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Archive for January, 2012

The Catholic Candidates?

If you’ve been following the Republican Presidential Primary, you will notice that faith has played a prominent role in this campaign. And barring Ron Paul from being elected, it will be the first time in a while (ever?) that the Republican Party hasn’t nominated a Protestant. While Gov. Romney’s Mormon faith has been called into question repeatedly, it has forced the Republican Party to come to terms with Catholicism as maybe-not-that-crazy. While I am excited for the embrace of Catholicism, I worry that Senator Santorum and Speaker Gingrich are misrepresenting the faith of the Church.

I do not wish to call into question their faith lives – I cannot ever know what is in someone’s heart, and I would be wrong to attempt to judge them. But I am concerned over their claims that their faith informs their politics, when in reality, besides the issues of gay marriage and abortion, they often take very different stances than the Church. While it is not a requirement for a Catholic or for a candidate to run solely on their Church’s platform, it should give us pause before choosing a candidate because they are Catholic.

On issues such as climate change, the death penalty, illegal immigration, and even gay rights, Senator Santorum and Newt Gingrich have significantly different opinions than those that the U.S. Church encourages.

Here are the players stances on some significant issues in the 2012 campaign:

ABORTION

Everyone opposes.

GAY MARRIAGE

Catholic Church: Opposes gay marriage.  Source: American Catholic 

Speaker Newt Gingrich: “I helped author DOMA; if it fails, amend Constitution.” (Jun 2011) Source: Issues 2000

Sen. Santorum: “Voted YES on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.” (Jun 2006) Source: Issues 2000

GAY RIGHTS

Catholic Church: Being homosexual is not a choice or a sin, sex outside of marriage is.

On DADT: There isn’t a specific Catholic Church opinion. Cardinal Wuerl Source: WLTX  

- “Some persons find themselves through no fault of their own to have a homosexual orientation. Homosexuals, like everyone else, should not suffer from prejudice against their basic human rights. They have a right to respect, friendship, and justice. They should have an active role in the Christian community.… The Christian community should provide them a special degree of pastoral understanding and care” – To Live in Christ Jesus, 1976 Source: Dignity USA

Speaker Newt Gingrich: Would reinstate DADT. Source: CNN Debate

- Homosexuality is a choice. Source: Huffington Post

Sen. Santorum: Would Reinstate DADT. Source: CNN Debate Voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes.” (Jun 2002) Source: Issues 2000

- Homosexuality is a choice. Source: CBS News

Evolution

Catholic Church: Believes evolution is compatible with Christianity. Source: Telegraph

Speaker Newt Gingrich: “Both [Evolution and Creationism] can be true. I don’t think there is necessarily a conflict between the two.” Source:  New York Magazine 

Sen. Santorum: “Expose kids to legitimate debate of evolution & creationism. (Mar 2005)” Source: Issues 2000

CLIMATE CHANGE

Catholic Church: Global warming, he said, “will impact first and foremost the poorest and weakest who, even if they are among the least responsible for global warming, are the most vulnerable because they have limited resources or live in areas at greater risk.” - Archbishop Migilore Source: Catholic  Online 

- “Care for the earth and for the environment is a moral issue. Protecting the land, water, and air we share is a religious duty of stewardship and reflects our responsibility to born and unborn children, who are most vulnerable to environmental assault.” Source: Forming Consciences for a Faithful Citizenship

Speaker Newt Gingrich: Doubts global warming. Source: Huffington Post 

- “Koto treaty is bad for the environment and bad for America.” (Dec 2006) Source: Issues 2000

Sen. Santorum: “There is no such thing as global warming.” Source: Huffington Post 

- “Voted NO on including oil & gas smokestacks in mercury regulations. (Sep 2005), Rated 0% by the League of Conservationist Voters, indicating anti-environment votes.” (Dec 2003) Source: Issues 2000

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

Catholic Church: “Comprehensive reform is urgently necessary to fix a broken immigration system and should include a temporary work program with worker protections and a path to permanent residency; family reunification policies; a broad and fair legalization program; access to legal protections, including due process and essential public programs; refuge for those fleeing persecution and exploitation; and policies to address the root causes of migration.” Source: Forming Consciences for a Faithful Citizenship

Speaker Newt Gingrich: “I voted for Reagan’s legal guest worker program.” (Sep 2011), Sue the federal government for every cent spent on illegals. (Nov 2011) Source: Issues 2000

Sen. Santorum: “Voted NO on establishing a Guest Worker program, giving guest workers citizenship.” (May 2006) Source: Issues 2000

- “Catholic bishops working for immigration reform are wrong to do so.” Source: Christian Post

DEATH PENALTY

Catholic Church: The Catholic Church opposes the death penalty in nearly all cases, and Pope John Paul II often speaks out against capital punishment” Source: American Catholic 

