I love fisks; writing them and reading them. Most of the time, I like to fisk people who are being dopey about a particular fandom, or on writing, or something like that. But every now and then, there’s a Catholic idea being circulated that’s just begging for the wrath of Lori the Geek Organist to be visited upon it.
Yes, folks. A lot of times, some Catholics get it wrong. Normally, I’d just move past it (it’s hard to argue politics and religion, after all), but when the aforementioned idea is posted on the internet out there for the whole world to see and people actually believe that garbage, I just have to smack it down.
So, today’s episode of Fisk It From Orbit is brought to you by Rebecca Bratten Weiss (someone who apparently dislikes capitalization) with her opinion on “the difficult and uncomfortable non-negotiables of the gospel teaching.”
Given the title (once you manage to piece together what that strange, uncapitalized title even means), you’d think this whole post was a “duh” moment. Nobody (except, on occasion, our separated Protestant brethren, of course) thinks that only part of the Scriptures apply, or that what Christ said was optional. I mean, come on. We’re Catholics, right?
Well, according to Miss Bratten Weiss, that’s not correct.
Now . . . I’m going to try really REALLY hard not to be too nasty in this fisk; we’re all Catholics here, right?
As usual, the original post is in italics, and my commentary is in bold.
So, we’re talking about the non-negotiables – again.
Who’s “we,” and when did “we” ever talk about that?
It may seem that having a list of things on which one may not negotiate is a lovely way to simplify the question of how to vote with moral responsibility.
Hold on, I’m confused. Are you trying to be hip, or intellectual? I can’t tell.
But, if one were to derive from the non-negotiables an ethical approach to the rest of life, outside the voting booth, problems would very quickly arise.
I guess that answers that question. Stop trying to sound like an intellectual. It’s not working. And besides, what exactly are you talking about? Non-negotiable what? I suggest you define your terms before you start slinging them around.
I’ll assume from the context up to this point that you’re talking about “non-negotiable” Church Teaching. Fine. If we “derive” from those “non-negotiables” an “ethical approach to the rest of life, outside the voting booth,” WE’RE DOING EXACTLY WHAT WE’RE SUPPOSED TO DO. We’re not PCs (pseudo-Catholics); we don’t leave our religion in the church on Sunday and then go out and do whatever the hell we want the rest of the time. So . . . if that’s what we’re supposed to do, why would “problems quickly arise?” Do, tell.
First of all, according to those who promote the non-negotiables in politics,
And who might they be? Sources? Examples? . . .
Uh-huh. Right. People, I think we have a strawman.
there are only five moral issues on which one may not negotiate: abortion, euthanasia, stem-cell research, cloning, and homosexual marriage.
Only? I really hope you’re playing devil’s advocate here, because otherwise, I’m worried about your theology. But, let’s just take the argument at face value, shall we?
And it’s bunk. When did anyone–Catholic or otherwise–ever say that we can “negotiate” on whether or not to condemn the violence in Chicago, where gang-bangers murder ten-year-olds? Or, we can “negotiate” on whether or not we should condemn the slaughter of police officers? Or we can “negotiate” on whether or not to stop human trafficking and the sex trade of minors?
We’re Catholics; we stand against evil in all its forms, not just those five you apparently just picked out of thin air and used as an example. Show me what Church authority figure listed those five things specifically as the “only” ones we’re supposed to be concerned about.
Main and Water.
Oh, I’d better explain that. It’s an old saying from my dad’s hometown in New York. Main Street and Water Street met at a big, busy corner right in the middle of downtown. In this town, if you told someone a story, and they scoffed and said, “Main and Water,” what they really meant was: “If that’s true, I’ll kiss your ass at Main and Water and give you a week to draw a crowd.”
So, yeah. Main and Water.
If we translate the negotiable / non-negotiable binary into personal ethics, does this mean that as long as we avoid these five things, there is wiggle room on other matters?
There’s that straw man again! Either something is wrong, or it isn’t. Period. End of story. There isn’t “kind of wrong,” or “just a little bit wrong,” or “sometimes wrong.” Once again, I really hope this is a devil’s advocate argument to make a point; otherwise, I’m worried. If you’re serious, whoever taught you your morality is in big trouble.
If non-negotiable refers, as Catholic Answers states, to “matters of the moral law that have been taught definitively to be intrinsic evils that can never be voted for or supported in any way by Catholics,” does this imply that other matters of the moral law might be supported, in daily life, outside of voting?
