Schakowsky: No Americans really follow Christian teachings on contraception anyway

posted at 2:30 pm on February 14, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Is the latest Democratic talking point that real Americans use contraceptives?  “There’s no controversy around contraceptives,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) tells Ed Schultz on his radio broadcast yesterday. “There’s a few, some in the Catholic church and maybe some evangelical churches, I don’t know, that thinks that it’s wrong,” Schakowsky elaborates, “but none of the American people follow that.”  So no Catholics or evangelicals are Americans?  Breitbart News and Naked Emperor News brings us this curious argument:

This appears to be based on the equally curious argument that 98% of all Catholic women use birth control, a meme pushed by the Left in response to the outrage over Obama’s diktat.  The Washington Post demolishes this highly misleading allegation, pointing out that the study that advocates use to claim that says no such thing:

I called up Rachel Jones, the lead author of this study, to have her walk me through the research. She agrees that her study results do not speak to all Catholic women. Rather, they speak to a specific demographic: women between 15- and 44-years-old, who have been sexually active and who are not attempting to become pregnant.

“If we had included women up to age 89, we would have probably found a lower proportion had ever used artificial contraception,” said Jones. “But the policies being implemented right now are ones that don’t effect them. Right here and now, we’ve got 98 percent who have ever used a contraceptive method, who are not attempting to get pregnant. Those are who will be impacted by this.”

Jones’s study does not find that 98 percent of all Catholic women have used contraceptives. What it does, however, bear out is the claim that many have made with this statistic: that sexually-active, Catholic women do tend to use contraceptives at the same rate as their non-Catholic counterparts. On that front, Jones looked at women who had been sexually active within the past three months. You can see the results of that question in the chart above, where contraceptive use of Catholics look virtually identical to those of all women.

The study didn’t survey a representative sampling of all women, or all Catholic women, or even all Catholic women of childbearing age.  The survey limited itself to sexually-active women of childbearing age who want to avoid pregnancy — and it included natural family planning as a contraception method, which is approved by the Catholic Church (although only 2% use that strategy in this survey).  Needless to say, that’s a rather narrow group, and one hardly representative of Catholic teaching on openness to life.  The limiting factor of “not attempting to become pregnant” predisposes the group to be employing some form of birth control strategy, which is an example of begging the result.   Even with that narrowly-defined scope, 11% of Catholic women in the group didn’t use contraception, which would make it 89%, not 98%, and 87% if one includes NFP for those sexually active while attempting to avoid pregnancy.

Even if one accepts the notion that a majority of American Catholics and other Christians don’t follow their church’s doctrine on contraception and abortifacients, that doesn’t mean the government has the authority to force those religious organizations to violate their doctrine by mandating that they fund or facilitate access to those products and services.  This is the point that Michael Ramirez drives home in today’s editorial cartoon at Investors Business Daily:

Getting back to Jan Schakowsky, this looks like a case for … the Obama Truth TeamZombie at PJ Media gives us a look at the Truth Team’s recruitment efforts:

Zombie actually lifted the artwork from a virulently anti-Catholic tract producer called Jack Chick Publications, which is entirely appropriate for the literal and figurative return of Know-Nothingism to American politics.

Also, be sure to check out Ramirez’ terrific collection of his works: Everyone Has the Right to My Opinion, which covers the entire breadth of Ramirez’ career, and it gives fascinating look at political history.  Read my review here, and watch my interviews with Ramirez here and here.  And don’t forget to check out the entire Investors.com site, which has now incorporated all of the former IBD Editorials, while individual investors still exist.


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Slightly off topic, but it is worthy of mention. Most of the wine in Antiquity was “watered down”. “Watered down” meant mixed with a tea from plants which were drugs, such as opium poppies and henbane. Jesus, Socrates, Julius Caesar, and Marcus Aurelius were all drug addicts. This isn’t to put them down, and it’s not to say that legalization is the way to go. It’s just worth keeping in mind how much life sucked in Antiquity that everyone needed to lose themselves a bit.

thuja on February 14, 2012 at 4:27 PM

Huh? You’ve been watching way too much HBO Rome. As far as I know (which is quite a bit, considering that I have a BA in Classics and Latin), the insertion of drugs — including opium — into wine was part of the medicinal inventory of ancient Rome, and was not the standard way of preparing or drinking wine. Given that Roman wine was up to 30% alcohol, thinning it with water (either fresh or seawater) was standard — but the addition of opiates was distinctly nonstandard.

