Communigate

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New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey will comply in part with Newark Archbishop John J. Myers' new opinion that abortion rights supporters should not receive communion: He will not take the corpus christi at public mass (though he might do so in private).

You may have noticed that this new move to deny the eucharist to pro-choice politicians varies from place to place. Washington's Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, for example, seems to have given John Kerry the cover he needs, for the time being. (And Bob Novak objects.) While it's unclear that the principle of subsidiarity applies to RCC governance, this seems like a civilized way of keeping the controversies as local as possible.

Novak and an assortment of Catholic pundits are calling for the no-wafer rule to be applied strictly; Andrew Sullivan lodges an objection to these calls. Obviously, the little princes of the church are free to meddle in politics if they choose, and the possibility that John Kerry or Nancy Pelosi or George Pataki might lose the Catholic vote (if there is such a thing) costs me exactly zero (0) seconds of sleep. But I do have to ask whether these garden variety American politicians are really more deserving of religious censure than Generalissimo Francisco Franco. The late Spanish dictator retained the ardent support of the church in Spain while his regime was killing people by the box lot. I believe he was a daily communicant.*

I'm sure interested parties can demonstrate that this seeming inconsistency is either justified or immaterial or not inconsistent at all. But it's a real stretch to pretend that there's some kind of immutable moral law demanding that the bishops take this measure.

* While I've always heard Franco kept a daily minister on retainer, I don't know for sure and have found no indication one way or another on the web. I dont' know much about Franco except that he's still dead. Portugal's Ant?nio de Oliveira Salazar, whose platform of "fado, Fatima, and football" kept him in office for 40 golden years, was more my style.

NEXT: Tom Tom with a Club

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  1. “I’d like to see these points discussed more widely in greater detail, and see the no-wafer crowd try to explain why, in a civilization with empirical logic, rational argument, and hot and cold running water, anybody should be regard this kind of medieval flapdoodle with any reaction except horror. ”

    because it’s not worth the effort? or because so many people, religious and secular, fill me with horror? (bemused horror, perhaps?)

    medievalism aside – as i’ve always thought of that as one of the catholic church’s most endearing traits – my biggest problem with the entire christian tradition is that it has an expiration date. and i do, on alternating tuesdays, sit down a worry a little bit about being in a country run by and filled with people who have, at some point in their psyches, a buried ticking clock.

    me no like neo-osirian death cult eschaton, boss man.

    and then i drink some scotch, forget about it and move on.

    cause what are you going to do?

  2. I was raised Catholic. I have run for office, and espoused pro-Choice views. It would bother me not one whit if our local bishop decided that I would be refused communion, because I would never have the audacity to present myself to receive it. For the life of me, I cannot understand why “Catholics” who do not agree with fundamental principles of their religion cling to the church. The only explanation that makes sense is that their cultural connection to “being Catholic” is more important to them than doctrinal differences.* That Sen. Kerry, the faux-Irish-American, would also defend his status as a faux-Catholic makes sense, as being identified as an “Irish Catholic” doesn’t hurt a politician in Massachusetts, where that is a huge demographic.

    Communion aside, Kerry may be busted for “living in sin.” He supposedly had an earlier marriage annulled, but these folks say “prove it.” Whether he applied for one, or received it, would be confidential, but he has joked about it publicly.

    http://www.catholicleague.org/04press_releases/quarter2/040412_kerry.htm

    BTW, communion is not necessary in Catholicism for the forgiveness of sins. They have an entire sacrament, Reconciliation aka Confession, for that. The dirty secret among the modern faithful is how infrequently they avail themselves of it nowadays. One isn’t supposed to approach the altar for communion with a “mortal sin” unshriven, and one was always supposed to confess at least once a year, and then take the sacrament. This was part of the “Easter duty.”

    Kevin

    *As a young man I developed a theological difference with the Catholic Church. They believe in a god, and I don’t.

