Friday, March 23, 2012

I Am a Catholic Priest Who Would Sin if I Voted for this P.A. [1]

My personal conscience has been formed by a view articulated by Blessed Pope John Paul II when he condemned those moral conclusions which substantively included intrinsically evil “matter.” Fancy terms like “Consequential proportionality”, often used by some contemporary moralists, are not acceptable to me. Some legislators, often Catholic, tout the good aspects of a particular piece of dubious legislation which contains some clearly evil components, but within which, they believe, the good aspects trump the evil aspects of the proposal. The Pope, on the other hand, argues, and I think reasonably and correctly, that one is never, under any circumstances, morally free to support that which is evil no matter how cleverly it may be disguised. And I am painfully aware of Catholic teaching on complicity in the sins of others. If I am complicit by support of any kind in what I believe to be inherently evil, I become part of that evil in varying degrees. Plainly put: I sin. I believe the Pope articulated unadorned true Catholic doctrine.

My other Catholic conscience dynamic is elementary. My conscience is personal which must direct me according to my lights, intelligence, knowledge and experience. I must do what I think is moral. What others believe is their jurisdiction. My action hero is St. Thomas More of England who dissented from most of his contemporaries at the cost of his head! He was pressured by family, friends, High Churchmen to agree with the Party Line. “Everyone else agrees. Why can’t you?” Yet, Thomas notes that we are judged by God according to our own view of truth, not the view of someone else. Following this insight, he became a Saint! Perhaps, there are other Catholic priests who can, with easy conscience, vote for “dubious” legislation. Each of us answers to God according to his own lights. That includes me.

Yet, my conscience has, all my life, been directed by orthodox teaching and not by dissenting theologians. My notion is that the relativism so rampant in many intellectual, political and church worlds leads to chaos and ultimately to Dachau while absolute Truth, as God reveals it, is His holy Will for the Good of all. I chose to follow that path. This choice centers on what I personally believe to be the clear voice of God as taught by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Hence, if I depart from the profound personal inner voice I call my conscience, I sin.

It was the forthright, down to earth President Harry Truman who plainly told us about himself: “The buck stops here!” The tone of the country, its success or failure, the programs, the political philosophy ultimately belong, fair or not, to him. Difficulties with Congress, frustrations with small minded legislators who reject his proposals, wars, social problems—all factor in. Yet, when one counts the gaming chips, the responsibility is Harry’s. It was on his watch!

How could I, an ancient Catholic priest, claim that my voting (not anyone else’s) could put me at odds with my God, i.e. in a state of sin? For starters, the relatively sudden announcement that henceforth all Americans will be obliged to pay for abortifacients, sterilization processes, contraceptives and probably and ultimately abortion processes, stunned me. The P.A. had previously given their word that no legislation would be proposed violating Catholic conscience (and I had naively believed them). Now they intend to impose their morality on me and all people who hold personal spiritual values as sacred. I personally can no longer trust this P.A.

We do not wish or intend or try to impose our values on anyone else. We simply want to be free Catholics in America, loving our country and our God as our personal consciences direct. Catholics, from the beginning, have gratefully honored the First Amendment which, in its first place, guarantees every citizen the right to freely worship God as he pleases. Catholics historically always have made outstanding contributions to the defense of this Country which has been so good to their Church and which has guaranteed and protected their right to freedom of worship.

Yet, this P.A., in effect, is telling me that sexual practices (apparently of every variety) of the nation are more important to them than not only our religious freedom but even the huge contributions we are making to the health and social levels. We cannot obey this mandate that we underwrite behaviors which are repugnant to us and which we cannot morally support. Nor is the P.A. so-called compromise acceptable to me. As Bill Donahue of The Catholic Defense league has said: “I wasn’t born yesterday”. The P.A.’s “compromise” is a shell game, well known to those of us who have New York street smarts. It is no compromise at all. Their “change” is not about contraceptives which are available to anyone on the corner drug store. Their real change, I believe, is about depriving me of my basic freedom. To live my life as I choose. And this right is for all even if we fundamentally differ from each other. Remember the cry of the Revolution—“Don’t tread on me”--? I don’t want to live under a Dictator, even a smiling, handshaking one.

Such a one will force us to close down our social programs creating a huge national health problem which will have to be replaced at cosmic public costs and incidentally make more people dependent on the central government, moving us even more close to Socialism. Does the P.A. not realize that we will close down rather than be complicit in the killing of one single child? Does the P.A. not know our view of the value of the individual? Does the P.A. not know that the Catholic Church is totally In favor of universal health care? That we have been practicing such charity centuries before they were born? Does the P.A. not know that every nation which became Socialist, at the same time, became more hostile to religion which values the individual person over the political structure? Socialism diminishes the human being!

David Barton, a noted Protestant historian lists, by date, those facts which enforce my decision. Each of these historical facts [2] is referenced should the reader question his statements which are as follows:

1. April 2008 - Obama announces plans to revoke conscience protection for health workers who refuse to participate in medical activities that go against their beliefs and fully implements that plan in Feb. 2011.