Speaker Newt Gingrich: “Voted NO on replacing death penalty with life imprisonment. (April 1994)” Source: Issues 2000

Sen. Santorum: “Voted YES on limiting death penalty appeals. (Apr 1996), Voted NO on replacing death penalty with life imprisonment. (Apr 1994)” Source: Issues 2000

HEALTH CARE

Catholic Church: Affordable and accessible health care is an essential safeguard of human life and a fundamental human right. With an estimated 47 million Americans lacking health care coverage, it is also an urgent national priority.  Source: Forming Consciences for Faithful Citzenship

Speaker Newt Gingrich: “Repeal ObamaCare; sign tort reform instead. (Feb 2011)” Source: Issues 2000

Sen. Santorum: “ Liberal states won’t waive ObamaCare; we must repeal it. (Oct 2011)” Sources: Issues 2000

WAR IN IRAQ
Catholic Church:  The Roman Catholic Church, led by Pope John Paul II, opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Source: American Catholic
Speaker Newt Gingrich: “Gingrich was a powerful advocate both for the idea of invading Iraq and for the botched way in which it was done.” Source:  Washington Post- “Goal was to liberate Iraq from Saddam, not to occupy.” (Dec 2007) Source: Issues 2000Sen. Santorum: “Voted YES on authorizing use of military force against Iraq. (Oct 2002), Voted NO on redeploying troops out of Iraq by July 2007. (Jun 2006)” Source: Issues 2000

While not all of the politicians’ stances are directly opposed to the Church’s, they are nonetheless concerning in many areas. Additionally, these are only issues where the Church has taken a direct opinion on. Others which are more unique to the United States, such as food stamps, there are not specific statements, however we know the Church has a record of favoring the poor, encouraging the rich to contribute to a better society, and protecting the least amongst us. Additionally, the Church believes that all we do must be done in love. Vitriolic lashing out and favoring donors over citizens is not in the spirit of Christianity.
There are many reasons to vote for a candidate and not to vote for them. The Catholic Church does not require it’s faithful to follow these positions, we are free to vote as we see morally fit. But let us let our faith inform our politics, not let our party dictate how we express our faith.

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I’m not going to apologize for being successful. – Mitt Romney

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” – Matthew 19:21

We’ve been watching a lot of HGTV lately. By “we” I mean I when I get the remote first. We’re moving sometime after we graduate, and I am more than ready for a new place. Two years in JVC, two years of grad school have meant living on our minimum. Not that I regret it – I’ll be 25, debt-free, and with a Master’s degree because of these decisions. But I’m ready for a salary,  for an apartment larger than 512 square feet.  I want a place with a second bathroom and a dishwasher and a washer and dryer. I want a house with an open floor plan, granite countertops, an outdoor fireplace, and a landscaped backyard.

I want to live a life that’s comfortable. I want that for about five minutes, and then I want more. I want a Subaru so we can get around in the winter. I want to buy a house. I want to travel to Europe, to Africa. I want to buy Merino wool and go out to fancy restaurants. It’s not going to happen any time soon, but I still want it.

Now I know all about needs vs wants and living within your means. We have no plans on going into debt getting stuff we don’t need. But my husband is going to be a lawyer, I will have a Master’s degree, and so by virtue of being a) married, b) having relatively little school debt and c) having advanced degrees – I know that we aren’t going to be living this close to the poverty line for much longer. We’ll do well, and while I doubt we’ll ever be fabulously wealthy, barring any unforeseen circumstances – one day we will be well off.

But are we ever supposed to be? I compare those two quotes above and wonder. This country has taught us that we are supposed to do well, supposed to be successful, supposed to be more than comfortable. We can justify it all we want – we want a great job to provide for our kids and send them to college. We make lots of money, but we give some to charity. We make a lot, but we earned it.

But that’s not what the statement below says. sell your possessions. give the money to poor.

I feel as if we are trying to create a middle ground that does not exist. Wealthy by this country’s standards or not, most of us are living in the top 5% of the world (don’t believe me?). I don’t know how much more comfortable I can expect life to get.

So what do I do? Justify our (not yet existent) wealth by saying we will one day have a family? Try to live without anything we don’t need? Volunteer our time and talents? Be sure to say how we have worked for what we have, or talk about how fortunate and blessed we are? Sell all we have?

Please tell me; I honestly don’t know.

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Today I was going to write a post on how Sen. Santorum and Speaker Gingrich’s insistence that their Catholic faith informs their politics upsets me as I believe it is inaccurate, but I got a little side-tracked.  One of the lies I here perpetuated over and over again by Catholics is that it is immoral and a sin to vote for a pro-choice candidate. It’s not. And that’s not just my personal opinion, but that of the Church’s US authority, the United States Council of Catholic Bishops.