If you want to survey Palestine during the time of Jesus, you would find that opium was primarily a drug of the Greeks — observant Jews, deeply mistrustful of Greek culture, would have had little to do with it. Noteworthy is the paucity of information in the Bible about opium — it’s not viewed as being anything central to a religious experience. The widespread trade in opium in the Levant apparently ceases about 1200BC — as that is the era to which various widespread items of pottery containing opiate residue have been traced.

I doubt that any of the individuals you mentioned were opium addicts — they were too capable, as one of the problems with opium addiction is the loss of human productivity which results.

unclesmrgol on February 14, 2012 at 6:22 PM

If we can all agree on one thing, it’s that George Lucas should have never made another Star Wars move after Jedi.

MoreTeaPlease on February 14, 2012 at 4:37 PM

Agreed.

unclesmrgol on February 14, 2012 at 6:26 PM

The government isn’t mandating that Catholic women be given birth control. They’re mandating that people who work for Catholic hospitals and schools (who often are NOT Catholic) have their birth control covered. The market isn’t going to fix the problem because most women don’t base their employment decisions on whether birth control is covered.

red_herring on February 14, 2012 at 3:45 PM

My wife and I are uninsured. Her birth control pills are a whopping $12 at Walgreens. We could get something different for even cheaper.

I’m still trying to figure out why people with jobs can’t afford $12 a month.

Spliff Menendez on February 14, 2012 at 6:29 PM

unclesmrgol on February 14, 2012 at 6:22 PM

Amazing isn’t it, that education and study trumps wild-a$$ speculation and throw-away comments every time? Thanks for that. As a history nut, it’s really very interesting.

And to think that all along everybody thought that Jesus tossed a dime bag into the wine at the wedding at Cana /s

Trafalgar on February 14, 2012 at 6:29 PM

I am not familiar with the Biblical context from which this is derived. This is the problem I have always had with Catholicism. I don’t pray to Saints and ask men for forgiveness. I pray to God and ask him for forgiveness.

CycloneCDB on February 14, 2012 at 5:44 PM

Hopefully I can help explain the Catholic perspective on this. You may not agree, but I just hope this helps you understand where we are coming from.

At the core of our approach to seeking forgiveness is our belief that sinning is not just a personal issue, but something that requires us to be reconciled to our brothers who have been hurt. (see Matthew 5:24) Sin is by very nature a social issue, not just a personal one. So, we do not believe that seeking forgiveness should only be approached in a personal manner.

In the Catholic sacrament of Reconciliation, a person seeks both restoration to Grace and reconciliation with the Christian community that has been hurt (either directly or indirectly) by the sins committed. Note that per the Catholic perspective, finding “full healing” for sin also means going to others who you know have been directly hurt by your sins and making amends with them to the best of your ability.

The priest acts as an earthly *representative* for both God and the Christian community in the sacrament of Reconciliation. It is his role to listen, promote healing, welcome the person back to full unity with the Christian community and a state of Grace, and help the person understand how to avoid the same failings. He also invites the individual to express contrition for sins, and offers pardon for sins. Please understand that we believe God is the one who actually forgives sins. The priest is an intermediary who grants forgiveness in line with God’s promises that those with repentant hearts are forgiven by Christ.

We believe the intermediary role filled by the priest was directly commissioned by God (see John 20:23 for one common scripture reference Catholics use to defend this institution of Reconciliation or “confession”).

I am in no way trying to be personally critical of your beliefs, just trying to help you understand what Catholics think. I hope this was helpful. God bless.

redaerobaby on February 14, 2012 at 6:32 PM

redaerobaby on February 14, 2012 at 6:32 PM

Wow! Thank you once again for your wonderful articulation of Catholic belief. I wish I had your talent for doing it. God bless.

Trafalgar on February 14, 2012 at 6:36 PM

Please tell me lunch ended with a Cohiba!

Trafalgar on February 14, 2012 at 6:22 PM

Many adult libations were offered. I just couldn’t do it today. I’m a little bit in the weeds on a production I’ve been dealing with. Much to Miguels disappointment.: ( Such wonderful people!

