Boehner, Pelosi and the split in Catholic America

By Elizabeth Tenety Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (L) hands the speaker’s gavel to incoming House Speaker John Boehner … Continued

By Elizabeth Tenety


Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (L) hands the speaker’s gavel to incoming House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) after Boehner was elected Speaker on the opening day of the 112th United States Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 5, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Young

Two of America’s most powerful Catholics transferred power in the U.S. House of Representatives today, as Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ceded her role as Speaker of the House to John Boehner (R-Ohio).

In his speech to the House, Boehner mentioned his Catholic faith –a faith whose entanglement with politics has been problematic for religious and political leaders alike.

Boehner said:

“In the Catholic faith, we enter into a season of service by having ashes marked on our foreheads. The ashes remind us that life in all its forms is fragile – our time on this Earth, fleeting. As the ashes are delivered, we hear those humbling words: ‘Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’

Remember, dear politicians, that you are elected, and to the polls the people shall return.

Pelosi and Boehner personify a debate within American Catholicism about what it means to be a Catholic, especially as it applies to politics.

Do the nuns who spoke in support of health care reform represent the church? Or, as Cardinal George said in an November meeting of the bishops, do only bishops speak for the church? Is a congresswoman who advocates for the poor but thinks abortion should be legal a Catholic? Who decides?

At the 2010 Catholic Community Conference on Capitol Hill, Pelosi said “she believes she must pursue public policies ‘in keeping with the values’ of Jesus Christ, ‘The Word made Flesh.”

Pelosi has never been afraid to articulate how she channels her religious beliefs into public policy: She called immigration reform a “manifestation of our living the gospels,” said she “prays morning and night for the poor hungry children of the world” and told reporters that she petitioned St. Joseph’s to pass health care reform. But it is her support of abortion rights that agitates her Catholic opposition the most. Pope Benedict XVI even reportedly made it a point to clarify the church’s prohibition on abortion during a 2009 meeting with the speaker.

In contrast, Boehner has been known to be private with his faith (“‘It’s very personal, very private, and very real,’ Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, Boehner’s closest friend on the Hill” told World Magazine), but largely because of his solid anti-abortion voting record, some conservative Catholic bloggers are cheering his election. Deacon Keith Fournier, reflecting at Catholic.org on the transition from Pelosi to Boehner called the new speaker a “real Catholic.”

So Pelosi is “a rock star to progressive Catholics,” as USAToday’s Cathy Lynn Grossman reported, and Boehner is a “real Catholic” to concerned conservatives.

Who gets to define who is a Catholic?

About

Elizabeth Tenety Elizabeth Tenety is the former editor of On Faith, where she produced "Divine Impulses," On Faith’s video interview series. She studied Theology and Government at Georgetown University and received her master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. A New York native, Elizabeth grew up in the home of Catholic news junkies where, somewhere in between watching the nightly news and participating in parish life, she learned to ponder both the superficial and the sacred.
  • ejgallagher1

    Boehner essentially abandoned the Democrats for money. My Irish great grandfather called becoming a Republican selling your birth right for a bowl of pottage which actually was another reference to the souperism (changing faith for food) that occurred in some parts of Ireland after the famine. The more interesting comment is the number of elected Republican leaders who also left the Catholic Church such as Kasich, Pence, Tancredo and Palin (through her parents).

  • wjhunter3

    Elizabeth needs to understand Catholic teachings before asking “who decides?”. taht debate only exists amongst the media and the chattering class. According to the teaching of the Church it’s been decided (CCC 882-883):”The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, ‘is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.’(LG 23) ‘For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.’(LG 22; cf. CD 2, 9.)”"‘The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, as its head.’ As such, this college has “supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff.” (LG 22; cf. CIC, can. 336)Therefore, it’s clear that only the Pope, and the Bishops united with him, may “speak for the Catholic Church”. Nobody, no nun, politician, priest, or pundit can speak for the Church with any authority, period.

