He Can’t Handle Intrinsic Evils

Seriously, Bishop McElroy can’t handle intrinsic evils or much of the Church’s teachings.  I think those pesky little details just get in his way.

http://cal-catholic.com/?p=25557

San Diego bishop: forget about intrinsic evils when voting

Bishop Robert McElroy says using “intrinsic evils” not the best standard for deciding how to vote because there are so many of them.

So glad I wasn’t drinking when I read this one.  Can’t you just see him feeling kind of the same way about the teachings of the Church?  Canon Law? Ten Commandments?  “There are just so many of them, it makes my brain hurt, so let’s just ignore them all.” (That it should have been read in the whiniest voice you could muster.)

<snip>

The church teaches that certain acts are incapable of being ordered to God since in their very structure they contradict the good of the person made in God’s likeness. Such actions are termed “intrinsically evil” and are morally illicit no matter what the intention or circumstances surrounding them. Those who focus primarily on intrinsic evil make two distinct but related claims: 1) that the action of voting for candidates who seek to advance an intrinsic evil in society automatically involves the voter morally in that intrinsic evil in an illicit way; and 2) Catholic teaching demands that political opposition to intrinsically evil acts, like abortion, euthanasia and embryonic experimentation, must be given automatic priority over all other issues for the purposes of voting.

The recent statement of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” shows why this argument is simplistic and thus misleading.

Not so much, Your Excellency.  I think it’s you and your buddies like Archbishop Cupich who think we’re a little too simplistic to figure this out, so you’re going to “help” us. My guess is you two have done the high-five on social media for this one.

The bishops’ statement clearly asserts the absoluteness of the prohibitions against concrete intrinsically evil acts, emphasizing that no circumstances or intentions can justify performing or illicitly cooperating with such acts. At the same time, “Faithful Citizenship” recognizes that voting for a candidate whose policies may advance a particular intrinsic evil is not in itself an intrinsically evil act.

Duh.  They’re not contradicting themselves, you are.  Is there a reason you won’t quote when commenting on “Faithful Citizenship?”  How’s this? 

34. Catholics often face difficult choices about how to vote. This is why it is so important to vote according to a well-formed conscience that perceives the proper relationship among moral goods. A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.

  1. There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.

  2. When all candidates hold a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.

  3. In making these decisions, it is essential for Catholics to be guided by a well-formed conscience that recognizes that all issues do not carry the same moral weight and that the moral obligation to oppose intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our actions. These decisions should take into account a candidate’s commitments, character, integrity, and ability to influence a given issue.

See?  You need to look at 36 to clarify 34.  You can’t ever vote for someone who’s pro-abortion if there is a better option or if you are voting for them specifically because of their pro-abortion stance, but you can vote for someone who is pro-abortion if they are the ones who will do the least damage in this area. 

In the end, this is a decision to be made by each Catholic guided by a conscience formed by Catholic moral teaching.

Oh, he leaves out one key word: “well.”  They must be guided by their well-formed conscience.

Voting for candidates is a complex moral action in which the voter must confront an entire array of competing candidates’ positions in a single act of voting. It is crucial that in voting for a candidate who supports the advancement of an intrinsic evil, Catholic voters not have the intention of supporting that specific evil, since such an intention would involve them directly in the evil itself. But voters will often find themselves in situations where one candidate supports an intrinsically evil position, yet the alternative realistic candidates all support even graver evils in the totality of their positions.

Note the heavy focus on the “voters must not have the intention of supporting that specific evil.”  He actually did OK there.  And then he goes onto blow it:

This is particularly true in the United States today. The list of intrinsic evils specified by Catholic teaching includes not only abortion, physician-assisted suicide and embryonic experimentation but also actions that exploit workers, create or perpetuate inhuman living conditions or advance racism. It is extremely difficult, and often completely impossible, to find candidates whose policies will not advance several of these evils in American life.

