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April 21, 2005

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Forbes

Funny, you'd think that the NYTimes would assign such a story to a reporter who knows something about religions and religious doctrine--otherwise, how is the mouthpiece of the Democratic Party ever going to be of any help in subsequent elections when all those "values" voters are in the booth?

While insulting Catholic voters (I am not Catholic) as a monolithic voting block ("long overwhelmingly Democratic"--an assertion, IMO, that is off the mark), the NYTimes apparently hadn't noticed the the Democratic Party had become the party of abortion. Abortion being a practice considered not just sinful, but evil, by the Catholic Church for far longer than Democrats have been campaigning for Catholic votes.

And Kerry's problem, ISTM, is that he can't be both Catholic and advocate abortion rights. He needs to find a religious orthodoxy compatable with his posturing on abortion. As a politician, such an approach might convince some voters that Kerry actually holds dearly some deep convictions, or principles, about which he doesn't waver--rather than someone whose deep beliefs--"article of faith"--couldn't possibly be imposed on anyone.

Just days into the new papacy, the NYTimes has declared that there will be no honeymoon for B16. Pretty shameful.

TexasToast

“And Kerry's problem, ISTM, is that he can't be both Catholic and advocate abortion rights. He needs to find a religious orthodoxy compatable with his posturing on abortion. As a politician, such an approach might convince some voters that Kerry actually holds dearly some deep convictions, or principles, about which he doesn't waver--rather than someone whose deep beliefs--"article of faith"--couldn't possibly be imposed on anyone.”

Senator Kerry is divorced and has remarried (as have quite a few other American Catholics), so he is already “manifest and obstinate” in sin. I haven’t heard that the Catholic Church has seen fit to deny him communion or excommunicate him on these grounds. Using your logic, one can’t be both Catholic and remarry after divorce as such would be “ …living openly in fornication or adultery”. Under canon law, the same rules apply to both instances.

The church acts as a political actor when it applies its rules in the abortion context against a candidate and does not apply equally applicable rules (such as the death penalty or, if one wants to be strictly logical, the “heresy” of protestantism). When the church acts as a political actor, it cannot then claim to be above the fray in any logical sense. If you throw stones, you are part of the fight.

Disagreeing with the Catholic church on abortion does not in any way mean that Kerry is a person incapable of holding “deep convictions” as you imply. Nor does it mean he is no longer Catholic.

John

"The church acts as a political actor when it applies its rules in the abortion context against a candidate and does not apply equally applicable rules (such as the death penalty or, if one wants to be strictly logical, the “heresy” of protestantism). When the church acts as a political actor, it cannot then claim to be above the fray in any logical sense. If you throw stones, you are part of the fight."

Ratzinger's letter told the Bishops that it was improper to vote for a candidate *because of* that candidate's pro-abortion views, but that it might be acceptable to vote for them *in spite of* that candidate's pro-abortion views (in the presence of sufficient cause). To continue your analogies, Catholic's should not vote for a candidate *because of* that candidate's pro-death penalty stance, past divorce, or "heresy" of protestantism. However, voting for them *in spite of* their death penalty stance, divorce, or protestantism is okay (in the presence of sufficient cause).

That the Church is far more lenient on the execution of convicted criminals than (what they see as) the slaughter of children. It is obvious to the point of absurdity that protestantism or divorce are less offensive than the taking of a life; trying to make them the equivalent of murder as far as voters are concerned would be a far *more* political stance.

John

Lurking Observer

On the subject of divorce, it is also useful to remember that the Catholic Church can and has refused to allow a Catholic wedding to be undertaken, in situations where there has been no annullment.

I'm not sure how the Church views those who get a civil divorce and remarry, whether they're living "in sin" or not.

On this issue, however, the Church has had its weaknesses. I seem to recall reading that Joe Kennedy, Jr., former REP from MA, had some trouble getting an annullment from his wife so that he could marry his latest girlfriend. In the end, that path apparently was smoothed by other means, and the (first) wife's acquiescence was obviated.

Patrick R. Sullivan

'Senator Kerry is divorced and has remarried (as have quite a few other American Catholics), so he is already “manifest and obstinate” in sin.'

