Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Better to Say Nothing

Catholics make me want to weep. Our unity should not simply be a unity formed around Rome, but around Christ - a unity born out of and supported by our love for one another. Nourished by Christ's very life. But all I read and hear is anger and judgment. Condemnation. Why? Because of a leader of a country that is not ours? Because a sister votes differently than her brother? Is this unity? Charity? If unity is so fragile, to hell with it. If love is so fickle, then do not waste it on me. Sound and fury. We would be wise to be silent.

Christ is our hope, Christ is our hope, we cry. Christ is our hope. But we do not believe it.


Anonymous said...

Amen, brother!

Dan said...

But the truth needs to be spoken, and those who do not believe the most fundamental tenets of Christianity need to be told as such. Morality and convictions cannot be mitigated out of a desire for unity. And if speaking the truth results in discord, so be it. Let us not shy from speaking the truth for fear of shattering a unity that should be based on a higher standard of shared morality.

I'm sickened by my Christian brothers and sisters who voted for a man who will pass into law an act that will contribute to even more aborted children. If Christians subscribe to this belief, the Church has failed, and they have failed the Church.

I can choose to love my brother and sister who voted for a pro-choice candidate, but as long as any Christian supports such things, there will be a crack in the unity between us and I will not attempt to mend that unity by reaching across a great divide that I belief cannot be bridged without compromising the belief that all humans bear the image of God, from the very moment of conception.

I am willing to risk disunity over this!

Scott Lyons said...

Dan, I hope you understand that I am not for the mitigation of the gravity of evil, for unity or for any other reason. But this argument has been redefined by some Catholics, beyond the teaching of the Church, by some Christians, to include voting for Obama as a grave evil and not voting for McCain as a grave evil - though both support abortion to a greater and lesser extent. I am not arguing about "lesser evil" here, I am saying that you cannot call a vote for one pro-abortion candidate a grave evil, because he is pro-abortion, and then call a vote for another pro-abortion candidate (though far less "pro-abortion") a good. You may reasonably argue that because you feel one will do greater good, or less harm, than the other that you will cast your vote a certain way. But it does not give anyone the right to say that because a brother or a sister's argument is different - it may even be wrong - that they have no friendship with God. We are one because we are members of the body of Christ, not because we are always moral or always agree with one another or always choose rightly.

A bishop standing up and suggesting that someone who votes for Sen Obama is putting his soul at risk of hell is not speaking the truth.

Abortion is a grave evil. That is the truth.

Voting for laws that support abortion is a grave evil. That is the truth.

We are to love one another. That is the truth.

We ought not judge one another. That is the truth.

A brother or a sister judging another brother or sister based on how they voted for a candidate - not knowing his or her heart, not even asking about it - that is a sin against charity.

We may say an idea or an action is wrong, we may strongly believe it is and argue that it is, but to stand in judgment of that brother or sister and condemn them - not disagree with what they do, understand, but to go beyond that disagreement and say that they have no friendship with Christ? That is wrong.

We've had Catholics who argue for voting for Obama, Catholics like Kmiec (I wish I knew how to pronounce his name) come to mind. Now, as a thinking man and fellow Catholic, I can disagree with his reasoning. I can argue with him about it until I am blue in the face. But to say that he has no friendship with Christ because he disagrees with my argument? It makes no sense. It plays at God.

Your name means "God is my judge," that is a coin with two sides. It means "only God is my judge" and it also means "God will hold me to account." It is a call to holiness and a call for sobriety. But it is not a call for me to be that judge.

Scott Lyons said...

Btw, Dan, I did not mean to throw the meaning of your name into your face. It struck me as relevant to the argument about judgment and I didn't intend it to come across as so "so there!" - I apologize for any offense it may have caused.

Owen said...

A well known American priest with a big ministry made a video in which he clearly told people to vote their conscience and in the same breath told them what that had better be if they wanted to be in line with the Church and told them if they didn't they were directly participating in committing genocide noting what the eternal results of such an action would be. His stentorian delivery didn't help.

Scott Lyons said...

I heard of the video, Owen. I never watched it, however, because I greatly admire the man (if we're talking about the same man) and have appreciated his preaching. I probably will continue to appreciate it in the future.

It's unfortunate.

