Saturday, March 20, 2010


For some time now, I've promoted a theory that Barack Obama really wants to divide Catholics for his own political advantages. When he appeared at Notre Dame I put it this way:
Barack Obama has from even before his election adopted a strategy of "divide and conquer" when it comes to American Catholics. His goal is to associate with, reward, appoint, and honor Catholics who either openly and fiercely dissent from the Church's teachings on abortion, or who are at least willing to be good little quislings and keep their mouths shut about it in order to curry favor with him. At the same time, he doesn't shy away from marginalizing and excluding Catholics who are faithful to the Church's teachings, so much so that he has thus far refused to name a single pro-life Catholic to any position in his administration, not even to serve as ambassador to the Holy See. It is clear that Barack Obama thinks there are two kinds of Catholics: the ones who actually accept all that superstitious nonsense about the right of the unborn to keep on living instead of being ripped apart in their mother's wombs, and the enlightened ones who recognize that unfortunate viewpoint for the medieval nonsense it is, and who are more willing to follow the One than they are to follow the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Obama has gone out of his way to show which kind of Catholic he prefers.
Well, guess what? Now we have proof:

WASHINGTON, DC, March 18, 2010 ( - White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs revealed to reporters today that President Barack Obama actively promoted the Catholic Health Association's public break with the American Catholic bishops to support his health care legislation. [Emphasis added--E.M.]

Gibbs also suggested that the CHA and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious' (LCWR) break with the U.S. Bishops has provided legitimate political cover for pro-life Democrats to switch their votes from "no" to "yes."

"I think over the past twenty four hours we have seen strong indications from those in the Catholic Church that support our belief that the legislation is about health care reform, and that it shouldn't and doesn't change the existing federal law [on abortion]. The Catholic Health Association and the order of nun's support is very important," Gibbs told reporters on the White House lawn for Thursday's press conference. [...]

So far, the president's strategy appears to have paid off: some lawmakers have evidently already taken the two groups' endorsements as an excuse to switch their vote.

Gibbs cited Congressman Dale Kildee's (D-MI) Wednesday press conference - in which he explained how CHA's endorsement had "affected his thinking" to get him to support the bill - as a sign that Democrats may be able to get more lawmakers on board in the same way.

Gibbs said that the president had been engaged on the issue, and a reporter asked if he had reached out personally to the groups.

"The President met earlier this week with Sr. Keehan of the CHA," said Gibbs, saying the meeting took place in the Roosevelt Room, but that he "did not get a detailed run-down of the pitch that [Obama] made."

If it's stupid to sell your soul to gain Wales (as St. Thomas More put it), it's beyond stupid to sell it for a presidential meet-and-greet, to boldly go (into the Roosevelt Room) where a polyester pantsuit has never--oh, wait, we're forgetting a former First Lady; never mind.

But anybody who thinks this isn't part of a pattern has only to look at Obama's other interactions with prominent Catholics. Why, Barack Obama loves Catholics--so long as they're with him on the goodness and worthiness of butchering unborn children in utero, or are, at least, willing to look the other way while he advances the abortion agenda in every way imaginable. Pro-life Catholics? No, of course not; why, unborn-child-butchering is such a highly prized American value that taxpayers ought to be funding it, and a huge health care reform bill ought to go down in flames before the goodness and worthiness of choppin' up the lil' babies on the federal dime ought to be removed; so clearly Catholics who actually think unborn babies ought to emerge alive and whole, intact brains and everything, from their mothers' wombs, are a lunatic fringe the president can safely ignore.

I've always suspected that Barack Obama divides Catholic Americans into "good Catholics" (who are pro-abortion or willing to shut up about it for some glad-handing and perks) and "bad Catholics" (defined as any Catholic who actually accepts Church teaching on abortion). Now we have proof that this is exactly what he does--which makes it more imperative than ever for bishops to clarify that Obama's "good Catholics" are not setting shining examples of Catholicism for their brothers and sisters in the Church in America.


