The National Catholic Review
From CNS, Staff and other sources
Catholics Engaging in Personal Attacks Over Politics, Says Archbishop Flynn

The fusillade of personal attacks in the current presidential campaign is infecting the debate over issues among Catholics, said Archbishop Harry J. Flynn of St. Paul-Minneapolis. One wonders why the Christian values of charity toward one another and the American value of fair play have been abandoned, he wrote in a column in The Catholic Spirit, the archdiocesan newspaper, on Sept. 23. This uncharitable, biased and reckless substitute for what formerly was fair-minded commentary and fact-based dialogue has found its venomous way into our Catholic family, he wrote.

Archbishop Flynn specifically criticized Barbara Kralis, who writes for The Wanderer, an independent national Catholic weekly newspaper based in St. Paul, Minn., and posts columns on various Web sites. She had previously criticized the archbishop, saying he has left the door open to giving Communion to Catholic politicians who favor keeping abortion legal. Archbishop Flynn wrote that Kralis recently circulated an e-mail asking people if they had a file or any scuttlebutt about him for an article she was preparing for The Wanderer.

Kralis criticized Archbishop Flynn in a column that appeared on Sept. 16 on the Web site of Renew America, an organization that supports the views of Alan Keyes, a Catholic and the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Illinois. The same column also appeared in the Sept. 23 issue of The Wanderer. Referring to a Sept. 9 column by the archbishop, Kralis said he would allow Catholic politicians favoring keeping abortion legal to receive Communion. She said that in her understanding of church teaching, such politicians should be denied Communion and that the bishop is responsible for seeing that this is carried out.

Archbishop Flynn said in his column on Sept. 9 that the Eucharist should not be an occasion for political scrutinizing and judgments. A bishop’s role is to assist Catholics in making choices based on church teachings, he said. Regarding the reception of the Eucharist, the archbishop said the responsibility for deciding whether to do so rests with politicians after an examination of conscience.

Splitting Faith and Politics Not Applicable to Abortion

The argument that Catholic elected officials can divorce their faith from their political actions does not apply in the fight against abortion, said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver, Colo. The 1973 Supreme Court legalization of abortion changed everything, he said in his column in the Sept. 22 issue of The Denver Catholic Register, the archdiocesan newspaper. Abortion is different. Abortion kills, he said.

The archbishop said that after 1973, Catholic officeholders had the choice of trying to reverse the situation or they could abandon the unborn and look for a way to morally sanitize their decision.

In his column Archbishop Chaput criticized Mario Cuomo, former governor of New York, for reinforcing the position that there can be a split between faith and politics as formulated in 1960 by John F. Kennedy, a Catholic. At the time, Kennedy was the Democratic nominee for president, and abortion was illegal and not a campaign issue. Kennedy said he favored strict separation of church and state, where no public official either requests or accepts instructions from the pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesial source.

Whatever issue may come before me as presidenton birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subjectI will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest.... No power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise, Kennedy told the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, a predominantly Protestant group.

Archbishop Chaput said that Kennedy set the tone for many future Catholic politicians regarding the relationship of faith and public office. Cuomo gave the Kennedy position intellectual muscle in a speech at the University of Notre Dame in 1984 and applied it to the abortion issue, said the archbishop; Cuomo wrote the alibi for every pro-choice’ Catholic who has held public office since. The bottom line of the Kennedy-Cuomo legacy is that it’s O.K. to be Catholic in public service as long as you’re willing to jettison what’s inconveniently Catholic,’ he said. That’s not a compromise. That’s a deal with the devil.

Cuomo defended his 1984 speech in an article for the Sept. 24 issue of Commonweal. He and Kenneth Woodward, author and former religion editor for Newsweek magazine, in separate articles updated the debate over Cuomo’s speech.

Archbishop Objects to WW II-Era Demands

A Polish archbishop criticized demands that his country compensate Germans who were expelled after World War II, as well as Polish legislators’ calls for war damages from Germany. Many of our countrymen rightly feel pain that displaced Germans have begun to demand war damages from Poland for properties they lost, said Archbishop Jozef Zycinski of Lublin. But we cannot now [seek] claims for new compensation from the Germans. Building the future will require forgiveness and Christian reconciliation, he said.