No. No. No. No. No.  There are some intrinsic evils that have priority.  Anything that deprives life surpasses all others.  If you don’t have life, you have nothing.  Bishop McElroy must have missed this:

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/abortion/living-the-gospel-of-life.cfm

  1. The losers in this ethical sea change will be those who are elderly, poor, disabled and politically marginalized. None of these pass the utility test; and yet, they at least have a presence.  They at least have the possibility of organizing to be heard.  Those who are unborn, infirm and terminally ill have no such advantage.  They have no “utility,” and worse, they have no voice.  As we tinker with the beginning, the end and even the intimate cell structure of life, we tinker with our own identity as a free nation dedicated to the dignity of the human person.  When American political life becomes an experiment on people rather than for and by them, it will no longer be worth conducting.  We are arguably moving closer to that day.  Today, when the inviolable rights of the human person are proclaimed and the value of life publicly affirmed, the most basic human right, “the right to life, is being denied or trampled upon, especially at the more significant moments of existence: the moment of birth and the moment of death” (Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life [Evangelium Vitae], 18).
  1. The nature and urgency of this threat should not be misunderstood. Respect for the dignity of the human person demands a commitment to human rights across a broad spectrum:  “Both as Americans and as followers of Christ, American Catholics must be committed to the defense of life in all its stages and in every condition.”4  The culture of death extends beyond our shores: famine and starvation, denial of health care and development around the world, the deadly violence of armed conflict and the scandalous arms trade that spawns such conflict.  Our nation is witness to domestic violence, the spread of drugs, sexual activity which poses a threat to lives, and a reckless tampering with the world’s ecological balance.  Respect for human life calls us to defend life from these and other threats.  It calls us as well to enhance the conditions for human living by helping to provide food, shelter and meaningful employment, beginning with those who are most in need.  We live the Gospel of Life when we live in solidarity with the poor of the world, standing up for their lives and dignity.  Yet abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others.  They are committed against those who are weakest and most defenseless, those who are genuinely “the poorest of the poor.”  They are endorsed increasingly without the veil of euphemism, as supporters of abortion and euthanasia freely concede these are killing even as they promote them.  Sadly, they are practiced in those communities which ordinarily provide a safe haven for the weak — the family and the healing professions.  Such direct attacks on human life, once crimes, are today legitimized by governments sworn to protect the weak and marginalized.

    Just in case you didn’t know, the definition of preeminent is “surpassing all others.”  And I, Bishop McElroy, believe you missed this in the document you speak of but never link to:  http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/upload/forming-consciences-for-faithful-citizenship.pdf

 

  1. Two temptations in public life can distort the Church’s defense of human life and dignity:

  2. The first is a moral equivalence that makes no ethical distinctions between different kinds of issues involving human life and dignity. The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed.3

  3. The second is the misuse of these necessary moral distinctions as a way of dismissing or ignoring other serious threats to human life and dignity. The current and projected extent of environmental degradation has become a moral crisis especially because it poses a risk to humanity in the future and threatens the lives of poor and vulnerable human persons here and now. Racism and other unjust discrimination, the use of the death penalty, resorting to unjust war, the use of torture,4 war crimes, the failure to respond to those who are suffering from hunger or a lack of health care, pornography, redefining civil marriage, compromising religious liberty, or an unjust immigration policy are all serious moral issues that challenge our consciences and require us to act. These are not optional concerns which can be dismissed. Catholics are urged to seriously consider Church teaching on these issues. Although choices about how best to respond to these and other compelling threats to human life and dignity are matters for principled debate and decision, this does not make them optional concerns or permit Catholics to dismiss or ignore Church teaching on these important issues. Clearly not every Catholic can be actively involved on each of these concerns, but we need to support one another as our community of faith defends human life and dignity wherever it is threatened. We are not factions, but one family of faith fulfilling the mission of Jesus Christ.

While we follow both, you seem to fall right into the temptation mention when you directly contradicting number 28 .  You’re playing the “it’s just one issue among many” card to the hilt in your little statement.

Even more important, a fatal shortcoming of the category of intrinsic evil as a foundation for prioritizing the major elements of the political common good lies in the fact that while the criterion of intrinsic evil identifies specific human acts that can never be justified, it is not a measure of the relative gravity of evil in human or political acts. Some intrinsically evil acts are less gravely evil than other intrinsically evil actions.

Riiiggghhhhtttt!  Did you read what you just wrote?  In fact, the Church has shown us (just like the USCCB did above) the ones that get priority.  You, however, seem to want to downplay these for a reason.  Why is that? 