Tim Staples is no slouch, and you can take what he says as true. The problem with that link is that it isn’t actually a source of Church Teaching; it’s an advertisement for a speaking event with Tim Staples, where he would talk on those subjects and elaborate. Of course, the description is accurate; those five items are intrinsically evil, and Catholics can never support any of them. Period. But to take that list of evil items and pretend that those are the ONLY evil things in the world we should stand against is completely ludicrous. And, last time I checked, no one had actually ever suggested such a thing. Danger, Will Robinson! There’s a Straw Man ahead!
Does this mean that when it comes to slavery, torture, or rape, it’s okay to sometimes support them, just a little bit, in one’s private life?
I really REALLY hope you’re playing devil’s advocate here. If not, you’re assuming that because those five evil items have been specifically condemned, that the others are okay; and if that’s the case, I have to ask: what are you smoking? Nobody in the Catholic Church has ever advocated for such a thing, not that I’ve ever heard, anyway. It’s more often the case that PCs will condemn things like the death penalty and then turn right around and approve of abortion and euthanasia, which also makes no sense. You’ve just taken the PC’s usual argument and flipped it around. And guess what? Both arguments are wrong.
Or, take orgies. Are orgies negotiable, in the life of the individual person, so long as they are orgies held for the sake of some objective common good – maybe, a (negotiable) orgy fundraiser, to raise money to stop (non-negotiable) abortion ?
I can’t believe I just read that.
. . . brain . . . can’t . . . comprehend . . .
Hold please. Lori must reboot.
I REALLY hope this is supposed to be satire; the fact that I can’t tell is a problem, especially if non-Catholics were to read this post. They’ll all think we’re unreasonable, insane, bible-thumping crazies.
Once again, taking the argument at face value, you’re saying that IF these five evils are “non-negotiable,” THEN everything else must really be okay. That’s completely preposterous. Maybe, if we knew the content of Tim Staples’s actual talk, instead of just what the advertisement said about it, we all might be a little clearer on what he meant by “non-negotiable” and why he chose those five particular things for his topic.
Just because those five things are never okay, it doesn’t mean that nothing else is evil.
If certain acts are always objectively and gravely wrong in daily life, then they should also be non-negotiable in the arena of politics.
Thank you for confirming that bit of fifth grade Sunday School.
One could perhaps argue that in the world of public policy, some things are acceptable in the right context, or for the sake of the common good.
Uh . . . no. It’s never okay to murder someone, not even for the common good.
But if I can’t have an orgy, or torture someone, for the common good, in my private life, then politicians shouldn’t get to promote this, either.
“For the common good” and “in my private life” are mutually exclusive. And what did I say earlier? If it’s wrong, it’s wrong all the time. This is a false distinction, and the Catholic Church is certainly not the one promoting such a thing. Again, I hope you’re playing devil’s advocate here.
Secondly, if orthodoxy is important to you, it’s important to note that the typical list of non-negotiables is neither formulated nor promulgated by the teaching authority of the church;
Sorry, you’re just plain wrong about that. I have a long, LONG list of non-negotiables for you right here:
This list has been both formulated and promulgated by the authority of the Catholic Church. Pick up a copy; it’s cheap–actually, the complete version is free online–and a good read-through will solve most misconceptions about Church Teaching. That list of five things you hunted up on Catholic Answers–the one you yourself quoted and linked to–wasn’t just pulled out of thin air by Tim Staples; again, IF YOU HAD GONE TO THE TALK, INSTEAD OF JUST QUOTING THE SUMMARY AND ADVERTISEMENT OF THE TALK, I’m sure Tim would have quoted the above document as support for his list of five important things.
But, you didn’t do that. You just read the headline and constructed your little straw man so that you could poke it with a stick; hopefully, again, making a point, but let’s face it, you didn’t do that very clearly.
Nope. Just a stick.
rather, it is drawn up by various media organizations run by laypersons, and carry no magisterial weight.
Um . . . YOU’RE THE ONE WHO USED TIM STAPLES’S LIST AS YOUR SOURCE! Maybe you weren’t playing devil’s advocate after all; I’m even more confused now than I was before.
Marc Barnes at Bad Catholic writes that, if we are going to have a list of non-negotiables drawn from actual church teaching, we would do well to follow Pope Benedict. Barnes quotes Benedict’s statements from “Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life”:
Yeah, I clicked on that link. That guy is just as bad, making a straw man and then shooting little arrows into it. But I don’t have the time or the patience to fisk the both of you, so back to my original point.
You were saying, about what Benedict XVI says regarding politics and Catholicism?
“When political activity comes up against moral principles that do not admit of exception, compromise or derogation, the Catholic commitment becomes more evident and laden with responsibility.”
Oh, look at that. Someone quoting the pope!
