Hooks and conclusions

When I speak to groups or congregations I will sometimes start with "hooks" people can hang ideas on as a hermeneutic, interpretive principle, for what follows.

Hook 1: Candidate Barak Obama, speaking without notes, referred to an unplanned baby as a punishment.
Hook 2: Candidate Sarah Palin last night explicitly spoke of special-needs children.
Hook 3: The liberal-left media is attacking Palin as a good candidate because she has five children.
Hook 4: Speaker Pelosi had five children and managed to be a Representative.
Hook 5: Candidate Biden was a senator and a single-parent.
Hook 6: Candidate McCain adopted a dying child from Bangladesh.

I turn now to a piece from the site of First Things with my emphases and comments:

A Vote for Sarah Palin

By Suann Therese Maier
Wednesday, September 3, 2008, 7:51 AM

Three memories [Her version of "hooks" for her interpretive principles of this event.] have shaped my approach to this year’s general election.

Here’s the first. In the late 1970s, during a two-year break from teaching to raise our second son, an adopted child, I found myself at a Los Angeles dinner party filled with DINKs, the “double income, no kids” crowd who were just emerging as a self-aware and upwardly mobile social group. I fell to talking—or more accurately, listening—to a chatty young female attorney who said she was putting in eighty hours a week as a junior associate on a variety of important cases.

After twenty minutes or so, she finally noticed my silence and asked me what I did with my own time. So I told her. I told her about the young couple that had asked my husband and me to adopt their baby if we covered their hospital expenses. I told her about waiting outside the delivery room for our son to be born. I told her about the bureaucratic maze that came with finalizing the adoption of a newborn. I told her about borrowing money from friends so we’d look more solvent than we actually were to Social Service inspectors who checked our accounts.

“That’s wonderful dear,” she said. “You’re so lucky not to have a real job.”

Here’s the second memory. I remember my fourth child, our son Dan, being born one winter evening, purple and struggling for breath. I remember my husband pouring water over his head as we baptized him in my arms. [A gesture of Christian hope in the midst of heart-rending, life-verifying challenge.] I remember the young Filipina doctor rushing Dan to intensive care. I remember the ten days of his fighting for life. And I remember Dan’s diagnosis, when it finally came in: Down syndrome.

Here’s the third memory. I remember my father, a successful young Chicago attorney, telling me why the Democratic party was the party of “our people,” and why so many Catholics were Democrats, and why the party stood for the little guy, the poor and the defenseless. I remember listening as a young girl in our kitchen as Saul Alinsky [!] organized my parents’ Catholic friends on racial and economic issues [sound familiar?] in our Chicago living room. And I remember the night in 1992 when Pennsylvania’s governor, Robert Casey, was denied a chance to talk against abortion at the Democratic national convention.

As I draw on those memories now, [her hermeneutical hooks] I reach certain conclusions. As a woman, mother, wife, and lifetime professional educator, I will vote, enthusiastically, for Sarah Palin as vice president this November. Even if the media pressure forces her from the ticket, I will vote against the Democratic party—partly because I respect John McCain and believe him to be the better candidate, but equally because I’m tired of the intransigence and condescension of the Democratic leadership on the abortion issue[Good.]

I will vote for Sarah Palin because I don’t need the Democratic platform’s belated affirmation of motherhood. Thanks, but I already know that motherhood is good, several times over. Moreover, the party’s rediscovery of motherhood seems rather cynical in the current news cycle, while Democratic-friendly bloggers and media types bash Palin about her daughter’s pregnancy and her own busy schedule while bringing up children. [QUAERITUR:] How can a real sympathy for motherhood come from the same people who wrote a platform that hardens the party’s addiction to a phony right to kill the unborn?

I will vote for Sarah Palin because she has guts. We’ve never met, but I suspect I know something about her life, and so do a great many other women. I know what it means to have a son with Down syndrome. I know what it means to talk a good line about religious faith and then be asked to prove it. I know what it means to have a daughter pregnant and unmarried.

In fact, while we’re on the subject, I also know what it means to have two grandchildren born out of wedlock, a son struggling with alcohol, two grandchildren with serious disabilities, putting myself through graduate school while simultaneously caring for a husband and children and teaching full time—and a whole lot more. This is the stuff of real human love; [There it is.] this is the raw material of family life. And those who think that Palin’s beliefs and family struggles are funny or worth jeering at, simply reveal the venality of their own hearts.

I will vote for Sarah Palin because she is intelligent, tenacious and talented. Nobody made her rise easy, and no one is making it easy now. And—is it only moms who notice this?—unlike Senator Biden, she does seem to act consistently on her beliefs about the sanctity of life, at considerable personal cost.

I will vote for Sarah Palin because she doesn’t come from Washington or New York or Chicago or anywhere else the political and media aristoi like to hang out. In fact, I especially like the idea that the state she governs actually produces something—like some of the oil that powers the hair dryers and klieg lights at MSNBC.

