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Everyone who disagrees with me is stupid or morally obtuse.

It's a common strategy among prophets. I think it summarizes--though is not a direct quote from--Archbishop Chaput's remarks in Detroit.But it's not the best way to win converts. I think this article from the interesting blog "Catholic Sensibility" expresses quite well why I found Archbishop Chaput's latest remarks so offputting and counterproductive. But then, I am not a big fan of prophetic discourse, overall, though it is necessary in some cases in limited amounts.Perhaps he doesn't care if he alienates the Catholic middle--the majority who voted for Obama, mainly because the economy was and is in freefall. Truth is not a popularity contest. Fine.But from a strategic perspective, I'm confused--where exactly are the votes he wants going to come from? The people whose intelligence, faith and good will he is denigrating?Judie Brown, of the American Life Lobby, cast Sam Brownback--SAM BROWNBACK--into outer darkness because he supported Sebelius for HHS--no doubt for political and strategic reasons.If I were Senator Brownback, I'd not be inclined to take her calls any more. Why put up with the personal invective?So if that's the case, whom will she call?I'm not the best Irish politician in the world. I don't come from a family with the best Irish politician genes. (My paternal grandfather, a newspaper writer, turned down the chance to write for the campaign of an up-and-coming Massachusetts politician named John Fitzgerald Kennedy--he didn't think he'd go anywhere.)But still, I don't get the Archbishop's political strategy.

About the Author

Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.



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I don't know that his is so much a political strategy (though goodness knows one is needed) for U.S. politics as much as one for internal church "politics"--that is, separating the sheep from the goats. As far as secular politics, this strategy keeps the saving remnant together and fired up until the time is ripe. Intra ecclesia, well, I don't know. I think we'll see how it plays if he is promoted to a larger, cardinalatial see.Speaking of sheep and goats, and for a different perspective, check out Archbishop Wuerl's recent column, title "Casting the first stone."

Archbishop Chaput says: It becomes very burdensome to watch so many persons who call themselves Catholic compromise their faith and submit their hearts and consciences to the Caesars of our day.I find Archbishop Chaput's talk of "Caesars" very annoying. We don't have "Caesars" today. We have government officials elected in a democratic, pluralistic society. When Jesus answered the question about the lawfulness of paying tribute (or taxes) to Caesar, (1) he was answering a trick question, and (2) the political situation was utterly different from what we have in the United States today. I don't think this is a minor point. The whole question of how one should vote, and what the law should be in the United States, requires an acknowledgment that in a country such as ours, with separation of church and state and a secular government, every religious group and in fact every group with a point of view has to live in harmony with the country as a whole. This does not mean you don't fight for and vote for what you believe in. But it does mean that our leaders deserve more than to be compared to the emperor of an occupying power that is holding the country by force.

A/B Chaput gave the same pitch in Toronto, i.e. Laity were duped into voting for Obama,... 'He is no messiah .....the last 40 years were a failure in lay formation and catechesis..etc ***I emailed him that Americans don't bad mouth the president in foriegn venues and his use of 'the last 40 years failure' are code words for Vatican II was a failure. The' trads' pickup on these code words like lint.He emailed me back, in angry tones, that I was too angry!***For some hierarchy who remind us of the 'good old days of informed Catholic laity' I always like the story of Al Smith, the most prominent Catholic layman in 1928 , he was reading an op ed piece in the NYT by a Protestent theologian who opined that everyone should know that Al Smith would be obliged to follow Papal Encyclicals rather than the US constitution... Al asked his staff 'what the hell is a Papal Encyclical?' nobody knew. So they called Dunwoodie and war hero Fr Duffy of the Fighting 69th fame who signed on as a religous consultant...What percent of the Mass attending Catholic population of Denver would know what a papal encyclical was? I say 85%

Peggy: The title you've given to this thread is in quotation-marks. Where is it from? I didn't find it in either of the two links you provided.

David, here's the thing. How's the separating the sheep and the goats going to work when it comes to protecting Church interests on other issues?Say conscience clauses? Or the bill in CT? Why would the Catholics whom Archbishop Chaput so roundly condemns rally around him for anything?

It's Cathy not Peggy, Joe. I was trying to suggest it was a prophet, not me saying that. And I thought I indicated that there was no direct quotation in in the first sentence. But maybe it's too confusing, and I'll take them out.

