Wednesday, October 20, 2004

"Rambo Catholics"

Good post at Laudem Gloriae. They respond to Notre Dame professor M. Cathleen Kaveny's Wall Street Journal op-ed detailing the "rambo Catholics...trying to bully their fellow American Catholics into voting for George Bush."

Yet another Notre Dame professor, M. Cathleen Kaveny, has chosen to respond to Professors George and Bradley's article. The first line of her Op-Ed:

A few members of the American hierarchy and a number of influential and aggressive conservative lay Catholics are trying to bully their fellow American Catholics into voting for George Bush.

She proceeds to call such people "Rambo Catholics" because of their all-or-nothing approach to the abortion issue.

To see why, ask yourself what their rhetoric commits them to doing if Kerry wins.

She then presents a parade of horribles with the imagined actions such Rambo Catholics would pursue in the dire case that Kerry is elected our next Commander-in-Chief.

Would Rambo Catholics pressure the US Bishops to bless an armed revolution against the American government? Would their call now be for faithful Catholics to secede from the United States, to form another Holy Roman Empire? Are they really ready to lead us into another Civil War? Or if they are not ready, would the only reason be the prudential consideration that they are not likely to win? If they don't advocate full scale revolution, what forms of guerilla tactics will they allow to disrupt the workings of the government?

With all due respect to Professor Kaveny, whom I respect (she was my Contracts professor in my first year of law school), I find this litany unhelpful. It sets up a straw man, which is easily knocked down; her essay fails to deal with the substance of George and Bradley's complaint. She accuses the opposing side of using "inflammatory rhetoric," and yet her use of the label "Rambo Catholics" is supposed to be benign? It's a caricature, pure and simple. There are a number of us who, if Kerry were elected president, would not launch a full-scale assault on the government but rather continue to do precisely what we're doing now for the pro-life cause: lobby, speak out, demonstrate peacefully, and most of all, pray.

She then makes this argument, drawn from St. Augustine's De civitate Dei:

The faithful, the members of the City of God, cannot expect to set up a political government on this earth that is free from injustice, even gross injustice. Augustine argues that political life East of Eden will inevitably entail an admixture of good and evil, by divine design. God suffers the wheat and tares to grow alongside one another in the City of Man until the end of time; to attempt to uproot the tares, particularly by violence, may well inflict untold harm upon the wheat.

True enough. But having to live in the midst of injustice is one thing. Actively advancing the interests of one who facilitates evil by placing him in one of the most powerful positions in the world is another.

Her argument is akin to saying: I not only have to accept the fact that my next-door neighbor is a pederast and has harmed a number of children while escaping detection by the law; I am also free to vote this pederast to be Mayor because he's got great ideas on cleaning up the streets and shortening lines at the drugstore, etc. And the other candidate is overly harsh on crime (locks 'em up and throws away the key), while our guy is more compassionate. Of course, he's publicly admitted he will reform ordinances to facilitate closet pederasts' attempts to target children--but his other great ideas outweigh this little problem.

And Professor Kaveny, like so many others gets the Ratzinger memo wrong:

Cardinal Ratzinger has recently clarified that it is not always wrong for a Catholic to vote for a politician who supports legalized abortion, provided that she does so not in order to support abortion, but in order to achieve other essential aspects of the common good.

Proportionate reasons. That's the phrase that keeps getting left out of these quotes of Cardinal Ratzinger's so-called position. What evils are proportionate to the evil of abortion? The deliberate slaughter of civilians, as in the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the firebombing of Dresden, is proportionate, I believe, to the evil of abortion. But nothing like that is going on today--the Bush administration certainly does not support such wholesale slaughter.

Frankly, I often wonder whether Catholics who find proportionate reasons in the Iraq war or the death penalty have any idea as to the reality of abortion, and what it is. They must not understand the reality of this evil for them to support a man who wants to extend government funding to promote it. Of course, I can't speak for Professor Kaveny. But it is the only way I can understand her position. And this argument being cast around that voting for someone as radically pro-abortion as Kerry will actually diminish the number of abortions is, well, ludicrous. I think Professors George and Bradley dealt with that one adequately.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, you EVER gonna talk about chemical abortions caused by contraceptives or embryos thrown away at fertility clinics? Ever?

3:13 PM  

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