  3. medievalism aside – as i’ve always thought of that as one of the catholic church’s most endearing traits – my biggest problem with the entire christian tradition is that it has an expiration date. and i do, on alternating tuesdays, sit down a worry a little bit about being in a country run by and filled with people who have, at some point in their psyches, a buried ticking clock.

    Yeah. Religion is really, really bad.

    But I’m actually thinking, believe it or not, that nothing could be quite as bad as all the notoriously anti-religion Marxist regimes who maundered across the globe during the 20th C., and who murdered – let’s see, what was it at last count? – around 150 million people?

    But that’s just me….

  4. You see, there is the old Catholicism, and the new Catholicism….

  5. Rosie: The large majority of Communists, as far as I know, also don’t believe in the Loch Ness Monster. Does that demonstrate how evil a-Nessie-ism is?

    The “communism is bad, therefore irreligion is bad” argument has been refuted repeatedly, but that doesn’t stop it from coming up again and again.

  6. Religious groups, just like advocacy groups, are allowed to have opinions. If they want to slap around a candidate, that’s up to them–they have to decide if it’s wise, either for p.r. or religious reasons. A candidate also has to decide if he feels the need to follow the dictates of his religion or not. Ultimately, the voters can decide who made the right decision.

    By the way, the Catholic Church itself is not officially capable of making mistakes, only some of its members

  7. Tim,

    I appreciate the extra detail. 🙂

  8. rosie, thun, dig it:

    the notorious secularist murderers of the 20th century are, well, the notorious murders of the 20th century.

    but they don’t run america. if they did, outside of not being able to have this little exchange and probably being dead, i’d be saying nasty shit about them.

    besides, i fail to see what you’re saying outside of “religion killed a lot less people than communism” to which i would not only say “maybe” but point to the myriad ethnic and religious traditions which ceased to exist after coming in contact with the way, the truth and the excessive firepower.

    [which is also the way of the world, sadly. but there are religious cultures which assimilate and religious cultures which set fires…marxism being one of the latter.]

    none of which has shit to do with crap. like i said, what the fuck am i going to do about it? i have no urge to interfere in their lives or your life.

  9. Tim,

    Inconsistency in the Catholic Church’s actions is nothing new. Do any of these church’s stop the wafer thing for politicians who don’t support anti-contraceptive laws, or who support stem-cell research, or therapeutic cloning?

  10. Tim,

    Ever read Javier Cercas’ “Soldiers of Salamis?”

  11. Franco was a right-wing dictator. Kerry is a left-wing Democrat. Clearly Kerry is far more deserving of censure. For once, some common ground between Reason posters and the Catholic Church 🙂

    Seriously, though, as a practicing Catholic (yes, I know, throw the tomatoes…) who believes that the set of all things that are illegal should only be a subset of the set of all things that are immoral, I think it’s a mistake for the bishops to impose these sanctions.

    More importantly, Jesus said “When two or three are gathered in my name…” not “When two or three are gathered in unanimous agreement on doctrine…”

  12. Whoa, genocide is a lesser sin compared to abortion? I need to start reading the fine print on the doctrine more carefully. Even the most ardent pro-lifer should be able to agree that the murder of one baby is not quite in the same league as, oh, let’s say the murder of millions of people.

    What people need to understand is that Catholicism is, from the standpoint of Catholics, more about our culture, our families, our beliefs, and our parishes. For many of us, the dictates of one allegedly celibate man in Rome are less important than our ties to our immediate Catholic community. Sure, within our immediate Catholic community there are some people who care a whole heck of a lot about the dictates of one person in Rome. But we love those people all the same. They’re our family and friends, after all, even if they do get a little weird about the obedience to the hierarchy.

  13. I see no inconsistency. Franco was a right-wing Fascist who fought against liberalism, and the church supported him. McGreevey is a left-wing Democrat who promotes liberalism, so naturally the church opposes him.

  14. “The Church isn’t meddling in politics; it’s meddling in the lives of politicians.”

    Ah, that must be why Sen. Kerry was quietly called aside by his parish priest and spoken to in private. How admirable of the Church to avoid making public statements singling out one party’s candidate in the middle of an election season. Not meddling in politics my ass.

