NCR has a nutty about Card. Burke’s observations about voting

Yesterday in an entry about comments made by soon-to-be Card. Burke and the responsibilities of voters in this upcoming mid-term election, I foretold that liberals would claim that Burke was “telling people how to vote”.

Arch-liberal Maureen Fielder, a dissenting woman religious who actively promotes the ordination of women, speaks for the arch-liberal NCR on her blog.

Burke tells us how to vote, from the Vatican [She is asking the NCR reader to channel their inner “Know Nothing”.  This simply plays on the anti-Catholic chestnut that a elected Catholic official would be improperly influenced by “the Vatican”.]
by Maureen Fiedler on Oct. 28, 2010

I remember distinctly, when I was about 10-11 years old, hearing my father say after church, “That priest can have his opinions, but he is not going to tell me how to vote!” (The person at issue, as I recall, was a local candidate who was divorced).  [She is setting up a moral equivalency between a Catholic politician who is divorced and a one who promotes abortion.  Since NCR catholics are expected to think that divorce/remarriage is somewhat trivial for Catholics, so too….  She isn’t saying that her father thought divorce is good.  It just isn’t important enough to make a difference.  Beyond that, reason doesn’t enter into her father’s statement: he simply wants to have things his own way regardless of what one of the Church’s teachers might say.  This will play well with NCR catholics as well.]

It sounds like Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke never ran into Catholics like my father. [Nah… he grew up in rural Wisconsin, farmed by old Poles and Germans.  No stubborn people there.] According to, Burke is once again telling American Catholics how to vote — this time from the banks of the Tiber. [Ooooo]

In an interview with Thomas McKenna begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting, president of the arch-conservative Catholic Action for Faith and Family, Burke reportedly said that Catholics are bound in conscience to vote for political candidates who oppose aborting babies, embryonic stem cell experiments, euthanasia and so-called homosexual “marriage.[You can see why the editors of the NCR would be against that!]

There was no mention of [Here it comes… ] the central issues of the 2010 mid-term election: unemployment, the economy, the widening income gap between the wealthy and the working/middle class, home foreclosures, or even immigration. For Burke, everything apparently hinges on the “bedroom” issues, not the “boardroom” or the “border” issues. [She is rehashing the liberal catholic from the 2008 election cycle.  NCR catholics fail to see that the basic human right to live is prior to every other human right.  The foundation of true Catholic social justice rests on the right to be born and live in dignity to a natural death.  The bonds of society and our societal interactions depend on firm foundations that are in harmony with nature and common sense – and divine revelation.  Society’s basic building block is the normal and natural family.  If you tear apart what “family” means and begin to call unnatural relationships “normal” you tear at the bonds of society.]

This is a yet another example of hierarchical behavior that oversteps the boundaries of acceptable church/state relations and sends most Catholic voters up the wall — if they pay attention to it at all. [Another misstep.  She is pressing on the reader a false understanding of the chimeric “separation of church and state”.  Furthermore, she is taking a position against the right of the Church to have a voice in the public square.  Effectively, for arch-liberal Fiedler, catholics only have the right to raise their voice in the public square so long as they are pressing for her positions.  Had Burke been speaking about mercy for illegal immigrants, she and the NCR would not have taken a public position against him. They would not have praised him.  It is when Church officials say that homosexual acts are wrong that they seem to get worked up.]

Many Catholics do not agree with the official hierarchical position on some or all of these issues, but even those who do don’t want to be given instructions on how to cast their ballot. [Arch-liberal Fiedler reduces the Church’s teaching to a “official hierarchical position”.  Note the choice of words.  For NCR catholics “hierarchical” is bad.  If something is “official”, perhaps there is an un-official position which is still “catholic”.  She would like that, because she wants to have part in an alternative magisterium.]

Now Burke, as an American citizen, certainly has the right to express the official church positions — or his personal opinions — on these issues. But when hierarchical leaders [as opposed to the sort of “leader” arch-liberal Fiedler is.  She is asserting a moral equivalence.] suggest [He went beyond a “suggestion”.] that voting for candidates who do not share official church views is in any way sinful it’s akin to trying to make voting itself a potentially sinful act. That’s something many church/state scholars find unacceptable. [Who, Maureen?  Give us the list.]

The Catholic bishops as a body, in every major election, have said that voters need to weigh all the major issues in making a decision, not just one or two of them.

Now, that is a position my father would understand.  [But in the final analysis he wouldn’t care what the bishops say, because nobody was going to tell him what to do.  The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, it seems.]

One of the most serious wrongs that a publicly visible catholic can do is confuse the Catholic faithful and lead them into error of faith and sinful actions.  Pro-abortion politicians do this when they support evil positions contrary to Church teaching: they cause scandal in a very public way.  Women religious who give cover to catholic politicians who vote in favor of abortion or in favor of unnatural relationships do them same.