I will vote for Sarah Palin because Roe v. Wade is bad law, and it needs to fall. I don’t doubt the intelligence and character of men like Doug Kmiec, the younger Bob Casey, and others who sympathize with the Obama campaign. But I do doubt their judgment. At the end of the day, the Democratic party in 2008 has conceded nothing to pro-life Democrats. The fact that Sen. Obama listens respectfully to pro-lifers without calling them reactionary dunces does not constitute progress. [Look instead at his record in Illinois.] Results and behavior are what matter. On both those counts, the party has again failed to show any real sensitivity to pro-life concerns. In that light, high profile Catholics who support Obama are simply rationalizing their surrender on Roe.

Finally, I will vote for Sarah Palin, not because I’ve left the Democratic party of my youth and young adulthood, but because that party has left me. In fact, it no longer exists. And no amount of elegant speaking, exciting choreography, and moral alibis will bring it back.

That’s the real tragedy of this election.

Suann Therese Maier, the mother of four and former director of non-profit support organizations for pregnant women and children with disabilities, is a teacher in Colorado.

Some of the reasons she gives, quite personal, such as "she’s tough" or "she’s been there", are good, but not in my book as compelling as some of the other reasons she gives.

However, another important dimension of this article is that many people out there on both sides or no side of the lines of political parties have the very same set of memorable hooks.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Matt Q says:

    Miss Maier is correct. The Democratic Party is no longer what it used to be. It should now be called the Death Party. Nothing about it pertains to anything elevating of the human condition, but in in fact embraces everything pertaining to what John Paul called the culture of death.

    There are a few less-than-flattering things about the GOP, but regarding such major life issues as we confronted with, especially pro-life and religious freedom and necessity of religion in the public square as the Church likes to speak of, the GOP of the moment provides that daily alternative.

  2. Dominic says:

    Excellent article. I find it nausesous how some pro-lifers, when the crunch comes, will put party before pro-life principles.

    Bishops are right to say that it is not for them to tell the faithful who to vote for in elections. But they should tell the faithful who NOT to vote for, i.e., any legislator who will support intrinsic evil, particularly the killing of people, born or unborn. The Bishops should tell the people loud and clear: you cannot rightly vote for someone who supports abortion.

  3. fendy says:

    Father, I really love this blog. I’ve learned so much including patience for the return to a proper liturgy. But I must be honest when I tell you that I find it very distasteful to see you mixing traditionalist Catholic posts with posts that clearly espouse support for a particular political candidate. [That is your conclusion. But what I was doing was underlining some principles.] I realize that you couch it very carefully by doing a structural analysis of the First Things piece, but let’s face it, you’re being a bit disingenuous here. [I think you just accused me of being dishonest.] It’s your blog, of course, and you should always write what you want. But I can assure you that by delving into politics like this you are alienating people who might otherwise be attracted to the traditionalist Catholic message that you espouse so eloquently. I wish that you would leave it at that. [I am not writing for any particular audience.]

    No doubt my comment is going to be attacked by the more aggressive members of this forum. [Whining in advance?] But I really hope not. I’m not a liberal or pro-abortion or anything like that. I just wish that we could separate the partisan politics from the traditionalist Catholic message that should be uniting all of us. [This is not a “traditionalist” blog.] Running a pro-Palin piece is only going to alienate people. [I doubt it.]

    [What is the byline of this blog? “Slavishly accurate liturgical translations & frank commentary on Catholic issues”. I think this entry touched on Catholic issues and I commented on them frankly. o{]:¬) ]

  4. RichR says:

    Has there ever been a presidential/VP candidate that fit the traditional Catholic ideal to a “T”? I submit there has not been. We can always find flaws in a political candidate’s views. That should not prevent us from endorsing the best choice. If we hold our support from everyone except the traditionalist icon, we’d be holding out until the Second Coming.

    I understand your point, fendy, but I think that traditionalists who are going to be that easily alienated by a political endorsement of a candidate (who, incidentally, is the best choice among the 4) need to go off and start a commune in the desert where they can live a pure life and not be corrupted by the world. The only problem with this approach is that Christ told us to go out into the world and make disciples of all nations. To run away from the world or to separate yourself from those who are not perfect can end up in a phariseeism that is contrary to charity.

  5. Connie McGinnis says:

    Fendy, maybe the reason that father pretended [I wasn’t pretending. I actually did it.] to do a structural analysis of the pro-Palin editorial is because he’s worried about the stupid issue of mixing non-profit religious institutions with politics. Personally I’ve always thought that distinction is stupid. How can we talk about morality and NOT talk about how to vote?

  6. mariadevotee says:

    It turns out that Palin’s teleprompter quit after half her speech and she delivered the rest by memory. Pretty impressive. http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/sep/08090403.html

  7. wsxyz says:

    It is a shame that the American political system so often leaves us with the choice between distasteful and unacceptable. However, when that is the choice, then there is nothing wrong with pointing out what is unacceptable and recommending, by default, the distasteful. The only other option is to abstain.

  8. ben says:

    Matt Q.,

    It is Mrs. Maier, not miss. She is the wife of the Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Denver, Francis X. Maier.

  9. Jerry Boyd says:

    I would argue that “mixing” the usual content of this blog with current politics is not only justified but necessary. This particular Presidential election will likely be the defining moment for the future of this country over at least the next 200 years. This is not an issue of Republican vs Democrat. It is an issue of life vs death.

