More Catholic than the Pope

May 10, 2009 | By | 10 Replies More

With many American Catholics outraged that Notre Dame university has invited Barack Obama to deliver its commencement address — a position the Pope himself apparently finds untroubling — one wonders if America’s Catholic conservatives are more concerned about politics than about any genuine religious doctrine. Indeed, the Vatican’s own official publication, L’Osservatore Romano has labeled Obama’s first three months in office as “One hundred days that didn’t shake the world.”

Meanwhile, the American anti-abortion-rights group, National Right to Life Committee, has moved to criticize the Vatican’s “surprisingly positive assessment” of President Obama’s approach to life issues and called on Notre Dame university to rescind the Obama invitation. According to the NRLC, Notre Dame’s invitation is “an affront to all who believe in the sanctity and dignity of human life.” Since Pope Benedict does not seem to consider the Obama invitation “an affront,” the NRLC would apparently exclude Pope Benedict from its list of those who believe in the sanctity and dignity of human life.

If extremism like that informs America’s Republican party, America’s conservatives should perhaps anticipate a much longer period of Democratic rule. And for good reason.


Tags: , ,

Category: Uncategorized

About the Author ()

Grumpypilgrim is a writer and management consultant living in Madison, WI. He has several scientific degrees, including a recent master’s degree from MIT. He has also held several professional career positions, none of which has been in a field in which he ever took a university course. Grumps is an avid cyclist and, for many years now, has traveled more annual miles by bicycle than by car…and he wishes more people (for the health of both themselves and our planet) would do the same. Grumps is an enthusiastic advocate of life-long learning, healthy living and political awareness. He is single, and provides a loving home for abused and abandoned bicycles. Grumpy’s email: grumpypilgrim(AT)@gmail(DOT).com [Erich’s note: Grumpy asked that his email be encrypted this way to deter spam. If you want to write to him, drop out the parentheticals in the above address].

Comments (10)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. I don't care what color he is. He's the president! How freaking cool is it to have the president speak at your graduation? Some stuffy old preacher spoke at my college graduation. I don't even remember his name, just that he was so boring. Man! If the president spoke at my graduation, I'd still be talking about it.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    More news by conservative Catholics, this time by Archbishop Raymond Burke:

    A powerful Catholic leader on Friday accused President Barack Obama of pushing an anti-life, anti-family agenda and called Notre Dame's invitation for him to speak scandalous.

  3. Mindy Carney says:

    Good God, after the havoc ol' Raymond wrought here in St. Louis, I really hate seeing him labeled a "powerful Catholic leader." That man is simply frightening. He threatened to refused communion Jesuit St. Louis University's basketball coach for making a pro-choice comment, when said coach was being interviewed personally and was clearly not speaking on behalf of the university. Burke would have excommunicated him and the president of the school right then and there if he'd had his druthers. Between that and his power and land-grab efforts at stealing another parish's property out from under them, he is all about being IN CHARGE. Gives me the creeps. I sincerely hope Notre Dame thumbs their collective noses at all of them and Obama accepts the invite.

  4. Dudley Sharp says:

    The Catholic Church has made it very clear that the death penalty and abortion are very different topics, morally and theologically.

    Catholics in good standing can support the death penalty and even an increase in executions, if their own prudential judgement calls for it.

    Abortion is always an intrinsic evil.

    Some teachings:

    Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Ratzinger) "stated succinctly, emphatically and unambiguously as follows":

    "Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia." (1)


    What Ardent Practicing Catholics Do (2)

    By Fr. John De Celles, 9/1/2008

    "Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is … a grave and clear obligation to oppose them … [I]t is therefore never licit to … "take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it."

    In other words: it is always a grave or mortal sin for a politician to support abortion.

    Now, some will want to say that these bishops-and I- are crossing the line from Religion into to politics. But it was the Speaker of the House (Nancy Pelosi) who started this. The bishops, and I, are not crossing into politics; she, and other pro-abortion Catholic politicians, regularly cross over into teaching theology and doctrine, And it's our job to try clean up their mess.

    But there's something more than that here. On Sunday, before the whole nation, she claimed to be an "ardent, practicing Catholic." Imagine if someone came in here and said "I'm a mafia hit man and I'm proud of it." Or "I deal drugs to little children." Or "I think black people are animals and it's okay to make them slaves, or at least keep them out of my children's school."

    Are these "ardent practicing Catholics"? No, they are not."

    And neither is a person who ardently supports and votes to fund killing 1 to 1.5 million unborn babies every single year. Especially if that person is in a position of great power trying to get others to follow her. Someone, for example, like a Catholic Speaker of the House, or a Catholic candidate for Vice President of the United States, or a Catholic senior Senator who is stands as the leading icon his political party. Like the proud and unrepentant murderer or drug dealer, they are not ardent Catholics. They are, in very plain terms, very bad Catholics."

    But the reason I say all this is not because I want to embarrass them or even correct them — they’re not even here. It’s because of you. Because back in the 1850’s when Catholic bishops, priests, and politicians were either silent or on the wrong side of the slavery debate, they risked not only their souls, but the souls of every other Catholic they influenced. I cannot do that, and I won’t do that.

    Some would say, well Father, what about those people who support the war in Iraq, or the death penalty, or oppose undocumented aliens? Aren’t those just as important, and aren’t Catholic politicians who support those “bad Catholics” too?

    Simple answer: no. Not one of those issues, or any other similar issues, except for the attack on traditional marriage is a matter of absolute intrinsic evil in itself. Not all wars are unjust — and good Catholics can disagree on facts and judgments. Same thing with the other issues: facts are debatable, as are solutions to problems."