The Church must defend the faithful against that damage.

The Church must try to get the person who caused the damage to try to make amends and heal it.

Otherwise, the Church must separate that person from Communion with the hope that she will correct her views.

On 28 October Benedict XVI spoke to Brazilian bishops in Rome for an ad limina.  Among other things he said:

Your duty as bishops, together with your clergy, is indirect because [NB] you must contribute to the purification of reason, and to the moral awakening of the forces necessary to build a just and fraternal society. Nonetheless, when required by the fundamental rights of the person or the salvation of souls, pastors have the binding duty to emit moral judgments, even on political themes“.

This is what Burke did.  He did not directly tell people what to do.  His influence was “indirect” because he was pointing to guiding principles.  That is what bishops are supposed to do.

Benedict continued:

“When forming these judgements, pastors must bear in mind the absolute value of those … precepts which make it morally unacceptable to chose a particular action which is intrinsically evil and incompatible with human dignity. [Such as promoting abortion or unnatural sexual relations.] This decision cannot be justified by the merit of some specific goal, intention, consequence or circumstance, Thus it would be completely false and illusory to defend, political, economic or social rights which do not comprehend a vigorous defence of the right to life from conception to natural end. When it comes to defending the weakest, who is more defenceless than an unborn child or a patient in a vegetative or comatose state?”

It may be too much to hope that Fiedler cares what the Vicar of Christ says, but I am sure you know people who could benefit from this clarity.

In the meantime ….


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  1. JackG says:

    Soon-to-be Card. Burke is not telling people how to vote. He’s telling them how to be Catholic. He has a right to do that. Moreover, he has an obligation to do that.

  2. Fr Martin Fox says:

    I’m not sure that anyone could ever be “bound” morally “to vote for” any candidate or proposition–or at least, the circumstances would be rare. That’s very different from being morally bound not to vote for someone.

    We are enjoined not to cooperate with evil nor to give scandal. But what is the moral precept from which derives a positive obligation to vote for this particular candidate, or that proposed law?

    Even if one could show such a principle, in practice one has to allow for prudential doubt: Nancy Pelosi’s opponent might be very fine indeed, but there still can be grounds for a reasonable person to say, I can’t support him or her.

    I don’t know how one would spell out such a positive injunction that would be binding yet consistent with reason.

  3. Supertradmum says:

    Yes, Father Z, we should demand a list of the scholars and we shall debate them here. Why does not the bishop in the diocese where the NCR is published shut down or at least, publicly censure, this obviously heretical newspaper and connected blogs? And, do I see a hint of the heresy of Americanism rearing its ugly head again with such phrases as “from the bank of the Tiber” and “official hierarchical position”? Wow, some heresies never die.

    And, we must defend the Catholic Church’s stand on all and any moral issues in the market-place, in the public square. I guess I am an “Ultramontaine” from Fiedler’s point of view.

  4. Fr Martin Fox says:


    Ms. Fielder claims Cardinal Burke made that assertion…going back and looking at least at Father Z’s earlier post, I didn’t see that; rather, I saw emphasis on avoiding support for bad candidates.

  5. stgemma_0411 says:

    JackG: Exactly so. This was my response to someone who said that Cardinal-Designate Burke should essentially butt out.
    Explain to me again what is the duty of the Bishop, as it relates to those under his care? Because the last time I checked Canon Law it has a lot to say about this. Let’s just see a few of the quotes.

    Can. 747 1&2:

    The Church, to which Christ the Lord has entrusted the deposit of faith so that with the assistance of the Holy Spirit it might protect the revealed truth reverently, examine it more closely, and proclaim and expound it faithfully, HAS THE DUTY AND INNATE RIGHT, INDEPENDENT OF ANY HUMAN POWER WHATSOEVER, TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO ALL PEOPLES, also using the means of social communication proper to it.



    Hmm….quite compelling so far. And this is just about the teaching function of the Church, as a whole, and not about the bishops in particular. So far, though, it sure sounds like Cardinal-Designate Burke is on the right track and Ms. Fiedler needs to go back and re-read her documents. But I digress…let’s continue further.


    Can. 773

    It is a proper and GRAVE duty (which means failure to do so is considered the grave material necessary for committing a mortal sin) ESPECIALLY OF PASTORS OF SOULS (meaning that Cardinal-Designate Burke, being a pastor of souls, is held to a higher standard) to take care of the catechesis of the Christian people so that the living faith of the faithful becomes manifest and active through doctrinal instruction and the experience of the Christian Life.