  • herlick

    “Pelosi has never been afraid to articulate how she channels her religious beliefs into public policy: She called immigration reform a “manifestation of our living the gospels….” Wait a minute. I thought we had separation between church and state. If former Speaker Pelosi is channeling her beliefs into public policy, isn’t she “forcing” her religion on the rest of us? Why is opposition to special rights for homosexuals and opposition to abortion considered (by some)to be an improper insertion of probably many of the same “some” consider immigration reform, welfare and socialized medicine to be proper insertions of religious beliefs into the public sphere?

  • andrebudianto

    “No matter what, keep on praying in our believed”.”Living on a prayer, keep the faith”.

  • jpfann

    Poor Garoth is working out his mother issues … in the meantime, life goes on. Both Pelosi and Boehner are Catholics. Unless a person is excommunicated, Catholics self-identify. The question posed by the author is silly, betraying her lack of familiarity with Catholicism and how it works. It’s plain that Pelosi publicly disagrees with a fundamental Church teaching, but she is still a Catholic. What is at the base of this is who defines, not who is a Catholic, but what the Church holds and teaches: the Pope and bishops, and not even the first woman and Italian who was Speaker of the House can do that. She knows that, and she has chosen to do what is politically expedient. But she is a politically expedient Catholic, nonetheless.Lizzy would do herself a favor if she really tried to understand Catholicism, rather than rattle on about bunk she just makes up.

  • stevie7

    Again I would have to judge that in her fervent support of abortion Pelosi is not demonstrating sincerity.POSTED BY: MARY_CUNNINGHAM—–Well, you don’t have to judge. In fact, your faith kind of instructs you not to – not that it stops most Christians.

  • cprferry

    You neglected to mention that Rep. Pelosi at one time sought to defend abortion on theological terms. I, like most Catholics, tend to think the Pope articulates the faith’s position on abortion rather well and is much closer to Truth.Despite that all three are highly visible Catholics. And as such take on a special responsibility in the mission of the Church that all baptized Catholics (all of Christendom) share in. To the leaders much is expected.It’s a shame that so many have failed on both sides of the aisle. It’s an even greater shame that some have even rejected or tuned out consciousness to Truth and Reason. It’s a travesty that some have sought to shrink from our missionary responsibilities to win privileges in our public life at the risk of eternal separation in our spiritual lives. The sins they advocate for and lessons they share are risking many of the souls they’ve promised to save.

  • mascmen7

    Canon Law states that anyone who promotes or commits an abortion are automatically excommunicated. Only a bishop can readmit them to the Catholic Church. That is why Ted Kennedy is probably in Hell as he never publically disavowed his support for abortions. Pelosi and other abortion “Catholics” are in a state of excommunication and they do not know it. Clueless!

  • cprferry

    “Religion should be private. Practice the tenets of your religion all you want but do not attempt to impose them or your beliefs and practices on others.Posted by: mlkwek”Religion should be at the forefront. It should be what guides us and to act on the benefit of humankind and the whole world. In all the cases you cited each pursuit was a person or nation seeking earthly claims against what their faith instructs. No conscious has ever been won by force, only land and power is won by force. Conscious responds to a power greater than any leader or nation can claim hold to.

  • ZZim

    Imagine the dilemma of many Catholics: Can’t support liberal Democrats who support abortion and gay rights (most notably, but some other lesser issues as well). Nor can faithful Catholics support the Republicans’ historical stance that militates against the stranger, the poor, the sick etc. = = = = = = = = = =Bluefish, the error in your analysis is that Liberals ACTUALLY support abortion and the pro-gay agenda.Accusations that Conservatives are opposed to charity are FALSE. It’s a well-proven fact that Conservatives give far higher percentages of their incomes to charity than Liberals do. Even though Liberals give far less of their own money to charity than Conservatives do, they are not uncharitable people. They just believe that charitable purposes are best served by using the machinery of State power (taxes, fines, police, laws, prisons, etc.) and by using other peoples’ money. .

