Not so Holy Shit
"I was raised Catholic."
That's what I usually tell people who ask me about my religion. It conveys my religious/cultural upbringing, as well as letting people know that I don't go to church anymore.
Most people leave it at that, but some keep going:
"But are you still Catholic?"
"I think so, but you might have to ask Pope Benedict," has been my pat answer.
After seeing this piece of trash in USA today I may be leaning towards a flat"No."
This was produced by Catholic Answers Action at www.caaction.com. First of all, I'm not even sure Catholic Answers Action qualifies as a phrase, but this is a minor problem. In 2/3 of a page, they detail "Your Role as a Catholic Voter". Apparently, there are 5 Non-Negotiable Issues:
3. Embryonic Stem Cell Research
4. Human Cloning
5. Homosexual "Marriage" (Their quotes, not mine)
Needless to say, they are against all of the above. These issues are "intrinsically evil and must never be promoted by law...fundamentally conflict with the moral law and can never be performed under any circumstances".
For each, they cite an argument and a church document. Interestingly, or not, only abortion and euthanasia can quote an encyclical (papal teaching) -- the others cite releases from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (run by Cardinal Ratzinger prior to his elevation -- and oddly, now run by a former SF bishop). None of them -- note NONE of them -- are protected by ex cathedra papal infallibility. For those of you keeping score, the only two infallible teachings are: (1) the Immaculate Conception of Mary (without original sin) and (2) the Assumption of Mary (body and soul) to heaven. The rest is still open for argument and changing with the times.
Before going any further, can we agree that allowing something and promoting something are two different things? Allowing abortion, gay marriage, etc., does not promote them. I usually vote for "pro-choice" (terrible term, by the way) candidates, but it would be the rare circumstance that I wouldn't try to avert, much less promote, an abortion.
On a lighter note, the biblical reference against homosexuality is usually Leviticus 18:22:
'Do not have sex with a man as you would with a woman.' Believe me -- I don't!
As to the issues, it amazes me that the 5 Non-Negotiable issues are things that Jesus never even mentioned. Obviously, there are reasonable extrapolations from His teachings, and this is necessary as times and technology change. There were some bigger issues that He did mention, thought, that the caaction.com conveniently left out of their list. I'll list 3:
3) Capital Punishment
They were ready for this, and mentioned these issues at the end of the ad: "There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion evenamong waging war and applying the death penalty, but not howeverwith regard to abortion and euthanasia." This is from a piece by then Cardinal Ratzinger himself, neither an encyclical nor a CDF writing. And it covers only 2 of their 5 points. Poorly.
As to war, there is a Catholic "Just War Doctrine", which does allow violence by a state in certain circumstances. Unfortunately for Catholic Answers Action, Pope John Paul II himself condemned the Iraq War as unjust. As the CAA seems to prefer other voices:
"It is necessary that the community of nations makes the decision, not a particular power...the concept of a 'preventive war' does not appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church"
Who was this sage? None other than John Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, himself.
As to capital punishment, there may be some wiggle room, but not much. Execution is only appropriate..."in cases of absolute necessity, in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today, however, as a result of steady immprovement in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."
--John Paul II.
Oddly, it's from the same encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, the CAA cite for their positions on abortion and euthanasia. Hard to see how they skipped that part. If you'd like a better authority, how about:
"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Matthew 5:44
Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the death penalty, is it. Or war, for that matter.
In discussing poverty, we'll stay with Jesus for a moment. He loved to discuss poverty -- in the New Testament 1 of every 16 verses is about poverty. (Jim Wallis, God's Politics, p. 212. Good book if you like this stuff) Let's look at that tally of comments by Jesus again:
Abortion = 0
Euthanasia = 0
Stem Cells = 0
Cloning = 0
Homosexual Marriage = 0
Taking Care of the Poor = Thousands
Hmmm. How did poverty not make the non-negotiable list? Must have had a poor lobbyist. In the end though, the arguments above, while to point, are unnecessary. Catholicism is based on the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus wasn't vague about what was important.
"The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength...You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:28-31)
Combine that with "Do not judge, or you, too, will be judged" (Matt 7:1) and "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone" (John 8:7) and you may just have to re-order your list.
Not judging, BTW, doesn't mean you can't have an opinion, and make it clear with your vote. I, for instance, think that a leopard doesn't change his spots. If you run as a moderate, then run to the right -- only to fail and become a moderate again -- I'm guessing you'll govern from the right again if given the chance. So I'll be voting for someone other than the gubernator, who apparently doesn't think legislation is the right way to change things (like gay marriage).
Happy election day! I'm not sure she best represents the entire democratic party, but here's to my congresswoman, future Speaker Pelosi -- Salud!