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American Catholicism’s Pact With the Devil

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American Catholicism’s Pact With the Devil

Post  MRyan on Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:01 am

American Catholicism’s Pact With the Devil

http://ricochet.com/main-feed/American-Catholicism-s-Pact-With-the-Devil

Paul A. Rahe • Feb 10 at 5:21pm



You have to hand it to Barack Obama. He has unmasked in the most thoroughgoing way the despotic propensities of the administrative entitlements state and of the Democratic Party. And now he has done something similar to the hierarchy of the American Catholic Church. At the prospect that institutions associated with the Catholic Church would be required to offer to their employees health insurance covering contraception and abortifacients, the bishops, priests, and nuns scream bloody murder. But they raise no objection at all to the fact that Catholic employers and corporations, large and small, owned wholly or partially by Roman Catholics will be required to do the same. The freedom of the church as an institution to distance itself from that which its doctrines decry as morally wrong is considered sacrosanct. The liberty of its members – not to mention the liberty belonging to the adherents of other Christian sects, to Jews, Muslims, and non-believers – to do the same they are perfectly willing to sacrifice.

This inattention to the liberties of others is doubly scandalous (and I use this poignant term in full knowledge of its meaning within the Catholic tradition) – for there was a time when the Catholic hierarchy knew better. There was a time when Roman Catholicism was the great defender not only of its own liberty but of that of others. There was a time when the prelates recognized that the liberty of the church to govern itself in light of its guiding principles was inseparable from the liberty of other corporate bodies and institutions to do the same.


Magna Carta

I do not mean to say that the Roman Catholic Church was in the more distant past a staunch defender of religious liberty. That it was not. Within its sphere, the Church demanded full authority. It is only in recent years that Rome has come to be fully appreciative of the larger principle.

I mean that, in the course of defending its autonomy against the secular power, the Roman Catholic Church asserted the liberty of other corporate bodies and even, in some measure, the liberty of individuals. To see what I have in mind one need only examine Magna Carta, which begins with King John’s pledge that

the English Church shall be free, and shall have her rights entire, and her liberties inviolate; and we will that it be thus observed; which is apparent from this that the freedom of elections, which is reckoned most important and very essential to the English Church, we, of our pure and unconstrained will, did grant, and did by our charter confirm and did obtain the ratification of the same from our lord, Pope Innocent III, before the quarrel arose between us and our barons: and this we will observe, and our will is that it be observed in good faith by our heirs forever.

Only after making this promise, does the King go on to say, “We have also granted to all freemen of our kingdom, for us and our heirs forever, all the underwritten liberties, to be had and held by them and their heirs, of us and our heirs forever.” It is in this context that he affirms that “no scutage nor aid shall be imposed on our kingdom, unless by common counsel of our kingdom, except for ransoming our person, for making our eldest son a knight, and for once marrying our eldest daughter; and for these there shall not be levied more than a reasonable aid.” It is in this context that he pledges that “the city of London shall have all it ancient liberties and free customs, as well by land as by water; furthermore, we decree and grant that all other cities, boroughs, towns, and ports shall have all their liberties and free customs.” It is in this document that he promises that “no freemen shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land” and that “to no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice.”

One will not find such a document in eastern Christendom or in the sphere where Sunni Islam is prevalent. It is peculiar to Western Christendom – and it was made possible by the fact that, Christian West, church and state were not co-extensive and none of the various secular powers was able to exert its authority over the church. There was within each political community in the Christian West an imperium in imperio – a power independent of the state that had no desire to replace the state but was fiercely resistant to its own subordination and aware that it could not hope to retain its traditional liberties if it did not lend a hand in defending the traditional liberties of others.

I am not arguing that the Church fostered limited government in the Middle Ages and in the early modern period. In principle, the government that it fostered was unlimited in its scope.

I am arguing, however, that the Church worked assiduously to hem in the authority of the Christian kings and that its success in this endeavor provided the foundation for the emergence of a parliamentary order. Indeed, I would go further. It was the Church that promoted the principles underpinning the emergence of parliaments. It did so by fostering the species of government that had emerged within the church itself. Given that the Church in the West made clerical celibacy one of its principal practices (whether it was honored in the breach or not), the hereditary principle could play no role in its governance. Inevitably, it resorted to elections. Monks elected abbots, the canons of cathedrals elected bishops, the college of cardinals elected the Pope.

