Chaplain Refuses Kmiec Communion

Chaplain Refuses Kmiec Communion May 15, 2008

In violation of Canon 912, a chaplain refused professor Kmiec communion for his advocacy of Barack Obama for President.  While I have found Professor’s Kmiec’s initial justifications particularly weak even if I share them in finality now, I think his arguments have improved.  I don’t think his arguments ever came to the point of direct support for abortion.

** I’m reopening the comments here.  I request that comments positive and negative attempt to stick as closely to the topic at hand as possible.  Volumes have been written about variations on this topic.  This topic is relatively straight forward.  A man with a long and distinguished career in the pro-life movement was refused communion at an event by a chaplain.  As best I can surmise, there was no existing pastoral relationship between the two men.  He was denied communion putatively because he endorse Barack Obama and has articles questioning whether the abortion issue should be the preeminent issue in this particular election.  Feel free to reference Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter on this topic, USCCB documents and other resources.  **

Update 1:  Canonist Ed Peters largely concurs here.  (HT: Pro Ecclessia and Southern Appeal)

Update 2:  CatholicDemocrats.org and a number of other outlets are using this incident to also criticize the denial of communion for Governor Sebelius of Kansas.  I spoke to the matter of Governor Sebelius here.  While those with only bare familiarity of these issues may think they are similar, they are not for reasons I will not offer a comprehensive proof for here.  For those who should be knowledgable in these areas, I consider it an act of bad faith to compare them for the circumstances are night and day different.  Conflation does not serve the interests of truth, be it conflating Professor Kmiec’s endorsement of Obama to obstinate and manifest support of abortion or conflating the action taken against Governor Sebelius as a brazen, partisan act, as if it lacked any choices on her part after numerous warnings over a period of numerous months by her proper pastor, the Archbishop of Kansas City.


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  • Policraticus

    Some may retort that, under Canon 915, the refusal was legitimate. However, the provisions of 915 clearly have not been met. The actions of this chaplain are disgraceful.

  • Policraticus

    Some may retort that, under Canon 915, the refusal was legitimate. However, the provisions of 915 clearly have not been met. The actions of this chaplain are disgraceful.

  • However, the provisions of 915 clearly have not been met.

    Precisely. There’s no point in refuting the obvious. We’ll see if there are some good faith questions that arise from this. Hopefully the bishop (or religious order) addresses this chaplain swiftly.

  • However, the provisions of 915 clearly have not been met.

    Precisely. There’s no point in refuting the obvious. We’ll see if there are some good faith questions that arise from this. Hopefully the bishop (or religious order) addresses this chaplain swiftly.

  • Wow. One wonders what else this chaplain is up to.

  • Wow. One wonders what else this chaplain is up to.

  • Rita

    Well I agree with this chaplain. He was only doing what he is suppose to.

  • Rita

    Well I agree with this chaplain. He was only doing what he is suppose to.

  • Policraticus

    Well I agree with this chaplain. He was only doing what he is suppose to.

    How so? Please be specific.

  • Policraticus

    Well I agree with this chaplain. He was only doing what he is suppose to.

    How so? Please be specific.

  • Joe

    Prof. Kmiec says: Are there “other important moral issues involving human life and dignity”? The list is long: the death and economic waste associated with an unjustified war in Iraq; failure to be good stewards of the environment; promoting a tax code that favors the wealthy and undermines a family wage; perpetuating an immigration system that divides families and overlooks the exploitation of labor and more.

    While I’m not an Obama supporter, I think faithful Catholics can support Obama. But I fail to see how Prof. Kmiec reconciles the above statement with his initial support for Romney. Romney’s Iraq policy was not significantly different than McCain’s. Romney was less concerned about environmental issues. Romney’s immigration policy was less compassionate than McCain’s. Kmiec’s inexplicable Romney > Obama > McCain logic prevents me from taking him very seriously in this electoral process.

  • Joe

    Prof. Kmiec says: Are there “other important moral issues involving human life and dignity”? The list is long: the death and economic waste associated with an unjustified war in Iraq; failure to be good stewards of the environment; promoting a tax code that favors the wealthy and undermines a family wage; perpetuating an immigration system that divides families and overlooks the exploitation of labor and more.

    While I’m not an Obama supporter, I think faithful Catholics can support Obama. But I fail to see how Prof. Kmiec reconciles the above statement with his initial support for Romney. Romney’s Iraq policy was not significantly different than McCain’s. Romney was less concerned about environmental issues. Romney’s immigration policy was less compassionate than McCain’s. Kmiec’s inexplicable Romney > Obama > McCain logic prevents me from taking him very seriously in this electoral process.

  • promoting a tax code that favors the wealthy

    Yeah. The unfairness of the top 2 percent of wage earners only paying about 50% of income tax is right on par with the continued slaughter of the unborn.

  • promoting a tax code that favors the wealthy

    Yeah. The unfairness of the top 2 percent of wage earners only paying about 50% of income tax is right on par with the continued slaughter of the unborn.

  • Blackadder

    “Are there ‘other important moral issues involving human life and dignity’? The list is long: the death and economic waste associated with an unjustified war in Iraq; failure to be good stewards of the environment; promoting a tax code that favors the wealthy and undermines a family wage; perpetuating an immigration system that divides families and overlooks the exploitation of labor and more.”

    The problem is, none of these issues seemed to bother Kmiec much when he was working for the Romney campaign. Yet Romney’s positions on all of these issues was at least as bad as McCain’s from Kmiec’s point of view and in several cases (e.g. immigration) was far worse. I don’t know why Kmiec is supporting Obama over McCain, but I think it’s safe to say those issues aren’t the reason.

