When Catholics vote

Thomas Wenski, coadjutor bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Orlando, Orlando Sentinel

October 30, 2004

On Tuesday, we Catholics will join our fellow citizens in exercising the right to vote. Voting is not only a right; it is a duty — for as Scriptures teach us, we are our brother’s keeper, and voting responsibly is one way to promote the common good of our brethren in society. The welfare of our communities depends on the people we entrust with public responsibilities.

In “Faithful Citizenship,” the bishops of the United States, while not endorsing any candidate or party, have tried to guide our people through the maze of complex moral questions that underline the public-policy positions espoused by the different candidates and their party platforms. While some resent the bishops for this particular exercise of their teaching ministry, many Catholics of good will welcome our interventions. And not a few wish us to be even more directive. We all should appreciate help in making difficult decisions — for a Catholic, prayer and the seeking out of good counsel — in this case, Church teachings on our civic responsibility for the common good — are important elements that help one arrive at the best prudential decision.

Democracy has worked in our nation because commitment to the common good has usually prevailed over narrow self-interest. Our system of checks and balances built into our governing structures by our Founding Fathers reflected an understanding of the human person founded in our Judeo-Christian tradition. One could rightly argue that our American revolution succeeded precisely because it reflected the truth about the human person — and other revolutionary ideologies (in France, Russia and Cuba, just to name a few places) failed because they did not.

Yet, today many in America are confused about the truth of the human person. More than terrorism, the tendency to moral relativism in our culture is the greatest threat to authentic democracy today. As the Pope said at the United Nations in 1995: “Detached from the truth about the human person, freedom deteriorates into license in the lives of individuals, and in political life it becomes the caprice of the most powerful and the arrogance of power. Far from being a limitation on freedom or a threat to it, reference to the truth about the human person — a truth universally knowable through the moral law written on the hearts of all — is, in fact, the guarantor of freedom’s future.”

Catholic social teachings — reasoned proposals about the nature of man and his dignity in society — are an important resource we can share with our contemporaries in this necessary dialogue in the public marketplace of ideas that is our democratic political process. Catholic social teachings recognize that God is the source of those rights deemed inalienable, and, since they were not granted by men or by states, they cannot be abrogated either by men or by states.

And whether as citizens or as elected officials, if we are to be faithful to the truth about the human person, we must oppose uncompromisingly policies and laws that undermine the common good precisely because they originate in a defective understanding of the human person. For this reason, the church — clergy and laity — while agreeing to disagree on other matters of prudential judgment cannot but oppose the evils of abortion, euthanasia, fetal stem-cell research, human cloning and so-called same-sex marriage. In these areas, there can be no other legitimate Catholic position.

Thomas Wenski is the coadjutor bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Orlando.

Read the entire article on the Orlando Sentinel website.


41 thoughts on “When Catholics vote”

  1. Well, if there is one particularly UN-democratic institution in the world, it’s the Catholic church. They have never been able to answer my metaphysical questions and reading this “article” I understand why i definitely turned my back on them for good 25 years ago.

  2. Having attended a Jesuit high school, I can say my experience of the Catholic brothers is that they were a deeply humble and passionate group, devoted to social justice and living out the Gospel with their lives through example. They inspired us to make our beliefs our own, not just a mere rehash of what we were taught.

    Certainly the Church as a whole is not without its moral lapses and doctrinal curiosities.

    I am curious as to what metaphysical questions you had … (though it’s unlikely I’d be able to provide any answers!! 🙂

  3. Not a single Christian has been able to answer this very simpke question : “If God is everywhere and sees and hears everything, then why do I have to go to church every Sunday and have someone talk to IT in my place?”

    The Catholics place a hierarchy where Jesus would destroy it.
    The Catholics ask money for pardon where Jesus would condemn it,
    The Catholics have almost empty churches but refuse to open their doors to let homeless people sleep in them.

    The Jesuits had this interesting feature that they were the only Christians “interested” in science; unfortunately, they were never as good at science as Jews, Mayas and Ancient Persians.

  4. In my opinion, going to Mass can be edifying but I really don’t believe that it’s absolutely necessary for one’s soul to the degree as taught by the Church (I know I’m probably going to be in trouble for this one) – meaning it’s not a “mortal sin” to not attend.

    HOWEVER … words and actions have meaning. We may love our spouse but without some display of that through words or actions, there would be no relationship. If we came home from work, sat in front of the tv and didn’t communicate or if we refused to engage in activities with them to “express” our love for them, they would reasonably question our commitment. So it is with the Church I assume. Church services are one way (!) among many of expressing a relationship with the Creator.

    Again, I’ll probably be excommunicated but that’s probably the jist.

  5. The love someone has for a spouse is not the same as the love you are supposed to have for God. It is not expressed by words but by actions or thoughts. No part of the Gospel says that Jesus commanded people to go to a temple/church/altar to pray. When Jesus wanted to “talk” to God he went away, alone in private or up a mountain in isolation.

    But you’re still not answering my question.

  6. Note 3


    Opening churches to let homeless people sleep in them.

    This is… adolescent. I have done volunteer work in battered women’s shelters and I have several friends who are professional social workers. People who are informed about the problem of homelessness will tell you that there are two groups which account for 80% of all homeless in America. The first group is the mentally ill, the second group are substance abusers. The mentally ill are doubly victimized in this society in that we do not provide publicly financed help in the form of mental hospitals or mental treatment centers. Additionally, we do not insure for mental illness as we can insure for say.. cancer or trauma injuries. Lastly, our Libertarian brethern in a flurry of activity in the 60’s and 70’s made it very difficult for the government to forcefully commit someone for involuntary mental treatment. The result is that there are thousands of schizophrenics who do not stay on their medication and because of the steep legal burden placed on the families and the government cannot be committed. These people represent nearly 40% of all homeless. Another 40% of the homeless are substance abusers. Substance abusers have a hard road to hoe. Even the best alcohol treatment programs have only a 30% success rate.

