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A Test of Kerry's Faith

by Beast o Burden / March 28, 2004 1:31 AM PST

The candidate's policies are at odds with church canon. Will there be a price to pay?

By KAREN TUMULTY AND PERRY BACON JR.

Monday, Apr. 05, 2004

The last time a major political party put forward a Roman Catholic candidate for President, he had to confront bigotry and suspicion that he would be taking orders from Rome. Forty-four years later, the Democrats are poised to nominate another Catholic?another Senator from Massachusetts whose initials happen to be J.F.K.?and this time, the controversy over his religion may develop within the Catholic Church itself. Kerry's positions on some hot-button issues aren't sitting well with members of the church elite. Just listen to a Vatican official, who is an American: "People in Rome are becoming more and more aware that there's a problem with John Kerry, and a potential scandal with his apparent profession of his Catholic faith and some of his stances, particularly abortion."

http://www.time.com/time/election2004/article/0,18471,605436,00.html

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I love the Church's stand on things and what they turn a blind eye too.
by Diana Forum moderator / March 28, 2004 2:59 AM PST

Catholics that separate their religion from the law of the land or vote for things that the Church doesn't like are condemned (like Cuomo and Ferraro on being pro-choice).

On the other hand, the Mafia kill and maim people on a regular basis (not to mention the Irish Republican Army) and I've never heard the Church condemn them (maybe you have). Perhaps you can tell me why.

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Re: Mafiosi, IRA members, John Kerry and the Roman Cathoilic Church

Diana,

I left the RCC years ago precisely over my disagreement with the Church over certain of its doctrinal tenets, especially its opposition to artificial birth control. I decided that I could not in good conscience follow Church teachings in certain areas, but refused to become what is often referred to as a "cafeteria Catholic" or "a la carte Catholic" - one who obeys only those precepts with which he or she agrees.

As far as your statement about Mafiosi and members of the IRA is concerned, the fact is that the Church has routinely denied such people access to the Sacraments. If they die, they cannot be buried in a Catholic cemetary nor given a Catholic funeral. So in fact, the selective enforcement that you allege does not exist, AFAIK.

As for Sen. Kerry: His problem here is obvious. It's not that he *personally* supports abortion per se that aggrieves the Vatican; it is the fact that he is pro-choice. Of course, a declared pro-life Catholic Democrat gets short shrift from the Democrat Party, as evidenced by the DNC's refusal a few years ago to deny the late then-Pennsylvania governor Bob Casey address the party's national convention - in Philadelphia, no less.

I in no way find it unreasonable that the Vatican - or any religious denomination for that matter - should somehow find itself unable to criticize a politician who makes public statements that place him or her at odds with the stated doctrinal beliefs of his or her faith.

In the end, it remains up to those among the electorate who are Catholics to decide (if they choose to do so) between Sen. Kerry's politics and their church's positions on a matter of church doctrine. While that may be a problem in other nations, I doubt that it will pose much of one for Sen. Kerry given the state of those people's love/hate relationship with the RCC hierarchy.

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Re: Mafiosi, IRA members, John Kerry and the Roman Cathoilic Church
by Diana Forum moderator / March 28, 2004 10:02 AM PST

I don't remember any Catholic clergy condemning John Gotti like they did Cuomo.

I dislike abortion but it won't disappear until the need for it disappears. Teaching abstinence and, if that fails, birth control is required.

I disagree with the church's stand on birth control as well - we have enough people without encouraging more.

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This is my problem with 'devout Catholics'
by Evie / March 28, 2004 10:08 AM PST

who pick and choose what they agree with about the Church's edicts. While I suppose it might be impossible to follow the teachings of any church to a tee, there is a big difference between trying to be a good Catholic and failing, and holding personal beliefs diametrically opposed to a faith one claims to profess. He is "Catholic" enough apparently to annul his first marriage before remarrying, but is avidly pro-choice. So much so that in only the second vote he has bothered to take leave of the campaign trail to attend, Kerry was in a decided minority voting against the Unborn Victims of Violence Act recently.

You can't just pick and choose like this IMO. A practicing Catholic might disagree on some minutia, but they shouldn't actively thwart those in their personal or public lives for that matter. If it's that big an issue, find another faith. There are enough denominations out there that are more liberal than Catholicism. The "a la carte" Catholics as you call them are hypocrites IMO. It gets worse when Kerry (like another liberal Catholic I know) is out there quoting scripture and the teachings of the chuch to promote his view of compassion and man's responsibility to his fellow man. Well, then, it is pure hypocrisy to say the other teachings should be dismissed as right wing bluenose folly!

Evie Happy

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Re: This is my problem with 'devout Catholics'
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / March 28, 2004 12:50 PM PST

Hi, Evie.

>>This is my problem with 'devout Catholics' who pick and choose what they agree with about the Church's edicts.<<
We liberal Catholics rely upon the doctrines of Vatican Two, which under "collegiality" said that the teaching authority of the Church resides in the Church (remember, it's defined as "the People of God in the Council documents) as a whole, not just the Pope or even the hierarchy. Another Vatican Two document teaches that an individual's own conscience is the supreme arbiter of what's right and wrong for him/her (though one must give the Church teachings proper consideration in forming his/her conscience). The exception is proncouncements of the Pope "ex cathedra," which last happened in regard to the Immaculate Conception back in the 50's. Needless to say, under the current reactionary Pope no one who believes in these doctrines (both passed by the majority of Church Fathers in Council assembled and signed by John XXIII or Paul VI) makes it above the level of parish priest in the hierarchy.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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Re:Re: This is my problem with 'devout Catholics'
by Evie / March 28, 2004 8:28 PM PST

I think you are picking and choosing the teachings to fit your own convenience Dave. You come to mind when I talk of hypocrisy, because isn't it that same "reactionary" Pope you quote and extoll whenever he agrees with you -- e.g. death penalty, war with Iraq, "social justice" -- while denigrating him on issues where you disagree -- abortion, homosexuality, marriage/divorce.

