Where Do Pro-Choice Catholic Democrats Like Joseph Biden and Nancy Pelosi Come From?

Vice President Joseph Biden interviewed by Rev. Matt Malone, SJ, editor of "America" magazine.

By John Zmirak Published on April 28, 2016

When a large group of highly educated people who have dedicated themselves to an organization with firm doctrines, strict rules, and stern demands — such as the Catholic Church — lose their faith in those doctrines, rules and demands, what do they do with themselves instead? Shrug and join the Unitarians? Leave their rectories or convents and go find apartments, maybe jobs as high school guidance counselors?

What do families like the Pelosis, the Kennedys or the Bidens — and millions of non-famous Irish and Italian-American clans with strong ethnic and historical connections to the Church — do with themselves when they reject its teaching authority?

The history of the Catholic left gives us the answer: Such people focused on the parts of the Church’s mission that still appealed to them, such as looking out for the poor and rebuking unjust discrimination. And of course the Church has  an almost 2,000 year tradition of offering the needy education, health care, and a voice in the face of genuine oppression. Many Catholics had joined the Civil Rights movement and marched for integration.

In the 1960s, there were fresh, exciting causes available for Catholics to join which modeled themselves on the Civil Rights movement’s tactics and rhetoric, whose agendas were not so compatible with traditional Christian teaching as the noble fight against institutionalized racism had been. Feminists, homosexuals, and anti-war activists began to throng the streets and demand radical changes in American law and policy, and many Catholics with left-wing sympathies and deep roots in the Democratic Party began to exert their energies on behalf of these new movements — assuring themselves that they were acting as Jesus had when he denounced the scribes and Pharisees.

Many grandchildren of Catholic immigrants to our overwhelmingly Protestant country still clung to the pretense that they were outsiders — excluded and marginalized victims of the existing American establishment. So they felt bound to make common cause with every other “outside” group, regardless of the justice of its claims. This outsider illusion made it easy for them to be right about Civil Rights … and then poisonously wrong about feminism, gay liberation, and socialist economics.

So Catholics who’d once taken part in Freedom Rides for black Americans got swept up in a “Women’s Liberation” movement that sought to dismantle legal definitions of marriage, laws restricting abortion, and finally the traditional family itself. That movement’s greatest success was Roe v. Wade, which gave the U.S. the laxest abortion laws on earth — outside of Communist countries — and resulted in the deaths of more than a million American unborn children every year since 1973. What most people don’t know is that the Kennedy family had helped lay the groundwork for that decision a decade before. As Philip Lawler reports in The Faithful Departed:

In July 1964, several liberal theologians received invitations to the Kennedy family compound in Hyannisport, Massachusetts, for a discussion of how a Catholic politician should handle the abortion issue. Notice now that abortion was not a major political issue in 1964. …

The participants in that Hyannisport meeting composed a Who’s Who of liberal theologians, most of them Jesuits… Father Robert Drinan … Father Charles Curran … Father Joseph Fuchs, a Jesuit professor at Rome’s Gregorian… Jesuits Richard McCormack, Albert Jensen, and Giles Milhaven.

For two days the theologians huddled in the Cape Cod resort town as guests of the Kennedys. Eventually they reached a consensus, which they passed along to their political patrons. Abortion, they agreed, could sometimes be morally acceptable as the lesser of two evils. Lawmakers should certainly not encourage abortion, but a blanket prohibition might be more harmful to the common good… (81).

Nine years before the fact, the financial and intellectual elite of American Catholicism were, in Lawler’s words, “waiting for Roe v. Wade.”

Similar Catholics joined Marxist-organized antiwar marches and demanded an end to the U.S. intervention in Vietnam, which had been launched in part to protect millions of South Vietnamese Christians from Communist oppression. Some Catholics even joined “gay liberation” movements, which began with attempts to stop police harassment, but quickly evolved into demands that the law make no distinction between heterosexual marriage and homosexual relationships. We have seen that movement culminate in 2015 with the Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges, which has endangered the religious freedom of millions of American Christians.

The Left Wouldn’t Leave the Church, So the People Did

As the Catholic left developed, it became increasingly hard to distinguish from secular progressive movements, except in its use of biblical metaphors and cherry-picked quotes from Church documents to further its agenda. Instead of leaving the priesthood, convent, or bishop’s palace, far too many church leaders instead chose to hollow out the theological core of the Church’s mission, and transform it into an activist social welfare agency. Since the dissidents wouldn’t leave, many of the people did: Mass attendance plummeted, the Catholic Church began bleeding believers to outright secularism, and vibrantly doctrinal evangelical Protestant churches.

