Catholic Cardinal: Yes, it’s a sin to comply with the Obamacare mandate

posted at 6:14 pm on April 10, 2012 by Tina Korbe

In the clearest statement of what’s at stake for Catholic employers when it comes to the Obamacare contraception mandate, a leading Catholic cardinal recently said that it is, in fact, a sin for employers to comply with the mandate.

Cardinal Raymond Burke told EWTN’s Thomas McKenna that Catholic employers would not only be guilty of material cooperation with sin, but also formal cooperation because they would knowingly and deliberately be providing employees with contraception:

Thomas McKenna: “So a Catholic employer, really getting down to it, he does not, or she does not provide this because that way they would be, in a sense, cooperating with the sin … the sin of contraception or the sin of providing a contraceptive that would abort a child, is this correct?”

Cardinal Burke: “This is correct. It is not only a matter of what we call “material cooperation” in the sense that the employer by giving this insurance benefit is materially providing for the contraception but it is also “formal cooperation” because he is knowingly and deliberately doing this, making this available to people. There is no way to justify it. It is simply wrong.”

Responding to the comments, [former executive director of HLI America Jenn] Giroux says, “This comment by a high ranking Cardinal is the clearest explanation to date on the issue of an employer’s culpability when providing contraception, sterilization, and abortion inducing drug options in the insurance plans for employees.”

It’s easy to see that this statement might come as a surprise even to the most faithful of Catholics, who are taught that an individual must freely consent to sin to bear full responsibility for it. Under the mandate, do employers really have the freedom not to consent? Cardinal Burke is telling them that, yes, they do. They have the freedom, for example, to get out of whatever business it is they’re running. They have the freedom to not have employees. They have the freedom to ignore the mandate and suffer the legal consequences. Burke’s comments are a hard call to faithfulness to all those Catholic employers who have been outraged by the mandate but might have been tempted to justify their ultimate compliance with it with that perennial of excuses: “I had no choice.” The seriousness of Burke’s words are also a warning to the Obama administration: He is saying that Catholic employers should go out of business before they comply with the mandate. Just as opponents have said from the very beginning, the mandate does, in fact, endanger the very existence of Catholic hospitals, schools and other charitable organizations. The president had better think long and hard about whether contraception coverage is more important to him than broader health care, education and help for the poor.


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First, the Catholic Church is not a “foreign power”, but a universal organization. It’s called the Roman Catholic Church not because it’s headquartered in Rome, but because it follows the tenets and precepts of the orginal church that was founded in Rome. Putting that aside, are you suggesting that that the Catholic Church in America,

represented by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, has no loyalty or committment to the Constitution?

no, they are not committed to the constitution as we are, their highest loyalty is in rome.

Has no interest in the direction of American policies? And has no right to voice its concerns? Sounds quite un-American of you, especially when the Catholic Church is basing its position on its Constitutional right to be free of government intervention in the free practice of its beliefs.

Trafalgar on April 11, 2012 at 11:23 AM

wrong, they supported obamacare before as you well know, but done according to their moral precepts. was that a political intervention based on religious freedom argument?

nathor on April 11, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Well, since no one has actually seen Him or spoken with Him in a couple of thousand years, I don’t think that’s an issue.

CatoRenasci on April 11, 2012 at 11:17 AM

I speak with Him everyday and He’s physically present at every Mass.

Trafalgar on April 11, 2012 at 11:26 AM

lol! really? so do let us know what he wants us to do! if you and god are somehow unable do clarify this, then god physical presence in mass is irrelevant to the political arguments in this country.

nathor on April 11, 2012 at 11:35 AM

no, they are not committed to the constitution as we are, their highest loyalty is in rome.

nathor on April 11, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Wow! Just wow! It’s been a refreshing change to the usual conversations with you. You seem to have been able to engage in reasoned discussion and seeking answers…up until this comment. Firstly, and most importantly, the highest loyalty that any real Catholic has is to God. That having been said, who is the “we” you’re referring to in this comment? Presumably you mean Americans Do you really mean to suggest that American priests, bishops, and cardinals, or just plain American Catholics, are not “real” Americans and are not committed to the US Constitution?