  • Blackadder

    “Are there ‘other important moral issues involving human life and dignity’? The list is long: the death and economic waste associated with an unjustified war in Iraq; failure to be good stewards of the environment; promoting a tax code that favors the wealthy and undermines a family wage; perpetuating an immigration system that divides families and overlooks the exploitation of labor and more.”

    The problem is, none of these issues seemed to bother Kmiec much when he was working for the Romney campaign. Yet Romney’s positions on all of these issues was at least as bad as McCain’s from Kmiec’s point of view and in several cases (e.g. immigration) was far worse. I don’t know why Kmiec is supporting Obama over McCain, but I think it’s safe to say those issues aren’t the reason.

  • Awesome – so I guess chaplains can now, at their discretion, now refuse communion to Catholic National Review columnists who are insufficiently opposed to torture? Any Catholic politician who has failed to oppose the Iraq War?

    Is a Catholic politician opposed to the pastor’s social justice group? Back to the pews with you.

    The Communion line is going to get pretty short, unless Bishops put an end to waging the culture war during Mass.

  • Awesome – so I guess chaplains can now, at their discretion, now refuse communion to Catholic National Review columnists who are insufficiently opposed to torture? Any Catholic politician who has failed to oppose the Iraq War?

    Is a Catholic politician opposed to the pastor’s social justice group? Back to the pews with you.

    The Communion line is going to get pretty short, unless Bishops put an end to waging the culture war during Mass.

  • No Matt. Chaplains may refuse communion to those who do not behave as Republican hacks. Professor Kmiec has proven himself to be pro-life. But he is not serving the GOP’s interests at this moment. No communion for him. Senator Rick Santorum can support pro-abortion Arlen Spector against pro-life Congressman Toomey. That’s okay.

  • No Matt. Chaplains may refuse communion to those who do not behave as Republican hacks. Professor Kmiec has proven himself to be pro-life. But he is not serving the GOP’s interests at this moment. No communion for him. Senator Rick Santorum can support pro-abortion Arlen Spector against pro-life Congressman Toomey. That’s okay.

  • In fact, I think I’ll recommend to my pastor to refuse communion to any admitted Republican, until they publicly sign a renunciation of support for Unjust War, Torture, and Racism.

    Of course, this will be countered by the Republicans in my parish, who will agitate for the denial of communion to anyone who has ever voted for a Democrat, until such time as they sign a renunciation of support for Abortion, Gay ‘marriage,’ and Pre-Marital sex.

    So, I imagine Mass is going to turn into everyone checking carefully who receives, and the pastor asking for ID and checking a book to verify that the recipient is authorized to receive; meanwhile, we’ll all thank God that we are not like other men, especially those reprobate Demoncrats/Rethuglicans who are surely going to hell on roller skates.

  • In fact, I think I’ll recommend to my pastor to refuse communion to any admitted Republican, until they publicly sign a renunciation of support for Unjust War, Torture, and Racism.

    Of course, this will be countered by the Republicans in my parish, who will agitate for the denial of communion to anyone who has ever voted for a Democrat, until such time as they sign a renunciation of support for Abortion, Gay ‘marriage,’ and Pre-Marital sex.

    So, I imagine Mass is going to turn into everyone checking carefully who receives, and the pastor asking for ID and checking a book to verify that the recipient is authorized to receive; meanwhile, we’ll all thank God that we are not like other men, especially those reprobate Demoncrats/Rethuglicans who are surely going to hell on roller skates.

  • BTW, I would really like the name of that chaplain

  • BTW, I would really like the name of that chaplain

  • Professor Kmiec didn’t offer the chaplain’s name in the article.

  • Professor Kmiec didn’t offer the chaplain’s name in the article.

  • To whom it may concern:

    I intend to vote for Senator Obama in the general election this November.

    If, by that act and my public declaration of my intention to commit that act, there is an attempt to deny me access to the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, I hereby announce that I have the means, ability, will, and intent to procure for myself a private supply of the sacrament so that I may receive on a regular basis. Under no conditions will I reveal the means I have to cause this, but it will be done. My collaborators in this will act secretly and are not afraid of any threat, edict from any authority that would obstruct us. I and others intend to extend this access to the sacrament to others in the same situation that are publicly denied.

  • To whom it may concern:

    I intend to vote for Senator Obama in the general election this November.

    If, by that act and my public declaration of my intention to commit that act, there is an attempt to deny me access to the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, I hereby announce that I have the means, ability, will, and intent to procure for myself a private supply of the sacrament so that I may receive on a regular basis. Under no conditions will I reveal the means I have to cause this, but it will be done. My collaborators in this will act secretly and are not afraid of any threat, edict from any authority that would obstruct us. I and others intend to extend this access to the sacrament to others in the same situation that are publicly denied.

  • Wow.

  • Wow.

  • Katherine,

    Are you going to get it through women priests? 🙂

    Just kidding.

  • Katherine,

    Are you going to get it through women priests? 🙂

    Just kidding.

  • Morning’s Minion

    This is incredible. Who is this chaplain and who is his ordinary? What an ignorant thing to do. And yes, I am still waiting for Kathryn Jean Lopez to be denied communion for her manifest public support for torture– which fits the canon far more closely.

  • Morning’s Minion

    This is incredible. Who is this chaplain and who is his ordinary? What an ignorant thing to do. And yes, I am still waiting for Kathryn Jean Lopez to be denied communion for her manifest public support for torture– which fits the canon far more closely.

  • MM – it’s worse than you think: I’m of the opinion that using the Blessed Sacrament to make a political point is sacrilege, and taking God’s Name in vain.

  • MM – it’s worse than you think: I’m of the opinion that using the Blessed Sacrament to make a political point is sacrilege, and taking God’s Name in vain.

  • Morning’s Minion

    Katherine– you need not over-react. There is zero grounds, zero, for you to be denied the sacrament for this reason. To say otherwise is itself an abuse of the sacrament. As I keep saying, this issue is so big in the US only because some Catholics are influenced by the approach of the evangelical right.