The reigns of Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI saw the rise of a devoted faithful Catholic resistance to these toxic trends in the Church. Orthodox Catholic colleges were founded, home-schooling spread through Catholic circles as a means of passing along the integral faith, and the overwhelming majority of new priests and nuns were those who joined conservative orders or dioceses. Those two popes made a conscious effort to choose more reliable bishops, and the Church saw a mini-renaissance.

However, the impact of that resistance was limited in its scope to a self-selecting subculture, as progressives clung to institutional power and retained control over many dioceses and most Catholic colleges. Now with the advent of Pope Francis, that counterrevolution’s future is in question, and previous trends are reasserting themselves.

In 2015, the Pew Study reported that a shocking 41 percent of adult American Catholics leave the church at some point, most never to return:

Both the mainline and historically black Protestant traditions have lost more members than they have gained through religious switching, but within Christianity the greatest net losses, by far, have been experienced by Catholics. Nearly one-third of American adults (31.7%) say they were raised Catholic. Among that group, fully 41% no longer identify with Catholicism. This means that 12.9% of American adults are former Catholics, while just 2% of U.S. adults have converted to Catholicism from another religious tradition. No other religious group in the survey has such a lopsided ratio of losses to gains.

In other words, the American church is shrinking, and would be diminishing quickly as a share of the U.S. population, were it not for a constant influx of Catholic immigrants. According to a subsequent report by Pew:

[M]ore than a quarter of U.S. Catholic adults (27%) were born outside the country, compared with 15% of U.S. adults overall; most of these Catholic immigrants (22% of all U.S. Catholics) are from elsewhere in the Americas.

As of 2014, an additional 15% of Catholic Americans have at least one foreign-born parent. That leaves 57% of Catholics who were born in the U.S. to two native-born parents. By comparison, nearly three-quarters (74%) of American adults overall were born in the country to two U.S.-born parents….

The median age of Catholic adults in the U.S. is 49 years old – four years older than it was in 2007. Catholics are significantly older than members of non-Christian faiths (40) and people who are not affiliated with any religion (36).

Just 17% of Catholic adults are under the age of 30, compared with 22% of U.S. adults, 35% of religious “nones” and 44% of U.S. Muslims.

Without the mass influx of new Catholics who have not yet been subjected to the acid of our secular culture and the tepidness in many of our local church institutions, the Catholic Church in America would look much more like the Episcopal or Methodist church: a shrinking, aging organization with diminishing influence — and a small but dedicated orthodox protest movement.

Nor are newly imported Catholics by any means certain to continue warming our parish pews. First Things has reported (citing Pew statistics):

Roughly one-third of Catholic adults in the U.S. are Latino, but just over half (55 percent) of Latino adults here are Catholics. As recently as 2010, that figure stood at two-thirds.

Close to one in four Latinos were raised Catholic but have since become (for the most part) Protestant or unaffiliated. Among Hispanics ages eighteen to twenty-nine, just 45 percent are Catholic, and that number could keep dropping as they age: Almost four in ten of these young adults say they “could imagine leaving the Catholic Church someday.”

All these outcomes, you might think, would alarm the Vatican that the Church is shrinking and fading in the world’s most influential nation. Key papal appointments of “social justice” prelates such as Blaise Cupich to the crucial archdiocese of Chicago, and invitations to Rome for the likes of Bernie Sanders and Joseph Biden, suggest that Pope Francis has not gotten the message.

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  • Dean Bruckner

    Sadly, people who don’t believe in God actually do believe in anything, and it turns out they can do that just fine by themselves, sleeping in on Sunday mornings and reading the New York Times. Who knew?!