    The inescapable conclusion is that 80% of all homeless people need serious PROFESSIONAL CARE, not mere spots to sleep at night. Religious people should be able to reserve a few buildings for holy activities. It is the unfortunate fact that homeless schizophrenic people whose activities are not controlled by medication can do considerable damaged to themselves or others. Substance abusers who have not been treated are unlikely to forego their addiction while in Church buildings.

    The “romantic” ideas about the homeless and the totally unjustified charge against the Roman Catholic church and other churches by implication are ill-informed and simply not based on the reality of the problem confronting society. Mentally ill people and substances abusers need expensive, professional help.

    Secondly, the Roman Catholic church and many other churches sponsor many homeless shelters: places designed to accommodate people with problems. Having people sleep in a Church is absurd. Raising money to build decent shelters with trained professionals who can help addicts and the mentally ill is the best route. This route is followed by the Roman Catholic Church and many other Churches.

    The practice has been in many Methodist Churches which I am acquainted with to keep a small financial reserve available for people in distress who resort to the Church. Typically the Church will pay for a modest motel room for a couple of nights for a homeless person, long enough to locate some long-term options for help.

  7. Note 3

    Phonono: Have you ever really looked into the issues surrounding helping the homeless? I think not.

    In my metropolitan area, the major Churches and charitable institutions have banded together to maximize the benefit from their efforts to help the homeless. We have a Metropolitan Social Services agency that co-ordinates the efforts of private charities in providing shelters, short-term or emergency medical treatment, emergency food help and other such services. Sleeping in churchs? Give me a break.

  8. Phonono,
    Someone comes to you and wants to learn how to play the guitar. Would you sit with them on a weekly basis, begin with scales and slowly work through various exercises that ingrain the basics and which they must, of course, practice on their own, such that these basics become second nature? Or would you hand them a guitar, send them home and say come back in xx months and you shall be a virtuouso (sp?)? Hmmm?

    When I was in college I competed in rowing. I had to meet with the rest of the team on a daily basis so that we could learn how to row together effectively. It would do the team no good whatsoever if we all went our separate ways and tried to teach ourselves to row. We would look like a chaotic bunch of fools come raceday. Even the very best athletes (at least those who are blinded by arrogance) meet with their teammates regularly and practice the basics.

    I daresay that prayer and worship is at least as important as playing the guitar, rowing or playing professional baseball. In that sense, then believers coming together in one place at one time to do one thing is a way for believers to learn how to be better believers, how to be more faithful to the teachings of Christ.

    Regarding letting the homeless sleep in Catholic sanctuaries. I would hope that even an athiest could recognize that not all spaces should be treated as nothing but a bedroom. Even the Jews, Mayans & Ancient Persians (whom you seem to have some respect for) understood this. If my church wanted to change one of its outlying buildings into a homeless shelter, fine. But turning the sanctuary into a homeless shelter tells me that this is a place that cared little for worship.

    I hope you can ‘hear’ what I’m saying and are not merely throwing out your question in order to drive people away from something that you seem to think is harmful.

    I would ask you: Why the hatred of the Catholic Church? How did it hurt you?

  9. Note 3. I’ve been asked this question a lot. Yes, God is everywhere and He will hear your prayer anywhere. The fact is though, that when you neglect “the assembling of yourselves together” (as the scripture exhorts us to do), you will end up drifting from God anyway. You don’t go to Church because that is the only place God is found. You go to Church so you can find God in other places.

  10. I have experience dealing with the poor. There are two categories of the poor: 1) the chronically poor, and 2) the situationally poor. Chronic poverty is often due to psychological problems, drug abuse, etc. Situational poverty is due to financial setbacks, sickness, loss of job, etc. To help the situationally poor we housed homeless families rent free for six months, bought them a bus pass, supplied food, paid utilities, etc. Usually within four months they were back on their feet. We kept the chronically poor separated from the situationally poor otherwise all would fail.

    And to those tearing apart Wal-Mart and other places like that. These jobs are often the first rung out of poverty. The stores are located on bus lines, they hire anyone willing to work, they hire people with physical disabilities, and more. They have helped a lot of people get back on their feet. And once someone is back on their feet, they are able to grasp better opportunities when they come.

  11. Straying away and away from my question. I knew this would happen. And again, I don’t see much Christianity in an orthodox way in these comments. Except maybe James. But that’s normal. Religion has been hijacked. Everywhere. Islam and Christianity especially and more recently Hinduism. Mixing religion and politics is not a good cocktail. But i digress.

    For the homeless problem, I guess that we did not, until we decided to apply the same economical policies Reagan and Thatcher did, have the same homeless problem as we used to. In the United States the people/government have accepted the widening of revenue gap which has enriched the already rich and almost obliterated the middle class. Every time I have been to the United States I have seen vast spaces of cultural vacuum and forteresses of rich people in lush gardens with gates and guards. And to think that we’re admiring this over here. Wal-Mart wont solve the problem, it only makes it worse (Wal-Mart’s management acts like Chinese managers) but again, i digress.

    We have empty churches over here that would serve as shelter and could be used as a resource center for all the meek. But the Catholic church is supposedly strapped for cash. And what good does a priest do when it can’t help those people, really? Nothing. I see that there are charitable institutions banding together, that’s a start. But if you can’t accept 100% of the homeless, then you are far from the teachings of Jesus. I’m not talking about churches that are still used by parishioners, I’m talking about abandoned churches that are being turned into 100-300 K condominiums by insensitive materialists.

    Daniel, spirituality is not like learning guitar. You must have at least some raw talent to become good at it and even then, the gates of musical heaven are not always opened to the people who work the hardest. If I want to follow the teaching of Jesus, I dont need the ekklesia, I need to love everybody. And if i want to pray i must not do it publicily (that’s what Jesus said) but in the intimacy of the inner self. I dont hate the Catholic church, i just think that, from a historical perspective, they have done more harm than good, and that they are very far from what Jesus taught to the apostles. I became an agnostic (not atheist) because I have seen that religion, does not bring much good compared to the evil it spreads.