We have too many hierarchs in the American Catholic Church who are so out of touch with American Catholics, that they can't even begin to gather them together. They were appointed to their positions not because they were deeply spiritual, not because they are inspiring teachers, and not because they are wonderful pastors. They were appointed because they are papal "yes men" who are looking to impress the Vatican so as to climb to higher positions in the Church. These hierarchs see themselves as accountable only to Rome---not their people.Those who cannot persuade their people to listen to them---use strong arm tactics, or ecclesiastical penalties to push their point. They call themselves "orthodox" bishops, but really their orthodoxy is a form of Catholic Fascism.For those Catholics who understand that we will never return to the 'good 'ole days of yesteryear", who know that we must seek unity and a common ground with others, and who reject the myoptic vision of the Church that these bishops present---must pray for deliverance and join groups willing and ready to reject--to fight against the hegemonisn being promulgated by these arch/bishops.

Cathy, I agree with you regarding the problem of rallying Catholics for public pressure on vital causes after you've told most of them to take a hike. (Destination, we all know...)But politics today is often, if not mostly, about mobilizing small cohorts of highly-motivated people to apply pressure in terms of demonstrations or petitions or, yes, blogs, until the target caves or the point is made. It works, because it becomes a media torture by drip-drip-drip method. It is also ugly, of course.

Cathy: Sorry for the mistake, and now I see that you say it's not a quote. That it accurately sums up Chaput's position one certainly can doubt.Ursus (Ursa?) minior speaks of "Catholic Fascism": now there's an invitation to dialogue! Perhaps Cathy should have melded together the two threads: the one from Archbishop Wuerl and the one about Archbishop Chaput.

To follow on with Little Bears observation about US hierarchs: The newly appointed bishop of the Diocese of Oakland (CA). Salvatore Cordileone, was ordained a priest in 1982 and served for three years as an associate pastor at St. Martin of Tours in La Mesa. In 1985 he returned to Rome to get a doctorate in canon law in 1989. He came back to San Diego and served as secretary to the coadjutor bishop for one year and in the canon law department until his appointment in 1991 as pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in the border city of Calexico. In 1995 he returned to Rome to work as an assistant at the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, following his buddy Raymond Burke.An especially outspoken supporter of California's successful Proposition 8, he has become a national name in church circles both for his unstinting pro-life advocacy and, even more, his support for the Tridentine Mass -- the appointee is fond of wearing the mantelleta, the pre-Conciliar garb of a titular bishop.Rumor is that this episcopal vacancy was filled in record time because the current Administrator is a retired liberal priest who is rumored to have blessed LGBT couples' partnerships while he was a pastor.Thats just what Oakland needs: another hyperinflated canon lawyer with retrograde sympathies, dress-up fantasies, and the bare minimum of pastoral experience.

I have the sense that Abp. Chaput has stirred discussion on this website the way a dentist stirs discussion when his probe hits a cavity.

Here's another perspective on the Archbishop's comments that suggests another tone.

"I find Archbishop Chaputs talk of Caesars very annoying. We dont have Caesars today. We have government officials elected in a democratic, pluralistic society. "Tacitus would disagree with you. So would the Committee of Five and the Founders for that matter, who, while not really relevant any longer, modeled what some would consider the foundational American legal texts on the Roman res publica. Rome was a pluralistic Republic, just as the United States is, even during the reign of the Augusti. The current American government, with its one-party rule, is actually not dissimilar from the reign of Tiberius at all. All a Roman Emperor was, especially in the early Empire, was a modern-day equivalent of our President and Speaker of the House all rolled into one. Given the one-party government in the United States, this government is functionally equivalent to Tiberius's in both form and substance. In fact, the current American government exercises much greater control over the daily lives of its citizens, especially with the de facto abrogation of the 10th Amendment. Just last week, the head of the executive branch of the United States indicated he would sign a writ of attainder, for example. Or regarding taxes, American income tax rates are up to 50x times higher than those under Augustus or Tiberius.

Dentists and prophets. Not bad. I always say that prophets provide "moral chemotherapy," but I could be persuaded to use the analogy of with dentistry without Novocaine.

MAT, however the Roman government stood in relation to Roman citizens, its relationship to the non-Roman citizens of its mostly Jewish colony was vastly different. Indeed, "give unto Caesar" is understood to mean giving unto an entity that did not represent the interests or views of Jesus' native cohorts.

I think Jimmy Mac should be able to make his own threads.I find Chaput irrelevant.

"Indeed, give unto Caesar is understood to mean giving unto an entity that did not represent the interests or views of Jesus native cohorts."That's exactly my point. For the people in these several United Sates who are not members of the ruling party, which is about 40% or so of the population, the ruling party does not represent their interests or views at all and therefore the usage of the phrase "Caesars" by this minority to refer their rulers is perfectly appropriate, especially given the breadth of power the majority is able to exercise over this minority.

MAT, your argument proves too much. The situation faced by most Jews in the time of Jesus was that, whoever was governor or emperor, their interests would be structurally excluded from any representation. The fact that in the U.S. the parties alternate in power demonstrates that, while at any given time over the last 30 years or more, approximately 40% of the population would be able to make that argument, it is a shifting 40% and thus a "temporary" situation that they can -- and do -- try to change through the same democratic processes that their opponents do. It is not a political system in which their interests are structurally excluded from any consideration.