So you know where I’m coming from on this: Am I pro-life? Yes Iam. But I don’t believe in most legal measures to address the issue. The Supreme Court has ruled it constitutional, and so voting for a candidate who happens to be pro-life isn’t going to change that. Even if everyone in in the House and Senate were pro-life, they would be unable to pass a law that outlaws abortion because the Supreme Court has decided that would be unconstitutional.

So instead, I think non-legislative avenues are the best for avoiding abortions. Promoting adoption. Providing childcare to single mothers. Not mocking teen moms. Empowering women. Better yet, these are things both sides of the aisle can generally agree on.

Doing some research for my Santorum-Gingrich article (which I will post at some point – stay tuned), I came upon this article on the Catholic TV station, EWTN website: http://www.ewtn.com/vote/brief_catechism.htm that suggested that under no circumstances Catholics may vote for a “pro-abortion” candidate.

In the USCCB’s “Forming Consciences for a Faithful Citizenship” it details the considerations US Catholics should make. While the article suggests that abortion is a trump-all issue, the USCCB says, ” Racism and other unjust discrimination, the use of the death penalty, resorting to unjust war, the use of torture,4 war crimes, the failure to respond to those who are suffering from hunger or a lack of health care, or an unjust immigration policy are all serious moral issues that challenge our consciences and require us to act. These are not optional concerns which can be dismissed.” 

Furthermore, the USCCB says:

There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.While the article suggests that an candidates positions on other issues cannot outweigh their position on abortion, the USCCB says the opposite: 

It goes on to say:“When all candidates hold a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely yo pursue other authentic human goods.”

You may wonder what is considered a “grave reason.”

According to the USCCB it includes:“It is important for our society to continue to combat discrimination based on race, religion, sex, ethnicity, disabling condition, or age, as these are grave injustices and affronts to human dignity.”

The author of the article states that “For this reason, moral evils such as abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide are examples of a “disqualifying issue.” A disqualifying issue is one which is of such gravity and importance that it allows for no political maneuvering.” This is a misinterpretation of the USCCB’s teaching, which states that “a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support.” I emphasize “may” because it is not an absolute as the author suggests.

Furthermore, it says that the issue may lead a voter to decide to not vote for them. It does not say that the Church requires it or considers that person ultimately unacceptable.It is damaging that the author suggests that it is necessary to vote only on a single issue when the USCCB urges the opposite: “As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support.” 

Most conclusively, the USCCB says that Catholics may only not vote for a pro-choice candidate if their attention is to advance that specific cause. They very clearly state that their opposition to abortion cannot outweigh or be used to justify other immoral actions (such as supporting wars, racism, injustices against the poor, sexism, death penalty, etc.):

“A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.”

This article as it is factually inaccurate, sites no sources other than the author’s personal opinion, goes against Catholic teaching, and is extremely misleading. It makes me sad that we still try to manipulate people to do something out of the fear that they are sinning rather than by following the Church’s teachings.

If you are not a Catholic and reading this, please know that despite what you might here in the media and the things people tell you, our Church at its core does not stand for bigotry, hate, manipulation, discrimination, racism, sexism, favoring the rich over the poor, or the destruction of our environment. Be skeptical when someone (inside or outside) of the Church tells you it does. We believe in a God who loves and forgives, who lifts up and protects. When you hear otherwise, please know that is not what we stand for.

*Sorry for all the wonky font changes on this post. WordPress baffles me.

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Where I’ve been

Hello!

I bet you are really enthralled by the will she/won’t she post again nature of my blog? It’s really just a strategy of mine to destroy my readership following.

The truth is I haven’t been blogging because I’ve been trying to transcribe 13 hours of interviews for my thesis before school starts back up again. Which leaves me typing several hours every day, which has not been so wonderful for my elbow. It aches and my fingers start to go numb after a while. It also means that I’ve all but given up knitting, my main form of stress relief, for the foreseeable future. Even though I was halfway done with two scarves. Damnit.

So blogging was something logical to cut out of my life. But then I got an arm brace and things haven’t been so bad lately.  Reason #157 I’m glad I got married “young”: I now wear an arm brace, retainer, eye mask, and ear plugs to bed. Sexy. I’m pretty sure if John had seen that get up before we tied the knot, things would have worked out differently. Though, to be honest, if things had worked out differently – I wouldn’t need the ear plugs. Just sayin’.

But then some people, like Jessica of Faith Permeating Life, said some nice things about my blog, so I figured maybe I should soldier on.

The bigger issue, however, is that I don’t really know what I’m doing here. My blog started as a way to inform family/friends back east what was going on in my life while I did JVC. Then, having a job with several hours of downtime in the afternoon, I started reading blogs and thought to myself, “Ooh, I could do that.” And I know I could. I could be a really good blogger with a thousand followers if I put any effort into it. But between marriage and graduating and job searching, blogging isn’t high on the priority list.