  12. Phonono writes:

    For the homeless problem, I guess that we did not, until we decided to apply the same economical policies Reagan and Thatcher did, have the same homeless problem as we used to. In the United States the people/government have accepted the widening of revenue gap which has enriched the already rich and almost obliterated the middle class. Every time I have been to the United States I have seen vast spaces of cultural vacuum and forteresses of rich people in lush gardens with gates and guards. And to think that we?re admiring this over here. Wal-Mart wont solve the problem, it only makes it worse (Wal-Mart?s management acts like Chinese managers) but again, i digress.

    Missourian replies:

    If you consult reliable sources you will find that the income distribution in the United States is among the least imbalanced in the world. Two reliable sources for that information would be the annual end-of-the-year economics review by the magazine “The Economist.” as well as economic statistic published by the United Nations. It is simply UNTRUE that the United States leads the world in inequality of income. You assertion that the middle class in America has been obliterated in sheer nonsense and not supported by any sound economic data published by any reputable source. Sorry, Phonono my first undergraduate degree was in economics and I know whereof I speak on this topic. Name some sources for your assertion besides the Guardian.

    I don’t think that “vast stretches of cultural vacuum” is very meaningfull. I have friends who are fourth generation Kansas farmers. They are good at what they do and they live in a nice home. They enjoy American country music, barbeque, and hunting. I suspect that Phonono would find their home to be an epicenter of “cultural vacuity.” Phonono seems to suggest that things are so terrible in the United States that well-to-do people have to live behind gates. Again, this is an ill-informed stereotype. England has a far higher crime rate than does the United States. Actual official published crime statistics show that New York City is safer for an unarmed pedestrian than is London. Condescension as to the level of crime is simply uncalled for.

    Latly, Walmart is not a social service agency. It is a business. As Fr. Jacobse said it has often hired people with low skill levels and given them a job. My Protestant work ethic states that it is better to have the dignity of a job than to be on the dole. I know that England has a much higher level of unemployment that does America. Where is the mercy in that? If an American has a low-paying job, he or she can still get some help from private charities and sometimes even from the government. At least the individual has something to do that gives them dignity. What is the dignity in being part of multiple generations of people on the dole? My friends in Germany tell me that there are many, many people who belong to families who have lived off the government for generations. We have them here in the United States but we aren’t proud of them. Why do Europeans think they have a superior system when their unemployment rate are 30% to 40% higher than ours.

    Phonono writes:

    We have empty churches over here that would serve as shelter and could be used as a resource center for all the meek. But the Catholic church is supposedly strapped for cash. And what good does a priest do when it can?t help those people, really? Nothing. I see that there are charitable institutions banding together, that?s a start. But if you can?t accept 100% of the homeless, then you are far from the teachings of Jesus. I?m not talking about churches that are still used by parishioners, I?m talking about abandoned churches that are being turned into 100-300 K condominiums by insensitive materialists.

    Missourian writes:

    Phonono, Fr. Jacobse is an ordained preist who has worked with the poor as a professional caregiver. I have some experience as a volunteer. We gave you some very concrete explanations of what the true homeless problem consists on here in the United States. You didn’t reply to that. I support government funding for mental institutions and for mental health therapy. No one here disagrees with the need to provide for people. Your comments were a dig at the religious institutions. In my community, I think the religious institutions do a very good job by working together in an inter-faith manner to conserve resources available to give emergency help to people. It isn’t perfect, but, in my town no one who can get to any church or synagogue will go without a meal and safe place to sleep for starters. This is given with no questions asked. If the person wants to work to improve their lives the clergy are prepared to help them find long-term help. My city and my community are not heartless.

    I am not familiar with the fiscal affairs of the Roman Catholic church, but, your comments are naive. Any building, particularly large buildings must be maintained in order to serve their owners in a safe manner. If the number of people in congregations shrinks, there is simply not the income to support the building. Churches being turned into condoes by “insensitive materialists.” What are you talking about? If the Church needs money then it should sell property. It is sad that it may have to sell a Church structure and I believe the structure goes through a ceremony of deconsecration before it is sold for secular purpose. Better to sell the building to raise funds to help people. By the way, no one is more materialist than someone with an empty stomach and a coat too thin for the weather.

    Phonono writes:

    Daniel, spirituality is not like learning guitar. You must have at least some raw talent to become good at it and even then, the gates of musical heaven are not always opened to the people who work the hardest. If I want to follow the teaching of Jesus, I dont need the ekklesia, I need to love everybody. And if i want to pray i must not do it publicily (that?s what Jesus said) but in the intimacy of the inner self. I dont hate the Catholic church, i just think that, from a historical perspective, they have done more harm than good, and that they are very far from what Jesus taught to the apostles. I became an agnostic (not atheist) because I have seen that religion, does not bring much good compared to the evil it spreads.

    Missourian replies:

    The difference between atheism and Christianity lies in the question of whether a God exists and if so, whether Jesus is the incarnation of God. This question is unaffected by the actions of human beings who happen to be officials of any Church. The question is whether you believe in Christ, not whether you believe in Fr. (fill in the blank). Human beings will always dissapoint at one time or another. Christianity teaches that we are imperfect. Discovering that someone who is a clergyperson is also imperfect is not exactly shocking news and it doesn’t contradict Christian theology.

    If the Catholic Church has done more harm than good then you must state that whatever harm it has done (ususally the Inquisition is cited here, maybe the Crusades) outweighs what good the Church has done. Please remember that the Roman Catholic Church under Pope Paul and other popes have reache out to Jews and has apologized for improper behavior in the past. So if you hold that against the modern Church you, yourself are rather unforgiving of a repentant group of people.

    So, the terrible harm that you believe the R.C.’s have done have outweighed the following:

    A) Building literally thousands of elementary and high schools providing education for millions and millions of people in more than 100 countries. In America, Catholic schools have served underprivileged immigrant populations with distinction for more than 200 years.

    B)Inspiring architects to build some of the most glorious architectural wonder of the world. Including things like the Sistine Chapel.

    C) Inspriing artists to paint and draw some of the most transcendent art the world has known.

    D) Inspiring musicians to compose some of the most inspiring music ever known.

    E) Inspiring missionary doctors to travel to places lacking in modern medicine and to bring with them healing for the sick.