In retaliation for compensation demands by German groups whose families lost property in postwar deportations, the Polish parliament voted to seek reparations from Germany for Polish wartime losses. In 1945-47, up to 12 million German civilians were deported from Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary with Allied consent in an operation to seal the region’s redrawn borders.

BBC Withdraws Popetown’ Cartoon

A controversial cartoon program that lampooned the papacy has been canceled by the British Broadcasting Corporation following months of protests by British Catholics. The BBC announced on Sept. 23 that it would not broadcast the cartoon series Popetown. The show was said to feature the pope as a childish retiree whose every fickle whim must be indulged. Thousands of Catholics had written the BBC in protest.

In announcing the decision to cancel the show, Stuart Murphy, controller of BBC Three, said, There is a fine judgment line in comedy between scurrilously funny and the offensive. Unfortunately, he said, it became clear that the program fell on the wrong side of that line.

Hudson Stays on With Publishing Group

Deal W. Hudson, who resigned in August as Catholic outreach adviser to President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign, said on Sept. 21 that he has tendered his resignation as publisher of the Catholic magazine Crisis, but he will take up a new post as chief fundraiser for The Morley Publishing Group, which owns Crisis. The announcement came a month after The National Catholic Reporter revealed that Hudson resigned his faculty post at Fordham University in 1994 after an 18-year-old student complained of sexual misconduct with her in his office after getting her drunk. The magazine’s founders and three key contributing editors had threatened to leave the magazine if Hudson did not step down.

Robert Royal, founder and head of the Faith & Reason Institute and a contributing editor of Crisis, objected to keeping Hudson at all. They have a guy who has clearly got a problem, he added, and even the bad bishops [in the clergy sex abuse scandal] shifted guys with problems from one parish to another. What they [the board] essentially said here is, they’re going to change the brass plate on his office door.... It’s like a bishop changing a guy’s title and not even moving him to a different parish.

The Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the New York-based John M. Olin Foundation gave grants totaling more than $1.1 million to the Morley Publishing Group between 1996 and 2002, most of it to support Crisis magazine.

News Briefs

District Attorney William Bennett of Hampden County, Mass., on Sept. 27 indicted retired Bishop Thomas L. Dupre of Springfield, Mass., on two charges of child rape, then quickly decided not to prosecute the bishop because of the statute of limitations. The district attorney said he decided to proceed with a grand jury investigation, in part to see if it would uncover any evidence of any other crime he could prosecute.

In a ruling on Sept. 23, the Florida Supreme Court overturned a 2003 law that mandated the reinsertion of a feeding tube to keep brain-damaged Terri Schindler Schiavo alive. Schiavo, 40, has been impaired for the past 14 years. She can breathe on her own but requires nutrition and hydration through a feeding tube. Her husband says Terri would want the feeding tube removed. Her parents say that she would want to live.

The House of Representatives has approved a bill that would prevent the U.S. Supreme Court and all other federal courts from ruling on whether the words under God should be stricken from the Pledge of Allegiance.

Caritas Internationalis has launched a major appeal to fund relief efforts in flood-stricken Haiti. Caritas is seeking $900,000 in funding and donations to provide supplies to tens of thousands of people left homeless by a string of powerful tropical storms.

Comments

Chris Graney | 10/5/2004 - 10:30pm
All the coverage in AMERICA and other Catholic publications on the topic of life issues, "pro-choice" candidates, the upcoming election, the Bishops, Cardinal Ratzinger, and the theology of life issues has been educational. I have truly learned some things. My conscience is better informed.

In the past I felt that there was a balance of life issues – that the politician who advocated the death penalty for criminals but opposed abortion was morally identical to the politician who supported abortion but was opposed to the death penalty. Now I better understand why abortion, euthanasia, and other situations where the lives of innocent people are deliberately taken, stand at the pinnacle of life issues. I also understand something about formal cooperation in evil versus material cooperation in evil. Perhaps I learned of these things in my Catholic schooling, but if I did I'd since forgotten the terms. I also understand the concept of "proportionate reasons" better.