Trafalgar on April 11, 2012 at 11:44 AM

no, they are not committed to the constitution as we are, their highest loyalty is in rome.

wrong, they supported obamacare before as you well know, but done according to their moral precepts. was that a political intervention based on religious freedom argument?

nathor on April 11, 2012 at 11:31 AM

As a Catholic, I support the Constitution, but, where the two diverge, I support God. There’s a long line of heroes, Catholic, Protestant, and Jew, who have done exactly that. In our august history, those who supported the Underground Railroad are heroes, and those who tried to prevent it are villains; according to the Constitution of the time, the conductors of the Underground Railroad were aiders and abettors in the trafficking of stolen property.

Politics and religion intersect in many places. Those who support Obamacare and are religious have certainly integrated the two. As for Christians who do so, I would submit that they failed to heed the story of Jesus’ encounter with the young rich man, and the point about personal, not Caesarian, decisions associated with almsgiving.

Remember, the Bishops did not come out in support of Obamacare — they stayed on the sidelines after being promised by Mr. Obama that a freedom of conscience exemption would be part of the law. Such an exemption would allow any individual person to opt out of the law — for religion in the eyes of the Constitution is individual, not group. Instead, we got the classic Amish/Mennonite compromise, which said that if you signed an affidavit to forego Social Security and Medicare, you could also opt out of Obamacare. Talk about clubbing people into submission…

We Catholics understand your antipathy toward us. We’ve seen it in many comments. Well, it’s friendly fire this time, dude.

unclesmrgol on April 11, 2012 at 11:44 AM

lol! really? so do let us know what he wants us to do! if you and god are somehow unable do clarify this, then god physical presence in mass is irrelevant to the political arguments in this country.

nathor on April 11, 2012 at 11:35 AM

Yes, really. I’m sorry to have to disappoint you, but God hasn’t chosen to share with me what he wants “us” to do, we talk on a much more personal level about what He wants me to do, and since this is really about God and me, I’m good with that. I don’t think I ever suggested that God’s physical presence during Mass has any relevance to American political arguements, it just is what it is.

Trafalgar on April 11, 2012 at 11:48 AM

Well, since no one has actually seen Him or spoken with Him in a couple of thousand years, I don’t think that’s an issue.

The Church hierarchy at Rome, however, is very real…

The American political conversation is for Americans…

CatoRenasci on April 11, 2012 at 11:17 AM

So’s the Almighty. And a majority of citizens in this nation serve him. And He’s not an American citizen! Oh my! So you want to deny the vote to all Christians, bigot?

theCork on April 11, 2012 at 11:51 AM

are you really suggesting that American Catholics, and that includes American priests, bishops and cardinals, have no loyalty to the Constitution and have no say in American politics? It is possible to be American and Catholic at the same time you know?

Trafalgar on April 11, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Of course it’s possible to be American and Catholic at the same time, I never suggested otherwise and wouldn’t.

However, when one accepts an office of profit or trust from a foreign power or prince – the Vatican still claims to be a sovereign power, you know – and places loyalty to that foreign power or prince above loyalty to the United States Constitution, that changes the situation. I have no quarrel with anyone who chooses to become an official of the Roman Catholic Church. My point is that, having made that choice, they give up their right to actively participate in American politics, because they have chosen another loyalty ahead of the Constitution.

In a way, it’s a little like the tradition in the American military (at least up through WWII and the 1950s) that career officers did not vote in national politics or express party affiliation, since their loyalty was solely to the Constitution and to obey the lawful orders of the commander-in-chief regardless of party. Private soldiers voted, and were encouraged to vote, but regular officers rarely did.

The most important thing that makes one an American isn’t ethnic or tribal affinity, as it is in most of the rest of the world, it’s a shared commitment to the values enshrined in the Constitution.

CatoRenasci on April 11, 2012 at 11:51 AM

My point is that, having made that choice, they give up their right to actively participate in American politics, because they have chosen another loyalty ahead of the Constitution.

CatoRenasci on April 11, 2012 at 11:51 AM

American priests, bishops, archbishops, and cardinals do not renounce their citizenship the minute they graduate from the seminary. They have every right to vote as just as any other American citizen does.

PatriotGal2257 on April 11, 2012 at 12:00 PM

nathor on April 11, 2012 at 10:53 AM

The other side of the employment equation is that if a company gets too restrictive with their rules, they will have trouble hiring people, and at the very least they will not be able to get all of the people they need with the right skills for the business to survive. THAT is the very real limitation on how far any employer goes in setting rules that employees must follow.

dentarthurdent on April 11, 2012 at 12:12 PM

American priests, bishops, archbishops, and cardinals do not renounce their citizenship the minute they graduate from the seminary. They have every right to vote as just as any other American citizen does.