    So, once again, we see that it is Cardinal-Designate Burke’s OBLIGATION to tell us, the faithful, what are the proper things to which we need to be voting for. The only restriction upon any priest of bishop is that they cannot tell us, as a matter of obedience, WHO to vote for. But if the lines are clearly delineated as to who does believe and put into practice those values that are commensurate with the Christian life, than Cardinal-Designate Burke, along with any other Christian, should be reminding us of our obligation to vote FIRST for the candidate whose values better reflect those that are ours.

    If anything, Ms. Fiedler is putting herself in a position where grave matter is being brought into consideration because she is NOT doing (a sin of omission) that to which the laws of the Church instruct her to do so. As well, she is violating the principles as laid out in the instructional document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian”, which instructs all those who are in a position to give instruction must submit themselves wholly to the teaching authority of the Church.

  6. Elly says:

    Father Z, I wonder if Maureen Fielder reads your blog. I don’t see how anyone can read what you write and remain unconvinced.

  7. The Egyptian says:

    Back in the 70’s our parish priest instructed our High School junior religion class that you must vote for the Kennedys. His reasoning was that they are catholic, and some day they would have a change of heart about abortion, just elect them and pray. I replied I’d vote for anyone but and was bounced out of the class for disagreeing with him, Dad thought it was a riot. Lets just say we didn’t get along well

  8. wmeyer says:

    The problem, of course, is that the author (reporter is here too strong a word) clearly fails to see how faith life and citizenship are connected. She can, no doubt, leave her faith at the door, as she leaves Mass each week.

  9. Athelstan says:

    That is the worst aspect of Ms. Fielder’s position: the hypocrisy and inconsistency. It is not that she really minds Archbp. Burke speaking out; it is that he is speaking out in a way that challenges rather than reinforces her existing political positions. She is being disingenuous, in short.

    It’s apparent that were Archbishop Burke speaking out to urge Catholics to vote for comprehensive immigration reform, or to vote for candidates who support federal universal healthcare, or for those supporting major disarmament, she would be first in line lauding him for his “courageous voice.”

    Fr. Z expresses it succinctly: “Effectively, for arch-liberal Fiedler, Catholics only have the right to raise their voice in the public square so long as they are pressing for her positions. ” Get political, ye Catholics – but only so long as you line up with my political positions. Which just happen to be those of garden variety secular liberals.

  10. It just uglier and uglier…more stupid and downright idiotic what these “dissenters” have a “nutty” about.
    Sr. Fiedler is only parroting the “party line”.
    Too bad for her.
    In this life (and hopefully not!) in the next.
    “I will not serve” is the theme in hell.

    [I am afraid that Sr. Fiedler is one of the people who shape that dissent, rather than merely parrot it. We need to hammer their positions, and less so their persons. Let the angry liberals of the NCR use the personal attack tactic.]

  11. Dr. Eric says:

    These kinds of articles whip me into an apoplectic frenzy. I am far beyond sick and tired to the open dissent from the teachings of the Church and the open rebellion by Her members against the hierarchy. Why doesn’t this lady’s bishop do something about her puplic repudiation of the Faith?

  12. iudicame says:

    Look – this is a time for unity and not discord – we need to cooperate and share the burden – show More of the olde school spirit …

    OK gang! I’ll fetch the tinder and the stake – we’ll need a bucket of kerose…


  13. TJerome says:

    yawn, so predictable.

  14. JohnE says:

    ‘For Burke, everything apparently hinges on the “bedroom” issues, not the “boardroom” or the “border” issues.’

    Abortion is a “bedroom” issue? Seems like it’s actually more of a “border” issue — preventing the rightful “immigration” of the unborn from the womb. Or perhaps it is a “boardroom” issue where economic considerations are taking precedence over life itself.

  15. teomatteo says:

    “For Burke, everything apparently hinges on the “bedroom” issues, not the “boardroom” or the “border” issues. ”

    She uses this canard so freely (and I bet she reiterates the older axiom: ” the Catholic Church is obsessed with sex”) that I wonder if she really has thought about it. Abortion has nothing to do with the bedroom. It has to do with the killing of an innocent human. The experimentation on the unborn has nothing to do with ‘sex’ or the ‘bedroom’. Same gender ‘marriage’ is not a bedroom issue as it is a Life issue, the life and direction of our civilization. The Catholic Church is obsessed, with Life.
    But what is also telling is her inclusion of the disparity between the rich and the poor as a Central Issue. Fine, the evil no gooders sitting on the shore of the Tiber has spoken on this for decades… Did she read our Holy Father’s last encyclical????? Oh… well… thanks Father for your patiences.

  16. Pingback: WDTPRS POLL about your intentions for the US midterm elections | Fr. Z's Blog – What Does The Prayer Really Say?