  • Morning’s Minion

    Katherine– you need not over-react. There is zero grounds, zero, for you to be denied the sacrament for this reason. To say otherwise is itself an abuse of the sacrament. As I keep saying, this issue is so big in the US only because some Catholics are influenced by the approach of the evangelical right.

  • Similar to what Morning’s Minion said, Katherine, this particular Chaplain seems (if I may be blunt) like a something of a jackass. I wouldn’t worry too much about this becoming a widespread trend in the US.

  • Similar to what Morning’s Minion said, Katherine, this particular Chaplain seems (if I may be blunt) like a something of a jackass. I wouldn’t worry too much about this becoming a widespread trend in the US.

  • Nick

    Let’s face it, these benighted people will vote Obama no matter what; they’ve been programed (brainwashed) to do and the Archangel Gabriel himself couldn’t dissuade them. They simply don’t know that they don’t know! Ignorance, not idleness, is the devil’s workshop. Pray for these poor misguided souls.

    M.Z.: I don’t mind obnoxious twits. Well I do. But I do get really ticked at people using three different psuedonyms, particularly when I told them no more than an hour ago to use just one.

  • Nick

    Let’s face it, these benighted people will vote Obama no matter what; they’ve been programed (brainwashed) to do and the Archangel Gabriel himself couldn’t dissuade them. They simply don’t know that they don’t know! Ignorance, not idleness, is the devil’s workshop. Pray for these poor misguided souls.

    M.Z.: I don’t mind obnoxious twits. Well I do. But I do get really ticked at people using three different psuedonyms, particularly when I told them no more than an hour ago to use just one.

  • What’s the difference between the action of this Chaplain and that of Archbishop Naumann of Kansas City?

  • What’s the difference between the action of this Chaplain and that of Archbishop Naumann of Kansas City?

  • Without offering extended commentary and opening other cans of worms, a particular difference is that Sibelius’s acts were official actions on specific pieces of legistlation.

  • Without offering extended commentary and opening other cans of worms, a particular difference is that Sibelius’s acts were official actions on specific pieces of legistlation.

  • jh

    “Arlen Spector against pro-life ”

    Kathernine I dont think we have to worry about SPector going to COmmunion since he is Jewish

  • jh

    “Arlen Spector against pro-life ”

    Kathernine I dont think we have to worry about SPector going to COmmunion since he is Jewish

  • jh

    “To say otherwise is itself an abuse of the sacrament. As I keep saying, this issue is so big in the US only because some Catholics are influenced by the approach of the evangelical right.”

    What is that based on?

  • jh

    “To say otherwise is itself an abuse of the sacrament. As I keep saying, this issue is so big in the US only because some Catholics are influenced by the approach of the evangelical right.”

    What is that based on?

  • jh – But Rick Santorum is a Catholic, yes?

  • jh – But Rick Santorum is a Catholic, yes?

  • jh

    Yes he is. Make no mistakje Mr Talbot I am not supporting what perhaps this Chapalin did. Let me just say I am not exactly taking Mr kimec at face value at all things. FOr all his high minded POntifications he supported Romney while Romney attacked McCain for position far closer to the Catholic SOcial Justice Ethic

    I am of a mind that this is the something that should be under the juridisdiction of a Bishop not just a Chaplin.

    However people here have taken this one alleged incident and decided to attack Republicans, the Right etc. PItiful!!!! Really Pitiful

    LOrd Katerine up htere is about to go Rebel on the Church with her dramatic announcement. Give me a break

  • jh

    Yes he is. Make no mistakje Mr Talbot I am not supporting what perhaps this Chapalin did. Let me just say I am not exactly taking Mr kimec at face value at all things. FOr all his high minded POntifications he supported Romney while Romney attacked McCain for position far closer to the Catholic SOcial Justice Ethic

    I am of a mind that this is the something that should be under the juridisdiction of a Bishop not just a Chaplin.

    However people here have taken this one alleged incident and decided to attack Republicans, the Right etc. PItiful!!!! Really Pitiful

    LOrd Katerine up htere is about to go Rebel on the Church with her dramatic announcement. Give me a break

  • ** I’m reopening the comments here. I request that comments positive and negative attempt to stick as closely to the topic at hand as possible. Volumes have been written about variations on this topic. This topic is relatively straight forward. A man with a long and distinguished career in the pro-life movement was refused communion at an event by a chaplain. As best I can surmise, there was no existing pastoral relationship between the two men. He was denied communion putatively because he endorse Barack Obama and has articles questioning whether the abortion issue should be the preeminent issue in this particular election. Feel free to reference Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter on this topic, USCCB documents and other resources. **

  • ** I’m reopening the comments here. I request that comments positive and negative attempt to stick as closely to the topic at hand as possible. Volumes have been written about variations on this topic. This topic is relatively straight forward. A man with a long and distinguished career in the pro-life movement was refused communion at an event by a chaplain. As best I can surmise, there was no existing pastoral relationship between the two men. He was denied communion putatively because he endorse Barack Obama and has articles questioning whether the abortion issue should be the preeminent issue in this particular election. Feel free to reference Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter on this topic, USCCB documents and other resources. **

  • Pingback: Southern Appeal » “Chaplain Refuses Kmiec Communion”()

  • Pingback: Southern Appeal » “Chaplain Refuses Kmiec Communion”()

  • It is clear that the chaplain overstepped his bounds. Kmiec ought not have been denied Communion.