PatriotGal2257 on April 11, 2012 at 12:00 PM

They may, as a matter of law, maintain citizenship and the right to vote.

There is surely a difference between a newly minted American priest, who has grown up in and is steeped American values, on the one hand, and a cardinal long resident in the Vatican whose loyalties are entirely to the church hierarchy. At some point, and at some level, which I freely admit I can’t pinpoint, whatever allegiance a church official may have had to the land, and political system, of his birth is fully dissipated, and the official’s loyalties are entirely to the institutional church and its interests.

My point is that high officials of the Roman Catholic Church, especially those resident at Rome and working in the Vatican hierarchy, have no business involving themselves in American politics, regardless of whether they were born Americans, Italians or Germans or whatever. Should the Pope (a German) be commenting on American politics and telling Americans how to act in their political life? I say no. Popes used to (both Pius IX – Pio Nono – and Leo XIII are important examples), and that was a major reason for non-Catholic American suspicion of Catholics. I don’t want to return to those days.

CatoRenasci on April 11, 2012 at 12:13 PM

I dont agree, you open a pandora box if you allow employers to make up any restriction the see fit. outside work place and work hours, the employer should have no power to limit your freedom.
nathor on April 11, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Within the law, there is no reason they cannot.
DON’T WORK THERE.

As has been said, you do not have to work for these people.
Make the choice yourself.
The Catholic church cannot reasonably police it’s members nor employees on the use of BC.
They can regarding drugs using tests.

its not just BC that is not reasonable to police, there is a whole world of sinful behavior that the church is unable to control.

So? They can do whatever they want.
DON’T WORK FOR THEM. Or become a member.

If a person employed by the Catholic church is found to be a porn addict, I imagine they may want to get rid of them, as is their right.
sure. fire him.
I, as a public screwl teacher, can be non-renewed if I engage in inappropriate behavior, even if it’s legal.
The community has a right to hire whom they please, as does any business.

but if your contract is 6 months and its broken at 3 months, the community should still pay you no? or can you put a “inappropriate behavior” clause in your contract? how would you even define all “inappropriate behavior”?

So Facebooking students & discussing birth control wouldn’t be inappropriate?
The community has every right to determine such things.
And they shouldn’t have to provide a list of No No’s.
That’s what lawyers & court cases are for, BTW.

The right to pursue happiness is not the same as a right to happiness.
You have no right for happiness to occur all the time.
You only have the right to engage in the pursuit of it for yourself.
Badger40 on April 11, 2012 at 10:34 AM

ok
nathor on April 11, 2012 at 11:07 AM
Hopefully this last response is not sarcastic.
Bcs I do hope you understand that the Federal Govt does not exist to make up for your bad luck or shortcomings when living your life in the form of things like welfare, healthcare & bailouts.

Of course there are laws which restrict what employers can or cannot do regarding hiring and employment practices. You can’t, for instance, discriminate in employment based on race, gender, ethnicity, age, or physical disability. And those are federal, not state laws. But as long as employment conditions do not violate the law, employers are free to set what those conditions are. If you don’t like it, don’t work here. It’s a voluntary arrangement.
Trafalgar on April 11, 2012 at 11:12 AM

Exactly.

I speak with Him everyday and He’s physically present at every Mass.
Trafalgar on April 11, 2012 at 11:26 AM

lol! really? so do let us know what he wants us to do! if you and god are somehow unable do clarify this, then god physical presence in mass is irrelevant to the political arguments in this country.
nathor on April 11, 2012 at 11:35 AM
No reason to disparage someone in their faith to try & prove a point.
That’s $hitty.
I talk to Him, too.
And get answers. Bcs I listen.
You can wonder whether it’s the Devil, Al Gore, fairies or pixies or ghosts or my own subconcious that’s doing the answering, but keep it to yourself.
That is polite.

Regarding the Vatican & loyalty & Catholics:
The Const is very interesting bcs within it there is no way to go against a Christian faith by following it.
At least as far as I know.
Now islam? That’s a different story.
But as far as I am aware, the various Judeo-Christian faiths do not seem to call for FORCED conversions in the documents.