The Pope mentions the life issues Catholic Answers lists, then goes on to argue that “this is the case with…the freedom of parents regarding the education of their children,” “society’s protection of minors and freedom from modern forms of slavery (drug abuse and prostitution, for example),” “the right to religious freedom,” and, just to be horribly papal about the whole thing, “the development of an economy that is at the service of the human person and of the common good, with respect for social justice, the principles of human solidarity and subsidiarity, according to which ‘the rights of all individuals, families, and organizations and their practical implementation must be acknowledged.’”
Um, those quotes are cherry-picked and strung them together with little cutesy statements of your own. Wait . . . they aren’t your own. They’re this other layperson’s, not the pope’s. So, you did exactly what you condemned a couple of paragraphs up: you listened to the media and a layperson, and not what the Church actually said.
I’m definitely confused now. You seem to be serious about this, rather than just making a point.
So, obviously, if we’re talking about moral issues on which we may not negotiate, we’re going to need a bigger boat.
Actually, I don’t think so. If you want to name each little sin individually, yeah, you’re going to need a gigantic boat. But if you’re talking about which politician to vote for–which seems to be where this article is headed, after going ’round Robin Hood’s barn–it’s pretty simple. Don’t vote for the person who promotes evil things. There. The end. I summarized the choice in a single sentence.
Of course, to make that work, you actually have to have a properly-formed conscience, that recognizes an evil when it sees one. So, yeah, maybe it’ll get a little more complicated. The moral formation of Catholics has mostly sucked for the last sixty years; hence the problems of society now. But that’s a different topic.
The third problem we have to confront is: what do we mean by “support”? Take abortion. If a candidate speaks the correct formulas for personally opposing abortion, but enacts policies that lead to an increase in abortion rates, would supporting this candidate be the same as supporting abortion?
I can’t tell if you’re being serious or not. If you are, that would be a big and completely obvious
Remember the whole “actions speak louder than words” cliche? Well, stuff is cliched for a reason. Usually because it’s true.
I suggest that instead of looking at the formal beliefs a candidate claims to hold at the present moment, one should instead look at his or her record of policy-making, and attempt prudently to discern whether such policies have a history of reducing abortion rates.
Um, this isn’t anything new.
Some might call this “negotiation”–
Who? I don’t know a single person who would. That’s just judging the actions of a politician and not what they say during their re-election campaign. That’s just smart. I suggest looking up what the word “negotiation” actually means.
– but, in reality, this is a responsible look at ethics as pertaining to actual objective goods and evils in the world (I know, Kant would be horrified. Tough).
What does Kant have to do with anything?
There’s a certain mind-body dualism inherent in the belief that it matters more what a candidate believes, than whether actual human beings end up saved or killed.
Okay, now I’m REALLY confused. I have no idea what you’re talking about. “Mind-body dualism” my foot. What a candidate believes usually goes right along with what they do; the problem is only the difference between what they SAY and what they DO. There’s no “mind-body dualism” involved. Just mouth-action dualism, I’d say. Do they do what they say, or are they liars? That’s what I’m worried about in a politician. You’re just building up more straw men. So:
Thank our western philosophical heritage for getting too serious with the skepticism stuff.
You seem to be struggling to get basic Catholic Teaching correct; so why would I believe a word you say about “western philosophical heritage”? Most Americans wouldn’t know real philosophy if it came up and asked them what a transcendental was, so why bother bringing it into the discussion?
Oh. Straw men.
Now, we know when looking at ethics that on one hand there’s the question of objective morality, but on the other there’s the question of culpability. So it’s possible to say some act is always, objectively, non-negotiably wrong, and at the same time to recognize that a person performing this act may not be fully culpable – or, indeed, culpable at all.
Yeah, that’s so basic, I think a second-grader would know it. The criteria for a mortal sin. The first one is KNOWLEDGE. You have to KNOW it’s a mortal sin for it to count against you when you do it (plus the other two: consent and grave matter).
And because mortal sin involves not only grave matter, but also full knowledge and consent of the will, those who go about preaching that voting one way or another is a “mortal sin” need to go back to grade-school religious ed, before presuming to lecture anyone on even the most elementary of moral theology.
Oh, look at that, you said exactly the same thing. And then you brought out the snark. But wait . . . voting a certain way WOULD be a mortal sin, if it involves grave matter. If I’m a Catholic, and I KNOW a certain candidate has proven by their voting record to be promoting abortion, for example, which is GRAVE MATTER, and I actually go out and ACT a certain way and vote for them . . . DING DING DING, mortal sin. So why are you trying to say that it isn’t?