  17. The Egyptian says:

    Hey iudicame, you forgot the most important thing, Catholic matches :>)

  18. teomatteo says:

    Soon to be Cardinal Burke could be our next pontif, who knows….

  19. Stvsmith2009 says:

    Some so-called “Catholic” politicians see abortion as an economic issue:

    Planned Parenthood wants congress to authorize payment for abortions from the federal government. Nancy Pelosi stated herself that by funding abortions, it would eventually mean reduced costs to the federal and state governments. That “eventuality” means fewer babies and children for the government (i.e., taxpayers) to support in the future by killing them through abortion now.

    Read what Pelosi said here:

    This is a blatant attempt to eliminate the poor in the future by killing them off now, and marketed as a means to “reduce costs”.

  20. jflare says:

    LOL, iudicame!
    Let me know if you run out of kerosene. I think I still have some Coleman fuel left…..

    Seriously though, it would be nice to see the bishops do something about this nonsense. During my teens, many of my (Catholic) elders, including priests and bishops, tended to insinuate support for Democratic politicians. It often confused me to hear Pope JP II say, “Vote for life”, others said, “Vote for Democrats”, then the Democrats consistently voted for abortion.
    I gave up on the Democrats during my early 20’s. I regret, the Republicans have been little better.

    By the way, does kerosene or Coleman fuel leave a residue on s’mores?

  21. benedetta says:

    I find it ironic that Fiedler singles out Cardinal Burke for her close-minded disparagement when after all even in my own diocese which could be described as one of the most liberal and liberally-led in the country our Bishop has publicly endorsed, with the others of our state, a public policy platform which, surprise surprise, advises faithful Catholics to prioritize above all issues, the right to life. In my own parish in this diocese which also represents the unfortunate spectrum of confusion and dysfunction which years of relativism and neglect in catechesis has caused, our pastor every election season also from the pulpit during his homily states that Catholics must prioritize their vote to support the right to life. I guess Fiedler ought to do a follow up post that names more names in the hierarchy to include most or all of the most liberal Bishops in the nation who similarly publicly encourage the faithful to vote their Catholic consciences to prioritize the right to life this election. That would be quite a long post and I guess she would have to then admit that her problem is not with the Bishops but in basic Catholic teaching in general. It is a shame that she holds her father’s view up for example and modeling, that he does not want any priest telling him “how to vote” when a much better practice would be to commend the Catholic leadership on their courage in speaking out on behalf of the unborn when it is so unpopular to do so, and remember that in many times in our history the voice of the Church led the way to embracing a better moral path. Strange from the group that always accuses faithful Catholics of wanting to bring back the “good old days” that she would reference a member of a previous generation’s refusal to vote in accord with the advice of his priest…as we all know, those days are long gone and we have essential new issues to confront together.

  22. robtbrown says:

    Of course, the great irony is that in encouraging readers to ignore Cardinal Burke and other members of the hierarchy, she is in fact doing what she criticizes him for doing: She is telling people how to vote.

    Perhaps underneath her lemming like rush to replace Revelation with liberal ideology, a scintilla of faith is to be found, but I doubt it. She seems to be yet another sad case of someone devoid of both faith and reason.

  23. catholicmidwest says:

    “This is a blatant attempt to eliminate the poor in the future by killing them off now, and marketed as a means to “reduce costs”.”

    No, actually this is an attempt to eliminate the congenitally stupid and imprudent by killing them off now…since intelligence is often hereditary, and getting pregnant out of wedlock is *the* signature act of stupidity and imprudence. However, killing is wrong. Poor and stupid have little to do with the morality of it.

  24. catholicmidwest says:

    You can’t kill people for being stupid, which in a very real way is a great shame. However, biblical morality trumps taste, always has. God should determine who lives and dies, he has plans. We don’t.

  25. Supertradmum says:


    For the sake of truth, please remember that the lemmings really do not commit group suicide, a urban myth purposefully created by the Walt Disney group, or White Wilderness, by the crew, who caused a rampage for the sake of a film.

  26. catholicmidwest says:


    This is one way in which human beings are inferior to animals. Human beings sometimes do engage in group suicide. Humans also engage in organized war, terror and great acts of planned cruelty, pretty much on a continuous basis. And I don’t ever see that changing as long as there are people on this earth.

    Walt Disney group (or whatever) merely humanize animals in order to bring pathos to an incomprehensible human act, and fill it with glamor of a sort. But haven’t they always done this??? It’s their trademark and “contribution” (ahem) to American society.

  27. staggering but still standing says:

    Listen! I live up here in Canada! It’s freezing. For goodness sake, strike the flint or the matches and let’s get a little heat going! It’s a shame to waste good fodder.

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