    But this does not mean Kmiec is gravely mistaken in his endorsement. The public support of abortion is part and parcel of Barack Obama’s campaign. It takes a great intellectual maneuvering to avoid (at least implicitly) the pro-abortion agenda that comes with support of Obama’s candidcacy (witness the endorsement of NARAL). One of the reasons Obama receives such strong support from the pro-abortion left is because they know he will not do anything to threaten a women’s right to kill her child. Kmiec weighs the relative goods and nevertheless thinks a vote for Obama is proper. This is his right, as long as he does not support abortion explicitly. But how he does not support abortion explicitly is less clear, and this is the source of disagreement.

    Ugh.

  • It is clear that the chaplain overstepped his bounds. Kmiec ought not have been denied Communion.

    But this does not mean Kmiec is gravely mistaken in his endorsement. The public support of abortion is part and parcel of Barack Obama’s campaign. It takes a great intellectual maneuvering to avoid (at least implicitly) the pro-abortion agenda that comes with support of Obama’s candidcacy (witness the endorsement of NARAL). One of the reasons Obama receives such strong support from the pro-abortion left is because they know he will not do anything to threaten a women’s right to kill her child. Kmiec weighs the relative goods and nevertheless thinks a vote for Obama is proper. This is his right, as long as he does not support abortion explicitly. But how he does not support abortion explicitly is less clear, and this is the source of disagreement.

    Ugh.

  • This topic is unworthy of discussion and the chaplain in question is unworthy of his office. Rather than dialogue with the likes of this chaplain or those who support him, decent people should just take matters into their own hands.

    Christians have a general obligation to obey governments that follow the rule of law even when they disagree with the law. Tyrants on the other hand, may be assasinated (per Thomas Aquinas). The same principle (I’m not saying action…the same principle) applies to Churchmen.

    I have been going to communion for eight decades. When I arrived in DC, church made Blacks go to communion after whites and the government denied me the right to vote. I’m not going to have some little twerp in California tell me I can’t go to communion because of how I vote.

    Period. End of conversation.

  • This topic is unworthy of discussion and the chaplain in question is unworthy of his office. Rather than dialogue with the likes of this chaplain or those who support him, decent people should just take matters into their own hands.

    Christians have a general obligation to obey governments that follow the rule of law even when they disagree with the law. Tyrants on the other hand, may be assasinated (per Thomas Aquinas). The same principle (I’m not saying action…the same principle) applies to Churchmen.

    I have been going to communion for eight decades. When I arrived in DC, church made Blacks go to communion after whites and the government denied me the right to vote. I’m not going to have some little twerp in California tell me I can’t go to communion because of how I vote.

    Period. End of conversation.

  • Ed Peteres says that Kmiec is owed an apology:

    http://www.canonlaw.info/2008/05/was-prof-douglas-kmiec-really-denied.html

    For me that is the end of the debate.

  • Ed Peteres says that Kmiec is owed an apology:

    http://www.canonlaw.info/2008/05/was-prof-douglas-kmiec-really-denied.html

    For me that is the end of the debate.

  • Policraticus

    Feddie,

    Thanks for the link. I’m glad that this situation can be looked at in light of Catholic doctrine and Canon Law.

  • Policraticus

    Feddie,

    Thanks for the link. I’m glad that this situation can be looked at in light of Catholic doctrine and Canon Law.

  • radicalcatholicmom

    Very very very disturbing.

  • radicalcatholicmom

    Very very very disturbing.

  • jh

    Katherine,

    I think this is very worthy of discussion. We cannot hide from it. Just wait in a decade when people that advocate certain right to die laws are added to the list. That day is coming. In the end I like how PEters put it:

    “I suppose it’s inevitable that, with steps finally being taken toward the enforcement of Canon 915, some hotheads are going to misapply the law. But that’s not the law’s fault; that’s bad catechesis, something over which even priests can stumble.”

    Misapplications of the law will occur no doubt and I suspect we shall see more of this as we move forward and Authority having to set some precedent here

  • jh

    Katherine,

    I think this is very worthy of discussion. We cannot hide from it. Just wait in a decade when people that advocate certain right to die laws are added to the list. That day is coming. In the end I like how PEters put it:

    “I suppose it’s inevitable that, with steps finally being taken toward the enforcement of Canon 915, some hotheads are going to misapply the law. But that’s not the law’s fault; that’s bad catechesis, something over which even priests can stumble.”

    Misapplications of the law will occur no doubt and I suspect we shall see more of this as we move forward and Authority having to set some precedent here

  • Mike Petrik

    Really, I think there is broad consensus that the chaplain was seriously out of line. I know of no conservative commentator who has suggested otherwise (though I suppose there must be someone somewhere since unanimity does not occur naturally among human beings). So why the snarky political spitballs? Why are people (Katherine, Matt, and MM) assuming this chaplain had some agenda other than a misguided understanding of the interplay between abortion and Canon Law?

  • Mike Petrik

    Really, I think there is broad consensus that the chaplain was seriously out of line. I know of no conservative commentator who has suggested otherwise (though I suppose there must be someone somewhere since unanimity does not occur naturally among human beings). So why the snarky political spitballs? Why are people (Katherine, Matt, and MM) assuming this chaplain had some agenda other than a misguided understanding of the interplay between abortion and Canon Law?

  • CK

    While I’m not an Obama supporter, I think faithful Catholics can support Obama.

    You gotta be kidding. How?

  • CK

    While I’m not an Obama supporter, I think faithful Catholics can support Obama.

    You gotta be kidding. How?

  • “Really, I think there is broad consensus that the chaplain was seriously out of line. I know of no conservative commentator who has suggested otherwise ”

    Really? I’m in the same place as Professor Kmiec and I have mailbox full of conservatives telling me I should be denied communion, am going to hell, and some other choice things I can’t repeat in a family blog like this.

    Broad consesus my hiney.

  • “Really, I think there is broad consensus that the chaplain was seriously out of line. I know of no conservative commentator who has suggested otherwise ”

    Really? I’m in the same place as Professor Kmiec and I have mailbox full of conservatives telling me I should be denied communion, am going to hell, and some other choice things I can’t repeat in a family blog like this.