  • Pixie3

    Who gets to define who’s a Catholic? The Catholic Church and its belief system does. It’s amazing how many people try to convince me that you can be Catholic and still believe in abortion, pre-marital sex, etc. I won’t judge you for what you believe, but it, by definition, means that you do not espouse Catholism and you need to identify yourself as belonging to another religion/belief system.

  • eggy1

    Neither of them is a real Catholic. Both are merely utilizing their religion as a campaign prop. Real Catholics don’t support abortion or “gay” “marriage” and they do support the DREAM Act and unemployment insurance.

  • October10S

    Only you can decide if you are Catholic. The Pope and his Bishops can only decide if the Catholic Church, writ large, also acknowledges you as such. But whether they do or they don’t is irrelevant to what you are. If you have Catholic beliefs, and chose to identify yourself as Catholic, then that is what you are, and noone can gainsay you. Contrary to the musings of the conservative branch of our faith, there is no litmus test for Catholicism. If there was, 100% of the people who espouse to be Catholics would fail. That includes the Pope and many, if not most, of his Bishops, who can barely call themselves decent human beings, let alone Catholics, when you consider their complicity in acts so vile they make the stomach turn. Your faith is a matter between you and God (to the extent there is one). Anyone who claims to have the authority of deciding who is and is not “Catholic” is profoundly misguided.

  • AMviennaVA

    MHawke @ January 6, 2011 11:16 AM posted:A strange post. The essence of Christianity is the Sermon on the Mount as well as the Last Supper. Of course Orthodox Christians follow that, and place responsibility and accountability where it belongs: the individual. But I believe that you used the word ‘Orthodox’ incorrectly, as you meant ‘Conservative’ or something to that effect.

  • MICA77

    Ha, Ha! This whole debate is so funny! If it wasn’t for the fact that I’m reading it on a computer screen I’s swear we were back in the 10th century!

  • AMviennaVA

    herlick @ January 5, 2011 6:05 PM wrote:Wait a minute. I thought we had separation between church and state. If former Speaker Pelosi is channeling her beliefs into public policy, isn’t she “forcing” her religion on the rest of us? Why is opposition to special rights for homosexuals and opposition to abortion considered (by some)to be an improper insertion of probably many of the same “some” consider immigration reform, welfare and socialized medicine to be proper insertions of religious beliefs into the public sphere?

  • October10S

    Who gets to define who’s a Catholic? The Catholic Church and its belief system does. It’s amazing how many people try to convince me that you can be Catholic and still believe in abortion, pre-marital sex, etc. I won’t judge you for what you believe, but it, by definition, means that you do not espouse Catholism and you need to identify yourself as belonging to another religion/belief system.

  • TomfromNJ1

    While it is true that neither of the representatives seems to accept all of the teachings of the Catholic church (which is not a surprise because the Church is made up of sinners not the perfect), it can objectively be said that the theme of giving to the poor (and notice how it is always “give” not make them work for it since that would be justice but Paul teaches that Charity is a greater virtue) is in the Bible a lot more than any comments related to abortion and homosexuality combined! We are told it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Thus “taxing the hell” out of the rich, could take on a very literal meaning to those who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. Of course the early Christians in Acts would have practiced a life that modern day conservatives would have called communism. Remember “to each according to his need” came from Acts, NOT Karl Marx. I think Christians might do well to actually read the Bible just as the Congress has much to learn if they actually read the Constitution (I understand they are leaving out the “inconvenient” parts.).

  • SETinVA

    All Christians are Catholic; some are just having a long fight with their Mother (the Church). All humans are sinners. We are created imperfect and remain so at least until death. Why some Catholics choose to disagree with the teachings on abortion and others choose to disagree with the teachings of capital punishment or caring for the less fortunate is because we all have free will. Very few of us have given up all our possessions, lived a celibate life, or taken the full teachings fully to heart. I hope God’s patience is as vast as it’s reported to be. Until we know, how about we stick with the idea that only the ones free of sin get to cast stones at each other.

