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The Pat & Rudy Show

Pat Robertson has endorsed Rudy Giuliani. Pat is a Pentecostal televangelist who wanted to be president once. Rudy is a Catholic who wanted to be a priest once, but will settle for pope if his own presidential ambitions don't work out. Read about it here for now, but much more coverage to come elsewhere. Best bit was a snip from Rudy's CBN interview back in September, which certainly qualifies for consideration in the John Kerry Catholic Candidate of the Year sweepstakes:

I believe in God, I pray to God, pray to Jesus for guidance and for help, Mr. Giuliani said. I have very, very strong views on religion that come about from having wanted to be a priest when I was younger and having studied theology for four years in college, its an area that I know really, really well academically. I understand the history of religion. Man and womens relationship to God is one of the strongest, if not the strongest motivating thing in human history.

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Hey! What more could anyone want?

Sadly, Christian leaders have promised God's blessings on whoever they endorsed since the days of Constantine. Here is Eusebius on how God blesses leaders: "Having given assurance that those who glorify and honor him will meet with an abundant recompense at his hands, while those who set themselves against him as enemies and adversaries will compass the ruin of their own souls, he has already established the truth of these his own declarations, having shown on the one hand the fearful end of those tyrants who denied and opposed him, (1) and at the same time having made it manifest that even the death of his servant, as well as his life, is worthy of admiration and praise, and justly claims the memorial, not merely of perishable, but of immortal monuments."The truth is the Constantines would have crucified Jesus because he would not suck up to them the way the bishops did in that regrettable 'conquest.' Athanasius traveled up and down the empire, not proclaiming the gospel but pleading to get his jurisdiction (sea) back. And so it has been for 17 centuries. Let's be courageous to admit that the so called leaders of Christianity do not really represent Christ. They are the scribes and pharisees and crucify anyone who is a true prophet of God.Amazing with all the money paid out they are still living in splendor and continue with million dollar Cathedrals and considering what politicians they can condemn. The wonderful Egan in New York has declared how the diocese has shown record levels in fund raising. Splendid.

Hey Bill,I don't really get your drift. Are you saying cathedrals are a bad thing? I don't think you are, but that could easily be inferred from your comment. A church of the poor need not omit cathedrals from her worship, I think.Also, I'm pretty sure you don't mean that anyone literally represents Christ. That would render Catholicism pretty silly. Thus, I'm not sure it's fair to compare a hierarchy to Christ. Christ is, by definition as divine and human, fundamentally different from any hierarchy.

"Rudy the Theologian..."

I'd be interested in knowing if Rudy's "very, very strong views on religion" match up with the theology he knows "really, really well academically." I doubt we'll learn more specifics about that subject until next November at the earliest.

William,I don't doubt that Giuliani has strong views on religion, or about religious subjects. As has been discussed here before, he basically tried to destroy the Brooklyn Museum of Art because it showed a painting he felt dishonored the Virgin Mary. http://www.artsjournal.com/issues/Brooklyn.htm

Two shifty and pernicious hacks. They're made for each other.

David--I was being sarcastic, in an understated and wink/wink, nudge/nudge sort of way. ;)

David B.We were doing quite well in houses until Constantine paraded his victim's head through Rome and ordered the first Christian Cathedral to be built. After all what is an emperor without a cathedral? The shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington is a gaudy monstrosity. And Jesus was homeless....As far as purporting to represent Christ you will have to ask the bishops about that one, if you get my drift.I do like hearing about Jesus, though. His words are spirit and life.

Gents, let's try to stick to Pat & Rudy and their related issue. They have enough imperial ambition for us to parse. In all seriousness, this endorsement is a Phyrric victory. Polls show (I'll try to fetch them) that Robertson and Falwell (before he died, at least) are not followed, or hardly respected, by the religious right. Hard to believe all of Rudy's religious gyrations will gain him any points; in fact, I suspect it'll cost him.

David, Aside from how Pat helps or hurts Rudy, there is the related issue of the church getting into politics which is something the church has done incorrectly for 1700 years. That issue is ever so relevant and important to correct. Robertson and the right who disavow him now are certainly part of that continuing problem. For example Mary Ann Glendon wil be the newest ambassador from the US to the Vatican. What has this got to do with the gospel? Maybe Jesus would not have been put to death if he had appointed some talented ambassador to represent him before the emperor. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=10786

John McCain gritted his teeth and tried to make nice with the Robertson/Falwell axis awhile back. Now that Guiliani has received the imprimatur (or televangelist equivalent thereof), I wonder if McCain wishes he'd stayed home from Liberty College.I disagree with McCain about a lot of things, but I've never thought he lacked integrity, compassion or a sense of purpose that (usually) transcended political expediency. He has always struck me as the most moral and truly religious of the Republican candidates.

Bill Mazella,I have been following this blog for quite some time and am largely in agreement with your positions on socio-political and ecclesial issues, but often cringe when I read the way in which you couch your particular arguments. Not only do they seem quite often rather belligerent in tone, but also it appears that you are unable to see the complexity and ambiguity of very real religious problems that resist easy explanations or resolution through formulaic liberal clichs. While one can undoubtedly gain some critical leverage against the excesses and failures of the Catholic church by referring to Scriptures and to revelation of God in Jesus Christ, it strikes me that this type of oppositional approach to contemporary problems in the church does little to further the dialogue (and is, furthermore, often times intellectually irresponsible in the face of profoundly complex and difficult questions). Instead, it further hardens ideological positions of those who stand with you within the liberal trajectory of the Catholic church and makes it quite easy for those who disagree with you to dismiss your position and your quite legitimate criticisms of aspects of contemporary church life and teaching as extreme, confrontational, and lacking nuance. So, please lets resist the temptation to score easy points by polemic and instead enter into a civilized and generous conversation about the problems and prospects in contemporary Catholicism and the very real need to find areas of common ground between different factions in the church life.

