Cheating the gospel and the Church

My first encounter with cheating was in Catholic grade school. Unfortunately, that was not my last encounter. Once “cheating” is … Continued

My first encounter with cheating was in Catholic grade school. Unfortunately, that was not my last encounter. Once “cheating” is defined as “breaking the rules of behavior for temporary advantage,” Catholic America is forced to conclude that some people continue to cheat when applying the Church teaching to real life situations. This cheating is not about sin, but about how sneaky people fake their way for temporary advantage.

Here are some recent examples:

Michael Sean Winters rails against Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, telling all that she is “not pro-life.” He sets himself up as judge and executioner of a Catholic woman who honors her role to uphold the law of the land that allows choice about abortion. (Does “pro-life” mean that one must be a subversive advocating civil disobedience?) However, remember that Speaker Pelosi provided the opportunity for the vote on the Stupak Amendment that satisfied the bishops’ reservations and finally passed a long-advocated health care reform in the House. I’ll let slide Winters omission of the Gospel that says doing God’s will counts for more than just saying “Lord, Lord,” (Mt. 7:21), but where is his indignation at Catholic Republicans in the House? In the final vote, they opposed BOTH the restriction against abortion AND health care, thus pitting themselves against the bishops. (Yes, the Republicans will say that they voted in favor of restricting abortions before they voted against restricting abortions). Winters’ failed logic cheats sensible assessment.

The Manhattan Declaration denounces President Obama for associating with supporters of abortion. However, it is apparently permissible for Catholic archbishops and bishops to associate with persons who reject the gospel legitimacy of the papacy and Mary’s Immaculate Conception. While two wars are being waged, with unemployment in double digits, the financial system of the world in suspense, these religious leaders declare that abortion, stem-cell use and same sex marriage override any other Gospel value. (You won’t find Jesus saying anything about abortion or stem cells in the Gospel, but the Savior said a great deal about the homeless, the sick, and the hungry.) It’s cheating to speak pious platitudes about Christianity and ignore Jesus’ words.

Philadelphia columnist Christine M. Flowers rewards the anti-Catholic diatribes of atheists like Christopher Hitchens who see “only evil in the divine,” saying she prefers these vicious attacks to criticism of Catholic bishops for the coverup of clerical pedophilia. Such reliance on rhetorical flourishes amounts to cheating, because no matter how hard one huffs and puffs, the enduring scandal of the bishops’ failures will not be blown away. Flowers also assails the “sexism” of Newsweek that put on a cover the picture of Sarah Palin in running garb. (Palin posed for the photograph while seeking celebrity status.) And if sexism is bad (about Republican women) why is it OK when Flowers’ target is Catholic Democrat Nancy Pelosi? Consider this verbal put-down: “… St. Nancy Pelosi, who bows to kiss Pope Benedict’s ring like a good Catholic schoolgirl but fights tooth and manicured nail to make sure abortion remains universally available.” And how about her sexist remark in another article: “I’m grateful that Newsweek didn’t put Nancy Pelosi on its cover in that Palin outfit.”

Put National Right to Life Committee’s *Douglas Johnson in the cheaters’ ranks for his accusation that Speaker Pelosi advocates “money laundering.” Where I come from, referring to an Italian American Catholic by accusing him/her of a Mafia tactic constitutes a slur. You’d think that the USCCB that helps pay his salary would complain. And isn’t this a case to sound the bugle charge for Catholic League President William Donohue, to protest Thompson’s tasteless reference? When last read, however, the ever voluble Dr. Donohue was labeling MSNBC’s Chris Matthews as “over the top” in disrespect to Bishop Tobin.

And then there is the cheating by the conservative bishops about the re-translation of liturgical texts that violated the Constitution of the Church (Sacred Liturgy: 36:4). I call it “cheating” to cite every jot and tittle in Church documents when it serves your advantage but ignore the law when it doesn’t.

I think most of Catholic America is open to vigorous debate about how best to serve God’s Kingdom, but we don’t like cheaters.

*Recte

NB – The USCCB contributes funds to support the NRLC, so since such money is fungible, part of it goes to salaries. Only if Mr. Johnson is willing to open up his books and those of the 50 local state organizations, can we verify his statement that his agency receives not a dime from the bishops. Amazingly, rather than deny his slur of Italians, he glories in it. Not the kind of leader religious people would follow!

I’m not against civil disobedience, having engaged in it directly, but I ask here whether only those civil disobedience fulfill the requirements of a pro-life stance.

