Monday, October 13, 2008

Dissent in Dallas

So, the bishops of Dallas and Fort Worth issued a joint pastoral letter which talked a lot of nonsense about how voting to end war or end poverty (admirable as those goals might be) doesn't mean you can overlook the unborn, and now you're really unhappy. Because after all none of your trendy Catholic friends are single-issue voters, and while you won't come right out and call yourself "pro-choice" (at least, not where your priest can hear you) the fact is that you don't know any unborn people personally, and you'd rather vote for the hip young diversity dude who talks just exactly like Sister Kathleen did about everything else (no, not Sister Kathleen Stern-face, but young Sister Kathleen stretchpants, with the guitar and the inner child and the groovy long hair; goodness, she must be over seventy now, but that's too, too depressing to realize as it makes one uncomfortably aware that one is on the wrong side of fifty). Sister K, as she liked to be called, said just the same kind of things about justice and oppression and the redistribution of wealth and taxing the rich capitalists who profited from everyone else's misery, so clearly the Pro-Abort candidate is a better fit for Catholic voters, right?

Only that's not what the bishops just said. And when the letter was read in your church this Sunday you gripped your well-manicured hands in anger, and maybe even thought about joining the storm of six or ten people who marched out; but unlike them, you don't actually remember the Vietnam protest era personally, and marching out would be a bit inconvenient what with your plans for Sunday brunch afterward with the equally irate woman two benches up who couldn't march out if she wanted, surrounded as she is by young families with children--honestly, who takes their kids to Mass week after week like that anymore? Uncouth, really.

So you wait, and when the pro-life petition is read during the prayer of the faithful you're even more annoyed than ususal; we get it, you think, wondering if the wild conspiracy your Womanchurch friend told you about the Republicans "buying" the local diocese could, after all, be true--because only a Republican would make this big of a deal about abortion.

And you tune out for a while, thinking about how much you and your brunch guests will enjoy complaining about the Church's sudden and ugly involvement in politics, and you even start to imagine talking to the media about it all, saying, perhaps, something like this:

Nicole LeBlanc said several people walked out of Dallas' Holy Trinity Catholic Church during the 11 a.m. Sunday Mass, when the letter was read at the time usually reserved for a homily.

Ms. LeBlanc, an Obama supporter, said she, too, was upset.

“As a Catholic, we’re taught about being independent moral agents with free will,” she said. “That letter from the bishops is basically telling us that if we vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights, we are basically immoral and our souls are imperiled.”

Ms. LeBlanc also said she felt the letter “has gone too far towards bringing political endorsements in the church, which is obviously not legal.”

Ms. LeBlanc said a protest of the letter is likely to occur outside the pastoral center of the Dallas Diocese this Wednesday afternoon.

Of course, you're not Ms. LeBlanc, though you know her; you travel in the same circles, and it's just like her to follow through with your own half-formed plans.

It's not until the Communion hymn that you're able to relax. It's one of your favorites from your childhood, and you sing along, "Whatsoever You Do to the least of my people, that you do unto me." Thank goodness this doesn't have anything to do with abortion," you think to yourself, as you wonder whether you should wear your Obama '08 button to the next parish council meeting.


Babs said...

People like LeBlanc... why don't they keep walking, right into another denomination? It is because most R.C. Churches in DFW have devolved into social clubs under each succesive bishop's lax rule. LeBlanc is a true product of the diocese, because one pastoral throw-you-a-bone cannot undue decades of bad education.

I so wish that things would get better here. We may have been given one extraordinary statement to satisfy our hunger for real justice for the unborn, but where the rubbber meets the road for me are the daily decisions that the bishop makes for the good of the diocese. What have they been? Conservatives pushed to the outer reaches of the diocese, literally and figuratively, is what I see. Fr. Mallinson almost assigned to St. Michael's in McKinney is what I see. The FSSP (indult, so completely kosher) persecuted & refused a permanent home. Dissident priests and daily homilies that breed dissent on a daily basis - that is what I see.