    200 years ago this nation was founded on certain clear and Christian principles. Those served us well until as recently as the 1950’s. Since that time the growth of secular humanism, political correctness, and efforts by a growing number of leftist elitists to purge God from our culture and a respect for life from our government has led us down a path of self-destruction.

    Many of us see the election of 2008 as the “line in the sand”. On one side are those who are pro life and on the other those who embody the culture of death. There is a clear and unmistakeable distinction between the two. That dichotomy is reflected in the political platforms of our two major parties. The Democrats as a matter of policy support an unrestricted “right” to abortion. The Republican platform protects the rights of the unborn. As a nation we cannot have it both ways. One side or the other will win and on that victory or loss will likely depend the future (or lack thereof) of additional millions of unborn.

    Postings here, with commentary by Fr Z, are essential to the battle being fought and which must be won. This is not some academic debate. If the culture of death prevails in this election “social justice” issues will still be attended to—but life issues will not.

    So critical is the battle currently being waged that as responsible Catholics with well formed consciences we have every responsibility to do all that is legitimately in our power to effect the outcome of the Presidential election. Certainly postings here could be construed as “preaching to the choir”…but I think they serve several positive purposes. One, not every reader is necessarily an informed pro-lifer even if they are “Catholic” (look at Pelosi, Biden, Kennedy and others). Thus, relating life issues to “politics” may serve to educate some readers and assist them in developing a properly formed conscience and voting accordingly. Second, consider this to be the Catholic Party Convention. Do Republicans and Democrats really need a convention? No. But it serves the purpose of motivating them (rah rah) to leave the convention and work hard on behalf of their party. Hopefully this blog will do the same thing—motivate all of us to work as hard as we can, in every environment we operate in, over the next 2 months to insure that life (and millions of babies) have a better chance than they have had since Roe V Wade.

  10. Joseph says:

    As Christians, we are to hate evil. We are to oppose evil when possible. In the case of abortion, it is possible. The democrats, however, have shut pro -lifers down, marginalized them, many times vilified them and fought tooth and nail as a party to maintain or expand the “right” to kill one’s offspring. There is no more clear cut example of democracy gone off the tracks, and the only political pathway left open is the party that is not the democratic party. They (or, perphaps, we – as much as we support the new status quo, actively or tacitly) have made it such.

    Voting is a trust, a privilege and WE (in this country)are the government. If we don’t like what government is doing, WE are to blame in a democratic republic such as the one we in the US are blessed with. IOW we deserve the government we have.

    One should remember, that abortion on demand was not the status quo or the the tradition of this country from its inception until the late sixties, early seventies, depending on which part of the country. While “one issue” politics is far from the ideal, from any standpoint, the sheer numbers of murders of innocents in a society with the very establishment of its governance based on the fundamental principals of insuring the preservation of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” we as caretakers and as Christians are left with few options, unless we be of “name only,” in our self discriptions as Christians and defenders of the “first principals.”

    Our Lord said the ideal of love was to lay down one’s life for another. All we are required to do in this county to save lives is to pull a lever, to vote in the right government, and we are going to be held to account if we cannot seize whatever opportunities are placed before us in that regard. Democracy is such an opportunity, and most of the those chatting up of one party over the other here, which you seem not to be able to stomach, would switch over quickly if the other party would embrace first principals. So it is not about party loyalty. It is about saving lives and living out the gospel.

    Abortion is a lynchpin, a support to, a bedrock foundation for, a host of other evils: fornication, pornography, prostitution, family disintegration, corruption of youth morals, distortion of the true aim of sex, greed on the part of the abortion industry, denial of truth of what such an act is, great pain and suffering for the other victims of abortion, i.e., the mothers themselves when they realize the truth of what they have done, the associated deaths and maiming and increased infertility of abortion “patients,” and on and on. So it is not “just” abortion that is being opposed.

    Father’s religion, as does mine and most others here, does not stop at the church wall. Thank goodness. Christians have always (when acting according to their calling) challenged, socially or politically or both, the status quo when the status quo promoted evil. According to Catholic teaching, abortion is not an issue with much if any “gray” area.

    Sorry to be so “agressive.” Passivity in the face of evil, or cooperation with evil, or indifference or cowardice is not a gospel virtue.

  11. “…But I must be honest when I tell you that I find it very distasteful to see you mixing traditionalist Catholic posts with posts that clearly espouse support for a particular political candidate…”

    Couldn’t agree with you more. The blatantly political ties do a disservice to the otherwise fine, fine blog for Trindentine Catholics. [You make two serious errors here. First, there is nothing blatantly political in what I write. You are drawing your own conclusions. Second, this is not a blog for “Tridentine” Catholics, in that all Catholics are Tridentine just as they are Nicean and Second Vatican Conciliar. This is not a ghetto. When I use the word “Catholic”, I mean it.]

    Let’s face it, all this hoopla over Pelosi and Palin relates to the 20% undecided Catholic vote. Generally speaking, Catholics are voting 40 – 40 for Obama and McCain. The 20% may swing the election, so both parties believe that it is time to lead Catholics by the nose, shove one issue in their face and hope that they decide for their party. Politicians treating us all as though we are naive fools. [I think both sides have the right to state their case. One side will win and the other will lose. That’s the way it is. But we should at least understand the issues and what is at stake. The issues transcend individual candidates or parties.]