  • TJL

    Imagine what the Church would have looked like if Martin Luther’s mindset had been tolerated back in the 1500’s. It would have likely looked like it does today, only sooner.
    Much of his concerns were focused on bad behaviors and of certain clergy, which means that he was basing his understanding of Church teachings on human behavior, rather than, the actual teachings of the Church, much of which he was firmly a believer of.
    Sadly, he was also a very poorly educated person, and had a humanist and arrogant viewpoint when it came to the revelation of Scripture, and therefore, derived his own twisted understandings as to what Scriptures meant, which drove him to create his own dogmas and doctrines.
    Such is what has happened today.
    Luther had no intentions of creating a new religion, he merely wanted to change some of the teachings of the Church to fit his own ideals.
    Such is the way of those within the Church today who are Catholic in name only. They accept what they like and reject what they don’t. “Cafeteria Catholics”.
    There should be an intolerance of them, and there should be disciplinary actions taken by the Church, but the opposite has become the norm.
    Gradually, the Church hierarchy has become populated by Cafeteria Catholics, so, of course, there will be no disciplinary actions towards misbehaving clergy and laity.
    The foxes are now guarding the henhouse, or, to be more accurate, Satan is guarding the sanctuary.
    So, there should be no surprise that the likes of Biden would be still claiming to be Catholic without any disciplinary actions taken by the Church, and that he is still being given the Eucharist.
    He is openly heretical, but the Church hierarchy will not call him a heretic and demand his repentance or make him suffer excommunication.
    Sadly, the use of excommunication, and other disciplines by the Church today, are mostly applied to those who seek to resist error by holding to traditional teachings.
    It could be argued that the Church today is technically controlled by Protestants who call themselves Catholic, especially, if a careful examination is done of the hierarchy and their theological leanings.

    • Gitanjali Sudhir

      As I read this article – which carries so much of truth – I also wondered about the Not So Pro Choice Republicans who
      expect the Catholic Church and its hierarchs and members to go warring over all over the world and want the Pope to the Major Chaplin to bless the US Army and its funders. Where were either party-based Catholics while so much was getting rotten at the roots of the Church, like Clergy Sexual Abuse and all its pastoral, economic, political implications..

  • Yankeegator

    Isn’t the Hobbslockian Enlightenment Grand? Still enjoying the Enlightenment Mr. Zmirak???

  • Yankeegator

    Pope Francis not gotten the message??? He’s cheering them on !!!

  • Mike McLaren

    The only part of the Church that is growing are the “Tradionalists”, FSSP, ICKSP, and SSPX, ( Ironic that it’s under Francis’s Pontificate that the SSPX may be regularized). These church’s and chapel’s are packed with large young families. These orders and society’s and others that celebrate the ancient mass and teach what the Church taught prior to 1965 are going to save the Church.

    • BXVI

      Yes, those groups are growing but they are not the answer. The reason they seem “booming” is because there are so few such communities and so the traditionalists all make their way to those parishes / liturgies. This creates an illusion; it is a tiny fraction of Catholics that attend these liturgies on a regular basis, or that ever will. Don’t get me wrong; I love these communities, and I hope they continue to grow. And yes, they will play a very significant role in righting the ship. But in the end the Church is going to have to right itself in Norvus Ordo parishes.

      • Athelstane

        They are not the answer in respect that they are far too small to replace the massive edifice and demographic footprint of the Church in any country, even those where they strongest (France and the U.S.). But they’re almost the only cohort of the Church who seem to be living out, however imperfectly, an identifiably Catholic life.

        And this will vary by country. In France, the “Novus Ordo Church” (if I may use that term) is in far worse shape than it is in the U.S. (its hierarchy was more radical than that in the U.S.) By the 2030’s, there won’t be much left of the Church save the traditionalists, on current trends. (There are other European countries in similar straits.) Which will be of limited solace to those traditionalists, since they’ll be a small sect in a larger secular (and increasingly Islamic) society, essentially, even with their fecundity. And the reality is that even in the U.S., the Catholic Church is going to be a great deal smaller in 20 years than it is now – the statistics Zmirak cites above hint pretty well at that.

        But even if the Church is salvaged to some proper sense of herself once again later this century, I doubt it will be around the Pauline liturgical books as we know them. There might not be a wholesale return to the old Roman Rite, but it will have to be a considerably different liturgical praxis than that which obtains now.

        • William J. Walsh

          What does it take to “be living out, however imperfectly, an identifiably Catholic life”? Membership in a conspicuously traditionalist parish? What should we do about all the people who are just going to Mass, taking the sacraments, contributing financially and hanging out with other people who claim to be Catholic in order to get them in line?

          • Athelstane

            Well, for starters: Do they pray?

            That’s the most important question to start with.

  • Back in the day we worried too much about theology amd morality, and were too intolerant. Now we don’t worry enough about theology and morality, and are not intolerant enough.
    One day soon – perhaps God willing under the papacy of Robert Sarah – we will get the balance right, then look out liberals and secularists.

