Eight Things To Love (or Not Love) About 2016

Photo credit: Peter Stevens via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The 2016 presidential race is now in full swing, and so much has been going on. Candidates have been putting their feet in their mouths and moderators have been starting fights while the rest of the us try to deal with issues of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Here are eight things to love and strongly dislike this election season:

Love: The Catholic Bishops

The bishops have recently come out with a statement saying that Catholics who support abortion and euthanasia are in formal cooperation with evil. Formal cooperation means you are directly involved in the evil act even if you are not partaking in it. What does this mean for the Catholic vote? Catholics who wish to remain in good standing with the Church cannot vote for pro-choice candidates. I applaud the bishops for proclaiming their beliefs in a time when it is not popular to be Christian or pro-life.  While many politicians will do anything for power, the USCCB reminds us that policies never trump principles.

Don’t Love: Moderators

The moderators this year have been an absolute mess. Almost every question has been a total joke. They’re so bad that the candidates won’t even answer them (shout out to you, Governor Kasich). I will have to give them some props, however. During the CNBC debates, the GOP candidates became a glorious, conservative team fighting in the name of a fair and quality debate. On top of that, terrible moderation makes for very entertaining television. Continue Reading

Does the Pope Want to Undercut His Own Authority?

Pope Francis (photo credit: Aleteia Image Department via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

As I write I do not know what the final synod report will say. One of the drafters described it as being more questions than answers. “The questions will be clear,” said Oswald Cardinal Gracias of Mumbai at a press briefing Thursday. “The answers will not be so clear.”

So, after a two-year rollercoaster ride toward this synod, the Church may be left embracing more questions than answers, which is to say issues that have been considered closed for 2,000 years will likely remain open questions in Catholic life for the foreseeable future.

Absent a strong intervention from Pope Francis to affirm the Catholic teachings, the result is likely to be a profound dislocation in the authority structures of the Catholic Church.

We know that many synod fathers made powerful arguments in favor of the unbroken, distinctive Catholic teaching on marriage, drawn straight from the words of Christ and affirmed by Saint Paul. We now also know, thanks to the modern world, of the many bishops and cardinals who really wish to give Communion to people living in second marriages while their first spouse still lives. We cannot un-know what was on display, thanks in part to Pope Francis’s desire to build a more authentic church, with less hypocrisy, to let us in on the secret, to be frank about where the Church is.

We know from polls and from parish life that many, many ordinary churchgoing Catholics do not support many Catholic teachings.

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Rush Limbaugh Gets Pope Francis All Wrong

Pope Francis (photo credit: Aleteia Image Department via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Rush Limbaugh recently unleashed a scathing attack on Pope Francis as uttering Marxist doctrine.  Rush really got it wrong.  According to his official transcript, Rush inveighed:

Now, as I mentioned before, I’m not Catholic.  I admire it profoundly, and I’ve been tempted a number of times to delve deeper into it.  But the pope here has now gone beyond Catholicism here, and this is pure political.  I want to share with you some of this stuff.

“Pope Francis attacked unfettered capitalism as ‘a new tyranny’ and beseeched global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality, in a document on Tuesday setting out a platform for his papacy and calling for a renewal of the Catholic Church. … In it, Francis went further than previous comments criticizing the global economic system, attacking the ‘idolatry of money.'”

I gotta be very careful.  I have been numerous times to the Vatican.  It wouldn’t exist without tons of money.  But regardless, what this is, somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him.  This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope.

I, too, am not a Catholic.  I consider Roman Catholicism the IPO of my own Tribes’ Start Up, taking Jewish theology and ethics from a tiny tribal affair to the Big Board.  That said, my admiration is perhaps more profound than that of El Rushbo.

The very first op-ed I wrote was in the Albany Times Union over 30 years ago, during the Cold War.  Continue Reading

Republicans Should Take a Hint from Pope Francis

Pope Francis (photo credit: Aleteia Image Department via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Amidst increasingly louder calls to separate religion and politics, the media frenzy surrounding Pope Francis’ visit to the United States shows just how far our culture is from this point.

Some are shocked that the head of the Catholic Church could hold so much influence over the country’s political process.  But considering that Catholicism is the largest religious denomination in the United States, and that Catholics have picked the presidential winner 9 times out of the last 10 elections, it is a small wonder the 2016 Republican candidates will be listening closely to what the Pope has to say.

Yet whenever we try to politicize the Pope’s comments, it seems we can’t nail him down as Republican or Democrat.  As the caricature goes, on abortion and gay marriage he’s a Republican, but on questions of immigration, the death penalty, climate change, and income inequality Pope Francis would definitely vote Democrat.  And depending on how bad of a New York Times interpretation of the Pope’s comments you’ve been reading, you might be inclined to say he would even vote Democrat on gay marriage.

In the words of Des Moines Bishop Richard Pates, the situation has often left Catholics feeling “politically homeless.”  So what is a conscientious Catholic voter to do?  Or any conscientious voter, for that matter?

Rather than getting caught up in the speculations and laughable distortions of Pope Francis’ “political leanings,” there are two more level-headed approaches that both voters and GOP candidates should take to experience the #PopeinUS. Continue Reading

Is This Photoshopped Pope Picture Offensive?

Today, DC Pizza, a Washington pizza chain, sent around an email with a doctored photo of Pope Francis celebrating the Mass and holding a pizza up in place of the Holy Eucharist.  DC Pizza likely intended no offense.  Nonetheless, its email is a callous disrespect for Catholicism.

We make our objections known in peace and with hope, charity, and faith in the Risen Lord.

Emmett McGroarty is the executive director of APIA Education. Continue Reading

Pelosi is Not the Pope: Rubio is Right on Marriage

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (photo credit: US Department of Labor via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

In a recent interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Marco Rubio took a firm stance on his views on same-sex marriage. Rubio expressed his opposition to same-sex marriage and contended that there is a clear and present danger to Christians who defend traditional marriage based on their faith since those behind the same-sex marriage rhetoric nowadays refer to traditional marriage supporters as homophobes and characterize those beliefs as hate speech:

“After they [same-sex marriage supporters] are done going after individuals, the next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church, is hate speech. That’s a real and present danger,” Rubio said.

After Rubio’s interview, Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi appeared on “MSNBC Live” attacking Marco Rubio’s ‘failed’ Catholic faith, arguing that based on her “mainstream catholic” faith and upbringing, Rubio’s position was intolerant and against our nation’s direction on the issue. She then went even further, asserting Pope Francis would not subscribe to Rubio’s faith-based position towards marriage:

I thoroughly disagree, being raised in a Catholic family, raising a Catholic family, mainstream Catholic – well, the Baltimore catechism, to get back to our hometown of Baltimore, was what we were raised on. And I think that this statement by Senator Rubio is most unfortunate. It’s a polarizing statement. The fact is, is that what we’re taught was to respect people in our faith and to say that this endangers mainstream Christian thinking is so completely wrong.

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