Friday, January 8, 2016

Qualifications: A Bifurcated Tirade

     In recent years, there’s been quite a lot of loose talk about the rules concerning birthright citizenship. Both Barack Hussein Obama and John McCain came under fire through that subject in 2008. Though as far as I know, it’s never been litigated to a conclusion, the Federal Elections Commission has consistently held that a baby born to a U.S. citizen, wherever in the world that might occur, is a natural-born U.S. citizen himself. Whether that was the Founding Fathers’ original understanding, I have no idea.

     The subject is once again under discussion this year, specifically with regard to the presidential candidacy of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. Cruz was born in Canada, to a mother who was a U.S. citizen. Therefore, under the holdings of the century past, he is deemed a natural-born citizen himself, even though he was also awarded Canadian citizenship based upon his place of birth. As the sole qualifications for the presidency are age, residence, and natural-born citizenship, that would appear to put the matter to rest...though you may rest assured that Cruz’s competitors – and his Democrat opponent, should he gain the nomination – will do their utmost to use it against him.

     This matter of what constitutes natural-born citizenship is part of the gateway through which presidential aspirants must pass, contenders will attempt to wield it to their advantage whenever an opponent looks vulnerable to it. However, it’s entirely a legal wrangle, and thus subject to determination by legally constituted authorities. I have no doubt that at some future time the matter will be laid permanently to rest, probably by a Supreme Court ruling. Until that time should arrive, there will be fusillades over it.

     Certain other questions are more easily disposed of.

     Recently longtime favorite Ragin’ Dave got into a tussle with a self-styled “pro-abortion Catholic:”

     Got into an argument with a supposed Catholic on Twitter.

     I say supposed because this woman supported every Leftist meme you can think of, including abortion. Anyone who claims to be Catholic or pro-abortion is lying about one side or the other. You cannot be both Catholic, meaning you follow the Catechism of the Church, and pro-abortion. They contradict each other. They are mutually exclusive.

     There’s some inaccuracy in the above. The Catechism is not proclaimed as being uniformly binding: i.e., some parts of the Catechism are not taught as imperatively as others. The Church allows that outside the explicit proclamations of Jesus Christ, the individual’s conscience is the determinant. Consider this passage from Father Joseph Champlin’s What It Means To Be Catholic:

     Catholics believe that an individual's conscience is the ultimate determinant of what is wrong or right for that individual. Moreover, God will judge us according to the fidelity with which we have followed our conscience. Nevertheless, this conscience needs to be formed by objective standards of moral conduct. The Church provides us with just that -- moral norms based on Jesus's teachings, the inspired scriptures, centuries of tradition, and the laws of nature.

     These moral standards may seem at times to be inhibiting or restrictive. The fact is, that quite to the contrary, they release or liberate us. These norms both make us free, and lead us to the deep happiness that comes from following God's plan. Jesus underscored that point when he said: If you live according to my teachings, you are truly my disciples; then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32)

     “Objective standards of moral conduct” can only arise from two sources:

  1. The teachings of Christ as expressed in the four canonical Gospels;
  2. Our gradually unfolding understanding of natural law: i.e., the immutable laws God has written into the fabric of our temporal reality.

     There have been several occasions, mostly well in the past, on which the Church has decreed arbitrary standards, unsupported by either the Gospels or natural law. On those occasions it has gone ultra vires: beyond its proper sphere. This has had the unfortunate effect of alienating may Catholics from the Church, while it also opened an avenue of attack against Catholicism generally. The historically recent return of the Church to a Gospels-plus-Natural Law standard will eventually correct the problem, though the Church’s inherent reluctance to admit mistakes, a characteristic of all authority structures, will undoubtedly retard the process.

     On at least one point, there can be no rational dispute. In an episode is usually remembered as that of the “rich young man,” Jesus said:

     And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. [Matthew 19:16-19]

     Note that in the above, Christ said most explicitly: Do not murder. To murder is to take a human life without just cause: to kill other than in self-defense or the defense of others. Therefore, if a creature is legitimately deemed human, to murder it is forbidden by unshakable proclamation by the Redeemer Himself.

