Democrat Opposition to Obamacare and St. Thomas Aquinas? There may be a link spelled F.R.E.E.D.O.M.

Well, would you believe Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has misgivings for one? Of course, he’s not running for re-election so his admission doesn’t do much good except as a possible gauge of his colleagues thoughts. Same thing for retiring Representative Brad Miller (D-N.C.) and Senator James Webb (D- Virginia), who announced last year that he will not seek re-election.

Julian Pecquet and Sam Baker over at the political blog, The Hill, have the story,

Democrats expressing buyers’ remorse on Obama’s healthcare law

An increasing number of Democrats are taking potshots at President Obama’s healthcare law ahead of a Supreme Court decision that could overturn it.

The public grievances have come from centrists and liberals and reflect rising anxiety ahead of November’s elections.

“I think we would all have been better off — President Obama politically, Democrats in Congress politically, and the nation would have been better off — if we had dealt first with the financial system and the other related economic issues and then come back to healthcare,” said Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.), who is retiring at the end of this Congress.

Miller, who voted for the law, said the administration wasted time and political capital on healthcare reform, resulting in lingering economic problems that will continue to plague Obama’s reelection chances in 2012.

Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) also criticized his party’s handling of the issue, and said he repeatedly called on his leaders to figure out how they were going to pay for the bill, and then figure out what they could afford.

Cardoza, who like Miller will retire at the end of the Congress, said he thought the bill should have been done “in digestible pieces that the American public could understand and that we could implement.”

The most recent wave of misgivings from Democrats began with Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who told New York magazine that Democrats “paid a terrible price for healthcare.”

Frank said Obama had erred in pushing the legislation after GOP Sen. Scott Brown’s January 2010 victory in Massachusetts, which took away the Senate Democrats’ 60th vote.

Interesting, huh? Check out the rest.

As for the Church, she has worked long and hard on the subject of Healthcare Reform. It’s a pity the Administration seems to be willing to sacrifice the potential good that could come of much needed reforms. Instead, the Administration is hamstringing itself and sabotaging Catholic support by forcing the HHS Mandate, and other measures, upon the Church, which she simply cannot support since they clearly violate her teachings, and her mission of upholding the dignity of all human beings.

Which takes us right back to freedom, not only of conscious, but of choice. When you stop and consider how blind the Administration seems to be on this issue, in light of Catholic teaching, think about the rich intellectual foundation that the Church stands upon, courtesy of the Angelic Doctor, aka the Universal Doctor, aka St. Thomas Aquinas. Many of us are blind to it, as I know I have been for most of my life.

It’s all right here in the public domain available translation of his Summa Contra Gentiles, Book 2, Chapter 48: That Intellectual Substances Have Freedom of Choice in Acting. Bold highlights are mine.

It is therefore clear that the aforesaid substances are endowed with freedom of choice in acting.

That they act by judgment is evident from the fact that through their intellectual cognition they judge of things to be done. And they must have freedom, if, as just shown, they have control over their own action. Therefore, these substances in acting have freedom of choice.

Also, “the free is that which is its own cause.” Hence, that which is not the cause of its own acting is not free in acting. But things that do not move nor act unless they are moved by other things are not the cause of their own acting. So, only things that move themselves act freely. And these alone act by judgment. For the thing that moves itself is divided into mover and moved; and the mover is the appetite moved by intellect, imagination, or sense, to which faculties judgment belongs. Among these things, therefore, those alone judge freely which in judging move themselves. But no judging power moves itself to judge unless it reflects on its own action; for, if it moves itself to judge, it must know its own judgment; and this only an intellect can do. Thus, irrational animals have in a certain way freedom of movement or action, but not of judgment, whereas inanimate things, which are moved only by other things, have not even free action or movement. Intellectual beings, on the other hand, enjoy freedom not only of action, but also of judgment; and this is to have free choice.

Then, too, the apprehended form is a moving principle according as it is apprehended under the aspect of the good or the fitting; for the outward action in things that move themselves proceeds from the judgment, made through that form, that something is good or fitting. Hence, if he who judges moves himself to judge, he must do so in the light of a higher form apprehended by him. And this form can be none other than the very intelligible essence of the good or the fitting, in the light of which judgment is made of any determinate good or fitting thing; so that only those beings move themselves to judge which apprehend the all-embracing essence of the good or the fitting. And these are intellectual beings alone. Hence, none but intellectual beings move themselves not only to act, but also to judge. They alone, therefore, are free in judging; and this is to have free choice.