Intrinsically evil action can also be less gravely evil than other actions that do not fall under the category of intrinsic evil. For example, telling any lie is intrinsically evil, while launching a major war is not.  But it would be morally obtuse to propose that telling a minor lie to constituents should count more in the calculus of voting than a candidate’s policy to go to war.

And, Bishop McElroy?  Nobody is comparing the two.  This is what we like to call a red-herring.  It is just you trying to use an action that isn’t happening to downplaying the severity of the preeminent intrinsic evils that the Church has laid out. 

It is the gravity of evil or good present in electoral choices that is primarily determinative of their objective moral character and their contribution to or detraction from the common good. Moreover, because voting is a complex moral action involving mitigating circumstances, a vote for a candidate who supports intrinsic evils often does not involve illicit cooperation in those acts. For these reasons the category of intrinsic evil cannot provide a comprehensive moral roadmap for prioritizing the elements of the common good for voting.

We don’t need more of a road map than already given to us.  The person we should vote for should pass the test of rejecting the preeminent intrinsic evils of our time which, again, as our very own USCCB has stated, are the no brainer offenses against life.  That is PREEMINENT.  I’m not sure how many ways the Church has to say it before Bishop McElroy stop trying to confuse the voters that when two candidates are pro-choice, you can’t ever vote for the worse one, but you may be able to vote for the one who will do the least damage in this area.  If two candidates are apples to apples in this area, then you should go on to look at all of the other issues that go along with the dignity of life. 

Finger-Wagging Fest!

I thought Catholic University of America was getting better, but they’ve got this guy as a visiting fellow?  Let’s hope he’s not visiting that long.

https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/archbishop-chaputs-regrettable-column

“My column this week is a collection of personal comments,” Archbishop Charles Chaput begins his weekly column in his archdiocesan newspaper. “Read it as thoughts from a brother in the faith, not as teachings from an archbishop.” I wonder if all the “brothers in the faith” in the City of Brotherly Love get to have their “personal comments” so widely distributed? Of course, at no time is a bishop not a bishop, or a priest not a priest, so the idea that he can take off his miter and share “personal comments” is naïve at best.

Um, Mr. Winters, you just kind of annoy me, for starters.  Next, bishops can very well give you their personal thoughts in a public forum.  Do you think that, once the miter goes on, they must keep their mouths closed?  Give me a break.  Distribution matters little.  He was presenting no formal teaching nor telling anyone who they should vote for.  

This disclaimer raises a different question though: Why? Why does Archbishop Chaput feel the need to share these thoughts on politics which he seems to understand are not a fit object for his teaching authority? Does he think they are profound? Did he have trouble coming up with something to write about this week? Is there something that makes him crave controversy? This last characteristic is not a bad trait in a blogger, but in a bishop?

Really, Mr. Winters?  You may or may not receive spiritual guidance in temporal matters, but a lot of the faithful do.  Do you know how many times I’ve seen “What are we supposed to do?!?!” asked of our spiritual fathers?  It’s come up almost every time I’ve seen a priest since the major party candidates were locked down.  Does he really “crave controversy”, Mr.  Winters, or does he just not shy away from it, unlike some? 

Let’s just be honest.  You want to play the usual National catholic Reporter game of trying to silence an orthodox spiritual leader who takes his duty seriously, while you get to keep flapping your gums.  A good chunk of us see through this little game.

When we attend to the content of the archbishop’s column the questions and concerns deepen and multiply. Archbishop Chaput writes:

“Presidential campaigns typically hit full stride after Labor Day in an election year. But 2016 is a year in which two prominent Catholics – a sitting vice president, and the next vice presidential nominee of his party — both seem to publicly ignore or invent the content of their Catholic faith as they go along.”

And your internal drama is what??? Oh, yeah, he’s calling them on their garbage.  I’m sure that does deepen and multiply your concerns and ruin your plans.

My inner editor wishes to know what the first and second sentence have to do with one another. My inner analyst wants to know why Archbishop Chaput begins his column taking a swipe at Joe Biden and Tim Kaine? Did he hear Tim Kaine talk about the importance of faith in his life? Has he ever spoken with Biden about his faith? That faith may be in error as it pertains to some issues of public morality but the faith of these two men is undoubtedly real and important to them.

