Monday, September 07, 2009

A Conservative Viewpoint
- The ‘Power’ Of The Catholic Church

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

From the beginning of time man has had an inherent sense of a higher power. Whether referred to by Christians as Yahweh or by Islam as Allah, God in any culture is perceived as the supernatural creator and overseer of the universe. He is the source of all moral obligation. The Catholic Church is no exception.

In 1957 my godfather lay on his deathbed. He was in his 70s and suffering from heart disease. My family referred to this man simply as “Bob.”

My father, as a young boy, delivered his newspaper and later chauffeured him until Dad entered the Armed Forces in the early 40s. Bob never married. His entire family had predeceased him and our family became his family.

Bob was raised Catholic but as a young man became an Episcopalian. He loved the Anglican tradition with its pomp and pageantry. In spite of strong Catholic roots, he seldom missed an opportunity to criticize his former church.

A local Catholic priest learned that Bob was dying and unexpectedly came to see him. My family never learned what was discussed, but this we know: Bob returned to Catholicism hours before dying. Perhaps he requested the Catholic nurse who tended him to summon a priest. Maybe she did it on her own. She had known he was raised Catholic. In any event, St. Paul’s Catholic Church gave Bob a wonderful sendoff. The folks in town, many of whom were on the receiving end of his anti-Catholic rants, were shocked. So were we.

My wife is Catholic. She was raised in a large Italian family. Church is a major part of every Catholic’s life and her family is no exception. Mass every Sunday, First Communion, confession, and learning the catechism; every Catholic learns to abide by church tenets, or risks falling from favor with it. Although we have attended the Episcopal Church for 37 years, she has recently expressed a desire to one day return to her Catholic roots.

The church has a strong hold over its flock. Many Catholics were educated in parochial schools, further strengthening ties to their faith. I’ve often heard, “Once a Catholic, always a Catholic.”

For 50 years the percentage of Catholics in the U. S. has remained steady at 24 percent. While some fall away for one reason or another, an influx of immigrants has helped keep the percentage steady. Many who leave the church eventually find their way back as they ultimately come to grips with their own mortality.

The late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was a Catholic. Many have questioned his commitment to his faith because of his pro-choice position on abortion. Kennedy must have questioned it himself when earlier this summer, he penned a letter to Pope Benedict XVI, pleading his case to the Pontiff for his eternal salvation. While Kennedy never mentioned abortion specifically, he did write: “I have always tried to be a faithful Catholic, Your Holiness, and though I have fallen short through human failings, I have never failed to believe and respect the church’s fundamental teachings.”

In the Catholic Church, as in all of Christendom, abortion is wrong. To a Catholic it is especially egregious. Abortion is categorized as the most heinous of sins. It’s murder, not only in the church’s eyes, but also the eyes of many who have chosen abortion.

If the church learns of a member having an abortion they are excommunicated. As a result, many women have kept their abortions secret. The church has learned over the years that those who have had an abortion have often seen their lives spiral downward, accompanied by a feeling of unworthiness for committing the “unforgivable sin.” They’ve found fathers of aborted children experiencing similar trauma in their lives.

Since Roe vs. Wade became law in 1973, the U. S. Center for Disease Control reports 50 million fetuses aborted. To put that figure in perspective, Canada’s population is 34 million. While abortions have decreased in the past 20 years, the procedure has wreaked untold damage to millions of women and their families who continue to live with guilt.

In 1994 the Catholic Church began a ministry to help those who’ve experienced abortion find peace in their lives. It’s known as Rachel’s Vineyards. The mission is to assist those who continue to grieve the loss of their aborted children. This ministry continues to provide an effective healing process for those who are often traumatized by the guilt they suffer, some who have reached the age of 70 or 80

Prior to Roe vs. Wade, Kennedy was no pro-choice activist. Public statements he made early in his senatorial career indicate as much. In fact, in 1975 he even opposed federal funding for abortions for those on Medicaid. Kennedy had his eyes on a bid for the White House in 1980. After four years of Jimmy Carter’s disastrous presidency, Kennedy knew he’d need pro-choice votes if he was to have any chance at securing his party’s nomination. It was during this period that Kennedy chose politics over faith, becoming an outspoken proponent of abortion rights for women.

Did Kennedy have any remorse over that decision and did he ask for God’s forgiveness on his death bed? Although we’ll never know for certain, I suspect he might have. Catholics are taught to seek repentance for all their sins so that they may die in a state of grace. In the final analysis I can’t imagine Kennedy hedging his bet. Once a Catholic, always a Catholic.

This is a very interesting article. I have long failed to understand the ability of Catholics to reconcile their acceptance of tyrannical government with the concept of free will. Otherwise how could they be Democrats and liberals? God granted us free will. God never intended that government enforce “goodness” by the use of the force which is at the root of all government actions. When the police enforce the power of the state to prohibit murder, it is an appropriate use of force to stop a clear evil. When the police use the power of the state to take your money and give it to others for food and clothing and shelter, how could anyone make sure that is just? Yet the nanny state of the Democrat Party does that. And Catholics accept that as just.

When the nanny state of the Democrat Party demands that the activist judiciary enforce a right to abortion that they could never have gotten passed by a popularly elected legislature, how do they justify that? Catholics do though. Bob calls it the power of the Catholic Church... which permits entering heaven no matter what sins you have committed if you repent. Is that how Catholics can support government tyranny? They just confess to a Catholic priest and all is forgiven?

I find the entire process by which Catholics justify their actions to be beyond my comprehension.


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