If you’re one who doesn’t like discussions about sensitive topics involving the uneasy confluence of religion and politics, stop reading now. The quotes are exact, except where editing marks are noted. ‘Puter apologizes in advance for the length of this post, but it’s worth reading the entire thing through.
One of ‘Puter’s college chums posted on Facebook this morning the following status update:
That’s it. After CA, ME, and now NY, it’s now one of my (many) burning missions in life to make sure the Catholic Church–of which I am still a member–loses its tax-expemt status. If the Church wants to advocate for/against any particular law(s) or candidate(s) it certainly should, and is most welcome to, but it needs to have the financial courage of its convictions.
To which ‘Puter thoughtfully replied:
The Catholic Church did not lobby against gay marriage in NY. When the vote was over, it released a statement saying the Church was pleased that the NY Senate reaffirmed the traditional definition of marriage (consistent with the Church’s position) as being one man, one woman. Also, the Church is consistent on abortion (see RI comment above) [not reproduced herein — ed]. It is a black and white issue for the Church, as opposed to the death penalty and war, which, according to Church teaching, permit exception. You don’t have to like the CHurch’s positions, but they are consistent.
His correspondent replied:
… [‘Puter]–this is not the place (because you can’t see my face get purple and I can’t watch you stutter) to fully debate The Church’s relative in/consistency on the death penalty or war. Suffice to say that on the former I’m honestly unaware that the Vatican has ever discussed an exception possibility–please point me to a source if you can. On the latter, yes, I should have been clearer: The Church recognizes the concept of a Just War. It is worth noting that the Pope specifically stated the invasion of Iraq did not qualify, so I’ll continue to wait to hear whether prominent Catholic politicians who supported that war with their votes will be barred from Communion, or if the Church will only enforce its consistent teachings regarding abortion.
(Can’t even say “marriage,” here, because we all know that it’ll be a very, very cold day in St. Peter’s Square before any Catholic in the US or Europe gets told he or she isn’t welcome at the Communion rail because of his or her votes on–or experience with–divorce.)
And ‘Puter, unwisely taking the bait, responded thus:
Please provide a citation to Benedict XVI stating that the Iraq War was not a just war. Benedict has largely limited his criticism of the war to prayers for peace and specific criticisms of certain conduct, but has not stated that it is unjust. Cardinal Ratzinger was more outspoken on the war, though he did not deny the primacy of the prudential decision of the state (not the papacy) in the just war structure. And the just war theory states governments, not the papacy, is responsible for the determination of a just war. And John Paul II also did not state the war in Iraq did not qualify as a just war.
Section 2267 of the Catechism states: “Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. If, however, nonlethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person. Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent” Available, but to be used rarely, acknowledging the state’s responsibility to make a moral choice.
The Church’s position on abortion, as you well know, is absolute. It is immoral to take an innocent human life, which the Church believes to commence at fertilization. There is debate as to taking an innocent life through the death penalty and in war. Hence the more nuanced position. The Church places strong limits on the death penalty, though again permits the state to make a prudential (not amoral) judgment as to its application. The conflating of the Catholic positions on abortion with just war theory and the death penalty is disingenuous, as they are distinct factually and theologically on the spectrum of respect for life.
I understand and appreciate your profound disagreement with the Church’s positions. However, misrepresentation of the positions and the theology/philosophy backing them is not a good way to win an argument.
‘Puter actually had misgivings about posting in response to his friend’s misstatements of fact. Indeed, ‘Puter reached out to his fellow Gormogons for advice before responding. In his inimitable manner, Czar provided the perfect restatement:
Pick the fight.
[Czar’s] not deeply aware of the inner workings of the Church, having always lurked on the outskirts of religion. However, [Czar is] quite aware that there is a not-very-subtle shift within the Church right now to more conservative approaches. As [Volgi] noted in a long-ago post, there is a serious liberal contingent in Catholicism that seemed to interpret anything JPII said as a go-ahead for all sorts of whackdoodlery. Now with BXVI reminding everybody that JPII was not a blanket endorsement for liberalism (JPII was quite conservative in my opinion but tolerant of truly faithful expressions), they’re starting to protest and stammer. You’re seeing it with gay marriage, you’re seeing it with abortion (the Kennedy incident most clearly), and the complaints about the return to Latin masses. The banjo-hippies are starting to get very very nervous, and nervous liberals write lots and lots of screeds attempting to justify their positions.
[Czar] will say this regarding [college chum’s] suggestion that the Church lose its tax exempt status. Having an opinion and defending it when it becomes a political issue is not the same thing as a false argument that the Church has picked a political viewpoint. The Church is not endorsing any political viewpoint, but is objecting–correctly–to the un-American notion that the government can dictate what a religion can believe. [College chum] has utterly betrayed two things: he sees government as a religious body, and his aside “of which I am still a member” indicates that his faith left the Church quite a while ago, since it indicates he has entertained the possibility of leaving it to the point that it’s necessary to remind you, and more so himself, of that point.
Just so. ‘Puter’d been kicking around a response to the brouhaha regarding Bishop Tobin of Providence and Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI). ‘Puter couldn’t think of good way to get to the heart of the issue. In reading his college chum’s post, its shrill illogic and anger, and the refusal to accept fact, ‘Puter realized he’d found the perfect illustration of his problem with liberals and the Church. As a sweeping generalization, they want the Church to be about them, not about God and His immortal truth.
‘Puter’s beat and needs to recharge with a lunch of sauerkraut mojitos, with extra rum and a bratwurst garnish. Czar will be bringing the blood pudding. Now where’s Sleestak gotten off to?
Always right, unless he isn’t, the infallible Ghettoputer F. X. Gormogons claims to be an in-law of the Volgi, although no one really believes this.
’Puter carefully follows economic and financial trends, legal affairs, and serves as the Gormogons’ financial and legal advisor. He successfully defended us against a lawsuit from a liquor distributor worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid deliveries of bootleg shandies.
The Geep has an IQ so high it is untestable and attempts to measure it have resulted in dangerously unstable results as well as injuries to researchers. Coincidentally, he publishes intelligence tests as a side gig.
His sarcasm is so highly developed it borders on the psychic, and he is often able to insult a person even before meeting them. ’Puter enjoys hunting small game with 000 slugs and punt guns, correcting homilies in real time at Mass, and undermining unions. ’Puter likes to wear a hockey mask and carry an axe into public campgrounds, where he bursts into people’s tents and screams. As you might expect, he has been shot several times but remains completely undeterred.
He assures us that his obsessive fawning over news stories involving women teachers sleeping with young students is not Freudian in any way, although he admits something similar once happened to him. Uniquely, ’Puter is unable to speak, read, or write Russian, but he is able to sing it fluently.
Geep joined the order in the mid-1980s. He arrived at the Castle door with dozens of steamer trunks and an inarticulate hissing creature of astonishingly low intelligence he calls “Sleestak.” Ghettoputer appears to make his wishes known to Sleestak, although no one is sure whether this is the result of complex sign language, expert body posture reading, or simply beating Sleestak with a rubber mallet.
‘Puter suggests the Czar suck it.