The principle articulated in canon law — the only law common to all of Western Europe — to explain why these practices were proper was lifted from the Roman law dealing with the governance of waterways: “Quod omnes tangit,” it read, “ab omnibus tractari debeat: That which touches all should be dealt with by all.” In pagan antiquity, this meant that those upstream could not take all of the water and that those downstream had a say in its allocation. It was this principle that the clergymen who served as royal administrators insinuated into the laws of the kingdoms and petty republics of Europe. It was used to justify communal self-government. It was used to justify the calling of parliaments. And it was used to justify the provisions for self-governance contained within the corporate charters issued to cities, boroughs, and, in time, colonies. On the eve of the American Revolution, you will find it cited by John Dickinson in The Letters of a Pennsylvania Farmer.

The quod omnes tangit principle was not the foundation of modern liberty, but it was its antecedent. And had there been no such antecedent, had kings not been hemmed in by the Church and its allies in this fashion, I very much doubt that there ever would have been a regime of limited government. In fact, had there not been a distinction both in theory and in fact between the secular and the spiritual authority, limited government would have been inconceivable.


John Locke

The Reformation weakened the Church. In Protestant lands, it tended to strengthen the secular power and to promote a monarchical absolutism unknown to the Middle Ages. Lutheranism and Anglicanism were, in effect, Caesaro-Papist. In Catholic lands, it caused the spiritual power to shelter itself behind the secular power and become, in many cases, an appendage of that power. But the Reformation and the religious strife to which it gave rise also posed to the secular power an almost insuperable problem – how to secure peace and domestic tranquility in a world marked by sectarian competition. Limited government – i. e., a government limited in its scope – was the solution ultimately found, and John Locke was its proponent.

In the nascent American republic, this principle was codified in its purest form in the First Amendment to the Constitution. But it had additional ramifications as well – for the government’s scope was limited also in other ways. There were other amendments that made up what we now call the Bill of Rights, and many of the states prefaced their constitutions with bills of rights or added them as appendices. These were all intended to limit the scope of the government. They were all designed to protect the right of individuals to life, liberty, the acquisition and possession of property, and the pursuit of happiness as these individuals understood happiness. Put simply, liberty of conscience was part of a larger package.


Frances Perkins

This is what the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church forgot. In the 1930s, the majority of the bishops, priests, and nuns sold their souls to the devil, and they did so with the best of intentions. In their concern for the suffering of those out of work and destitute, they wholeheartedly embraced the New Deal. They gloried in the fact that Franklin Delano Roosevelt made Frances Perkins – a devout Anglo-Catholic laywoman who belonged to the Episcopalian Church but retreated on occasion to a Catholic convent – Secretary of Labor and the first member of her sex to be awarded a cabinet post. And they welcomed Social Security – which was her handiwork. They did not stop to ponder whether public provision in this regard would subvert the moral principle that children are responsible for the well-being of their parents. They did not stop to consider whether this measure would reduce the incentives for procreation and nourish the temptation to think of sexual intercourse as an indoor sport. They did not stop to think.

In the process, the leaders of the American Catholic Church fell prey to a conceit that had long before ensnared a great many mainstream Protestants in the United States – the notion that public provision is somehow akin to charity – and so they fostered state paternalism and undermined what they professed to teach: that charity is an individual responsibility and that it is appropriate that the laity join together under the leadership of the Church to alleviate the suffering of the poor. In its place, they helped establish the Machiavellian principle that underpins modern liberalism – the notion that it is our Christian duty to confiscate other people’s money and redistribute it.

At every turn in American politics since that time, you will find the hierarchy assisting the Democratic Party and promoting the growth of the administrative entitlements state. At no point have its members evidenced any concern for sustaining limited government and protecting the rights of individuals. It did not cross the minds of these prelates that the liberty of conscience which they had grown to cherish is part of a larger package – that the paternalistic state, which recognizes no legitimate limits on its power and scope, that they had embraced would someday turn on the Church and seek to dictate whom it chose to teach its doctrines and how, more generally, it would conduct its affairs.