Badger40 on April 11, 2012 at 12:32 PM

The other side of the employment equation is that if a company gets too restrictive with their rules, they will have trouble hiring people, and at the very least they will not be able to get all of the people they need with the right skills for the business to survive. THAT is the very real limitation on how far any employer goes in setting rules that employees must follow.

dentarthurdent on April 11, 2012 at 12:12 PM

another argument is that companies would also be liable to public pressure(boycott) on imposing personal behavior on their employees. for example, a campaign for companies to impose use of no fossil fuel vehicle by their employees or to not hire employees that performed abortions.
so, yes, making restriction makes that company less competitive, but the company my be forced to implement those restriction by public pressure. this would amount to a majority imposing behavior on you through pressure of the employing entities and that would reduce your freedom.

nathor on April 11, 2012 at 12:43 PM

Of course it’s possible to be American and Catholic at the same time, I never suggested otherwise and wouldn’t…

I have no quarrel with anyone who chooses to become an official of the Roman Catholic Church. My point is that, having made that choice, they give up their right to actively participate in American politics, because they have chosen another loyalty ahead of the Constitution.

CatoRenasci on April 11, 2012 at 11:51 AM

So what you are in fact saying is that an American who heeds a vocation to become a Catholic priest gives up his rights as an American to participate in American politics. So much for your loyalty to the Constitution and especially to the 1st Amendment. Doesn’t it strike you as a little hypocritical that your position is that those who the 1st Amendment’s freedom of religion provision directly address, the religious, are the ones who you say have no loyalty to the Constitution and no right to participate in American politics?

Trafalgar on April 11, 2012 at 12:46 PM

CatoRenasci on April 11, 2012 at 12:13 PM

This article explains things better than I ever could:

Priests and Politics by Father Dwight Longenecker

The entire article is good, but the second, third and fourth paragraphs are especially salient in how they address your comment.

PatriotGal2257 on April 11, 2012 at 12:49 PM

Priests and Politics by Father Dwight Longenecker

The entire article is good, but the second, third and fourth paragraphs are especially salient in how they address your comment.

PatriotGal2257 on April 11, 2012 at 12:49 PM

Careful PatriotGal. That article can’t possibly carry any weight. It was written by a American priest and, as we’ve all now been informed, Catholic priests have given up their 1st Amendment rights and are loyal only to Rome…or something! /

Trafalgar on April 11, 2012 at 12:55 PM

As a Catholic, I support the Constitution, but, where the two diverge, I support God. There’s a long line of heroes, Catholic, Protestant, and Jew, who have done exactly that.

god law and obedience to it should be private. not public. otherwise this could lead to irreconcilable differences not only with the secular population but also with the other religious sects. think muslims and sharia and the problems they have with anyone else.

Politics and religion intersect in many places. Those who support Obamacare and are religious have certainly integrated the two. As for Christians who do so, I would submit that they failed to heed the story of Jesus’ encounter with the young rich man, and the point about personal, not Caesarian, decisions associated with almsgiving.

you are free to have endless theological arguments with other christian. let me know when you agree on something/
despite the sarcasm, it a well know point that religious people, can hardly agree in much, so, that makes secular laws and true necessity of a minimally functional multi religious society.

Remember, the Bishops did not come out in support of Obamacare — they stayed on the sidelines after being promised by Mr. Obama that a freedom of conscience exemption would be part of the law. Such an exemption would allow any individual person to opt out of the law — for religion in the eyes of the Constitution is individual, not group. Instead, we got the classic Amish/Mennonite compromise, which said that if you signed an affidavit to forego Social Security and Medicare, you could also opt out of Obamacare. Talk about clubbing people into submission…

dude, the catholic hierarchy loves big government as long as the big government is aligned with their goals and moral precepts. they have shown it countless time in the history of the church.

We Catholics understand your antipathy toward us. We’ve seen it in many comments. Well, it’s friendly fire this time, dude.

unclesmrgol on April 11, 2012 at 11:44 AM

I am being very mild in my critique too. and by the way, a bishop opinion is nothing special. there are other bishops that disagree with him.

nathor on April 11, 2012 at 12:59 PM

another argument is that companies would also be liable to public pressure(boycott) on imposing personal behavior on their employees. for example, a campaign for companies to impose use of no fossil fuel vehicle by their employees or to not hire employees that performed abortions.
so, yes, making restriction makes that company less competitive, but the company my be forced to implement those restriction by public pressure. this would amount to a majority imposing behavior on you through pressure of the employing entities and that would reduce your freedom.

nathor on April 11, 2012 at 12:43 PM

Yes that could happen, but given the wide range of beliefs and policy preferences in this country, it is unlikely that a successful campaign of that sort could or would be mounted to force a company to impose specific employment rules.