Bmore on February 14, 2012 at 6:37 PM

Trafalgar

Truth be told, I have cut back, I do still sneak a Joyita. I’m whispering, the Miss’s is here somewhere.; )
Long ashes to you!

Bmore on February 14, 2012 at 6:40 PM

redaerobaby on February 14, 2012 at 6:32 PM

Wow! Thank you once again for your wonderful articulation of Catholic belief. I wish I had your talent for doing it. God bless.

Trafalgar on February 14, 2012 at 6:36 PM

Yes – well done. Something I have to look deeper into. I am married to a gal raised Catholic – I’m protestant – and we’re both trying to figure out where we are going to land on the search for a church.

Thanks for the help. God bless.

CycloneCDB on February 14, 2012 at 6:42 PM

Please tell me lunch ended with a Cohiba!

Trafalgar on February 14, 2012 at 6:22 PM

The best part of my trip to Mexico – the partaking of Cuban tobacco.

CycloneCDB on February 14, 2012 at 6:43 PM

Trafalgar on February 14, 2012 at 6:36 PM

Thank you. Blessings to you too.

If you really want to be put on the hot seat, try answering these questions from a 16 year old who thinks you are wrong! Teens demand clarity and consistency almost as a matter of principle. (I volunteer as a Catholic youth minister in my parish.)

redaerobaby on February 14, 2012 at 6:48 PM

I doubt that any of the individuals you mentioned were opium addicts — they were too capable, as one of the problems with opium addiction is the loss of human productivity which results.

unclesmrgol on February 14, 2012 at 6:22 PM

I agree, and two of the Gospel narratives of the Crucifixion support your thesis, at least as it relates to Jesus:

There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. [Matthew 27:34, New International Version]

Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. [Mark 15:23, New International Version]

As I recall from my studies (small though they are), what exactly was in the wine offered to Jesus just before he was nailed to the cross is still a matter of conjecture, but it seems to have been a drug of some kind, either a sedative to dull the pain or a poison to kill crucifixion victims mercifully and quickly.

If ever there were a circumstance in which a drug addict would want his fix, it would have to be when he was about to be put to an agonizing death — and Jesus refused the drugged wine.

The wine he was offered later, in the sponge at the point of the soldier’s spear, was the ordinary sour wine issued to Roman soldiers, and not drugged.

Mary in LA on February 14, 2012 at 6:48 PM

If you really want to be put on the hot seat, try answering these questions from a 16 year old who thinks you are wrong! Teens demand clarity and consistency almost as a matter of principle. (I volunteer as a Catholic youth minister in my parish.)

redaerobaby on February 14, 2012 at 6:48 PM

Try expressing your protestant inhibitions over joining the Catholic Church to an Italian mother-in-law! Seats don’t come much hotter than that!

CycloneCDB on February 14, 2012 at 6:49 PM

CycloneCDB on February 14, 2012 at 6:43 PM

Next time out of Country pick up a box of these tasty little ones.
http://www.taxfreecigarettesny.org/montecristo-brand/duty-free-joyita-sbn-25-cigars.html

Small but lovely.

Bmore on February 14, 2012 at 6:51 PM

Wow, a socialist leader goes after a religious group regarding life and death issues that he does not agree with.

That has never happened before.
What’s next ? Religious groups wearing identifying patches, or re-education camps ?

Is Schakowsky perchance not a Christian ?

amadan on February 14, 2012 at 6:54 PM

CycloneCDB on February 14, 2012 at 6:49 PM

I just made a comment to you that got chewed up in the mill. Testing.

Bmore on February 14, 2012 at 6:54 PM

I’ve heard Muslims assert that Americans are not serious about their religion, just as Schakowsky suggested disregarding birth control mandates as a fundamental weakness of Catholic belief. It is astounding that a secular Jew would have the hubris to judge the religious beliefs of any other religious practitioners.

ExpressoBold on February 14, 2012 at 6:57 PM

Try expressing your protestant inhibitions over joining the Catholic Church to an Italian mother-in-law! Seats don’t come much hotter than that!

CycloneCDB on February 14, 2012 at 6:49 PM

Lol, come join us Lutherans. We still get wine at communion and aren’t as infested with the seeker-sensitive business that mainstream Baptists are pushing now. Seriously though, wherever you end up I hope you find a church where Christ is glorified and that is a good fit for both you and your wife.