I second Michael Winther. Bill, enough is enough.

I guess I found myself wondering whether this actually helps Giuliani. Another question I have is does fear of Mormons trump abortion for Robertson? Sure, Romney tri-angulated while governor of Massachussetts, he had to, but, unlike Giuliani, he has gone back to his pretty consistent opposition to abortion and is more socially conservative than Giuliani. There are some prominent Evangelicals, Paul Weyrich (sic?) and Bob Jones, III, who have come out in support of Romney. The advice that Romney has been getting from Evangelicals he has consulted is that they are happy to support him as long as he drops the Mormons are (theologically) just like you schtick. I think this very good advice and Romney seems to have following it. Without getting into a theological debate, it is a fact that Mormonism is a religion apart.

Michael, The Rev. Lou Gigante used to argue, (maybe because he had a notorius brother in organized crime) that corporate ceos "murdered" people through the courts while others had not the same recourse. Though in many ways former criminal organization did become legitimate later on. Now I do not agree with Lou about absolving organized crime but he did have a point about the criminality of corporate America.Dialogue is important and you might notice I do engage in it now and then. But after centuries of wordly, virtually not religious bishops like Cody, Spellman and Law, to name a few, one might see where we might occasionally call some "whitened sepulchers" and "blood of vipers" and "those who traverse land and sea converting others and make them more evil than themselves", etc to task. You cannot escape, Michael, that our leader was crucified, shamelessly. Because he called a spade a spade when his Sermon on the Mount was rejected. So your language might sound nice but it follows much failure and cowardice. It is not as simple as you nor Grant can make it seem.

Bill,Again, I agree with much of what you posted and am cognizant of the potentially radical cost of Christian discipleship as exemplified by Jesus and all the martyrs through the centuries who have stood in solidarity with those victims crushed by various systems of oppression and subjugation, but my point is that your own rhetoric is violent in some basic sense and seems to serve only your own need skewer those with whom you disagree. I do agree with you that there are limitations to dialogue, particularly when dialogue is envisaged as an end in and of itself. The end must always be a praxis of radical responsibility for the crucified peoples throughout history as you rightly suggest in your example of the criminality of corporate America. But, in this context and within this forum it seems to me that simply engaging in radical polemic against all forms of hierarchy and all opinions which differ from your own only serves to distort and warp the truths to which you are attempting to bear witness to. In a word, it appears to me that your rhetoric represents a caricature of liberal Catholicism and in some basic sense constitutes a mirror image of the overblown polemic of the right wing of Catholicism. Instead of merely repeating the clear mistakes of the extremism on either side, why not engage in a thoughtful and honest dialogue with others who possess opinions different from your own. Peaceful dialogue, undoubtedly with disagreements, and a commitment to a radical witness seems to me to represent a more authentic and viable way forward than ridiculing the positions of those who differ from you. I think that a radical, even unreasonable commitment to the suffering of others is called for in our contemporary situation, but a vitriolic and angry rhetoric seems somehow inconsistent with that basic stance. Furthermore, I have always found in those rare moments in which I have been able to tame my own excessive rhetoric and actually listen and respond to the interlocutor with whom I am having a conversation (even an argument), that the potential for mutual understanding, respect, and indeed transformation is much greater. This stands in contrast to those instances (far more common than I would like to admit) in which disagreement turns into a game of scoring points by belittling the opinions of the person or persons with whom you are conversing. So while I agree with you that there are limits to dialogue and conversation, it strikes me that pragmatically a more fruitful approach to transforming institutions and indeed persons is through respectful conversation and a radical, practical witness that involves actions rather than words. Is not a better way forward to be civil in our dialogue (though engaging in respectful disagreement when necessary) and radical and non-violent in our praxis. What is the alternative? Engaging in polemics in which each side is reinforced in its own positions because of the sheer excess of the others rhetoric, without ever encountering the genuine risk of the give and take of authentic dialogue?

Michael,I suppose I can analyse your words the way you have mine which might lead us into vicious circles. "Vitriol" believe it or not is not part of me at all. Angry, yes but not at the person as much as at the office or situation. You have undertstood me correctly when you observe how I am critical of liberals as well as conservatives. For example, the "Liberals" whom I criticize do not mix with poor people. They help them but would not speak with them if they met them at the Well or on the road badly beaten. Their "preferential option for the poor" means giving a few hundred dollars a year to CRS while ignoring the ones who are cleaning their homes or driving them to work. Take a look at the book "What Jesus Meant" by Garry Wills. It is a point of view that must be addressed here. I do not disrespect anyone's opinion here. As I differ I give history and scripture to the best of my ability. The pedophilia crisis has created a major opportunity while destroying an awful myth: That the clergy, especially bishops should not give an account to the people. The sad fact is they give no respect to the people and they must be challenged. They have to speak to all not just the Knights of Malta. If the criticism is excessive we should pull back. But until the bishops are serious about renewal and respect for the laity they must be criticized continually. Your words sound good but I don't think I am at the stridency which you found in yourself. I can still laugh at myself and have no delusions about who I am. I pray come holy Spirit all the time and hope that I will respond suitably.

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About the Author

David Gibson is a national reporter for Religion News Service and author of The Coming Catholic Church (HarperOne) and The Rule of Benedict (HarperOne). He blogs at dotCommonweal.