  15. thoreau, you can be Catholic all you want. It doesn’t mean your modern liberal positions by which you’re trying to measure others have anything to do with the Church, whose rules stand outside temporal considerations.

    As far as I understand it, the Church can forgive those who sin, and will not actively turn against them, unless they decide to turn their back on the Church. Communists were explicitly atheist and so turned their back on the Church–fascists, for all their violence, did not. Franco is even easier to explain, since he fought the good fight against an army who were killing priests.

    The church can back dictators–that’s Caesar’s business. It’s only the rulers who deny their people a chance to practice the Church’s religion who cannot be redeemed.

  16. uh, joe…they can’t exactly call bush out, can they? 🙂

    most of my in-laws are pissed about this as well, being in the “notbush” camp. and legions more pissed about this than the truly horrific shit that’s gone down; but one involves grumbling ineffectually and the other involves seriously thinking about what sort of people you give money to each week.

  17. June,

    Ahh, Franco’s regime also killed priests. What the Catholic Church liked about Franco was that he opposed female suffrage and other like horribles.

  18. Once again I thank god I’m an athiest.

  19. An institution as large and diverse as the Catholic Church is going to have inconsistent actions within itself. I’d probably be frightened of it if it was always consistent, and I’m Catholic. The Church, while trying to perform God’s will on Earth, is a human institution, subject to all of the frailties and irrationalities of its leaders and lay people.

    That said, I can see why American bishops are upset with American Catholic politicians ignoring an important facet of Catholic dogma to pick up votes, be they Republican or Democratic. Abortion goes to the heart of whether a person sees life as worth protecting or expendable. On a certain repugnent level, it’s lives for votes. Perhaps the bishops raising this issue haven’t been as consistent as they could be (contraception, death penalty, just war, etc), yet Catholic politicians have been the most flippant with abortion than any other issue reflecting Catholic teaching.

    While I understand the inconsistency the Church may have had with other butchers, that doesn’t mean that what certain bishops are doing now is wrong. It just means that any Spanish bishop who gave Franco credibility was wrong.

  20. As the first guy said, the Church is entitled to whatever opinion it wants here. And it’s up to the individual whether or not to pay attention to it.

  21. It’s not surprising the top clergy don’t understand the limits of government in a democratic republic, and can’t tell the difference between “illegal” and “immoral.” The medieval monarchism that pervades their outlook has blinded them.

    Thrones and crowns and sceptres. Feast of Christ the King. Yuck.

  22. The Catholic Church was also quite friendly with Mussolini. He encouraged such things as bringing crucifixes back into public schools.

    As I understand it, the denial of communion isn’t just exclusion from the community. Without communion, one cannot have one’s sins remitted. That’s why excommunication was once such a big deal. Thus, the Church is threatening politicians with Hell if they don’t vote the right way. Whether anyone believes that any more is open to question, though.

  23. Ever read Javier Cercas’ “Soldiers of Salamis?”

    No, what is it?

  24. We aren’t seriously raising a flag that Catholicism may not be consistent, are we?

    As a college prof of mine put it, there is a lot to be said for the ritual, or as he put it the ‘smells and bells’ that Catholicism offers, but no one would ever accuse the church of either philisophical rigor or historical consistency.

  25. Jason steadfastly refuses to edit his own posts, and, lo, has the grammar and spelling of a monkey in that one …

  26. The issue isn’t “Catholicism,” Jason. The issue is the top clergy. Not the same thing at all.

  27. After all the sleazy scandals the Church has been involved in these past few decades, they should be damned grateful that any public figure is still willing to label themselves with the “Catholic” tag. Funny, how being pro-choice will get a man denied absolution, but being pro-pedophile rape is readily forgiven.

  28. joe:

    I seem to recall that the top clergy determines what Catholicism is, don’t they? Don’t protestants always gripe that Catholics don’t adhere to The Book, but to current administrative decisions?

