Sunday, October 5, 2008

Catholic Church: "Democrats Are Party of Death"

This is why I increasingly believe that my split from the Catholic Church may be permanent and irreconcilable. This is going to take a while to explain, so bear with me.

In the past 8 years, we have seen the Republican party:

1. Suspend the US' recognition of basic human rights of those it takes into custody for no reason other than their nationality and/or race (hundreds of whom are held for years and released without ever having been given a reason for their detainment or the legal ability to challenge it even though this has been a fundamental right recognized in western civilization since the thirteenth century).

2. Practice gruesome torture tactics against such people.

3. First deny they torture; then they are forced to admit that yes, these "enhanced interrogation" is based on what we used to condemn as torture, and now openly brag about the fact they are torturing people.

4. After declaring war against those who attacked us on 9/11, initiate a second war against Iraq for no other reason than to advance certain business interests and to allow military contractors and other multinational corporations such as Haliburton to profit handsomely.

5. Enact economic policies that have created more concentration of wealth in fewer hands than at anytime since at least pre-Great Depression times.

6. Run campaigns using Religion as tool to divide "us" and "them"

7. Run candidates for office on a platform of "family values," the implication of which is that said values are the province of the federal government, while ....

7.a. governing in a way to eliminate the federal government from people's lives and or make it completely unable to respond to citizens' needs - i.e., Hurricane Katrina ... and ...

7.b. said candidates have frequently been caught in untoward sex scandals once in office. Mark Foley, Larry Craig, David Vitters, just to name a few.

8. Has embraced the "Neoconservative" philosophy of war, war, and more war. To that end, the Republican candidate for president has whimsically joked - JOKED - about bombing Iran, and suggested that the sale of cigarettes to Iran is a way to kill them.

I could go on; these are merely the highlights. Yet, the Vatican calls the Democratic party the party of death because of abortion.

This is what should be the splash of cold water on every Catholic voter's face: Roe v. Wade is 35 years old this year. In the time since Roe was decided, Republicans have controlled the White House for all but 12 years (GOP presidents: 1973-1977, 1981-1993, 2001- present). Republicans controlled Congress continuously from 1994-2007. Have Republicans done all they could to put an end to abortion to America? For every Scalia the Republicans put on the US Supreme Court, they also put on an O'Connor. For every Thomas, a Souter. For every Alito, a Kennedy. There is a pattern here. The cold hard reality is that the Republcan party has kept the US Supreme Court balanced on abortion, ensuring that the following two facts never change:

1. The Unites States Supreme Court will be tantalizingly close to a 5-4 majority decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, but never quite there; and

2. The Republican party will be able to use abortion as its "trump card" issue each and every election year.

Yet, the Vatican, without any sense of this whatsoever, calls the Democratic party the party of death. Think about it - considering the last 8 years, could the Republican party lay claim to being the party of life absent the abortion issue without being laughed out of the room? No, not after an unnecessary and reckless war and its legacy of torture. It's not even debatable. Republicans need to have abortion as a live political issue so they can use it to stay in power. And use it, they do.

Which all brings me back to the Catholic Church, and it's present grandstanding about the Democratic party. First, let's get one thing out in the open. The Catholic Church's position on abortion has been anything but consistent and even over history. St. Augustine and later, St. Thomas Aquinas, both believed in delayed hominization - that the human soul does not occpy the fetus until well after conception. While St. Augustine still opposed early term abortion, it appears it was for more pragmatic reasons - to discourage sex without procreation. Thus, the idea of abortion as murder seems to be of comparatively modern vintage.

Moreover, the question of when life begins is one that is inherently philosophical and faith-based. It does not turn on the advancement of medical science. The lack of uniformity of opinion on this over time therefore suggests to me that the entire premise of life beginning at conception, the underpinning of the opposition to abortion, is not on the terra firma of Christ's teachings, but is rather a "political" (for lack of a better word) position of the Church.

The Catholic Church has taken the position that life begins at conception, and that is obviously its prerogative. It has gone out of its way, now, to demonize a major US political party on this issue, yet, to my knowledge, it has never taken the step of repudiating or denouncing St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas's views. It has never done the "philosophical house cleaning" that one would expect if, in fact, the idea that at the moment of conception the one-, two-, four-, or eight-celled organism has a soul and is a person is as timelessly immutable and beyond debate as the Church claims.

So why is it so much more confortable taking on the Democratic Party rather than confronting the skeletons in its own closets? Why? Because the Catholic Church, like many other denominations, has simply grown too intertwined with the Republican party in the United States.

Beyond the GOP's cynical use of abortion as a political tool, it certainly strikes me that if the Catholic Church wanted to take an honest assessment of how political party platforms in the United States matched up against the teachings of Christ, the Vatican should have a lot to say about the Republican party especially on social justice and human rights issues. But there is no criticism of the Republicans. Why is that? And doesn't that seem odd?

I actually went to Church today, and of course, my church had the field of white crosses out front, with a legend posted that each cross represents "x" number of "children" murdered in an abortion each day (or year, or whatever). I rolled my eyes, and went into Church, which felt like going to a Republican campaign rally. The priest gave a very nice homily on faith, which I actually enjoyed and found thought provoking.

But then I stumble across this news - that the Catholic Church is weighing in on the US election, and not being even-handed about it, and I find myself turned off again. Today was literally a case of one step forward toward a return to the Church, and five steps backwards.

My view of the Catholic Church is that the tail is now wagging the dog. I do not condone abortion. I will never be party to a decision in favor of abortion unless dire circumstances would dictate that it is absolutely necessary - i.e., to save my wife's life.

To me, abortion is one of several vexing moral issues facing voters. In taking the hardline that it is the only issue, the Church is asking its adherents to turn a blind eye to every other issue and simply vote for a party whose record shows that it has little incentive or motivation to make abortion illegal in the first place. That is sheer madness.

If you believe that each human being is created in God's image, you have to condemn torture just as strongly as you condemn abortion. If you are opposed to the killing of innocents, you should be just as opposed to war every bit as strongly as you are opposed to abortion because modern warfare necessarily involves the killing of non-participants. So, how can you vote Republican???

The Jesus I learned about growing up was not merely an anti-abortion activist. Jesus addressed a variety of issues, none of which involved deregulation or free markets. I have been, and am to this day, utterly disillusioned with the modern fixation on abortion at the expense of (rather than as a part of) the broader message of morality.

1 comment:

Nani J. Cootsack said...

Nani, on the other hand, is very pleased with the church's decision. This way, Nani doesn't need to judge for himself right from wrong, whether a war is just or not, and who Nani should vote for. With all the thinking done for him, the Nani can better spend his time buying stuff in malls and going to see Mel Gibson movies