    Well, I notice not one Catholic remark about Palin’s religious history. [I’ll make one. Her parents changed Churches when she was 12 years old.] Baptized Catholic, leaves the One True Faith to become a member of the Assembly of God, the completely wack-o, right wing religious nuts. They despise Catholics to such an extent that Ms. Palin had to be RE-BAPTIZED, apparently to wipe the Catholic filth from her soul. [This is so weird of you as to suggest a momentary lack of clear thinking. I imagine few readers here will compromise on the fact that the Catholic Church is the true Church Christ founded. I don’t think anyone who is reasonable will blame a person for a decision made by her parents when she was a little girl. And, really… who knows what sort of Catholic experience her parents were having in that period of, say 1964-1976. Wanna take a guess? ]

    Let’s see one Tridentine Catholic ask Ms. Palin’s opinion of the Ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Mother of the Church, born without sin and assumed into Heaven without corruption. Ask her, ask her for an opinion on the Virgin Mary and the Catholic Church. Then tell me how you want to embrace her. Confession? The Holy Eucharist? Ya, ask her, then tell me how her ideals mingle favorable with mine.

    I am 6’2′, 140 pounds of thinness, and I trust a member of the Assembly of God as far as I could throw them.

  12. Steve K. says:

    Honestly, in your burning zeal to hang Gov. Palin for not being Catholic, you come off as crazy as a sedevacantist, Christopher. The woman lives a good life, clearly reflected in her deeds and her respect for life. That is huge, considering the state of American politics. We are not electing the Pope, but a public official. Castigating her for her supposed views on the Virgin Mary (which you don’t know, btw, most of your post is unsubstantiated garbage) and holding this against her fitness to hold public office is silly and gives Catholics a bad name.

    And given the other choice is an unrepentant apologist for infanticide…

    PS – If the blog post offends you so much, maybe read less and spend a little more time in the gym working on that manly physique? ;)

  13. Brian Mershon says:

    Amen. Amen. Amen.

    I called my wife and told her that despite the fact we do not watch TV–EVER–to watch Sarah Palin’s speech last night.

    WOW! My wife is raising 7 children and homeschooling and we have family issues just like everyone else. Sarah Palin, despite being an ex-Catholic, is more like a traditional Catholic and the people I know and befriend than nearly any other “Catholic” candidate I have seen or read in a long time (save Pat Buchanan or Alan Keyes).

    I have voted third party for the past several elections. I am really no advocate of John McCain, and if you told me I would vote Republican this election due to a Mom with 5 children’s message, it would have been the farthest thing from my mind.

    My wife loved her. My 11-year-old daughter loved her. Now the media and the Dem. party will try to destroy her. She needs our prayers.

    The sad thing is that Sarah Palin’s life has been formed by Pentecostal evangelical Protestantism. However, the irony is that if she had stayed in the Catholic Church in Alaska (which has terrible problems with priests and bishops), she most likely would not be the open to life, devout Christian mother she is today. Her formation outside the Catholic Church made her more Catholic on life issues and state in life than her formation in the Catholic Church in Alaska would have.

    She needs our prayers–intensely. She is real. What a refreshing woman, mother and VP. The media elite and the others who have sought power their entire lives are in shock.

    The attacks will worsen. Let’s all pray for her and her family and embrace her as one of our own in the true “spirit of ecumenism.”

  14. Jack007 says:

    Your attacks on Mrs. Palin are most uncharitable. You don’t know her personally, do you? Have you ever even met her? If the answers are no and no, you have zero right to speak for her religious views.

    As far as the Assemblies of God, I am most aware of their anti-Catholic beliefs. I have attended their services numerous times and count some of my closest friends among their membership. I can assure you I would rather have the typical AOG church goer in the White House long before I’d have almost ANY modern day Catholic. Sad, but true. The “split” on Obama you mention is a misnomer. Any “Catholic” who embraces Obama…you can fill in the rest, I HOPE?

    On a parting note, this is not a “Tridentine” blog. Your use of that term calls into question anything you may post. Fr. Zuhlsdorf runs a pretty tight “barque” here. Fidelity to that Barque may appear “Tridentine” to you…its just CATHOLIC to the rest of us.

    Jack in KC

  15. TJM says:


    I recall that church going Catholics broke almost 2 to 1 for Bush in the last election. It’s regretable that it wasn’t 100% because
    Kerry, in my view, is not a Catholic in good standing.


  16. Jordanes says:

    Christopher said: Well, I notice not one Catholic remark about Palin’s religious history. Baptized Catholic, leaves the One True Faith to become a member of the Assembly of God.

    Why should we remark about something that is irrelevant? And she didn’t “leave” the one true faith, she was taken from it as a small child by her mother, who took her to several different Protestant groups as she was growing up. How is she to blame for not being raised in the faith?

  17. Joan says:

    Christopher, it is my understanding that Gov. Palin was not, herself, responsible for turning away from the Catholic Church, but, rather, that her mother was the one who defected. Can you castigate a child for what her mother did?