Wait!  Let’s just pause right there.  Some issues?  Important to them?  When you hold a faith dear, you usually adhere to it.  The Catholic faith isn’t their little toy.  It has nice set rules.  One can adhere to them, or one can chuck them at will, which is exactly what Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber do.  Please understand, Mr.  Winters, (and you’d think you wouldn’t have to have this explained to you since you are a “visiting fellow at Catholic University’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies”) Mr. Kaine and Mr. Biden have delineated, most publicly, their dissent from Catholic teaching.  Nobody has to talk to them personally and hear from them how important their faith is when they’ve already spewed their driveling dissent.

Like Archbishop Chaput, I wish Kaine and Biden extended their obvious concern for the downtrodden to the unborn, but I can also discern the reasons they fail to do so, and those reasons do not add up to an “invention” of the content of their faith. They see the public application of their faith differently, and I think wrongly, but they are hardly charlatans.

Dude!  That’s the definition of an invention of the faith.  You are not FAITHFUL (that’s “full of faith”, in case you were unaware) to the Catholic Church if you dissent from her teachings.  They don’t get to see the public application of their faith differently.  We’ve got documents on that from our very own USCCB:

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/church-teaching/catholics-in-political-life.cfm  Ironically this document was developed in part by Archbishop Chaput because, why?  Oh, he has the authority to do so!

Archbishop Chaput continues:

“And meanwhile, both candidates for the nation’s top residence, the White House, have astonishing flaws.

This is depressing and liberating at the same time. Depressing, because it’s proof of how polarized the nation has become. Liberating, because for the honest voter, it’s much easier this year to ignore the routine tribal loyalty chants of both the Democratic and Republican camps. I’ve been a registered independent for a long time and never more happily so than in this election season.”

How does the perception that both candidates for the White House have astonishing flaws offer “proof of how polarized the nation has become.” Could not that polarization be evidenced by candidates with less obvious flaws? Lincoln was no slacker, but he assumed the presidency at a time of enormous polarization. And, why do those flaws make it easier to “ignore the routine tribal loyalty chants” of the two parties? And, why is it ever hard for a bishop to “ignore the routine tribal loyalty chants” of the two parties? I thought that mostly came with the office.

I’m sorry, sir. (Am I allowed to use that term?  So hard to tell these days.)  Have you looked out the window?  Their “astonishing flaws” are fanning the flames of hate on both sides.  Neither of these two are Lincoln, and I doubt many of their supporters would say so.  Please tell me you understand at least that!  These two have whipped this world into a frenzy.  Not really seeing your point here. 

The archbishop continues:

“As Forbes magazine pointed out some months ago, the Republican candidate is worth roughly $4.5 billion. The Democratic candidate is worth roughly $45 million. Compare that with the average American household, which is worth about $144,000. The median U.S. income is about $56,000.  Neither major candidate lives anywhere near the solar system where most Americans live, work and raise families.  Nonetheless, we’re asked to trust them.

The archbishop can travel a few blocks up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from his cathedral to see a large equestrian statue of George Washington, or he can head the other direction to the statue of Washington in front of Independence Hall. Washington was a fabulously wealthy planter in his day. Did his wealth make him suspect? Theodore and Franklin Delano Roosevelt were from different branches of the same wealthy family. Did their wealth keep them from empathy with the life of the common man? Did the American people have trouble trusting any of these presidents because of their wealth? Why is the personal wealth of the candidates so important this time?

OK, fair point here. (Thank goodness there was at least one.) That said, I think the ivory tower did get a whole lot higher since Teddy and FDR.  I mean, FDR was Sec Nav and visited France during WWI to observe military activities first hand, and Teddy was a colonel in the Spanish-American War.  Trump and Clinton never got near the trenches, much less in them.  And neither of them have overcome too much adversity, unless you consider being in disastrous marriages a triumph of some sort.

Then comes the second most troublesome part of the article. Archbishop Chaput compares the two presidential candidates, writing:

Hold on!  Here it is!  All of the other stuff was troubling, but this, this, my friends, is what troubles Mr. Winters the most!