I would submit that the bishops, nuns, and priests now screaming bloody murder have gotten what they asked for. The weapon that Barack Obama has directed at the Church was fashioned to a considerable degree by Catholic churchmen. They welcomed Obamacare. They encouraged Senators and Congressmen who professed to be Catholics to vote for it.

I do not mean to say that I would prefer that the bishops, nuns, and priests sit down and shut up. Barack Obama has once again done the friends of liberty a favor by forcing the friends of the administrative entitlements state to contemplate what they have wrought. Whether those brought up on the heresy that public provision is akin to charity will prove capable of thinking through what they have done remains unclear. But there is now a chance that this will take place, and there was a time – long ago, to be sure, but for an institution with the longevity possessed by the Catholic Church long ago was just yesterday – when the Church played an honorable role in hemming in the authority of magistrates and in promoting not only its own liberty as an institution but that of others similarly intent on managing their own affairs as individuals and as members of subpolitical communities.


Cardinal Bernadin

In my lifetime, to my increasing regret, the Roman Catholic Church in the United States has lost much of its moral authority. It has done so largely because it has subordinated its teaching of Catholic moral doctrine to its ambitions regarding an expansion of the administrative entitlements state. In 1973, when the Supreme Court made its decision in Roe v. Wade, had the bishops, priests, and nuns screamed bloody murder and declared war, as they have recently done, the decision would have been reversed. Instead, under the leadership of Joseph Bernardin, the Cardinal-Archbishop of Chicago, they asserted that the social teaching of the Church was a “seamless garment,” and they treated abortion as one concern among many. Here is what Cardinal Bernardin said in the Gannon Lecture at Fordham University that he delivered in 1983:

Those who defend the right to life of the weakest among us must be equally visible in support of the quality of life of the powerless among us: the old and the young, the hungry and the homeless, the undocumented immigrant and the unemployed worker.

Consistency means that we cannot have it both ways. We cannot urge a compassionate society and vigorous public policy to protect the rights of the unborn and then argue that compassion and significant public programs on behalf of the needy undermine the moral fiber of the society or are beyond the proper scope of governmental responsibility.


This statement, which came to be taken as authoritative throughout the American Church, proved, as Joseph Sobran observed seven years ago, “to be nothing but a loophole for hypocritical Catholic politicians. If anything,” he added, "it has actually made it easier for them than for non-Catholics to give their effective support to legalized abortion – that is, it has allowed them to be inconsistent and unprincipled about the very issues that Cardinal Bernardin said demand consistency and principle.” In practice, this meant that, insofar as anyone pressed the case against Roe v. Wade, it was the laity.

I was reared a Catholic, wandered out of the Church, and stumbled back in more than thirteen years ago. I have been a regular attendee at mass since that time. I travel a great deal and frequently find myself in a diocese not my own. In these years, I have heard sermons articulating the case against abortion thrice – once in Louisiana at a mass said by the retired Archbishop there; once at the cathedral in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and two weeks ago in our parish in Hillsdale, Michigan. The truth is that the priests in the United States are far more likely to push the “social justice” agenda of the Church from the pulpit than to instruct the faithful in the evils of abortion.

And there is more. I have not once in those years heard the argument against contraception articulated from the pulpit, and I have not once heard the argument for chastity articulated. In the face of the sexual revolution, the bishops priests, and nuns of the American Church have by and large fallen silent. In effect, they have abandoned the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church in order to articulate a defense of the administrative entitlements state and its progressive expansion.

There is another dimension to the failure of the American Church in the face of the sexual revolution. As, by now, everyone knows, in the 1980s, when Cardinal Bernardin was the chief leader of the American Church and the man most closely consulted when the Vatican selected its bishops, it became evident to the American prelates that they had a problem – that, in many a diocese, there were priests of a homoerotic orientation who were sexual predators – pederasts inclined to take advantage of young boys. They could have faced up to the problem at that time; they could have turned in the malefactors to the secular authorities; they could have prevented their further contact with the young. Instead, almost certainly at the instigation of Cardinal Bernardin, they opted for another policy. They hushed everything up, sent the priests off for psychological counseling, and reassigned them to other parishes or even dioceses – where they continued to prey on young boys. In the same period, a number of the seminaries in which young men were trained for the priesthood became, in effect, brothels – and nothing was done about any of this until the newspapers broke the story and the lawsuits began.

