Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Boehner at Catholic U = Obama at Notre Dame???

E.J. Dionne had an absolutely terrible piece in the Star yesterday, and I’m assuming other readers of other newspapers across the country were subjected to it as well.

As you may or may not be aware, Speaker of the House John Boehner was invited to give the commencement address at Catholic University of America. In the weeks leading up to his commencement, professors from Catholic colleges from across the country issued a letter decrying Catholic U’s choice of Boehner. The professors (most not even from theology departments) proceeded to lecture Boehner on his Catholicism, reminding him that the Apostles and the magisterium of the Church have always encouraged helping the poor, and that he has consistently voted against efforts to help the poor.

Dionne bemoans the fact that Catholics did not protest the choice of Boehner like they did when President Obama was tabbed to speak at Notre Dame in 2009.

The positive side to all of this is that it provides an excellent opportunity to distinguish between authentic Catholic teaching and heretical politicking.

AUTHENTIC CATHOLIC TEACHING: There is a hierarchy of truths because some teachings are more important than others. This is a quote from the Church’s teaching on Social Doctrine: “The FIRST right presented in this list is the right to life, from conception to its natural end, which is the condition for the exercise of all other rights and, in particular, implies the illicitness of every form of procured abortion and of euthanasia.” How is that unclear? How many times does the Church have to say it? At the top of the list of rights is the right to life – and that means a guarantee that a person won’t be aborted or euthanized.

Dissentingly heretical Catholics love to create the picture that Catholicism in the modern political landscape is just a wash – some people are for keeping abortion legal and some hate poor people – it’s all just a wash. This is absolutely false.

What angers me about all of this is the fact that it is assumed that Boehner, (or any other conservative politician) because he/she doesn’t vote for a larger Welfare State with every vote, hates poor people. MANY people believe that a larger welfare state doesn’t necessarily mean more poor people are getting helped. I’m not here to argue policy – the point is that debate clearly has been taking place for the entire history of our country – do we provide more welfare assistance through the state, or do we let people keep more of their money and see to the poor themselves? Regardless, the Church doesn't teach that a politician ought always vote for a bigger welfare state. The Church, in its social teaching, says nothing about always needing to expand a welfare state. The statement in the letter from the profs that says “Mr. Speaker, your voting record is at variance from one of the church’s most ancient moral teachings” betrays a profound ignorance of the Church's social teaching.

What IS clear is that President Barack Obama has looked to expand abortion legality at every turn, and as a state legislator, voted in favor of letting children born in botched abortions die in the hospital room. How messed up is that? That is not something people “on both sides of the aisle” have gone back and forth on for a long time, nor is it something the Church has said people should go back and forth on.

Someone who, from a Catholic perspective, views not always voting for a larger welfare state as being on par with Obama’s abortion record has NO CLUE about Catholic doctrine.

My final comment: I love the fact that these professors and Dionne appeal to the magisterium of the Church and note that the Church’s teaching on care for the poor goes back to the Apostles. Are you kidding me? When else does that fact ever hold sway with this crowd of profs? The ordination of women? Contraception? Acting on homosexual attraction? What a joke that they would now appeal to the Church’s history of teaching when they routinely spit on it.

I respectfully ask Dionne to quit trying to lead Catholics astray by granting credence to confused professors from Catholic colleges – one of the last hideouts for dissenting gray-haired heretical “catholics”

Before referencing the Church’s teaching on social issues such as poverty I ask Dionne to first READthe Church’s teaching on the subject.


  1. Your comments are so full of hate towards these professors. As a priest I would have thought you would be more understanding. Priests are members of the church like everyone else. When they see themselves like that they can make a big difference. I am glad that I grew up in St. Thomas Aquanis Parish. If I had a priest like you growing up I would not be Catholic. Jesus was accepting of all people and fought for those that society put down. He fought for the poor. He was against the rich. I prefer EJ Dionne's moral compass to yours anytime. It is time for the church to act more like Christ.

  2. Ed, Yes, I have hatred for the sin that these people are committing when they distort Church teaching and try to confuse people about the teachings of the Church. Priests are charged to help teach the faith, and it is people like these professors who we are called to combat. I have more respect for people who are atheistic than I do for people who call themselves Catholic but (either through ignorance, malice, or both) only lead people away from the Church by spreading confusion.

  3. Father Hollowell,

    I understand there is a difference between hatred focused at someone vs hatred of what a person does. You made that clear in the last comment, but what concerns me is the several of your posts, this one, the St Paul's in Bloomington and even the post about the children dancing at the end of mass, you can sound pretty hateful. While I understand you are making the distinction that you are disliking, hating, etc.. what the people are doing, not hating them, the hatred is what some people are only picking up on.

    Love in Christ!

  4. John Boehner supports the death penalty. I thought the Church held life sacred until natural death. Guess I was wrong on that account. It looks like you support life until the birth, then the John Boehners of the world can judge us and kill us. Great theology.

  5. THE







  6. How is the death penalty not intrinsically evil?

    1. Jimmy, because the Church says it isn't intrinsically evil. In order for something to be intrinsically evil, it can NEVER ever ever be done no matter what no matter the circumstance. There are times where the Church says the death penalty can be carried out, therefore it isn't intrinsically evil. Does the Church support it being carried out as often as it is in our country, absolutely not...but it isn't intrinsically evil in the mind of the Church

  7. I guess I have trouble accepting that it isn't intrinsically evil. The Catholic Church teaches, as you have posted recently, that nothing trumps the value of the human life. Jesus teaches us that the ancient doctrine of an eye for an eye is not what should be done anymore but rather we are to turn the other cheek. I don't mean that we should let murderers free, but they shouldn't be murdered. And even if it is claimed that it is for the good of the society as a whole, I've been taught the Catholic teaching is that the ends are not excuses for the means. Dropping the bomb on Hiroshima was an evil even if it led the world to a greater sense of peace. Murdering a criminal may lead society to a greater sense of peace, but it doesn't excuse the action of taking someone's life. I just have trouble accepting the Church's teaching that it isn't intrinsically evil when all of the other teachings clearly point that capital punishment is immoral.

  8. Jimmy, good question! You are correct in your concern. Let me first give you the relevant paragraph from the Catechism:

    2267 Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against an unjust aggressor."

    Important to understand what "intrinsically" means. Essentially it means "by its very nature; in and of itself." What this means is that there is NO SCENARIO where an intrinsically evil act would EVER be permitted.

    Because the Catechism says that it is permitted in certain instances, by the very definition of "intrinsic" means that capital punishment is not intrinsically evil. Again, there IS a scenario where it would be allowed.

    To your point, though, John Paul II, in Evangelium Vitae, wonders if there is hardly ever a scenario, at least in the first world, where the paragraph from the Catechism applies. He notes:

    Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically non-existent." (EV 56)

    To recap: the Catechism says it is okay in situation where we need to protect other people. JP II says, at least in the first world we have such capabilities to imprison people that we wouldn't need to execute anyone anymore for protection.

    Because that is not the case in countries with less technology, the death penalty is certainly still in play, and again, JP II isn't making a definitive statement against it in first world countries, he more asking a question of us - "do we still need it in the U.S. and Europe?"

    Your question is a good one, I hope this helps explain why the death penalty is not, in and of itself, always and everywhere consider wrong.

  9. Okay, that actually helps a lot! I was thinking in the first-world frame of mind, seeing as there is always a way other than the death penalty to control them. But I do (now) see that in other less-developed countries, that the death penalty would be an acceptable form of punishment. Seeing this one option, I now can see how it isn't, in fact, intrinsically evil.