“One candidate — in the view of a lot of people — is an eccentric businessman of defective ethics whose bombast and buffoonery make him inconceivable as president. And the other – in the view of a lot of people – should be under criminal indictment. The fact that she’s not — again, in the view of a lot of people — proves Orwell’s Animal Farm principle that “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

First, I cannot ignore the qualifying phrase “in the view of a lot of people,” not least this year when Mr. Donald Trump repeatedly uses a similar rhetorical device to avoid responsibility from spreading whichever ridiculous conspiracy theory comes out of his mouth after he intones, “Well, a lot of people think that. …” We teach our children not to say things like that because it is morally irresponsible. To find such words in a column by a bishop is frankly shocking.

The horrors! The Archbishop uses a same phrase that the Trumpster uses!  Shocking, I tell you!  Except it’s not.  Are you really questioning that a lot of people think that???  Of course not.  You’re just trying to suggest the Archbishop is in the Trump tank.  Good luck with that.  You do realize that clergy who are backing Trump usually just say we cannot vote for the party whose platform is the antithesis of Church teaching.  Easy peasy if that’s where he was.

Second, there is no comparison between the two charges. Mr. Trump’s eccentricity, his bombast and buffoonery, are all things about which any viewer can form an opinion. The charge of “defective ethics” is more difficult but still the kind of thing voters routinely need to assess about a candidate. The charge that Mrs. Hillary Clinton “should be under criminal indictment” is a matter for a trained, and empowered, prosecutor to make and, in Clinton’s case, the relevant prosecutor, acting on the public advice of the Director of the FBI, James Comey, who said that no responsible prosecutor would indict Mrs. Clinton. Does Archbishop Chaput have information that Director Comey lacked? It is true that Republican Party surrogates have disparaged Comey’s claim but has anyone any basis for refuting it?

Perhaps Mr. Winters forgot what he wasted the ink in the previous paragraph telling us?  You remember “in the view of a lot of people”, don’t you Mr. Winters?  What part of the archbishop’s statement don’t you find accurate?  A LOT of people do think Hillary Clinton should be indicted!  Are you really trying to deny that?  In fact, CCN (hardly a conservative bastion) found that 56% of American adults (last time I checked that was a lot of them) DISAGREE with NOT charging her.  http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/11/politics/hillary-clinton-fbi-charges-poll/  I guess the editor in you missed this.  If you’re going to try and quote the archbishop, you might want to get it correct.

Archbishop Chaput then pens what are to my mind the most regrettable paragraphs of the entire column. He writes:

 I guess your “inner editor” wasn’t on the clock today.  Seriously? “Concern,”  “Second most troublesome,” and now “most regrettable”?!?  What’s next?  “Super most regrettable?”  I think we’re going for fever-pitch, but it’s just getting silly.

“So what are we to do this election cycle as Catholic voters?  Note that by “Catholic,” I mean people who take their faith seriously; people who actually believe what the Catholic faith holds to be true; people who place it first in their loyalty, thoughts and actions; people who submit their lives to Jesus Christ, to Scripture and to the guidance of the community of belief we know as the Church.

Anyone else who claims the Catholic label is simply fooling himself or herself — and even more importantly, misleading others.”

“I thank thee, Lord, that I am not like other men. …” Apart from the general unattractiveness of finger-wagging, why this diversion from his main theme? Does the archbishop want to let the Catholics of Philadelphia know that he is on to them, that he knows which among them are not real Catholics, that they are fooling themselves? And who are these less-than-real Catholics? Those who do not see the world the way the archbishop sees it? Can you imagine Pope Francis writing this? He certainly challenges all of us, but never without words of encouragement and he reserves his harsh judgments for the clergy and the powerful, not for the people.

Oh the hypocrisy!  Finger-wagging is apparently unattractive unless you are Mr. Winters. Then it’s just fine as shown in this lovely piece. Personally, Catholic should be enough, but when you’ve got Biden and Kaine touting their Catholicity, somebody needs to do some ‘splaining.  You are a less-than-faithful Catholic when you are a less-than-faithful Catholic. Being a faithful Catholic doesn’t mean you’re not stupid and sin sometimes.  This means you try to live the teachings of the Catholic Church and you don’t go around dissenting from them.    For example, yes, I consider myself a faithful Catholic and try to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church.  Do I fail?  Often, but I don’t go around telling everyone that’s peachy because my public and private life are separate, or that the Church’s teachings are superseded by situation ethics like Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber.  In other words, you don’t try to justify your mistakes like these two.