    F) Buildling literally thousands of institutions of higher learning open to all regardless of religious faith. Supporting the highest levels of scholarship in all fields of endeavor.

    G)Building and maintaining thousands of food pantries for the poor and shelters for the homeless.

    H)Building and maintaining thousands of hospitals and clinics serving entire communities.

    Sure, seems like a very dastardly institution to me.

    You know in the end Phonono you are very harsh and condemnatory in your judgments. Very hard to please it seems to me. Tell me which society on this earth meets your high standards of moral correctness?

    Remember it was militant atheists, the Communists, that killed over 100 million people in the 20th century. Don’t you think they deserve some of your moral condemnation? They left their people impoverished materially, intellectually and spiritually.

  13. It appears you have little experience with the homeless problem. Homelessness is largely (although not exclusively) a problem of psychological and emotional impairment. Drug addiction has a lot to do with it.

    Opening churches as shelters won’t cure the problem. In fact, placing non-professionals and untrained volunteers in homeless shelters is dangerous policy. Churches should certainly support homeless shelters, and many do, but churches are not equipped to deal with homelessness directly.

    The exception would be the situationally poor that I wrote about upstream, but this is a different situation than the chronically homeless on the street. Many churches support these efforts, such as the one I described.

    As for the idea that Reagan’s policies hurt the poor:
    Michael Novak writes about the progress made by Blacks during the Reagan era in Reagan and the Poor. Drawing from census data Novak writes in part:

    Altogether, Reaganomics created some 19 million new jobs. Between the end of 1980 and the end of 1988, black Americans alone got 2.4 million of these new jobs. The numbers of the black employed jumped from 9 million to 11.4 million in that short period ? a jump of more than 25 percent.

    Black income jumped, too. In constant 1988 dollars, the total annual income earned by all 30 million U.S. blacks together rose from $191 billion at the end of 1980, to $259 billion by the end of 1988. That sum was larger than the GDP of all but ten nations in the world.

    The number of black families earning more than $50,000 per year much more than doubled, from 392,000 in 1982 to 936,000 in 1988. The median salary/wage of black males increased from $9,678 in 1980 to $14,537 in 1988 (in current dollars). Median means half earned more than that, half less, so more than half of all black males improved their income by more than 50 percent.

    The bad news during the Reagan years was that the number of single-parent black families continued rising, as it had since 1960, this time from 1.9 million to 2.2 million families. Government, of course, does not mandate this most personal of choices, and except indirectly can do little to affect it. Nonetheless, single female-headed households have long been the fastest growing cause of poverty. In these years, they caused the measure of income inequality (the gini coefficient) to soar far higher (.450) among blacks than among whites (.382).

    Correcting this growth of female-headed households awaited the next burst of progressive politics, once again on the part of Republicans. Democrats strove mightily to protect the status quo on this front until Bill Clinton, to his credit, at last supported Welfare Reform in 1996.

  14. phonono,
    Your anger and hurt are palpable, and yet I also see a real hunger for the truth. What follows is based on my own reading of the Scriptures(Old and New Testament), the Fathers of the Church, liturgical texts, and my own experience.

    First of all, God is everywhere, but He is not an amorphous gas, He is a triune person who seeks to have a deep and abiding inter-communion with His creation that He loves in an ineffable way. He also wants us to share that love and communion with one another in worship, in celebration, in play, in service to one another. To this end He calls us to Himself and to community. Both the individual response and the expression in community are necessary to fully partake of the salvific gift and experience. Satre said, “Hell is other people”, well that can certainly be true, but it is even more true that Heaven is found in other people. Those who respond to the call of our Lord are a people of God, not just better individuals. As a people, we must assemble, indeed are commanded to assemble together in His name. He tells us that, where two or more are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Mary in her beautiful song of praise in Luke, says, “My soul doth magnify the Lord”. When we come together in worship, the presence of the Lord in earth is magnified as He shares the gift of His Body and Blood with us and we are reunited with Him and with one another. The assembly of the people of God is also necessary for us to fulfill another of our Lords commandments, that we bear one another’s burdens. The bearing of burdens works in a number of ways, 1. we can share our hurts and receive love and support; 2. we experience the sins and other short comings of others and have the opportunity to practice forbearance, patience, love and forgiveness; 3. We see the effect of our own sins and are faced with our own ongoing need to repent and seek forgiveness of God and of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

    When my family first came to my present parish we had gone through a series of quite hurtful experiences with a bad priest(primary reason we changed parishes). A brand new priest at our new parish approached us in an abrupt and unfeeling way and boy did he get it–all of our anger, frustration, hurt, and fear were unleashed on this man. Two wonderful things happened. #1 Several of the parish folk around heard our confrontation(they couldn’t miss it) and came to us immediatly to share their concern for us (not condemning us) and imploring us to stay. #2 The priest did not respond in kind, he prayed for guidance during his celebration of the liturgy over the next few weeks and he came to us an sincerely sought forgiveness for his offense. By God’s grace we became friends. His act of humility and the love of the parish enabled us to grow into forgiveness for what had occured in the past, and heal the wounds.

    1st and foremost the Church is a place of healing (or should be). It takes a lot of courage to become vulnerable to hurt once again, but in the right community, healing can occur. Through participation in the communal liturgical life of the parish, I am made stronger by the grace of God, less susceptible to temptation and more easily healed when I do fall.

    The hierachy in the Orthodox Church is far different than in the Roman Catholic Church. The whole dynamic is different, more flexible and healthier (obviously, not perfect).

    I hope and pray that my words approach your question.

  15. phonono, the answer to your question is that God seeks your love, freely given, and that we must learn how to love and that’s why we go to church. We must regularly be reminded of God’s desire for our lives and receive comfort and strength along the ways, through the reading of the Word and the participation in Christ’s ultimate act of faith in his Father, which allows us too to be children of God. Look at the actual content of the Mass or the Liturgy, not just the seemingly arbitrary demand for attendence by the church.

