Thursday, November 13, 2008

American Catholic Bishops Intolerant! (I Should Hope So)

A certain sort of "tolerance" is highly valued in American culture. It's considered a virtue to tolerate, or put up with, people
  • Whose ancestors didn't come from the same spot on the planet that yours did
  • Who worship in ways that you don't, or who don't worship at all
  • Who don't make as much money as you do
That's not an exhaustive list, but you get the idea.

And, I think that sort of "tolerance" is a good idea.

"He Doesn't Have Family...."

I'll admit to having a personal stake in the first two points. One of my ancestors, asked about the family of a young man who had been nosing around her daughter, explained: "he doesn't have family: he's Irish." The two got married, anyway.

As for how people worship, I've got a counter-cultural history on both sides of the gene pool. My father's family was Catholic - which was fine, until they moved to America, where they were a minority. You may know that Norwegians are Lutheran. Except for quite a number of my ancestors, who clung to their Methodist beliefs with Scandinavian stubbornness.

When I converted to Catholicism, I put myself in a minority again: So I'm very glad that (some) tolerance of non-majority religions is part of American culture.

There's Tolerance, and There's Tolerance

Around the seventies, I noticed another sort of "tolerance" growing in America: the sort where it's not enough to tolerate other views, you have to support them, too. But I'm getting off topic.

Tolerance Isn't Always a Good Idea

As far as I know, medical doctors haven't yet gotten the idea that they should tolerate the common cold, or be open-minded about cancer. The psychiatric profession, on the other hand, has started clearing their case load by redefining their terms. But I'm getting off track. One politically-incorrect attitude per post is probably enough.

On a more everyday level, Americans are expected to be intolerant of arson. Even though many arsonists may be careful to ensure that people aren't inside the buildings they torch.

Since many people, including arsonists, enjoy watching firefighters at a burning building, this intolerance of arson could be called interference with the right to a "pursuit of happiness."

Silly? Yes, certainly. There's a broad consensus of opinion that setting fire to buildings, occupied or not, except under tightly controlled conditions, is a bad idea. Events like the Great Chicago Fire seem to have left a deep impression.

So, What Have the Catholic Bishops Done This Time?

The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, made this statement at the end of the USCCB's annual fall assembly of the USCCB:

"The bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States welcome this moment of historic transition and look forward to working with President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the common good of all," but: "the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve," if the Obama administration's policies cause more abortions.
("Cardinal George Voices Hope for Obama Administration, Points to Possible Obstacles to Our Desired Unity," USCCB News Release (November 12, 2008))

The USCCB president pointed out that the Catholic Church is interested in the common good, and wants to keep
  • Working for "economic justice and opportunity for all"
  • Provide better education and adequate health care for all
    • "Especially for women and children"
  • Safeguarding religious freedom
  • Fostering peace at home and abroad
So far, so good. But: "Aggressive pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion."
("Cardinal George Voices Hope for Obama Administration, Points to Possible Obstacles to Our Desired Unity," USCCB News Release (November 12, 2008))

Here's the deal: The last Congress introduced Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA).

If FOCA comes up again, and passes this time, I agree with the bishops: we'll see the sort of 'freedom' that gave Chicago urban renewal in 1871. FOCA would
  • Outlaw
    • Any "interference" with a woman killing her baby
    • Parental notification
    • Informed Consent
    • Protection of babies who survive a botched abortion ('hey! it's still breathing!')
  • Take away the current "modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry"
  • Force all Americans into paying for and promoting abortion
    ('your tax dollars at work'
  • Force doctors and nurses to murder babies, whether they approve or not
    • That, or find another job
  • Threaten Catholic medical facilities and charities
As the statement said: "It would be an evil law that would further divide our country, and the Church should be intent on opposing evil."

And, it looks like the Church does intend to oppose evil.


Taking a stand against evil is intolerant. But I spent my youth in the sixties: I'm used to the idea of taking on entrenched values.

More, at:


Brigid said...

Now I'm worried. So, so worried. And so many Catholics voted for Obama!

Oh man. Oh man.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...


Please: don't worry. American Catholic bishops are addressing a critical issue, Americans are no longer as dependent on The New York Times and three (or four) broadcast networks for news and information, and - this is important - things change.

About so many Catholics voting for Obama: There are historical reasons for that. Almost a century ago, there was some reason for Catholics supporting the Democratic party. And, people are often creatures of habit.

You might find the second item in an earlier post's Background section informative.

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Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.