Much more likely is that if a company’s rules are too extreme, most people just will not work for them – if they have a choice. That works regarding pay and benefits as well. I’ve known many people who were on a contract taken over by a new company that immediately reduced their pay and benefits (low-bidder wins). The people with decent skills and work ethic typically leave fairly quick – as soon as they get a better offer somewhere else.

But if the majority of the people in a vicinty of a company are trying to force the company to implement certain rules, then I would that also means there are a lot of potential employees who would work for them under those conditions – the other side of the majority forcing a company to do something.

dentarthurdent on April 11, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Trafalgar on April 11, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Oh, I will be, Trafalgar. I take full responsibility for what comes out of my mouth, or in this case, my fingers. :)

PatriotGal2257 on April 11, 2012 at 1:05 PM

CatoRenasci on April 11, 2012 at 12:13 PM
Badger40 on April 11, 2012 at 12:32 PM
PatriotGal2257 on April 11, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Trafalgar on April 11, 2012 at 12:55 PM

I don’t really want to get into a theological debate on this, as I would probably start quoting George Carlin and Epicurus – but I really don’t care what everyone else wants to believe – choose your own path as long as it does not impose on others. But as it relates to the US Constitution and our laws, I have to go mostly with Badger on this line.
Priests, ministers, rabbis, anyone and everyone has the right in this country to be involved in the political process. I would expect them to vote in line with their beliefs and conscience and let the political process go as it will. I fully agree with the catholic church objecting to Obummer mandates that violate their principles.
But while I don’t believe any church – but especially Islam – should be controlling our government, I do have a problem with people like Nancy Pelosi and the Kennedy clan claiming to be catholic while forcing very uncatholic policies on the country – total hypocrits. I do believe people like that should be thrown out of the catholic church (but that will not likely happen) precisely because they very publicly violate the laws of the church.

dentarthurdent on April 11, 2012 at 1:20 PM

Yes that could happen, but given the wide range of beliefs and policy preferences in this country, it is unlikely that a successful campaign of that sort could or would be mounted to force a company to impose specific employment rules.

Much more likely is that if a company’s rules are too extreme, most people just will not work for them – if they have a choice. That works regarding pay and benefits as well. I’ve known many people who were on a contract taken over by a new company that immediately reduced their pay and benefits (low-bidder wins). The people with decent skills and work ethic typically leave fairly quick – as soon as they get a better offer somewhere else.

But if the majority of the people in a vicinty of a company are trying to force the company to implement certain rules, then I would that also means there are a lot of potential employees who would work for them under those conditions – the other side of the majority forcing a company to do something.

dentarthurdent on April 11, 2012 at 1:00 PM

I like your libertarian argument. hope its true. another thing is that with the level of subcontracting going on in our employment market, its hard to pin any company on their employees behavior.

very theoretically, should any type of contract(work or otherwise) be allowed? there are limitations no?
should you be able to sell your organs by contract? should you be able to contract yourself into slavery? could you contract your voting rights?
if some church payed me as long as I followed some rules in my personal life, such as no sex or no contraception, would that be an allowed contract?

nathor on April 11, 2012 at 1:24 PM

So what you are in fact saying is that an American who heeds a vocation to become a Catholic priest gives up his rights as an American to participate in American politics. So much for your loyalty to the Constitution and especially to the 1st Amendment. Doesn’t it strike you as a little hypocritical that your position is that those who the 1st Amendment’s freedom of religion provision directly address, the religious, are the ones who you say have no loyalty to the Constitution and no right to participate in American politics?

Trafalgar on April 11, 2012 at 12:46 PM

That’s not precisely what I said. What I said is that when the loyalties cease to be primarily to the Constitution of the United States and to the church hierarchy, they should not participate in American politics. I don’t know exactly where along the path from priest to pope that transition happens, but at some point it does.

If I accepted a commission in the British Navy or the German Army, for example, I would lose my US citizenship, and with it my right to vote and participate in American political life. I don’t see accepting a high office in a church governed by a hierarchy which expressly rejects the authority of other governments — which includes the Constitution — as any different as a matter of principle.