There is, I would suggest, a connection between the heretical doctrine propagated by Cardinal Bernardin in the Gannon Lecture and the difficulties that the American Church now faces. Those who seek to create heaven on earth and who, to this end, subvert the liberty of others and embrace the administrative entitlements state will sooner or later become its victims.


Sister Carol Keehan

Earlier today, Barack Obama offered the hierarchy “a compromise.” Under its terms, insurance companies offering healthcare coverage will be required to provide contraception and abortifacients, but this will not be mentioned in the contracts signed by those who run Catholic institutions. This “compromise” is, of course, a farce. It embodies a distinction where there is, in fact, no difference. It is a snare and a delusion, and I am confident that the Catholic Left, which is still dominant within the Church, will embrace it – for it would allow the bishops, priests, and nuns to save face while, in fact, paying for the contraception and abortifacients that the insurance companies will be required to provide. As if on cue, Sister Carol Keehan, a prominent Obamacare supporter who heads the Catholic Health Association, immediately issued a statement in which she announced that she is “pleased and grateful that the religious liberty and conscience protection needs of so many ministries that serve our country were appreciated enough that an early resolution of this issue was accomplished.”

Perhaps, however, Barack Obama has shaken some members of the hierarchy from their dogmatic slumber. Perhaps, a few of them – or among younger priests some of their likely successors – have begun to recognize the logic inherent in the development of the administrative entitlements state. The proponents of Obamacare, with some consistency, pointed to Canada and to France as models. As anyone who has attended mass in Montreal or Paris can testify, the Church in both of these places is filled with empty pews. There is, in fact, not a single country in the social democratic sphere where either the Catholic Church or a Protestant Church is anything but moribund. This is by no means fortuitous. When entitlements stand in for charity and the Social Gospel is preached in place of the Word of God, heaven on earth becomes the end, and Christianity goes by the boards.


Cardinal Timothy Dolan

It took a terrible scandal and a host of lawsuits to get the American Church to rid itself of the pederast priests and clean up its seminaries. Perhaps the tyrannical ambitions of Barack Obama will occasion a rethinking of the social-justice agenda. The ball is now in the court of Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, who has welcomed the President's gesture without indicating whether it is adequate. Upon reflection, he can accept the fig leaf that President Obama has offered him. Or he can put Sister Keehan and her supporters in their place and fight. If he wants to regain an iota of the moral authority that the Church possessed before 1973, he will do the latter. The hour is late. Next time, the masters of the administrative entitlements state won’t even bother to offer the hierarchy a fig leaf. They know servility when they see it.

UPDATE: Friday night, shortly after I posted this piece, as Anne Coletta pointed out in Comment 5 below, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a carefully worded statement critical of the fig leaf President Obama offered them. In the meantime, the Rev. John Jenkins, President of the University of Notre Dame, applauded "the willingness of the administration to work with religious organizations to find a solution acceptable to all parties."

FURTHER UPDATE: Since posting this, I have also written American Catholicism: A Call to Arms and More Than a Touch of Malice on related subjects.
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MRyan

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Re: American Catholicism’s Pact With the Devil

Post  MRyan on Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:11 am

The Reactionary Utopian
August 16, 2005


THE "SEAMLESS GARMENT" REVISITED

by Joe Sobran

The late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, former archbishop of Chicago, endeared himself to liberals, especially liberal Catholic politicians, by adopting the metaphor of life as a "seamless garment." It isn't enough to oppose abortion, he insisted; to be consistent, you have to defend life on every front, as for instance by relieving poverty and illness.

This came as welcome news to the liberals, since it turned "life" into a checklist, in which abortion was only one of many items, and not necessarily the most urgent. You could be "pro-life," according to the Bernardin standard, merely by supporting the welfare state.

Well, of course life is, in some sense, a seamless garment. We should oppose abortion on the same principle that we should oppose the bombing of cities. But according to Bernardin's way of thinking, you mustn't oppose bombing Hiroshima unless you also favor setting up an anti-poverty program there.

Conservative Catholics smelled a rat. They sensed that this "seamless garment" was really just a way of minimizing the special problem of abortion, at a time when more than a million abortions were being performed in America every year.

Liberal Catholics, on the other hand, loved the idea. But somehow the imperative of consistency worked only one way. We never heard any of them say, "Well, it's not enough for me to support the welfare state. If I'm really going to be pro-life, I must also fight to end legal abortion." Politicians like New York's Mario Cuomo felt they had been vindicated in their empty "personal" opposition to abortion.