2. Feb. 2009 - When speaking at Georgetown Univ. Obama orders that a monogram symbolizing Jesus’ name be covered when he is making his speech.

3. Obama declines to host services for the National day of Prayer (a day established by Federal law) at the White House.

4. April 2009 - In a deliberate act of disrespect, Obama nominated three pro-abortion ambassadors to the Vatican: the pro-life Vatican rejected all three.

5. Oct. 2010 - Obama begins deliberately omitting the phrase about “the Creator” when quoting the Declaration of Independence—an omission he has made on no less than seven occasions.

6. Feb. 2011 — Obama drags his feet appointing an Ambassador for Religious freedom and agrees only after heavy pressure from the public and Congress.

7. Nov. 2011 - Obama opposes inclusion of President Franklin Roosevelt’s famous D-Day prayer in the WWII Memorial.

8. June 2011 - The Dept. of Veterans affairs forbids references to God and Jesus during the burial ceremonies as Houston National Cemetery.

9. Sept. 2011 - Air Force Chief of staff prohibits commanders from notifying airmen of programs and services available to them from chaplains

10. Feb. 2012 - The Army orders Catholic chaplains not to read a letter to parishioners that their Archbishop asked them to read.

11. March 2009 - Obama orders taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research.

12. May 2009 - The White House budget committee eliminates all funding for abstinence only education and replaces it with “comprehensive” sexual education.

13. Sept. 2010 - The Obama administration tells researchers to ignore a judge’s decision striking down federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

14. Feb. 2011 - Obama directs the Justice Dept. to stop defending the federal defense for marriage act.

15. Sept. 2011 - The Pentagon directs that military chaplains may perform same -sex marriages at military facilities in violation of the Federal defense of marriage act.

16. Oct.2011 - The Obama administration eliminates federal grants to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops for their extensive programs that aid victims of human trafficking because the Catholic Church is anti-abortion.


This a mere sampling from a plethora of instances which influence me so greatly!

And all on this P.A.’s watch! Either they are ignorant of our beliefs or they are deliberately inimical to us. In charity, I must assume the former possibility. Some of my fellow clerics turn almost ashen when I articulate these views, nervously cautioning me not only that I might be punished personally but also mumble something like “tax exempt status.” As to the former, it is highly unlikely that I, at 91, will be mustered out of the corps with my epaulets ripped off. As to the latter, unreal. Our Bishops, our various spokespersons, are finally speaking out without the unattractive timidity and need for approval of the past. It is being publicly articulated that Religion is intrinsically fused with the meaning of “American.” It underwrites the American soul.

While I am a priest, I am also a born American citizen. I have zippered my opinions and insights all my life but in the shadow of my years I need to speak out against what I see as terrible evil creeping into my country. I am a citizen with the right to speak out! I could opine about the alarming economic/financial problems of the present and the implications for the future. I could speak of my discomfort at the downplaying our national defense systems. I could speak of my irritation when I see Government leaders obsequiously kowtow to rulers of other countries. I could speak of my embarrassment with friends of foreign lands when they belittle the USA and our weak world persona. There are scores of matters on a secular level which do influence me. But my basic articulation is about what I see as an attack not only on my Faith but on the Faith of all other sincere believers.

I have revered the Office of the Pope regardless of who occupies that holy Role. I will try to skewer those who have betrayed it. But I deeply respect the Chair of St. Peter, chosen personally by Jesus. Similarly, I deeply respect the role of President of my Country regardless who occupies that role. There have been great Presidents and Presidents who poorly suit the role. I will vote against the P.A.in November—hopefully for a “my values” President. And, woe to me because of my character makeup, since if I were to vote for this P.A., I would sin before my God.

I am a beat-up, antique, mottled faced old priest with ordinary intelligence and limited knowledge. I am crabby and can like St. Peter plead—“Depart from me Lord for I am a sinful man.” But with all of that I cry out in fear and desperation. No matter what the cost, I shout out for and fight for Freedom, Freedom, Freedom.

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[1] P.A. means Present Administration, a term used extensively throughout this essay. I am forced into this clumsy and irritating mechanism by some kind of great, Political, eternal Law. “Thou shalt not thyself mention or identify any person presently running for public office.” My sometimes passionate criticisms are directed at what I consider unacceptable policies. I do not attack persons. Any mention of persons is by way of quoting some other author.

[2] Please note that specific names are within the quotation and are not the author’s choice.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am also a catholic who happened to come upon this article by chance I thought. Yet, I think God led me to it! I was feeling a bit hopeless today watching the news and recent political polling and feeling very discourage with others who can't seem to see through the fog. I agree with everything you wrote and I am encouraged by your words. So, thank you Father and may God Bless you.

M Wheel

KEVIN BRESLIN said...

I second these thoughts

KEVIN BRESLIN said...

I second these thoughts