CatoRenasci on April 11, 2012 at 1:27 PM

This article explains things better than I ever could:

Priests and Politics by Father Dwight Longenecker

The entire article is good, but the second, third and fourth paragraphs are especially salient in how they address your comment.

PatriotGal2257 on April 11, 2012 at 12:49 PM

The author makes part of my point himself:

Priests are not permitted to run for public office, and clergy are not permitted to endorse a particular candidate or seek to influence people’s votes for particular parties.

Interestingly, the examples he uses of countries where the church did, or ought to have, intervened include countries that either had established churches (Germany – Catholicism established in Bavaria and other South German states) or had long traditions of established churches (Philippines, until the US period, Poland). In countries that do not separate church and state as we do, the question of church participation in politics may be different from the US.

CatoRenasci on April 11, 2012 at 1:38 PM

very theoretically, should any type of contract(work or otherwise) be allowed? there are limitations no?
should you be able to sell your organs by contract? should you be able to contract yourself into slavery? could you contract your voting rights?
if some church payed me as long as I followed some rules in my personal life, such as no sex or no contraception, would that be an allowed contract?

nathor on April 11, 2012 at 1:24 PM

We do have limitations on legal contracts, as you stated – I would also add hiring a hit man. And while they are, for the most part, probably good limitations to have, I tend to lean toward less government control. In most cases, I would say it’s up to you to decide if you’re willing to live by those rules – and if not, don’t take the job – or leave the job (and I have done that). Sell yourself into slavery? – I’ve had some jobs where I thought I may have done that. Prostitution – I think should be legal. As a defense contractor there have been times I felt like that’s what I was doing – and we joked about it a lot/. Drugs – I’m on the fence but lean toward no because of the behaviors they lead to. Employment rules such as no sex – well – pretty much every catholic priest agrees to that contract – whether they honestly fulfill it is another question – and whether the church should change that rule another question still (I think they should change it). But I’m no longer in the catholic church nor am I a priest, so it’s not up to me.

dentarthurdent on April 11, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Priests are not permitted to run for public office, and clergy are not permitted to endorse a particular candidate or seek to influence people’s votes for particular parties.

Interestingly, the examples he uses of countries where the church did, or ought to have, intervened include countries that either had established churches (Germany – Catholicism established in Bavaria and other South German states) or had long traditions of established churches (Philippines, until the US period, Poland). In countries that do not separate church and state as we do, the question of church participation in politics may be different from the US.

CatoRenasci on April 11, 2012 at 1:38 PM

Is this new? Robert Drinan – Catholic priest, Democrat, Massachusetts – US House of Representatives 1971 -1981
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Drinan

dentarthurdent on April 11, 2012 at 1:45 PM

Is this new? Robert Drinan – Catholic priest, Democrat, Massachusetts – US House of Representatives 1971 -1981
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Drinan

dentarthurdent on April 11, 2012 at 1:45 PM

I was quoting Fr. Longenecker to whom PatriotGal2257 referred me. The wiki article to which you referred me answers your question:

In 1980, Pope John Paul II unequivocally demanded that all priests withdraw from electoral politics. Drinan complied and did not seek reelection.

CatoRenasci on April 11, 2012 at 1:50 PM

CatoRenasci on April 11, 2012 at 1:38 PM

Do you realize you are making the same argument as was put forth when JFK was running for president in 1960?

Here’s how he addressed those concerns:

Address of Senator John F. Kennedy to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, September 12, 1960

Was there any evidence that JFK “took orders from Rome” during the three years he was president? No. In fact, the gripe I always hear is that JFK’s Catholicism was a Catholicism of convenience, as it is and was for most of the Kennedy family. But go ahead — tell me again that a person cannot be both a Catholic and a citizen loyal to the U.S. Constitution.

PatriotGal2257 on April 11, 2012 at 1:55 PM

I was quoting Fr. Longenecker to whom PatriotGal2257 referred me. The wiki article to which you referred me answers your question:

In 1980, Pope John Paul II unequivocally demanded that all priests withdraw from electoral politics. Drinan complied and did not seek reelection.
CatoRenasci on April 11, 2012 at 1:50 PM

OK – I didn’t read the whole wiki article – I was just looking for the basic data – having grown up in Massachusetts and knowing there had been a catholic priest in politics.

dentarthurdent on April 11, 2012 at 1:58 PM

Do you realize you are making the same argument as was put forth when JFK was running for president in 1960?