You know that familiar line: "I am personally opposed to abortion, but ..." But you weren't going to do anything about it. If you opposed it "personally," you were in favor of it practically. And everyone knew it.

Abortion remains legal today thanks in large part to all those nominal Catholic politicians who oppose it -- "personally." That telltale adverb must lift the hearts
of abortionists everywhere.

Cuomo is still at it. He recently told NBC's Tim Russert that "we" -- we Catholics -- are "hypocrites" because we say we oppose contraception even though most of "us" use contraceptives like other people. Of course, it goes without saying, people who call themselves Catholics while constantly subverting Catholic morality aren't guilty of hypocrisy. To hear Cuomo tell it, he's one of the few honest Catholics in politics. So why do so many other Catholic pols talk like him?

But has anyone ever refrained from getting or procuring an abortion because people like Cuomo "personally" disapprove of it? Extremely doubtful. Their message is clear: "I can't give my blessing to any abortion, but please don't let me discourage you from getting one. I wouldn't want to impose my beliefs on anyone."

I sometimes wonder how such Catholics would behave if their alleged "beliefs" were sincere. It's probably a purely hypothetical question, but if they really thought, felt, and acted as if abortion were evil, without wishing to ban it by law, surely there are ways to give this view real force.

Public opinion can be powerful even when it isn't backed up by force of law. If you advertise allegiance to the Ku Klux Klan, you'll soon find yourself ostracized by
people who don't question your legal right to join the Klan.

In the same way, the country would change dramatically if every Catholic who professes "personal" opposition to feticide would peacefully picket abortion clinics. But can anyone even imagine a Cuomo, let alone a Ted Kennedy, doing even that much?

Even so, the country is changing. Abortion rates over the past decade have reportedly plunged dramatically. The Democratic Party is now uncomfortable
about its unreserved public identification with the cause of "choice." Even Hillary Clinton has voiced reservations about the practice -- and has probably made more impact thereby than all the liberal Catholics in America put together.

So the "seamless garment" has turned out to be nothing but a loophole for hypocritical Catholic politicians. If anything, it has actually made it easier for them than for non-Catholics to give their effective support to legal abortion -- that is, it has allowed them to be inconsistent and unprincipled about the very issues that Cardinal Bernardin said demand consistency and principle.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Read this column on-line at "http://www.sobran.com/columns/2005/050816.shtml".

Copyright (c) 2005 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate, www.griffnews.com. This column may not be published in print or Internet publications without express permission of Griffin Internet Syndicate. You may forward it to interested individuals if you use this entire page, including the following disclaimer:

"SOBRAN'S and Joe Sobran's columns are available by subscription. For details and samples, see http://www.sobran.com/e-mail.shtml, write PR@griffnews.com, or call 800-513-5053."
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MRyan

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Re: American Catholicism’s Pact With the Devil

Post  MRyan on Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:36 am

More Than a Touch of Malice
Paul A. Rahe • Feb 16 at 4:10am

http://ricochet.com/main-feed/More-Than-a-Touch-of-Malice

When Barack Obama first announced that he intended to force all employers, including Catholic institutions, to provide contraception and abortifacients as part of the healthcare package they offer their employees, my friend Michael Barone observed that the President “was spitting in the eyes of millions of Americans and threatening the existence of charitable programs that help millions of people of all faiths”; and, presuming that the President could not possibly have intended to stir up a hornet’s nest, he suggested that his decision in this matter must have been a function of ignorance and isolation. This was my first instinct as well. It seemed foolish – guaranteed to alienate a constituency that had supported Barack Obama in 2008 and had hailed his election.

We know a bit more now. We know that the President did not act on impulse, that he took his time in making this decision, and that he sought advice from a range of individuals within the Democratic Party. Vice-President Joe Biden and William Daley, who was then Obama’s Chief of Staff, both profess to be Catholic, and they strongly advised against doing anything that would antagonize the Catholic bishops and the laity. Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Nancy Pelosi, the former Speaker of the House and current Democratic minority leader, were also consulted. They, too, profess to be Catholic, and they fiercely advocated imposing this burden on all employers providing health insurance for their employees.