  • AMviennaVA

    cprferry @ January 6, 2011 1:19 PM wrote:Religion should be at the forefront. It should be what guides us and to act on the benefit of humankind and the whole world.= = = = = = = = = = = = =

  • fairness3

    To “eggy1″ — I totally disagree with your bigoted view: I am a practicing Catholic at St Matthews and support our Parish outreach and ministries, including to the Gay community. Some of us Catholics are open minded, accepting of the modern world, and still support the Church. Join us sometimes

  • AMviennaVA

    October10S @ January 6, 2011 2:07 PM wrote “The Nicene Creed is a plain and beautiful statement of what Catholics believe.”That is correct! The essence of Christianity is well stated there, and the Sermont on the Mount as well as the Last Supper provide all the clarification needed. As a rule, the exercise of the faith is determined by the 7 Mysteries (none of which pronounce an opinion on today’s hot political buttons masquarading as religious issues).SETinVA @ January 6, 2011 2:12 PM wrote “All Christians are Catholic; some are just having a long fight with their Mother (the Church).”A flawed statement. The Pope may be first among equals but he is not infallible. Also, salvation is determined by the individual’s actions, and not stated adherence to a doctrine.

  • reformthesystem

    Amongst other things, a Catholic professes, “You cannot serve both God and money” [Matthew 6:24] “For it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” [Luke 18:25]. So, a Catholic lives by the teachings of Leo XIII’s Encyclical Rerum novarum on Capital and Labour [1891] that the working poor must be cared for and employers have clear moral obligations: workers are not to be treated as slaves (a. 31); the dignity of your workers’ human personality must be respected (a. 31); do not use people as things for gain (a. 31); do not oppress the needy and wretched for your own profit (a. 32). Moreover, employers are not to give impossible or inappropriate work (a. 31). They are to give every worker what is justly due him (a. 32), and they are not to harm the savings of workers or regard their property as anything but sacred (a. 32). The goods of the wealthy are for their perfection and the benefit of others (a. 36), and they are encouraged to share their goods when they see others in need: when the need is extreme, the demand is of justice; otherwise, the demand is of charity (a. 36). In view of these teachings, John Boehner on the House floor with reams of tobacco industry checks in his hands showed himself to be about as Catholic as was that other claimed Church affiliate – Adolf Hitler.

  • SETinVA

    AMVIENNAVA:

  • MzFitz

    Good point, wjhunter3. Since women can become neither a Bishop or Pope, many (myself included) feel unrepresented, and have left the church. Keeping the patriarchy in place will never discourage the sexual violence issues that the church is experiencing. Additionally, men who are never in a position of making decisions about procreation in their own lives will never understand why an individual, couple, or married couple may have consider abortion.

  • AMviennaVA

    SETinVA: I took exception to the statement that ALL Christians are Catholic. We are not.You are correct that the Christ died for all, even those who do not profess to be Christians. After all, salvation is determined by one’s actions (sorry, there is no predetermination as we are free; as for the rich, there is that line that to be saved the rich man must give all his possessions …).

  • josephpalacios

    This conversation is truly interesting to see the polarization that has occurred among Catholics. The central part of Catholicism that unites both left and right is actual belief in the Real Presence at the Eucharist. There is a uniting sense at the Mass that brings together this disparate yet solidary sense of U.S. Catholicism. What other religious organization in the U.S. brings together every income level, cultural group, and wide variety of spiritual practices than the Catholic Church. As a sociologist of religion I think that the Catholic Church is one of the most complex organizations to analyze. Catholicism has never been a unified institution. The long history of rites such as the Ambrosian, Melkite, Assyrian, Greek Catholic, etc., illustrates the complexity of organizational/ecclesiological styles, theological traditions, and liturgical practices. Many so-called conservative Catholics tend to forget that the Catholic Church has this complexity and have the temptation to call anyone not following a “Roman” perspective , while many so-called progressive Catholics in the U.S. never look beyond their U.S. political culture to see the Church in an international context. The reality is that Catholicism has always been a “cafeteria” of many items on the menu. There is no pure menu. Some people have devotions to saints, others don’t. Some pray the rosary, some don’t. Some make pilgrimages to shrines and have devotion tro Mary, others don’t. Some belong to the Knights of Columbus or the Catholic Daughters, other’s don’t. So much to choose from and express a wide variety of Catholic traits. Who is to say is more or less Catholic? And I would love to know who would pass a 100% litmus test on doctrine– since such an exam could really never be given given the different theological traditions in the wider Catholic Church that includes the non-Roman rites.Both Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner are real Catholics and exemplify the dynamism of American Catholicism. Shameless self-promotion… read my book “The Catholic Social Imagination” (University of Chicago Press, 2007).