Kerry isn't divorced. He's had his first marriage annulled. Which is something entirely different.

How he accomplished this (and made his children illegitimate) is almost as interesting as how he got an honorable discharge from the navy six years late.

richard mcenroe

'Disagreeing with the Catholic church on abortion does not in any way mean that Kerry is a person incapable of holding “deep convictions”' — No, being John Kerry means that...

Forbes

Toast-I enjoyed the diverting discussion regarding divorce.

As regards Kerry, the Catholc Church, and abortion, I guess my argument was too nuanced.

I believe one's religious faith to be a private matter--a matter of one's conscience, values, morality, and judgement (among others)--but alas, when a politician such as Kerry makes it a component of his public persona, it then becomes available as a subject by which the public can measure his principles, his deeply held convictions. (And politicians trumpet their religiosity as an acid-test on these matters.) Even if the Catholic Church were a New Age diet fad, presumably followers would practice its orthodoxy given the strictly voluntary nature of the enterprise. John Kerry, by his own words, is incapable of such practice.

For a politician, talking out of both sides of their mouth is pandering. When the subject matter is their religious faith, it is prima facie evidence of a lack of seriousness, or deep conviction.

When Kerry says he could not impose his "article of faith" on others--for me, but not for thee--is the rankest sort of political hypocrisy.

And Toast, that you're best defense, against my implication that Kerry is incapable of deep convictions, is to allege the Catholic Church's hypocrisy in administering to its flock, strikes me as, well, no defense at all. The adage "two wrongs don't make a right," that an evil act cannot be cancelled by a second evil act, seems appropriate in this context.

I would suggest that actually holding deep convictions would be sufficient proof that one is capable of such convictions.

TM

Can we plug that timeless Google search on John Kerry's principled positions?

Greg D

and came to a boil last year around the presidential candidacy of Senator John Kerry. He is a Catholic who supports abortion rights, and argued that he could not impose "my article of faith" on others who did not share it.

So, I'm curious what Kerry thinks about "Civil Rights" laws. Is it ok to "impose [his] article[s] of faith on others" when those "others" are racists, or anti-homosexual?

Those who claim to oppose "legislating morality", but then turn around and talk about "fairness" or "justice" are as dishonest as they are stupid. Fiarness, justice, respect for your fellow man, all those are meaningless without a moral code that tells you what is fair, just, or appropriate.

TexasToast

Forbes

Your new argument, in brief, amounts to a claim that a failure to accept orthodoxy results in a presumption of no moral code “.. given the strictly voluntary nature of the enterprise.” This argument damns all religious reformers throughout history, including Christ himself. The Catholic Church is an authoritarian organization (and I don’t mean that in a pejorative sense, but rather in an organizational sense) and disagreeing with the authority does not in any way imply a lack or religious faith. In fact, it is rather beside the point.

I grew up in a religious tradition that espouses a “priesthood of the believer” - meaning that none of us can know God’s purposes but that all of us have an equal ability to discern the good. I don’t presume to know your relationship to God, but I don’t think that makes me a hypocrite – quite the contrary.

Forbes

Toast, I don't think we're discussing either of our own religious beliefs--that's quite beside the point. (And I certainly didn't/don't suggest you are a hypocrite.)

As a politician, Kerry has both the opportunity and the responsibility to set the record straight regarding his priciples. Kerry holds himself out as a Roman Catholic. By disagreeing with the moral code of the authoritarian Catholic Church--and by failing to supply by force of reason or argument a substitute moral code--he leaves us with the presumption that he holds no deep convictions. Politicians don't get free passes on issues they themselves invoke.

Your defense of Kerry is noble, but it is up to Kerry to make the moral case regarding his disagreement with the religious faith he has freely chosen to follow--for how else will anyone discern his convictions, when he publicly disagrees with the Catholic Church's deep moral convictions. Kerry is free to find another religion which his moral beliefs are more closely aligned. And unless you're holding out John Kerry as a religious reformer, or as Christ Himself, then I rather think this argument prevails.

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