Movement and action, moreover, issue from a universal conception only through the intermediation of a particular apprehension. For movement and action have to do with particular things, whereas it is the nature of the intellect to grasp universals. Hence, for movement and action of any kind to result from the intellect’s grasp of something, the universal conception formed by it must be applied to particulars. But the universal contains many particulars potentially; so that the universal conception can be applied to many and diverse things. For this reason the judgment of the intellect concerning things to be done is not determined to one thing only. It follows, in short, that all intellectual beings have freedom of choice.

Furthermore, certain things lack liberty of judgment, either because they have no judgment at all, as plants and stones, or because they have a judgment determined by nature to one thing, as do irrational animals; the sheep, by natural estimation, judges the wolf to be harmful to it, and in consequence of this judgment flees from the wolf; and so it is in other cases. Hence, so far as matters of action are concerned, whatever things possess judgment that is not determined to one thing by nature are of necessity endowed with freedom of choice. And such are all intellectual beings. For the intellect apprehends not only this or that good, but good itself, as common to all things. Now, the intellect, through the form apprehended, moves the will; and in all things mover and moved must be proportionate to one another. It follows that the will of an intellectual substance will not be determined by nature to anything except the good as common to all things. So it is possible for the will to be inclined toward anything whatever that is presented to it under the aspect of good, there being no natural determination to the contrary to prevent it. Therefore, all intellectual beings have a free will, resulting from the judgment of the intellect. And this means that they have freedom of choice, which is defined as the free judgment of reason.

So much for Catholics being muddle-headed Absolutists. And these thoughts are even younger (1270-73) than the Magna Carta (1215), which is downright Progressive for being over 750 years old. Some politicians think since Catholic hospitals are receiving federal monies, that they should just toe the line, and do what they’re told. But as Ross Douthat explains here, it isn’t that easy. Besides, obedience to unjust laws isn’t a free choice, if you have no option to choose not to obey.

Standing up for freedom is never easy. It never has been, and never will be.

St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.

Image Credit, Top: Ramirez, Investors Business Daily, 09/28/2010

  • http://breadhere.wordpress.com Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

    No offense, but you often go for the broadstroke, taking things out of context to make your point and miss the nuance and the real meaning. That is one of the very terrible things about the internet, the ability to do so with such ease, and even if you do not mean to do such a thing. I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, but given the frequency of such posts, I am not sure that I can.

    Perhaps what Frank was saying, along with a number of Dems, is not that they are against HRC (Health Care Reform, not Obamacare, a ridiculous term) but that perhaps other issues should have taken precedence.

    You can bend things to make your own point, but more and more you sound pedantic. It is a pity, as your blog was originally a source of great wisdom and insight. I miss that and I am sorry if that offends you, but it is the truth, offered in charity.

  • http://breadhere.wordpress.com Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

    I should restate that last line – that is my truth.

    • colleen

      in this lays the problem – everyone wants to define their own truth – there is only one….when we each start making our “own” truth we elevate ourselves to that of God – there is only ONE and we surely aren’t God….search for the truth – that which does not change, that which is good and right and aligned with the Creator…..

    • Frank Weathers

      Thanks Fran. As you know, I often post around things that I have read, in an attempt to make sense of the world from a Catholic perspective. I am no where near successful in that endeavor, I know. But that is the case this time around as well, as when I stumbled upon these thoughts of St. Thomas Aquinas while reading an ancient, yellowed, paperback version of Summa Contra Gentiles in between games on the Spring sports fields I know so well.

      Just as it was when I was reading John Courtney Murray, SJ, Karl Rahner, SJ, and recently, Bishop Thomas Curry.

      One doesn’t start as a pointillist, but with water colors. That’s why I often say “call me Grasshopper.” But the Grasshopper knows to turn to Aquinas…:)

  • http://breadhere.wordpress.com Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

    Aquinas is always good, always. On that we agree completely.


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