Suppose I had to cast a vote for county sheriff. Suppose my choices were Candidate A, who ardently supported the overturn of Roe v. Wade but who was also a known drug dealer and extortionist, and Candidate B, who was an ardent supporter of a woman's "right to choose" but was an upstanding citizen with a record of involvement in the community and a solid background in law enforcement. Thanks to what I've learned I can articulate now how voting for Candidate B would not involve any formal cooperation in the evil of abortion. It would involve some material cooperation, which is acceptable because of proportionate reasons (those being that the evil of having a criminal as county sheriff outweighs the evil of having a "pro-choice" county sheriff, since a county sheriff can do little about abortion and a criminal in the sheriff's office can do great harm). And because I understand and can articulate all this, I feel better about my vote.

Proportionate reasons, formal and material cooperation, and the like are not easy concepts. They don’t fit in a political culture where ideas get expressed as "sound bites". But this is part of what I like about Catholicism. Catholicism requires that we know our faith well and seriously think about our actions. Catholicism requires that we inform and abide by our consciences. It's hard work, but it’s worth doing.

Thanks to the recent coverage of life issues and voting, we are all getting a good dose of Catholic education these days which helps us do the hard work of informing our consciences. Judging by opinions and letters I've seen expressed in Catholic publications, too many people would rather ignore this chance for Catholic education and not make the effort. They would rather pigeonhole their Catholic faith into the usual Democrat or Republican, "left" or "right", slots. Too many folks declare that any true Catholic will vote for the Democrat, or that any true Catholic will vote for the Republican, or that any true Catholic will always vote for the candidate who opposes Roe v. Wade. In the recent “Signs of the Times” section of AMERICA, there was mention of personal attacks in regards to politics, and how the unpleasant tone of modern politics has crept into the Church.

All Catholics need to remember that Catholicism doesn't fit in the "left versus right" world of politics. Catholicism is more than left and right. It is also up and down, ahead and behind, roll, pitch, and yaw, past, present, and future. Catholics who think their candidate is the obvious "Catholic" choice, and who view those who think otherwise as being wrong or stupid or sinful, should take advantage of all the information currently available in AMERICA and other publications and learn and think and inform their consciences.

Robert Heyer | 10/19/2004 - 4:16pm
Bishop Chaput (Oct. 11) seems to forget that the Catholic traditon of the separation of legality and morality goes back to Thomas Aquinas, not Kenedy-Cuomo.

Catholics clearly believe that abortions are evil and immoral. But one issue in this election centers on the policies that would limit or reduce abortions.

We know that more than 80% of Americans do not agree with criminalizing abortion. This seems to be Bishop Chaput's goal.

We know that Belgium and Holland where abortions are legal have the lowest rates of abortion. Why? Because of their social policies. The highest rate of abortions is in Latin American countries where abortion is illegal. Poverty causes most abortions.

In our own country during the eight years of the Reagan presidency abortions increased over 5%; during Clinton's eight years abortions decreased 36%. Despite the rhetoric during Bush's first term the decade-long declining abortion rate has reversed and has become a significant increase in abortions.

We know most abortions are among the poor. Loss of jobs, lack of medical care, and social problems are major causes. Increase in abortion is directly related to tax and social policies. The small group of politically vocal Catholic Bishops pushing Republican social policies seem to be advocating following the Latin American model of illegal but increased abortions.

No one is voting on the morality of abortions. We are voting on social policies that increase or decrease abortions. Both social policy experience as well as social ethics should guide us.

Chris Graney | 10/5/2004 - 10:30pm
All the coverage in AMERICA and other Catholic publications on the topic of life issues, "pro-choice" candidates, the upcoming election, the Bishops, Cardinal Ratzinger, and the theology of life issues has been educational. I have truly learned some things. My conscience is better informed.