     A baby in the womb is a human being. There is no conceivable argument against this that holds water under even light scrutiny. Therefore, abortion is murder, no matter how it’s rationalized, and no matter how antiseptically it’s treated by those who wish to obscure its nature.

     You cannot endorse murder yet credibly claim to be a Catholic, or for that matter any variety of Christian.

     There’s considerable confusion about one aspect of Catholic affiliation. I touched on it in a snippet from Chosen One:

     "What did you think of the movie?" Celeste pulled Louis's arm against her and walked closely alongside him.
     He shrugged. "I'm not big on tearjerkers. It was pretty decent entertainment, but I have a feeling they distorted the facts of his life a bit."
     "Whose? C. S. Lewis's?"
     He nodded. "I have a hard time matching the character in the movie with the things he wrote."
     "You've read his books?"
     "All of them."
     He unlocked the passenger door of his pickup truck and helped her into it. Even with his assistance, her stiletto heels made it a challenge.
     When they were in motion, she asked, "Do you have any favorite hobbies?"
     "Hm? No, I read a lot, that's about it."
     "So, how do you pass the time when you're not at work? Just reading?"
     He guided the truck through the gate of her townhouse complex, wheeled into a convenient parking place, and killed the engine. "Well, I do a few other things, but nothing you'd call exciting."
     I've got to know before this gets any more serious.
     Trying to sound casual and failing completely, she said, "Any causes?"
     He turned and looked at her without speaking, then let himself out of the truck and went around to her side to help her out. She took his arm again as they began the walk to her door.
     "If you were to take Route 231 through the city, turn south onto Fullerton Boulevard, and stay on it for about half a mile, you'd come to a light industrial area. On the southern edge there's a medical park, just a few one-story buildings that share a parking lot. Most Saturdays when the weather is good, you'd find me standing at the entrance with a sign that says 'Pregnant? Please talk to me first.' "
     Katie was right.
     "Operation Rescue, Louis?"
     He shook his head as they mounted the short flight of concrete steps that stood before her door. "No, I don't much care for that bunch. When they're there, I'm not. This is just me, and sometimes another fellow who feels the way I do."
     Instead of unlocking her door at once, she turned to face him. He stood with his hands clasped before him. She could read nothing from his face in the dim moonlight.
     "And how is that?"
     He looked down briefly. "That abortion is a horrible thing. That it should be a last resort, to save a mother's life, not a first to spare her some inconvenience. That most women who have abortions wouldn't, if they knew how they'd feel afterward." He said it calmly, no strain apparent.
     "Are you a Catholic by any chance, Louis?"
     He stood a little straighter. "Not by chance, Celeste. By mature choice, and by the grace of God."
     Something in the words flicked her on the raw. Scorn poured into her voice. "I see. And of course that 'grace' gives you the right to interfere in the mature choices of women you've never met?"
     His eyes flared wide. "I interfere in no one's choices, Miss Holmgren. I force myself on no one. I present information and alternatives. Sometimes it seems as if the rest of society is practically shoving women into abortion clinics, rushing them in with no chance to check other options or think about what they're doing. I don't block the doors. I stand beside them with an offer of assistance. If that be interference, make the most of it."
     He started away, then faced her again. "By the way, you might have the wrong idea about something else as well. I'm not opposed to abortion because I'm a Catholic. Being opposed to abortion is part of what qualifies me to be a Catholic. Give that a spin on your mental merry-go-round and see where it gets off. Thanks for your company this evening. I'll see you at the office next week."
     He strode off into the darkness before she could reclaim her voice.

     Louis Redmond, my readers’ favorite character by a longshot, has phrased the matter with exquisite precision. Opposition to abortion is not a consequence of becoming a Catholic; it’s one of the qualifications for becoming one. Without that qualification, you can call yourself whatever you like, but you are not a Catholic. You certainly can’t credibly claim to be a follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ.