    For all those who are crying down Fr. Z for commenting on the very important decisions that US Citizens will make in November, we are duty bound to scrutinize all who are proposed for public office. Why should not our priests point us in the right direction?

    Fr. Z is merely pointing out to us the pros and cons of each candidate.

  18. Deusdonat says:

    Just an observation; A of G used to be very anti-Catholic (as were the majority of sects) but have since toned-down their rhetoric. Regardless, from the looks of it, Sarah would make a very good Catholic. I think we need to perform some re-evangelisation here for her so that she and her family will return to the true church.

    That having been said, I have a hard time believing she is in any way anti-Catholic, regardless of whether or not her parents left the church with her at an early age. Whereas I would never have voted for McCain had he chosen a pagan (i.e. Romney) as his running-mate, Palin’s current religion is not a deterrant to me in any way.

  19. ALL: Christopher and his comments are now a rabbit hole in this entry. No need to say anymore unless he has something interesting to add or correct. Let’s move on.

  20. Kate Asjes says:


    My take on your post:

    “But I must be honest when I tell you that I find it very distasteful to see you mixing traditionalist Catholic posts with posts that clearly espouse support for political candidates who want to save the lives of useless/unwanted babies. I realize that you couch it very carefully by doing a structural analysis of the First Things piece, but let’s face it, you’re trying to sway your readers to defend those inconvenient little cells that are such a burden to women. It’s your blog, of course, and you should always write what you want. But I can assure you that by laying bare your pre-Vatican II ideas about “life” like this you are alienating more intelligent, nuanced people who might otherwise be attracted to the traditionalist Catholic message that you espouse so eloquently. I wish that you would leave it at that.

    Your kind and well-crafted post belies a vicious and slipshod truth.

    I hope Fr. Z never stops presenting the beauty of life and the Truths of the church.


  21. Howard says:

    “This particular Presidential election will likely be the defining moment for the future of this country over at least the next” — 4 years. Let’s not kid ourselves; even under the best of circumstances, there is another election scheduled in 2012, and an even worse candidate than Obama is likely to be nominated for THAT one. This election will not lead to a reversal of Roe v. Wade before 2012 no matter who is elected. From a pro-life perspective, the only things that are REALLY likely to change if Obama is elected are the funding of abortion and the use of the “bully pulpit” against us; if McCain is elected, I’m not sure about abortion funding, he will probably fund human embryonic stem cell research, and he will probably use the bully pulpit for “important” issues that appeal to him more than the pro-life cause. The difference is not huge in terms of practical results, but it is decisive (for those intent on voting only for major party candidates).

    Regardless, there is no need to say, “This is the most important election ever/since John Adams/of my lifetime/this century/whatever,” since THIS IS THE ONLY ELECTION WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT NOW.

  22. Jordanes says:

    Howard said: From a pro-life perspective, the only things that are REALLY likely to change if Obama is elected are the funding of abortion and the use of the “bully pulpit” against us; if McCain is elected, I’m not sure about abortion funding, he will probably fund human embryonic stem cell research, and he will probably use the bully pulpit for “important” issues that appeal to him more than the pro-life cause.

    Don’t forget the U.S. Supreme Court. We’re probably going to see two new Justices in the next four years, and it will certainly be a very bad thing for everyone if Obama gets to pick their replacements.

  23. “…Her parents changed Churches..”

    Her parents went from the Church to a church, or, to paraphrase the Holy Father, a place where like minded Christians gather (but emphatically not the Church).

    “…who knows what sort of Catholic experience her parents were having in that period of, say 1964-1976. Wanna take a guess?…”

    The same or similar expertise most Catholics underwent during the same epoch. I pray for the salvation of my parent’s soul every Sunday for one specific reason: they Baptized me into and remained in fidelity to the One True Church. I guess that this means more to me than to others. [A cheap shot and one that brings you to the edge here.]

  24. Fr. Angel says:


    You are not the first to express disappointment with Fr. Z for commenting on political figures. But I strongly disagree that he has veered into partisan politics as such, because his commentaries range on the issues surrounding the respect of life and the moral imperative for a Catholic to share this respect in the public square. Nay, more than argue, they are morally required to defend, argue, and agitate for change in the public square because this respect for life is not only part of Revealed Doctrine but is part of Natural Law.

    If a Republican Catholic politician gives public commentary attacking the Catholic position on abortion, you can rest assured Fr. Z would have a comment on that. If a Democratic Catholic politician presented a courageous political initiative which shows a conscience formed in the Magisterium’s teaching, I am sure Fr. Z would give that the kudos it deserves.

    It is not that Fr. Z’s commentary is partisan. It is always thoroughly Catholic. It is that attacks against Catholic initiatives for life tend to be partisan–perhaps unfortunately from the party which you favor?

  25. Sean says:

    I guess that this means more to me than to others.Christopher

    Perhaps it does, perhaps not, but I know that what Jesus said was that finding the one lost sheep was more important than the other 99 that remained. I also remember that the Father of the prodigal son waited and welcomed him back with open arms, the one who was upset was the faithful son who was envious of his brother. Many of us are fortunate that our parents kept the faith and taught it to us but ultimately it is a grace from God and it can be taken away from us. None of us can ever be confident that one day we too might turn away.

