Continuing the Q&A started here, although these questions become less about Giuliani as they go on…
Q: But Giuliani is an abortion supporter! There is no doubt about the state of his soul!
A: There’s always doubt about the state of someone’s soul, but let’s look at that for the moment. Rudy is a politician and he is “pro-choice”, but he does not currently hold office and – since he has never been either a legislator or a judge – his political stance has not in any way involved him in the procuring/legislating/legalizing of abortion availability. At the most, in his career, all Rudy has done is followed the law and done nothing to change it. That is not, perhaps, in the same league as a pol who legislates against the free-speech of pro-lifers or votes in favor of RICO laws being applied to them, or in any way makes abortions easier to come by. In that sense, the ‘big scandal’ then, is about his being divorced-and-remarried which – while rightly precluding communion – is hardly an earthshaking event within the Catholic community. He is nowhere near on par with Pelosi, Kerry and Kennedy who have actively legislated on abortion. We’re just focusing on him because Cardinal Egan – after some prompting – releasd his statement. As Deacon Greg rightly wonders:
If Robert Novak had never written on the subject, would Egan have said anything?
I’m betting he wouldn’t have. Cardinal Egan may be “correct” on this issue, but he’s basically been in hiding for most of his tenure in NY and I imagine he’d have hidden on this, too. What a disappointing successor to the Mighty John O’ Connor.
I must add, there was no sense of the pope – during his visit here – telling the Cardinal or the Archbishop – “hey, get your capos to withhold communion from those heretics.” That was not Benedict’s vibe at all. I got the sense that Benedict – who is a teacher of the first water – intends to teach us and he’d rather not have to battle headlines and hyperpartisan hysteria as he goes about it.
Q: Anchoress, you’re a hypocrite; you don’t mind Catholics in sin receiving communion, but you had a fit when Bill Clinton did it!
A: Well, I didn’t say I didn’t “mind” Catholics taking communion no matter what – I simply said there was another way to think about it that keeps me from getting upset. As to President Clinton taking communion, why shouldn’t I have minded that? He’s not a Catholic! What Clinton did was the equivalent of me going into a Hindu ceremony, partaking in everything I didn’t believe and then, when asked to respect their customs, saying “nah, come on, that’s not how I understand it.”
Q: My father left my mother and got the marriage annulled; the church said it wasn’t a Christian marriage but it didn’t mind taking their money and their volunteer help! The church has no business telling people about marriage when it’s run by a bunch of celibates.
A: If the marriage was annulled, that means the judicial body of the church, having examined it through testimony and evidence, found that the marriage was not “sacramental,” which is entirely different than saying it is “not a Christian marriage.” The church has the authority of Christ in teaching about marriage, and he – not the pope or some priest you hate – is the one who gave the demanding teaching in Matthew 19:
“Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate…I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.”
Annulments are the response to Jesus’ admonishment – during the process what is determined is if the marriage was indeed “sacramental” (and thus “lawful”) within the church. Celibacy has nothing to do with it. You can read more about them here.
Q: Isn’t Confession just a “get out of jail free” card for Catholics?
A: Oh. How funny. Confession is a sacrament of the church, instituted by Christ and meant to instill abundant graces within us to both strengthen us against those sins for which we have a proclivity, and allow us the release and freedom whereby we are unshackled by naming the sin and accusing ourselves. In Matthew, Jesus told the apostles “Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Even the pope has a confessor. In Romans, St. Paul said, “confession on the lips leads to salvation.” Some may argue that he was speaking only of “confessing Jesus on the lips” – well…perhaps…but perhaps he meant both. If you’re really interested, I have a whole category devoted to confession right here.
Q: What business does Egan have telling anyone else about sins when he shuffled pedophile priests around in Connecticut?
A: Well, I’m no defender of Egan, that should be clear, but I will say only this: he and many other bishops were quite frankly, “men of their times” in one respect – the pederasty that has so roiled us in the 21st century was not recognized as the high-rate recidivist crime that we understand it to be today. Recall that as recently as 20 years ago, the conventional wisdom was that these deviations in behavior could be “fixed” with therapy and a change of surroundings. Thankfully, our understanding is much more finely tuned, I think, these days, but it came very very late in the 20th century. It does not excuse what is abhorrent, but it does explain why – not knowing what else to do with these priests – some bishops thought therapy and moves would be the answer; some bishops dismissed the therapy and simply made the moves – all were excruciatingly bad decisions. That said, Egan is still the bishop, and he has – as near as anyone can tell, given his tendency to hole-up – been faithful and very careful in his handlings of these matters since coming to NY.
Last one, because it is irresistible – fresh and hot off the email:
Q: You’re writing about humility while exhibiting the sin of pride in daring to set yourself up as an authority. Who died and made you pope?
A: Heh. No one, thank God, and they never will. But I am appalled that anyone would think I’ve presented myself as any sort of authority. I’ve always been very clear that I don’t like apologetics or do them well, and that my thoughts are simply that: my thoughts. Anyone can buy a catechism and a bible and find out what the church teaches. An emailer once wrote that I “meander and imagine and reason and always end up squarely on Catholic Orthodoxy.” Maybe. I’ve only ever offered Catholicism as I know it and live it and understand it by my lights, and I hope I’ve done it without pride – although I’ll admit to sometimes being a little fractious while I’m at it. But if I am sinning in pride, I wonder if you’re not sinning in presuming to know that. Beams and splinters – ain’t they a bitch!