’s abortions: deaths in the high tens of millions (majority female)

      In one of our health districts in Scotland, over half of pregnancies end in abortion and some women are on their sixth abortion. That’s not health-care or “Women’s Reproductive Health”. It is something much more dark.
      Jim

      • Rosemary

        Well-said, Jim!

      • Melissa

        Thank you, Jim! You tell him :)

      • http://themightyambivalentcatholic.blogspot.com/ Steve

        Jim, Mr. Bush actually started the war in Iraq — it didn’t just happen on his watch; he started it. Mr. Bush attacked Iraq, and many, many people died as a result of his super-cool “shock and awe” thing. Many other people (Iraqi citizens as well as American service people) lost limbs, suffered traumatic brain injuries, and/or will be dealing with PTSD for years to come.

        As for “Mr. Obama’s abortions,” Mr. Obama has not actually forced anyone to get an abortion. He has not (to the best of my knowledge) performed an abortion. And an incredible number of women also (tragically) sought abortions while Bush 43 was president, while Clinton was president, while Bush 41 was president, and while Reagan was president. It’s very catchy, I realize, to call all abortions that have occurred during Mr. Obama’s presidency “Mr. Obama’s abortions,” but it’s not accurate. Mr. Bush’s attack on Iraq, however, was indeed Mr. Bush’s war of choice — he took direct action and got a war underway, along with help from his five-deferment (yet eager-for-war) vice-president, Mr. Cheney.

        As for Fr. L’s right to share all his opinions on his blog: Yes, he certainly does have that right. Long live the First Amendment. (Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”)

        • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

          Steve, these are interesting points, but allow me to point out one of the important aspects of Catholic moral theology which helps us to determine a person’s culpability for a particular action.

          Moral theology teaches us that a certain action is right or wrong and that intention and circumstances cannot change that.

          However, intention and circumstances CAN change the person’s culpability. So let us, for the sake of argument, say that the taking of a human life is an evil action. Let’s even, for the sake of argument, say that the life of an unborn infant is equal to the life of an enemy combatant who is armed and can defend himself. They are not equal, but let’s say they are.

          We then have to weigh up the intention of the person who is either taking the human life or enabling that life to be taken. George Bush did not pull the trigger to shoot anyone in Iraq just like Obama did not perform an abortion. However, both had policies that enabled killing to take place.

          So finally we examine their intention. George Bush may have started a war. That war may have been unjust. It may have been started for unjust reasons like ‘national security’ or ‘preserving our national interests’. However, no matter how unjust the war or how terrible its effects, George Bush did not set out to kill anyone. He set out to ‘establish freedom’ or ‘preserve our national security’ or ‘liberate people’ or even ‘to dominate another country for financial gain’. Whatever his reasons and intentions and no matter how much we may disagree with them and dislike them, he did not set out intentionally to kill innocent people. That innocent people were killed is terrible and regrettable, but that was not his intention.

          Barack Obama, on the other hand, with very pro abortion policies–even voting twice while an Illinois politician in favor of not treating infant survivors of abortion and voting for partial birth abortion–specifically intends by his policies to kill, and not only to kill, but to kill innocent unborn children who have done nothing wrong and cannot defend themselves.

          It’s simple. Bush’s policies killed. His intentions may not have been pure, but his specific intention was not to take human life. The specific intention of Obama’s policies, on the other hand were indeed to kill because that is what abortion is, and you cannot be in favor of abortion (even for good reasons) without intending to kill.

          • flyingvic

            “. . . his specific intention was not to take human life.”

            Let us suppose, then, that an international court required George Dubya to stand trial. Would the court accept a plea that he neither killed nor intended to kill anyone? Would the charge sheet include murder, or manslaughter, or unlawful killing, or reckless endangerment? Could anyone seriously entertain the notion, even for a moment, that when one sovereign country invades another sovereign country in full force of arms, with shock and awe and the full intention of removing the legal (or even the de facto) government, there is no possibility of fatal casualties? That therefore the person who gave the order to invade has no blood on his hands at all? And therefore should carry no responsibility at all either for future generations of 9/11 terrorists motivated, rightly or wrongly, by religion and revenge?

            Instead of slicing ever more thinly the culpability of those whom we are not required to judge, may we not leave that judgement to the Almighty, who is so much wiser than we are, and concentrate more on our own moral difficulties and decisions?

          • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

            I was not excusing George Bush for going to war, but comparing the killing in warfare to the culpability of one who enables taking the life of the unborn. In the first, killing is a foreseen possibility but not the first intention. In the second killing of defenseless, unborn children is the first and main intention.

            Calling it splitting hairs if you like. We call it moral theology. It is a way of attempting to use logic rather than mere emotion in making moral judgements.

          • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

            Your arguments would be stronger Vic if you were to join me in condemning politicians who endorse and enable the crime of abortion. That you do not makes me suspect that like most Anglicans you are soft on the issue. I trust I am wrong, but am voicing my suspicions. This is one of the reasons I finally left the Anglican Church. Not only did a good number of my clergy colleagues have no problem with divorce and remarriage, but they were also okay with homosexuality, lesbianism, abortion and artificial contraception.

            I do not know your views on this issue, but how anyone can be vehemently anti war and also pro abortion is beyond imagination.

          • Romulus

            The Bush war initiative was corrupt from the get-go. The only thing I can say in Dubya’s favor is that Obama is even worse.

            If lived in a “battleground” state, I’d be morally struggling with the question of whether to support Romney. As I don’t, I plan to indulge my conscience by voting for a third party candidate.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      The choice in 2008 in the United States was not between Barack Obama and George Bush. It was between Obama and McCain. The choice this time is between Obama and probably Romney.

      There are several problems with your argumentation. First of all, in the American system there are more than two options to vote for when voting for president. You can usually vote for an obscure candidate or you can exercise a write in vote, or you can opt out and not vote at all.

      In any case, the priest in question did not say voting for Obama was a sin, he said “to vote for any politician who you know is an advocate of abortion would be a sin.”

      The second problem with your argumentation is something Jim brought up. Comparing a president of the USA who goes to war in which people are killed is not comparable to a president who votes to kill unborn children in his own country. Killing a foreign combatant–even in an unjust war–is killing someone who has chosen to go to war and bear arms against you. It’s not good, but it’s not the same as killing a child in it’s mother’s womb.

      • flyingvic

        Fr. Dwight Longenecker says: April 27, 2012 at 5:55 am [The Absurdity of Evil]
        “This is true. In a parish where I was working the priest said it was a sin for Catholics to vote for Obama. The demonic spitting rage evidenced in the emails we received was horrible.”
        Please make your mind up!

        That apart, you’re all, surely, way too literal! What was I saying?
        1. I believe it is a citizen’s duty to vote.
        2. In America there is a choice, effectively, between Democrat and Republican candidates.
        3. If one is a warmonger and the other is an abortionist, which one is a Christian to choose?
        4. If a priest says openly that a vote for one is a sin, is he not tacitly recommending his people to vote for the other?
        That is all. I was simply asking a question, but I will continue and make a comment.
        The wars of the last century resulted in the deaths of hundreds of millions of people, exact number unknown; the exact number of abortions carried out around the world is also unknown: so the idea that it is possible to do a notional head-count in order to decide whether war or abortion is the greater evil is patently absurd. And let us bear in mind that a foreign combatant who “has chosen to go to war and bear arms against you” may in fact only be a combatant because it is you that has chosen to go to war and bear arms against him. (Draw up a list with two columns: write down on the left the names of countries that have invaded America, and on the right the names of the countries that America has invaded.) When we are talking about the evil of indiscriminate killing, let us not resort to jesuitical nit-picking between the moral superiority of one kind over another. Shame on you!

        • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

          Whoa! I said that the killing in war was also wrong. I agree with you that counting numbers in war or abortion is pointless.

          However, it is not Jesuitical nit picking to make the distinction that killing someone who has a gun and can defend himself (whether he has chosen to go to war or not) is not as evil as killing a defenseless unborn infant.

          To clarify–the priest in question actually only said that voting for Obama was a sin after the event–before hand he said that voting for a pro abortion candidate was a sin–both statements were therefore true.

        • Sam Urfer

          “1. I believe it is a citizen’s duty to vote.”

          Why?

          “2. In America there is a choice, effectively, between Democrat and Republican candidates.”

          This is a false dilemma. There are plenty of third party candidates, and even if one admits (which I am not prepared to do) that there is some ‘duty’ to vote, there is no requirement that one must vote for Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dum. There is no ‘duty’ to vote for a winner over conscience.

          “3. If one is a warmonger and the other is an abortionist, which one is a Christian to choose?”

          Neither.

          “4. If a priest says openly that a vote for one is a sin, is he not tacitly recommending his people to vote for the other?”

          See the answers to the first three questions.

          • flyingvic

            “See the answers to the first three questions.” Sorry, Sam, but those answers are inadequate.

            1. I believe it is a citizen’s duty to vote because we are called to play our full part in the life of the country of which we are citizens. If we believe a candidate to be evil then it is most assuredly our duty to vote against him. Or would you, like Pilate, wash your hands of the whole affair and pretend it had nothing to do with you? When we are faced with a voting choice between what appear to be two evils we would benefit from more thorough moral guidance than a priest saying it would be a sin to vote for Candidate X while keeping silent about Candidate Y. And of course, if you don’t vote, you can’t complain about those who are elected.

            2. A false dilemma? Really? Can you name me a “third party” candidate who had the slightest chance of winning? Or one who even materially affected the outcome of the presidential election?