Bloggers have a right to be officious about phraseology, but that runs the risk of being too cute and using lawyerly obfuscations to avoid issues. For instance, if the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy is not part of the Constitution of the Church presented by the infallible pronouncements of the II Vatican Council, why is it called “Constitution”?

Finally, check page 3 of the Manhattan Declaration: “Many in the present administration want to make abortions legal at any stage of fetal development, and want to provide abortions at taxpayer expense.” Supposedly, that allows a challenge to our president’s sincerity about reducing the need for abortions. It’s always a good idea to read the entire text.

About

Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo is Professor Emeritus of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at Brooklyn College and Distinguished Scholar of the City University of New York.
  • howlongsitbeen

    Amid the mind-blowingly vacuous, though painfully vociferous, din that passes for civil discourse in this country, any number of invariably banal blowhards may be identified. Not satisfied to live themselves in a debilitating fog of ignorance, many such persons endeavor quite vigorously to blanket the rest of the population with their asphyxiatingly addled assessment of a given socio-political phenomenon. Mr. Stevens-Arroyo stands out as a special member of this latter category, insofar as he self-righteously pontificates about people who self-righteously pontificate, yet he does so in the most rhetorically impenetrable manner imaginable. Seriously… did this piece pass through the hands of an editor for even thirty seconds? His insipid sentence structure and painfully poor overall writing style are bad enough, but the actual substance of his article is borderline incoherent. (By the way, Mr. Stevens-Arroyo, one sets off a quotation by using the eponymous punctuation marks. You do not need to go one step further and put the quotations in *bold.*) OnFaith Editors, a direct question of you: Is this seriously the best person you can find for this website?

  • tojby_2000

    The RCC has a 1,700 year old history of divinely inspired oxymoronic catechises. Each centenary witnesses the pile of poop grow heavenward.

  • ccnl1

    A big HURRAH for Howlongsitbeen!!!!

  • ccnl1

    As per Mr. Arroyo, Jesus said nothing about abortion in the Gospel.Hmmm, apparently Steve missed the part where Jesus said, Thou Shalt Not Kill!!!To wit:”Matthew 19:16-19 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19 Honour thy father and [thy] mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Paul (30 years later)Romans 13:8-10 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

  • usapdx

    WHY IS IT THAT THOES THAT FILE TAX EXAMPT SPEAK OUT TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ON POLITAL ISSUES AND SOME POLITICAL CANDIDATES WHICH IS THE MAIN VIOLATION OF THE TAX EXAMPT RULE 501 (c) (3) OF 1913? WHY IS IT THE THEY NEVER GAVE THIR VIEWS OF THE NINE YEAR OLD GIRL OF EIGHTY POUNDS RAPE BY HER STEP FATHER PREGNANT WITH TWINS OF FOUR MONTHS IN BRAZIL MARCH OF 2009 WHERE AS THE STORY WAS IN MANY PAPERS AS WELL AS THE NEW YORK TIMES? IS NOT AMERICA A COUNTRY WITH A GOVERMENT OF THE PEOPLE,FOR THE PEOPLE, AND BY THE PEOPLE? WHAT RIGHT DOES ANY HUMAN HAVE TO MAKE A RULE THAT IF VIOLATED IS A SIN NO MATTER WHAT? ASK QUESTIONS.

  • legfederal

    This piece is another nice display of Prof. Stevens-Arroyo’s now well-known helter-skelter approach to facts. There is nobody who works for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) who is named Charles Thompson, or Charles anything, or anything Thompson (nor has there ever been, to my knowledge). Nor is there anybody at National Right to Life whose salary is paid, in whole or part, by the USCCB — Stevens-Arroyo just made that up. Nor does the New York Times story to which Stevens-Arroyo refers contain any of those inventions. However, it is true that I, an employee of NRLC, have recently commented that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has endorsed various “money-laundering” schemes, in direct reference to certain legislative proposals — for example, a proposal to allow a federal agency to pay for abortion on demand so long as the funds were delivered to the abortionists by hired contractors (that proposal would have required the federal agency to hire a “bag man,” if you will). But what is most amusing is that Prof. Stevens-Arroyo gives Speaker Pelosi credit for “providing the opportunity for the vote on” the pro-life Stupak Amendment, when everybody paying any attention knows full well that Pelosi exerted herself greatly to prevent such a vote, ultimately acquiesced in the vote only because she had no other choice, and subsequently made clear her determination to do everything she can to prevent the Stupak Amendment from actually become law. This is all in keeping with Pelosi’s consistent record of opposing all limits on abortion, including limitations that are acceptable even to the U.S. Supreme Court, such as the ban on partial-birth abortion. If Pelosi had her way, pro-life legislation would always sleep with the fishes.