    Broad consesus my hiney.

  • Mike Petrik

    CK,
    I suggest you read Kmiec’s explanation. It is important to understand that while the gravity of abortion may outweigh all other issues, and may even outweigh the combined weight of all other issues, one must still evaluate the practical consequences relative to each issue. To illustrate simplisticly: Let’s assume that Candidate X is right on Issue A but wrong on Issue B; and Candidate Y is right on Issue B but wrong on Issue A. Let’s further assume that Issue A carries a moral gravity index of 10 whereas Issue B carries a moral gravity index of 2. One can (and arguably should) support Candidate Y if one concludes that both Candidate X and Candidate Y have a 5% chance of resolving Issue A while both Candidate X and Candidate Y have an 80% chance of resolving Issue B. The Church can and does give much guidance on how one should or must assign moral gravity indexes (though even there the Church rightly eschews mathematical precision), but the assessment of the relative likelihoods of various outcomes among candidates falls pretty much exclusively inside the rhelm of prudential judgment.
    Now I’m the first to admit that some Catholics almost certainly use the second calculus as cover for what is in reality an application of a disordered first calculus, but certainly not all; and charitable presumptions in such things are appropriate, I think.
    Finally, please understand that I disagree with Kmiec’s calculus, even vehemently disagree, but I think we should be cautious about assuming any failure to follow Church teaching.

  • Mike Petrik

    CK,
    I suggest you read Kmiec’s explanation. It is important to understand that while the gravity of abortion may outweigh all other issues, and may even outweigh the combined weight of all other issues, one must still evaluate the practical consequences relative to each issue. To illustrate simplisticly: Let’s assume that Candidate X is right on Issue A but wrong on Issue B; and Candidate Y is right on Issue B but wrong on Issue A. Let’s further assume that Issue A carries a moral gravity index of 10 whereas Issue B carries a moral gravity index of 2. One can (and arguably should) support Candidate Y if one concludes that both Candidate X and Candidate Y have a 5% chance of resolving Issue A while both Candidate X and Candidate Y have an 80% chance of resolving Issue B. The Church can and does give much guidance on how one should or must assign moral gravity indexes (though even there the Church rightly eschews mathematical precision), but the assessment of the relative likelihoods of various outcomes among candidates falls pretty much exclusively inside the rhelm of prudential judgment.
    Now I’m the first to admit that some Catholics almost certainly use the second calculus as cover for what is in reality an application of a disordered first calculus, but certainly not all; and charitable presumptions in such things are appropriate, I think.
    Finally, please understand that I disagree with Kmiec’s calculus, even vehemently disagree, but I think we should be cautious about assuming any failure to follow Church teaching.

  • JC

    Obama supports smothering born alive infants. The man is pure evil. Anyone who endorses him is, by default, endorsing his support of Death, which goes beyond even NARAL’s limitations. I say, good for that chaplain!

  • JC

    Obama supports smothering born alive infants. The man is pure evil. Anyone who endorses him is, by default, endorsing his support of Death, which goes beyond even NARAL’s limitations. I say, good for that chaplain!

  • Drillbit #24

    How long before this “chaplain” shows up in Irondale, Alabama to receive the “EWTN Man of Courage” Award for 2008?

  • Drillbit #24

    How long before this “chaplain” shows up in Irondale, Alabama to receive the “EWTN Man of Courage” Award for 2008?

  • Blackadder

    “Anyone who endorses him is, by default, endorsing his support of Death.”

    Not really, no. The fact that you endorse a candidate does not mean you endorse all of his positions, and according to Catholic doctrine, a person may still support a candidate who takes political positions inconsistent with Church teaching so long as 1) you don’t support the politician *because* he takes this position, and 2) there is a proportionate reason for doing so.

    One can argue whether there is a proportionate reason to justify support for Obama (I would say no). But it is wrong to say that anyone who endorses him is, thereby, endorsing his support of Death. That’s just bad moral theology.

  • Blackadder

    “Anyone who endorses him is, by default, endorsing his support of Death.”

    Not really, no. The fact that you endorse a candidate does not mean you endorse all of his positions, and according to Catholic doctrine, a person may still support a candidate who takes political positions inconsistent with Church teaching so long as 1) you don’t support the politician *because* he takes this position, and 2) there is a proportionate reason for doing so.

    One can argue whether there is a proportionate reason to justify support for Obama (I would say no). But it is wrong to say that anyone who endorses him is, thereby, endorsing his support of Death. That’s just bad moral theology.

  • Mike Petrik

    I agree with Blackladder on all counts, including his application of proportionate reason. I am willing to give fellow Catholics who come out differently the benefit of the doubt, by assuming — till they give me reason otherwise — that they are applying the appropriate calculus in good faith, recognizing that some do and many don’t, but that I’m ill-equipped to distinguish with confidence between the two groups.

  • Mike Petrik

    I agree with Blackladder on all counts, including his application of proportionate reason. I am willing to give fellow Catholics who come out differently the benefit of the doubt, by assuming — till they give me reason otherwise — that they are applying the appropriate calculus in good faith, recognizing that some do and many don’t, but that I’m ill-equipped to distinguish with confidence between the two groups.

  • Elise B

    Mr Kmiec is obviously an important Catholic figure. His arguments for ignoring the intrinsic evil of abortion against other considerations – which involve quite impressive conscience twisting – could, and will certainly, influence Catholic voters. In this he is causing scandal. That may be the reason for the chaplain’s action.

  • Elise B

    Mr Kmiec is obviously an important Catholic figure. His arguments for ignoring the intrinsic evil of abortion against other considerations – which involve quite impressive conscience twisting – could, and will certainly, influence Catholic voters. In this he is causing scandal. That may be the reason for the chaplain’s action.

