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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 11, 2009 at 6:02 AM

The Catholic Church and politics

Guide for the flocks

I am writing in response to the article co-written by Terrence Carroll and Sam Sperry [“Churches and politics: conscience or dogma?” guest column, Jan. 8]. When I see or hear comments such as this by so-called “born and raised Catholics,” I feel compelled to attempt to set the record straight.

The single most important issue for Roman Catholics in this recent election cycle is abortion. All other issues are secondary, make no mistake about it.

When we are talking about our government legalizing and supporting the monthly slaughter of more than 4,000 human beings in the womb, or worse, during birth, one either agrees with this pro-abortion, secularist position, or one adamantly disagrees with it. There is no in-between for a true-practicing Roman Catholic.

Abortion is a hideous evil and the church is charged with teaching this truth to believers.

Carroll and Sperry may have been “born and raised” Catholics, but they obviously were never educated as Roman Catholics. When they state there should be dialogue and not threats, they most likely mean that some way, some how the bishops were to acquiesce and agree with them. They called it “nothing more than raw attempts at bullying.”

Since high-profile, so-called Catholics such as congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy and many others refuse to abandon their position on abortion, and the Democratic Party is solidly pro-abortion, bishops had no choice but to be very clear and passionate about what is at stake. The bishops are charged with the moral guidance of their “flocks.”

Moreover, through Apostolic Procession (Holy Orders) they have the authority to provide the only valid Eucharist for practicing Roman Catholics, and can set rules regarding the moral consequences of a grievous sin, such as abortion. There is no equivocation regarding abortion; it is a grievous sin and simply cannot be compromised.

To vote for people who are clearly pro-abortion, and to think there are no moral consequences, is simply the rationale of our culture. It has nothing to do with moral certitude.

Roman Catholicism is not a social experiment and the moral values taught by the church are not feel-good platitudes. They are sometimes difficult to accept, but they are nonetheless a requirement.

If the “secular” Catholics, as noted above, have the courage of their convictions, they should leave the church, rather than take the juvenile position of demanding that the church change to suit their wishes. I would rather they have a change of heart and stay. However, to continue to defy church teachings sends a seriously false message to the population: Never mind church authorities, just make your own rules. What do they know anyway?

— Mike Spengler, Seattle

Religion divides, politics unite

Terry Carroll and Sam Sperry discuss the relationship of religion and politics, but fail to mention their fundamental incompatibility.

Religion is one of the most divisive forces in our society. Martin Luther King Jr. told us that America is never more segregated than at 11 a.m. on Sunday. That is, of course, the standard meeting time for most churches in America.

Each congregation believes that its one true faith binds the members together as a community. And it teaches on Sunday morning that all other religions are defective in some fashion and its members misguided. The social purpose of religions is to bind the community together as a unit and, at the same time, separate it from all other communities.

Politics in America, at least in the Democratic Party, does exactly the opposite. It brings together people from any and all communities to pursue common goals. Matters of religious doctrine are never part of our political discussions because doctrinal differences would divide, rather than unite, us.

Thus, within the Democratic Party one can find members of every denomination from every religion. The party is composed of people from every economic category, every level of education, every ethnicity and so on through our highly diverse society. Religions thrive by openly talking about their differences with others; within the Democratic Party we minimize our differences to avoid excluding anyone who considers himself or herself a Democrat.

The Democratic Party has long believed in a complete separation of church and state not because of some distaste for religious belief, but because it believes that politics based on religious belief cannot avoid discrimination, leading ultimately to disenfranchisement.

Better, we think, to leave all religion out of politics and keep all people in.

— Jeff Smith, Bellevue

Not a popularity contest

The comments of these two “Catholic” gentlemen do not surprise me, considering their backgrounds.

They are products of the Vatican II generation and, more than likely, admirers of Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen. Their railing against the authority of Rome certainly brands them as staunch supporters of “Amchurch.”

They seem to believe that the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church is not the only source of truth, but that truth can also be arrived at through consideration of a variety of opinions and dialogue. It is also clear they believe the laity should be involved in this process. They want a democratic process where the bishops bow to the will of the majority.

Well, the Catholic Church is not a democracy and truth is not negotiable. If one is a Catholic, one accepts the teachings of the church. If one cannot do that, then it is time to look for another religion. Don’t expect Rome to stop teaching the truth just to be popular with the world.

— John Leventis, Newcastle

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