    (1) "More Concerned with 'Comfort' than Christ?", Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick: Catholic Online, 7/11/2004 NOTE: Ratzinger was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and delivered this with guidance to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

    (2) "What Ardent Practicing Catholics Do: Correcting Pelosi", National Review Online, 9/1/2008 6:00AM


    Cardinals, Bishops and Congressmen Slam Pelosi on Abortion

    New York Cardinal – Pelosi Not Worthy of "Providing Leadership in a Civilized Democracy"

    Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters

    e-mail, 713-622-5491,

    Houston, Texas

    Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

    A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

  5. Tim Hogan says:

    Mr. Sharp has it wrong, as usual. In his encyclical "Evangelium Vitae," Pope John Paul II said:

    "It is clear that, for these purposes to be achieved, the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent."

    Number 56, paragraph 2

    It may be that some obscure writings of a former Cardinal are relevant upon his investiture as Pontiff but, that does not supplant the teaching authority of a Pope as he makes Catholic doctrine known through his encyclicals.

    No one here mentioned the death penalty prior to the issue being injected by someone seeking to throw the discussion off-thread, which was about how a cabal of neo-conservative Catholic officials are undermining Church credibility and verging upon heresy as latter day Savoranolas decrying that all else but prescribing abortion in America by repeal of Roe v. Wade and opposing the non-exisent Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) must be the focus of the entire Church.

    The Vatican disagrees.

    The Church is coming around.

    I applaud their getting to where I have been for a while!

    Roll on, Columbia, roll on! Catholics CAN rock!

  6. Tim Hogan says:

    Mr. Sharp has it wrong, as usual.

    Pope JP II in his encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" stated clearly about the "way of death":

    The way of death is this: … they show no compassion for the poor, they do not suffer with the suffering, they do not acknowledge their Creator, they kill their children and by abortion cause God's creatures to perish; they drive away the needy, oppress the suffering, they are advocates of the rich and unjust judges of the poor; they are filled with every sin. May you be able to stay ever apart, o children, from all these sins!". Number 54, paragraph 2.

    As for the death penalty:

    It is clear that, for these purposes to be achieved, the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.

    Number 54, paragraph 2

    It is the extremism of the far right Catholic neocons which harms the mission of the Church by attempting to make over the Church into being of this world, not in this world.

    Most disturbingly is the trend of some declaring that others are "the party of death" or some other such drivel based upon an erroneous interpretation of Catholic teaching which subordinates a Catholic's duty to inform their conscience and thereafter make a prudential judgment to a narrow, nearly heretical, interpretation of a Catholic's duty in political life which simply requires submission without any informed reflection.

  7. Tim Hogan says:

    Sorry, the quote from "Evangelium Vitae" about not using the death penalty is No. 56, paragraph 2.

    For more reeflection upon some issues facing Catholics which I have written on here go to:

  8. grumpypilgrim says:

    Tim is right on the money. When conservative Catholics denounce official Catholic doctrine in favor of their own more extreme beliefs — especially when such beliefs demonstrate a callous and non-Biblical disregard for human suffering — they lose (indeed, deliberately jettison) the very moral authority upon which they claim to rely.

  9. grumpypilgrim says:

    Dudley Sharp wrote, "Not one of those issues, or any other similar issues, except for the attack on traditional marriage is a matter of absolute intrinsic evil in itself."

    For years I have listened to Christian fundies rant about the attack on "traditional marriage." The fact is that Christians *themselves* have done more than any other identifiable group to undermine the institution of "traditional marriage." Just looking at the divorce rates among "Christians" demonstrates that a huge percentage of them have already dismissed the value of "traditional marriage."

    Furthermore, given that "marriage" in American society conveys all sorts of financial and procedural benefits, the notion that marriage is or should be considered an exclusively Christian institution is utterly absurd. "Marriage" has become a secular instition and, as such, no longer has any legitimate claim to belonging to Christian "tradition." Thus, the notion of it being under "attack" is also utterly absurd.

    Finally, given that the Christian holy book is undisturbed by notions such as married men taking concubines or of married me taking multiple wives, the notion that a secular society should regard it as a moral authority on this particular subject is, likewise, utterly absurd.

  10. Tony Coyle says:


    And the fact is, that for most of human 'civilization' marriage (in the procedural form so revered by Christians) was reserved for 'real people' – i.e. gentry, lords, kings. Not commoners. For everyone else it was simply a personal agreement (or an agreement between two families).

    From Wikipedia on marriage (with many citations

    From the early Christian era (30 to 325 CE), marriage was thought of as primarily a private matter, with no religious or other ceremony being required. Until 1545, Christian marriages in Europe were by mutual consent, declaration of intention to marry and upon the subsequent physical union of the parties.[23][24] The couple would promise verbally to each other that they would be married to each other; the presence of a priest or witnesses was not required.[…]As part of the Counter-Reformation, in 1545 […] a Roman Catholic marriage would be recognized only if the marriage ceremony was officiated by a priest with two witnesses [… and ] defined marriage as, "The conjugal union of man and woman, contracted between two qualified persons, which obliges them to live together throughout life."[28] .This change did not extend to the regions affected by the Protestant Reformation, where marriage by consent continued to be the norm. As part of the Reformation, the role of recording marriages and setting the rules for marriage passed to the state. By the 1600s many of the Protestant European countries had a state involvement in marriage.

    In other words – from a Protestant perspective, marriage is and always has been a personal affair, with contractual obligations and responsibilities ceded to the State (as personal property grew) by the 1600's.

    So US Protestants should demand that the state completely control this institution, otherwise they are being false to their traditions, and the tradition of marriage.

Leave a Reply