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April 25, 2004 - The Vatican Rag

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Well, that Kristof fellow over at the New York Times started it off this weekend with a plea for tolerance…

See Hug an Evangelical
Nicholas D. Kristof - Published: April 24, 2004

The idea is that since good Christians are tolerant of all sort of perverse left-wing folks, perhaps the left should good easy on the born-again folks who want everyone to accept Jesus as their personal savior so we can have world peace and all the rest. 

Here’s the beginning and end – and click on the link if you want the detailed middle -


I've argued often that gay marriage should be legal and that conservative Christians should show a tad more divine love for homosexuals. 

But there's a corollary.  If liberals demand that the Christian right show more tolerance for gays and lesbians, then liberals need to be more respectful of conservative Christians. 

… Liberals often protest that they would have nothing against conservative Christians if they were not led by hypocritical blowhards who try to impose their Ten Commandments plaques, sexual mores and creationism on society.  But that's a crude stereotype, and it ignores the Christian right's accomplishments.  Polls show that evangelical Christians are more likely to contribute to charities that help the needy, and in horror spots in Africa Catholics and other Christians are the bulwark of the health care system. 

Moreover, saying that one will tolerate evangelicals who do not evangelize — well, that's like Christians saying they have nothing against gays who remain celibate. 

It's always easy to point out the intolerance of others.  What's harder is to practice inclusiveness oneself.  And bigotry toward people based on their faith is just as repugnant as bigotry toward people based on their sexuality. 


Okay.  Fine.  Let them go to Fallujah and hand out Bibles.  Couldn’t hurt. 

But the real issue in the last few days has not been the evangelical protestant folks who want to flood Iraq with bright-eyed youngsters eager to show those Muslim folks the error of their ways and how the love of Jesus will save them. 

The issue is this week with the Roman Catholic Church deciding it had to say something about American politics, specifically about one guy running for president. 

That started here:

Cardinal: Politicians Need Follow Church on Abortion
Philip Pullella - VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Friday April 23, 1:41 PM ET

Throwing down the gauntlet? 


In remarks that could influence the U.S. presidential race, a top Vatican cardinal said Friday that a Roman Catholic politician who unambiguously supports abortion rights should be denied Holy Communion at Mass. 

Cardinal Francis Arinze spoke amid a debate over whether Democrat John Kerry should be denied communion, which Catholics believe is the body of Christ, because he supports abortion rights. 

At a news conference presenting a Vatican document restating standing rules about the celebration of Mass, Arinze was reminded of the Kerry case and asked if a priest should refuse communion to a politician who unambiguously supports a woman's right to choose abortion. 

"Yes," he answered.  "If the person should not receive it, then it should not be given.  Objectively, the answer is there."


Cool.  Excommunicate him, if you’d like.  And say no Catholic can vote for him or that Catholic too will be excommunicated, and face eternal damnation and all that sort of thing. 

Not my business - I'm not Catholic. 

As expected, however, some folks just have to see a problem with this church position. 

See Good Christians: Kerry, Bush, and religious double standards
Amy Sullivan, Contributing Editor, The Gadflyer - 4.21.04

Amy says this -


...  I want to know why these same questions aren't being asked of George W.  Bush, a man who has Jesus as his running mate and who told Bob Woodward that he doesn't turn to his father (George H.W.  Bush) for advice, because he's more concerned about what His Father (God) has to say.  No word yet on what God actually says. 

But this is not just a throw-away point.  Does Bush deviate from the teachings of the United Methodist Church?  Yes he does, on some crucial political issues.  Has he been reprimanded by leaders in his denomination?  Yes, particularly on the issue of war in Iraq.  And if you want to make this a question of who's the better Christian, then it's fair to ask why President Bush doesn't go to church.  You heard me – the man worships at Camp David and every so often wanders across Lafayette Park (although the park is pretty much impassable now what with all of the security construction going on) to attend services at St.  John's Episcopal Church.  But the man who has staked his domestic policy on the power of civil society and of good Christian individuals to change lives isn't an active member of a congregation – the very kind of organization in which he claims to have so much faith. 


But, Amy, everyone knows George is born-again.  He doesn’t have to prove anything. 

Another fellow who writes under the name Atrios suggests as this story gets hotter and hotter, maybe some logic should be applied –


If the media wants to report this story, they should be obligated to note that "pro-Choice politicians" includes more Catholics than John Kerry, and that there are quite a few prominent pro-Choice Republicans.  But, they're completely corrupt and would never dare let us in on that little secret. 

Monday morning we'll have a little fun calling around to the offices of various Republican pro-choice politicians and asking their people a) if they went to Church on Sunday and b) if they took communion.  Clearly, the day-to-day activities and policy positions of prominent Catholic politicians from all parties must be scrutinized for any deviation from doctrine.  The world must know if they have taken the sacraments improperly or not at all.  Their confessions should be public information. 

… Call CNN at 404-827-1500 and ask them why they aren't discussing other politicians who shouldn't be receiving communion according to the Vatican, such as Tom Ridge and George Pataki.  George Pataki and Rudolph Giuliani are pro-Choice Catholic politicians. 

Then, you can ask them why they aren't mentioning the fact that the leaders of George Bush's Church opposed the war in Iraq. 


Well, that happened – Bush’s own United Methodist Church reprimanded him and said the war was a really bad idea – like it was immoral or something.  But they were probably just kidding around. 

Oh yeah - I almost forgot.  Arnold Shwarzenegger should be mentioned too - Catholic and pro-choice.  Poor guy.  No communion for him.  And no Catholic votes either.  Oh well.

Now over at a site called Liberal Media Conspiracy we get the long view, the historical perspective, as it were -


In 1960, Republicans insinuated that a Catholic, Democratic candidate with the initials JFK, was unfit for the Presidency because he would do the Pope's bidding as President. 

In 2004, Republicans (with the aid of the buttinsky Vatican) are insinuating that a Catholic, Democratic candidate with the initials JFK, is unfit for the Presidency because he won't do the Pope's bidding as President. 

We've come a long way in 44 years, haven't we? 


Well, we, as a nation, have decided we want a religious man to run the country, one who is proud of it, and doesn’t see why anyone would have different views. 

And of course Bush’s father, who was, oddly enough, president for a time himself, and had his own war with Iraq, had similar views. 

Here’s what George the First said on August 27, 1987 – concerning people like me who don’t exactly have a dog in this fight and find the whole business puzzling: "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots."

So I shouldn’t say anything about this business at all. 

It just find it all to be… most curious.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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