    This is all strictly from the outside looking in, mind you …

  29. Jason, a libertoid analogy for you

    Catholicism:Top Clergy::Constitutional Law:Judges

  30. joe:

    Heh. So protestants are making a kind of original intent argument, while the catholics are more of an ‘organinc document’ bunch? Does the judicial branch of catholicism have a commerce clause or a common welfare line somewhere that lets them do anything they want, too?

  31. The Catholic Church’s creed, it’s statement of belief, includes God, Jesus, blah blah, but also “…one holy catholic and apostolic church.”

    The church is not just an instrument that humans set up to do God’s will. It is in and of itself a divine instrument – sort of the role the Book plays in Islam. This allows the top clergy to claim that their opinions (maybe not the right word, but bear with me), as well as “church tradition,” are in and of themselves expresssions of divine will. Protestant denominations’ vision of their churches are quite different from this.

  32. Of course, “Protestants” is a very, very broad term. Many of the sects have radically different ideas on the matter.

  33. What I don’t understand is that the politicians are not themselves having abortions, nor performing abortions, both of which is not approved of by the church. The politicinas are only allowing people to have the option to have an abortion.

    If the Catholic Church is now demanding that Catholic politicians legislate Catholic morality then that is a huge departure from how the C.C. used to deal with the US ( and I suppose the internal politic of other countries). What will be next, the outlawing of meat sales on Fridays in Lent?

    I think this is a bone thrown to the Republicans for their funding of faith based inititives.

  34. As a fellow recovering Catholic friend once told me, “American Catholic’s make the mistake of applying their democratic upbringing to a church that is largely un-democratic institution.” They believe that criticizing or defying the church’s mandates as if it was some sort of civil rights issue will somehow sway the cardinals and the pope and lead to progressive change.

    This ignores the fact that priests, bishops, cardinals and the pope himself are not selected by Catholics at large, but are appointed from within the heirarchy of the chrurch. Of course, you can imagine that such a set-up supports a conservative outlook with little room for reformist ideas. (Look how long it took the church to admit Galileo was right.) Short of an ecclesiastic coup, I don’t expect the church to change it’s mind about abortion, contraception, or homosexuality anytime soon, if ever.

  35. The Catholic Church’s creed, it’s statement of belief, includes God, Jesus, blah blah, but also “…one holy catholic and apostolic church.”

    Actually, this statement (sans “apostolic”) is in the Apostle’s Creed, also, which is used by all the Protestant churches. It’s “catholic,” with a small “c.”

  36. The more I think about this the angrier I get. The anger is mainly along the line of Native NYer.

    The church is attempting to impose its doctrine as NATIONAL POLICY.

    As stated above, what is next?

    Its policy on woman?

    Its policy on pedophiles?

    We need to find a REALLY brave politican and have the move to remove the Catholic Church’s tax exempt status for meddling in politics.

  37. The Church isn’t meddling in politics; it’s meddling in the lives of politicians.

  38. Mark S, the question at hand is not the Church’s policy on abortion (where democratic principles may not be appropriate), but on the American government’s policy on abortion, where democratic and constitutional principles should be the guiding factor. It is the Church that is imposing its internal politics where they don’t belong, in this case.

  39. The Church isn’t meddling in politics; it’s meddling in the personal lives of politicians.

  40. It’s their church, the Cat Lickers can make the rules any way they want. The rest of us can throw rocks if we want to and these dopes offer lots of windows for breaking. So it CAN be fun.

    Sidebar: Many protestant churches do NOT give any attention to the Apotles Creed. You’ll find that mostly in the mainline Catholic Lite sort of denominations but rarely in the evangelical (fundamentalist) churches, many of whom equate being Catholic with devil worship.

    The religous hegemony assumed by us non religious folks isn’t nearly as pervasive as we sometimes think it is.

  41. Inconsistency in the Catholic Church’s actions is nothing new.

    Obviously. My argument here is not with RCC “teachings” but with the Novaks, Ponnuru, Weigel and the rest of the more-catholic-than-the-pope crowd, who pretend they’re upholding some abstract principle that stands outside of time.