  26. “…I guess that this means more to me than to others. [A cheap shot and one that brings you to the edge here.]…”

    I never intended it to read as a cheap shot. I intended it to be read as I felt it: from my heart. [I’ll take you at your word.]

  27. Fr. Angel says:

    Christopher Mandzok:

    Among devout Catholics, it is always horrible to see adults apostate from the true Faith. However, I have never seen in the commentaries of those who visit Fr. Z’s blog an attack upon the actions of a 12 year old girl until I read your commentary above.

    If Palin, as an adult, is guilty of immoral or dishonest conduct, then let us stick with the facts and call her on that. But can we agree that what a woman does at 12 years old is simply off limits for judgment and attack? A little girl is simply not culpable when her parents cart her off to a different church to be rebaptized. Get angry at her parents, but leave the little girl alone.

    This blog is wonderful for all the comments of liturgy, for the beautiful pictures of altars and vestments, for the elegant language of prayer and the cultural treasure it revives. But Fr. Z is hitting the nail on the head when he insists that “grand liturgy” will not please God if in our lives we do not defend the lowly and the vulnerable.

    Read the Prophet Isaiah and see the wrath of God poured out upon the Israelites for pompous and beautiful rites in the temple while the poor languished in the streets and the laborer was denied his wages. The logical conclusion of a blogger who promotes beautiful liturgy to please God is to remind us of the moral actions which must be done outside the liturgy to please God.

    If all our love of the liturgy does nothing to make us aware of the unborn dying in our midst and if it does not put fire in our guts for justice, then we may very well be worthy as well of that divine wrath and scorn which Isaiah poured out upon ancient Israel.

    Thank you, Fr. Z, for upsetting people, not because you have done anything wrong, but because you have prophetically pointed out to us where the sacred liturgy must take us outside of the walls of the church.

  28. Deusdonat says:

    Fendy – please indulge me for a moment, as I see your point. Since I became a citizen and eligible to vote in the US back in 2000, I personally never felt the need to ally myself with any particular party, since I have always simply voted my conscience. But the 1998 gubernatorial election in California, was the first I followed closely (knwoing I would soon be eligivle to vote myself). The candidates were Gray Davis (D), Catholic; Al Cecchi (D), Catholic and Dan Lungren (R) Catholic. Out of all these “Catholic” candidates, only Dan Lungren had the courage to profess his faith and stance against abortion. But this was not the point; the other candidates LAMBASTED him for it. Every ad they ran had absolutely NO SUBSTANCE or any information on the issues at hand during that election; economy, immigration, welfare reform, education etc. Both Democratic candidates merely ran ads saying, “Hello, my name is [insert nominal catholic here] and unlike my opponent, Dan Lungren, I support a woman’s right to choose.”

    Had abortion been an issue of any sort on the ballot of the upcoming election, it would of course had been pertinent and relevant to mention in every ad. But as it was abundandly evident, the ploy was merely a way for the Democratic candidates to deflect the fact that they had no plans, no strategy and essentially, no clue of how they would run California. And of course we all know the disasterous consequences of what happened after Gray Davis’ election.

    The point here is, after witnessing how the Democrats ran their campaigns, I had no choice but to register as a Republican. And this is not because I love the Republican party, who I feel has the same propensity to sell out its values, especially here in California (i.e. pro-abortion Schwartzenegger, for whom I would never vote for either). But rather because the Democratic party is so entrenched in the culture of death, that it feeds on it, promotes it and profits from it to the extent that I simply do not feel comfortable having anything to do with it. Now, if there were to ever come about a pro-life Democrat who was Catholic in faith and issues, of course I would vote for him/her. However, the sad fact is these days there are fewer and fewer of them in politics…especially within the Democratic party.

  29. Deusdonat says:

    Christopher – all I can say for you is count your blessings. If your parents remained faithful to the one true church, then you have received a gift from God which you should neither be smug or judgemental about. I can say, with an extremely heavy heart, that out of my entire immediate family (parents and siblings) that I am the only practicing Catholic. All of us were baptised Catholic, and yes, I and my siblings were born long after Vatican II.

    So…who to blame? The church, for giving mixed messages and seemingly reversing its stance on so many issues where once viewed as infinitely authoratative? My family, for abandoning the faith passed on to them for millenia from their ancestors? God, for seemingly not bestowing in them a strong enough gift of faith? Or myself, for not praying hard enough or doing enough to bring them around back to the truth?

    It is indeed sad that Palin’s family separated themselves from the true church. And we should all pray and work towards their (and all apostates’) return to the church, as well as those of us who remain within it. For we were given the gift of faith; we didn’t earn it.

  30. Howard says:

    Jordanes said: “Don’t forget the U.S. Supreme Court. We’re probably going to see two new Justices in the next four years, and it will certainly be a very bad thing for everyone if Obama gets to pick their replacements.”