  • Liam

    Important reminder: No man is *pure* evil, even for rhetorical emphasis. Even Judas, Hitler, Stalin, et cet. Only in a Calvinist mindset could one think otherwise.

    That said, a man’s position on endorsing sticking scissors in an unborn baby’s brain can fairly be described as purely evil.

    The funny thing about man is that, like the tares and the wheat, it’s not all sorted out until his end.

    All that said, Kmiec was very wrongly denied communion. If there is going to be more vigorous enforcement of the canons, excessive zeal will have to be guarded against to avoid a consequentialist manipulation of the canons to make points they are not designed to make. It’s a funny thing how zeal can cause us to undermine the very thing we seek to protect. Because the Evil One sends temptations in pairs so that we may run from one and flee to the other?

  • Liam

    Important reminder: No man is *pure* evil, even for rhetorical emphasis. Even Judas, Hitler, Stalin, et cet. Only in a Calvinist mindset could one think otherwise.

    That said, a man’s position on endorsing sticking scissors in an unborn baby’s brain can fairly be described as purely evil.

    The funny thing about man is that, like the tares and the wheat, it’s not all sorted out until his end.

    All that said, Kmiec was very wrongly denied communion. If there is going to be more vigorous enforcement of the canons, excessive zeal will have to be guarded against to avoid a consequentialist manipulation of the canons to make points they are not designed to make. It’s a funny thing how zeal can cause us to undermine the very thing we seek to protect. Because the Evil One sends temptations in pairs so that we may run from one and flee to the other?

  • jh

    THe proportionate reasons I suppose is the key. I generally have to find real big reason to support someone that is for an intrinisc evil such as Abortion.

    In the late 90’s I had to do that. We had a guy that was very Pro-Life as to the issue of abortion. That man was David Duke (Former Klan guy and Racist) and he was running for GOvernor against the PRO-CHOICE and CORRUPT to boot Edwin Edwards

    I felt there was Proportionate reason to vote for the Pro-Abortion guy then needless to say. In reality I find it a rare occurance. However it appears others might have as you out it a different Calculus

  • jh

    THe proportionate reasons I suppose is the key. I generally have to find real big reason to support someone that is for an intrinisc evil such as Abortion.

    In the late 90’s I had to do that. We had a guy that was very Pro-Life as to the issue of abortion. That man was David Duke (Former Klan guy and Racist) and he was running for GOvernor against the PRO-CHOICE and CORRUPT to boot Edwin Edwards

    I felt there was Proportionate reason to vote for the Pro-Abortion guy then needless to say. In reality I find it a rare occurance. However it appears others might have as you out it a different Calculus

  • Liam

    One of the parts of the calculus is how much leverage the office has to effect or prevent change with regard to an issue – how proximate in causality the office is, as it were. Especially considered against other variables or proximate causes. An issue may be of the utmost gravity, but the office may have low proximate causality with regard to it. By contrast, a somewhat lesser issue may be one with which the office has much greater proximate causality.

  • Liam

    One of the parts of the calculus is how much leverage the office has to effect or prevent change with regard to an issue – how proximate in causality the office is, as it were. Especially considered against other variables or proximate causes. An issue may be of the utmost gravity, but the office may have low proximate causality with regard to it. By contrast, a somewhat lesser issue may be one with which the office has much greater proximate causality.

  • jh

    Liam,

    I think that is a good point. WHich is why I wonder why we spend so much time on whether a person lets say running for Congress or President supports the State Execution. 99 pecent of that is occuring at the state level. That goes for people that make that a issue whether pro or con.

    I suppoe one could make an argument for someone that intends to use the BUlly Puplit to speak against State sanctioned execuction but who on the radar is going to do that. That would be indeed I suppose be valid. ON the flip side one would oppose someone that would use the BUlly Puplit aspect of the office to oppose Catholic Teaching

  • jh

    Liam,

    I think that is a good point. WHich is why I wonder why we spend so much time on whether a person lets say running for Congress or President supports the State Execution. 99 pecent of that is occuring at the state level. That goes for people that make that a issue whether pro or con.

    I suppoe one could make an argument for someone that intends to use the BUlly Puplit to speak against State sanctioned execuction but who on the radar is going to do that. That would be indeed I suppose be valid. ON the flip side one would oppose someone that would use the BUlly Puplit aspect of the office to oppose Catholic Teaching

  • CK

    Mike Petrik:

    It is important to understand that while the gravity of abortion may outweigh all other issues, and may even outweigh the combined weight of all other issues, one must still evaluate the practical consequences relative to each issue.

    Look, we’re talking here about a known candidate who has continued to this day to even desire the death of an abortion surviving infant within the very institution trusted by the state to come to the aid of every human being – to leave him to die on a cold utility room shelf of that institution. That has been decided by this candidate to go forth with into an administration that will ensure that such things will continue to be permitted…with even more laws against the compassionate and morally responsible. We know that. It is a given; understood. If you use your free will to enable such horror to be completed; activate itself through this man’s authority you at least are holding the coat of the killers. This is the greatest horror/abomination in the eyes of the Creator EVER! And He should be permitted to be cavalierly received by such persons by their very position know with the greatest of clarity this evil? And the minister knows of such public scandal that consciously supports and enables such grave evil? A loving Protestant would be more worthy!

    I’ll speak in place, in defense of all of those tortured babies who will have instruments stuck in their little heads or just left cruelly to die because they’re silent in these comment zones. They won’t benefit in the future either by this blah, blah, blah:

    One can (and arguably should) support Candidate Y if one concludes that both Candidate X and Candidate Y have a 5% chance of resolving Issue A while both Candidate X and Candidate Y have an 80% chance of resolving Issue B. The Church can and does give much guidance on how one should or must assign moral gravity indexes (though even there the Church rightly eschews mathematical precision), but the assessment of the relative likelihoods of various outcomes among candidates falls pretty much exclusively inside the rhelm of prudential judgment.