BakerAllie on February 14, 2012 at 6:58 PM

CycloneCDB on February 14, 2012 at 6:49 PM

Next time you’re out of country pick up a box of these. Tasty little ones. Good especially if you short on time for enjoying. I think the mill ate my comment because it was a retail site link.
Montecristo Joyita SBN

Bmore on February 14, 2012 at 6:58 PM

you=you’re

Bmore on February 14, 2012 at 6:59 PM

Lol, come join us Lutherans. We still get wine at communion and aren’t as infested with the seeker-sensitive business that mainstream Baptists are pushing now. Seriously though, wherever you end up I hope you find a church where Christ is glorified and that is a good fit for both you and your wife.

BakerAllie on February 14, 2012 at 6:58 PM

HA! Irony of irony. I was raised Lutheran.

CycloneCDB on February 14, 2012 at 7:01 PM

Next time you’re out of country pick up a box of these. Tasty little ones. Good especially if you short on time for enjoying. I think the mill ate my comment because it was a retail site link.
Montecristo Joyita SBN

Bmore on February 14, 2012 at 6:58 PM

you=you’re

Bmore on February 14, 2012 at 6:59 PM

I will do so. I enjoyed the Montecristo I had while in Playa as well. Can’t remember what exactly I had – but I always wondered if the allure of Cuban cigars was the quality or the taboo. It’s the quality. Both the Cohiba and Montecristo I had were superior cigars. If I weren’t such an choir boy – I would have stashed some in the suitcase.

CycloneCDB on February 14, 2012 at 7:04 PM

Try expressing your protestant inhibitions over joining the Catholic Church to an Italian mother-in-law! Seats don’t come much hotter than that!

CycloneCDB on February 14, 2012 at 6:49 PM

Oh man. I sympathize. In-laws ~Sigh~

I think the most important thing is that you keep an open heart and ask God to guide you through all this. Catholicism is not an easy thing to approach. It is huge and old and there is more rigidity to it than feels comfortable to many people. Our modern culture likes to emphasize personal freedoms, and the ancient traditions of the Catholic Church don’t always seem to fit with that mentality. The truth is, there is some room for a modern understanding of things, but there is also a deep desire on the part of Church leadership to help people connect the same creed expressed by other Christian believers throughout history, be inspired by the same role models of faith, and share in the same traditions and practices they had. That rigidity both enables the Church to survive for long periods of time, but also makes it seem like an unapproachable megalith from the outsider’s perspective. But, take heart and try not to let a MIL nightmare distract you from the real point, which is to find a way to achieve the deepest connection to Christ and other Christian faithful that you can find. Blessings to you.

redaerobaby on February 14, 2012 at 7:05 PM

I am not familiar with the Biblical context from which this is derived. This is the problem I have always had with Catholicism. I don’t pray to Saints and ask men for forgiveness. I pray to God and ask him for forgiveness.

CycloneCDB on February 14, 2012 at 5:44 PM

Good start, but not enough.

Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice in expiation of our sins, but how is the stain of sin to be removed from any person? There are many modes, and you use one, but there are others called out in the Bible which may be more appropriate.

The first is, of course, baptism:
[Acts 2:38]:“Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”
Note, however, that one does not baptize one’s own self — one is baptized. Here you see the importance of the interaction of the community with the self.

The second is to request the forgiveness of your sins with one who has the authority to forgive them. One of these individuals is Jesus, who, when He walked the earth, said [Matt 9:6-8] “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic, “Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He rose and went home. When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to human beings.”

But Jesus delegated this authority to still others, to act as his visible agents until he should return. [John 20:21-23]: “‘As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’”

There, in a nutshell, is encapsulated the Church’s power to bind or release sin. Now, the Church does not use its power to bind sins, but it certainly uses the power to forgive them.

This would get really long if I went further and detailed out from the Acts what processes are to be used as part of this power. Those processes are satisfied for Catholics in the sacraments (visible signs of grace instituted by Jesus) of Confession/Reconciliation and Penance.

Now, which is to be preferred — you privately renouncing your sins to Jesus, or publicly to both Jesus and to your community (both of which are represented in the person of a priest)? The answer is clear — to both, for that is how Jesus instituted the various acts of forgiveness in the first place.

