Another Shining Moment for Political Catholics

Few things rankle me more than deliberate injustice perpetrated on people. I’ve experienced it myself, and I’ve seen it practiced by bishops, pastors and parishioners on otherwise innocent and usually shocked individuals. I haven’t been following the most recent Catholic Republican push to discredit the CCHD. But I find it tough to let last week’s episode with John Carr go without leveling some heavy criticism the way of the political anti-abortion movement, and some select bloggers.

With this word of support, I can imagine Fr Frank Pavone is pretty close to being labelled a left-wing babykiller. Good for him, especially if he gives some of the more vehement political anti-abortion crowd a headache trying to figure out right from wrong.

I have to say I’m shocked an organization like Our Sunday Visitor would give this gossip the time of day. There’s a danger we all face in blogging: few to no colleagues, no editorial board, no standards of journalism, no training in either proper dissemination of news or even, it would seem for some, any moral compass. It’s really a shame an organization that purports to uphold principles of journalism would get duped. And more, lower itself to the detritus level of the internet.

Catholic Republicans show their true colors. Political parties long ago shed any sense of moral compass. The Republicans may give anti-abortion lip service, but they seem more than content, even when in control of the federal government, to keep abortion-on-demand out there as a carrot for religious types ready to be fooled. Again. And again and again and again. We already know that when it comes to financial or sex scandals, the GOP is as likely as any other political party to be elbow-deep in scummy activities. And the Catholic brand of politics has certainly seem its share of being sullied.

As I understand it, the CCHD is not, and was never intended to be a charitable organization. It addresses the root causes of poverty. Too bad conservatives live up to their brand of voodoo and presume that as long as “good intentions” toward the poor are maintained, and soup kitchens kept open, they can retreat to their homes at night and sleep soundly knowing they’ve done their share of modelling
Matthew 25.

The problem for the modern Republican is that their brand is all hermenteutic of subtraction: stand for nothing, except for knocking down anyone in their way that happens to be standing. The thing about the poor: if you really care, at some point you might want to ponder a world in which charity money and labor doesn’t go down a seemingly-endless drain. You might posit, as the US bishops did decades ago, that it makes financial, if not moral sense, to address the root causes of why people need charity, rather than mindlessly writing your 5% check every week. (And did the Catholic Republicans remember to write that check?)

What would make moral sense would be for a moratorium on the efforts against the CCHD. By association, any critic will have to morally distance himself or herself from the gossipmongers of the past week or two. I think any organization is always reformable. But I’d say there are more and closer connections today between Catholic Republicans and the sins of calumny and detraction than John Carr ever had with abortion-on-demand.

And the sad thing of it: If pro-abortion folks had been able to get a trojan horse into the pro-life movement, it wouldn’t have worked any better than it did last week. Good thing I’m not a conservative, or I’d be calling for investigations on the usual conservative suspects and wondering what sorts of pro-choice links they had in their checkbooks, let alone their own histories.

So here’s how I see the remains: the win-at-all-cost, end-justifies-the-means mentality has usurped not a few Catholic blogs. In the course of sinking the CCHD, it doesn’t matter how pro-life you are. If you’re in the way, you will be the victim of lies, and in the grand ol’ tradition, they will try to pink-slip you off your job. Do I have it about right?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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18 Responses to Another Shining Moment for Political Catholics

  1. Yes, as usual, you have it correct. God bless you for having the energy to take this on so intelligently. I’d be spewing bile.

  2. Sadly, I do not think they understand my posts on that thread. I am just taking their own logic and rhetoric and showing how it would apply to their own blog and anyone on it, once they defend Nixon. But it is as you said — using any means necessary to attack the CCHD. More importantly, much of it is in complete ignorance of Catholic moral teaching — much of what they use as proof it is bad falls under double effect, and the rest, guilt by association. But they do not care for consistency, only to promote their own agenda.

    And what you said about pro-life can also be said about Catholics in general; their gossip will only help the Jack Chick types of the world.

  3. Ashley says:

    Obama’s desire to repeal “Don’t ask, don’t tell” can actually help to fulfill the “days of Lot” (Luke 17, cf. Gen. 19), the fulfillment of which will hurry up the return of the Heavenly Commander-in-Chief who will make all things straight (pun intended)! Interesting Google articles include “Obama Supports Public Depravity,” “Separation of Raunch and State” and “David Letterman’s Hate Etc.”
    For some dessert visit Yahoo and type in “Obama Avoids Bible Verses.”
    PS – You’re invited to use these new pro-life slogans: “Unborn babies should have the right to keep and bear arms – and legs and ears and eyes etc.!” and “Unborn babies should have the same right to be born alive that abortionists had!”
    PPS – Super Bowl suits me to a T – Tim Tebow!

  4. Todd says:

    That’s an interesting take, Ashley. The world’s militaries have had their share of active homosexuals for centuries, going back at least to the Greeks.

    I don’t know that the sin of Sodom wasn’t more a serious breach of hospitality. Would it somehow be less sinful that the townies would want to have sex with female messengers instead of the males?