The decision appears to have been made before the New Hampshire primary. Otherwise, it would be hard to explain why, at the debate in New Hampshire in early January, George Stephanopoulos – who pretends to be a journalist but is still obviously nothing more than a Democratic operative – repeatedly pressed Mitt Romney to spell out where he stood on the question of contraception. Stephanopoulos’ disgraceful performance, which drew boos and catcalls from the crowd, is an indication that Obama and at least some of his aides thought that they had something to gain by injecting this question into this year’s campaign.

On the face of it, President Obama would appear to be shooting himself in the foot.
Why would he risk losing the Catholic vote? One could, of course, argue that his aim was to excite the feminists and give them a reason to turn out in November. As a rationale, however, even this seems a bit lame. The benefit that the President proposes to provide is insubstantial. The administration’s claim to the contrary notwithstanding, the pill and other birth control devices are not free. But the expense involved is not great. Among those who are employed and have healthcare insurance, no one is hard put to come up with the paltry sum required.

This suggests that there can be only one reason why Sebelius, Pelosi, and Obama decided to proceed. They wanted to show the bishops and the Catholic laity who is boss. They wanted to make those who think contraception wrong and abortion a species of murder complicit in both. They wanted to rub the noses of their opponents in it. They wanted to marginalize them. Humiliation was, in fact, their only aim, and malice, their motive.

Last week, when, in response to the fierce resistance he had deliberately stirred up, the President offered the bishops what he called “an accommodation,” what he proffered was nothing more than a fig leaf. His maneuver was, in fact, a gesture of contempt, and I believe that it was Barack Obama’s final offer. From his perspective and from that of Sebelius and Pelosi, the genuine Catholics still within the Democratic coalition are no more than what Vladimir Lenin called “useful idiots,” and, now that the progressive project is near completion, they are expendable – for there is no longer any need to curry their favor.

In his piece in The Washington Examiner, which I link above, Michael Barone mentioned Obama’s decree with regard to contraception and abortifacients in tandem with a brief discussion of the President’s decision to reject the construction of the Keystone Pipeline. He was, I think, right to do so – for there is no good reason that any student of public policy can cite for doing what the President did. Cancelling the pipeline will not delay or stop the extraction of oil from the tar sands in Alberta, and the pipeline itself would pose no environmental threat. If the President’s decision had any purpose, it was symbolic – an indication to all that he cared not one whit about the plight of the white working class and that he was capable of punishing those whom he does not like and more than willing to do so.

In 2008, when he first ran for the Presidency, Barack Obama posed as a moderate most of the time. This time, he is openly running as a radical. His aim is to win a mandate for the fundamental transformation of the United States that he promised in passing on the eve of his election four years ago and that he promised again when he called his administration The New Foundation. In the process, he intends to reshape the Democratic coalition – to bring the old hypocrisy to an end, to eliminate those who stand in the way of the final consolidation of the administrative entitlements state, to drive out the faithful Catholics once and for all, to jettison the white working class, and to build a new American regime on a coalition of highly educated upper-middle class whites, feminists, African-Americans, Hispanics, illegal immigrants, and those belonging to the public-sector unions. To Americans outside this coalition, he intends to show no mercy.

Mark my words. If Barack Obama wins in November, he will force the Catholic hospitals to perform abortions, and the bishops, priests, and nuns who fostered the steady growth of the administrative entitlements state, thinking that they were pursuing “the common good,” will reap what they have sown.

In the end, politics has as its focus persuasion. Our difficulties are a function of policy, not of mismanagement. If we are to stop Barack Obama in 2012, we will have to find a standard-bearer who can articulate a compelling argument against the administrative entitlements state and, by means of persuasion and praxis, reverse our democracy’s inexorable soft despotic drift. Let us hope that one or another of the remaining candidates rises to the occasion.

ADDENDUM: This post is intended as a sequel to two earlier posts on related subjects: American Catholicism's Pact with the Devil and American Catholicism: A Call to Arms [http://ricochet.com/main-feed/American-Catholicism-A-Call-to-Arms]
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MRyan

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Re: American Catholicism’s Pact With the Devil

Post  George Brenner on Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:41 pm

Hi Mike,

What incredible posts. Something, Someone or Divine providence and wisdom must have prodded you to post this thread. I have not even begun to get my arms around all that was said in these articles. My intelligence level only takes me so far. But I understand plenty of what is said here along what I have witnessed and fought for a long time. Paul Rahe must be and Joseph Sobran who is deceased must have been devout Catholics.