If he expected you to privately pursue your Salvation, he would have allowed you to baptize yourself. If he intended that men should talk privately to him, ignoring the community, he would not have given the power to forgive sins (which implies a need for someone to confess them) to other humans.

That, in a nutshell, is where we Catholics stand in the matter of salvation and forgiveness of sins.

As for praying to Saints — well, don’t you ask your fellow Christians here on earth to intercede for you with the Lord? To pray that your child will recover from his or her illness? Why ask another human to do what you believe is completely within your power to do yourself? Do not Saints, with visible evidence that they have found the favor of the Lord, seem like the kind of friends you’d also want to have praying for you? I’ll leave the theology (which again is rooted in a community of believers) for another time — this comment is already way too long.

unclesmrgol on February 14, 2012 at 7:07 PM

CycloneCDB on February 14, 2012 at 7:04 PM

They are in fact still good. Although the Castro government has done much harm to the dirt over the years…… Dominicans have done a better job in recent years and have many plus’s as well.

Bmore on February 14, 2012 at 7:09 PM

HA! Irony of irony. I was raised Lutheran.

CycloneCDB on February 14, 2012 at 7:01 PM

You might want to test a return to home, if it’s comfy enough. As a Catholic, I’m unsure of the Sainthood of Bach — whose visage stares benignly down at me from a beautiful stained glass window at the local Lutheran church.

unclesmrgol on February 14, 2012 at 7:14 PM

On a scale of 1-10 how many of you think Rameriz’s depiction of 0′s head is spot on as a true representation of his personality? ! being not very, 10 being spot on.

Bmore on February 14, 2012 at 5:41 PM

I immediately recognized the caricature as that of Obama. That said, I don’t think his ears are that far below his nose.

unclesmrgol on February 14, 2012 at 7:20 PM

unclesmrgol on February 14, 2012 at 7:20 PM

I can’t come right out and say it, I’m trying to avoid the hammer. Does Ramirez use of low ears and skinny skull remind you of anything. I ask because I know what Ramirez is going for , he is my favorite cartoonist. Some see it some don’t.

Bmore on February 14, 2012 at 7:26 PM

… Some see it some don’t.

Bmore on February 14, 2012 at 7:26 PM

I see it. I’m a bad, bad girl.

Mary in LA on February 14, 2012 at 7:37 PM

Mary in LA on February 14, 2012 at 7:37 PM

Or a very good girl, you know the whole, perception/reality thing. Lol.

Bmore on February 14, 2012 at 7:45 PM

redaerobaby on February 14, 2012 at 6:32 PM
Wow! Thank you once again for your wonderful articulation of Catholic belief. I wish I had your talent for doing it. God bless.

Trafalgar on February 14, 2012 at 6:36 PM

Yes – well done. Something I have to look deeper into. I am married to a gal raised Catholic – I’m protestant – and we’re both trying to figure out where we are going to land on the search for a church.

Thanks for the help. God bless.

CycloneCDB on February 14, 2012 at 6:42 PM

Yes, an excellent explanation.

May I also suggest the http://www.ewtn.com website and EWTN cable television network for information on Catholicism? It is the largest religious TV network in the world, started by a nun who felt called to start it from nothing with no experience or money, Mother Angelica. You might already know of it.

Especially the TV shows The Journey Home 8PM Eastern on Mondays and Threshold of Hope at 10PM Eastern on Tuesdays, the second half of the show has Q&A. Also Web of Faith might help.

On the website you can click “faith” on the top and then click “teachings” or the “Q&A” to get info on Catholic beliefs. You can also click “television” on the top and get the TV schedule and you can get a live feed of the TV shows and some archived shows.

There is also a book catalogue you can click to buy books for info.

Also Catholic Answers website has info on Catholicism. Here is the tract on Confession.
http://www.catholic.com/tracts/confession

In the first centuries of the Church, penitents literally wore sackcloth and ashes on their heads, as the Jews had done, that’s where the saying came from. They stayed outside of the Church and did not receive Communion for a certain length of time depending on the sin, then they formally confessed and were absolved “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Some sins, like murder and abortion, had a period of time of many years.