    You made the rather odd statement that the church is undemocratic. Well, yeah. It’s a hierarchy. And it’s not something that Jesus would destroy, because he too established the basic hierarchy that the church still has as its basis. Jesus took to himself disciples who would learn from him, then go and teach and bear witness to the rest of the world. Hierarchies are not automatically evil, just as democratic rule is not automatically good. (Although I’m enjoying Election Day!)

  16. Note 16


    There is an old saying “we become like the people we spend time with.” If we are lucky to have access to a living church, we can spend time with people who are more spiritually mature than we are, people who may have life experiences that resemble ours and who have already worked out some of the problems we need to work out.

    If we spend all of our time with secular people, we will have to be very strong to remain faithful and not allow the influence of the secular around us to overcome our principles. The world is constantly sending out the message that our financial net worth is the same as our personal worth, or that our physical looks are paramount to our happiness and many other lies. Why pass up help in life from people who are interested in you as a person, not as an employee or customer.

  17. There is so much to reply to and all I did was watch the election of the president of a country that amounts to only 0,05% of the world population. And to no avail… I’d like to reply to each and everyone of you in a polite and reasonable manner but I have a son to take care of, a university course to prepare for students eager to learn about adaptation and their exam results and a family reunion wit a cousin who now lives in France and i wish i’d see more than once a year…

    Peace be upon you.

  18. Well, phonono, your comment to my response shows me that you really aren’t interested in any answer that doesn’t fit your worldview. I’m sorry for that. I’m sorry that you are not really interested in seeking anything other than support for your dislike of religion. I am sorry that you see the Catholic Church as a source for nothing but harm in the world. Something happened to you that led to this hatred. Call it what you want, distance yourself from it all you want, but it comes through loud and clear in what you write. Anyone who thinks that the Church “does not bring much good compared to the evil it spreads” hates the Catholic Church specifically and the Christian faith as practiced by millions of people throughout the world.

    You don’t want to know why one must attend liturgy. You only want to drive those who faithfully attend worship service away from those services. You only want wander around, proud of your “enlightened humanistic agnostism”, throwing stones at other peoples’ windows.

  19. Note 19

    Sorry Phonono. You have lost the debating point. You cannot just drop in long enough to made an ad hominen attack on Bush, then, plead lack of time. You have enough time to go and look for an audio file which you thought made Bush look bad.

    Just answer the question. If Bush is soooo stupid why he is President? If you are more intelligent the Bush, please point to accomplishments which are equivalent to say… being Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States of America? What type of fighter plane have you flown solo? None? Have you lead the effort which has resulted in 8 million people out of 10 million eligible voters participating in their first election and electing their first President? There are many points on which Bush may be criticized, but, stupidity is definitely not one of them. Ol’ Bill Clinton himself described Bush as a “brilliant politican.” I would say leading one’s party to dominance in the Presidency, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the State legislatures and the State governorships is quite an historic accomplishment. Bush’s name will be reverred in Afghanistan long after our names are lost to history.

    Lack of time is not a defense. Respond in 24 hours or you lose this round Phonono.
    Don’t hit the ball over the net, if you can’t answer the return hit.


  20. I think “shrewd” is a more apt description of Bush than “brilliant”. We have spent the last four years in a pretty much continuous state of “alert” from these Terror Warning levels. Now it’s orange, now it’s yellow, now it’s PINK! Up, down, up, down. Should I be nervous or downright terrified? If we’re not on anti-anxiety medication, we’re in the minority. Things were summed up pretty well by Cheney who deftly played the “fear card” by saying a vote for Kerry would pretty much guarantee another 9/11.

    Does anyone really think that the “war on terror” is a war that can ever be won, anyhow? We may as well think we can rid the world of manic depression or insanity. There will always be murderers and crazies. Always. We had one born in the US called Timothy McVeigh who blew up a federal building, if I recall. He was no Muslim extremist, either, but a militant whose favorite authors were Washington, Jefferson and Adams (both of them). Remember Waco? I’m not sure what they were planning on doing with all of those weapons but I can assure you it wasn’t to trade them at a flea market for pennywhistles and Moonpies.

    Bush may as well promise to rid the world of evil singlehandedly. People who murder will be with us inside and out of our borders, no matter how many terror alerts we have, no matter how many border police we have or how many baggage screeners we employ in our airports.

    Kerry would have maintained a budget for homeland security so that we may take reasonable precautions against another terrorist attack. That’s all we can do. Some are hoping for an all-out religious war against Muslims. I pray that things do not escalate to that through our rhetoric and actions.

  21. Father Jacobse: Here is where I totally agree with you and will acknowledge Democratic shortcomings: Soul-searching by Democrats in the wake of yesterday’s debacle should foucs on the party’s position regarding the abortion issue. Democrats need to change their stance because (1) their present position on abortion is wrong, and (2) otherwise it will be used as a wedge issue against them in future elections.

    Personally I don’t want to see abortions outlawed, I want to see them reduced through better education of our young people, and discouraged through a series of public health initiatives, encouragement of adoption and financial disincentives. Roe v Wade should not be maintained as a constitutional Maginot Line defending legal abortion, because at the core of the Roe v Wade opinion is the false and immoral assumption that the fetus is not a person.

    Instead of propping up Roe v. Wade, Democrats would do better to acknowlege abortion as a troubling moral problem, and address it as an undesirable behavior that society has an urgent public interest to discourage and reduce, like smoking, drug use or unprotected, promiscuous sex in an age of HIV.

    The vote yesterday proved that moral issues loom as a huge factor in voter’s decisions, even larger than their own economic well being apparently. Democrats need to acknowledge that for the majority of mainstream American voters, abortion represents a major issue of great moral significance.

  22. Note 21


    You are an intelligent person. You are capable of distinguishing between Timothy McVeigh and Al-Queda. Since 1979 the Western world has been under seige by jihadis. The perpetrators can be identified. They many times identify themselves. It is not all murky mystery. Large and identifiable groups of people, who have geo-political goals are supported directly and indirectly by governments. Without governmental tolerance, most of these groups would not exist. The groups frequently recruit before our eyes and publish their goals and aims on the internet.
    Granted fighting an amorphous cob-web of jihadis is daunting, but, fight them we must. September 11, 2004 was not a mirage, it really happened. Do you remember the people who actually doubted that jihadis were responsible for 9/11? Do you remember some Arab commentators trying to blame Mossad or the CIA? Well, we have it by admission from OBL now.