At first blush, I wanted to make specific comments on many of the specific issues raised. But, I know better. I am personally involved in some of these problems to help remedy them. At times it seems nearly impossible and yet I trust in prayer. I need to reflect and not post out of anger and then again maybe my anger would be completely justified. An elderly priest in his homily , just a month ago said we will need layman to step up at this point in Church history. You should have heard the intensity in his words. I will have much more to say but want to reread and reflect and most importantly pray on what I will say for it will not probably be very pretty.

Mike, I really would like to meet and/or talk to you in person some day; God willing.

JMJ,

George
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Re: American Catholicism’s Pact With the Devil

Post  George Brenner on Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:14 pm




JMJ,

George
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Re: American Catholicism’s Pact With the Devil

Post  MRyan on Thu Aug 16, 2012 1:17 pm

George,

I came across the articles of Paul Rahe quite by accident by following a link in another article with a similar theme.

Indeed, Joe Sobran was very much a Catholic, and paid a heavy price for his public criticism of Israel by being fired from National Review by Bill “ignore the Catholics, cultivate the powerful” Buckley for the old “anti-Semitism” canard. Joe provides the details here:

http://reasonradionetwork.com/20101002/how-i-was-fired-by-bill-buckley-joe-sobran

Here’s a great site: http://www.sobran.com/

It would be a pleasure and an honor to meet and/or talk to you.

Mike
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Re: American Catholicism’s Pact With the Devil

Post  MRyan on Thu Aug 16, 2012 1:43 pm

Joe Sobran remembered:

Joseph Sobran, R.I.P.

By Scott P. Richert, October 4, 2010

http://catholicism.about.com/b/2010/10/04/joseph-sobran-r-i-p.htm?r=et

For many Catholics of a certain age, Joseph Sobran will forever be remembered as one of the greatest literary defenders of the Catholic Church's teaching on life over the past 40 years. From contraception to abortion, from euthanasia to just-war doctrine, Joe was an eloquent voice in the popular press for the teachings of the Catholic Church, and, in fighting for the truth, he wore himself out a few decades too early, dying at 3 P.M. on Thursday, September 30, 2010, at the age of 64.

For other Catholics, somewhat younger, Joe Sobran will be remembered, if at all, as the chief villain (along with Pat Buchanan) of William F. Buckley, Jr.'s 1991 National Review article "In Search of Anti-Semitism." The attack of his boss, mentor, friend, and virtual foster father left Joe a broken (and worse for the country at large, virtually ignored) man, and the last 17 years of his life (from the time of his firing from National Review) were not nearly as happy as the previous 21 (from the time of his hiring at National Review). But they were equally productive, in the pages of his newsletter, Sobran's, the national Catholic weekly The Wanderer, and my own publication, Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.

Much of Joe's best writing on life issues appeared in Human Life Review. Indeed, one might say that, for almost two decades, Joe Sobran was Human Life Review. As J.P. McFadden, the founding editor of HLR, wrote in his Introduction to Single Issues, a 1983 collection of Joe's best essays from the Review, "we never dreamed how much he would have to say, or that he would become our most faithful contributor: his sharply-honed essays would have appeared in every issue over the past eight years [from the Review's founding in 1975 until 1982, when McFadden was writing], but for a few missed deadlines."

Joe's status as the preeminent literary defender of life in the latter half of the 20th century did not arise simply from what Joe had to say, or the number of words he wrote, but how he said it. For Joe, the most beautiful prose flowed from his fingers with incredible ease. McFadden was not exaggerating when he wrote that Sobran's name "on anything whatever--article, review, commentary--was the guarantee of fine writing, sharp wit, and a most distinctive style which . . . made one think of nobody else so much as G.K. Chesterton."

Such beauty flowed not only from his fingers but rode the waves of his splendid baritone voice. There are few people that one does not at least begin to tire of hearing after an hour or two, but those of us who had the pleasure of knowing Joe never wanted him to quit talking. Shakespeare was his academic major and his lifelong obsession; if he did not know all of Shakespeare by heart (and I am not certain that he did not), then he at least knew more than any man alive today. He had a similar command of the writings of P.G. Wodehouse, whose easy humor shaped Joe's, as well as of much of the writings of G.K. Chesterton. One could tape a Sobran soliloquy, transcribe it verbatim, and publish it without editing, and it would still be better than the best work of most writers today.