PatriotGal2257 on April 11, 2012 at 1:55 PM

Actually, I heard JFK’s speech to the Houston clergy within a week of his giving it, and I remember the campaign of 1960 and the arguments against Kennedy on religious grounds ver vividly, so I know what I’m saying is not at all the straw man some of you are swatting at.

Even your Fr. Longenecker, following Pope John Paul II, is clear clergy should stay out of electoral politics.

The issue is not lay Catholics participation in politics, or their letting their views be influenced by the Catholic Church’s teachings on faith and morals, or even the Church’s right to deny communion to Catholic politicians if the hierarchy decides they’re not meeting some standard or another.

The issue is members of the hierarchy, particularly the hierarchy in Rome, being involved in the political debate here in the United States. In principle, there is no difference between an American born cardinal sticking his oar in, and the Pope himself doing it, or some Islamic Mufti or Ayatollah or the Dali Lama.

CatoRenasci on April 11, 2012 at 2:11 PM

If I accepted a commission in the British Navy or the German Army, for example, I would lose my US citizenship, and with it my right to vote and participate in American political life. I don’t see accepting a high office in a church governed by a hierarchy which expressly rejects the authority of other governments — which includes the Constitution — as any different as a matter of principle.

CatoRenasci on April 11, 2012 at 1:27 PM

Where does it say the Catholic Church rejects the authority of any government? It doesn’t. Fr. Longenecker says this:


What we are not to do is to get involved in the ways of this world. We stand outside the political process. We stand outside the ways of force, revolution and military struggle. We stand outside the political systems, but we must speak up and stay involved. We stand outside all political parties and commend their politicians and co operate with them when they do the right thing, and criticize them when they do not. We do this just as we would commend or criticize a local businessman or a local educator or anyone at all for doing the right and just thing (or not).

Being a priest, bishop or cardinal is not the same as being a military officer in the British Navy or German Army, for which you would rightly have to renounce your American citizenship.

PatriotGal2257 on April 11, 2012 at 2:14 PM

The issue is members of the hierarchy, particularly the hierarchy in Rome, being involved in the political debate here in the United States. In principle, there is no difference between an American born cardinal sticking his oar in, and the Pope himself doing it, or some Islamic Mufti or Ayatollah or the Dali Lama.

CatoRenasci on April 11, 2012 at 2:11 PM

If the Dali Lama or an Islamic Mufti spoke up about a political issue in the U.S., yeah, I’d say that they should mind their own business in their own countries. I thought the same thing when Felipe Calderone started lecturing on the House floor about U.S. immigration policy, albeit he’s not a religious leader.

But frankly, I don’t have any problem with Cardinal Burke speaking out about the political ramifications of Obamacare, just as I would applaud Cardinal Arinze speaking out if there was a serious political matter in Nigeria. I’m not sure why you have a problem with it — they are not mutually exclusive. Guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

PatriotGal2257 on April 11, 2012 at 2:31 PM

Being a priest, bishop or cardinal is not the same as being a military officer in the British Navy or German Army, for which you would rightly have to renounce your American citizenship.

PatriotGal2257 on April 11, 2012 at 2:14 PM

I disagree. The Vatican is a sovereign state, and a cardinal is, therefore, an official of a foreign sovereign state, a representative of a foreign prince, the Pope, and loyal first to the Vatican and the Pope, not to the Constitution of the United States.

In this, high Roman Catholic officials differ from the clergy of all other American Christian denominations. At the time of our independence, what had been the Church of England in the colonies dissolved its allegiance to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the King of England, removing any concerns about allegiance to a foreign power or prince. The other, less hierarchal, American Protestant denominations all expressly do not recognize the authority of any foreign power, and the Eastern rite churches do not have the same hierarchy, or make the same claims to temporal power or infallibility, as the Roman Catholic Church.

CatoRenasci on April 11, 2012 at 2:35 PM

If the Dali Lama or an Islamic Mufti spoke up about a political issue in the U.S., yeah, I’d say that they should mind their own business in their own countries. I thought the same thing when Felipe Calderone started lecturing on the House floor about U.S. immigration policy, albeit he’s not a religious leader.

