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Open season on Catholicism
Catholic Culture ^ | November 16, 2012 | Phil Lawler

Posted on 11/17/2012 5:21:32 AM PST by NYer

It’s open season on Catholicism. In Ireland and in Australia, public opinion is being whipped into frenzy in crusades against Church teachings. In both cases the arguments are thoroughly irrational.

Let’s examine each case rationally.

The Irish case

Savita Halappanavar, we are told, was already miscarrying when she reported to the hospital in October. We don’t know what the doctors said or did, because the hospital has—quite rightly, protecting the confidentiality of medical records—declined to comment on the case. News reports allege that she asked for an abortion, and the doctors refused. We don’t know whether those reports are completely accurate. We do know that the reports are confusing, because a woman who is having a miscarriage cannot have an abortion; it’s medically and logically impossible. A miscarriage ends a pregnancy; in fact miscarriage is also known as “spontaneous abortion.”

But let’s assume, for the sake of the argument, that doctors refused to hasten the process that was ending this ill-fated pregnancy. And let’s assume, too, that the doctors refused because they felt the laws or Ireland and/or the laws of the Catholic Church prevented them from taking the action necessary to save Savita Halappanavar’s life. If that is what happened, and that is what the doctors thought, then the doctors were wrong!

The moral teachings of the Catholic Church require doctors to treat the life of an unborn child as precious—but not more precious than the life of the mother. If the lives of both mother and child are in jeopardy—as was evidently the case here—doctors are morally obligated to do whatever is possible to save both lives. If the life of the unborn baby was already doomed, as a miscarriage was beginning, the doctors were morally obligated to devote their attention to saving the mother’s life.

As for Irish law, the existing statutes allow for abortion if it is necessary to save the mother’s life. If the facts of this case have been accurately presented, the doctors had the legal authority to perform an abortion (or hasten the miscarriage, if that is a more accurate description).

So when editorialists cry that the Irish laws must be changed, to eliminate the influence of Catholic teaching on abortion laws in such cases, they are wrong in two respects. First, Church teaching did not forbid the doctors from taking appropriate action to save Savita Halappanavar’s life. Second, existing law gave doctors the authority to do what they needed to help the poor woman.

Something went badly wrong in this case, and Savita Halappanavar did not receive the medical treatment that she needed. But the tragedy cannot rationally be laid at the feet of the Catholic Church or the Irish abortion law.

The Australian case

The Australian government has formed a commission to investigate the abuse of children, and the top question on the minds of political commentators is whether the commission will demand that Catholic priests disclose what they have heard in sacramental confessions.

The Church in Australia is certainly vulnerable; the stories about sexual abuse by priests have been both shocking and yet at the same time depressingly familiar. There is abundant evidence that Church leaders ignored complaints of clerical abuse, shuffled abusive priests off to new assignments, and covered up evidence. However—here’s the first critical point—this evidence has been drawn from diocesan personnel files and other public accounts. There’s plenty of evidence already on the record, and much more available in chancery offices. The federal commission might read through the diocesan files and find damning evidence; that’s roughly what happened in American sex-abuse cases.

But—here’s the second critical point—that evidence has absolutely nothing to do with sacramental confession. The confessional seal is absolute; a priest can never disclose what he has heard from a penitent. So if there is material in the diocesan files to show that a priest was known to be abusing children, that material did not come from sacramental confessions. By the same token, if a bishop or priest hears reports of abuse outside the confessional, then he is obligated—certainly morally obligated, and probably legally obligated as well—to pass those reports along to civil authorities.

So if the Australian investigatory commission finds documentary evidence that bishops and priests have protected predators, those bishops and priests deserve whatever condemnation they will receive. But the documents—which should be readily available to the investigators—will have nothing to do with the Catholic practice of sacramental confession.

A straightforward investigation would examine the documentary records first, and worry later about other potential sources of evidence. So why has this debate about the confessional seal erupted, even before the investigation begins? It is not paranoid to note that Prime Minister Julia Gillard has frequently been at odds with the Church on moral issues. Nor is it irrelevant that her main political rival, opposition leader Tony Abbott, is a Catholic who is well known to take his Church’s teachings seriously. So an attack on the confessional seal—a sacramental discipline that few Australians fully understand—can yield some political dividends.