Organizations such as Catholics4Trump (yes, I know, we’re in absurdist world now; the name alone will give one an aesthetic rash) are committing spiritual abuse and promulgating false teaching when they attempt to manipulate uneducated or scrupulous voters to support Donald Trump on pain of mortal sin.
You mean, the way you are committing spiritual abuse and promulgating false teaching with your straw men and completely ridiculous arguments about your “non-negotiable” evils to those same uneducated and scrupulous voters?
There are sins of omission; one could probably make the argument that not voting at all in the current dangerous political climate would be one of them. Based on her voting record, it is also reasonable to say that a vote for Hilary Clinton would be a mortal sin, because of the three aforementioned criteria for said mortal sin (we know she supports abortion; that is grave matter; and voting for her would be giving our consent to that evil). But to turn right around and say that NOT voting for Trump is a mortal sin?
Our choices this time around royally suck; that’s probably the only thing that everyone in the country can agree on. Read that link you posted; their argument against Hilary is sound; the problem is when they draw the conclusion that you MUST vote for Trump because Hilary is evil. That’s where we get into differences of opinion on strategy. Some people say that because we live in a two-party system, yes, your only choices are Hilary and Trump, and if not Hilary, then Trump, period. Others argue that this is the perfect time to run a third party candidate, because both others are hated pretty much universally, even by their own party. We’re not talking about mortal sin in those speculative cases, not anymore. A difference in opinion when discussing the most effective way to battle evil isn’t a mortal sin; the mortal sin is in NOT FIGHTING the evil, or EMBRACING the evil.
And, last time I checked, that’s not what we were talking about here. You were going on about those “non-negotiables.”
But, taking into account the culpability factor, and recognizing that “support” is more complicated than “voting for the guy who makes the right sounds” – yes, we recognize that some things are always objectively wrong.
Oh, good, I was worried that you were advocating moral relativism there for a minute.
As Christians, especially, we must face the uncomfortable truth that we are not permitted to sacrifice the good for the sake of what’s convenient in the moment.
That means, sorry, no torture. No orgies.
Nobody was advocating that; put your straw man away.
And what I find curious in our conversation about what is or isn’t negotiable in the realm of political support, is that we’re looking at a Catholic application of ethics in relation to a very particular cultural and geographical situation.
Oh, boy. My politeness is about to go right out the window. You’re reducing the argument to what’s relevant in our culture or our time period. I hate to shatter your illusions, but human beings never change. We might live in a supposedly advanced and enlightened United States of America (which is debatable, in my opinion), but we have all the same faults and failings as ancient Rome and the frigging Babylonian Empire; we just have different tools to use to commit our evils. If we follow your argument to its conclusion, we’ll have to conclude that abortion is completely different from regular murder; and it isn’t. It’s still murder–just a different kind–and murder has always been evil.
Cloning and stem-cell research would not have been relevant in Jesus’ time, and even if Paracelsus might have merited a stern warning for publishing his recipe for a homunculus in 1537, the production of homunculi was scarcely central to Renaissance politics.
Watch out, Ed and Al Elric are about to come through here and put a beatdown on someone.
Like I just said, people don’t change. Paracelsus was basically advocating producing a human being by other-than-natural means. Sounds like a clone to me. Cloning and stem-cell research–and please be specific; EMBRYONIC stem cell research is the evil here, not the adult stem-cell research–are evil because they DESTROY life. All those embryonic stem cells had to come from an embryo, which is a life. Cloning is only possible through repeated trial and error, and every single one of those “errors” was a life; in addition to the fact that it’s a perversion of the natural order. So again, human beings don’t change; we’re still murdering each other, we just came up with more interesting ways to manage it than were available to the ancient Romans or the Renaissance Italians.
Abortion has always been around, and in certain cultures has been considered a crime (against the woman’s husband, not against the unborn child) – but it wasn’t relevant in the politics of Imperial Rome.
Then . . . why are you talking about it? Their government didn’t work the same way ours does. Your comparison is irrelevant.
It seems, if we want to understand what types of actions can never be supported by Catholics in any way at any time, we need to keep our focus on the perennial truths as foundational for our actions.
We’re Catholics; everything we believe is a “perennial truth.”
So, in the teachings of Christ, what is non-negotiable?
Oh, boy, I think I can see where this is headed.
First of all, we know that Jesus boiled down the whole of the law and the prophets into two commandments: love God above all things, and love your neighbor as yourself.
True. Still waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Secondly, we know that while several central plot elements from the life of Jesus appear in all four gospels,
You’re seriously reducing the events of the life of Christ to a “plot element”?
the only moral teaching that appears in all of them is this: that if you seek to save your life, you will lose it; if you lose your life, you’ll find it.