    • Jramza

      Did you realllllly say that Catholics are not intolerant enough?

      • Mike17

        Intolerant of bad theology and bad morality, I think he means. Hopefully your idea of tolerance doesn’t extend to us accepting bad ideas. “Tolerance is an attitude of reasoned patience toward evil … a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment. Tolerance applies only to persons … never to truth. Tolerance applies to the erring, intolerance to the error … Architects are as intolerant about sand as foundations for skyscrapers as doctors are intolerant about germs in the laboratory. Tolerance does not apply to truth or principles. About these things we must be intolerant, and for this kind of intolerance, so much needed to rouse us from sentimental gush, I make a plea. Intolerance of this kind is the foundation of all stability.”
        (Archbishop Fulton Sheen)

        • Jramza

          Yes, “hate the sin, love the sinner.” Got that. But you read far more erudite, subtle distinction in kentgeordie’s comment than I do; and I did not much appreciate the equally subtle slam on the current vicar of Christ, either.

          • BXVI

            It is not a sin to think Pope Francis is a poor leader and that we would be better off with someone else. Reality has begun to sink in. We have had many Popes that were bad leaders.

          • Jramza

            I never said it was a sin. That’s what you say.

          • BXVI

            Some popes are bad. History proves this. Some popes tolerate or even encourage error without formally teaching it. We could deny this but then we would have to ignore history.

            I agree that it is wrong to ignore the magisterial teaching of a current Pope and focus exclusively on the teaching of earlier ones. On the other hand, when a Pope sows confusion – whether intentionally or unintentionally – we can find solace in the clear Magisterial teaching of the Church that existed prior to the current pontificate.

            Of course, the big question that everyone is focused on at the moment is whether Pope Francis has reversed the teaching that the Church has always held to the effect that the “remarried” cannot partake of the Eucharist unless they agree to avoid the objective sin of adultery in the future.

            Some say he has; others say he hasn’t; many are simply mystified. In such cases, when he has not clearly stated that he is reversing the existing rule, the better view is to assume that he has not overturned the teaching of prior Popes as set forth in the Catechism at 1650 and 2390 (1994), in Familiaris Consortio at 84 (1981), and in Sacramentum Cartitatis at 29 (2007).

            Would it not be scandalous for a Pope to directly countermand the very recent Magisterial teaching of the two popes who immediately preceded him, one of whom was just canonized and who has already been ascribed the moniker “the Great” by many of the faithful?

            Would it not be even more scandalous for a Pope to try to effectuate such a reversal of the Magisterial teaching of his two immediate predecessors with a wink and a nod in a footnote rather than to forthrightly state his intention?

            I prefer, if possible, to give the Pope the benefit of the doubt and believe that he would not attempt such a thing.

          • William J. Walsh

            Yet you insinuate that he has.
            Who was the last “bad” Pope in your estimation? Alexander VI?

          • William J. Walsh

            I agree that we have had Popes who were bad leaders, but I am unaware of any this century. The last Pope whose leadership I might–and I emphasize that I am undecided about him–question was Pio Nono in the 19th century. He seems to have been somewhat intemperate on occasion, though I would have to know more to be sure. I have a better knowledge of the leadership of the vicars of Christ beginning with Pius X, and that knowledge gives me some confidence that in this modern time of trial for my faith the Church is being guided by the Holy Spirit in its selection of leaders. I do include the current Pope, who I revere as I did Benedict XVI, with whose teaching and leadership I see great continuity.

          • BXVI

            Yes, we have been blessed with an incredible string of good/great and holy ones. But they have all had their faults, too. Popes are not impeccable.

            St. John Paul the Great is my personal hero. Yet, he failed to ferret out the abuse crisis and to eradicate it – a true stain on the pontificate of one of the greatest Popes of all time.

            In my opinion, Pope Benedict was the greatest Catholic theologian in at least 300 years. Yet, he did not have a charismatic persona and was not a great administrator. In the end, his pontificate was overwhelmed by curial intrigue.

            Pope Francis? I am sure he is a personally holy man, and he is clearly very charismatic. But, is he doctrinally sound? Many people are now asking that question out loud.

        • Jramza

          I understand that intolerance can have many meanings, the one you describe, as well as: “unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect persons of a different social group, especially members of a minority group. incapacity or indisposition to bear or endure”

          I think using it allows for an ambiguity (sometimes purposefully) that is not acceptable in a democratic society, where we must, indeed, “all just get along.”