Anonymous said...

As far as I can tell, from a bit of an 'outsider' view, much of the divisiveness has originated from withing whatever cantankerous elements of the American Catholic community itself.

I grew up very strict Catholic, in that we did what we were supposed to do, and made our decisions deliberately and responsible to uphold the teachings of the Faith. I helped teach catechism, joined the CYO and did a lot of community volunteering both for religious and civic activities. Growing up in a remote area of the country, no TV, lots of books, in my large family with lots of work to do, and academic levels to achieve and maintain, there really was no outside' influence to make me 'liberal' or 'conservative' or anywhere in between. We just did and kept at it.

I attended university thousands of miles away where I met my non-Catholic future husband. I attended daily Mass at the campus Newman Center. We married. The next year the priest was arrested for sex crimes. I was away from the Catholic Church many years afterward. I have had time and a chance to re-examine what I believe, what I want to ensure my children understand, and my siblings in the religious life.

I became interested in politics at the end of 2008 after cutting back on 70-80 hour work weeks, and was able examine what was so thoroughly disgusting with what was happening in this area of the country.

Ever since I started reading detailed opinions from the popular press about Catholic dissatisfaction with Mass I've seen fellow Catholics in a different light. There are some posts that refuse to consider my opinion as valid. I see that as the point of divisiveness. When people of the same Faith set themselves apart as unequals. Especially galling is that the major group of people attempting to differentiate among us seem to be doing all the finger-pointing. I don't see myself in any group, yet others call me 'heretic', 'liberal', 'unprincipled', 'not Catholic'. Someone, even, as I calmly pointed out areas for needed discussion to find a common ground refused to have none of it and referred to me in a vulgar manner as a 'prostitute'.

Based on the hullabaloo about the Mass which in most of my local Churches is the same one I attended 40+ yeara ago. Yes, yes, I remember a High Holy Latin Mass at the Cathedral on certain Sundays, attending an Orthodox Mass, and French Mass in Montreal which was extremely irritating since I didn't speak or understand French, but the Mass is the Mass, so why divide people over whether we sound holier in Latin or common English (at least it's not slang English--in my region of the country!)

I don't think we Catholics are unclear about upholding the dignity of humans, and the wonderfulness of our Creator, so why get all bent out of shape about whether President Obama speaks at Notre Dame? Or does this or that? It isn't for lack of reasons that our Supreme Court is made up of disproportionately high percentage of minorities especially considering there are at least five Court Justices that call themselves Catholic. Our local college a few miles south actually has ten or twenty the amount of Catholic students at Notre Dame, and we didn't make a splash about not having President Obama speak to our graduates. Our Catholic Community is doing a lot to be proud of here in middle-America.

There's a few adages I keep around to dust off on occasion, and this is one of those; he who lives by the sword dies by the sword. Proverbs and idioms are snippets of essence (and rarely if ever speak to many-faceted issues), but the current furor seems like 'whipping oneself in a frenzy' to belabor the use of old version 'sound-bites'.

I remember and still see social inequities. I see a time to make a lasting change for the better.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I mean no offence, but after everything you've just said, I have no idea where you stand.

Anonymous said...

No offense taken.

LarryD said...

Obama is employing the time-tested truth "divide and conquer".

It is imperative that the US Bishops frame the definition of what it means to be Catholic and not this administration, nor any of the partisan groups that insert the name 'Catholic' into their name in a blasphemous and deceptive manner. To that point - none of us have the authority to define what it means to be Catholic; we can only determine whether or not we live up to what it means to be Catholic.

Rough waters ahead - cling to the barque of St. Peter.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Obama couldn't be using "divide and conquer" on Catholics, unless Catholics are a monolithic voting block who all think alike and vote as they are told like robots, or old-time urban machine voters. I don't think Erin votes as she does because her priest issued her orders. I think she votes that way because she sincerely believes it is right. I don't think other Catholics sometimes vote differently than Erin does because they are evil infiltrators. It think they vote differently than Erin does because each person, even within a church, thinks differently from each other person.

