Thursday, May 06, 2010

Bill 185 and the Upcoming Guam Gubernatorial Election

The upcoming gubernatorial election will provide Guam Catholics with a unique opportunity to decide between candidates on the basis of a non-negotiable moral issue.

In recent forums at GCC (April 28 & May 3) , gubernatorial candidates Calvo & Gutierrez were asked how they would vote on Bill 185, a bill that would create a legal equivalent to marriage (despite what the actual union might be labeled).

The responses are worth study.

Calvo: "The core foundation of a society is the family unit, and it starts with the marriage of a man and a woman, and having children. I will fight for the civil liberties of all people on our island especially for those that are the less fortunate.But ... I do believe that the foundation of this society has to be headstrong, and that means a strong family, and that means a strong marriage, and this is why I will vote no on Bill 185."

Gutierrez: "It says marriage defined ... is a thing between a male and a female. What this thing does is allow civil rights for other kinds of partnerships, as in a contractual basis ... We're not saying we're allowing marriage. We're saying we're allowing a civil kind of contract so that they can protect each other at the hospital or anywhere, ownership or property."

Now, compare both responses to official Catholic Church teaching:




10. If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians. Faced with legislative proposals in favour of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are to take account of the following ethical indications.

When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.

Candidate Calvo's position is qualified yet unequivocal. He will vote NO.

Candidate Gutierrez's position is that he will vote YES. His position is essentially the position of the bill's proponents, and that is, since it not called marriage, it's okay.

However, the Church does not mention "marriage" in the above quoted document. It outright obliges all Catholics, and especially Catholic politicians to "oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions", which is exactly what Bill 185 will do:legally recognize homosexual unions. A vote in favor of such a law, by ANY Catholic politician (or any Catholic if it was a referendum) is condemned as an act that is "gravely immoral" (mortal sin).

The duty of the voter is a little more complicated. But essentially, in elections, Catholics are NOT obliged to vote for the "most Catholic" candidate, they ARE obliged to vote for the candidate that will do the "least harm" to the common good as embodied in Catholic moral teaching.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches [2357] that "homosexual acts" are acts of "grave depravity" and "intrinsically disordered". Thus Catholics can no more support a candidate that would legally recognize a homosexual lifestyle (as would Bill 185 - regardless of whether or not the partners actually engage in those acts), than could Catholics support a candidate who advocates heterosexual polygamy.

A 2006 statement by the Bishops of Kansas stated the obligation clearly:

" is a correct judgment of conscience that we would commit moral evil if we were to vote for a candidate who takes a permissive stand on those actions that are intrinsically evil when there is a morally-acceptable alternative."

The bishops include the following the list of moral evils: "elective abortion, euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, the destruction of embryonic human beings in stem cell research, human cloning, and same-sex "marriage." (While the bishops use the word "marriage" here, the overriding teaching by the Vatican refers simply to the "legal recognition of homosexual unions. It does not matter that the unions are not called "marriage", or that there wasn't a church wedding. The Vatican is referring to a "legal" action, not a church one.)

Some think that war, capital punishment, poverty, immigration issues, etc. should be included in the list and that Catholic voters must balance all the issues. This is not true. All moral issues do not carry the same weight as was clarified by Pope Benedict XVI (while still a Cardinal) in his memorandum issued to the U.S. Church during the run up to the presidential election in 2004 regarding worthiness to receive Communion.

In many previous communications, I offered many reasons from natural law, legal precedent, & social consequences for the Church's teaching on the matter. However, this communication simply deals with a Catholic's obligation in the voting booth. The Church is not telling us to vote for. It cannot. But it can and does tell us what we must and must not do when it comes to our moral responsibility in regards to issues and the position taken on those issues by the candidates we find on the ballot.

There are some who will always put party over principle, friendship over Faith, and relatives over Religion. We all must bear in mind our End and how we will be held to account....and that will include how we voted.

The candidates must answer for themselves. We are not asking them to take a moral position. THEY ARE TELLING US what moral position they will take. Both candidates are very well versed on this issue. Neither are ignorant of the consequences of their positions. We cannot be either.

I am very conscious of the fact that I have no teaching authority of my own to tell you these things. This is why I link all the critical points to source documents for your own reference. The Church already teaches these things. Our mission at Esperansa and the Catholic Evidence Guild of Guam is to help others know WHERE those teaching can be found. Use the links to read for yourself.

Monday, May 03, 2010

It's Rare That I Disagree With the Pope, but...

...I disagree (sort of) with him here: "Pontiff calls for re-plan of economics"

Actually, I do not disagree with him in principle. I do believe that "economics has an essentially ethical nature as "an activity of and for human beings." and:

"Rather than a spiral of production and consumption in view of narrowly-defined human needs, economic life should properly be seen as an exercise of human responsibility, intrinsically oriented towards the promotion of the dignity of the person, the pursuit of the common good and the integral development -- political, cultural and spiritual -- of individuals, families and societies."