In Ireland and in Australia, the attacks on the Church are political and opportunistic. In Ireland, doctors may have made a fatally bad decision—again, we don’t know that yet—and commentators have been quick to blame not the doctors but the Church. In Australia, diocesan officials have protected abusers, and commentators are pinning the blame not on those corrupt officials but on the sacrament of Penance. In each case, a calm logical analysis shows that the attack against Catholicism is misguided. But all sorts of attacks, misguided or not, are likely when it’s open season.

TOPICS: Catholic; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics
KEYWORDS: abortion; australia; ireland
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1 posted on 11/17/2012 5:21:38 AM PST by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; SumProVita; ...


2 posted on 11/17/2012 5:22:51 AM PST by NYer ("Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." --Jeremiah 1:5)
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To: NYer

Meanwhile in the USA, the majority of Catholics continue to vote for their oppressors and then lament the outcome.

3 posted on 11/17/2012 5:42:48 AM PST by bella1 (As it was in the days of Lot.....)
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To: NYer

It seems like there are those in Australia who would have had the investigation focus solely on the Catholic Church. Opposition leader Tony Abbot and Cardinal Pell made sure that the invetigation would include all accusations of child abuse and cover up in any institution.

There is certainly an element in Australia who intensely hate the Catholic Church and will try anything to foment hatred towards it.

As an example a TV news story the other day was up in arms about how Catholic School fees where going towards paying for the victims of child abuse. Turns out that the Church self insures throug a Catholic Insurance company which Catholic Schools also insure through - Talk about a beat up. Still I find it is only stupid lefties who willingly fall for this stuff!


4 posted on 11/17/2012 5:48:34 AM PST by melsec (Once a Jolly Swagman camped by a Billabong....)
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To: NYer

First the hanging, then the trial.

5 posted on 11/17/2012 5:48:45 AM PST by count-your-change (You don't have to be brilliant, not being stupid is enough.)
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To: NYer

Another thing we know is that abortion always kills one person and sometimes two. That more people die having abortions than died because they don’t have them.

6 posted on 11/17/2012 5:56:46 AM PST by Venturer
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To: NYer

7 posted on 11/17/2012 6:25:45 AM PST by SkyPilot
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To: melsec

We have enemies because we stand up for the weak and the helpless.

8 posted on 11/17/2012 6:27:27 AM PST by JCBreckenridge (They may take our lives... but they'll never take our FREEDOM!)
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To: melsec
There is certainly an element in Australia who intensely hate the Catholic Church and will try anything to foment hatred towards it.

It is by no means confined to Australia. I have seen it even on this site.

9 posted on 11/17/2012 6:31:20 AM PST by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing)
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To: SkyPilot
Wow ... 95% of black protestants voted for Obama despite admonitions to the contrary by their pastors. What a surprise! (/sarc)
10 posted on 11/17/2012 7:04:12 AM PST by NYer ("Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." --Jeremiah 1:5)
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To: NYer

Ping for later.

11 posted on 11/17/2012 9:26:05 AM PST by BlackElk (Dean of Discipline, Tomas de Torquemada Gentlemen's Society. Broil 'em now!!!)
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To: bella1

What makes you think those voters are lamenting?

12 posted on 11/17/2012 10:35:46 AM PST by vladimir998
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To: Smokin' Joe; NYer
No kiddin’.

It's a funny thing that people who like to point at Catholics who are democrat have never bothered to look beyond the "social justice" propaganda and see where the problem really started. It wasn't just due to powerful democrat machines in cities, either, or even the appeal to immigrants. Those are popular myths and/or popular democrat propaganda memes, but they're not the heart of the reason why Catholics became mostly democrat.