            3. See the responses 1 and 2.

            4. My question still stands.

          • Sam Urfer

            1. I’ve know morally upstanding people of many different persuasions who refuse to vote on grounds of conscience. I do vote, but I don’t think those who refuse to participate are bad people. Indeed, they are the majority, ironically enough.

            2. If Candidate X promotes evil, and Candidate Y promotes evil (but only 85% as much evil as the leading competitor), I will vote for Candidate Z if he does not promote evil, even if he has little shot at winning. If I am forced by abstract “duty” to participate in the charade, I will not support evil just so I can “win” somehow. That’s how the Whig party which once dominated politics in the US crumbled, and how the Populist party almost took over the country. If enough people stopped buying into the false Republican-Democrat dichotomy, there could be change. It’s not my fault if most people still fall for their tricks. I vote by conscience, not for victory.

            3. Don’t let the “two-party” system fool you; there are always other options. Being against Obama does not necessitate being for Romney.

            4. No, the priest is not necessarily supporting the “opposition” candidate. It is not a one or the other game; there are other options, from not voting, to third party, to voting for Micky Mouse. All of which are perfectly moral choices to make.

          • Romulus

            Vic, the decision to opt out of voting is morally defensible because to do so marginally delegitimizes a corrupt and rigged system that offers only the illusion of distinct choices. The Democratic party only pretends to care about the rights of the poor and powerless. Similarly, the GOP only pretends to care about human life. In both cases the base is cajoled, bribed, and bullied into line, but ultimately cheated.

  • Ed

    The thing I like about your comments Father is that they aren’t political. They are biblically based as is Church teaching. You usually reference this too. You are a Catholic priest and a faithful one at that. You should be defending the faith and you do it quite well I might add. I thank God for brave priests like you. If they have a problem with you adhering to and referencing scripture and Church teaching, then the problem is with them. Your blog does a great job of standing up for our Catholic faith. Please keep up the good work. I’ll be praying for you and your family.

  • http://www.scenesfromaslowmovingtrain.blogspot.com annie

    Way to go, Fr. L. Well said!

  • Mike

    AMEN!

  • Denise

    Thank you, Father! Your response to this person is spot on. Personally, I enjoy reading your blog, and I hope you will keep doing what you are doing.

  • Sandra

    Thank-you Father.

  • whimsy

    Hey, your anonymous commenter could have a cover article in Newsweek.

  • Eugenia

    It amazes me that some don’t see the difference between war and abortion. Wars can be just. Abortion never is.

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    No need to become defensive about what this person said. It is sufficient to explicate just how the left works – they can only stay in power by subterfuge and by suppressing open speech. Just think how tolerant Stalin and Hitler were when it came to open discourse…then consider what we have heard from Obama and his people from the beginning – those who disagree with them must be silenced – by any means possible.

    Does the poster you are referring to not think that under Obama’s people one day he, too, will be silenced? He has not delved that far into the matter at hand.

  • m skrz

    When anonymous people attack it can only mean 1 thing..You are doing something right….the mirror image is true..keep it up Father

  • flyingvic

    Father, your response would be stronger if you were to concentrate more on what I had actually written than on whatever assumptions and speculations about my attitiudes and opinions that you may have indulged in.

    To put it plainly, I have never been able to understand how it is possible to claim political impartiality while saying that it would be a sin to vote for Candidate X and saying nothing about Candidate Y – that is why I entered this discussion in the first place. In this context the reasons for imputing sinfulness – pro-war, pro-abortion – are irrelevant.

    In this particular thread I then allowed myself to be drawn into a debate about what I see as the nonsense of trying to compare the evil of war with the evil of abortion; and insofar as I have been seen to be anti-war, that should, in fairness, be judged more as an attempt to redress the balance of the comments than as proof positive that I am pro-abortion. If your logic leads you to a different conclusion, Father, then I find it hard to believe that the niceties of your moral theology will do you much good either.

  • Kay

    One thing about the absurdity of the beliefs and writing of so many in today’s mainstream world, is that when someone finally speaks logically, reasonably, boldly, and succinctly, the abyss between right and wrong and good and evil is oh so clearly apparent. Your ability at cutting through the excuses for today’s crazy world to shine a light for those of us seeking truth, is such a gift for us and I’m so glad that you continue to speak out and that you continue to blog. (even without the aesthetic amenities of your old place:-) )

  • http://themightyambivalentcatholic.blogspot.com/ Steve

    Fr. L, did you ever read about Obama’s explanation (when he was a state senator in Illinois considering state legislation on partial birth abortion/resucing the child who survives an abortion) that there was ALREADY legislation in place requiring doctors to render medical aid to children whose lives were in danger? If it had been me, I would have voted differently than Obama on that bill — I would have voted for a bill mandating aid for the child who survives an abortion even if the bill may have been redundant.