Barbara: Your premise that "most Jews in the time of Jesus... whoever was governor or emperor, their interests would be structurally excluded from any representation", is false. First Century Judea was actually a client ethnarchy ruled by a tetrarch and the Sanhedrins. As a mater of fact, Luke 19 tells of the successful impeachment of Herod Archelaus upon popular Jewish petition to Caesar. With the exception of the minority Zealots, it was not until well after the Ascension, during the reign of Caligula, when widespread resistance to the Romans surfaced. "The fact that in the U.S. the parties alternate in power demonstrates that..." is a logically fallacious premise. You cannot extrapolate from an historical anomaly into the future. There is no basis to assume this situation is "temporary", especially when the current situation, ie one-party rule by the current party - is the rule for the past century and given the structural changes the ruling party is making to ensure their continued rule as well as favorable demographic trends.

MAT,It seems to me if you are willing to argue that the United States government is to American citizens (or any subgroup thereof) today what Caesar was to the Jews in Roman-occupied Palestine in the first century, you are willing to argue just about anything.

Joe, I'm honestly not sure how you can interpret him any other way. It seems to me that he suggested that the results of the election demonstrate Catholic apathy (i.e., Obama won). Now, this means,that no reasonable Catholic could have voted in good faith for Obama--something he has said over and over again. So if you have a more nuanced way of reading this speech, I'd love to hear it.

David Nickol: I am not quite sure what you mean, but if you want to offer something other than an argumentum ad hominem, which is quite out of character for you in my opinion actually, I am happy to engage in debate with you. However, your statements are contrary to every extant piece of written and oral history we have of the Iudaea province during the riegns Augustus and Tiberius from both contemporaries and post-facto sources from Flavius Josephus to Suetonius to the Talmud to even Philo or Ben-Sasson today and I think if you are going to make a statement which is contrary to almost every piece of the historical record that is extant in the West, I think you should at least provide a basis for it.

Cathy:We both appear to suffer from the not insignificant limitation that we don't have the full speech to read. If I say that "X ought to be done," I make this as a statement about what reason, or the Gospel, requires, this implies that if someone else says, "X ought not to be done," that person is mistaken, wrong in his judgment. It does not necessarily mean that this other person is either stupid or morally obtuse. You think Archbishop Chaput is wrong in the way he has gone about dealing with this issue. I happen to agree with that. Perhaps you think him either stupid or morally obtuse. I don't. And short of finding these words, or something, like them in his speech, I think it unhelpful to think that this accurately sums up his position. Tertium datur.

I am not quite sure what you mean, but if you want to offer something other than an argumentum ad hominem, which is quite out of character for you in my opinion actually, I am happy to engage in debate with you. MAT,It seems so evident to me that there is no comparison between Obama and American citizens, on the one hand, and Caesar (presumably Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus) and Jews in Roman-occupied Palestine in the first century that it doesn't need to be argued, but I do apologize for the way I put it, and I will try to make a case. There's no question you know more history than I do, but of course if I limited myself to disagreeing with people who knew less than I do, I would rarely be able to participate in any discussions!

Okay, Joe. But the news story on the website included extensive quotations. Here's one: "November showed us that 40 years of American Catholic complacency and poor formation are bearing exactly the fruit we should have expected. Or to put it more discreetly, the November elections confirmed a trend, rather than created a new moment, in American culture."He's talking about the election. Calling people "complacent" and "poorly formed" --who didn't see things his way. He's not making a judgment about X, he's making a judgment about people who don't agree with him about X.Here is the base article, which shows, in fact, him using the word "stupid"--"empty-headed" makes an appearance, too. Oh, and by the way, he calls people liars:"We need to stop lying to each other, to ourselves and to God by claiming to personally oppose some homicidal evil -- but then allowing it to be legal at the same time.Commenting on societys attitude towards Catholic beliefs, Archbishop Chaput said, we have to make ourselves stupid to believe some of the things American Catholics are now expected to accept.Theres nothing more empty-headed in a pluralist democracy than telling citizens to keep quiet about their beliefs. A healthy democracy requires exactly the opposite.


Concedo.One of the "others"!(If you're not watching Lost, that won't make any sense.)

You're right.

On the mysterious island where Oceanic Flight 815 crashed, the survivors discovered they were not alone. There were "others" on the island. We still don't know a lot about them, but one of them we do know does not age. We just learned this season that the "others" speak Latin. It is not often we hear Latin dialog with English subtitles on prime-time network television.

Mel Gibson guest-directed a couple eps.

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