     Ragin’ Dave’s argumentative adversary couldn’t handle having that thrown up to her:

     At that point, the woman called her friends into her little rage spiral, and they threw one massive, gigantic temper tantrum online. However, you can look up a person's bio on Twitter, and I noticed one thing.

     Not one single friend of hers joining in her rage spiral against me claimed to be Catholic. I saw atheist, agnostic, anti-theists and one Jew. But not one Catholic.

     Fancy that.

     I’ve ranted about the critical need for clarity of thought and speech innumerable times. At this point my Gentle Readers surely don’t need to read another such screed. However, the above should make it plain just how great is that need.

     Millions find “gay marriage” completely reasonable.
     Millions claim that abortion is merely “a woman’s right to choose.”
     Millions believe that theft is quite all right, if the government does it for them.
     Millions willingly defame others, accusing them of every imaginable infamy, as long as it’s “in a good cause.”
     And millions upon millions of persons covet the possessions of others, scheme to steal them, and quite often succeed at it through the processes of the law.

     Whatever they might call themselves, they are not Catholics. They are not Christians of any sort. On this subject, the Savior has spoken.


Anonymous said...

Amen,brother Fran. As I read, and then re-read; I believe that in order to be a sane, moral individual;a mature adult human - those thoughts must also apply. And thinking the opposite means one is the opposite - insane,immoral,sheep;immature, childish and inhuman. Or, as I've shared with my children; when the Lord said "if you love Me, you'll obey My commands" - the reverse is also true - if you don't obey, you don't love Him. -Grandpa

JWMJR said...

Another great post brother. As has been said before they are called Ten Commandments not the Ten Suggestions. God created us as creatures of free will. We are free to except or reject his love and forgiveness. We must also be prepared to accept the consequences of failing to do so. He only asks that when we fail we do our best not to repeat our mistakes.

Your brother in Christ,
Joe Martin Jr.

Reg T said...


It is interesting that you mention "ultra vires: beyond its proper sphere." While I am in complete agreement on abortion being murder, Pope Francis doesn't seem to have much to say about that.
However he _does_ proclaim support for "AGW/climate change". Doesn't that seem to you to be ultra vires? Especially since we know it to be false?

"Pope Francis has unequivocally proclaimed climate change to be one of the “principal challenges facing humanity.” In a letter, or encyclical, the Pope calls on citizens, politicians, business leaders, organizations—in short, all of us—to act immediately and decisively to stop climate change, renew our relationship with Nature, and “enter a dialogue with all people about our common home.”

From his encyclical, “A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. … A number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity.”

(Read more:

And his condemnation of anyone who speaks out against islam, against anyone claiming islam is violent rather than a peaceful religion doesn't say much for his love for other Christians throughout the Middle East. He doesn't seem to have much to say about the murder of babies, or the murder of Christians, but quotes muslim poets to support his proclamation that man is responsible for climate change and must live in better harmony with the environment.

This makes me believe that Pope Francis is the poster child for "ultra vires".

BTW, my confirmation name was Francis (as is my middle name), but it was from Francis of Assisi I chose that name.

Francis W. Porretto said...

Of course, Reg. For a prelate to expound on politics is always ultra vires, as Christ explicitly separated church and state (Cf. John 8:1-13) That so many do so anyway is a symptom of just how sick our era has become.

JWMJR said...

The Pope is a Jesuit. The order from almost its very inception has been known for injecting itself into political affairs. If I am not mistaken it was even disbanded by Rome at one point for it. It's activities were the breading ground for so-called "liberation theology" and the had no hesitations about crawling inbed with various murderous communists gangs.

Anonymous said...

Very instructive and thought provoking.

Reg T said...

"For a prelate to expound on politics is always ultra vires, as Christ explicitly separated church and state (Cf. John 8:1-13)"

And another excellent reason to reject islam.