So . . . all four of the gospels are COMPLETELY different, except for that ONE teaching?
When was the last time you actually READ the Gospels?
These two details solidify the moral principle of radical non-violence at the heart of Jesus teaching.
You really think that “radical non-violence” is the “heart” of Jesus’s teaching? It’s there, I’ll grant you that. But I thought the whole reason He was here on this earth was to redeem us from our sins. How about giving us the Eucharist, the “source and summit of the Christian life”? If that is the “source and summit” of our lives here on earth, it has to be “at the heart” of His teachings, right?
But no, let’s take that ONE VERSE and blow it entirely out of proportion.
By radical, meaning: not only does Jesus say to give up the old morality of “an eye for an eye.” He goes further, saying to love your enemies, to turn the other cheek, to forgive seventy times seven.
Seriously? You’re actually going to go there? Okay, the gloves are off now.
He DOES say to forgive your enemies. But why does everyone seem to believe that He also meant that you’re NOT ALLOWED TO STOP THEM? I can love my enemy–in the true sense of the word “love,” meaning that I want what’s best for them–but that doesn’t mean they’re not my enemy.
And for the record, the whole “turn the other cheek” thing doesn’t mean what you think it means. Most people think it means, “you slapped me for no good reason; here, slap me again; look at how nonviolent I am.” That’s not it. In Jesus’s time, the only person you ever slapped with an open hand was a slave. It was insulting. You backhand a slave; a real man, you punch in the jaw. So, when He said, “turn the other cheek,” He’s telling us to have a different attitude: “oh, you think you’re going to insult me by slapping me as if I were a slave? Go right ahead and do it again, jerk. I’m not the least insulted.”
He never ever told us to NOT resist evil.
This motif of radical love of enemy is repeated so frequently we would do well to take it seriously, as something Jesus actually meant.
Yeah, because it’s really a Catholic thing to cherry-pick parts of the Gospels and ignore the rest. Oh, wait. Actually that’s a PC thing. I think you’re in the wrong place. Go sit with Nancy Pelosi.
And rightly so: if you look at the story of Genesis, the first sin that is recorded, after disobedience to God, is the act of violence of Cain against Abel. The first effect of sin, once we have turned from God, is violence.
. . . hold on, give me a second to recover.
The first sin, after disobedience to God, wasn’t “violence.” It was MURDER. The unjustified killing of an innocent. You’re simplifying it to the point of changing its meaning. Stop it.
Why don’t we emphasize violence – any violence, for any reason – as the primary identifying principle of the Things We Must Not Do?
Because He didn’t tell us to never be violent! You’re really getting into dangerous error here. God didn’t say to the Jews: “thou shalt not kill; now go into the Promised Land and completely exterminate all your enemies.” That would make God a liar; which is impossible, and blasphemous, so watch your step.
He said “thou shalt not MURDER;” not “thou shalt not KILL.”
Never before has one badly translated word caused so much trouble.
Perhaps because long ago we began to come up with convenient, utilitarian reasons for presuming that Jesus didn’t really mean all that tough stuff, or didn’t mean it to apply to me, in this present moment.
Some people do that; no one’s arguing that. Human beings are completely ingenious for coming up with good reasons for why “it’s not my fault.” But that doesn’t mean that anyone is doing that here and now, in the context you’re talking about.
It’s very easy for the powerful, after all, to defend their acts of war and torture as somehow necessary for the common good. Once we’ve established a long history of worldly success on the basis of violence, it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that we shouldn’t have – that success doesn’t justify evil – that pursuing success is not, perhaps, even a top Christian priority.
“Worldly success on the basis of violence”?
Saint Joan of Arc is not impressed with your argument.
Her life story alone completely invalidates everything you just said. God sent St. Michael and St. Catherine to her specifically so that she could LEAD THE ARMIES OF FRANCE TO VICTORY OVER THE ENGLISH. And you’re going to sit here and tell me that Jesus said to never commit violence?
But what if we really took Jesus seriously? If Jesus really meant “love your enemies” and “turn the other cheek” – this might mean that, on the level of objective morality, it is not licit to wage war, or to execute criminals. For any reason.
So . . . hold on. You’re basically saying that you know better than 2000 years of Church Teaching, the pope, and the Catechism, right?
Because I sure thought the Catechism said exactly the opposite of what you just proclaimed:
2263: The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not.“
2264: Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:
If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.
2265: Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.
Hold on; I’ve got more.
2308: All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war.
However, “as long as the danger of war persists and there is no international authority with the necessary competence and power, governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed.”
