Friday, May 28, 2004

Failure to Give Unswerving Support To Democratic
Advocates of Legalized Infant Slaughter Makes the
Bishops "Right Wing" Revanchists

That seems to be the opinion of a number of Catholic Democrats in Congress, as well as the opinion of some pundits, such as the invincibly-fuddled Anna Quindlen, as well as the view of some of my commentors.

The evidence for this is that the Bishops' attention is being focused primarily on John Kerry and other Democrat pro-aborts, and not on Republican pro-aborts.

Now, there is no doubt that there are some pro-abort "Catholic" politicians in the Republican Party. And the bishops should, and in fact must, hold their feet to the fire as much as they do Democrats.

But the fact is, that John Kerry put himself squarely in the middle of this imbroglio. He insisted in proclaiming loudly that he is a "Catholic in good standing", and that he can remain a good Catholic while yet defying Church teaching on a fundamental moral issue. And he attempted to mislead Catholics and obfuscate the Church's teaching on abortion. In short, Kerry has been brazen about his advocacy of the abortion license in a way that no previous pro-abort Catholic politician has been before.

When Mario Cuomo first introduced the famous "personally opposed...but" rationale, it had an air of plausibility: One could say he was wrong, but yet grant that he was sincere in holding that position. But the militancy of the pro-abort Catholic contingent has worn thin the "Cuomo Cloak" to the point that its transparency as a dodge is apparent. Furthermore, John Kerry's stridency in embracing and advocating the extension of the abortion license, his 100% rating with NARAL and NOW, and the evidence of his deliberate dishonesty in this regard, render his protestations of being "personally opposed" incapable of passing the laugh test.

The issue of Catholic pro-abort pols has been rumbling under the surface for at least a year. The issue arose last year with Bishop Carlson of Sioux Falls and Tom Daschle, and then again with Gray Davis and Bishop Wiegand of Sacramento. It came up again, at least in the Catholic press, when Arnold Schwarzenegger ran for governor of California. So the time was ripe for the issue to come to a head. And in this environment John Kerry made himself the poster boy for the CINO pro-abort politician. The Democrats should be mad at Kerry, not at the bishops. If it hadn't been for him the rest of the pro-abort pols would probably have been able to skulk about for another couple of years before the bishops started shining the light of scrutiny on them.

Anyone who asserts that the bishops are on some sort of "right-wing" crusade is simply ignorant. The staff of the US Catholic Bishops Conference is overwhelmingly Democratic. If you look at most of their policy recommendations, they look like they were written by Democratic party staffers. Cardinal George of Chicago, in a speech a couple of weeks ago, revealed how in his heart of hearts he wanted to vote Democrat, even as lamented how the Dems' pro-abort position made that increasingly difficult. Most of the bishops would like nothing better than to vote Democratic, and the Bishops have been the biggest friend to the Democrats over the years. If you were to take a survey of most bishops or priests over the age of 55, you'd find them to be overwhelmingly Democratic in their sympathies. Most of them, I'd bet, voted consistently for Democrats until at least 1976 or 1980, if not later. That the situation is changing is almost entirely due to the Dems' lockstep and fanatical embrace of abortion.

But why are the Democrats complaining that the bishops ire is directed unfairly at them? If you look at their statements, they are almost entirely directed at "politicians who support abortion" in generic terms, without mentioning political party. In fact, only two bishops, Bruskewitz of Lincoln and Burke of St. Louis, have come out and pointedly said that they would refuse Kerry communion. And the pundits have attempted to dismiss them as cranks, not representing the mainstream of American bishops. If those two bishops are just cranks, and out of the mainstream, they can't at the same time be the sign of some "right-wing" turn of the bishops as a whole. Even the bishop every liberal loves to hate today, Bishop Sheridan of Colorado Springs, directed his much maligned Pastoral Letter at pro-abort politicians in general, with no mention of parties or individuals.

So if Burke and Bruskewitz are just "cranks", and the rest of the bishops aren't singling out Democrats, then why all the wailing and gnashing of teeth?

I think the answer is simple, so glaringly and obviously simple that Catholic Democrats are trying desperately to evade it. The answer is:

EVERYONE knows that the Democrats are The Party of AbortionTM.

While it's true that the Republicans tolerate some pro-aborts in their ranks, the party is nonetheless officially pro-life. And there is tremendous pressure on party members to be pro-life. So far, any candidate for national office on the Republican ticket still has had to show his pro-life bona fides.

On the other hand, the sprinkling of pro-lifers among Democrats is miniscule, and there is tremendous pressure on them to toe the pro-abort line. And to become a candidate for national office, Democrats must embrace the abortion license wholeheartedly, without reservation or exception. There has not been a pro-life Democratic candidate for national office for nearly 30 years. Furthermore, time and again, the various constituencies of the Democratic Party have illustrated again and again that Abortion is the one principle they will not compromise.

All of the above is merely to state that which should be obvious. In order to not associate the Democratic Party with the abortion license, one would have to have been under a rock for the last 30 years. So, of course, in spite of the fact that the bishops have, for the most part, addressed moral principles rather than parties or persons, when they attack pro-abort politicians, they're perceived as attacking Democrats.