  • tojby_2000

    ccnl1 wrote: Jesus said nothing about abortion in the Gospel. (?!)

  • mankai

    The Catholic Church regularly ignores its own historic doctrines on the relationship between the church and civil authority. I should write, ignores them publicly.The RCC sees itself as above and superior to the civil government. As Pius IX formally taught, it has been part of RCC doctrine to believe firmly that the RCC should be the religion of the state (and in Pius’ words “to the exclusion of all other forms of worship”).Gregory XVI specifically condemned the American ideal of freedom of the press and equated “liberty of conscience” with “madness.” All consistent with Unam Sanctam and many other papal decrees.John Adams lamented when the Jesuits came to these shores, but he acknowledged that freedom of religion was extended to them… but that does not excuse Colson and his ilk for their willful ignorance of historic, codified and papal-approved doctrines of church superiority over civil governments… as Cardinal Law enjoys his cushy existence at the Vatican, having been swished out of America by a church that sees itself as above US law.You want to present the world with an example of moral clarity and care for children? Send back Law.

  • mankai

    JBY_2000 wrote: The Jewish law (halacha), under which Matthew and Jesus lived, required the infant to live 30 days before it gained person status…—————————-Are you suggesting that neither Mary nor Elizabeth considered the child in her womb a “person”?

  • legfederal

    Stevens-Arroyo called me “Charles Thompson” in his original post — he has now corrected that. As to the claim, “The USCCB contributes funds to support the NRLC,” I suspect that Stevens-Arroyo is thinking of the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment (NCHLA), which is a lobbying organization that is indeed funded by the Catholic bishops, but which has no connection to NRLC. NRLC is a lobbying organization, the federation of the nonsectarian right-to-life organizations across the country. Douglas Johnson

  • ccnl1

    from: “Halacha (Jewish law) does define when a fetus becomes a nefesh (person). “…a baby…becomes a full-fledged human being when the head emerges from the womb. Before then, the fetus is considered a ‘partial life.’ ” 5 In the case of a “feet-first” delivery, it happens when most of the fetal body is outside the mother’s body.Jewish beliefs and practice does not neatly match either the “pro-life” nor the “pro-choice” points of view. The general principles of modern-day Judaism are that: The fetus has great value because it is potentially a human life. It gains “full human status at birth only.” 2

  • legfederal

    I posted an early comment in this thread. Mr. Stevens-Arroyo subsequently modified his original column to achieve a partial correction, so I am posting again to minimize confusion.The column is another example of the trademark Stevens-Arroyo helter-skelter approach to facts. In his original version, Stevens-Arroyo attacked “National Right to Life Committee’s Charles Thompson.” In my original comment, I noted that there is nobody who works for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) who is named Charles Thompson, or Charles anything, or anything Thompson (nor has there ever been, to my knowledge). Stevens-Arroyo then modified his original post to clarify that he meant me, Douglas Johnson.In my original post, I also corrected Stevens-Arroyo on his claim that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops “helps pay” my salary. Yet, he repeated this claim in his “correction.” I have puzzled over this and have concluded that Stevens-Arroyo, in his befuddlement, must be thinking of the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment (NCHLA), which is a lobbying organization that is indeed funded by the Catholic bishops, but which has no connection to NRLC. NRLC is a lobbying organization, the federation of the nonsectarian right-to-life organizations across the country. However, one “charge” made by Stevens-Arroyo is true: I, an employee of NRLC, have recently commented that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has endorsed various “money-laundering” schemes, in direct reference to certain legislative proposals — for example, a proposal to allow a federal agency to pay for abortion on demand so long as the funds were delivered to the abortionists by hired contractors. That proposal would have required the federal agency to hire a “bag man,” you might say. But what is most amusing is that Stevens-Arroyo gives Speaker Pelosi credit for “providing the opportunity for the vote on” the pro-life Stupak Amendment, when everybody paying any attention knows full well that Pelosi exerted herself greatly to prevent such a vote, ultimately acquiesced in the vote only because she had no other choice, and subsequently made clear her determination to do everything she can to prevent the Stupak Amendment from actually become law. This is all in keeping with Pelosi’s consistent record of opposing all limits on abortion, including limitations that are acceptable even to the U.S. Supreme Court, such as the ban on partial-birth abortion. If Pelosi had her way, pro-life legislation would always sleep with the fishes.Douglas Johnson

  • ccnl1

    There is always adoption.