    In fact, the Catechism treats abortion (which is automatic grounds for excommunication) as a more serious sin than, for example, genocide (which is not)-a point I didn’t raise earlier because I didn’t want anybody to think I was accusing Franco of genocide. That puts the blowhards on fairly solid theological ground, but it also hints at what how insane the church’s “teachings” really are. I’d like to see these points discussed more widely in greater detail, and see the no-wafer crowd try to explain why, in a civilization with empirical logic, rational argument, and hot and cold running water, anybody should be regard this kind of medieval flapdoodle with any reaction except horror.

  42. Joe: I agree that this Bishop’s arm twisting is nothing more than a ham-handed attempt at secular policy change by holding one’s “soul” (if such a thing exits) hostage. I was just taking about the attitudes of American Catholics Vs. the attitudes of the actual heiracrcy of the church.

  43. We need to find a REALLY brave politican and have the move to remove the Catholic Church’s tax exempt status for meddling in politics.

    Madalyn Murray O’Hair was there decades ago, a prophet without honor in her own country.

  44. Sidebar: Many protestant churches do NOT give any attention to the Apotles Creed. You’ll find that mostly in the mainline Catholic Lite sort of denominations but rarely in the evangelical (fundamentalist) churches, many of whom equate being Catholic with devil worship.

    Yes, I should have said “Mainline Protestant” churches. Which are NOT “Catholic Lite,” except perhaps to the unchurched. The point is that the word “catholic,” in the creed, does not refer to the Catholic Church.

    I’m “religious folks,” BTW.

  45. Madalyn Murray O’Hair was there decades ago, a prophet without honor in her own country.

    And wasn’t her organization, American Atheists, tax-exempt, a status she fought hard for?

    Go figure.

  46. I was actually thinking of the fundamentalist stuff – the legalistic #*&@ that seems to define Christianity in people’s minds these days. Christianity actually is a very good religion, it turns out – there are lots of very interesting Christian mystics, for instance – and I’m a Westerner so my choice is to take this particular path. I agree about the various threads you’re talking about, though; I’m not a syncretist, but I like reading and thinking about other religions, and I like the idea of inter-influence.

    “Individual liberty” is a great thing, surely, but I think it was really the “American Experiment” (via the Scottish philosophers of the 18th Century, some say) that gave birth to it, no? We were lucky here, because we were far from Europe and far from authority. There’s a theory, actually, that the Enlightenment gave rise to Deism, which allowed for a limited window of opportunity – Deism didn’t last long as a philosophical approach to religion – for the founders to disestablish the Church in America.

    It’s actually impossible to tease religion apart from human history, though. It can’t be done. In fact, if you’re interested in religion, you get everything else along with it: history, anthropology, politics, sociology – everything.

    I like “separation of Church and State” very much, though. Your religion – or your disinterest in religion – is simply not my business, or anyone else’s. It’s a stroke of genius. And very good luck, maybe.

  47. Whatever, Joe. I don’t see how you can separate McGreevey the individual from McGreevey the politician, though. Are they supposed to say nothing, just because he’s a politician? I don’t think they’d make that exception for any other group. Anyway, they’re talking about denying him communion because he’s divorced and remarried, too – which used to happen all the time, as I’m sure you know.

    Two years ago, they issued the same sort of admonition to politicians about gay issues, too – and I’m gay, myself, and this should bother me a lot. It doesn’t, though; I don’t think the Catholic Church is The One True Church, and it has very little effect on my life. So maybe that’s why we have different viewpoints on this issue.

    The hierarchy is cracking down on all sorts of things, it seems, and I know a lot of people who have left the Church over one thing or another. Everybody makes their choices.

  48. Mr. Cavanaugh:
    The answer is simple:
    The bishops who gave Franco Communion were wrong.
    The bishops who have been giving pro-choice politicians Communion for the last thirty years have also been wrong. Wimpy bishops have been a common theme here.
    In fact, the whole conception of the problem advanced by many commenters here is fallacious. The move to deny Communion to Kerry et al. is a move mainly spearheaded by outraged laypeople. So far about three bishops have gone along. This is not a “crackdown” by reactionary bishops; the American bishops are overwhelmingly liberal.

