Thursday, October 4, 2007

Coming Together, Coming Apart

To return to an earlier discussion, Joe Knippenberg has expressed skepticism about my argument that a Giuliani nomination would spur a socially-conservative third party candidate. Well, it turns out that reality is outstripping his skepticism: the New York Times reported several days ago that conservative evangelical leaders met over the previous weekend and concluded that a Giuliani nomination would spur them to explore the possibility of a third party candidate.

In the meantime, Archbishop Raymond Burke, the Catholic bishop who threatened to withhold communion from John Kerry in 2004, has now announced that he would withhold communion from Rudolf Giuliani. Giuliani's response indicates the true heart of the contemporary Republican party: "Archbishops have a right to their opinion, you know. There's freedom of religion in this country. There's no established religion, and archbishops have a right to their opinion. Everybody has a right to their opinion."

Giuliani - who claims to be a Catholic, in spite of several divorces and remarriages and his public support for abortion and gay marriage - reduces what Archbishop Burke calls "serious public sin" to a matter of opinion. His response is awfully similar to that of President of Columbia University when asked to justify why the President of Iran should be given a stage. The crazy Left and the crazy Libertarians continue to come together. May they continue to form their own party and reveal to everyone the true hollowness of their "beliefs."

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

So Roman Catholics are obliged to follow the Pope/Magisterium/Catechism on every issue of public policy? That is, there is a seamless and unproblematic move from religion to politics, where no distance at all separates your faith from your policy stances?

Or, are certain issues more important than others? Just imagine if all the Catholics who didn't follow their Church's teaching on birth control were denied communion...

Anonymous said...

Giuliani can't receive communion anyway, because he is divorced and (civilly) remarried (ironic perhaps, because his previous marriage didn't end very civilly).

Anonymous said...

Catholics, like Giuliani, who publicly encourage others (Catholics and otherwise) to engage in sinful actions (as defined by the Church itelf) shouldn't receive communion because they have publicly declared themselves to be impenitent. These folks differ from those who privately don't follow the Church's teaching on birth control, but make no public statement about it insofar as the actions of the latter remain either within the realm of the confessional or rest on the conscience of the individual sinner.

Robert said...

Amen to your two closing sentences.

Anonymous said...

I suppose I'm more interested in everyone's response to the first part of my comment than the latter.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

Catholics must act on what they believe to be true. There is a vast scope for prudence in politics, but that doesn't mean you can act in contradiction to moral truth. For example, there is a broad degree of discretion on legislation promoting moral private behavior, or in exercising the preferential option for the poor, because there are disagreements about how those principles might best be realized. But if you hold something to be true, and abandon that when you move from politics to religion, then you're being disingenuous - for example, torture is always in contradiction to the principle of human dignity and therefore never licit. There is much that we hold to be true that isn't germaine to politics (e.g. the nature of the Trinity, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the efficacy of the sacraments), but moral beliefs are another matter. Frankly, the Magisterium/Catechism doesn't deal with that many of the specifics of public policy, and although the Pope's words should always be heeded, they are not Authoritative in matters that require prudential discretion (e.g. determining whether to ban prostitution) or practical knowledge (e.g. determining the effectiveness of a specific medical treatment).

There are more nuances, but I think I've touched on the main one.

As for whether some issues are more important than others, it is more a matter of whether some sins are more grievous than others, causing a full rupture with God's grace requiring sacramental reconciliation through Confession before receiving the Eucharist again. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops recently said that for married couples, the use of artificial birth control is, in ordinary circumstances, such an act so that Catholics who are doing so should not present themselves for communion (being denied communion is generally only regarded appropriate for public sins). In many countries, and in the US pre-Vatican II, it is/was not customary to receive Communion every week, but only when you knew you were not in a state of mortal sin. At the Polish parish my in-laws attend in Pennsylvania, no more than half of the parish ever seems to receive Communion, except on holidays like Easter and Christmas, when almost all members have just attended Confession.