    But that does not mean that Obama’s position — which is pretty rationale (there’s a law already in place, and people are using this as a political grandstanding opportunity). You are eager to assume that Obama believes in killing babies, but more likely, he believes that this issue (i.e., when exactly does life begin? at what point does a woman have control over her body and at what point should she not) is so complex that the decision had better be in the individual woman’s hands rather than the state’s. I myself happen to DISAGREE with that position. For me, a ban on abortion would be a recognition of the human rights of the unborn child, and that child’s rights do need to be protected just as the rights of minorities in the south needed to be protected by the federal government (and were not, tragically) because there were plenty of racists around who wanted to lynch them at one time. (You see, Father, government CAN be a force for good, notwithstanding of your bashing of liberals and liberal values.)

    You may be inclined to label me pro-choice, but I am essentially pro-life: I want babies to survive pregnancy and have long, health lives (and that is why I am also pro-life when it comes to the federal government banning insurance companies from discriminating against people — including children — with pre-existing conditions, and I’m pro-life when it comes to opposing Paul Ryan’s efforts to cut funding for programs such as WIC, etc.). But if you need to, label me whatever you wish, along with Obama. Your labels do not necessarily add up to Truth Infinite, but if makes you feel better, fine. It IS your blog, and I DO believe in the First Amendment.

    • mm

      actually Obama was politically grandstanding by voting against it- he is for hate crime legislation-right? There are already crimes against killing, why would he support hate crimes? Are you more dead if i call you a (name any protected group) before i kill you rather than just shoot you? Obama has NEVER failed to advance abortion & is the most pro-abortion president we have ever had- it is not even close. As for when does the women lose “control over her body”, the answer is clear- when another life is involved- ie conception. Ryan doesn’t plan to cut WIC, only slow the rate of increase so it is sustainable. Under Obama’s plan by the 2020s the entire federal budget will only cover SS, medicare and interest on the debt- no WIC, no unemployment, no SCIP, no DOD etc. That, in my estimation, is evil.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      I believe he voted twice against the legislation banning partial birth abortion

  • Bryan

    Perhaps the most interesting thing in the comment was the claim that freedom of religion is “right wing political garbage.”

  • Dave

    vic:
    “A false dilemma? Really? Can you name me a “third party” candidate who had the slightest chance of winning? Or one who even materially affected the outcome of the presidential election?”
    Can you say Ross Perot? I knew you could, boys and girls.

    Dave

    • flyingvic

      Is that the Ross Perot who, in 1992, drew his votes equally from Bush and Clinton (according to the exit polls) and failed to win even one electoral college vote? And who did less well in 1996?

      So your point is . . . ?

  • daisy

    Mr. or Miss Anonymous, shame on you. I don’t care for Fr. Longenecker’s blog but I would NEVER, ever tell a priest to shut up. When you go to a blog you are a guest in somone’s internet home. In their home it’s their rules. Adjust your attitude and go to confession.

  • http://www.aliceseidel.com Alice S.

    The Catholic Church is just another name for what you call ‘right wing political garbage’, and if you don’t like the church then go to another, because we’re not going anywhere!
    And we will continue to speak our minds over what is right and very, very, very wrong in this country starting with that Obama and we won’t stop ever!
    Understand that that man is the worst thing to ever happen to the American presidency! And I know I have to explain to you that it has nothing to do with his color and everything to do with what he professes as his philosophy. I truly feel sympathy for shallow thinkers such as yourself.

  • Al Bergstrazer

    To tell the proprietor of a blog what he should or should not say is presumptious at the least. What is Fr. Longenecker to restrict his comments to? Theology? Doctrine? All theology and doctrine is practical, meaning it has an application to lives of men. Perhaps a review of Henry IV’s kneeling penitent before Gregory VII at Canossa should be done before one condemns the holding of our elected officials accountable for their words and deeds. There is indeed a difference between the taking of life in war and the killing of the unborn, it is the difference between 1Corinthians 6:12 and Romans 13:4. In one case the blessed Apostle speaks of how what is harmful can be made legal, and in the other how governments are endowed with the responsibility to punish wrongdoers and defend the citizens from harm. Governments have the right to fight just wars and to punish those who do wrong, abortion on the other hand is a law which makes a sin legal, it does not a case of the government rightly defending life or punishing wrongdoing, but permitting the ultimage sentence of death be declared upon the defenseless who have had no due process, nor even reached the point of understanding what it is that has been decided against them.

  • Irenist

    Father L., I’m pro-life but otherwise well to the left of you politically. That said, of course you should be able to share your political opinions on your own blog! On behalf of my fellow liberals, sorry this guy gave you a hard time.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      Thanks, but do me the favor of not putting me in a right wing box.


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