February 29, 2012
I haven’t been at all surprised by the vitriol of many of the attacks on Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum I’ve seen on the internet recently. They’ve been personal and vicious and have largely focused on his Catholicism. Many of these attacks have come from Catholics themselves.
In the Washington Post, a columnist accuses Santorum of wanting to rule by “fatwa,” while in the Huffington Post a self-described Catholic accuses Santorum of belonging to a “barbaric…cult” where “black-robed cleric[s]” cast spells over followers’ “cannibalistic reverie.” Santorum is also accused of waging “jihad,” which makes me wonder whether it would be permissible to use references to Islam as an insult if the candidate were actually a Muslim.
I’ve been a little bemused, but not surprised, at some of the Catholics I’ve seen posting on Facebook attacking Santorum in unusually nasty terms; bemused because I’ve heard many of these same people talk about how we need to put our faith into action, about how Catholicism is not only about worship but contains an integral social dimension. Mr. Santorum clearly believes the same thing, and yet the attitude of many of his Catholic critics seems to be “How dare he talk about how faith informs his social vision?”
While no one has to agree with Santorum on every issue, shouldn’t we at least be happy that a public servant clearly takes his faith seriously and is unafraid to talk about it in public? Yet it seems Santorum threatens something quite fundamental in the worldview of his critics, and the vitriol flows out of this threat. Read the rest of this entry »
February 19, 2012
Hotel Dieu in Paris, ca. 1500
Is 43:18-19, 21-22, 24b-25; Ps 41:2-3, 4-5, 13-14; 2 Cor 1:18-22; Mk 2:1-12
In light of recent events, I thought I’d use the story of the paralytic, which the liturgy invites us to contemplate today, to explain the Gospel roots of the Church’s opposition to the HHS Mandate—especially in the realm of health care. Speaking generally, one could say that all of Christ’s healing miracles serve as the “charter” for the Church’s involvement in health care. Jesus showed concern for both soul and body. And so the Church has tried to follow His example.
This being said, there are a couple features particular to Christ’s cure of the paralytic that help us to understand the Church’s distinctive vision of Health Care, and thus her opposition to the mandate.
1) The first feature is the indirect way in which faith plays a part in the healing. Read the rest of this entry »
February 7, 2012
The men and women working for the Obama White House are not stupid people. In fact, the billion-dollar Obama political machine is perhaps the most impressive such operation in American political history. Why then, I’ve heard many people asking, would this Administration choose to go to “war”—to use the word of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius —with the Catholic Church, in an election year no less? Why, furthermore, has the Administration’s response to Catholic objections to its new contraception rules ranged from the obtuse to the insulting?
Ducking reporters’ questions on the subject, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney read from a prepared statement with all the sincerity of a North Korean news anchor before refusing to answer questions about the penalties Catholic institutions will face when they refuse to supply free contraceptives to employees. And the Administration trotted out talking points on the White House blog that are blatantly mendacious even by the standards of today’s politics.
People of faith, and even fair-minded secular opinion-makers, have seen through the pretense that this front in the White House’s war is really about contraception. Indeed, one of the positive outcomes of this controversy has been the unity it has produced, not just within the Catholic Church but also among believers who do not share the Church’s beliefs on contraception—or just about anything else. The liberal columnist Sean Michael Winters issued an interesting proposal for our cardinals to engage in civil disobedience. Prominent Protestant and Jewish leaders have also objected to the Administration’s power grab, and the nation’s Orthodox bishops voted unanimously to “join their voices with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops” in “adamantly protest[ing]” the Administration’s new rules.
Read the rest of this entry »