Friday, October 17, 2008
"PRIEST-M.D. PENS ESSAY ON POLITICS AND THE CHURCH"
In Matt Abbott's column today medical doctor and Eastern Catholic priest, Father Robert Markovitch, unpacks Catholic history and the anti-Catholic sentiment starting with the early Church, touching on the major opposition to Catholicism particularly in America up to the present time when the main focus is on abortion. Abbott has given permission to disseminate the essay. I'm posting only the last part of it which relates directly to the upcoming election. To read the entire essay check out Abbott's column at Renew America.
2008: The Battle Rages On!
Catholics in America have suffered grave wounds to identity and mission over the past two centuries. Yet, the greatest danger is the surrender of our consciences. The biggest issue of conscience is the right to life of the most vulnerable of the human family: the unborn, the handicapped newborns, and the frail elderly. Others argue that the war in Iraq is more important. Catholic teaching offers a way to sort through this dilemma. The war in Iraq, first invasion, then occupation, is viewed by Catholics through the lens of Just War doctrine. The invasion is complete, and the occupation continues with the goal of establishing a better regime in Iraq. As some hierarchs have pointed out, the application of the Catholic teaching on Just War is a prudential matter. In other words, there are times when the application of authentic faithful Catholicism permits differences of perception as to when a war is just. Such cases do, in fact, exist. The decision rests with the government authority, in this case, a non-Catholic, President George W. Bush.
The abortion issue, by way of contrast, is not prudential. Abortion is not a matter of situations, nor is it ever a permitted choice among options. The direct taking of an innocent life is never permitted — no exceptions. It is a matter of universal principle. No government has the right to deprive whole categories of the human family of their right to live; when a government does so, as in Roe vs. Wade in 1973, that government has violated itself. Catholics have a moral duty to violate such laws. The danger to the moral legitimacy of the nation here is obvious. What is more important to Catholics, though, is the moral integrity of the Church. When politicians step forward, claiming to be Catholics while endorsing the American un-Catholic concept of selective killing as a manifestation of liberty, the Catholic faithful are called to defend the Church against such attacks, and with urgency.
This year's election calls forth a faithful response in light of Catholic teaching. There are four candidates spread over two party tickets. They have found their places in the battle between the two shining cities on the hill.
The Republicans have brought forth Sen. John McCain, a non-Catholic Christian in a second marriage, with a history of helping the poor through adoption. His running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin is a Christian, apparently formerly Catholic (as are many Americans), who speaks of the mythic American inheritance as a theological/national shining city on a hill, echoing Pres. Ronald Reagan. Both Republican candidates are very pro-life. The Democrats have brought forth Barack Obama, an American with a background of an immigrant Muslim father and a Christian mother, whose secular community organizing work led him to a racially-focused Protestant community which offers sharp denunciations of America, especially white America. He is, in the view of many, the candidate with the most violently anti-life record nominated by either major party, ever. His running mate, Sen. Joseph Biden, wandered from a Catholic, mainstream, Irish working-class background to endorse the un-Catholic notions of a violent pro-choice position. Violence with a smile and a smooth tone is still violence.
The famous Catholic thinker in 20th Century America, Father John Courtney Murray, was prophetic when he warned that the modern barbarian wears a Brooks Brothers suit. Sen. Biden found a partner in darkness in the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, another Catholic with a faith problem. The slander of Biden and Pelosi against their own Church merits a closer look.
Speaker Pelosi made the first step with false accusations against her own Church. She soiled the reputation of the Catholic Church by portraying herself as an ardent Catholic who had studied the issue, alleging that Catholics don't know when life begins, and dragging St. Augustine into her dark portrait of ignorance. The Catholic Church, whose very mission is to embrace all truth, with an abundant history of loving and promoting learning, and a thousand-year history of founding and supporting universities, eagerly endorses all new learning, including scientific advances. St. Augustine sought the best science of his time, as a good Catholic always will. But in the 1800s, medicine came to a firm knowledge of male and female seed, and fertilization as the beginning of life. These discoveries sparked a physician's crusade against abortion in 1800s America. The refusal of the Catholic Church to allow any direct abortion, is based on the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill."
Abortion is impermissible in the private lives of Catholics and in their public service. This is a matter of integrity. A good Catholic has no cause to resist truth; Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, is a fugitive on the run from the truth. She should not be permitted to drag the Church's reputation with her.
Sen. Biden says he wants to be a practicing Catholic. Well, his own Catholic bishops have made it easy for him. The Catholic bishops in America have corrected his error in a way that even people who can't understand science can grasp. It's not above his pay grade, not at all. Truth isn't personal or private; it's for everyone. Catholics, by their very name — after all, "Catholic" means "according to the whole" — understand this best of all. A morality so personal we wouldn't impose it on ourselves is no morality at all. We don't check our consciences at the door when we go to work. Sen. Biden's opportunity to be faithful is quite simple, but will he go there? He talks a lot about where he came from — so will he remember where he came from when the chips are down for today's youngsters? And if he forgets where he came from when it comes to the children, should the people who came from where he came from bother to remember him? God bless ya, Sen. Biden! Really.
Today's basic civilization issue of life sets atop a great shifting field of battle. It is worthwhile to understand how so. At first glance, the ideologies of Obama and Palin appear to be polar opposites. A deeper analysis shows, however, that both come from a common root. The Palin ideology finds a place for America in salvation history as a providential good. The theological system of Obama's faith community portrays America a place of substantial evil in the economy of salvation. Both share a common idea — that America has a major place in God's plan for the world. Neither of these views has a place in Catholic revelation. Cities that kill their own children don't belong on a hill — and they don't shine either. For Catholics, there is one shining city on a hill, one New Jerusalem, and she is the Church. And we must defend our Church in our public life, in any election campaign, against all attacks.
These elections present the Church with a challenge: that faithful Catholics maintain their integrity and conscience in the public forum. Those who fail to do so should be corrected publicly, by both Church hierarchs and faithful Catholics. Many Catholic hierarchs have done so over the past months. We should support them by pointing out the betrayal of the Catholic Church that "Catholic" politicians engage in by the violence of their "pro-choice" stands. We should let such politicians know that they have betrayed both God and fellow Catholics. We might thereby bring back an errant brother, and we might also reconvert a governor in the process. The battle is joined — to the barricades! Shine forth in splendor, New Jerusalem!