But have no fear, CINO pro-abort Republicans. Your turn under the microscope is coming. As the bishops work out what approach they will take, and as more pro-abort Republicans come up for election, the light of scrutiny will touch you as well. I for one will be just as happy to denounce Pro-abort CINO Republicans as Democrats.

However, most people, even those pro-abort politicians who would like to obscure the fact, "connect the dots", and conclude that Pro-Abort Politicians = Democrats. And that's not the fault of the Bishops or the Church, but the fault of the Democratic Party itself.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Cardinal Law Gets "Promoted"

Or so some would think, based on this article which proclaims that Cardinal Law has been made "head" of Saint Mary Major Basilica in Rome.

Now that article is an object lesson in lazy/bad journalism. Upon reading it, you might be led to think that Cardinal Law is "running" or "in charge of adminsitration" of the basilica.

Well, he's not. He's been given the honorary title of "archpriest". It's an obsolete honorific going back to the Middle Ages, when cathedrals had "chapters" that made major decisions and wielded considerable power. They don't and they haven't anymore.

All the title "archpriest" gives him is the right (if he so chooses) to sit all dressed up in choro at major events.

Based on the term "position", and the comment of Mitchell Garabedian that the "position" is "comfortable", you might think this job is a well-paid sinecure.

In fact, some people came to that conclusion, for in the comments boxes on Amy Welborn's and Mark Shea's blogs, people got upset that Law was being given a "sinecure".

Now, the word "sinecure" comes from the Latin sine cura, meaning "without care". The term denotes a position from which one derives an income, but having no real responsibilities.

In fact, based on some of the comments, it seemed to me that some people imagine that this appointment will allow Law to "hang out" in Rome, where he will be wined and dined and live in a luxurious palazzo, while being waited on by nubian chamberlains in a modern-day recreation of the Borgia Papal Court.

That would make an entertaining scene in a movie, but it's not reality.

Cardinal Law isn't being given "a cushy job at the Vatican". It's not even a job, much less at the Vatican. For being an archpriest of the basilica, Cdl. Law will receive precisely no (that's $0.00) remuneration. It's not a real job. He will receive no stipend, salary, or honorarium of any kind (no archpriest of a Roman basilica does, as an archpriest per se) from the basilica.

But, as cardinal archpriest of the Roman basilica, he will be expected to give substantially to the Basilica, and raise money for its maintenance and support. So this move will likely cost the cardinal.

So whatever this appointment is, it's not a sinecure. It gives him no income, and certianly no power. As a lowly parochial vicar of my parish, I have more power than Cardinal Law does as Archpriest of St. Mary Major.

Furthermore, as an archpriest of the basilica he has no regular duties or responsibilities. He will not be given a place to live there, nor is it customary for the cardinal archpriests of Roman basilicas to reside in Rome, unless they also have full-time Vatican appointments - which Law has not been given. It is unlikely that Law will live in Rome as a result of this appointment, as he'd be on his own to support himself there. And Rome is an expensive place to live (I know, as I've lived there). So wipe away any images of Law lolling about in Rome in some luxurious palazzo enjoying his "sinecure".

He won't be hanging around in the basilica. Given that cardinal archpriests of Roman basilicas aren't provided with lodging, receive no remuneration, and that Law would have no means of support in Rome, that's extremely unlikely. If he were to "hang around" in Rome in the manner some envision, he'd almost certainly make a pest of himself and quietly be told to go find something to do. Because the bishop(s) who really run Santa Maria Maggiore won't stand for some nosy American interloper to be underfoot for very long.

As I've written in those comment boxes, I do think this was a dumb move on Rome's part. If anyone in Rome had bothered to consult with me (not that they should) or any other moderately culture-savvy American, we might have said:
Your Excellencies, please do not give Cardinal Law an honorary appointment of any kind, not even the most trivial. Do not make him even the "Prefect of Papal Stamp-Licking". Because such a move will be misunderstood by many Americans, even Catholics. The headlines will read "Cardinal Who Shuffled Abusers Given Top Vatican Post", or "Law Given Cushy Roman Job" even "Protector of Pedophile Priests Promoted". Regardless of what you may intend, regardless of what subtle statement you are making in Romanitas, you will be perceived as giving Cardinal Law, and everything he did, the Papal Seal of Approval. Cardinal Law is, whether deservedly or not, perhaps only slightly less reviled than the priest-abusers themselves. He has become a symbol, a talisman of evil. American Catholics are still largely incapable of seeing how they are complicit in creating the environment of moral laissez-faire which gave rise to the Shanley's and the Cardinals who protected them, so they have not yet moved from blame to self-examination. Cardinal Law and his episcopal brethren are largely responsible for that as well. This is the reality which you must face and take into account for at least the next decade. Cardinal Law and those like him must pay a price for their failure to exercise their office, and it must be clear to all that they are paying a price. Giving Cardinal Law any kind of appointment sends the opposite message.

I'd like to think that someone would say that to the Holy Father and the Curia. But in spite of the apprearance of this move, I think it's an example of Vatican un-savvyness, and little else. Cardinal Law has been "put on the shelf" in a pretty typically Roman way.