          • BXVI

            The Church is not a democratic society.

            A Church that does not demand obedience and that imposes no discipline on those who openly defy her teachings simply does not work. That is the obvious lesson of the past 50 years. It is ironic that the Church’s willingness to tolerate heterodoxy is borne of an unwarranted fear that people will leave if the Church actually asks them to obey her teachings or face ecclesial consequences.

            If a Catholic can think whatever he wants, say whatever he wants, and do whatever he wants, and suffer no ecclesial consequences (and even be invited to speak at Pontifical academies in Rome, like Biden) then the Church loses its ability to transmit the faith because it does not seem to stand for anything, regardless what the “doctrines” say. It ceases to be an effective witness to the Gospel, and it certainly can’t effectively evangelize. Ultimately, if it tolerates error and dissent for long enough, it risks being overcome by it.

          • Jramza

            The Church is not democratic; the United States IS. And if the Church wishes to exist in the United States, it must, like our lovely ISIS, ISL, and Al Shabab buddies, get along, or it must get out.

          • Mike17

            Well, yes, in a democratic society we must “all just get along” but do you extend that “getting along” to murderers, drug dealers, human traffickers and people who hack into other people’s computers in order to cause harm? Or do you accept that there are limits to tolerance, even in a democratic society? Now, how about adultery? I don’t know if you are married but if you are and you discovered that your spouse was committing adultery would you simply say to him/her, “That’s okay, dear, it’s a democratic society and we must all get along. Do carry on.”?
            I see from comments below that you are a Catholic so obviously you neither accept nor tolerate adultery so I am a bit puzzled by your comments about ‘all just get along’. Would you not agree that it is possible to be intolerant of adultery but non-judgmental towards people who commit adultery? No one, as far as I know, except for some rather extreme types, suggests that adulterers should be stoned to death or even put in prison but that does not mean that most people think that adultery is a perfectly acceptable way of behaving.

          • Jramza

            well, you ARE getting to the crux of my point: a fear of extremism, and an appreciation that most extremists begin their journey by logical processes that initially seem benign. In a democratic society, we vote. Once a vote occurs, the issue is by no means finalized. But those who disagree with the vote’s outcome must dissent civilly and with tolerance to those who stand in disagreement. Society has determined that “murderers, drug dealers, human traffickers, et al” are acting illegally. If I should disagree with this, I am free to; however, to be “intolerant” (again, a poor choice of words because of its multi-varied meanings, as I stated elsewhere)- to be intolerant of those who hold a majority view is the beginning of a dangerous journey imo. In disagreement? no problem. Intolerant? well, I’m growing ever more wary and weary of intolerant people as I age. It never ends well.

          • BXVI

            I think “intolerance” is the perfect word for the situation. It is a word that needs to be used because of all that it implies. You seem to think intolerance implies violence but that is not the case. Civil disobedience is one form of showing intolerance with unjust laws.

            If the United States were to pass a law (democratically) requiring all citizens to offer a pinch of incense to the President to show their worship of him as a God, how would you respond?

            With “tolerance” by obedience?

            Or with “intolerance” by disobedience?

      • BXVI

        I’ll say it. See, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, “A Plea for Intolerance.”

  • Cromulent

    Bergoglio’s “leadership” in Argentina led to hemorrhaging of attendance and vocations.

    • William J. Walsh

      Bergoglio, to the best of my knowledge, cannot reasonably be said to have “led” Argentina, or even the Argentine Church as a whole. Furthermore, attendance and vocations have declined everywhere but in Africa.

      • Athelstane

        Well, when then-Archbishop Bergoglio took over Buenos Aires as ordinary, the archdiocese was averaging 40-50 ordinations per year.

        This year, they will ordain three men to the priesthood. That works out to about one ordinand per million Catholics in the archdiocese.

        Now, correlation is not causation, some will say. And that’s true. But there are neighboring dioceses which have not seen anything like that falloff.

        • William J. Walsh

          So while its not possible to say that Bergoglio was responsible for the collapse in ordinations in Buenos Aires, as opposed to what has happened in places which are not the urban metropolis of Argentina, you are nevertheless willing to imply it. I understand.

          • Athelstane

            Let’s say I have heard enough first-hand reports about Bergoglio’s handling of vocations and interactions with seminarians and priests in Buenos Aires to think I can do a heck of a lot more than just imply it, Mr. Walsh. But let that pass.