  • usapdx

    Catholics on a rule are not the same. Most do not know what the word catholic means as well as they do not know the teachings of the RCC. Of the teachings they do know, they in the USA do not fully ( 100% ) agree with and the Vatican state thought the nuns are out of control. Oh, the good old days of hell, fire and damnation. American Catholics have more of a open mind of the views from the RCC administration that silenced the truth to protect the image of the sexual abuse cases of children.

  • chrisinwien

    Only the Vicar of Christ and those in union with him “speak for the Church.” Even bishops, when not addressing matters of faith or morals, are speaking only for themselves when they opine on prudential issues on which good and faithful Catholics can and do disagree.In fact, bishops who insist on speaking about immigration issues or health care particulars –opinions which are not binding and are often confusing and even misleading — while being silent on unpopular moral teachings that all faithful believers ARE required to embrace (e.g., the instrinsic evils of sodomy, abortion, and contraception) are doing a disservice to the church and the broader public. They dilute the Gospel rather than preach it.But we are not ruled by angels, we are all shepherded by sinners like ourselves. All Catholics should keep their eyes on the prize, as Boehner said and as Pelosi no doubt agrees: we’re all gonna die, and the prize is eternal salvation. Everything down here – power, glitz, glory, and the love of them, will pass away. I am grateful that, while there will be no need for lawyers or politicians in Heaven, musicians and their talents will apparently be welcome there.

  • SheeinTX

    Who cares which is the “real” Catholic? We must each strive to be the best follower of each religion to which we belong, and to know that we will never achieve perfection. I honestly believe these two Speakers are trying to do that for themselves. Let’s let them to it, “Judge not”, and seek to eliminate our individual – and very human – flaws. Peace to you all.

  • ThomasBaum

    ddagata You wrote, “To know Christ and follow Him means first and foremost having one’s identity formed by Him through His living presence in history that is carried by the Church, and this has to come before and trump anyone’s conservative/liberal or Democrat/Republican biases. Less than this is to appropriate Christ’s teaching separate from His person and distort Him in order to advance one’s own aims.”Jesus’s presence in history, I know for a fact, is in the Catholic Eucharist.Jesus’s presence in history also is His Church which happens to be people, not some organization, and it just so happens that the Catholic Church teaches that the Church is not confined to the Catholic Church, it also teaches that it is not confined to Christians, did you know that?Jesus said, “I will send the Holy Spirit to guide you…”, He did not say that He would send the Holy Spirit to guide the “higher-ups” who in turn would tell the peons what to do, did He? Jesus extended His invitation to “Come follow Me”, Jesus’s invitation was not to follow His Church but to follow Him.Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, thou art Peter and upon this rock, I will build MY CHURCH and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it”.First off, we are all called to be rocks, living stones.Second, Jesus said that it was HIS CHURCH, He did not say it is now your church, Pete.Third, the whole mission of Jesus’s Church is spelled out, the gates of the netherworld (hell and death, physical and spiritual) shall not prevail against IT, Jesus won the “keys” and these “keys” will be used in due time, God’s Time, the captives shall be freed (those in hell) and the dead shall rise (self-explanatory).God’s Plan which God has had since before creation will come to Fruition and God’s Plan is for ALL to be in God’s Kingdom.I cherish my Catholic Faith and I do not look at Catholicism as a religion, many do I don’t.See you and the rest of humanity in the Kingdom.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • cprferry