Ash Wednesday is coming up soon. Maybe go to Mass and follow the Lenten season and pray on it deeply for God’s help in your decisions. This is on Ashes
http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/ASHES.htm

I think if a lot more people went to confession, we’d need a lot less psychiatrists. God knows us because He made us. He knows what we need and gave us the sacraments to help us along the way. He made us to be both physical and spiritual beings. The physicality of the sacraments, water, oil, etc, have a purpose. Like in John chap 9 when Jesus spit on the ground and made a paste of clay and put it on the blind man’s eyes and told him to go rinse in the Pool. Or when Jesus would touch the person he was going to heal. He could have just waved His hand and said something. Or done nothing or said nothing and just thought it. But He uses our physical world because that is how He created us. And how we respond to Him.

Elisa on February 14, 2012 at 7:55 PM

There, in a nutshell, is encapsulated the Church’s power to bind or release sin. Now, the Church does not use its power to bind sins, but it certainly uses the power to forgive them.
unclesmrgol on February 14, 2012 at 7:07 PM

Okay, I can get onboard with the act (/sacrament?) of confession based on that. However, does not the fact that the Church does not use its power to bind sin not stand out as a glaring inconsistency in their application of this authority to release sin?

Now, which is to be preferred — you privately renouncing your sins to Jesus, or publicly to both Jesus and to your community (both of which are represented in the person of a priest)? The answer is clear — to both, for that is how Jesus instituted the various acts of forgiveness in the first place.

See, I don’t see the “Publicly and to your community” in the form of one man in a private confession. But, maybe I’m not looking hard enough. (Not trying to be snarky…just pithy.)

Either way, I appreciate you fine Catholics taking the time to enlighten me.

God bless you all. Thanks for the help.

CycloneCDB on February 14, 2012 at 7:56 PM

Oh and God bless you and your wife and all here.

Elisa on February 14, 2012 at 8:00 PM

Side note: Did you know more people have died for God and religion more than any other reason? That seems kind of fanatical. And you call him your Lord and Savior.

I need another fuzzy navel

MoreTeaPlease on February 14, 2012 at 3:49 PM

Oh, I think the 20th century and all those who died in the name of fascism and communism illustrates the fallacy in that statement.

Kraken on February 14, 2012 at 3:58 PM

You’re assuming that all of those Catholics murdered by Hitler and Stalin as well as the Japanese and even up to today -the Chinese didn’t die for God. Don’t tell that to any relatives of the Russian slaughter of Polish officials priests, or those Many Catholics,(alongside the Jews) in the Nazi death cames like Saint Maxmillian Kolbe, who voluntarily offered to take the place of a married man picked by the nazies to die, and was experimented on before he died -

Martyrs are the lifeblood of the Church , something Obama hasn’t the slightest idea that he’s dealing with.

Don L on February 14, 2012 at 8:48 PM

redaerobaby on February 14, 2012 at 6:32 PM

Beautiful explanation. Thanks.

PatriotGal2257 on February 14, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Okay, I can get onboard with the act (/sacrament?) of confession based on that. However, does not the fact that the Church does not use its power to bind sin not stand out as a glaring inconsistency in their application of this authority to release sin?

Which sins would you have the Church bind? Is there any sin whose repentance cannot be forgiven? Certainly God does not think so. For the Church to bind a sin, the sinner would have to convince the Church that (a) the sinner does not repent of his or her sin, and (b) has no intention of ever doing so. Since the Church cannot see into the future, we have a problem binding sins — for like loosing them, it is permanent, according to what our Lord says. So, those sins which are not loosed are left to the Lord to handle.

As for why the Lord proffered that power, I have no idea. But the obvious conclusion about this area is that our Lord will handle, Himself, sins neither loosed nor bound.

See, I don’t see the “Publicly and to your community” in the form of one man in a private confession.

The man is the foremost representative of the community. He is also the representative of Christ — he stands ready to loose or bind per our Lord’s injunction. In my mind, it’s public when you say it to someone else, and private when you say it only to yourself. Now, early on, the Church tried truly public confession, in which you stood up in church and stated what you had done wrong, and begged forgiveness — and it did not work out well — an act which is supposed to be spiritually uplifting was anything but when some sins outed other sinners before they were prepared to repent. So you give your confession to someone who can be counted on to keep that confession private — between his ears, so to speak — and who represents the community. This man also (hopefully) has the wisdom to require you to perform, as a condition of the loosing, acts which, as far as they can, repair the sin you have committed.