    Progress can be made. Afghanistan is far better off than it was. Iraq has a chance now, if we are forceful enough. We can shore up healthy, democratic societies in Afghanistan and Iraq and put them in a position to fight the jihadis. The jihadis come from their own societies and the Afghanis and Iraqis can recognize them and fight them more effectively than we can. We just have to give them the Iraqis and the Afghanis a chance to take control of their own country. We may never be able to eradicate the last homicidal maniac who things the killing pleases God, but, we can capture enough of them so that young people do not think that they are Aran princes.
    We can bring their recruiting to a halt.

    It is disturbing, to read such a hand-waving, “whatever” response to the incineration of so many of your fellow citizens. It is never pleasant to fight, but, we must. Our enemies have not relented. As the wolves wait at the edge of the settlement, so they wait for us to slumber.

  23. Afghanistan now derives one-third of its gross national income from the Opium trade. It is broken up into fiefdoms controlled by warlords. It’s President Harmid Karzai controls little more than the capital Kabul, and its environs, and survives only because he is protected by the US military. Afghanistan’s women still must conceal themselves behind the Burqaa. Better off? That’s debatable.

    What candidate did the American cities that were the victims of terrorism on September 11th (NYC and DC) select? That’s right – John Kerry.

  24. Note 25

    Very good Dean I was waiting for this argument. The opium trade is a very big problem, no doubt about it. Karzai has mentioned it several times publicly and the new government acknowledges that this is something that the new government will have to tackle.

    On the good side, the non-drug economy in Kabul is booming and Afghanis from all over the world are coming home. There is no more ringing endorsement than people who vote with their feet.

    As to exerting control, Karzai needed true legitimacy before he could make bold moves to exert control. Now that 8 million of the 10 million voting age adults have voted, he has legitimacy. His people understand that he is truly their representative. He is now in a position to take measure that he could not earlier. It is also true that during these three years, several former warlords have become politicians, a very, very good sign. Also during these three years, Karzai’s Afghan army has gotten a good start. Karzai need 1)legitimacy and 2) an army of his own to challenge the warlords.

    As to women, young girls are going to school in greater numbers, even in the face of violence. Some women in some parts of the country are abandoning the burkha. In other contexts you appear to be a Muslim apologist. You referred to the Temple Mount only as Muslim holy site, neglecting to take into account that it was Jewish created Jewish Holy site for a millenia before the founding Muslim warlord cut off his first head. You express concern for Muslim sensitivities about there appropriated Holy Site but not Jewish sensitivities over a militant religion that has appropriate the Temple they built. Given this you should celebrate your Muslim appreciating heart that the women of Afghan continue to cover themselves and accept the premise that women are the sole cause of sexual immorality and men have no responsibility for their own sexual self-control.

  25. Dean, I had a precious night off and watched all the cable channels this evening listening especially to the liberal side. Katrina vanden Heuvel (Dutch name meaning “from the hill”), editor of the Nation, was on Chris Matthews. Listening to her I thought “she sounds just Dean Scourtes.” Same points. Same debating style. Same train of logic. Same sense that Bush voters are either foolish dupes or right wing wackos. Same self-assurance that her ideas (along with cohort Ron Reagan Jr.) ought to be accepted as self-evidently true.

    Then I thought, I wonder if “The Nation” is where Dean gets his talking points? So I did a little study. Sure enough, all the Afghanistan points you make upstream are on the Nation site this week (“Who Rules Afghanistan“). Then there is healthcare (“Poor Plans for Healthcare“). Global warming, economics, all the pet issues that have your progressive ring are found there.

    Now I understand as well why you move from one topic to the next. First of all, new topics are available with every update of the Nation. Secondly, the point is not to discuss the topic, but to enforce the notion that progressivist morality is the only legitimate moral vision to hold. It appears that in your view that progressive politics and Christian morality are one.

    I bring this up because note #32 appears to address the Democratic problem but really doesn’t. The admission doesn’t go deep enough. The real problem is the progressivist (hard left) moral vision to which post-McGovern Democratic leadership is captive. A small compromise on a moral issue doesn’t touch that vision in any appreciable way. The Nation exemplifies this hard left stand and most the present leadership probably takes guidance from it. It appears you do as well.

  26. Chief Justice Rehnquist is gravely ill with Thyroid Cancer. Today President Bush told people who voted for John Kerry that he seeks national unity. In fact since he only received 51% of the vote a government of national unity pursuing more moderate policies would be more appropriate.

    If Bush is sincere about wanting national unity one way to show it would be to nominate a moderate as the next Supreme Court Justice. If Bush nominates a radical strict constructionist instead, we will see that his words are, as usual, empty and what he really means is he has no regard for the wishes of the fifty-one million Americans who selected Kerry and could care less what we think.

    One political wag quipped today “I nominate John Ashcroft as Chief Justice. Let the healing begin.”

  27. Dean, so the only way for national unity to occur is for Pres. Bush to be ruled by the Democrats anyway thus disenfranchising over half of the country. Obviously, you have no faith in the wisdom of the people. I guess I do need to point out that your friend uncle Billy never even approached 51% of the vote. More of your fellow citizens want Bush as President than any man in history. That ought to tell you something. In any case, if any concessions are to be made, it is usually the loser who has to make them. Man, get over it, let Bush be President, that is what he was elected to do. Unity and peace do not come through appeasement, Dean either domestically or internationally. What are you afraid of?

  28. Note 57

    The Presidency is a “winner take all” elective position in American constitutional law. If you have the electoral votes you are President, if not, you are not. It is healthy for the system that the President has a clear majority, not just a plurality, as we have had several times recently. Parliamentary systems have divided power systems. The Presidency is all or nothing proposition. Different President enjoy different degrees of success in their administration based on their political skills and the degree to which their party controls Congress. Bush’s coattails were very strong. Republicans consolidated important gains in the House and Senate. This is an historic win.