            But however you cut it, a bishop is responsible for vocations in his diocese, barring extrinsic events (war, plague, natural disaster, tyrannical persecution). And on the hard data, Cardinal Bergoglio was a profound failure. In a generation Buenos Aires has gone from a decent (not great, but decent) stream of vocations to almost none at all. Why is that? It’s a question that a lot of people should have been asking in 2013, and should have been asking since. And they ought to be asking of a lot more Catholic bishops as well.

  • Gonzalo Palacios

    A stupid question indeed, aimed at reinforcing the stupidity of those who take it seriously! Something like the old “Who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb?” Like it or not, Nancy Pelosi and Joseph Biden come from the same place and from the same family and educational background many other Catholics like myself come from.The fact that they do not practice their faith the same way the writer of the article and many of his readers do, does not make make them “aliens” or “illegals”. GROW UP! Learn to love as He loves us, Gonzalo T. Palacios, Ph.D.

    • jj

      I think the point is Catholicism, unlike most other Christian denominations, first and foremost calls us to obedience. Unlike evangelicalism or even traditional Protestantism, Catholicism teaches that we don’t have individual authority to decide moral issues for ourselves. That’s NOT saying we don’t have individual consciences or individual revelation or individual relationship with Christ, just that we must submit our tyrannical egos to the teachings of the Church. When major “Catholic” politicians publicly reject the teachings of the Church while still claiming to be Catholic, it’s a serious issue. It gives credence to the idea that we’re actually morally free to pick and choose our moral standings as we think or feel, instead of submitting them to the Church and trusting her judgement instead. Josh J, PhD candidate.

    • Rene

      Just because you have a Ph.D. does not make you smarter than those who are faithful to what Christ teaches. Many with Ph.D’s suffer from the sin of pride and need a conversion. They think that orthodox Catholics are stupid. Yes, Christ loves Joseph Biden and Nancy Pelosi, but if they love him in turn, they need to follow the commandments, If we, you and I, love him, we need to follow the commandments. Rene Cordero, Ph.D.

      • Gonzalo Palacios

        You’re correct, Rene: the Ph.D. does not make any me or you smarter that anyone else: the fact that you have one proves it. I do need conversion (not just for pride); thank you for the advise. “If we, you and I, love Him, we need to follow” HIS COMMANDMENT. Gonzalo Palacios

        • BXVI

          “Commandments”, not “commandment.”

          Please do not reduce the Gospel to simply “love one another.” That is a false and incomplete Gospel.

          Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment is to love God will all your heart, mind, strength and soul. He made it very clear that disobedience to the moral law, as reflected in the 10 Commandments, is a rejection of God. It is to declare with one’s actions that one does not love God.

          To “love one another as I have loved you” is second for a reason, though it is no less essential. It is subordinate to the command to love God above all things. Any love of neighbor that involves a watering down of the moral law or a “looking away” from peoples’ refusal to love God first is not true love.

          • Gonzalo Palacios

            “Please do not reduce the Gospel to simply “love one another.” That is a false and incomplete Gospel:” Is the following text also false and incomplete: “[A Pharisee lawyer] asked him a question, to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 22:34-40)”?

            And is John 13:34 “incomplete”: “34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ?

            “Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment is to love God will all your heart, mind, strength and soul. He made it very clear that disobedience to” His Father’s will (that we love one another…), showed we did not love Him, thus breaking the “new commandment”.

            What is frequently called “the moral law,” is as complicated as the concept of “human nature”: both of these issues have been studied and clarified as long as humans recorded their thoughts. To state that we can find the definitive meaning of the moral law as “reflected in the 10 Commandments, is a rejection of God’s plan of Creation which includes human freedom to submit to an evolving natural and moral law. That rejection may “result in one being thrown into “fiery Gehenna”. It is to declare with one’s actions that one does not love God.” And then, again, it may more likely result in a manifestation of the Father’s mercy and Love – at least, that is what the Prodigal Son story tells us about Him.

            To “love one another as I have loved you” is second [!!!} for a reason, though it is no less essential. It is subordinate to the command to love God above all things. Any love of neighbor that involves a watering down of the moral law or a “looking away” from peoples’ refusal to love God first is not true love.

            “.. . These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ . . . Why do you submit to regulations, “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things which all perish as they are used), according to human precepts and doctrines? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting rigor of devotion and self-abasement and severity to the body, but they are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh”. (Col. 2:16-17; 20-23).