If you are (or were) Lutheran, then you understand that Luther also advocated confession to clergy, and considered it an extension of baptism — he concentrated on the concept of salvation and its modes, and grouped things that way. Check out what Luther had to say in his Small Catechism on the matter of confession. These words are the interesting ones:

Confession has two parts. First, that we confess our sins, and second, that we receive absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly believing that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven. Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even those we are not aware of, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer; but before the pastor we should confess only those sins which we know and feel in our hearts.

Of course, the Catholic Church is of the opinion that sin involves intent, which means that we cannot commit a sin of which we are unaware. That’s why an “informed conscience” (of the type Nancy Pelosi, for example, abhors) is important to Catholics. I’m sure it’s even more important to Lutherans, because Luther opens the possibility of sinning without knowing you are sinning. That’s quite a difference from Catholicism, for what Adam and Eve did before they had knowledge was not sinful, and yet those identical actions performed afterward were. Hmm.

unclesmrgol on February 14, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Okay, I can get onboard with the act (/sacrament?) of confession based on that. However, does not the fact that the Church does not use its power to bind sin not stand out as a glaring inconsistency in their application of this authority to release sin?

Now, which is to be preferred — you privately renouncing your sins to Jesus, or publicly to both Jesus and to your community (both of which are represented in the person of a priest)? The answer is clear — to both, for that is how Jesus instituted the various acts of forgiveness in the first place.

See, I don’t see the “Publicly and to your community” in the form of one man in a private confession. But, maybe I’m not looking hard enough. (Not trying to be snarky…just pithy.)

CycloneCDB on February 14, 2012 at 7:56 PM

In the present day, it is uncommon to see the Church vocally or visibly use its power to bind sin. However, there ARE occasional instances where they do it, and you can seen many examples of dramatic “excommunications” in history. The offense against God in these cases is judged to have done so much damage both to the sinner and to others that it has destroyed Grace in the soul and ruptured connection to Jesus & the Church community. People can be reinstated after excommunication if they take the necessary steps to show true repentance, but if they do not attempt reinstatement, they are judged by the Church to be damned.

In very rare cases, the Pope will excommunicate someone who is in a visible position of power and who is willfully distorting Catholic teaching in a way considered truly scandalous. (See Henry VIII for example.) This is done to make it clear that claiming to be Catholic while using your position to willfully lead others to commit grave sin is NOT permitted by the Catholic Church. Some sins in the modern era are also considered “self excommunicating.” Willful abortion is one of these sins. This designation is meant to underscore the incredibly serious nature of the sin. Again, people can be reinstated through special display of repentance, but if there is no repentance, the person is considered damned.

redaerobaby on February 14, 2012 at 9:22 PM

Elisa on February 14, 2012 at 7:55 PM

Regarding EWTN and Mother Angelica, look up Mother Angelica’s Answers Not Promises and Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve, and a Network of Miracles.

I own both and the first does a terrific job of explaining the Catholic faith in everyday terms. The book is arranged in three sections — First Things, Life and Love and Last Things — and I do believe Mother Angelica chose to do it that way because it reflects the concept of the Holy Trinity. Plus, she has a wonderful sense of humor; parts of the book had me laughing till there were tears in my eyes.

The second book I got as a Christmas gift the year it was published in 2007. It was fascinating and a very gripping biography of Mother Angelica’s own background and how she came to found EWTN. If there is one thread that runs through both books, it is what can be accomplished through prayer, hard work and faith in God.

PatriotGal2257 on February 14, 2012 at 9:36 PM

The Church realized that most Catholics lie at some point so they have decided to quit teaching the 9th commandment. /

CW on February 14, 2012 at 10:11 PM

redaerobaby on February 14, 2012 at 9:22 PM

No — excommunication is not identical with binding a sin.

Here’s the operative portion of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1463 Certain particularly grave sins incur excommunication, the most severe ecclesiastical penalty, which impedes the reception of the sacraments and the exercise of certain ecclesiastical acts, and for which absolution consequently cannot be granted, according to canon law, except by the Pope, the bishop of the place or priests authorized by them. In danger of death any priest, even if deprived of faculties for hearing confessions, can absolve from every sin and excommunication.

2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,” “by the very commission of the offense,” and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law. The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.