    “MHawke @ January 6, 2011 11:16 AM posted:Really? I don’t claim a political party, but if I do it would be Disappointed Democrat for how badly party leaders have sold their values and country down the drain in exchange to enhance their political machines.You think the modern Democrat party resembles anything promised in the sermon on the mount? The address speaks of acknowledging and submitting to Truth. Not ignoring it and installing civil affairs contrary to it. It speaks of seeking peace and justice with your neighbor. Not through the state, not through the Sanhedrin. But individually and directly. It also directly attracts the machine politics and identity politics of the Democrat party with the line “if you love those who love you, what recompense do you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same?”Even when coupled with the sermon in the book of Luke it speaks of heavenly justice. It points to a power from Heaven, not an artificial social authority established by the party. Heaven is found in the heart, it’s found in the pure, loving interaction between two people, not in the perfect centralized social system.Babel once tried to seek claim to a earthly Heaven contrary to Truth, and it was severely punished. So too did Cain by thinking mere sacrifice cultivated from the earth would be enough (only an expiate sacrifice, namely of Christ, could). So too did the Hebrews who pardoned Jesus Barabbas, the political dissident who promised an earthly kingdom, instead of Jesus Christ. Our hope is not found in the political or distant state, it’s found in Christ who can, with the missionary efforts of many, touch the hearts of all.

  • momvera

    One nation under the pope who is a political dictator.

  • areyousaying

    And what are their views on their Church still hiding pervert priests from civil prosecution? The have both sworn to uphold the Constitution. Does the fact they are Catholic give them special dispensation to ignore felony sexual child abuse and criminal racketeering by hiding the predators?

  • Utahreb

    Who decides? God, if you are a believer. Funny – I know some atheists who do the work that some so-called Christians will not do for the good of those in need. Will the God decide that those who profess to be Christians but do no good for others have a ticket to heaven and those atheists be left outside?No man – be he bishop, pope, prophet, minister, preacher, rabbi – can speak for God – and no politicians, for sure.

  • momvera

    My youth was spent being trained in the Vatican government. I pray for it’s end every day. Vera Hummel McHale

  • ZZim

    The Pope decides who is Catholic. He sets the rules. Church members who follow the rules are true members. Church members who openly flout the rules and encourage others to do so are not true members.It seems to be a simple question with a simple answer..

  • ddagata

    Re–Utahreb. That’s precisely the scandal of both Judaism and Christianity: that God chose flawed human beings to speak and reveal His will to the world as well as the nature of what it means to live in relation to Him. If you want to say no one can speak for God then would you go far as to say that the ten commandments, delivered by Moses to the Israelites, are thus not valid and therefore it is legitimate to steal and kill? A God who does not reveal Himself to humanity in a concrete historicity means a God who is irrelevant, the projection of human imagination, one who can be appropriated by anyone to justify anything. What the Church proposes is the God of Judaism and Christianity who we claim revealed Himself concretely and left a community in history beginning with the Jewish people so that His will for humanity may be known. The Church’s position is that this will is clarified through the action of the Holy Spirit through the community of believers, as it was in Israel, led by one point of unity, the Pope (who, when speaking on matters of faith and morals, is guaranteed this infallibility regardless of his own, or his bishops’, failings–otherwise the nature of God would be lost on us). The question regarding both Pelosi and Boehner is that what is Catholic is guaranteed via a 2000+ year tradition begun with Jesus Himself, carried through history miraculously in spite of the Church’s human failings and mistakes. To call oneself Catholic means to adhere to this completely and not appropriate things according to individual taste. Someone from Europe once remarked to me that in America, liberal Democrat Catholics tout all of the Church’s social teaching and cast aside its moral teaching regarding sex, while conservative Republican Catholics adhere to the teachings about sex and tend to disregard the social teaching that conflicts with their business interests.To know Christ and follow Him means first and foremost having one’s identity formed by Him through His living presence in history that is carried by the Church, and this has to come before and trump anyone’s conservative/liberal or Democrat/Republican biases. Less than this is to appropriate Christ’s teaching separate from His person and distort Him in order to advance one’s own aims.