  49. However wacky one thinks the conservative Catholic/political conservative types connected to National Review are, they do support hitting the Patakis and Ridges with the same sanctions they would have the bishops lay on the Kerrys and Cuomos. From:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/04_05_02_corner-archive.asp

    IT AIN’T SO, JOE [Ramesh Ponnuru]

    Joe Conason takes NR, the Standard, and other conservatives to task for advocating the denial of communion to John Kerry–but not to pro-abortion Republican politicians who identify as Catholics, such as George Pataki, Tom Ridge, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s a dumb cheap shot. Conason quotes a Corner post, for example, in which Peter Robinson quoted an email that was tough on Kerry; Conason identifies either Robinson or the correspondent (unoriginally) as “an indignant little Torquemada.” He does not mention that Robinson has explicitly said that he thinks that Pataki and the other pro-abortion Catholic Republicans should also be denied communion. So have I. (And by the way, it’s just sloppy to treat a letter quoted by Peter as NR’s position.) One of NRO’s earliest essays on the subject manages not to mention Kerry or the Republican or Democratic parties; it is solely directed toward the explication of the principle at stake. (Posted at 05:03 PM) 2 May, 2004

    So, have your theological and canonical disagreements with the Church Militant. It is no never mind to me, as I quit long ago. But you can’t accuse them of hypocrisy, even if you think them wrong on the merits. Some of them are even annoyed with pro-life Sen. Santorum for endorsing pro-choice incumbent Arlen Specter in the recent Republican primary. Santorum’s out is that a Specter-less Senate might be organized by the Democrats, making it easier for the pro-choice forces to thwart pro-life legislation. Prudence allowed him to avoid supporting the pro-life Toomey.

    This is all reminiscent of the “don’t waste your vote” arguments we libertarians have to put up with, isn’t it?

    Kevin

  50. dhex, the could call out Pataki. They could call out Ridge. They could call out the Governator. But they don’t.

    ‘The “communism is bad, therefore irreligion is bad” argument has been refuted repeatedly, but that doesn’t stop it from coming up again and again.’ That’s because it’s fun to watch atheists do the hard work of taking it apart, and then ask why they apply exactly the opposite logic to episodes of religous violence.

  51. do you think if they were running for president they would, or are the bishops more comfortable with republican pro-choice catholics?

    i consider communism religious violence, for what it’s worth.

  52. Ah, that must be why Sen. Kerry was quietly called aside by his parish priest and spoken to in private. How admirable of the Church to avoid making public statements singling out one party’s candidate in the middle of an election season. Not meddling in politics my ass.

    Um, this didn’t just begin, you know. It started a couple of years ago, out of “election season” – if there is such a thing, that is.

    I’m not Catholic – I’m Episcopalian – and I don’t agree with the Catholic hierarchy on most things. But the Catholic hierarchy is free to what it wishes, including calling for politicians to legislate according to the Church’s standards.

    Catholic politicians are, in turn, free to leave the church, if they choose not to. See how that works?

  53. Rosie: The large majority of Communists, as far as I know, also don’t believe in the Loch Ness Monster. Does that demonstrate how evil a-Nessie-ism is?

    The “communism is bad, therefore irreligion is bad” argument has been refuted repeatedly, but that doesn’t stop it from coming up again and again.

    Well, I didn’t say that, so it’s no wonder you’re having trouble understanding.

    I didn’t say “irreligion is bad.” In fact, I like irreligion. (I like religion, too. I like “freedom of religion.”) I said “explicitly anti-religion.” And yes, I’m saying that I think there’s a connection between a government that is “explicitly anti-religion” and its subsequent behavior.