    Three arguments against that:

    1. That’s the same argument that was used by friends of mine who voted for Bush in the last 2 elections. (I voted for the Constitution Party candidates. And before someone flames me for that, to vote for Bush in Texas would TRULY have been throwing my vote away; he didn’t even come close to needing it.) But Bush’s priority in appointing judges clearly was not respect for life — he even promised not to make a “litmus test” in 2000, though my friends thought I should vote for him because they believed he was lying(!). No: that was not his priority, but you could be perfectly sure he would not put a justice on the bench whose strict construction of the Constitution led him to believe that the argument that the Bill of Rights only applies in the US, but the president is the commander-in-chief of the military everywhere in the universe; or who realizes that restricting the declaration of war to the congress may be “obsolete” and “inconvenient” (like the electoral college, which put Bush into office when Gore may well have won the popular vote), but it’s part of the Constitution (like the electoral college); or who asks where exactly executive privilege is in the Constitution.

    I don’t know what McCain’s priorities will be, but have the past 36 years really led you to believe that abortion is really a priority for Republican presidents making judicial appointments?

    2. The Democrats already control the senate, and this does not look to be a good year for the Republicans. Even if he is elected, McCain may not to make significant compromises to get his appointments confirmed.

    3. No matter how pro-life, most conservative judges appear to deeply dislike rapid change. I think the most that could be hoped for from this crop of justices would be small steps, such as permitting parental consent laws.

  31. TJM says:

    Howard, McCain would not nominate lefty loon judges like Obama surely would. Even a Democratic Senate would have a difficult time in this political climate taking down a highly qualified nominee because it would likely cause them to lose control of the Senate next time around. They want to retain control of the Senate more than influence the Court. After all, they can always pass legislation, if they have the votes, to over-ride a Supreme Court ruling they may not like. Although I have my issues with McCain it’s better voting for him than casting a vote for the Abortion Party or allowing them to take the presidency by default. I wish Pius XI were alive today. I could see a Mit Brennender Sorge type encylical issued condemning the Abortion Party for promoting an intrinsic evil. Tom

  32. Regina says:

    I have found support for Sarah Palin very intriguing.No doubt she seems like a real cool gal. A Communications major, she sure learned how to deliver a great speech. I respect her marksmanship. She learned to shoot a gun to kill animals; I learned to shoot to protect myself. Still,I can relate and respect as long as she’s not shooting dogs or cats. I love that she has lived the American career woman’s dream. She has a job that she is qualified for and she apparently loves. She has a large family including a special needs child. (I know women with families like hers. But they don’t have careers; they don’t work outside of the home). She apparently has a great support network to manage her life of a fulfilling career and a large family. Unless her husband is an unemployed Mr. Mom, she’s got a competent staff that cooks for her, cleans for her, and basically manages her household, which would include her children. I am too old and self-actualized and basically happy with my career and family to be jealous of her, but I do feel that green monster rearing its ugly head when I think of her coming home from her fulfilling job, having only to wash her face, eat an already- prepared dinner and then “sleep” (yes,that’s a polite euphemism :) )with her husband. Man, what a life!!!
    I am thrilled that she is a politician ( Yes, she is one of those)that supports life. Abortion is such a tragedy, both for the unborn child and the mother. I can’t imagine how devastating that sin must be. I don’t think one priest could enable a woman to forgive herself; I am sure she carries that one to her grave, unsure and terribly guilty.But to me, it is not the greatest sin. Adultery is because it spews filth and devastation on many: It destroys self-esteem,hurts already-born children for life in their progress and success in relationships, promotes disease, and often allows a forgiveness that is nothing but a band-aid. I am grateful I don’t know this sin either, but I have prayed for the victims of this sin,too, and I find it puzzling that the truly religious who abhor abortion do not establish rosary prayer gatherings outside of hotels as well as outside abortion clinics. I guess we all have our perceptions of the greatest sins and the ones we can sanctimoniously vow that we would never in a million years commit.
    I do like Sarah for her support of life, but my problems with her possibly attaining the pregnancy-oops!-presidency ( and this is a real possibility because that job has aged men before her terribly and John is hardly virile and fit)is that she is pre-menopausal. Hello, boys, are you listening? Her hormones are going to fluctuate so inconsistently that she is going to be sitting in an international summit meeting, and overcome by a major hot flash, is going to be thinking of nothing but stripping down to her undies and sticking her head in the freezer for a few minutes:”Meeting adjourned”! And when confronted by a nasty, smart-mouthed leader of another country, she’s gonna lose it and hit that Button and we’ll all be meeting Jesus.So just like I don’t support womynpriests, I don’t support womynpresidents. Think long and hard before you vote.

  33. Jerry says:

    You have GOT to be kidding! You logic (or lack thereof) would preclude any woman approaching menopause from any profession or occupation of importance. My professional frame of reference is law enforcement. There are many, many female law enforcement officers out there working at the age you suspect might cause Palin to “hit that button”. Not once in history has a female cop “in that condition” lost it and used deadly force just because she was menopausal. I cannot believe that a woman, regardless of political affiliation, would make a comment like yours.

  34. Deusdonat says:

    Jerry – I think Regina was either kidding or a plant. There have been many women leaders/heads of state in the last few decades; some with nuclear capabilities, namely Margaret Thatcher (and who are we kidding…Golda Meier now that Israel’s nuclear cat is out of the bag). And to the best of my memory, none of us were anihilated in a nuclear maelstrom due to PMS or hormones of any sort. So, the whole argument is just ridiculous.

