Clearing the Fog
in the
War of Words


  logomachy--1. A dispute about words. 2. A dispute carried on in words only; a battle of words.
logomachon--1. One who argues about words. 2. A word warrior.



Schismatic Democrats

The National Catholic Reporter reports that pro-abortion Democrats have finally come out of the closet:
Tired of playing political punching bag to bishops and others who question their religious commitment, 55 House Democrats issued a “Catholic Statement of Principles” Feb. 28 that acknowledges the “church’s guidance and assistance” but also “the primacy of conscience.”

The 500-word statement rejects what its sponsors see as a narrow focus on abortion by some church leaders at the expense of other “basic principles that are at the heart of Catholic social teaching,” such as reducing poverty, promoting universal health care coverage and “taking seriously the decision to go to war.”
According to NCR, “the statement is part of the continuing fallout from the 2004 elections in which a small number of high-profile bishops said they would deny the Eucharist to Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, a pro-choice Catholic, if he presented himself for Communion in their dioceses.” Some pro-life Democrats also signed the statement.

The whole idea behind this statement is transparently mendacious. On the one hand, the politicians take the peculiar position that protecting the unborn is unfit to be public policy because the Church approves of such a policy, while on the other hand they ask the bishops to support them in imposing ‘other “basic principles that are at the heart of Catholic social teaching”’ on the rest of the nation. Their first lie is that abortion is a matter of Catholic social teaching. The second lie is that unrestricted abortion has majority support. The third lie is one of silence: when the Supreme Court imposed unrestricted abortion on the nation, it overrode democratically approved restrictions in almost all fifty states.

The fallout’s midwife was Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT), who before her election in 1990 was executive director of EMILY’s List, a political action committee dedicated to electing pro-abortion women to Congress. DeLauro told NCR “we have been silent about who we are as Democratic Catholics and for too long people have defined many of us who are pro-choice as in fact celebrating abortion”.

DeLauro is about as accurate and honest as you’d expect a Democrat to be. She speaks as though "Democratic Catholic" is a separate species. If it is, which they are unwilling to acknowledge while insisting on being treated as exceptional, it means schism. They also apparently aren't very democratic, either, since they seem terrified that they might be part of an effective anti-abortion majority. The second part of DeLauro’s remark is a lie and a red herring. The problem arises long before they break out the Champagne and party hats at a Planned Parenthood gala, namely, they consistently and proudly support and protect a regime of unrestricted abortion in the US.

During the 2004 presidential campaign, John Kerry ignored the bishops and the teaching of the Church. In May of that year, a number of pro-abortion Catholic congressmen went beyond ignoring the bishops and told them that “it would be wrong for a bishop to deny the sacrament of holy Communion to an individual on the basis of a voting record”. In other words, they crossed over from ignoring the bishops to telling them what the Church’s teaching is. This statement extends that presumption. The signers go so far as to arrogate to themselves an authority co-equal with the bishops’:
…we believe that the Church is the "people of God," called to be a moral force in the broadest sense. We believe the Church as a community is called to be in the vanguard of creating a more just America and world. And as such, we have a claim on the Church's bearing as it does on ours.
What does "moral force in the broadest sense" add? It seems to me to be a weasel expression: it qualifies without clarifying. Taken literally, it spreads the obligation thin—don't have to behave in any particularly Catholic way or make any specific moral choice in a “narrow sense”, like opposing the killing of babies, just sort of be a good Democrat and want all the good things that liberals naturally want.

Well, that is pretty much what it means. DeLauro’s press release conveying the statement says it “documents how their faith influences them as lawmakers, making clear their commitment to the basic principles at the heart of Catholic social teaching and their bearing on policy—whether it is increasing access to education for all or pressing for real health care reform, taking seriously the decision to go to war, or reducing poverty. Above all, the document expresses the signers’ commitment to the dignity of life and their belief that government has moral purpose”.

Yeah, Catholic social policy, as stated in Pius XXIII's encyclical, Democrati hoorah.

The bishops should declare the signers en masse as heretical, schismatic, and excommunicated. In the past, pro-abortion voices have counseled that this sort of action would create martyrs, would be “counterproductive and would bring great harm to the church”. Nonsense. There would be a fuss for a week, and the bishops, if they prepared themselves and their staffs to react aggressively, should welcome the opportunity to get their message out.


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