2309: The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:
– the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
– all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
– there must be serious prospects of success;
– the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modem means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.
These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the “just war” doctrine.
The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.
2310: Public authorities, in this case, have the right and duty to impose on citizens the obligations necessary for national defense.
Those who are sworn to serve their country in the armed forces are servants of the security and freedom of nations. If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace.
2311: Public authorities should make equitable provision for those who for reasons of conscience refuse to bear arms; these are nonetheless obliged to serve the human community in some other way.
2312: The Church and human reason both assert the permanent validity of the moral law during armed conflict. “The mere fact that war has regrettably broken out does not mean that everything becomes licit between the warring parties.”
2313: Non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners must be respected and treated humanely.
Actions deliberately contrary to the law of nations and to its universal principles are crimes, as are the orders that command such actions. Blind obedience does not suffice to excuse those who carry them out. Thus the extermination of a people, nation, or ethnic minority must be condemned as a mortal sin. One is morally bound to resist orders that command genocide.
And on the subject of executing criminals:
2266 The State’s effort to contain the spread of behaviors injurious to human rights and the fundamental rules of civil coexistence corresponds to the requirement of watching over the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime. the primary scope of the penalty is to redress the disorder caused by the offense. When his punishment is voluntarily accepted by the offender, it takes on the value of expiation. Moreover, punishment, in addition to preserving public order and the safety of persons, has a medicinal scope: as far as possible it should contribute to the correction of the offender.
2267 The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor. “If, instead, bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person. Today, in fact, given the means at the State’s disposal to effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it, without depriving him definitively of the possibility of redeeming himself, cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender ‘today … are very rare, if not practically non-existent.'[John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 56.]
Yes, one may point to extenuating circumstances and a lessening of culpability in certain cases – self-defense, or defense of family, or the horror of historical inevitability
And now you’re backtracking in the very next sentence.
– but that doesn’t mean we should forget the hard, demanding, difficult, uncomfortable reality that, if we take Jesus at his word, we are not allowed to raise our hand in violence against anyone. Ever.
You didn’t just say that. I have to go back and check.
. . .
. . . I guess you did. Obviously, you’re wrong. You’re very, VERY wrong.
Matthew 10:34 — Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword.
Luke 22:36 — Then said he unto them: But now he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise a scrip; and he that hath not, let him sell his coat, and buy a sword.
That’s not just any sword; that sword He just told you to go and buy is MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE CLOAK THAT KEEPS YOU WARM.
So . . . I take it you’re saying that God contradicted Himself, aren’t you? That’s heresy, and you’d better watch your step.
Now, life is complicated, and each of us is going to come up with some circumstance in which is seems impossibly cruel to ask anyone not to defend themselves, especially in cases of ongoing abuse. We do need to be sympathetic to the reality that there are many cases in which a person commits an act of violence because he or she feels she has no other choice, that loving neighbor as self presupposes a recognition of one’s own fundamental worth and dignity. We know it’s justified to work hard to survive, because we’re not nihilists, and we have a sense of responsibility to others (family, dependents). Because life is complicated in this way, lists of non-negotiables don’t really help much.
And I’m confused again. It sounds like you’re trying to stick to your guns and insist that we’re not allowed to “raise our hand in violence,” ever. But then you’re also trying to agree with the instinctive recognition that human beings have that tells us that a gang banger killing an eight-year-old is wrong; but a bystander killing that gang banger to stop him from killing that child is not.
You can’t have it both ways; you either stick to your guns and turn into an honest-to-goodness Quaker pacifist, who isn’t allowed to “raise her hand in violence” against anyone, ever. Or, you follow the teachings of your Church, and acknowledge that yes, there are times when that violence is not just necessary, but the right thing to do.
By the way, Jesus raised his hand in violence, too.
John 2:15 — And when he had made, as it were, a scourge of little cords, he drove them all out of the temple, the sheep also and the oxen, and the money of the changers he poured out, and the tables he overthrew.
Sounds pretty violent to me.
But, again: Jesus did say, if you save your life you lose it – if you lose your life, you save it.
He did say that. Well, almost. You left out a key phrase that changes the meaning. Stop cherry-picking. What He actually said was:
Matthew 16:25 — For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life FOR MY SAKE, shall find it.
But you know what else he says? Right in the very next verse?
Matthew 16:26 — For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul?
So . . . maybe He’s talking about saving your soul, more than whether or not you’re allowed to defend your life or the life of another with lethal force. Sounds more like He meant that saving your physical life at the expense of your spiritual life was a bad thing.