In the pages of Human Life Review and elsewhere, Joe was one of the first, and by far the best, critics of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin's "seamless garment" approach to Catholic social teaching. Yet Joe, better than any other Catholic conservative, argued forcefully for a truly consistent ethic of life, regarding the Church quite properly as Mater et Magistra (Mother and Teacher). He believed the Church's just-war theory to be as important as Her teaching on abortion, but rather than using that belief to minimize the horror of abortion, he opposed the Reagan-era military actions, the Persian Gulf War of 1991, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with the same passion and eloquence that he devoted to arguing on behalf of the unborn. In this, he followed the example of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, men he gladly accepted as his shepherds.

In his final years, Joe provided an example of Christian fortitude that should be an inspiration to us all. His health failing from complications from diabetes, a stroke, and finally kidney failure, Joe publicly admitted that he occasionally had doubts and fears. Yet he always turned his eyes toward Christ, and found in his Savior the comforts of faith and of hope.

As I type these words, there are so many passages in Joe Sobran's work that come to mind, passages I would dearly love to share to give readers the true measure of the man. But the piece that rises to the top is "Jesus' Simple Message," the January 2008 installment of his column, The Bare Bodkin, in Chronicles.

Halfway through, the column switches from a general meditation to a very personal one:

The loveliest argument I know against unbelief was made by a woman whose name I have forgotten, quoted by the theologian John Baillie in Our Knowledge of God; it boils down to this: "If there is no God, whom do we thank?"

The force of this hit me on a mild November evening when I was oppressed by woes; I prayed for a little relief and tried counting my blessings instead of my grievances. I've long known that a great secret of happiness is gratitude, but that didn't prepare me for what happened next.
Joe writes that, "as I munched a cheeseburger," "I could hardly think of anything in my life that couldn't be seen as a gift from God":

As one of the characters in Lear tells his father: "Thy life's a miracle." Of whom is that not true?

The more we reflect on the sheer oddity of our very existence and, in addition, of our eligibility for salvation, the deeper our gratitude must be. Amazing grace indeed! To call it astounding is to express the matter feebly. Why me? How on earth could I ever have deserved this, the promise of eternal joy?

And given all this, in comparison with which winning the greatest lottery in the world is just a minor fluke, how can I dare to sin again, or to be anything less than a saint for the rest of my life?
And yet the true measure of Joe's faith, and the lesson his life offers us all, lies not in those words, but in the lines that end the piece. If only we could all be so frank about how far short we have fallen of the glory of God, there might be hope for us:

Yet I know that my own horrible spiritual habits will keep drawing me downward every hour. Like most men, or maybe more than most, I am my own worst enemy, constantly tempted to repay my Savior with my self-centered ingratitude. When I think of my sins, the debt of thanksgiving itself seems far too heavy to pay. No wonder He commands us to rejoice. It's by no means the easiest of our duties.
Rest in peace, my friend.

[END]

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Re: American Catholicism’s Pact With the Devil

Post  MRyan on Thu Aug 16, 2012 2:05 pm

See also:

The Inspiration of Joe Sobran
By Paul E. Gottfried

http://www.alternativeright.com/main/blogs/untimely-observations/the-inspiration-of-joe-sobran/


Joe Sobran, 2005 (photo: Sobran's)

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Re: American Catholicism’s Pact With the Devil

Post  George Brenner on Fri Aug 17, 2012 3:47 pm


Mike,

Thanks very much for the additional links for Joseph Sobran. He was certainly a remarkable person with passion and convictions. May he rest in eternal peace.



* Hands held high and extended to give a quick slap of joy; give me a high _________
* The ________ Sacraments
* Abraham Lincoln address: ________score etc.
* _________Turtle doves;12 days of Christmas
* ______is the loneliest number. Three Dog Night
*________-th inning stretch
* I can't believe I _____ the whole thing
* Unus, Una or Unum=________
* Sound like German for 'no'________
* Highest single digit or dressed to the_______

JMJ,

George
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