This pastoral letter was read at my former parish, just a week after a homily given that said exactly the opposite. Will that priest change his heart or mind, or will he be disciplined at all? I can't think of ONE TIME that a priest in DFW has been disciplined in ANY significant way, unless he's been caught (by the law, not the church)abusing a child sexually.

Thanks for letting me vent :-(

discalcedyooper said...

If folks didn't take so much pride in supporters of another political party being singled out on an issue, they might believe that concern for the unborn wasn't chimerical. If folks stopped treating the attrocities committed by our foreign policy as inconsequential, they might even gain credibility.

Red Cardigan said...

Well, sir, if folks didn't brush aside forty-eight million dead babies as if they were less important than other issues, maybe other folks wouldn't call them so harshly on the inconsistency.

And this goes double for Catholic folks, you know.

discalcedyooper said...

You act like a vote for McCain would have any effect on it, let alone eliminating it. Does the fact that I ate rice and chicken tonight - okay, better example is the NY Strip the other night - mean I'm indifferent toward starvation in Africa?

Red Cardigan said...

I'm not necessarily voting for McCain, you know. I have no illusions that he'll singlehandedly eliminate abortion.

Obama will increase it. He's promised to sign FOCA, for starters; he'll fund foreign abortions, and will probably make taxpayers pay for more US abortions than we already do. Voting for him is setting aside any concern for the unborn.

I think abstaining, or voting third-party, are morally sound choices. Voting for Obama means not just keeping the status quo on abortion; it means electing someone who isn't even personally opposed to it, and who will do everything he can in favor of abortion and so-called "abortion rights." He has specifically promised to do that, you know.

discalcedyooper said...

Who you support or don't support is rather immaterial. Either Barack Obama or John McCain will be elected President. If you are going to evaulate the election based on abortion you need to evaluate it based on what the candidates are going to do, something you bother to do with Obama but don't with McCain. The one option we don't have Nov. 4th is eliminating abortion. Pretending it is an option is an exercise in self delusion.

Red Cardigan said...

It's not about voting for someone to end abortion Nov. 4th. It's about our moral acquiescence in the candidacy of the most pro-abortion person ever to run for the presidency.

I wrote earlier that I believe that Obama is morally unfit for public office on the grounds of his support for abortion alone. Would you have voted for a pro-slavery candidate back before the civil war on the grounds that the other guy wasn't going to end slavery, anyway, and "your" guy was more likely to care about the poor? Because that's exactly what you're arguing, it seems to me.

discalcedyooper said...

Of course one would vote for the pro-slavery candidate when neither candidate was going to end slavery and the weak slavery candidate was truly poor on other issues. Likewise the candidates' views on contraception aren't affecting my vote this time around. If you look back to the civil rights movement, you'll see this alternative history the pro-life movement has created of civil rights leaders standing on principle first always is complete folly. For the very reason that it was important to end slavery and later to end discrimination, the civil rights movement was very deliberate and contempletive in the particular causes they pressed. The point of political movements is to win, not to be pure.

Red Cardigan said...

There's no "of course" about it. To the abolitionist for whom slavery was a repugnant moral evil, a vote for a pro-slave candidate was unthinkable. I am an abortion abolitionist; I think it must be abolished if our nation is to survive. Voting for someone like Obama is not even possible for me, as I would have to violate my conscience and overlook his cold-hearted and truly hideous level of support for killing unborn humans to do so.

And those of you who think he will be so good on all those other issues will learn to your sorrow that men who enthusiastically and whole-heartedly support the murder of the unborn might possibly be deceitful, untrustworthy, and incompetent in all those other areas, as well; amazing as it is, moral monsters have been known to be egotistical lying opportunists, and even, on occasion, to cheat at cards or lie on their taxes, horrifying thought that is to contemplate.

discalcedyooper said...

To the abolitionist for whom slavery was a repugnant moral evil, a vote for a pro-slave candidate was unthinkable.

That is projection and pseudohistory.

Tim J. said...

Great post, R.C.

I just came out for McCain. Not that I'm excited about it, but Obama is just bad news all around.

"It's the abortion, stupid".