I’m absolutely certain that Christ never contradicted Himself. I’m also sure that sometimes, He might seem to do so to fallible human beings like us. But that’s why He gave us the Church; to interpret this correctly for us, and to tell us exactly what He meant, so that we don’t go astray.
That’s probably why we have things like the Catechism.
Are you as uncomfortable as I am with how damned difficult and actually insane this sounds? But Jesus said it. We’re supposed to take it seriously, then, horrible as this sounds.
It’s only horrible if we listen to this interpretation of it.
I’m not sure even what to make of this.
Except you just spent several thousand words telling us how sure you were of it.
I think I want a drink.
So do I; I’ll need one after reading this much longer.
It’s easy enough to say to a poor pregnant woman: be willing to give up your life for your child. But are you going to give up your life rather than avenge yourself on your enemy?
You just changed topics midstream again. Nobody was talking about REVENGE; we were talking about the appropriate use of force against an aggressor. Everybody knows there’s a difference between appropriate lethal force and revenge; it’s practically the topic of every superhero show and every cop show on television these days. Even non-Catholics know the difference between those two things. Maybe I should say ESPECIALLY non-Catholics know the difference between those two things.
Are you going to turn the other cheek when attacked? The usual go-to argument against pacifists is: but, hey, if someone comes into my house and tries to kill me, I’m allowed to shoot in self-defense, right?
Yes, I am. see the above paragraphs from the Catechism, in addition to the correct interpretation of the phrase “turn the other cheek.”
What if, as Christians, we actually aren’t allowed to? Think about that for a minute, because that seems to be what Jesus is getting at.
Uh, no. That’s just you, not actually understanding what He said.
I don’t like it, either, but think about it, before you pull out a quotation from the Catechism telling me when a little bit of killing might be okay.
You did NOT just say that. Yep, my politeness is completely gone now.
How DARE you tell me to not look something up in the Catechism? How DARE you presume to know more than Holy Mother Church and Her representatives on this earth?
HE DIDN’T SAY “THOU SHALT NOT KILL;” HE SAID “THOU SHALT NOT MURDER.” All murder is wrong, but not all killing ins murder. And yet, if we follow your conclusion to its logical end, we have no choice but to say that all those soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan were evil killers. That all the police officers who ever had to shoot a perpetrator to save the life of an innocent are wrong. That every soldier who died in World War II to stop the Nazis from taking over the world are all burning in hell. And worse, that God actually ordered the Israelites to march into the Promised Land and COMMIT A MORTAL SIN?
Either that, or the action was morally wrong, but all those above mentioned killers simply aren’t culpable because they just didn’t know any better.
There is no meme on the internet that will accurately describe how wrong this is, and that’s saying something. This isn’t just wrong; it’s dangerous.
Various religious leaders have been saying things lately to the effect that the time for comfortable Catholicism is over, but what if there was never a time for comfortable Catholicism, and we’ve always just been way too easy on ourselves?
There never was a time for “comfortable” Catholicism; that doesn’t exist, and it never has. We’ve been persecuted from the day Christ died–socially, emotionally, physically; you name it, it’s happened to one of us–and you think that NOW, we’re being too easy on ourselves?
It’s obvious that you’ve never been persecuted. I have, and it sucks. It’s anything but easy, especially when it doesn’t involve standing up to a guy with a gun in his hand and saying, “CREDO IN UNUM DEUM; go ahead and shoot me.”
When you have to live every day with ridicule; when you have the responsibility to stand up to adults who are supposed to know better when you’re just a kid in high school trying to do the right thing; when you leave the church on a Sunday and go home crying because it hurts too much to keep fighting for something . . . then you come and talk to me about how we all have it “easy.”
I think I want another drink.
Yeah, you go have that drink.
But if we’re going to keep our eye on the fundamental ethical principles Jesus wanted us to take seriously, we should keep in mind just how radical a life we’re being called to: to love our neighbor as ourselves; love even our enemies; forgive as many time as we are injured; be willing to lay down our lives.
Nobody ever said to NOT be willing to lay down our lives; that doesn’t mean that living the life of a Catholic prevents us from using deadly force to stop our enemies, especially when they threaten the innocent. If every Catholic in Europe in the 1940s looked at the Nazis and said, “Oh, that’s so evil. Here, go ahead and shoot me. Because I’m not going to raise my hand in violence against my enemy,” Hitler would have taken over the world, exterminated our Jewish brethren and come after the Catholics next, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. We’d all be dead, or speaking German and not practicing Catholicism.
We are obliged to stop the evil; even the most famous pacifist in American history knew that.
“Them guns was killin’ hundreds, maybe thousands, and there waren’t nothin’ anybody could do but to stop them guns, and that’s what I done.”
