I have been slow to getting around to responding to Kathleen Kennedy Townsend Newsweek piece calling Obama more Catholic than the Pope. It is so laughably bad that I first felt responding to it was overkill since it is such a target rich environment for stupidity.
But there they part ways. Politics requires the ability to listen to different points of view, to step into others’ shoes. Obama might call it empathy. While the pope preaches love, listening to the other has been a particular stumbling block for the Catholic hierarchy (as it is for many in power). The hierarchy ignores women’s equality and gays’ cry for justice because to heed them would require that it admit error and acknowledge that the self-satisfied edifice constructed around sex and gender has been grievously wrong. Before he became John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla had a telling all-or-nothing formulation: “If it should be decided that contraception is not an evil in itself then we should have to concede frankly that the Holy Spirit is on the side of the Protestant Churches.”
It is rather evident that Kathleen Kennedy Townsend has not read any of the Pope’s books and knows next to nothing about him. One of the Pope’s hallmarks is that he is a deep listener and fully engages people. As a theologian and scripture scholar he spends much time in reading those who he has a lot to disagree with. Yet as in his book “Jesus of Nazareth” he takes what is good from their writings into his own thought. He has the all to rare talent to not read into others, but to actually read others. His significant time as prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith had very little time spent to addressing dissenting theologians and even in those cases the conversations with them went on for years resulting in only a couple disciplinary actions. This is a man who will actually listens to different points of view and will take the truth from wherever it is found. But of course since he is not accepting of evils the culture promotes than he is not listening according to them.
I can’t say I am all to impressed with President Obama’s ability as a listener. He makes noises about respecting your opinion while not changing his in any way. With the majority of American being pro-life, how much listening has he done in that direction? As for him admitting error, when faced with the proof of his vote for infanticide that the text of the bill was identical to the one unanimously passed – he said that the NRLC was lying.
Actually that supplied quote is reported to be from a minority report written by two men which included Karol Wojtyla and defended the Church’s truth on contraception. I can’t find any actual copies of the text for the minority report for the Humanae Vitae commission and the text is only cited by dubious sources as far as I could see. Of course it also does not mean what she thinks it means if accurate. The minority report as reported was guided by then-Cardinal Wojtyla thoughts and was totally in support of this truth of the Church. When it comes to the truth it is often an all or nothing prospect. Either the Church teaches the truth and is guided by the Holy Spirit or she is not. If the Church can teach that a good intended by God is a grave sin then she is not the Church of Christ – thus no reason to be Catholic in the first place.
That attitude has resulted in some heinous decisions. Most famously, in the lead up to the encyclical “Humanae Vitae” in 1968, an advisory body of theologians and laity empaneled by the pope advised that the church should reverse its position on birth control and concede that the issue should be a question for morality and for science. But authority–not truth, not love–prevailed: Pope Paul VI, listening to the advice of Wojtyla, disagreed with the majority of these advisers, who had voted 69 to 10 for change, fretting that to change this position would weaken his authority.
The purpose of the commission was not to determine if teaching on contraception was true. This teaching was already infallible by the ordinary magisterium. The purpose was to determine if the pill was morally different from other methods of contraception. While it appears the majority of the people involved in this thought that it was not, that actual report has never been released – only some appendices leaked to the press. Theology is not a democratic action. When Jesus asked the Apostles who people said he was, all but Peter got the answer wrong. Plus Peter had help from the Holy Spirit in this case. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend calls the support of Church teaching a heinous decision. Hey remember all the promises by supporters of the pill – none that have come true. We have an abortafacient chemical that has resulted in evils upon evils in its destruction of society. The left likes to speak of being prophetic, yet ignore true prophecy contained in Humanae Vitae.
In the same vein, American bishops in the 1970s struggled to produce a paper that would address the concerns of women. After nine years of effort, they gave up. Why? According to Bishop P. Francis Murphy, bishops see themselves as “teachers, not learners: truth can not emerge through consultation.” Pope Benedict, having lived in the safety and security of the Vatican for much of his professional life, is part of this culture that silences dissent. (His last job was as the enforcer of doctrine.)
Pretty funny for a Kennedy talking about somebody living in “safety and security”. As if she has ever lived apart from the echo chamber of Kennedy liberalism. Cardinal Ratzinger was really good on “silencing dissent” that is why we never hear any dissent – oh wait.
In 1979, Sister Theresa Kane, the head of the Sisters of Mercy and the president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, greeted Pope John Paul II on his first visit to the United States by proposing that the Church provide “for the possibility of women as persons being included in all ministries of our Church,” including the priesthood. This was greeted with revulsion at the Vatican, which insists that the only people who can represent God in the priestly role are those with male sex organs.
Yes the same leadership conference currently undergoing a visitation by the Vatican because of their doctrinal and obedience problems. The last line is so stupid and offensive in that it takes in no account why the Church reserves the priesthood for men. I wish supporters of women’s ordination would spend at least half their time trying to understand this truth instead of whining about it. They never address any real theology or the fact that this is simply the will of Christ and the Church can’t change it. But yeah make some snarky remarks about “male sex organs” instead will do.
Yet polls bear out that American Catholics do not want to be told by the Vatican how to think. Despite the rhetoric of love and truth, the Vatican shows disdain (if not disgust) toward gays. But 54 percent of American Catholics find gay relationships to be morally acceptable, according to a 2009 Gallup poll. Meanwhile, against all scientific evidence and protestations from clergy on the ground, the pope claims that condoms aggravate the spread of AIDS. Seventy-nine percent of American Catholics disagree, according to a 2007 poll by Catholics for Choice.
No we want to be told by Kennedy’s how to think. It is rather obvious that she has not read one Church document that addresses those who suffer with same-sex attraction. The document written by then-Cardinal Ratzinger shows not disdain or disgust in any way. But she must set up her strawmen, in fact she seems to be grasping at strawmen. When you have to resort to a group that advocates murder of the innocent, you pretty much give up the right to say that the Church is not listening to the Holy Spirit.
Notre Dame awarded the president an honorary degree because it saw the need to highlight the best of Catholic teaching as applied to politics: the ability to open the eyes of those who would prefer to keep them closed, and to open the hearts of those who would prefer not to know the pain that their actions cause. The pope has a lot to learn about Catholic politics in America. Barack Obama can teach him.
It is the supporters of abortion who need to heed “open the hearts of those who would prefer not to know the pain that their actions cause.” The President can certainly teach the President about many Catholics in America. The President does represent many American Catholics, though this is not to his good. Too many Catholics do not know their faith and they betray it for some pottage of promises. The title of the Newsweek piece is “Why Barack Obama represents American Catholics better than the pope does.” Again the President does represent those Catholics who see themselves as American’s first or that “American Catholic” is some flavor of the Catholic Church. Americanism is not a knew thing as Pope Leo XII well knew.