November 25, 2009

Battle for the Catholic Brand

Justin Katz

To some extent, I'm probably out of sync with the perceptions of the general public, on this one, but I find this sort of thing astonishing:

In a televised forum that was by turns casual and bitter, the two leading Democrats vying for US Senate were both heavily critical of the Catholic Church during a discussion of their own personal faith.

US Representative Michael Capuano and Attorney General Martha Coakley both said Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin’s overreacted in his written request that US Representative Patrick Kennedy not take communion because of the Rhode Island Democrat’s stance on abortion. ...

"I consider myself a Catholic and I disagree with my church on several items," [Capuano said,] listing abortion, gay marriage, and the restrictions on women and married men from serving as priests. ...

"I also disagree with the institution and the role they played in hiding pedophile priests for years," [Coakley] said. "It seems to me a little bit ironic that a church that was willing to overlook the victimization of many, many children over several years is now turning around and saying to people who are good Christians, good Catholics, that, 'You can’t join this.'" ...

City Year co-founder Alan Khazei, who is also Catholic, said he does take communion even though he is pro-choice.

He initially said he would still choose to take communion, even if a bishop told him not to, but later said, "If my priest said I can’t take communion, then I wouldn’t be able to do it."

It's as if some Democrat politicians are choosing to go to political war with the Church over the Catholic brand, which really amounts to an atrocious show of ego and vanity. Look, it's a sad development whenever people leave the faith, but it compounds the disagreement with aggression to reject its teachings while insisting on the justification for keeping its benefits. Indeed, doing so illustrates precisely why accepting the Eucharist while out of communion with the Church layers sin on sin. And as far as relevance of the scandal to bishops' right to shepherd, one expects the Democrats would reject attempts to tar them with any and all evils of their party.

Two things are increasingly clear: The Democrat Party is moving in a direction that Roman Catholics simply cannot follow and remain Roman Catholics. The particular Democrats in the quotation above are not fit to lead the nation.

(via RIFuture)

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It's further proof, as others have suggested, that liberalism is their true religion. They view anyone who challenges their political beliefs as the enemy/evil who must to be taken down. I truly do not understand what it is about abortion that will make people like Kennedy and Capuano turn on the leaders of their own faith.

Posted by: mikeinri at November 25, 2009 7:40 AM

""I consider myself a Catholic and I disagree with my church on several items," [Capuano said,] listing abortion, gay marriage, and the restrictions on women and married men from serving as priests."

That ... is very funny.

As for Coakley:

""I also disagree with the institution and the role they played in hiding pedophile priests for years," [Coakley] said. "It seems to me a little bit ironic ..."

What's ironic, Ms. Coakley is to hear you speak of "hiding pedophile priests" after your behind-closed-doors handling of the Father Geoghan allegations in 1995.

Posted by: Monique at November 25, 2009 8:25 AM

There's a little fact everybody's been forgetting this month in all this hear and verbiage: these officials are elected to serve ALL citizens, not just Catholics.
Ironically, it took a Catholic president to remind us that America is not, and should not be, a theorcracy.

Posted by: rhody at November 25, 2009 9:39 AM

As an experienced prosecutor, A.G. Coakley should recognize that her attempt to draw moral equivalence between child molestation and abortion is fallacious.

Is she unaware that the law rightly considers killing a victim as a greater offense than molesting a victim?

As Fr. Benedict Groeschel has said with regard to victimization of children, it's bad to molest them; it's worse to kill them.

I'm not defending the failure of Church leaders to deal with these offenders (although I don't think any of this occurred on Bishop Tobin's watch), but
that failure would not excuse Church leaders' silence on the evil of abortion.

Posted by: brassband at November 25, 2009 9:42 AM


What you're missing in all this is that it is simply not possible to be Catholic and to believe that it serves one's constituents to allow mothers to slaughter their children in the womb.

Kennedy isn't advocating a change in funding structures that happens to have the consequence of shifting resources away from Catholic organizations — or something like that. He's advocating legislation that would collect and allocate taxpayer money in order to pay for such things as crushing fetal skulls and sucking their brains out.

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 25, 2009 9:55 AM

I hear that Elizabeth Edwards requested that her husband stop sleeping with & impregnating other women. Outrageous. Doesn't she realize that her husband got into politics to service everyone, not just his wife?

Posted by: Mario at November 25, 2009 10:08 AM

rhody, Bishop Tobin and the Catholic church are not telling Rep. Kennedy how to vote or govern. They are telling him how to be a Catholic. It is Rep. Kennedy's choice whether to legislate as one. To publicly defy the church on a consistent basis should have ramifications, should it not? Threatening a theocracy is ridiculously over the top.