            Let this be my last comment here. It is clear that we must go “Back to the Future”, back to the ALPHA/OMEGA, and pray that His Spirit guide us in our journey. Gonzalo Palacios.

          • BXVI

            Gonzalo, your first quote was the one I was referring to. First and greatest commandment? Love of God. Second and subordinate commandment? Love others. Both are essential to our salvation. However, I think there is a tendency today to reverse them or even to ignore the first and focus exclusively on the second. We must see God in our neighbors, but they are not gods. When they turn their backs on God we must still love them but that does not mean tolerating or ignoring their bad behavior. The “new” commandment to love one another as he has loved us was never intended to displace, or supplant, or to take priority over the first and greatest commandment: to love God with all our heart, mind, strength and soul. Peace.

    • Gonzalo Palacios

      “I think the point is Catholicism, unlike most other Christian denominations, first and foremost calls us to obedience”:

      1) The point of Catholicism is not what you or I may or may not think it is;

      2) Islam, some Christian denominations, and other religious sects call and have called for (unrestricted) obedience; Catholicism calls for (freely given) obedience to God’s will as revealed to us;

      3) The point of Catholicism, unlike a few Christian denominations, Islam, and most other religions, is that Love (God) became one of us to reveal the New Law of Love, to love one another….. etc.

      “ Unlike evangelicalism or even traditional Protestantism, Catholicism teaches that we don’t have individual authority to decide moral issues for ourselves:”

      Not exactly accurate, in fact, that statement seems to deny the guidance of the Holy Spirit: “Hence every man has the duty, and therefore the right to seek the truth in matters religious, in order that he may with prudence form for himself right and true judgments of conscience…”

      “Moreover, as the truth is discovered, it is by personal assent that men are to adhere to it.”

      “In all his activity a man is bound to follow his conscience faithfully, in order that he many come to God, for whom he was created. It follows that he is not to be forced [by any kind of pressure, GP] to act in a manner contrary to his conscience.” The Documents of Vatican II, Declaration on Religious Freedom, # 3.

      “ That’s NOT saying we don’t have individual consciences or individual revelation or individual relationship with Christ, just that we must submit our tyrannical egos” : Maybe your tyrannical ego: mine was created free. What rule of Logic is broken by generalizations?

      We must submit- in good conscience – to the teachings of Christ and His Church. When major “Catholic” politicians publicly reject the teachings of the Church while still claiming to be Catholic, it’s a serious issue for those who claim to have the Truth of those teachings – eternal, by definition – and fail to distinguish that eternal Truth from the politicians’ temporal claims. It gives credence to the idea that we’re actually morally free to pick and choose our moral standings as we think or feel, instead of submitting them to the Church and trusting he r judgement instead. No, it does not, at least to me: read at least Vatican Council II’s “Declaration on Religious Freedom,” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s various papers on this issue, and, of course, up date your understanding of obedience with Pope Francis’ various Letters and statements. Josh, the Virgin Mary’s FIAT revealed the new Law of Love, obey it, Gonzalo T. Palacios

    • BXVI

      “The fact that they do not practice their faith the same way the writer of the article and many of his readers do, does not make them “aliens” or “illegals”.”

      It makes them betrayers of the Gospel though. It makes them complicit enablers in the murders of millions of unborn children. It makes them purveyors of the great Satanic lie that there is nothing wrong with homosexual acts or “marriage” and in the imposition of the new “gender ideology” on the world. It makes them strident opponents of the Truth. It makes them the cause of grave scandal to the Catholic Church. In short, it makes them extremely bad Catholics. What they are doing is evil in the extreme.

      Is it “unloving” or even worse, “unmerciful” of me to say so? Well, perhaps. Or perhaps saying so is more loving than acting as though there is nothing wrong with what they are doing?

    • Athelstane

      The fact that they do not practice their faith the same way the writer of the article and many of his readers do, does not make make them “aliens” or “illegals.”

      Many of them are pretty obviously not practicing the faith at all, I’m afraid.

  • Seamrog

    Jesus Christ is Mercy incarnate. Understanding his infinite mercy, I also understand that he would drag anyone who can support or defend the butchery of infants out of the Church by their ears until they repent.

    Our Episcopate prefers cozy relationships with these monsters to reap federal monies to support their ‘social justice’ hippie notions.

    Truly, ‘men without chests.’

