Such an enterprise would seem like a promising endeavor, especially given the mention of non-partisanship as a goal in the section about the blog. Christians ought not to be strict party partisans, but capable of calling both political parties to avoid evil and seek to do good in the polis as in all of society, as a guiding principle of civil responsibility.
Unfortunately, in recent weeks the blog has sunk more and more into the spirit of fierce partisanship, with several--though decidedly not all--of the bloggers turning their not inconsiderable talents away from the higher-minded purpose the blog aims for, and instead engaging in activities that can only be described as shilling for the Democratic candidates for president and vice president and bashing the Republican ones.
This, of course, seems odd to many of the rank-and-file Catholics who read the blog, however occasionally; the unpleasant partisanship aside, there remains the not quite convenient fact that this particular Democratic candidate is the single most extreme pro-abortion candidate who has ever run for this office. I understand the argument some Catholics make in regard to voting for pro-abortion candidates and pro-abortion parties; it can be roughly expressed as a syllogism:
- Catholics can't vote for abortion.
- Catholics can vote for candidates who support abortion despite, but never because of the candidate's support for abortion.
- Catholics can vote for pro-abortion candidates when no moral alternative exists.
- The Republican Party's support for war, torture, and the death penalty means that they are not a morally acceptable alternative to the Democratic Party.
- The Democratic Party's support for abortion is less harmful than the Republican Party's support for war, torture, and the death penalty.
- Therefore, it is right for Catholics who clearly oppose abortion to vote for the Democratic Party candidate for president despite his support for abortion.
But the level of support by some of the writers of Vox Nova for Barack Obama is troubling. I would think that if you were truly faced with two candidates who gave unequivocal support for intrinsic evil, you might in good conscience decide to vote for neither one; or, if you honestly believed that your civic duties as a Catholic in America in the twenty-first century required you to vote for one or the other of the two major party candidates, I would think that you would do so with reluctance, with apologies, and with the most lukewarm support possible. Further, I think you would go out of your way to avoid partisan attacks on the other party, since you are recognizing that both parties are actually supporting what is intrinsically evil and that it thus could not be said in any sense of the word that one party was morally superior to the other or that it would definitely be a good thing, from a Catholic moral perspective, for either candidate to be elected.
The Vox Nova bloggers have not taken this position; they have, instead, begun to attack the most pro-life candidate we've seen on the national stage in a considerable time, Governor Sarah Palin. Among the more absurd charges raised by the pseudonymous "Morning's Minion" (who used to post using his real name at Amy Welborn's old "Open Book" blog back in the day) and supported by some of the others is the idea that Palin is really an apostate Catholic, since she was baptized Catholic and then raised Protestant as a child when her parents left the Church; there have also been weird attempts to tie Palin to some things some pastor who visited her church one time said, and draw an equivalence here to Jeremiah Wright.
The incomparable Mark Shea takes them to task here, pointing out:
The truth of the matter is that an authentically Catholic perspective on politics is never very comfortable with knee-jerk partisanship. I may be pretty thrilled with Sarah Palin and what her selection means for the future, not of the Republican party, but of the kind of conservatism that welcomes Christian thoughts and actions especially on social issues; but I'm not going to turn into a cheerleader for the GOP on that account, and will still have to decide whether to vote for John McCain or not. The fact that I'm even considering it is all Gov. Palin's doing, but I'm still weighing the various areas where I find myself diverging from GOP ideas in general and McCain's positions in particular, and I'm far from having made a committed decision.
...Again, only a Pharisee could see in that something to condemn as "apostate". A charitable Catholic should celebrate it when Apollos worships and proclaims Christ, even when he has not been fully instructed in the Way.
Priscilla and Aquila took Apollos in and instructed him more fully. Morning's Minion prefers the more partisan route of declaring a 12 year old an apostate and then rashly reprinting whatever summary from a hostile witnes he can find in order to destroy Palin by any means necessary. That's called "being a full-orbed Catholic", doncha know.
I think MM senses that beating up a twelve year old for "apostasy" is a non-starter. That's why the Inquisition must continue until condemnation is achieved. Remember: the hatred precedes the reasons for it. So other firewood is hastily gathered. He can't follow Andrew Sullivan in simply denouncing her as an anti-semite for listening to somebody who evangelizes Jews. Even MM knows that Catholic Bibles contain Paul's remark that the gospel is "for the Jew first, and also for the Gentiles" and Jesus' comment that he was "sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel". So while "evangelizing Jews" may play with the hyperventilators in Blue States, it doesn't work with people who actually know something about Catholic theology.
So I find it terribly off-putting that a blog written by Catholics would contain so many partisan Obama cheerleaders in spite of Barack Obama's committed, on-record support for abortion and infanticide. The Catholic faith is enduring; partisan politics become yesterday's news as soon as an election is over, and taking a too-strong position in support of someone who is comfortable with something that all Catholics should find morally abhorrent is the quickest path I know for an otherwise promising blog to dwindle into irrelevance.