But, the greed and bad guys in the private sector that have given us a handful of bad companies (e.g. Enron) is really but a small fraction of the problem when compared to the economic devastation caused by what countries like Greece and Portugal have done for years, and the U.S. is just gearing up to do, and that is to print money when there is none.

A private businessmen is sent to jail for "cooking the books" and making it look like his company has more money than it does. A politician who does the same thing gets re-elected. It's impossible for the handful of bad capitalists to take a country down all by themselves. It's those at the levers of power in the government that steer a country into ruin.

At the source of the U.S. financial crisis is not Lehman Brothers or Merril Lynch. They are but bit players in a much larger game managed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the congressional committee heads that run them. These are so-called "private government run entities". There's problem number one: "private" AND "government run"??

At the source of the Greek problem is not misbehaving bankers and stock merchants, but a government that has spent itself into irrecoverable debt through policies that negate private initiative. The U.S. has been on that road for many years with its ever expanding bureaucracies, but has super accelerated in the last 12 months.

It's fashionable and safe to blame the likes of Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street bad boys. But THEY ARE NOT DOING ANYTHING THAT CONGRESS ITSELF IS NOT ALREADY DOING, except Congress is doing it at exponentially higher amounts (e.g. the "Louisiana Purchase", the "Cornhusker Kickback", etc.)

I can't blame the Pope completely. I don't think he's ever had a job, let alone own a business. The main principles are correct, but the practical application is wanting. The serious culprit in the global financial meltdown is governments that have spent their countries (and states, e.g. California) into the "red hole" and killed the goose that laid the golden egg (private enterprise) by punitive and ignorant taxation and regulation.

Socialism and Communism are the alternatives to Capitalism. How's that working out? See U.S.S. R., North Korea, Cuba, etc. Some say China is a socialist success story. But in fact China has prospered only in areas it has allowed capitalism to grow. By the way, what the immigration rate into China?

Have the Pope, give me a call.

Sunday, May 02, 2010


"Interesting!" May 1 is the Catholic feast of St. Joseph the Worker. (For those who may not know, this is another title for Joseph, the foster father of Jesus.) I begin by saying "interesting" because of the sermon I heard. I'm sure it was well-intentioned and an innocent error, but the account of the institution of this feast seemed to vary a bit from actual history. So, first, some actual history.

History of the Feast

Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of St. Joseph the Worker in 1955 on the first day of May - chosen specifically to oppose the communist holiday on the same day known as "May Day" - which supposedly honored "the worker", the "proletariat".

The communist May Day was more than just a Soviet style Labor Day. The Marxist concept of "the proletariat" embodies the essence of the socialist ideology which subjects everything and everyone, including the worker, to the whim and will of the State.

In effect, the communist May Day, in the days of the U.S.S.R, was an "in your face" militaristic display of aggressive, expansionist, atheistic communism. The "worker" was but a prop for the communist hierarchy and their godless agenda.

Pius XII knew this. So, in the tradition of other Pontiffs who had previously christianized pagan holidays by inserting a Christian feast on or near a pagan one, Piux XII christianized a day devoted to atheism and the actual subjugation of "workers" to the man closest to Christ, St. Joseph "The Worker".

Today, with "the wall" down and the U.S.S.R. but a memory, it is easy to forget the threat Communism was in 1955. Stalin had already murdered an estimated 20 plus million of his own people. The Soviets had consolidated eastern Europe in their iron grip, and tanks were arrayed on the Hungarian border. All of mainland China had fallen to the Communists. And Communism was sweeping through Korea, Vietnam, and many other countries. The Soviets were amassing a nuclear arsenal and preparing to venture into space. It was a fearful time.

With an army of a couple of dozen Swiss guys dressed in bad pajamas, the Pope opted to deploy Heaven's most powerful male Saint to"sick" the Communists.

Thus, it was with some consternation that I listened to a sermon on this day which recounted the institution of the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker as the Church's response to "the extortionist of workers by the Capitalist" (actual words)!!

As we know, Communism grew out of the Marxist/Leninist rebellion against Capitalism. They are opposite economic systems. And, as history would have it, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker was instituted precisely to COUNTER COMMUNISM - NOT CAPITALISM. But perhaps with the demise of the Soviet Union and eastern Europe now free, some feel the need to seek a new villain, and Capitalism is always handy.

However, though the USSR may be gone, communism is not. And while communism as an economic system has been severely discredited, its stepchild, atheism, is thriving. Communism isn't just the economic opposite of capitalism, it is the antithesis of Christianity, not just because it is atheistic, but because the basic disregard for the human person is inherent in communist ideology. In Communism, all, including every human person, is subject to the state.

Of course "state" is a euphemism for a self-serving elite whose rule has proven to be more ruthless and cruel than any bourgeois czar or king. With Stalin's murderous purge just coming to light (in 1955), another 36 million dead in Communist China in the name of the "Great Leap Forward", and Russian tanks clanking at the Hungarian border, the Pope wasn't thinking just then about the evils of Capitalism.

