My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


The Catholic Thing

I touched on this briefly a couple nights ago, and was able to catch a bit of Dan Kaplis' discussion of it this morning. I need to expound a little further on my thoughts from the other night.

On Thursday, the Archbishop of Denver, Charles Chaput, wrote a letter in the Denver Catholic Register; the key point is this:

Candidates who claim to be 'Catholic' but who publicly ignore Catholic teaching about the sanctity of human life are offering a dishonest public witness,. . .

"They may try to look Catholic and sound Catholic, but unless they act Catholic in their public service and political choices, they're really a very different kind of creature.

"And real Catholics should vote accordingly."

In response, Pete Coors, a Catholic, said this to the Rocky through his campaign spokesperson:

"(Coors) believes the archbishop was correct in his opinion and he believes in the sanctity of life - he's pro life.

Bob Schaffer, also a Catholic, did not respond to calls from the papers but has a history of being anti-abortion.

And Ken Salazar, also a Catholic--and a one-time seminarian--had this to say:

The archbishop can have his point of view as leader of a church, but I think when the archbishop tries to influence the outcome of elections and get involved in government and directing voters, he's gone beyond the line of what should not be breached in our American democracy, where we believe fundamentally in the separation of church and state.

What is really most troubling about Salazar's response is the intimation that those in places of religious responsibility are being undemocratic when they speak out on issues. I wonder, Mr. Salazar, where you stand on the idea of the "Rev." Jesse Jackson actively campaigning for candidates; for that matter, what of the practice of Democratic candidates speaking from the pulpit (as John Kerry did four weeks ago in St. Louis) to a congregation in a campaign-style "sermon"? The idea that a person who is charged with the spiritual and corporal well-being of hundreds of thousands of believers is obliged to stay uninvolved in politics is offensive. And the leap of logic that concludes that a person of religious responsibility speaking out is a breach of the Establishment Clause betrays an appallingly low level of understanding of that Constitutional principle and the role of the public in the debate.

To say the the Archbishop is "going beyond the line" is trying nothing more than to silence the voice of opposition to his opinion. Did the Attorney General have similar qualms when the Ministerial Alliance played a central role in the debate over the punishment Officer Jim Turney received for the shooting of Paul Childs? Of course not. And it is not only the right, it is the duty and obligation of men and women of the cloth to try to guide their flock. Note that the Archbishop did not speak out specifically against a candidate or a party; he spoke out on an issue. For Ken Salazar to call that undemocratic is fundamentally flawed.

Ken Salazar seems to be presented with a choice. This is a choice I am familiar with. Ten years ago I fell in love with a woman who is divorced; Catholic teaching holds that, short of an annulment, for me to marry her would be a sin, and would make my life incompatible with remaining a Catholic. I chose to leave the Church and start a family and a life with the bewitching Mrs. BestDestiny. Ken Salazar is capable of making the same choice: to claim membership in something that you do not believe in is hypocritical and deceptive. I will not be so arrogant as to advise him in this matter--that is between him, his priest, and God.

But when he tries to stifle the debate on a central issue, that is between him and the whole public. And on that point, I would advise him to show due deference to his spiritual leader and, in short. . .

put a sock in it.

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