People in their fifties and sixties these days have grandparents who drummed it into the heads of their children to never trust the Republican party because the Republican party demanded that it be illegal for the Catholic Church to operate schools. The Republican party, in fact, was the driving force behind ending voucher systems and giving state run schools a monopoly on all education. The democrat party promised to keep Catholic schools legal even if the vouchers system went away. They also promised to prosecute people who were part of mobs that burned Catholic properties rather than ignoring it. Given that oft overlooked fact, it's no real wonder Catholics avoided and ignored the Republican party. Nor is it surprising that people who saw Republicans trying to totally outlaw Catholic schools drummed it into the heads of their children to stay away from the party that advocated outlawing Catholic schools. Having parents who made sure they knew that history the WWII generation passed that same outlook along to their children who came of age in the sixties.

People in the sixties generation wanted to be just like the majority in this country who believe in going along to get along and adapted their religion to suit themselves. They left the Catholic Church to embrace contraception, abortion, out of wedlock sex, and a lot of other things the Catholic Church spoke out against but that no one mentioned in non-Catholic denominations. The "social justice" garbage began as a marketing tool to keep the hippie generation interested in the democrat party in spite of the fact that young people were leaving the Catholic Church. People who left the Church eased their guilt at abandoning their Catholic upbringing by lapping up the democrat propaganda lie that supporting a government power grab is the same thing as caring for others. Plenty of weak Catholics, including priests and Bishops, went along with the social justice lies for the same reasons. They wanted to be accepted and also thought latching on to "social justice" would help stop the loss of young people. As willing saps wanting acceptance, they were all easy marks for the manipulators in the democrat party.

There are without a doubt a lot of Catholics who refuse to vote democrat and just don't vote at all. They look at the way the democrat party has become anti-Christ, the constant stream of anti-Catholic slop on many conservative sites, and the fact that even when Catholics do vote for conservatives they're not welcome in most conservative circles, then just stay home. In addition, there are more than a few Catholics who refused to vote Romney just like some Evangelicals did. I've also run into Catholics who say they haven't voted since Reagan because they can no longer stomach the democrat party but aren't welcome in republican circles where they live.

I went to pro-life events starting in the late seventies and it was the late-eighties before I ran into more than occasional non-Catholic at such events. At some of those demonstrations there were people passing out anti-Catholic tracts by "He Who Cannot Be Named" to Catholic pro-life folks rather than pro-life material to passersby. While at that time I wasn't Catholic, I was upset that rather than focusing on the pro-life task at hand some people were so rabidly anti-Catholic that they would rather drive people away from pro-life events than stop spreading lies and beating their propaganda drum for an afternoon. When you really study the situation and look at history rather than thinking the world didn't exist prior to the sixties, there's only one surprise in the voting numbers; the surprising number of Catholics who turned out to vote while so many millions of others stayed home.

Loudmouths who throw Catholics out of the boat and then complain about evil "papists" splashing around in the water are a perfect example of why conservatives come up short in national elections. Whatever those throwing Catholics out of the boat think they're achieving, the only real result of their efforts is to drive people away by reinforcing the democrat propaganda lie that portrays all Conservatives as anti-Catholic bigots. Without a doubt, for every Catholic they drive away they drive away at least one non-Catholic who sees no point in re-fighting sixteenth century Protestant/Catholic religious battles while the nation burns to a crisp. People driven away from the conservative cause more often than not sit out elections, but given the power of Federal vote buying programs, being on the sidelines helps democrat fascists just as much as voting for them.

The majority of non-Catholic Christians on FR are just that, Christians who aren't Catholic Christians, separated brethren but brethren none the less. Those who can't resist attacking fellow conservatives over religious differences may or may not be Christian, but they're definitely ignoring what Christ Himself said on the topic of casting out devils.

Luke 9:49 "And John, answering, said : Master, we saw a certain man casting out devils in thy name, and we forbade him, because he followeth not with us."
Luke 9:50 "And Jesus said to him : Forbid him not ; for he that is not against you, is for you."

Anyone who thinks forcing democrat scum out of office and defeating the democrat fascist machine isn't the same as casting out devils just hasn't been paying attention.

