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.
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.