But frankly, I don’t have any problem with Cardinal Burke speaking out about the political ramifications of Obamacare, just as I would applaud Cardinal Arinze speaking out if there was a serious political matter in Nigeria. I’m not sure why you have a problem with it — they are not mutually exclusive. Guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

PatriotGal2257 on April 11, 2012 at 2:31 PM

But, would you have a problem with it if he had come out saying supporting ObamaCare was necessary to be in harmony with Catholic social teaching? Or if he had said capitalism and free market economics were incompatible with Catholic social teachings and that to be a good Catholic one had to support a massive welfare state?

I think the reason you don’t have a problem with it is that you like what he’s saying (and, perhaps, you’re a Catholic). I like his opposition to the government coercion involved in ObamaCare and the mandate as a policy matter as much as you do, I just don’t think it’s appropriate given his position.

So, we agree to disagree.

CatoRenasci on April 11, 2012 at 2:42 PM

But, would you have a problem with it if he had come out saying supporting ObamaCare was necessary to be in harmony with Catholic social teaching? Or if he had said capitalism and free market economics were incompatible with Catholic social teachings and that to be a good Catholic one had to support a massive welfare state?

CatoRenasci on April 11, 2012 at 2:42 PM

As a matter of fact, yes, I’d have a major problem if he supported Obamacare and a massive welfare state. I already have a major problem with those who call themselves “Catholic,” for instance, Sr. Carol Keehan, the nun who came out in favor of Obamacare last year or two years ago, but support abortion and the other favorite causes of liberalism. I have problems with friends of mine who claim to be Catholic, but who seem very unwilling to adhere to official Church teachings.

The whole Catholic social justice/social teaching issue has been grossly misinterpreted over the decades by certain priests, bishops and nuns. They are slowly being weeded out, but their influence is still pernicious, especially — no surprise here! — with liberals. And yes, I am a Catholic myself who tries my level best to adhere to the Magisterium — the official teachings of the Catholic Church.

I’m glad you like Cardinal Burke’s opposition to the Obamacare mandate. This is above all an issue of religious liberty, and he is merely exercising his proper role, his job, as a leader in the Catholic Church in the U.S.

PatriotGal2257 on April 11, 2012 at 3:16 PM

It’s was also a sin for catholic’s to report to report sex crimes directly to the police, so you know I think I understand that they don’t really have a clue.

Zekecorlain on April 11, 2012 at 3:38 PM

My point is that, having made that choice, they give up their right to actively participate in American politics, because they have chosen another loyalty ahead of the Constitution.

CatoRenasci on April 11, 2012 at 11:51 AM

and by choosing to be a bigot and publicly stating on this forum that catholics do not have a right to vote or to be citizens of this country YOU YOURSELF have shredded the constitution of this country . YOU are denying me my right to religious belief and freedom and frankly YOU and Nathor BOTH DISGUST ME.

katee bayer on April 11, 2012 at 5:20 PM

god law and obedience to it should be private. not public. otherwise this could lead to irreconcilable differences not only with the secular population but also with the other religious sects. think muslims and sharia and the problems they have with anyone else.

How can anyone separate their most deeply held beliefs from their public actions? It takes a very weird religion to permit that kind of public/private dichotomy.

dude, the catholic hierarchy loves big government as long as the big government is aligned with their goals and moral precepts. they have shown it countless time in the history of the church.

How are they showing it here? Lots of people, including the occasional bishop, make the mistake that a government which does the Jesus thing (caring for the poor) is a good government. All the while, they forget about the coveting and theft necessary for said government to function. But there are enough people, including the Pope, who have spoken out in favor of private property rights and the rights of workers to keep the proceeds from the work of their hands, and to not have such confiscated by a government.

I am being very mild in my critique too. and by the way, a bishop opinion is nothing special. there are other bishops that disagree with him.

nathor on April 11, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Sorry, I don’t see the mildness at all. And you are correct — not all bishops may agree on all things — but all American bishops are in full agreement on this matter of an attack on freedom of conscience — and there are plenty of Protestants and Jews and who think likewise.

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/catholic-lutheran-baptist-and-jewish-leaders-swear-disobedience-hhs-contraception

http://www.calvin.edu/news/archive/calvin-college-participates-in-congressional-hearing-on-religious-liberty

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/02/16/146921508/birth-control-latest-collision-between-individual-conscience-and-society

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/

unclesmrgol on April 12, 2012 at 2:27 AM

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