    I also tend, when it comes to the Gospels, side with Jesus who advised we really don’t know the day or the hour. That one more country allows uncloseted homosexuals to serve doesn’t strike me as fodder for the second coming. But you never know.

  5. Zach says:

    This post criticizes nothing that exists in reality. Deal with ideas and the actual words that are said and you might have a chance of persuading someone of something.

  6. R.C. says:

    Give us Catholic Republicans (or, to speak more precisely, Catholics who politically lean in the conservative or classical-liberal direction) a bit more credit.

    We usually think the items on our political agenda are addressing root causes. (As much as they can be addressed, at least: We think the ability to eliminate poverty is limited even when left-leaning legislators and judges aren’t impeding our efforts to make a fairer society.) We hold, on the basis of what we think are very good reasons, that the poor would be better off — indeed, FAR better off — if the ideas of right leaning-thinkers had been heeded for the last sixty years.

    They weren’t, so poverty in the U.S. is consequently worse than it needed to be.

    What leftists call “addressing root causes” usually looks to us like perpetuating the root causes, which is why we usually want nothing to do with it…which is in turn why you accuse us of not addressing root causes.

    But the problem is not that we don’t want a fairer society. We just think leftist methods of “addressing” poverty are inherently self-defeating — provably so, from a historical perspective — and that to the extent that leftists are aware of how bad those methods are, their willingness to continue using them is mere short-term vote buying at the long-term expense of the poor.

    (But we also think that self-delusion can be very powerful, so we’re willing to admit that leftists are not in fact very aware of how bad their methods usually are, and that their vote buying is actually at the expense of the poor.)

    By the way, your 5% estimate is a bit low. Right-leaning Americans usually write checks which are twice as big as those written by our left-leaning fellow citizens…both in actual dollars and as a percentage of our incomes. The average numbers are something like 6-7%, as opposed to 2-3%. (I myself think even 7% is embarrassingly low; poor Christians should start at a mere tithe and wealthy Christians should work upward from there in proportion to their financial blessings. But at least we’re not so Scrooge-like as our left-leaning brethren.)

    We also volunteer more for Habitat for Humanity. We give blood to the Red Cross more often. We serve in the military, in civil defense corps, and as unpaid volunteers at soup kitchens and the like. (The paid staffers, the “lifers,” are admittedly usually leftists…but perhaps leftists are better at locating government and foundation funding, and are therefore better suited for such jobs.)

    In short, statistically, it’s the Catholic left who’re the stingy ones; statistically, you find all the true generosity and charity on the right.

    Sure, the Catholic left rant and rave about poverty more, as they tout their poverty-inducing programs. (In my view, the one doesn’t let you off the hook for the other.) And by means of those programs, they’re great at spending other people’s money to (not) help the poor.

    But it’s the folk on the right who voluntarily help the poor more. Or, if charitable giving really doesn’t help all that much, as you assert, then perhaps we’re voluntarily (not) helping the poor. Either way, we do it out of our own time and money, voluntarily, a lot more than you do. The numbers don’t lie.

    However, the numbers do hide. Which is to say: The generosity of red-state America is usually unnoticed by popular media because our tax filings are usually not the public’s business unless we’re running for political office. (When we are, the differences show up immediately: Compare the generosity of Bush and Cheney and Bush Sr. to the ridiculously stingy Gore, Obama, et alia. Not since Jimmy Carter has a prominent leftist American politician gotten anywhere close to actually tithing.)

    So the unsung heroes of the poor are the ones who also give jobs to the laborer and create new businesses and industries and who work all day to make a paycheck to feed their family and to have some left over to help the poor (and, yes, to be able to take their family on nice vacations if possible).

    Does this offend you?

    Sorry. But it’s fair turnabout, really. We should all be gracious to each other when we disagree…but somehow right-leaning Americans don’t get half the grace we deserve on this topic. We’re the truly generous ones, yet we get crap all day long about being insufficiently generous because we don’t support government programs that we hold to be demonstrably unhelpful.

    But that’s okay. The judge of all the earth will do right, and if we don’t get any credit here on earth, we’ll just go on storing up treasures in heaven.

    • Todd says:

      Good discussion. No offense taken.

      I know there are Catholics who lean conservative. I was speaking specifically of people who are Republican first, and Catholic second. People of the former category don’t hesitate to set aside the morality implied in their adjective to forward the goals of the noun.

      It’s been more my view that the politics of exploitation contribute more to the alleviation of poverty than generosity. France extracting its servitude payments from Haiti until 1947, for example.

      Also, in your enthusiasm, you’ve missed an internal inconsistency in your argument:

      “Right-leaning Americans usually write checks which are twice as big as those written by our left-leaning fellow citizens.”

      and “statistically, you find all the true generosity and charity on the right.”

      This post, by the way, was about a specific subset of Americans: those who identify as Republican first, Catholic second, and who were out to get John Carr’s job through misinformation. I don’t have a problem, per se, with an effort to reform the CCHD. The Republican-style dirty tricks don’t inspire confidence in the morality of this particular faction of the Right, however.

