We've come to a weird place in the history of our nation. With the advent of the Tea Party movement has come a neo-nascent appreciation for our founding documents; particularly the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, and with it a more proper understanding of the role of virtue and religion in that founding. And yet, at the same time a widening gap grows between these folks and the many Americans who believe that any hint of religious faith in the public square is wrong.
A further irony is that while other certain other religions have received over-abundant, bend-over-backward accommodation by those who are otherwise quick to cite separation of church and state as gospel, Catholics have particularly borne the brunt of their hostility in this country. Recently, the Board of Governors of the city of San Francisco -- that bastion of American morality and patriotism -- apparently tiring of directing their self-hate at America, have now chosen to vent their anger at the Catholic Church, the very organization whence they derive their name and heritage.
I mention this because San Francisco is the home of the soon-to-be de-gaveled Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, a self-proclaimed "ardent, practicing Catholic," who, like the leaders of the district she represents, has left many folks confused about her motives.
As is well documented, Pelosi supports, and even advocates gay marriage, contraception and of course, abortion; all positions rock-solidly opposed by the Church. You may remember how she embarrassed herself on national television, misrepresenting Catholic doctrine on abortion, saying that the Church has never made itself clear on the subject. Her confusion might have been averted had she simply flipped through the copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that I'm sure she keeps handy at all times and read this:
Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.
Pelosi and other Catholics who try to justify giving public scandal by openly defying Church teaching on grave sin, use issues like the death penalty and the Iraq War to counter that it is Republicans who are really opposing Church doctrine. This is, of course, patent nonsense as pointed out by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith had this to say on the subject:
Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.
To put it mildly, having pro-abortion politicians like Pelosi, John Kerry and Joe Biden as representative of Catholicism in America has been an embarrassment. But the first week of November blew a refreshing wind into the House Chamber, where in a few weeks there will be a true, practicing Catholic in the Speaker's Chair. The temptation to shout "Deo Gratias!" is very hard to suppress.
Unlike those mentioned above, John Boehner doesn't wear his faith on his sleeve. He doesn't have to; his deeds reflect it. He has received numerous awards for his defense of freedom and innocent life and has even gone so far as to link the two:
Americans love life and we love freedom. They're both intertwined, permanently, as part of the American character. America is a nation built on freedom. And without respect for life, freedom is in jeopardy. When human life takes a back seat to other priorities -- personal comforts, economics -- freedom is diminished. By contrast, when we affirm the dignity of life, we affirm our commitment to freedom.
According to exit polling from the just-concluded midterm elections, 55 per cent of Catholics -- an increase of 20 per cent over 2008 -- voted Republican, in no small part due to the treacherous surrender of so-called pro-life Democrats on the healthcare bill. Let us all pray that Speaker Boehner will continue to fight for liberty and justice for all; the born and the unborn.
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