Posted by: mikeinri at November 25, 2009 10:45 AM

This is all too funny listening to the hypocritical jack@ss liberals. So let me get this straight - it's OK for homosexuals to advocate for politicians who think and vote in ways favorable to their views, but it's not OK for the bishop to advocate for politicians who think and vote in ways favorable to his views.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at November 25, 2009 10:55 AM

When the bishop brought mental capacity into the discussion, he blew any pretense that he was simply advocating for the church's point of view.
You're just another political functionary, Your Excellency, an ideological enforcement arm for the right. Please don't spit on my head and tell me it's raining.

Posted by: rhody at November 25, 2009 12:22 PM

NR columnist on Kennedy - Bishop

Posted by: Warrington Faust at November 25, 2009 1:27 PM

rhody, I too was uncomfortable with some of the bishop's public comments. But with all the covering that has gone on, I wonder if the bishop might be one of the few who truly cares about the congressman. He didn't get help last time until he wrecked his car and nearly hit a police officer.

You are usually fairly reasonable rhody. But with this you are off the charts. Calling the bishop an "enforcement arm of the right" is more evidence to my original claim at the very top of this comment page.

And I'll ask again: To publicly defy the church on a consistent basis should have ramifications, should it not?

Posted by: mikeinri at November 25, 2009 2:32 PM

If Tobin wants to excommunicate Kennedy, he can be my guest. But he doesn't get to dictate his views to the rest of us.
When I went to Catholic school in the '70s, we had the pro-life philosophy drilled into us. But we were never threatened with denial of sacraments if we (or our parents) supported pro-choice political figures. My father was a more hardcore Catholic than I ever was, but he also voted for pro-choice Catholics like Jack Reed. I don't think we wouyld've taken kindly to Tobin denying him sacraments over a damned vote.

Posted by: rhody at November 25, 2009 2:42 PM

Is there no difference between people going to the polls to vote for candidates, and an elected official actually making law? That's such a big stretch.

Bishop Tobin doesn't determine those views; the church does. Are you arguing that the church shouldn't insist upon certain tenets from those who want to claim membership?

The bishop hasn't excommunicated Kennedy. I think this is further evidence that he wants to help the congressman rather than punish him.

Posted by: mikeinri at November 25, 2009 3:30 PM

I wonder if the Bishop was an "enforcement arm of the right" when he was protesting the Governor's Executive Order or advising ICE agents to disobey lawful orders if they were Catholic.The leftists were lining up to genuflect to him then.
Then he criticized Patches,their sacred cow.All bets were off.He was the Evil Eminence overnight.Real "1984"stuff-typical Marxist herd thinking.
I thought his stance on immigration sucked,and his admonition to agents was out of line to the max.
This flap with Kennedy should've stayed private,except Kennedy brought it on with the rant on CNS.
I don't think this will affect Kennedy's electability on iota.I do think his truly erratic behavior at long last will.
If those who think abortion is such a great "right"had to watch one,I'm sure it would change some minds.It amazes me how the pro-abortion people are almost all against the death penalty,which is used on people who actually did commit the worst sort of acts.I'm not sure what could possibly justify taking a helpless life in the womb(or partway out)except the preservation of the mother's life.No one has the right to force a woman to die in order to carry a pregnancy to term.We do have to preserve the life that is here.
That is the only circumstance that can justify this horrible act,because in such a case,it is the lesser of two really bad choices.
My impetus for this belief is not religiously motivated,BTW.

Posted by: joe bernstein at November 25, 2009 7:12 PM

rhody 2:42PM >> "over a damned vote."

Ummm? Isn’t voting one of the most important things they do?

More questions:

Does the church have real authority over its members?

Does the church have any authority over its members?

Let’s assume it does. Does that authority transcend all other forms of authority?

Does the church’s authority trump civil or secular authority?

It would seem that if you choose to be a member of an organization then you need to abide by the authority so ordained in the leadership of that organization. As far as I know anyone who is a member of the Roman Catholic Church can choose to resign and no longer be a member of the church. It is also true that in matters of faith the authority of the church reaches far enough to remove individual members from any entitled benefits of membership. But that happens only in the most extreme cases and for the most serious of reasons.

I am also sure that when you are a bona fide member of any significant organization you typically agree to abide by the rules of the organization. If you break the rules you pay the fine or get kicked out depending on the gravity of the infraction. The fact that the Roman Catholic Church has been lax in its heretofore demonstrations of authority in the area of influencing its members who are in the government and policing its own clergy has no bearing on the theoretical questions we are posing here. Bishop Tobin is calling out one of the churches members over which he has theoretical and, for believers, real authority and is saying, “If you want to be a member of our organization and receive the benefits of that membership then abide by the teachings of the organization.”

