Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Vatican Playing Good Cop, Bad Cop.

From the Catholic Knight:

It's a mortal sin to vote for this bill as is. The provisions for public funding of abortion and euthanasia must be removed. If any Catholic politician votes for this bill as it is, with public funding for abortion and euthanasia intact, that politician can expect disciplinary action from the Catholic Church which may include formal excommunication at the discretion of the bishop.

Let me say just two things about this.

First and foremost, it is well within the rights of ANY church, mosque or synagogue (not only the Catholic Church) to discipline its own members according to the teachings of that religious institution. In Christianity this is specifically outlined as a process involving private rebuke, exhortation and if necessary interdiction, followed by excommunication. The Catholic Church in particular safeguards the rights of it's members by permitting tribunals in which those excommunicated persons may appeal the decision of the local bishop in ecclesiastical courts going all the way up to the Vatican supreme court known as the Apostolic Signatura. So Catholic bishops are usually very reluctant to excommunicate unless they know they've got a watertight case that will withstand the appeals process. In the case of most pro-choice U.S. Catholic politicians that watertight case has already been made, as many of them are already forbidden to receive communion, yet the bishops withhold formal excommunication for now.

Sadly, there is a foolish notion in America today, promoted by many on the Left side of the political spectrum, which asserts that religious institutions (the Catholic Church in particular) have no right to discipline politicians because of the supposed "separation of church and state." They assert that because the Church is disciplining it's members in Congress, it is effectively meddling in politics. Some of these people even go so far as to suggest the Catholic Church ought to be legally punished for it's supposed "political meddling" by revoking it's tax exemption. The late Senator Ted Kennedy not only suggested it, but actually threatened it at various points during his political career. Other politicians, and members of the media elite, continue to do the same today. Such threats demonstrate a profound ignorance not only of religious procedure, but also civil rights and how the Constitution of the United States is supposed to work.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
- Article I, Bill of Rights, U.S. Constitution
A careful examination of this text plainly states that "congress shall pass no law." Notice it doesn't say "the church shall take no action." Clearly the prohibition is placed on government, not religious institutions. It is the government that is restrained, not the church. Basically according to this document, which is the supreme law of the land, the Church (any church or religious institution) can do whatever the hell it wants, but the government cannot create laws that restrict the activity of religious institutions. So according to the U.S. Constitution anyway, the Catholic Church can threaten to excommunicate every Catholic politician in congress, for whatever reason, and actually do it, while the congress is powerless to do anything about it. That deceased blowhard Ted Kennedy, and all his windbag relatives, can shout and threaten all they want, because in the end, that's all the power they really have.

Now the second thing I want to say is this. The U.S. Catholic Church IS engaging in some politics here. As I stated above, it is well within it's rights to do so, and this is true with any religious institution. However, it's not what most people think. The Church is not using disciplinary action as a
threat to influence the outcome of congressional legislation, rather the Church is withholding disciplinary action as an incentive to influence the outcome of congressional legislation. It's the classic case of "good-cop verses bad-cop." You see the U.S. Catholic bishops (playing the role of "good-cop") are intentionally NOT complying with the directives of Rome (playing the role of "bad-cop"). For Rome has made it explicitly clear that Catholic politicians who support abortion are to be subject to interdict at the very least, and in most cases formally excommunicated. Yet the U.S. Catholic bishops (i.e. "good-cop") have been slow to implement this mandate, and that is specifically to give Catholic politicians a chance to redeem themselves. This particular health care legislation is one such example. If their strategy works, and the legislation is either amended to eliminate abortion and euthanasia, or the legislation goes down entirely, then the U.S. Catholic bishops ("good-cop") might be able to hold back the heavy hand of Rome ("bad-cop") a little longer, thus saving U.S. Catholic politicians the embarrassing scandal of formal and public excommunications. Is this playing politics? Well, yes it is, but it's nothing new. The Catholic Church has been using the EXACT SAME strategy on communist nations for decades. It was specifically used to manipulate authorities within the Soviet Union to allow for more religious freedom. Now that the Church is employing the exact same strategy against the United States Congress says a lot about how the Vatican views our current political alignment.

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