Christ never told us to NOT RESIST EVIL. He told us to lay down our lives if we had to, yes, but he never EVER told us to LET THE EVIL WIN. And that’s exactly what will happen if what you say here is true.
I wonder how this would look, as a plan for dealing with ISIS?
Well, ISIS would take over Europe, and then come for the USA next. And we’d all be dead. And so would all our children.
It’s all well and good to sit at your computer and speculate about how holy and self-righteous you would be when the evil comes knocking at your door with a gun in its hand. But when it really comes down to it, you’ll NEVER make me believe that you would just stand there and watch if that ISIS guy aimed a gun at your children.
It’s nice to talk about how we’d like to be holy enough to be martyred; but it’s only “nice” when you’re talking about someone else’s martyrdom, not yours, and certainly not your kids’.
I’m dead serious. And uncomfortable as hell.
Well, not nearly as uncomfortable as you’ll be when you’re wearing a burka and praying towards Mecca five times a day.
It’s October; that means it was just recently the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, when Europe managed to kick the Ottoman Empire away from Italy. And apparently when Our Lady of Guadalupe came to the aid of those soldiers and sailors, and ensured their victory over that evil. The same evil that’s marching with ISIS now, actually.
Are you seriously going to suggest that those men were wrong? That Don John of Austria should have just allowed the Ottoman Empire to just destroy Christian Europe?
Because that’s exactly what you’re saying we should do. That we should just give up. That we should be lazy, and take the easy road out, and die rather than fight.
Sometimes, yes, our deaths are necessary. If I’m unarmed, and in the middle of some gigantic square with ISIS men aiming weapons at me, and they demand that I deny Christ or be shot, you bet I’ll be shot. I hope; I truly hope I have the courage to say “CREDO IN UNUM DEUM, you monsters: take your best shot.” But what if I’m not there? What if I’m standing on my front porch, watching the ISIS troops come down my street, and I have the opportunity to stop them?
I’d go into my dad’s gun locker, take out the AR-15, and stop them from marching on my neighborhood. My neighborhood with kids in it. And I’d shoot until they got me, or I ran out of bullets.
Christ never told me to turn my back on my neighbors in danger; and if I’m required to shoot an ISIS guy with an AK-47, you bet I’m going to, and I would not be wrong to do so, no matter what holier-than-thou, smarter-than-the-pope crap you spout.
We have to fight the evil. Sometimes, we fight with words. Sometimes, we fight with our votes. Sometimes, we fight with a good example.
And then, sometimes–God help us–we have to fight with real bullets.
Follow the squirrel minion to get to Lori’s website, Little Squirrel Books.
Minor Nit, that woman wasn’t going “Full Protestant”, she was going “Full Liberal Christianity”.
There are things that I (as a Protestant) disagree with Catholic Theology about, but you didn’t mention any of them. 😉
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Alright, I made it about halfway through the fisking and couldn’t stand it anymore…how did you stand to read it in the first place?
All of this because someone basically threw a tizzy about folks fighting about the objective evils being actively promoted as goods by an entire political party when she’d rather they… what, fought hard against something that isn’t actually happening, or isn’t actually an objective moral evil? Like I said, I didn’t get far enough to find out what her point was that she was setting up so oddly.
Minor quibble/trivia, not everything in the Catechism is binding; it’s basically a collection of relevant documents set up so you can actually find stuff. The teachings referenced in there have the…gah, what’s the real word for the… teaching authority stuff…gravity? Binding-ness?… of the original documents, rather than a new (theological term type) authority from being in the Catechism.
One of the Catholic Answers guys, I think it was Jimmy Akin, explained how it worked. 😀 I’m guessing the original question he was answering was something like “who has more authority, the Catechism or _______.”
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“I don’t like it, either, but think about it, before you pull out a quotation from the Catechism telling me when a little bit of killing might be okay.”
The arrogance is palpable. If you didn’t come to the same conclusion as her then you clearly didn’t think about it. Because hippy dippy watered-down Catholicism is so intellectually rigorous.
The “turn the other cheek” misinterpretation has been propped up by Boomer cafeteria Catholics since I was a kid and certainly long before that. These are the same people that never go to Confession, play ’60s folk music during Mass, don’t believe in Hell, and wonder why their children (and now their grandchildren) never attend Mass or believe in God. The only people who believe this anymore are non-Christians who like to lecture Christians on what their religion teaches. To say they know better than official Church teaching is inane. Like the currently unraveling myths and public perception of the Crusades, I’m going to enjoy when this fabrication finally bites the dust.
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