I can't think of any Christian Church that teaches the individual's conscience is the final arbiter of right and wrong. All faiths set standards that their "flock" at least strive to uphold. Sounds like more situational ethics again to me.

Evie Happy

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HRe: This is my problem with 'devout Catholics'
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / March 28, 2004 10:13 PM PST

Hi, Evie.

You have a traditional, authoritarian view of ethics -- Pope John Paul holds that view. But Vatican II taught something very different -- it's usually referred to as "Primacy of Conscience." This Pope has in fact squelched theologians who hold to that -- which is why there may well be a schism in the Church if the next Pope follows the same authoritarian line. For an excellent discussion of the primacy of conference, with appropriate citations to the Vatican II documents, see From Inquisition to Church Reform.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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The conscience, of course, cannot reach a legitimate conclusion which violates the teaching of the Bible.
by Kiddpeat / March 29, 2004 4:28 AM PST

If it does, it is in error and must be reformed. To do less is to place the conscience in a position of authority over the Word of God. That would be idolatry, and is clearly condemned in the Bible. The conscience is not an infallible guide, and is frequently wrong.

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Re:The conscience, of course, cannot reach a legitimate conclusion which violates the teaching of the Bible.

Hi, KP.

Very few if any of the issues where conservative and liberal Catholics disagree are discussed in the Bible. For example, there's nothing about contraception, ordination of women, or when life begins in the Bible. And to preempt a question I know is coming, Christ never said anything about homosexuality...

-- Dave K.
Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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Well, it appears that you agree with my point. However, I think

you're a bit off on two points. I've already explained that Jesus did talk about homosexuality, and did uphold the ban on it. You, as you frequently do, have simply chosen to ignore those posts. Also, I think the Bible is clear that women are not to be ordained as ministers within the church. It is fairly clear on that point, although you can get around it if you start throwing out portions of the Bible.

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Re:Well, it appears that you agree with my point. However, I think

Hi, KP.

The New Testament is not clear about either point. Christ neever spoke about homosexuality specifically -- you've only pointed to generic statements about morality, which you then interpret to include homosexuality. I hallenge that interpreatation. As for women not being ordained, that's disputed as well. There's certainly ome evidence for women at least being deacons in the ealy Church; what we don't know is what their powers were (cf. Romans 16, 1-2). And this was at a time and in a tradition when women were second class citizen, while St. paul said "in Christ Jesus there is no Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, woman nor man..." If all are indeed "equal in the one Lord," women should indeed be ordained. The arguments against their ordination are based on tradition, and in fac are precisely the losing arguments at the very first Chirch Council (in Jerusalem), where the minority used identical logic to argue that only jews could be ordained. Had that idea held, Christianity might well have remained an obscure Jewish sect. We've finally fought and won the battles about gentile vs. jews, and slave vs. free 9and in each case, the impetus for change came from the laity, not the tradition-bound hierarchy); it's long past time the third side of St Paul's triangle of equality was brought to full fruition as well!

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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So your individual church ...
by Evie / March 29, 2004 11:22 AM PST

... thwarts the Vatican and preaches views in accordance with your own? Or says, if you don't agree with some tenet of the church it's OK so long as you feel you are right in your conscience?

BTW, moot point re: Kerry, because he is not considered a member in good standing in his MA church yet receives communion. Think what you want of the MA RCC, Kerry is not just free to pick and choose what he wants to live by.

Do you wear your faith like a jacket? Put it on in church, take it off outside ... or vice versa as you would have to do during those times the priest is relating teachings in opposition to your own.

There are so many versions of Christianity that fit your and Kerry's views more closely. It would seem so much easier to live your life holding true to those instead of having to live the inconsistencies.

He really took the cake the other day preaching from the pulpit about what good a man is if he claims faith but has no deeds!

Evie Happy

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Re: My problem with 'devout Catholics' -- a P.S.
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / March 28, 2004 12:55 PM PST

"Love it or leave it" is no more appreciated (and no less insulting) with regard to one's Church than it is one's country. You make the unwarranted assumption that only one who thinks as you do can truly love one's Church, or one's country.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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Re:Re: My problem with 'devout Catholics' -- a P.S.
by Evie / March 28, 2004 8:19 PM PST

Dave, you choose your church. Belonging to one that is diametrically opposed to your "conscience" on so many issues makes no sense when there are so many others available that conform to your beliefs.

Are you at least active in some reform movement within the Catholic Church? The RCC is not a Democratic institution. If you don't like that you truly can just leave. If enough leave, or if US Catholics sever from the Vatican, that might prompt reforms. I would think it would be much more effective than dutifully going to Church every Sunday while needing apparently to squelch your conscience.

Evie Happy

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Re: I love the Church's stand on things and what they turn a blind eye too.

Hi, Diana.

The Church has never accepted the notion of choice on anything. In Church-dominated countries, not only is abortion illegal, but so is birth control and divorce; those that have modernized (e.g. Italy) have done so only against staunch church opposition. An elected official must represent all his/her constituents, not just the Catholics, so the proper response is the same one Christ gave the Pharisees when they tried to trap Him about whether it was moral to pay taxes to Rome: "Render unto Caesar the things due Caesar, and unto God the things due God."

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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