    Meanwhile the same people watch the great heroics it is taking to get one 8 months pregnant mother out of her buried “grave” of some 50 hours in the China quake disaster…or the rescue from another concrete womb of one other infant there. How symbolic a juxtaposition to our own permissive slaughter. “And the people said Amen” to that continued slaughter with their votes. This is a country that has also massacred a comparable percentage of their own. Watch out America for your own future. It appears that that God Who is so “mathematically precise” is moving a bit more aggressively these days against abusers of the innocent than you might like to believe. JPII warned of the greatest confrontation between evil and good that is taking place now in these our own times. He warned to choose life….or else. The lines couldn’t be more darkly drawn….but the equivocators need to be shocked into the right choice….for their own good.

  • CK

    Mike Petrik:

    It is important to understand that while the gravity of abortion may outweigh all other issues, and may even outweigh the combined weight of all other issues, one must still evaluate the practical consequences relative to each issue.

    Look, we’re talking here about a known candidate who has continued to this day to even desire the death of an abortion surviving infant within the very institution trusted by the state to come to the aid of every human being – to leave him to die on a cold utility room shelf of that institution. That has been decided by this candidate to go forth with into an administration that will ensure that such things will continue to be permitted…with even more laws against the compassionate and morally responsible. We know that. It is a given; understood. If you use your free will to enable such horror to be completed; activate itself through this man’s authority you at least are holding the coat of the killers. This is the greatest horror/abomination in the eyes of the Creator EVER! And He should be permitted to be cavalierly received by such persons by their very position know with the greatest of clarity this evil? And the minister knows of such public scandal that consciously supports and enables such grave evil? A loving Protestant would be more worthy!

    I’ll speak in place, in defense of all of those tortured babies who will have instruments stuck in their little heads or just left cruelly to die because they’re silent in these comment zones. They won’t benefit in the future either by this blah, blah, blah:

    One can (and arguably should) support Candidate Y if one concludes that both Candidate X and Candidate Y have a 5% chance of resolving Issue A while both Candidate X and Candidate Y have an 80% chance of resolving Issue B. The Church can and does give much guidance on how one should or must assign moral gravity indexes (though even there the Church rightly eschews mathematical precision), but the assessment of the relative likelihoods of various outcomes among candidates falls pretty much exclusively inside the rhelm of prudential judgment.

    Meanwhile the same people watch the great heroics it is taking to get one 8 months pregnant mother out of her buried “grave” of some 50 hours in the China quake disaster…or the rescue from another concrete womb of one other infant there. How symbolic a juxtaposition to our own permissive slaughter. “And the people said Amen” to that continued slaughter with their votes. This is a country that has also massacred a comparable percentage of their own. Watch out America for your own future. It appears that that God Who is so “mathematically precise” is moving a bit more aggressively these days against abusers of the innocent than you might like to believe. JPII warned of the greatest confrontation between evil and good that is taking place now in these our own times. He warned to choose life….or else. The lines couldn’t be more darkly drawn….but the equivocators need to be shocked into the right choice….for their own good.

  • Tom Wilkins

    By scolding Prof Kmiec from the pulpit, the chaplain also ran afoul of the US tax code. Organizations with 502 (3)(c) status may lobby and weigh in on specific issues, but they are not permitted to support or oppose specific candidates running for public office.

  • Tom Wilkins

    By scolding Prof Kmiec from the pulpit, the chaplain also ran afoul of the US tax code. Organizations with 502 (3)(c) status may lobby and weigh in on specific issues, but they are not permitted to support or oppose specific candidates running for public office.

  • JC

    M.Z.: I don’t owe you a forum. Since you have already called me a communist, I don’t see why I should disappoint you and liberally offer your emotive a hearing.

  • JC

    M.Z.: I don’t owe you a forum. Since you have already called me a communist, I don’t see why I should disappoint you and liberally offer your emotive a hearing.

  • HA

    I’m in the same place as Professor Kmiec and I have mailbox full of conservatives telling me I should be denied communion, am going to hell, and some other choice things I can’t repeat in a family blog like this…Broad consesus my hiney.

    Spoken with all the logic one would expect from Catholics for Obama. Let’s suppose, just for the sake of supposition, that 90% of Catholics were in agreement that Katherine’s views didn’t warrant hate mail. That would still be a broad consensus by most anyone’s definition, and yet it would leave over five million Catholics in the US to write nasty emails to their twisted hearts’ content. Even when multiplied through by the small percentage of Catholics who are aware of her politics and capable of emailing her, that’s enough to pack many a mailbox.

  • HA

    I’m in the same place as Professor Kmiec and I have mailbox full of conservatives telling me I should be denied communion, am going to hell, and some other choice things I can’t repeat in a family blog like this…Broad consesus my hiney.

    Spoken with all the logic one would expect from Catholics for Obama. Let’s suppose, just for the sake of supposition, that 90% of Catholics were in agreement that Katherine’s views didn’t warrant hate mail. That would still be a broad consensus by most anyone’s definition, and yet it would leave over five million Catholics in the US to write nasty emails to their twisted hearts’ content. Even when multiplied through by the small percentage of Catholics who are aware of her politics and capable of emailing her, that’s enough to pack many a mailbox.

  • HA

    By the way, is Prof Kmiec as scatter-brained in person as he seems in print? The essay in question is all over the map — one minute it’s about being denied communion, the next Kmiec is offering a DailyKos posting as indicative of Obama being a “Vatican II” kind of politician because he “rattles skeletons”, and then it’s on to Obama’s potential beheading, and so on. And that’s just the first half. Best of luck to anyone who ever had to read one of his legal briefs. I find it curious that MZ finds his arguments to be getting more cogent — as for myself, I find the opposite to be the case, and given how little I thought of his initial endorsement, I would have hardly though that possible.