Our priests and bishops need to be about the business of the Kingdom of Heaven and not about intervening in the kingdoms of this world. That's not to say they need to be out of my business - I allow them into my bedroom for goodness' sake (metaphorically) because the Kingdom of Heaven is also in my bedroom. But I have great admiration for Catholic and Orthodox priests who are silent about any political specificities/directives because they know they are not to be about the kingdoms of this earth.

Yes there are moral issues that have been subsumed by politics. But there are other ways of dealing with such things. I have not been convinced that the Republican party is God's medium for ending abortion here in the U.S. And, frankly, a plague on all their houses - we are about another Kingdom.

It is our bishops' and priests' job to form our consciences, not to tell us how to vote. We've been down the road of great political power some years ago, if I remember my history, and I'd hoped we'd learned something from our past errors.

Abortion is a grave evil - it makes me weep. Having little or no confidence in the GOP to end it, however, does not exclude me or anyone else from Christ's friendship.

Dan said...

Hi Scott,

I've been too busy to do much of anything other than work, but rest assured I didn't take offense at the use of the meaning of my name. I take a different view of it however. Since God is indeed my judge, I believe He will question me for remaining silent about this issue. There are times where it is appropriate for us to challenge our brothers, just as Paul challenged Peter. That's no judgment--that's what being members of a family is about sometimes.

I find it surprising that you would say that Obama and McCain are both pro-choice, as if McCain's exception about rape makes him equal in his position about abortion as Obama. I think that's a convenient way to rationalize away using abortion as a deciding factor in the vote this week. Since McCain upholds life only in 99% of the cases, he's therefore equal to Obama, so that let's off Christians who believe that abortion is a grave evil to vote for someone who has vowed to sign into law the Freedom of Choice Act.

As for me, I am saddened that any Christian would vote for a man who has promised to sign the most permissive abortion legislation this country has ever seen. As far as I'm concerned, any Christian who voted for Obama has as good as signed that very same document.

I agree with you: a pox on both parties, but to suggest that attempting to align oneself with the only political party that is even remotely attempting to do battle is a fool's errand just seems silly to me. It's a long, long haul towards victory, and we all know that the best chance we've had for victory is stacking the courts with pro-life justices. That just ain't gonna happen under Obama.

I believe all that Obama-ites like best about Obama are issues that have at their very root a fundamental belief in the dignity of human life: social justice, equal economic opportunity, affordable health care, etc. It's all meaningless if abortion is rampant and approved.

We are told to vote our conscience. That's all well and good, but sometimes, our consciences are absolutely, and unequivocally wrong, and it's not a problem for priests to say so. My brother, Fr. Steve, has said on more than one occasion that the fact that Catholics vote pro-choice is the result of the failure of priests to share the message clearly to the parishioners. I find it interesting that in all of your talk about the magisterium, and about truth existing in its fullness in the Catholic Church that you say you respect those priests who keep silent about this. Is it because it allows Catholics to vote "their conscience," and let's them off the hook? We are in this world, and not of it, but Christians have always engaged with their civic leaders. We are a part of society and we can impact our society through the gift of democracy. We can choose to be light in an otherwise dark world. Would you say that Pope John Paul II should have been silent when he challenged President Clinton on abortion? Would you say Mother Theresa should not have done the same thing? There's no question where the Catholic Church stands on abortion, and as far as my brother's concerned, and all of the other priests in his diocese, it is an affront to Catholic teaching to vote for a pro-choice candidate. Lansing's bishop felt compelled to write a letter to Governor Granholm about being pro-choice and Catholic. Should he have not done this to one of his parishioners? What about the conference of American bishops that's going to be taking place soon about how to deal with public figures who are pro-choice, and what to do with a Vice President who is Catholic but doesn't hold to Catholic teaching on abortion? Should they stay silent? I don't think so, and so I applaud those priests who stand up in their parishes and decry the horror of abortion. It would have been far better to not vote at all than to cast one's ballot for a candidate who has vowed to sign into law FOCA.

I can love my brother, but that doesn't mean I won't challenge him on supporting a candidate who is going to sign into law such a horrific piece of legislation.

Of course voting for Obama doesn't cause one to lose friendship with Christ. But I'm confident that it wounds Him tremendously that we have elected a man who will sign into law the Freedom of Choice Act. I hope every Christian who voted for Obama looks in the mirror on the day that law is enacted and asks some very hard questions of himself.

Scott Lyons said...

Thanks for your comment, Dan.