  • eezmamata

    is the bear catholic?

  • cprferry

    “Since women can become neither a Bishop or Pope, many (myself included) feel unrepresented, and have left the church.Jesus represents the sacrifice we are to follow. The priest mirrors that sacrifice by giving his entire life in service. He leaves his family, he forsakes marriage, he acts as guide to Truth, he makes the ultimate sacrifice.All humankind is represented in that sacrifice. Because our entire being, our entire existence, our entire hope is tied to Christ. Our sacrifices can and are attached to Christ’s. However, only the male priesthood can adequately stand in place of the theological Truth and conform to the Natural Law.

  • joe_allen_doty

    In most cases, the parents of a new born baby who are members of a Roman Catholic Church decide if the child will be RCC. The RCC claims that if a child gets his head damp with water by a non-Father in a not-in-the-RCC-Bible ritual, he is Catholic. But, according to Scripture, even in the RCC approved Bible versions, one does not become a Believer in Jesus until the person makes that decision on his own. Biblical Baptism (total immersion in water) is NOT done until after the person has repented of his sins.

  • tinyjab40

    I was raised Roman Catholic and attended Catholic school, though I am now a Protestant. To me, the most scary thing on earth would be to have a Catholic president (or a Mormon president, for that matter). Had I been a couple years older, I would have voted for JFK, but things have changed now. Catholics want to impose their religion through the government.I’m on the Pelosi side of the Catholic political divide.

  • cpusss

    Your last line pegged it. Catholics who want to take the church back to pre-Vatican II days (much like Tea Partiers want to take the Constitution back to pre-Civil War days) love the Boehners of the world. They consider themselves the real Catholics, and to them abortion trumps all other sins, including unjust war and poverty. And thus they vote Republican, much like their evangelical Protestant brethren. And would never vote Democratic, since it is a pro-abortion party. Wheras the progressive Catholics, which I count myself as one, believe there is no one sin that trumps all others. There is plenty of sin and wrongs in this world besides abortion. Thus we believe in things like immigration reform and helping the economically disadvantaged – things that are anathema to today’s right wing. And I take to heart the American Bishop’s Conference voting guide in 2008, which states that as long as Catholics don’t vote for a candidate who is pro-choice solely because of his pro-choice position it is OK to vote for candidate who among other things is pro-choice. So who is right? Well, as was mentioned in earlier comments, judge not lest ye be judged. But I will continue to be a progressive Catholic who cares about the welfare of all, including my right-wing brethren, regardless of creed, skin color, immigration status, or socio-economic status. And will support candidates of a similar vein.

  • csintala79

    Each individual is responsible for their actions. There are only personal, one on one, relationships between individuals and God. We are judged for what we do, not what country we are from or what church we belong to; each stands alone before the Judge. A perusal of the two millennia of church history will reveal that many, many Popes fell far short of the standards set by Christ. The Holy Father is custodian of only one soul; his own. Anyone is in peril who surrenders their conscience to another mortal.

  • cprferry

    “Certainly I’d agree that we have had fallible popes (don’t worry Catholic buddies I’ll go to confession for that. No joke, I will)You might not have to. I suggest you don’t take my word, but to do your own research and please to consult out priest. However, the teaching of the Church is that the Pope acts with an infallible decree within rather limited circumstances – notably when it’s within the framework of the faith’s teachings.Clearly say if a Pope that lived or instructed contrary to the Church’s teachings it would be betraying the office but it would not to give justification to deny the authority of Rome.

  • slowe111

    I’m waiting for an atheist to be in charge, or a Humanist, or even a UU (Unitarian-Universalist)!. Enough with the prayers and “god bless america”.

  • Bluefish2012

    Imagine the dilemma of many Catholics: Can’t support liberal Democrats who support abortion and gay rights (most notably, but some other lesser issues as well). Nor can faithful Catholics support the Republicans’ historical stance that militates against the stranger, the poor, the sick etc.