    Somehow, I don’t think the historic win will impress Dean. I think that if Bush discovered the cure for lung cancer, Dean, would point out that Bush had failed to cure baldness.

  29. Sorry Phonono. You have lost the debating point. You cannot just drop in long enough to made an ad hominen attack on Bush, then, plead lack of time. You have enough time to go and look for an audio file which you thought made Bush look bad.
    Lack of time is not a defense. Respond in 24 hours or you lose this round Phonono.
    Dont hit the ball over the net, if you cant answer the return hit.

    I don’t want to go over the reasons why I didnt answer right away but it seems i have to repeat myself. I had a son to take care of, a university course to prepare and then give out, followed by a family reunion. I took a 5 min break at the University library to balance the unfairness i showed to you when i said you were pretentious (since i do not know you) but you don’t seem eager to turn the other cheek like Jesus would say but rather tighten your position like a Pharisian but that’s ok nobodys perfect, especially me (I’m just a human, and all humans have been created equal, no? then Bush has no more right than me of being president, no? or are some humans more equal than other?).

    Here we are now it’s half past midnight and i think i’d rather go to sleep but i’ll just tell you that Bush was NOT selected by almost 71 percent of the voters (40 % did not vote and he got 51% of 60% which is a little more than 30% of the voters) which means not a big show of support. I am fully at liberty to express my opinions and doubt on that election and i still think it is unfair that 30 % of the adult population of a country amounting to 0,05% of the world population can have an influence on 99,95% of the world population. What happened to the UN? I didnt say that Bush was (or is) stupid. I just said that you have a much better definition of sovereignty than he does. What’s wrong with that? I cannot praise you and make fun of someone at the same time? Why can’t i make fun of Bush? Am i only allowed to make fun of Kerry or Nader? That’s bigotry and i do not respect that.

    And if i have to respect a curfew or a 24-hour limit on an Internet debate… well, what’s the point of Internet? I know myself and I know that if I do not ponder on things i might overreact.
    “He that is quick to anger will commit foolishness.” (Proverbs 14:17)
    Don’t worry though. I will not take 40 days to ponder the rest of the debate…

    Peace be upon you, even with a war president… (and I am quoting Bush saying “I’m a war president, not making anything up!)
    OK. One a.m. I’m pooped. I want to be able to smile to my son when he wakes me up.

  30. phonono, it’s an informal debate. You don’t need to drag out the Pharisees (note the correct spelling) and turning the other cheek. For another reason as well: somehow nonbelievers think they have the right to hold Christians to standards of behavior to which they themselves do not hold. You make it sound like Missourian is persecuting you. She isn’t. Relax, concede the point if you have other things to do, and bring it up again some other time if you like.

  31. Note 33

    Bill, you are very chivalrous. I amend my 24 hour comment, Phonono, take as much time as you like. Let me rephrase the question without any inference of animus.

    Why were you interested in the obscure constitutional questions surrounding the legal theory of American Indian tribe sovreignty? My assertion is that any reasonable person would conclude that you offered the tape as proof that Bush can be inarticulate at times.

    Since no one was discussing American Indian Tribe sovreignty it is logical to conclude that you wanted to demonstrate that Bush can make a bad verbal presentation. At this point in history, that is not news, and it constitutes an ad hominen attack. An “ad hominen attack” is the practice of attacking a person rather than engaging and challenging the ideas of the person. Example: “I think that Freud was a stinky old curmudgeon.” Pointing out that Bush lacks verbal smoothness, is at this point in the debate, an ad hominen attack. I have readily conceded that there are many Bush policies (not personal traits) which are ripe for criticism. I would be happy to listen and discuss rational criticisms of Administration policies. I have every right in the world to challenge mere ad hominen attacks, and I will continue to do so.

    Some comments on your last reposte. If you don’t have time to participate in a blog I am sympathetic. But if you post, you should expect to have a response. Heaven knows that Dean leaps on my every word! ( chuckles and smiles here)

    In a democracy, people who don’t vote, don’t count. They choose not to count, so it is fair to ignore them, they have chosen that fate. Some countries, like Australia, I believe, require voting. I don’t think we should. I don’t want uninformed people voting “for the heck of it.” This last American election was very healthy in that turn-out for all age groups, all geographical areas, both sexes and both parties was very high. This is good. This means that the election has a high degree of legitimacy and everyone knows that. America has a “winner takes all” election system for President. I love that, how robustly American. We need a strong and effective exeutive branch in time of war. All responsible Americans will want the President to succeed.

    I can remember when I was a tiny child and my parents voted for Nixon over Kennedy. The morning after the election I asked them something about Kennedy and they said “He is our President and we want him to do well.” I have never forgotten that graciousness, it is a great example. It would have been hard for me to take that approach with Kerry but that would have been the correct approach.

    News from Russia tells us that jihadis are willing to shoot children in the back. News from Iraq tells us that jihadis are willing to behead aid workers who are in Iraq to do nothing but good. News from Holland tells us that a filmmaker was shot then stabbed then nearly decapitated in the street of Amsterdam because he criticizen Islam. The Free World needs a leader. Bush is what we have. I would suggest that we will pray that Bush is a success.

  32. Nos. 28 & 31. One of the roles of a Christian is to be a healing force in society, and America needs healing right now.

    Read “Red, Black and Blue: The bruising presidential election leaves voters on both sides nursing wounds and wondering how to heal the national divide.”

    If you want to unite Americans and heal our nation’s sharp and severe divisions, than you have to compromise. Compromise doesn’t mean conceding, it means making a sincere effort to find common ground with the people on the other side of the aisle. If you won’t compromise, then you’re not serious and sincere about wanting to unite America and heal our nation’s wounds. You don’t heal the nations wounds by saying, “it’s my way or the highway”

    I really don’t think Republicans are serious about uniting and healing America. When they say unity they mean they want Democrats (To quote Bill O’Reilly) should just “shut-up!”. I think they are just happy ignoring and demonizing 49% of the electorate, demonizing and ignoring people like me.

