Tuesday, October 18, 2016

On cue, somebody takes the bait

Wikileaks:  Here are some John Podesta emails.  Some of them involve plotting against the Catholic Church's teaching.

Some liberal American Catholics:  We.are.doubling.down.

source:  Google and Internet

That's right, in a hole and still digging.  Writing in Commonweal E. J. Dionne, Jr. asserts that it is actually those liberal American Catholics supposedly caught by the Wikileaks release fomenting change within the Church...those are the real good guys.  After all, they're the ones who really support Pope Francis.  Dionne:

Ironically, a “Spring movement” did arrive in the church—but from the top, with Pope Francis’s election in 2013. Also ironically: Many of the conservative Catholics inclined to denounce the Clinton camp have been critical of Francis—it gives new meaning to the term “more Catholic than the pope”—while more liberal Catholics like Podesta have championed him.

and then in conclusion:

The factual bottom line is that in private correspondence, the two Clinton campaign officials said nothing anti-Catholic, although they did not reproach the critical comments of their friends.
As a progressive Catholic myself, here are the lessons I draw.
Liberals are free to criticize religion in general or particular religions, but they should resist casual put-downs of Catholics and Christians that they’d condemn if they were directed at other faiths.
Conservatives in the Catholic hierarchy need to pay attention to Pope Francis and ponder the high costs of tying a church with a rich tradition of social teaching to the right end of politics.
Finally, this episode is part of an ongoing argument among more liberal and more conservative religious people, and it will long outlast this election.
Read it all here.


Need an image to capture these days?  Try this:

Dionne just cannot bring himself to say anything negative about Podesta.  Swears he's a stand-up guy, didn't say anything negative about the Church, this whole thing is, once again, conservative Catholics getting their dander raised.  In fact, their dander should be raised--and has been--by Pope Francis.

Reductio ad Franciscum -- argument-stopping tactic by claiming Pope Francis has already addressed/changed whatever the opponent criticizes.

Matthew Franck of The Witherspoon Institute punches back here.  The facts of the matter, Franck reminds us, is that the Podestas and Dionnes of the world desperately want their Church to adjust to the Zeitgeist, but it is simply not that simple.  Church doctrine is determined by revealed truth, not popular vote or passing fancy.  Franck:
“I take very seriously the social and moral teachings of the church.” Well, if “take very seriously” means conforming his politics to Church teaching, rather than his understanding of Church teaching to his politics, then this is patently false, and we do not need to peer into the soul of John Podesta to reach this conclusion. The social and moral teaching of the Church is categorically opposed to abortion. Podesta is for abortion, on demand, and its public financing (his candidate advocates disposing of the Hyde Amendment). The social and moral teaching of the Church insists that just laws recognize the truth about marriage, that it is a relation that can only subsist between one man and one woman. Podesta and the candidate for whom he works think same-sex marriage is not only a constitutional right but a morally sound policy to embody in the law.

And the Church teaches that the freedom of religion may not be infringed by government mandates that persons act contrary to what their consciences tell them about the truth of such things as the sanctity of life, the dignity of marriage, and the reality of sex as the basis of “gender.” But Podesta and his candidate want to force a religious order of Catholic women to cooperate in the provision of contraceptives and abortifacients; they want to compel small businesses to cater to same-sex marriage ceremonies; and they want physicians to refer troubled patients for “transgender” treatment—all against the Catholic understanding of the right to act on one’s conscience (in these cases, one’s rightly formed conscience).

and in conclusion:
I understand Dionne’s impulse to defend his friend. On most if not all of these issues, Dionne stands exactly where Podesta stands—preferring his politics to the contrary teaching of the faith he claims to love and profess. But it takes a special kind of nerve to caution conservatives about “the high costs of tying a church with a rich tradition of social teaching to the right end of politics,” when you are on board with efforts at the left end of politics to alter and thereby betray that tradition.

Franck makes absolutely the right point here.  It is natural, and good--to a point, to defend our friends.  That is, as Aristotle reminds us, what makes good friends true friends:  our willingness to defend and challenge each other in virtue.  On the other hand, it is another thing entirely to twist an entire tradition in service of that defense.  All Dionne does, Franck points out, is defend the left while decrying the right.  That is nothing more than mere partisanship, and that is precisely what is wrong with the Podesta emails:  the partisan angling for influence and control....from within the Catholic Church.  The Church's social justice tradition transcends, and Dionne knows this, such simplistic, Manichean divisions.  Yes, of course, the same tradition challenges more pronounced conservatives like Franck and George Weigel in other situations--but recognizing that does not constitute giving Podesta and others the pass that Dionne so wishes.

One thing Dionne does get right--and Franck agrees;  we have not seen the last of this.  But that does not make it any more correct or permissible.

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