I call the attention of readers to one hopeful sentiment in this. Archbishop Chaput writes of those “who submit their lives to Jesus Christ, to Scripture and to the guidance of the community of belief we know as the Church.” The Church recently offered guidance in the area of family life and marriage. That guidance took the form of the deliberations and resulting documents from two worldwide synods of bishops and a concluding Apostolic Exhortation by Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia. Archbishop Chaput has issued “guidelines” for the implementation of Amoris Laetitia in his archdiocese. As I wrote at the time, those guidelines struck me as if they could have been written before the synods took place or Pope Francis wrote his exhortation. But, what do I know? Archbishop Joseph Kurtz appointed Archbishop Chaput to lead a committee of U.S. bishops to discuss the implementation of Amoris Laetitia.

What do you know?  Not much on this issue.   Are you saying that Amoris Latitia is breaking with the tradition of the Church?  Did Fr. José Granados, vice president of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family and consultor of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops not say Amoris Laetitia that must be read in “doctrinal continuity”?  Is Archbishop Chaput somehow not reading it in that light? If so, let’s not allude.  Let’s through out a few little facts.

We do know that Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, has emerged as the designated interpreter of Amoris Laetitia, and that Civilta Cattolica is running a series of essays on the document that re-affirm what the synods and the Holy Father intend. One such essay, by Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J. and Fr. Lou Cameli of the Archdiocese of Chicago, looks extensively at the issue of discernment in ways that are in stark contradistinction with both the tone and the content of Archbishop Chaput’s guidelines, wherein he only mentioned discernment once and that was when he was quoting the pope. I think that the principle of non-contradiction is too often invoked in ecclesiastical discussions, and that philosophic principles must be applied gently and even a bit loosely to messy human lives. Still, the two divergent interpretations cannot co-exist forever. I am betting it will become clear to all, if it is not already, that Archbishop Chaput is staking out a position at odds with the pope and the synods.

And, who are you again?  Where exactly does your knowledge come from?  I mean, I’m not knocking a lack of degrees, but some tangible understanding of Catholic doctrine and Canon Law might be helpful before you try to cast aspersions on an archbishop simply because his narrative doesn’t fit yours.  It’s laughable to think that the tone and content is contradictory because he only mentioned discernment once.  I missed the Congregation of Whatever saying that Archbishop Chaput is at odds with the Church.  Anyone else?

I admit that I find it tiresome to have to continually criticize Archbishop Chaput. I do so in sadness not in anger. But, it must be said: If I were writing a work of fiction and I wanted to create a caricature of a culture warrior bishop, I do not think I would have the courage to create one so reckless, so uncomplicated in his moral sensibilities (and not in a good way), and so quick to render judgment against others, so willing to ignore the pope, or to cite him, as it suits his own purposes, so intellectually thin and so edgily partisan, as Archbishop Chaput’s columns show him to be.

Oh, you poor, poor man.  Here’s an idea.  Stop.  You do a pathetic job of it.  You didn’t even seem to know he’s neither a Democrat nor a Republican.  He’s a registered Independent, for goodness’ sake.  Where does his heart lie?  Uh, maybe with the Church?  Too bad it’s not the same for the “Catholics” in the race. 

Ask yourself, Mr. Winters, has the archbishop been taken to task for his instruction on Amoris Laetitia (by anyone of the hierarchy, not just you and the Reporter)?  Of course not.  Why?  Because the archbishop’s instruction is spot on and, here’s the kicker, he’s completely consistent with Church tradition no matter your ridiculous opinion.

[Michael Sean Winters is NCR Washington columnist and a visiting fellow at Catholic University’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies.] Still finding this hard to believe.  Please understand that a “visiting fellow” really means zippo.  I’d love to find the full biography of his Catholic education, but I’ve yet to find anything.  Does he have any higher Catholic education, or is he just beer buddies with Fr. Martin, SJ?  Oh, and can I be a “visiting gal” Catholic University?