      I have no problem with the fact that some liberals are stingy and some conservatives are more generous. It’s a fact of human nature, not a function of one’s political philosophy. I would be interested in links on your statistics, if you would care to provide them.

      • R.C. says:

        Todd:

        Regarding my logical inconsistency:
        “Right-leaning Americans usually write checks which are twice as big as those written by our left-leaning fellow citizens.”

        and “statistically, you find all the true generosity and charity on the right.”

        Ah. So you’re pointing out that my use of the word “all” was incorrect? That I should have said, “double,” or something like that, to reflect that the difference in voluntary giving was a matter of degree, not a matter of all or nothing?

        If that’s what you meant, I grant you the point. (But tell me, if I misunderstood you.)

        Regarding your other distinction, between Republican Catholics who stress the adjective over the noun: I suppose that there are folk like that out there. I just don’t know any.

        But I grant that had I paid more attention to the USCCB/CCHD kerfuffle perhaps I would be able to identify some of those involved as matching that description. I honestly hadn’t been paying any attention to it.

        The only reason I posted a reply in this thread was because your original post seemed to be tarring all us economically conservative believers with the same brush: That of putting political expediency over honesty, and of being unconcerned for the poor.

        Which smarts. We’re a single-income lower-middle-class three-kids family, here, and last year I volunteered at MUST Ministries lot, gave about 15% of pre-tax income all told, and gave enough units of blood that I began to resent pop-culture’s love affair with vampires. Two years ago we gave up cable entirely, partly because Comcast got on our last nerve, but partly to send the savings to a missionary hospital thing in Albania. And all my congenitally Republican friends and relatives behave similarly (tho’ I admit they don’t tell me the percentages of their charitable giving, and most of them still have cable).

        Anyhow it smarts being told I’m such a skinflint by every left-of-center blog I skim. So when I felt like I was getting the same treatment from you, Todd, I had an [i]et tu, Brute?[/i] moment and let off a little steam about it.

        Sorry that I took things off topic.

      • Todd says:

        Hey, RC. No problem, really, with your post.

        It’s long been my premise that being liberal or conserviatve, believer or not, is no guarantor of either orthodoxy or orthopraxis. I happened to have a few select internet Republicans in mind when I wrote this. And clearly, you were not one of the bloggers who spread lies about John Carr.

        So my sincere apologies if some paint splattered you. In parishes, I know many, many conservatives who might even be active Republicans and who oppose the CCHD in principle. I have no problem with that, really. Because, as you testify, they are indeed generous, compassionate souls who take the Gospel seriously.

    • Kurt says:

      In short, statistically, it’s the Catholic left who’re the stingy ones; statistically, you find all the true generosity and charity on the right.

      You were on track but then went into the ditch.

      I am familiar with the study that shows conservatives giving more than liberals. The same study broke down giving between religious and secular persons. Religious liberals are the best givers, more than religious conservatives. Secular conservatives are the least generous.

      So no, its not the Catholic left that are the stingy ones.

  7. Micha Elyi says:

    “As I understand it, the CCHD is not, and was never intended to be a charitable organization. It addresses the root causes of poverty.”

    No wonder CCHD is too often on a mission of self-destruction; Jesus told us the poor will always be among us. If Christians are to “address” any “root causes,” they are the root causes of sin, not poverty.

    Try again to be sensible. And Catholic.

    Too bad conservatives live up to their brand of voodoo and presume that as long as “good intentions” toward the poor are maintained, and soup kitchens kept open, they can retreat to their homes at night and sleep soundly knowing they’ve done their share of modelling Matthew 25.”

    “Good intentions” are the hallmark of the morally lazy. Jesus did not feed the bears.

    Try again.

    • Todd says:

      “No wonder CCHD is too often on a mission of self-destruction; Jesus told us the poor will always be among us.”

      Ah yes, the conservative tendency of defeatism. The poor will always be with us, so why bother to do anything about it. I think you misread God’s will.

      Self-destruction? Are you sure you have that one right?

      “If Christians are to “address” any “root causes,” they are the root causes of sin, not poverty.”

      Oh, I agree. Cultural structures that keep people poor are most definitely sinful.

  8. Michael says:

    We should all be gracious to each other when we disagree…but somehow right-leaning Americans don’t get half the grace we deserve on this topic.

    I agree with the first part of your sentence (although I meet its requirement mostly by avoiding political discussions, I’m afraid), but not with the implications of the second part, which is that it’s the liberals who started it. Sorry, but it was your side that went indecent; my side, unfortunately, is beginning to learn that being nice to gangsters is self-defeating. Do I like individual conservatives? Certainly. Conservatism, however, is a stain on humanity’s soul, and I hold it in contempt.

  9. Do I have it about right? No. You could do a little better job on your homework regarding this issue.

  10. Sam Schmitt says:

    People sin, not “structures.”

  11. Todd says:

    I agree, Sam.

    The structures, created by people are sinful–adjective. We can say that certain behaviors: murder, adultery, Individual people sin by supporting sinful practices or by refusing to reform them.

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