IF priests and bishops are going to start telling Catholics how to vote, then the more rational versions of anti-Catholic nativism will be proven true: Catholics can't be allowed to become citizens in a democracy, because they will take orders from the Vatican. However, I don't believe that. During my years as a paratransit driver, I relied on certain passengers, or their families, as bellweathers for an unscientific assessment of upcoming elections results. I remember one family which I relied on to predict that white male blue-collar Catholic traditionally Democratic older voters were going for Obama. Bingo! I could also have predicted that somewhat younger devoutly conservative white Catholic women would vote for McCain. The truth is, every voter does think for themselves, or a large enough majority do that they rest cancel each other out. Obama appeals to those Catholics who are inclined to vote for Obama. Nothing more, nothing less.

LarryD said...

Siarlys - Erin's point is not about getting people to vote a certain way, per se. It's that Obama is actively pursuing dissident groups who claim to be Catholic, getting them to support his position, and then going out and presenting said support as tacit approval from the Catholic Church.

Thus, to the everyday Catholic who barely knows enough about their faith in the first place (and the reasons for that are numerous, and the topic of another post, should Erin choose to pursue that) assumes that if a "Catholic" group supports Obama, then it's okay for them to support him too. It's the false association between the dissident "Catholic" groups and the Catholic Church that Obama is exploiting.

The bishops, to be more effective, must do a better job of exposing these fake Catholics, making it pretty darn clear that they don't speak for the Church. If they are successful in doing so, it would help the average pewsitter to make a better informed voting decision next time around, so that more than half of Catholics choose not to vote for a radically pro-abortion, pro-socialist candidate.

Erin's not saying that the fake "Catholic" people are evil - but what they are doing most certainly is. As well as Obama.

Anonymous said...

"pro-socialist candidate".
According to my understanding of the new Testament, Jesus cared a lot more about helping the poor than sexual morality. Come to think of it, the story of the adulterous woman and the failed stoning was a recent gospel reading.

Abortion is never about the "joy" of killing babies, it's the social necessity against our breeding too much, that's why animals eat their young.

Red Cardigan said...

Wow, Anonymous at 10:25 AM. That's a deeply cynical thing to say. Do you think infanticide ought to be legal as a way of reducing population, too?

Siarlys Jenkins said...

LarryD: If there are people who are speaking in the NAME of the Roman Catholic Church, who are not authorized representatives and duly installed leaders of the church, and IF Obama, as either once and future candidate, or as current president, is cultivating such groups to say that "the Roman Catholic Church supports my policies," then you and Erin have a valid point.

On the other hand, if individual American citizens, who are of the Roman Catholic faith, are saying, individually or in groups, I voted for, appreciate, support on more issues than not, and would again vote for, Barack Obama, then they are doing nothing that anyone could legitimately object to.

We live in a country that has been badly polarized by stereotypes, and the stereotype of The Roman Catholic Voter is only one of many. There was a time when The Union Vote was considered a major force to be catered to, but I don't think union members ever voted in fractions larger than 2/3 for the candidates their union officers recommended. That may be a large fraction, but it means 1/3, which is millions of voters, were not available to simply hand over on a silver platter to an endorsed candidate.

Now I do have a problem with the likes of Archbishop Chaput and Bishop Burke arrogating to themselves the office of saying that "a good Catholic MUST vote for this candidate," or must NOT vote for that candidate, that a good Catholic must prioritize this or that issue over all others, or in public office, must vote this way or that way on pending legislation. They have the same right my local union president has, to say "We can't tell you how to vote, we can offer you reasons to vote this way..."

I favor splitting almost every kind of vote: the Catholic vote, the black vote, the Unitarian vote, the Japanese vote, the Polish vote, the Hispanic vote... I appreciate that President Obama doesn't write off any demographic group as inherently hostile, as totally committed to his opponent, or as not worth the time and trouble of addressing. That's how he won Indiana and North Carolina.