We Don’t Do Solidarity with Intrinsic Evils

Uh, Bishop McElroy, the 70s called and they’d like their stupid seamless garment theology back! Sigh. Fellow Catholics around the United States, the California faithful apologize:   http://americamagazine.org/issue/greatness-nation

Last time I checked, the Church at large has politics covered. I’ve got to laugh at Bishop McElroy’s use of self-aggrandizement. I mean, what was his point? Doesn’t seem you can get more self-aggrandizing than his piece. Does he really think he’s added something to the documents listed below? If you think about it, though, he really has added something when he worked the seamless garment theory into his own little “document” on the issue. The following documents are a better source for Church teaching on political issues, but first, check out the Cliffs Notes “Voter’s Guide for Serious Catholics” from Catholic Answers: http://www.catholic.com/sites/default/files/voters_guide_for_serious_catholics.pdf

Here are the rest of the documents that Bishop McElroy might have wanted to give a nod to but didn’t:

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20021124_politica_en.html

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/family/documents/rc_pc_family_doc_19831022_family-rights_en.html

http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031995_evangelium-vitae.html

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19870222_respect-for-human-life_en.html

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20030731_homosexual-unions_en.html

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/worthiness-to-receive-holy-communion-general-principles

Bishop McElroy meanders through his really long piece in typical seamless garment fashion: lay out Catholic teaching, say how important it is, quote some non-binding comments from popes, and then add the final dash of trying to bring abortion, euthanasia and the rest of the non-negotiables down to the same plane as war, hunger and poverty, workers’ rights, etc. even though the Church has said time and again they are not. Sorry, Bishop, still an epic fail. And let’s talk about your Four Pillars. Are these the Four Pillars of the Catechism? Four Pillars of Dominican Life? No, not quite.

Let’s look at this section where Bishop McElroy sets up his “Four Pillars” of the big seamless garment circus tent:

The Four Pillars of Life

A far better guide to prioritizing the major elements of the political common good of the United States lies in the intriguing words Pope Francis used in outlining those elements for the bishops of the United States: “I encourage you, then, my brothers, to confront the challenging issues of our time. Ever present within them is life as gift and responsibility.”

Ummm, there really wasn’t a prioritized list from Pope Francis. It was a list of challenging things the Church has to deal with, and it certainly doesn’t mean that all of these challenges carry the same weight. As you can see from the various Church documents I posted, they most certainly do not. Now Bishop McElroy goes on to make his own list as if it’s the prioritized list of the Church:

At this moment there are four pre-eminent political issues facing the United States that touch upon life as gift and responsibility in a decisive way.

The first is abortion. The direct destruction of more than one million human lives every year constitutes a grievous wound upon our national soul and the common good. It touches upon the very core of our understanding of life as gift and responsibility. As Pope Francis wrote in “Laudato Si’,” “How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is unwanted and creates difficulties. ‘If personal and social sensitivity toward the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away.”

He got this one right, but then he falls off course with the others until the end.

The second is poverty. In a world of incredible wealth, more than five million children die every year from hunger, poor sanitation and the lack of potable water. Millions more die from a lack of the most elementary medical care. In “The Joy of the Gospel,” Pope Francis wrote: “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.” The United States is the most powerful economic actor in the world today, and even the most basic ethic of solidarity demands that it take dramatic steps to reform the international systems of trade, finance and development assistance in order to save lives in the poorest sections of the world. Moreover, inside the United States, the realities of exclusion and inequality created by poverty are growing, menacingly sapping the solidarity that is the foundation for our national identity and accentuating the fault lines of race and class. In the richest nation in human history, homeless people live on the streets, the seriously mentally ill are all too often left without effective care, and our prisons overflow with young men who are disproportionately poor and of color. 

A third pre-eminent issue centering upon life as gift and responsibility is care of the earth, our common home. The progressive degradation of the global environment has created increased poverty and death among many of the poorest peoples on earth. Each year thousands of species are destroyed, lost forever to our children and to the earth’s future. Most chillingly of all, science has clearly established the existence of dramatic climate change produced by human action, a peril that threatens the very future of human existence. Pope Francis underscored the urgency of global action saying: “Every year the problems are getting worse. We are at the limits. If I may use a strong word, I would say that we are at the limits of suicide.