  • Carlo Dante

    I do think there was an inflection point, when many Catholic clergy religious, teachers and writers, publicly rejected the Churches teaching on artificial contraception and sexual ethics. This group became an influential “loyal opposition” that gained important posts in the Church. At that point Pope Paul decided to take the patient, tolerant approach rather than risk a de facto schism with the liberals. That ship has sailed, but there has been a cost in confusion, scandal and a persistent strain of pastoral theology that emphasis subjective “conscience” over biblical theology and logical empiricism.

  • BXVI

    How can any American Catholic say anything at all in opposition to Biden / Pelosi style Catholicism when the Pope has made it clear that it doesn’t bother him at all? After Biden spoke in Rome last week, the Catholics who are vocally dismayed that he is being given the Laetare Medal at Notre Dame next week have become laughing-stocks.

    News Flash: the Pope agrees with Notre Dame, and with Georgetown, and with every other Jesuit college that invites some apostate to speak or receive an award. He clearly has no qualms surrounding himself with people who stridently oppose the Truth on abortion, homosexuality, population control or whatever so long as they mouth the global warming / social justice pieties that he thinks are far more important (see, e.g., Sanders, Biden, Sachs, Moon).

    Yes, yes, Pope Francis said anyone who considers such invitations as endorsements “needs a psychiatrist”. Well, “Methinks he doth protest too much.” Actions speak at least as loud as words. Pope Francis has sent a very clear message: we will tolerate your anti-life and radically pro-homosexual views if you promote leftist economics and subscribe to the global warming gospel.

    • William J. Walsh

      I really disagree. Meeting with people is not the same as endorsing their views. You say that the Pope is “surrounding himself with people who stridently oppose the Truth…” This is hyperbole at best. He met the people you list once each briefly to the best of my knowledge. Nothing Pope Francis has said our done would lead me to concur with your last statement either, unless by “tolerate” you mean “not insist on war.” The Pope has repeatedly and clearly stated that abortion and homosexual acts are sinful. You are, perhaps, confused because some people in the media want to take things the Pope has said out of context in order to confuse people about what he thinks and believes.

      • BXVI

        Yes, it was hyperbole. But, meeting with them does send a message, and inviting them to speak at Pontifical academies also sends a message.

        The message it sends is that a high-profile Catholic can publicly profess and advocate for heterodox views – for things the Church says are evil – and still be welcomed at the Vatican and even given a platform to speak (on other issues) without expecting any reprimand or admonishment.

        Also, if you can find one quote where Pope Francis said homosexual acts are sinful since he assumed the See of Peter I would appreciate your sharing it with us. He talks around the issue very carefully without ever actually saying that homosexual acts are sinful.

        For example, in Amoris Laetitia, he carefully avoided saying that homosexual acts are sinful, or immoral, or against God’s law, or any such thing. Instead he says homosexual unions are not in any way like marriage and can never be recognized as such. That is saying something very different. Seriously, if you can find such a statement, I would love to be corrected.

      • BXVI

        [The Pope has repeatedly and clearly stated that abortion and homosexual acts are sinful.]

        William, did you find that quote from Pope Francis about homosexual acts being sinful yet?

        It does not exist.

  • BXVI

    A Church that does not demand obedience and that imposes no discipline simply does not work. That is the obvious lesson of the past 50 years. It is ironic that the willingness to tolerate heterodoxy which seems to have become a dominant feature of the Church is borne of an unwarranted fear that people will leave if the Church actually asks them to obey her teachings.
    If you can think whatever you want, say whatever you want, and do whatever you want, and still remain a Catholic in good standing (even be invited to speak at Pontifical academies in Rome, like Biden) then the Church loses its meaning. It ceases to be an effective witness to the Gospel. It certainly can’t evangelize anyone. And, ultimately, if it tolerates error and dissent for long enough, it risks being overcome by it.

  • ssoldie

    The fruits of Vatican II Pastoral Council and the ambiguous language from the peritis, have caused this revolution, that has and is devastating the Church of Jesus Christ,and the ‘shepherds’ from Vatican II have been assisting in it.

  • Derek_V

    I know so many Catholics who are pro choice. It is not because they relish in unborn life being killed. It is because pragmatic approach to abortion is the only way. Absolutist positions are fine and well and beautiful. But they don’t protect a single unborn life. Not a single one. Pragmatism does.
    So yes. You can promote the sanctity of life and still support human lifes that are designed to safe as many unborn lives as is humanely possible.

  • Putin on the Ritz

    Think this is bad, try being an Episcopalian!

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