    On a more sane note, we should all be very grateful nothing happened during the presidency of Ronald Reagan since it is now known he suffered from extreme senility. If there were ever a reason to worry…

  35. An Ardent Catholic says:

    As an ardent Catholic who drives 3 hours to Tridentine mass every day and on my spare time translates all the prayers from Latin to pig-Latin, even I now support Obama and suggest you all think bad things about Palin because I heard she used to wear hot-pants in highschool, which is code for “I’m really a proponent of child-slavery”. I mean, I just said I support the Latin mass and I’m an ardent Catholic, so you have to respect my opinion now. It’s now validated.

  36. Jordanes says:

    Howard said: That’s the same argument that was used by friends of mine who voted for Bush in the last 2 elections.

    Yes, and events have shown that the argument was valid. There’s no way a President Gore would have nominated Roberts or Alito. No, we’d have more Ginsburgs or Souters on the Supreme Court instead.

    And it’s not just about Roe vs. Wade, though that’s a big part of this. It’s also about marriage, doctors killing their patients, the homosexualist movement, and religious liberty. Unless the U.S. Constitution is amended, which is extremely difficult to do, or the Congress limits the court’s jurisdiction, which is just not going to happen, the only recourse is to alter the composition of the court, shifting it in a favorable direction. Yes, it takes time to do that, but it’s the only viable course of action we have at this time. We just have to be patient and determined, to see things through.

  37. Effie says:

    Fr. Z,

    Thank you for the great article. I don’t subscribe to First Things so I hadn’t seen it before.

    The discussion that has follwed has been “interesting.”

    Sarah Palin brings something to this debate that we don’t normally see in national politics. I don’t think
    we’ve ever seen it. Sarah Palin is living the pro-life message. I belive close to 90% of all unborn
    children who have Downs Syndrom are killed by abortion. Little Trig will be a blessing to our nation
    because he will give a face to the discussion. God willing, the example of Todd and Sarah Palin will
    encourage others to give their baby life – and to support pregnant teens so that they too will choose life.
    A teenage pregancy is not something any parent wants to deal with, but it does happen and how the parents
    respond can make the difference between life and death for that baby. That’s something
    that we should not ignore.

    As for the article that you cited, it is good for us, all of us, to hear more voices from parents who have
    raised a disabled child. Their voices have been silent for far too long. Thank you for giving us the
    opportinity to hear that voice by referencing the article.

    St. James told us that if our brother is hungry and we say “I’ll pray for you” and then walk away,
    it doesn’t do him, or us, any good. Those who have taken you to task for daring to write about something
    other than prayer and the Mass may have forgotten that.

    You have not forgotten. Thanks for the article.


  38. Howard says:

    Howard said: That’s the same argument that was used by friends of mine who voted for Bush in the last 2 elections.

    Jordanes responded: Yes, and events have shown that the argument was valid. There’s no way a President Gore would have nominated Roberts or Alito.

    . . . . .

    The friend with whom I had most of these discussions believed that by steadily electing Republicans, slow, steady progress would be made that would lead to the eventual reversal of Roe v. Wade, perhaps in 2-5 decades. Not counting the past 36 years. Maybe the plan is to reverse Roe v. Wade on its 100th anniversary.

    How this is practically different from not planning to ever reverse it at all is a mystery, but if you have the “long term” in mind, it’s ridiculous to think that this election is decisive — you’d better have a plan to deal with a long sequence of elections, including losses.

    That plan had better include ideas on how you will keep the Republican party from slipping. I don’t see any hint of the Democratic party reversing or even slowing its lurch into more and more abominable positions; for the sake of discussion, let’s say by 2020 they are claiming that the environment is in such a state of crisis it is necessary to implement a one-child policy like that of China, complete with forced abortions (to make this realistic, the force would probably at least start as economic pressures). Maybe Joe Biden, who goes into cryogenic storage in early 2009, will get the Republican nomination for his *relatively* pro-life views, since he still thinks abortion should be optional, not forced.

    Would I then be “morally compelled” to vote for Biden?

    To get back to my point about preventing the Republicans from slipping: There will always be political pressure to move to the “center”. If they can pick up votes from the “center” without surrendering votes from what the Democrats call “the extreme right wing”, that’s where they will go. The only way to keep future Republicans from looking like Biden is to play hardball consistently from now on.

    And on those terms, although I am impressed by what I have heard so far of Palin, I am not impressed by McCain.

    That is assuming you’re from the “long term” school of thought. If you want to judge voting for Bush not by what might happen in decades to come but by what happened during his 2 terms, I’d have to say that I see no change from the status quo ante. His position on human embryonic stem cell research was better than I’d expected from him — and better than that of McCain — but still problematic.

    I’m still suspicious and withholding judgment on Alito and Roberts, remembering that Alito was the runner-up to Harriet Miers; and I stand by my comments on Bush’s priorities in nominating justices.

    Gore is a red herring. Sure, he would have been a disaster, like coming down with Ebola is a disaster. But if you’re saying that in a race between cancer and Ebola, you’d vote for cancer, I’m saying I would look for a third choice, no matter how unlikely.

    Now convince me that McCain is not cancer for the country.

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