The final pre-eminent question at stake in the political common good of the United States today is assisted suicide. For at its core, assisted suicide is the bridgehead of a movement to reject the foundational understanding of life as gift and responsibility when confronting end-of-life issues. In 2015 the state legislature of California passed a bill legalizing assisted suicide but would not fund palliative care for the state’s suffering poor at the end of their lives. Such is the “false sense of compassion” that Pope Francis has described as lying at the heart of the movement to spread assisted suicide. As with abortion, this movement corrodes society’s responsibility to secure the health of its members as an integral component of the common good.

The underlying assault upon the notion of life as gift and responsibility embodied in these four issues marks them as the four central pillars of life for the election of 2016. Each of them reflects the “throwaway culture” that Pope Francis has identified as a central cancer of our modern world. The unborn child, the poor, the sick and the elderly are all disposable; even the very planet that is vital for the continuation of human life itself has become disposable.

I have little doubt the seamless garment crowd is doing some cheerleading. That said, here’s where he goes wrong. There are really five pillars of life and they go like this: abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, stem cell research, and the sanctity of marriage. How can Bishop McElroy fathom leaving even one of these off the list? Without getting square on these five issues, we can kiss the fight against poverty, against human trafficking, for workers’ rights, etc., goodbye. This is why, first and foremost, we must fight against these “non-negotiables.” Then, just maybe, God will restore humanity’s respect for the human person, and we can clean up the mess left in the wake of the basic lack of respect for life and the destruction of the family. This is something the seamless garment crew just doesn’t seem to get, or maybe they just don’t want to because they have a little trouble swallowing some of them.

Now I’m going to go all “McElroy” and meander around a little aimlessly on my commenting because this part really annoyed me and I thought it best to highlight it at the end:

A Spiritual Conversion to Solidarity

Such a conversion requires deep self-scrutiny and reflection. It demands a rejection of the tribal element of politics that sees voting as the opportunity to advance the well-being of our race, our class, our religious community at the expense of others. It entails a purging of the inherent human tendency to allow anger and wedge issues to infect our voting choices. A spiritual conversion among voters demands that we reject the increasing habit in our political culture of attributing all differences of opinion to ignorance or dishonesty. And such a spiritual conversion prohibits us from framing political choice in the United States as essentially a competition between two partisan teams, one good and one bad, with all the visceral enjoyment that such a competition brings.

Most important, a spiritual political conversion requires the orientation of soul that flows from the principle of solidarity that St. John Paul II powerfully outlined as a fundamental element of Catholic social teaching. This orientation reminds us that in society we must always understand ourselves to be bound together in God’s grace and committed, in the words of “On Social Concerns,” “to the good of one’s neighbor, with the readiness, in the Gospel sense, to lose oneself for the sake of the other rather than exploiting him.”

The implications of such a spiritual stance for discipleship in voting are clearly reflected in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church: “The principle of solidarity requires that men and women of our day cultivate a greater awareness that they are debtors of the society of which they have become a part.”

What does Bishop McElroy’s take on “Solidarity” equal, you may ask?  It’s a big heaping plate of moral relativism. It takes the Church teachings on solidarity and twists them to try and muzzle our cries against evil. That’s actually quite the opposite of Church teaching.  We should get angry and we should fight against anything that injures justice because, as Pope Paul VI said, “if you want peace, work for justice.” We should not engage in moral relativism in the political process. Wedge issues, Bishop McElroy?! It doesn’t get more liberal speak than that.  Like what?  Abortion?  Euthanasia?  “Gay Marriage?”  They are called intrinsic evils and they are grave injustices, Your Excellency. We are called to fight them to the best of ability. We are to have solidarity with the Church and her doctrines because this is where justice and peace can be found. We are not to have solidarity with intrinsic evils for the sake of getting along.  There is right and wrong.  There is good and evil. And, yes, there is one good team and one bad team, although they are not necessarily segregated by political party. We don’t need anyone to tell us that with a condescending pat on the head.