In the past I felt that there was a balance of life issues – that the politician who advocated the death penalty for criminals but opposed abortion was morally identical to the politician who supported abortion but was opposed to the death penalty. Now I better understand why abortion, euthanasia, and other situations where the lives of innocent people are deliberately taken, stand at the pinnacle of life issues. I also understand something about formal cooperation in evil versus material cooperation in evil. Perhaps I learned of these things in my Catholic schooling, but if I did I'd since forgotten the terms. I also understand the concept of "proportionate reasons" better.

Suppose I had to cast a vote for county sheriff. Suppose my choices were Candidate A, who ardently supported the overturn of Roe v. Wade but who was also a known drug dealer and extortionist, and Candidate B, who was an ardent supporter of a woman's "right to choose" but was an upstanding citizen with a record of involvement in the community and a solid background in law enforcement. Thanks to what I've learned I can articulate now how voting for Candidate B would not involve any formal cooperation in the evil of abortion. It would involve some material cooperation, which is acceptable because of proportionate reasons (those being that the evil of having a criminal as county sheriff outweighs the evil of having a "pro-choice" county sheriff, since a county sheriff can do little about abortion and a criminal in the sheriff's office can do great harm). And because I understand and can articulate all this, I feel better about my vote.

Proportionate reasons, formal and material cooperation, and the like are not easy concepts. They don’t fit in a political culture where ideas get expressed as "sound bites". But this is part of what I like about Catholicism. Catholicism requires that we know our faith well and seriously think about our actions. Catholicism requires that we inform and abide by our consciences. It's hard work, but it’s worth doing.

Thanks to the recent coverage of life issues and voting, we are all getting a good dose of Catholic education these days which helps us do the hard work of informing our consciences. Judging by opinions and letters I've seen expressed in Catholic publications, too many people would rather ignore this chance for Catholic education and not make the effort. They would rather pigeonhole their Catholic faith into the usual Democrat or Republican, "left" or "right", slots. Too many folks declare that any true Catholic will vote for the Democrat, or that any true Catholic will vote for the Republican, or that any true Catholic will always vote for the candidate who opposes Roe v. Wade. In the recent “Signs of the Times” section of AMERICA, there was mention of personal attacks in regards to politics, and how the unpleasant tone of modern politics has crept into the Church.

All Catholics need to remember that Catholicism doesn't fit in the "left versus right" world of politics. Catholicism is more than left and right. It is also up and down, ahead and behind, roll, pitch, and yaw, past, present, and future. Catholics who think their candidate is the obvious "Catholic" choice, and who view those who think otherwise as being wrong or stupid or sinful, should take advantage of all the information currently available in AMERICA and other publications and learn and think and inform their consciences.

Robert Heyer | 10/19/2004 - 4:16pm
Bishop Chaput (Oct. 11) seems to forget that the Catholic traditon of the separation of legality and morality goes back to Thomas Aquinas, not Kenedy-Cuomo.

Catholics clearly believe that abortions are evil and immoral. But one issue in this election centers on the policies that would limit or reduce abortions.

We know that more than 80% of Americans do not agree with criminalizing abortion. This seems to be Bishop Chaput's goal.

We know that Belgium and Holland where abortions are legal have the lowest rates of abortion. Why? Because of their social policies. The highest rate of abortions is in Latin American countries where abortion is illegal. Poverty causes most abortions.

In our own country during the eight years of the Reagan presidency abortions increased over 5%; during Clinton's eight years abortions decreased 36%. Despite the rhetoric during Bush's first term the decade-long declining abortion rate has reversed and has become a significant increase in abortions.

We know most abortions are among the poor. Loss of jobs, lack of medical care, and social problems are major causes. Increase in abortion is directly related to tax and social policies. The small group of politically vocal Catholic Bishops pushing Republican social policies seem to be advocating following the Latin American model of illegal but increased abortions.

No one is voting on the morality of abortions. We are voting on social policies that increase or decrease abortions. Both social policy experience as well as social ethics should guide us.