A must-see, even if it is a few days old. The question of how much influence the Church should have over Catholic legislators is sufficiently interesting to warrant sitting through the whole clip, but even if you’re not into that, watch from around 6:00 to 10:30 just for the sheer spectacle of this guy refusing to let his guest get a word in edgewise. Even as a veteran cable-news viewer, I’ve never seen anything like it.

As background for the discussion, the Pope’s flirted (and un-flirted) over the last few years with excommunication for Catholic legislators who betray certain “nonnegotiable” values of the Church with their votes. The last time it came up, as I recall, was when Pelosi visited the Vatican and people wondered whether she’d be denied communion. I’m sympathetic to Matthews’s broader point about not letting any faith dictate the content of secular law, but his specific point eludes me. What does he want the Church to do, simply look the other way while professed Catholics like Madam Speaker pass laws inimical to core teachings? Strictly speaking, they’re not dictating anything; all they’re saying is that you can’t protect abortion and be a Catholic in good standing. If that places a Catholic legislator in a bind, too bad. Religion either means something or it doesn’t, especially in a hierarchical outfit like the RCC. Those who don’t like it are always free to leave.

Exit question: At the risk of summarily Godwining this thread, does Matthews have any problem with Church officials who looked the other way in Europe in the late 1930s? I’m not comparing pro-choicers to that, merely wondering where CM would draw the line about when religious pressure on legislators is appropriate and when it isn’t.

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Tags: religion