13 posted on 11/17/2012 10:44:25 AM PST by Rashputin (Jesus Christ doesn't evacuate His troops, He leads them to victory.)
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To: Rashputin

That was all very interesting, thanks. My friends who, like me, are converts from the 1990s or later, will be interested in the history, especially regarding education.

14 posted on 11/17/2012 11:02:00 AM PST by Tax-chick (Are you getting ready for the Advent Kitteh?)
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To: Rashputin

“I went to pro-life events starting in the late seventies and it was the late -eighties before I ran into more than occasional non-Catholic at such an event....”

And then on with the rest of this paragraph in your post.

My family joined with many other Catholic families from all over our diocese to work very hard for the pro-life cause after Roe V. Wade came into law in 1971.

Not only were we subjected to ugliness and outright vitriol by the pro-choice groups, but—like you say in your post-—we also ran into anti-Catholic groups who joined in with the pro-choice people in their vitriolic “lies and propaganda” and used our work and rallies and efforts as a springboard to vilify us.

It was well over a decade before the non-Catholic Christians came aboard and begin to join in the pro-life work. They were, without a doubt, welcomed to the effort.

As an interesting sidenote: Bernard Nathanson, the leading icon for abortion in the 70’s, actually converted to the Catholic Church and died a Catholic. I was able to have a good conversation with him in the time after his baptism.

“The man who is in Christ Jesus is a new creation” St. Paul

15 posted on 11/17/2012 11:07:51 AM PST by Running On Empty (The three sorriest words: "It's too late")
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To: Rashputin

PS about Bernard Nathanson: the process of his conversion began when he was invited to a Pro-Life gathering (by Catholic pro-lifers) in Washington, DC when they had a big convocation there. He actually accepted. The rest is history.

16 posted on 11/17/2012 11:30:30 AM PST by Running On Empty (The three sorriest words: "It's too late")
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To: NYer

Nothing new about Catholics being persecuted. Long enduring history of it . Won’t stop until the end of time.

17 posted on 11/17/2012 11:33:46 AM PST by TASMANIANRED (Viva Christo Rey)
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To: Tax-chick; Salvation
I have some links on that topic around here somewhere and will forward them to you if I can find them again. Bet you dollars to donuts Salvation has some links on the topic; Salvation??

One of my favorite and clearest examples, though, is this Thomas Nast drawing that was widely circulated at the time:

You can find a larger copy of that image and there's a lot of interesting stuff in the details.

I also like the one that portrays Catholic Bishops as alligators coming ashore to prey on innocent school children who are in Catholic schools because their parents choose their school:

Without the voucher system, so the theory went, all children would end up in public schools. In reality, Catholic families made absolutely incredible sacrifices to send their kids to Catholic schools even after the voucher system was ended.

When I first heard of all this when I was a kid and a neighbor's dad told us about it. I didn't think much about it back when I was ten, so it languished among cobwebs and old canned goods at the back of my brain until I started reading up on the history of this sort of things just a few years ago. Then I looked for something about Republicans wanting to end Catholic schools and found a good bit.

I'm not sure whether the country was caught up in this because Republicans pushed it, or it was the Republicans who got caught up in it because it was popular. I do know how Catholic old folks who I've talked with saw things at the time and I also know how democrat propaganda fostered that outlook.

One thing for sure, I never heard of Republicans working very hard to overcome the accusations of anti-Catholic bigotry until this past election season, and even that effort was far from universal.


18 posted on 11/17/2012 11:56:20 AM PST by Rashputin (Jesus Christ doesn't evacuate His troops, He leads them to victory.)
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To: Running On Empty

Man, I didn’t know that but I’m glad to hear it. Amazing.

19 posted on 11/17/2012 12:05:49 PM PST by Rashputin (Jesus Christ doesn't evacuate His troops, He leads them to victory.)
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To: Rashputin

In the 19th Century, you had Pope declaring Americanism a sin, and denouncing the Enlightenment ideals of the men who founded this country (none of whom were, in turn, fans of Romanism).

20 posted on 11/17/2012 12:06:21 PM PST by Clemenza ("History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil governm)
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