    Now, I realize that asking for coherence from a Republican/Catholic/Obama-booster is perhaps asking for too much, and if the man was denied communion unjustly — as seems to be the case — then the chaplain surely needs to be corrected, but given the totality of Kmiec’s recent record (especially in light of what Joe and the CrankyCon pointed out above and what bloggers like DarwinCatholic have written about), is it too much to ask to withhold condemnation until we hear the other side of the story?

  • HA

    By the way, is Prof Kmiec as scatter-brained in person as he seems in print? The essay in question is all over the map — one minute it’s about being denied communion, the next Kmiec is offering a DailyKos posting as indicative of Obama being a “Vatican II” kind of politician because he “rattles skeletons”, and then it’s on to Obama’s potential beheading, and so on. And that’s just the first half. Best of luck to anyone who ever had to read one of his legal briefs. I find it curious that MZ finds his arguments to be getting more cogent — as for myself, I find the opposite to be the case, and given how little I thought of his initial endorsement, I would have hardly though that possible.

    Now, I realize that asking for coherence from a Republican/Catholic/Obama-booster is perhaps asking for too much, and if the man was denied communion unjustly — as seems to be the case — then the chaplain surely needs to be corrected, but given the totality of Kmiec’s recent record (especially in light of what Joe and the CrankyCon pointed out above and what bloggers like DarwinCatholic have written about), is it too much to ask to withhold condemnation until we hear the other side of the story?

  • Greg

    I’m sorry to say that many of the commentators here are hopeless idiots. This professor’s support of Obama has done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to PROCURE or SUPPORT abortion.

    YOU IDIOTS. Abortion is ALREADY LEGAL. NOTHING Barack Obama says about abortion can change anything. No matter how much he worships before NARAL and other pathetic organizations claiming to protect women’s ‘rights’, abortion remains as legal as ever. No matter how much Bush pays lip service to the pro-life movement (while supporting torture, unjust wars, and the death penalty), NOTHING he says or does can actually make abortion itself illegal.

    IT IS IN THE HANDS OF THE SUPREME COURT. Only they can overturn Roe v. Wade. Even then, most states have laws in effect to make abortion legal in the event it is overturned.

    Wake up you idiots. Supporting a politician who happens to be pro-choice DOES NOT make you pro-abortion. Similarly, supporting OUR IDIOTIC PRESIDENT BUSH does not make you a stupid, pro-torture, pro-death MORON.

  • Greg

    I’m sorry to say that many of the commentators here are hopeless idiots. This professor’s support of Obama has done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to PROCURE or SUPPORT abortion.

    YOU IDIOTS. Abortion is ALREADY LEGAL. NOTHING Barack Obama says about abortion can change anything. No matter how much he worships before NARAL and other pathetic organizations claiming to protect women’s ‘rights’, abortion remains as legal as ever. No matter how much Bush pays lip service to the pro-life movement (while supporting torture, unjust wars, and the death penalty), NOTHING he says or does can actually make abortion itself illegal.

    IT IS IN THE HANDS OF THE SUPREME COURT. Only they can overturn Roe v. Wade. Even then, most states have laws in effect to make abortion legal in the event it is overturned.

    Wake up you idiots. Supporting a politician who happens to be pro-choice DOES NOT make you pro-abortion. Similarly, supporting OUR IDIOTIC PRESIDENT BUSH does not make you a stupid, pro-torture, pro-death MORON.

  • CK

    Greg:

    YOU IDIOTS. Abortion is ALREADY LEGAL. NOTHING Barack Obama says about abortion can change anything.

    Sounds like you need to do more homework on just what is legal/established and what is as yet not re: life questions. And…if you depend so much upon the Supreme Court’s future for addressing the legal holocaust, I’d suggest that that alone should give you reason to not be so passive about Mr. Obama.

    Obama’s votes and official positions deny the right to life to three categories of human beings: the unborn, the “accidentally” born and, at least in one case, the adult “unfit.” ………

    …….Obama not only opposes the right to life, his opposition is his highest priority. “The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act,” he told Planned Parenthood last July. That would make America more friendly to the abortion industry than any other country in the world.

    http://ncregister.com/site/article/14928/

  • CK

    Greg:

    YOU IDIOTS. Abortion is ALREADY LEGAL. NOTHING Barack Obama says about abortion can change anything.

    Sounds like you need to do more homework on just what is legal/established and what is as yet not re: life questions. And…if you depend so much upon the Supreme Court’s future for addressing the legal holocaust, I’d suggest that that alone should give you reason to not be so passive about Mr. Obama.

    Obama’s votes and official positions deny the right to life to three categories of human beings: the unborn, the “accidentally” born and, at least in one case, the adult “unfit.” ………

    …….Obama not only opposes the right to life, his opposition is his highest priority. “The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act,” he told Planned Parenthood last July. That would make America more friendly to the abortion industry than any other country in the world.

    http://ncregister.com/site/article/14928/

  • “HA: Spoken with all the logic one would expect from Catholics for Obama.”

    Go to hell. I’m out of here.

  • “HA: Spoken with all the logic one would expect from Catholics for Obama.”

    Go to hell. I’m out of here.

  • Franklin Jennings

    I must say, the way Obama’s supporters comport themselves convinces me ever again to strengthen my resolve and vote “none of the above”.

    What kind of candidate attracts 85yo women like that? I think I need a shower.

  • Franklin Jennings

    I must say, the way Obama’s supporters comport themselves convinces me ever again to strengthen my resolve and vote “none of the above”.

    What kind of candidate attracts 85yo women like that? I think I need a shower.

  • This thread has certainly run its course.

  • This thread has certainly run its course.