  33. Dean, if you don’t believe that Republicans can be conciliatory, then why should they seek reconciliation with you? You’ve already made up your mind. If you are convinced you are demonized, then it doesn’t matter if others try to demonize you. They’ve already succeeded! If you believe in healing, you should be open to it yourself. Sometimes I think you are licking your wounds in order to keep them from healing.

    Democrats more than Republicans need to reconsider their positions. Democrats poured EVERYTHING–hate-filled documentaries, protests and rhetoric, wild accusations, occasional acts of vandalism and violence, two major falsifications of issues by national media, and huge sums of money into defeating President Bush, and they FAILED. Failed miserably, because in addition to the first pure majority in the popular vote for President, Republicans gained greater control over both houses of Congress, state governerships, and state legislatures, and won the vast majority of referendums on gay marriage. This isn’t just victory at the polls. This is a mandate.

    Republicans need to practice their increased power with wisdom and humility, to be sure. Kipling’s “Recessional” comes to mind: “God of our fathers, be with us yet, lest we forget, lest we forget!” But Democrats, at least Democrats like you, need to stop whining and assuming your moral superiority. Pull yourself together, drop the persecution complex, at least try to regain your ability to conduct a civil, respectful conversation, and let’s get some things done together in this country. The election is over.

  34. Note 35


    Compromising as a means of “healing”

    I am not going to apologize for the structure of the American government established by the Constitution. For the most part, the Constitutional structure has served us well. We still have a democracy and the Constitution does not allow minority parties to be abused. Issues are debated in Congress and then voted upon. Issues need to be resolved so that we (the American government) can take action. The Democrats have the power in Congress that they won from the American people through the voting process. They are free to use that power. The Courts still function to protect the essential rights of Americans.

    There are issues upon which compromise is possible (size of the federal budget for education) and there are issues upon which compromise is not possible for a principled party or person (partial birth abortion). When to compromise and when to stand firm is a difficult decision which each person has to make very frequently.

    Elections are devised to DECIDE something. The decision is necessary so that the country and TAKE ACTION to promote its welfare and protect its interests.

    Bush will have to get his legislation through Congress and he will need Democratic votes to do that. There will be compromise on many issues. Query, after an historic defeat at the hands of the American voters, which party should do more compromising?

  35. Bill writes: “Democrats poured EVERYTHING: hate-filled documentaries . . .

    Maybe getting suckered into a war on the basis of false information has that effect on people.

    Bill: ” . . .protests and rhetoric . . .”

    No! Protests and rhetoric? Say it ain’t so! There should be a law . . .

    Bill: ” . . . wild accusations . . .”

    Oh, you mean about that affair with an intern. Wait a minute that was about Kerry. You must mean the stuff about Bush’s medals and war service. No, no, that was Kerry too. You mean about Bush being cited for drunk driving with his minor sister in the car? No, that actually happened. You must mean that he refused to take his flight physical. No, that happened too. Oh, you mean the accusation that the stuff that Bush said about WMD in Iraq was false. Well . . .

    Bill: ” . . . occasional acts of vandalism and violence . . . ”

    No doubt coordinated from the very top. I can see Kerry and Edwards huddling together: “Ok, which lawn sign should we steal next?”

    Bill: . . . “two major falsifications of issues by national media . . .”

    Yeah, let’s look at that one. Item 1 — CBS presents false documents, the content of which was true, sez the personal secretary to the fellow whose documents they were purported to be. Item 2 — the NYT reports that the U.S. failed to secure a weapons complex a couple of days prior to information being available that confirmed that in fact the U.S. failed to secure the weapons complex.

    Compare that to in effect having your own personal “news” network, in addition to hundreds of radio talk shows around the country.

    Bill: ” . . . and huge sums of money into defeating President Bush . . .

    In contrast to the Republicans, who funded their campaign with bake sales?

    Bill: ” . . . and they FAILED. Failed miserably . . .

    Well, if close to half the popular vote is miserable then I guess it was miserable.

    Bill: “Republicans need to practice their increased power with wisdom and humility.”

    Since they didn’t practice their decreased power with wisdom and humility, what makes you think they’ll do it now with increased power? You have a president who thinks he should be able to declare someone, even a citizen, an enemy combatant, and be able to hold the person indefinetly, interrogate the person without regard to any international law or treaty, with no trial, no legal representation, no contact with the outside world. If this is humility, what’s arrogance?

  36. What type of compromises are talking about exactly here?
    Here are a few ideas:

    a) Permit the ban on PBA with the sole exception of needing to protect the life of the mother.
    b) Leave references to God in the Pledge and within State houses. In return, any other religion may place their icons of their beliefs within the walls of government institutions, whether it be Buddhist, Hindu or Muslim upon their request.
    c) Ban gay marriage at the federal level which would effectively forbid extending federal benefits such as Social Security to gay couples. In return, gay couples can enter into mutual contracts which allow them to share State benefits such as insurance policies at universities, default survivor benefits, etc. Basically allow State benefits. If Ted Bundy can marry his prison pen pal off my dime, I can’t see why two men can’t.
    d) Allow a federal ban on assisted suicide in return for allowing the use of already existing stem cells for research to cure the diseases which cripple the lives of thousands every year.

    Were I President (haha), this is how I would approach my Congress.

  37. Regarding the “life of the mother” exception to Partial Birth Abortion. This is the argument Kerry put forward as to why he voted against the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act. A Partial Birth Abortion has never, I repeat, never been done to save a woman’s life. No doctor has claimed that it is neccessary to kill the child in order to save the mother, after the child has reached a point where it could survive outside the womb. If a woman’s physical health is somehow threatened by continuing a pregnancy it is more likely that a c-section or birth inducement could take place in order to remove the child, saving both mother and child. There actually have been cases where this was done, though I think this was done while the mother was dieing of other causes unrelated to the pregnancy.

    For the pro-abortion lobby mental health is included in “life of the mother” exception language. And it is just false that a Partial Birth Abortion has to be done to protect a woman’s physical health.

    So I disagree with James that a ban on Partial Birth Abortion requires any kind of limitation. The horrendous act should be banned without any exceptioins.

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