That teaching is also not a peripheral issue but one for the ages. We are talking about human life and human death. Polarizing emotions aside, these are issues of the highest and most significant importance to all parties. Can you think of another that is more significant?


Posted by: Sol Venturi at November 25, 2009 7:27 PM

It's simple, if you don't follow they rules, go somewhere else where you are satisfied with the rules. I know the Catholic Church has in the past, turned a blind eye to the shenanigans of the Kennedy's because they were good the the church in a financial way. This bishop is on the side of the defenseless unborn. The rule is to be a Catholic, you can't support killing the unborn.

As far as Bishop Tobin's comment on Patrick Kennedy's mental health. It is clear that he is not doing too well. It's not just with his Catholic problems either. I saw a clip of him on TV ranting, and acting pretty ill over the last several weeks. He has a problem. Sometimes he doesn't do what is necessary to keep his mental health in check. I had a brother who was bi-polar, and had a drinking problem. He was dead at 47. Listening to Patrick go off reminds me of my brother's last months. The Bishop is asking for prayers for Patrick's health, what is wrong with that?

Posted by: kathy santos at November 25, 2009 9:24 PM

Where does the church stand on the issue of the death penalty and politicians who support it?

Posted by: Screeter at November 26, 2009 9:31 AM

Good question, Screeter. Be prepared for a song and dance if you do get an answer.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at November 26, 2009 8:20 PM

From what I can gather the Roman Catholic Church would come down against the death penalty in almost every case.

Not sure they would interfere with individual politicians publicly on this issue.


Posted by: Sol Venturi at November 26, 2009 9:47 PM

Bishop Tobin baptized my mother this the church of Father John Kiley. I would not characterize my mother as a raving liberal - she and my father were pretty solid Reagan Democrats.
But when the hot-button subject came up yesterday, she declared she's had enough of the bishop. Not because of the abortion issue (she's solidly pro-life, and actually stopped voting for Patrick before I did), but because she feels embarassed by the bishop's recent behavior and apparent belief that the First District Congressman, whoever he or she might be, represents Catholics exclusively. Without prompting, she raised the possibility that Tobin's lust to play politics and do the national talk show circuit could endanger the church's tax-exempt status.
Your Excellency, if you've lost my mother, your problems are at least as big as Patrick's.

Posted by: rhody at November 27, 2009 2:08 PM


Other than the fact that you love your mother, what qualifies her to be the barometer in this debate? From what you write she is obviously confused regarding the facts in the case.

The issue is not what you stated it is in your post:

"she feels embarrassed by the bishop's recent behavior and apparent belief that the First District Congressman, whoever he or she might be, represents Catholics exclusively.”

The issue is that the First District Congressman, Mr. Kennedy, who claims to be a faithful member of the Roman Catholic Church is also Pro Choice which means he is Pro Abortion. His spiritual leader and the local authority for the RCC, Bishop Tobin, says Mr. Kennedy can’t enjoy the benefits of membership in the RCC unless he changes his stand on Abortion. Mr. Kennedy has two options. He can leave the church and maintain his stance on Abortion; he can change his stance on Abortion and stay a member of the RCC. He does have other options as well but the two stated above define the point.

If the First District Congressman were not a member of the RCC then Bishop Tobin would have no religious authority as that authority relates to church membership. He would probably still sound the church’s alarm about Abortion but would stay out of any direct church related comments towards a non-RCC member of Congress.

I say all that to provide the rational to simply say that your mother is wrong.


Posted by: Sol Venturi at November 27, 2009 6:30 PM

I actually think this is good. I am an independant but if republicans start down this path of Catholic bedfellowship I just may become a full Democrat by days end. The Catholic church has no place in politics and the Bishop needs to go run his churches and leave the politicians alone... SEPERATION OF CHURCH AND STATE FTW!!!

Posted by: Dave at November 27, 2009 9:26 PM

Sol, it shows that even some of those who agree with the bishop on abortion and don't particularly like Patrick believe Tobin's behavior has gotten out of hand.
Since the bishop is the state's most famous Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I just think it's kind of funny that his team has gone in the dumper since the Tobin-Kennedy feud began. But then again, if Ben Roethlisberger is pro-choice, maybe that explains why he's been felled by a concussion LOL.

Posted by: rhody at November 29, 2009 1:24 AM

It's all about the vote. The pro-abortion Democrats want it both ways.

They hang out their religion to get the Catholic vote.

How about this! If you really want separation of Church and State. Then politicians running for office, should keep their mouths shut about their faith.

Hey,Old time lefty, how's my spelling.....LOL

Posted by: RiverFox at November 29, 2009 9:35 AM
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