The other reason I don’t have a huge followership is that I don’t have a very directed blog. I want to be one of those cool people who do a lifestyle blog and post beautiful pictures of their baking adventures and taking their child to the park whilst impeccably dressed. There are several problems here: 1) my kitchen is a perpetual wreck. If you’ve ever been to my apartment and seen my kitchen clean, please know that is a lie and I only cleaned it because you were coming over. 2) I have no camera. Or, shall I say, I have two cameras, one of which does not like “working” and the other I cannot find the battery charger/card reader too and hate the thought of buying a new one. 3) I do not have a child. This blog would be WAY funner if there were some baby pictures plastered all over it, amiright?? 4) My computer’s spell check accepted the word “funner” as spelled correctly. This does not impact my blogging, but makes me very sad about the world. 5) I do not dress impeccably. The closest I get to impeccable is mildly clean.

And so I end up talking more about  social justice-y issues and go off on liberal rants. Which is fine and all, because I assume most people in real life would prefer me to take it out on the computer, but I’m worried that I’m pigeon holing myself too much as a blogger when I do that. Because I don’t want to write to people who agree with me; that’s no fun. I want to write to people who don’t know much about the Catholic faith and to people who have differing opinions.

So blogdom, what should I do? Soldier on with my mishmash of posts or pick a direction and go with it? Also , what do you think of my technique of posting twice in a month and hoping people are still reading? It work for me, right?

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Day in the life: Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! Or should I say Mele Kalikimaka, but more on that later.

Jenna who writes at That Wife had the idea of having her readers document their Christmas Eves and Christmas days and share them. I liked the idea and thus decided to play along. Plus I’m laid up in bed with cramps that leave me with nothing to do but complain.

This was my first Christmas with my in laws so I will be sharing hat that was like as well as what Christmas is like for Catholics. I realize being Catholic isn’t incredibly unique but we do a few things differently that I thought would be fun to share.

In typical Jackie-fashion my camera broke and so we have instagram photos for you to enjoy of one megapixel or less. Welcome to 1999!

Christmas Eve

Most of the day we just took it easy. Shopping had been wrapped up weeks (okay days) before and the wrapping was well, also wrapped up.

We did crosswords, a weekend ritual at my in-laws.

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“In-law” sounds so cold and formal, doesn’t it? I usually just say “John’s folks” but that’s longer to write out.

I got the hankering to bake, a Christmas eve ritual with my family (that is, family-of-origin family). We usually make spritz cookies but John, his sister and I made blondie bars.

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The first caramel batch was a disaster which I think came from my suggestion to cook it on low heat. So I made butterscotch which was a bit on the rich side.

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After our baking adventure, we went to Mass. Catholics always go to church on Christmas since it is one of the holiest days of the year. Catholic “days” work similarly to the Jewish calendar – they begin at sundown. So you have the option of going on the feast day itself or the night before, which is called the “vigil” mass. Traditionally, many people go to what is called the “Midnight Mass” which used to begin at midnight but now more commonly ends then. John’s family’s tradition is to go to the children’s mass at 4:30. Although churches may have five or six masses in the weekend, you still have to get there pretty early to find a seat. This is how full it was about 45 minutes before:

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By the time mass started it was jam packed with tons of people in overflow seating.

In case you are wondering what midnight mass is like, it’s pretty similar to other Sunday masses with an extra element of festivity. We have spent the last month recognizing Advent, a season where we focus on waiting in hope, something we can all relate to no matter our religious beliefs. Christmas (which is actually a season which lasts 12 days) is the first time we sing carols or really celebrate since Advent is a bit more somber. The mass features readings on the arrival of God’s love and justice as well as, of course, the Christmas story. The children of the parish acted out the story dressed as angels and sheep and a couple of innkeepers who looked like Star Trek extras in their costumes.

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At Christmas we are basically celebrating three things: the birth of Christ, his future return, and light in the darkness. The reason we celebrate in such a dark and desolate time of the year is to remember that even the tiniest bit of light, of hope can help get us through to the spring.

When we got back from Mass we decorated the tree:

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Ate dinner.

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And played games.

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And went to bed.
Christmas Day

Our Christmas was also pretty laid back. Since we had gone to church the day before, we just woke up and unwrapped presents that morning.

Here’s the aftermath:

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John gave me a beautiful tea pot from our favorite restaurant , Caffe Dolce and a necklace. I got him a Notre Dame hat and something that hasn’t arrived yet and I’m kinda p. o.’d about it.

After gifts we had breakfast, Eggs Benedict and a German apple pancake John and I made.

Again, the aftermath:

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Then we left to drive to Helena to visit the rest of John’s family.

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After dinner and more present opening, we came home. While I missed the traditions in my family, it was nice to see some new ones. And ultimately it’s not how we wrap the present, but what is at the heart of it.

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