So Why the Attack on Capitalism?

Capitalist "evil" is standard homiletic fare. Perhaps its simply an innocent ignorance of history. Perhaps its a purposeful attack on an economic system that some, if not many, believe to be inherently unjust. But most likely the revisionist history is a combination of the progressive emphasis on social justice in the Church since the 60's and the natural economic gulf that exists between clergy and laity. Allow me to explain.

Essentially, most priests and religious, embrace a life of what can be called Christian socialism. In short, socialism teaches that there are no private property rights, that all is "held in common." The priest or religious who takes the vow of poverty cedes his or her right to personal ownership to the community which he or she joins and where all is "held in common."

Even secular priests, who may not take the vow of poverty and are allowed to maintain some degree of personal property, still participate in a "common life" much different than the laity, particularly those who have families to raise. The key difference though, is that this life "in common", the ceding of the right to private property, is "voluntary", not coerced, as it would be under a socialist or communist system.

The laity, because of their God-appointed duty to produce, educate, and socialize the next generation, are naturally required to put the well being of that "first community" ahead of the needs of the larger community. In order to do this, the family, or at least its head, must have access to the means of wealth creation for which the right to private property is essential.The priest or religious, while there are still bills to pay, does not have the same need. While they may be tasked to feed the poor, it is not quite the same thing as a father having to face a table full of hungry children because "daddy lost his job".

Few priests and religious have to worry about the daily crushing realities of food, clothing, shelter, and health care, etc. to the same degree that the laity, especially those who are parents, must. Thus, priests and religious would do well to address economic issues with caution simply because, for the most part, they are not subject to the same financial realities, or at least to the same degree of those financial realities, as the people they are addressing.

St. Joseph the Capitalist

But back to the title of this post. Of course it is "tongue in cheek", but St. Joseph was more "capitalist" than he was proletariat or "union guy" - which the particular sermon I heard made him out to be.

Good St. Joe bought materials, fashioned them into things people were willing to pay more for than what the material itself cost (e.g. wood = table), and used the money to care for his family and buy more materials so that he could repeat the process. It's possible that he was even an employer. Sure, he had Jesus around to help, but it's quite possible, that as a successful carpenter, he had some other local Nazarenes on the payroll.

We can also reason from Scripture that he probably did pretty well. In order for him to just pick up and go off to Egypt as instructed by the angel, he had to have some means. And the fact that Jesus was born in a stable and not a "hotel" was not due to Joseph's lack of funds. He obviously had the money or he wouldn't have knocked on the hotel doors first.

Also, we do not hear about Mary in want for her material well-being after Joseph died, so he probably socked away some of that profit to provide for his wife and Son's financial future. He may even have helped financed the ministry of his foster Son. The Scriptures don't mention it much, but we don't see Christ begging and He seemed to have the bucks when needed. So, yah, it could be said that St. Joe was a capitalist, a successful one. (Scripture does mention women who provided for his material needs. But of course that money was "made" somewhere. No government grants in those days.)

Private Property: The Essence of Capitalism
The essential feature of capitalism (in contrast to communism) is the right to own private property. This right is rooted in the Judeo-Christian principles upon which the U.S.A. was founded. In case you're wondering, it's the Seventh Commandment: "Thou shalt not steal". Obviously a thing would need to be "owned" (i.e."private property) before it could be "stolen". Thus it is no coincidence that capitalism grew up on American soil and generated the wealthiest nation in history.

Prior to the founding of the United States and the experiment in democracy, a thing could be owned until some king, lord, duke, or whoever had more power (and weapons) than you, wanted it. In short, the history of the world is tyranny.

America, in contrast,  was more than just an experiment in a new form of government, it was an experiment in the practical application of Judeo-Christian principles, as unashamedly attested to by many documents authored in the name of this country's Founding Fathers. The very idea of the equal dignity of persons ("All persons are created equal...") would have been, historically, unthinkable apart from Christianity.

So What's the Problem?

Capitalism and Christianity are essentially bound up with each other. Capitalism is a free system where people are free to do good or ill. As William F. Buckley once said, "The problem with Socialism is Socialism. The problem with Capitalism are Capitalists." Socialism inherently denies the Seventh Commandment because it coercively denies the right to private property.

Thus it is the system itself that is the problem. Capitalism embraces the Seventh Commandment and the right to private property. However, due to the personal freedom inherent in the system, bad guys are free to do bad things. Yet one can no more blame Capitalism for bad Capitalists than one can blame Catholicism for bad Catholics. Freedom is the essence of both.

But what to do about the obvious abuses in the Capitalist system? Can the Church just look the other way? No. As always, the mission of the Church is the mission of Christ, and that is: to call all men first to conversion. Then it becomes the mission of the laity, once converted, to "sanctify the temporal order", as did St. Joseph. Given the current economic crisis, perhaps the Church would do well to deploy the foster father of Jesus once again, as did Pius XII, as the patron saint of Capitalists. For what is needed is not a new economic system, but new men, which only the Church can make.
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