  • Bluefish2012

    Correction: gay rights is too broad for a Cathoic to be against–gays do deserve to be treated with dignity and should have basic rights that all humans should have. Those rights just don’t include marriage–a social convention that reflects the natural complementarity of men and women.

  • me21

    God decides at the moment of our death if we lived our Faith properly or not.

  • Fizdad

    To the actual question posed, Zzim has put it quite clearly. The Catholic Church is a club and the club leaders get to decide who gets and stays in the club. It’s called Canon Rules.Perhaps the better question would be ‘Who gets to define who is Christian’. The best question might be ‘Who is a follower of Jesus?’ These latter two questions are not the same, as ‘Jesus’ seems to have been turned into ‘The Christ’ by authors with agendas and powerful bureaucracy over the centuries.In this vein, one could argue that the nuns speak for ‘Jesus’ and the bishops (and the oldest bureaucracy in the world) speak for ‘The Christ’…

  • MHawke

    Sermon on the Mount (Pelosi – Democrat) versus Orthodox (Boehner – Republican) Christain.Who are you…

  • Mary_Cunningham

    Interesting question and it goes back to the Reformation and the dispute between Henry VIII and the Church. The monarch was adament that his Church of England–headed by himself–was the Catholic Church. St Thomas More’s reply–and it would cost him his head–was that it was not Henry would decided whether the Church in England was part of the Catholic Church, but the Catholic churches in France, Italy, Bavaria, etc. Whether Pelosi can vehemently support abortion (a position completely contrary to what the Church has taught for two millenian)

  • Mary_Cunningham

    @FizdadThe Catholic Church is not a club. To be a Catholic you need merely:* to be baptized To

  • Mary_Cunningham

    But–and it’s a big but–the Pope does Since the point of being of Catholic is membership in the one Catholic Church, generally sincere Catholics will try to follow the Church’s teaching

  • gerrybeech

    Let me first state an assumption I hold. The Roman Catholic Church in the United States has, in fact, three distinct branches: Conservative, Progressive, and “cafeteria” (ie. those who follow the teachings that don’t outrage their conscience and intellect, or put them at risk of death, and ignore the teachings that do).

  • mlkwek

    Religion should be private. Practice the tenets of your religion all you want but do not attempt to impose them or your beliefs and practices on others.

  • ChrisW1958

    How Odd. Republicans have consistently said Catholics were immoral. How can Boehner avoid these bigots? Oh, he claims to be Catholic. No problem for the Republicans who consistently hated the Kennedys for their religious beliefs. Hypocrites. and proof one never need heed bigots.

  • Mary_Cunningham

    @GerryBeechWhy would you want an The point of being Catholic This is what Catholics believe in and why they remain Catholic. @mlkwek The Amerindians died from a massive pandemic from which their religions–whether Christian or pagan–could not protect them.Irish Catholics did not bomb Irish Protestants yelling “the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist or nothing” and similarly Irish Protestants did not assasinate the Irish Catholics shouting “Salvation by faith.” The Troubles in Northern Ireland were a war of two tribes.The rest of your allegations are also false but I’ve no time to refute.

  • garoth

    Maybe they should decide who’s Catholic the same way orthodox Jews do – if your mother is, you are. Whether you know it or not. And, if you forget it, she’ll remind you, and put such a guilt trip on you …!

  • ravitchn

    There are Catholics and Catholics. Boehner is from a family which would later be called Reagan Democratic: Ethnic Catholic, working class. Pelosi is from a different generation. Her father got rich in ethnic Democratic politics and she grew up rich and pampered enough to become an upper-class resident of San Francisco. Both appear to be practicing Catholics. Their religion has nothing to do with thir politics, although Pelosi is not above quoting papal ENCYCLICALS FALSELY TO SUPPORT HER SOCIALISTIC VIEWS. SHE IGNORES CHURCH TEACHING ABOUT ABORTION.

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