  • Climacus

    Stevens-Arroyo wrote: “The Manhattan Declaration denounces President Obama for associating with supporters of abortion. However, it is apparently permissible for Catholic archbishops and bishops to associate with persons who reject the gospel legitimacy of the papacy and Mary’s Immaculate Conception.”First of all, can someone clarify where the Manhattan Declaration “denounces President Obama for associating with supporters of abortion”?Second, will someone instruct Stevens-Arroyo that his Church teaches that respect for the right to life of the unborn is “a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation” and that abortion is “gravely contrary to the moral law”.Does he think the Church teaches that respect for papal authority is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation, or that failure to adhere to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is gravely contrary to the moral law? Does he equate (or expect other Catholics to equate) theological errors with gross violations of natural and divine law?Stevens-Arroyo is being either unbelievably obtuse or casuistic. I second HowLongsItBeen’s question to the On Faith editors.

  • withouthavingseen

    Prof. Stevens-Arroyo may finally have actually gone insane. I stopped fact-checking his assertions because even his references, such as to Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (which he mistakenly calls the Constitution of the Church) plainly contradict the assertions made with reference to them.Ryan Haber

  • withouthavingseen

    Prof. Stevens-Arroyo,Would you consider the civil disobedience of the 1950s-1960s, in opposition to institutional racism, to be subversive? Or do you only dislike civil disobedience in opposition to policies that lead to the murder of over one million innocent human beings?Ryan Haber

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Wow! I thought this guy seemed awfully sane.He has made a lot of good points. Trashing his good sense only makes a person look foolish.

  • patricksarsfield

    More attacks by Stevens-Arroyo on the Catholic Church. Why am I not surprised. Every time I read this guy, I ask myself: what do his ramblings have to do with the Catholic Church’s voice? Somewhere along the line he may have been a Catholic when he picked up whatever theology degree he has, but his recent teaching has been for non-Catholic institutions (Brooklyn College, and I think his wife has some position in the Protestant teaching hierarchy somewhere) and on the Sociology of Puerto Ricans, not on the Catholic Church. Now, he seems just to be a shill for the Democratic Party. The Catholic Church has 2000 years of Tradition and a very active worship life going on; yet to read S-A it all comes down to his defense of liberalism against any criticism offered by Catholics.So, if this is the best the Washington Post is going to do in the way of giving Catholics a voice on their “On Faith” blog, thanks but no thanks.

  • Climacus

    In Stevens-Arroyo’s addendum to the column, he writes: “Finally, check page 3 of the Manhattan Declaration: ‘Many in the present administration want to make abortions legal at any stage of fetal development, and want to provide abortions at taxpayer expense.’ Supposedly, that allows a challenge to our president’s sincerity about reducing the need for abortions. It’s always a good idea to read the entire text.”Presumably this was meant to respond to my skepticism about Stevens-Arroyo’s claim that “The Manhattan Declaration denounces President Obama for associating with supporters of abortion.”Well, the passage you quote does not denounce President Obama for associating with supporters of abortion. It’s a partial elaboration of the previous statement in the declaration, namely that that “pro-abortion ideology prevails today in our government”.What, in your words, “allows a challenge to our president’s sincerity about reducing the need for abortions” is the fact that, as the Manhattan Declaration explains, the president “has also pledged to make abortion more easily and widely available by eliminating laws prohibiting government funding, requiring waiting periods for women seeking abortions, and parental notification for abortions performed on minors.”Yes, Mr. Stevens-Arroyo, “It’s always a good idea to read the entire text.” But you have do more than read a text; you have to understand it. And you shouldn’t mischaracterize what it says in any event, which is what you’ve done (whether through incomprehension or willfulness).

  • tony55398

    The Bishops should keep in mind that its cheaper to have an abortion than give birth, when many are denied insurance coverage, with a bad economy besides, than many may unfortunately feel they have no choice but to choose the cheaper alternative.

  • patricksarsfield

    Tony writes:”The Bishops should keep in mind that its cheaper to have an abortion than give birth, when many are denied insurance coverage, with a bad economy besides, than many may unfortunately feel they have no choice but to choose the cheaper alternative. “If the risk of discovery can be eliminated, it might also be cheaper to kill the person with whom one is in an accident on an otherwise deserted road. Does that make it morally acceptable in Tony’s mode of analysis?

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