Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Commenter Joe D'Hippolito has a commentary up at FrontPageMagazine.com that begins with the following.

In the avalanche of criticism directed at Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican Party’s vice-presidential nominee, perhaps the most absurd chunks come from a corner that ostensibly concerns itself with tolerance and justice in the name of Jesus Christ. From these progressives, one hears a unique take: Sarah Palin should not be elected president because her daughter is pregnant; worse yet, she committed “apostasy” when she was 12-years-old.

The Catholic Left – notably Michael Sean Winters and Garry Wills – is part of the campaign to destroy Palin. The Catholic Left wants to provide pseudo-theological cover for Catholic liberals who wish to vote for the Democratic ticket of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden, since Obama supports legalized abortion and Biden, a Catholic, opposes the Magisterium’s teaching on abortion.

Winters, a writer and political blogger for the liberal Catholic magazine America, declares Palin to be an apostate. The Los Angeles Times reported on Aug. 30 that Palin was baptized into the Catholic Church as an infant in Idaho. Soon afterward, the Times reported, Palin’s family moved to Alaska and attended the Wasilla Assembly of God Church – a Pentecostal congregation in which Palin was baptized again at 12.

“One searches the Code of Canon Law in vain for the term ‘ex-Catholic,’” Winters wrote on America’s blog Sept. 4. “Similarly, the Catholic Church does not recognize the ritual the Times called ‘re-baptism.’ More importantly, it is difficult to see how submitting oneself to a ‘re-baptism’ would not be a renunciation of your prior baptism. And the technical term for renouncing one’s baptism is apostasy.”

Winters’ pomposity becomes more pronounced as his post continues: “The Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law … recognizes that in a situation like Palin’s, the severity of the crime could be mitigated by diminished personal freedom: Even a precocious teenager who commits an act of apostasy might be so strongly influenced by familial considerations that the perpetrator’s guilt is diminished.”

“Severity of the crime”? What crime? Since when is it a crime in the United States – which guarantees freedom of religious expression in the First Amendment of its Constitution – for children to attend their parents’ church? Since when are young children responsible for their parents’ decisions? Besides, what is it about Palin’s adolescent act of faith that gives Winters the right to label her “precocious?”

“No one is suggesting that Palin’s apostasy should prevent her from being elected to high office,” Winters continues. “But, while many Catholics may warm to Palin’s moral views, for example, her opposition to abortion, the cavalier way she evidently treats an act of severe sacramental and canonical significance should give pause to those who take their religion seriously. Palin could show her respect for the Catholic Church and its canons by requesting a formal separation from the Church from her local bishop. This might not be good politics but it would be good for her soul.”

Given that Palin’s family changed churches when she was an infant, it is highly doubtful that Palin ever perceived herself as a Catholic. Perhaps if Palin promoted herself as a Catholic or proclaimed that her opinions reflected Catholic thinking, then Winters might have a point. But as the next passage makes clear, Winters’ opinion about the state of Palin’s soul merely obscures his real concern: “[I]t is beyond hypocritical for certain conservative Catholics to denounce Joe Biden because he is Catholic and does not support making abortion illegal while applauding a self-described ‘hockey Mom’ who is skating close to apostasy.”

Go to the website to continue reading.

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