  54. My bad on the italicization above. Mea maxima culpa.

    Look, I agree religion is irrational. That’s one of its greatest strengths, actually, as well as being a weakness. It addresses the irrational in human psychology, and can, at its best, put some controls on that “Reason” can’t. It’s true that Christianity has been responsible for some horrific things. But at least also give it credit where it’s deserved; you live the post-Christian West, after all, where life is good. Christianity contributed to that also.

  55. (But, actually, Catholicism is the most rational and certainly the most thoroughly philosophically-fleshed-out of all Christian denominations. And as someone said above, why shouldn’t the Catholic hierarchy be strict on an issue that is central to the faith? Why should a religion defer the world of politics? Religion is, in its essence, a response to a higher calling.

    I don’t agree with withholding the sacraments; I think this is wrong. But it wouldn’t, certainly, be the first time, and what other sort of discipline is there in the Church, anyway? They are acting according to their beliefs, which is what all of us must do, in the end.)

  56. well…it did inspire some good art.

    beyond that, no, i have to disagree. if good was created, it was in spite of itself.

  57. uh, can’t Kerry just ignore these entreaties? it’s not like it’s church dogma not to allow people freedom of choice.

    The bishops (and the nutjobs at NR)are not speaking on matters of faith here, they’re still fallible, and they can’t excommunicate someone for allowing people freedom of choice (can they?)

  58. isn’t religion more pre-rational than irrational?

    you would be hard pressed to find a larger amount of theological writing than catholicism has.

    unless the “left behind” series counts. 🙂

  59. well…it did inspire some good art.

    Yes! And some of the best music ever written.

    But I think it’s much more than that. At the time of Christ, there were more slaves in Greece than free people. Infanticide was common, and children were their parents’ chattel, to be disposed of in any way the parents saw fit. It wasn’t a nice world, demos notwithstanding.

    I think English Common Law was highly influenced by Christianity, and this is really the basis for U.S. society today. The West is infused with Christian influence, for better or for worse; all our mores and customs come from it. In fact, probably only under Christianity could the idea of “separation of Church and State” arise; it’s contained in Christ’s “render unto Caesar” discussion.

    However, I agree that much of what we see in the religion today is – how shall we say it? – not what one would hope for.

  60. uh, can’t Kerry just ignore these entreaties? it’s not like it’s church dogma not to allow people freedom of choice.

    I think he can find a priest who will administer the sacraments – although that priest might be defrocked, at this point. Or he can attend an Old Catholic parish, or another church.

    The Catholic laity routinely ignores the Vatican on many matters. I think this is more serious, though, because it involves priests also (they are the only ones who can consecrate the bread and wine).

  61. rosie: i agree with a lot of that, but would add that most of what we hold dear came only in the last 300 years – notions of individual liberty and fun things of that nature. and largely because the two main bodies of christianity devoted themselves to wholesale slaughter of one another for a good long time.

    it took a lot of strife and dead to build the foundations of secular society as we know it.

    and christianity today, believe it or not, gives me a lot more hope than even 50 years ago. i think the continual splintering and schismatism of all religions benefits the enduser, the consumer if you will.

    if nothing else, think about how many people are picking up esoteric threads from judaism to hinduism and all sorts of modern religions in between. it will be interesting to see where it goes.

  62. “But the Catholic hierarchy is free to what it wishes, including calling for politicians to legislate according to the Church’s standards.”

    Yes they are, and when they do, it is proper to call them on their meddling in politics. As a Massachusetts Catholic who often found himself at odds with Cardinal Law, I am sick and tired of seeing the clergy spout off like any other talking head on political issues, then recoil in horror when they are criticized like any other political figure. And that, rosie, is exactly what your “They aren’t meddling in politics” comment looked like. If you can’t stand the heat, Your Excellency, stay out of the kitchen.

    “Catholic politicians are, in turn, free to leave the church, if they choose not to. See how that works?” Catholic politicians, like any other member of the Church, are also free to follow the Doctrine of Conscience, and dissent from Church teachings that aren’t ex-cathedra.

  63. so why are they fucking with kerry in particular, joe?

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