Excommunication is an ecclesiastical penalty which is not a binding of the sin so much as a formal statement by the Church that the sin is so egregious that the person cannot be considered one with the Body of Christ. Note that excommunication does not mean absolute shunning — the excommunicated person is still permitted to attend Mass or other services offered by the Church, but is not permitted to lead these services, nor to receive any of the Sacraments the Church offers to its members in good standing. In particular, the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Penance are denied — the person is not permitted to have their sins “loosed”, so to speak, until they have, to the satisfaction of those who can rescind an excommunication, formally and quite publicly repented of their sin.

This is far short of binding a sin — it’s more of the form of not loosing the sin. The Church has not “shaken its sandals”, so to speak, but instead is attempting to steer the person to a more righteous life with a bit of “tough love”.

The difference is the same as those acts which we might do to a rebellious son or daughter, who refuses to abide by the house rules. We could “throw them out of the house” (make them move out), or we can “disinherit them” (never permit them to return). After the parents throw the kid out of the house, the kid still may come over and socialize with the parents, but might not be allowed to eat dinner or to remain in the house overnight.

Should a person die after being excommunicated, their sins, including the one which produced the excommunication, will be judged by God in the person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

unclesmrgol on February 14, 2012 at 11:05 PM

PatriotGal2257 on February 14, 2012 at 9:36 PM

Mother Angelica is the best. I never heard of that first book. I have to read that. No one is like her. Old school and real and true devotion and sense of humor. Deep faith, she followed wherever He led her and asked questions (like how would they pay for this)later.

As you know, she had 2 strokes about 11 years ago and doesn’t talk well anymore, so her shows are all old repeats, but you could watch her over and over again. For anyone who wants to watch her, her shows are on (all Eastern times):

Tues 10PM
Wedn 1AM
Tues- Thurs 10AM

Elisa on February 15, 2012 at 1:10 AM

Aah! Ye auld Rhythm Method. It was the only Family Planning option the nuns gave us back in high school. As I’ve sang before (with apologies to Ethel Merman):

I’ve got Rhythm
I’ve got Rhythm
I’ve got twelve kids
Who could ask for anything morrrre…

:)

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on February 14, 2012 at 3:04 PM

Rhythm Method? What is it, the 1930′s? There are scientifically valid NFP methods now that don’t rely on any calendar, but on your body’s specific signs of fertility.

cptacek on February 15, 2012 at 1:28 AM

This is a common misconception (pun intended). The Catholic church only approves of periodic abstinence for the purposes of spacing out births. For example, after giving birth, doctors actually forbid you from having sex, or from getting pregnant. You have to give the mother’s body time to heal. So the Catholic church is okay with that. But it’s not okay with long-term use of periodic abstinence as a contraceptive. If you are Catholic, married, and in your childbearing years, and it’s been a reasonable amount of time since your last pregnancy, you can’t use periodic abstinence. You have to let yourself get pregnant again.

Mark Jaquith on February 14, 2012 at 3:41 PM

lol, you are completely wrong. Did it hurt, this idiocy coming out of your lower orifice?

cptacek on February 15, 2012 at 1:29 AM

One glaring problem with the poll is that it excludes women who are generally always trying to get pregnant (or practically, not not trying to get pregnant–roughly the Catholic position with the natural planning caveat), which basically means this is a poll solely of those not following Catholic teaching and then using it to say that most of those that don’t follow Catholic teachings don’t follow Catholic teachings.

theperfecteconomist on February 14, 2012 at 3:51 PM

Very good comment. This study is so wrong it isn’t funny.

A personal anecdote…the first year of our marriage, we used the “eh” method. As in, we get pregnant, we don’t, whatever. The second year, we used NFP to try to get pregnant. The third year I was pregnant. This year, we are using the “our 8 month old sleeps in between us” method. :)

cptacek on February 15, 2012 at 1:33 AM

…Jesus, Socrates, Julius Caesar, and Marcus Aurelius were all drug addicts…

thuja on February 14, 2012 at 4:27 PM

You don’t know what you’re talking about.

zoyclem on February 15, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Face it. If Catholics practiced what the Chuch teaches the nation would be nearly 50% Catholic. That being said, Hussein’s witch is wrong in violating the Constitution.

Annar on February 15, 2012 at 5:45 PM

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