Monday, March 2, 2009

Et tu Brownback?

Right Wing Catholics in Emotional Meltdown over Brownback ‘Betrayal’

Millions of American Catholics have contributed effectively and sincerely to the pro-life movement through personal efforts through organizations like Birthright and others that directly assist women considering abortion, by legislative advocacy for pro-life bills and by participation in the political process. They have stood for virtue while not engaging in counterproductive rhetorical extremism that insults the human dignity of those with whom we disagree with.

Others have set back the pro-life movement with an extremism and a focus on attacking the character of those who disagree with us (or agree with us, but don’t vote as they instruct) rather than defending and explaining the humanity of the unborn.

In the last election, we saw what a disaster this strategy was for them. They hardly found time to mention the unborn, they were so focused on making personal attacks against Obama, Pelosi, Kmiec, Biden, Casey, and others.

Now the attacks move to one of their favorites (formerly). A letter was sent under the name of Senator Sam Brownback on behalf of Deal Hudson’s right wing lay Catholic group. Brownback is a conservative Republican from Kansas, a convert to the Catholic faith and a strong pro-lifer. The text of the letter attacked the Catholic faith of some of Brownback’s Senate colleagues – Catholic Democrats with mixed or misguided voting records on the criminal status of abortion.

There was a kerfuffle as to if the letter was authorized by Brownback or not. Hudson said it was and Brownback is disclaiming it. Whatever the conclusion, Brownback (who is preparing for a race for Governor in Kansas) is making it clear he is not willing to assert that people in public life like Speaker Pelosi and Senator Kennedy are not Catholic.

He is now going a step further in supporting the nomination of Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of HHS.

None of this creates any doubt in my mind that the Senator remains a sincere opponent of abortion. The question is, will the extremists now do to him as they did to Professor Doug Kmiec?

28 comments:

Brian said...

I do find it disturbing that Senator Brownback is giving his full support to a radical like Sebelius.

But I think it is unfair to compare him to Doug Kmiec. There is a big difference in supporting someone from your state like Brownback is doing and spitting on your faith like Kmiec has done over the last year.

Katherine said...

Professor Kmiec has hardly spit on his faith. He is devout Catholic. He came to a conclusion after much prayer and reflection as to how he would vote that differs from the conclusion you and a minority of Catholics came to.

Insulting people and making uncharitable accusations only serves to politically marginalize conservative Catholics who otherwise might have something to offer the common good.

Brian said...

But then who are you Katherine to flinch at spitting on the faith. Even liberal catholics try to distance themselves from the spitting Kmiec.

Brian said...

I admit the "spitting on your faith" comment was a little over the top. But I don't think you can honestly say Professor Kmiec is still a devout Catholic using the standard definition of the word devout.

For a much better critique of Kmiec than I can articulate, I would suggest you read:

http://www.americanpapist.com/2009/01/open-letter-to-doug-kmiec-on-behalf-of.html

Katherine said...

Yes, I have every reason to believe he is a devout Catholic. He regularly avails himself of the sacraments, faithfully attends Mass, accepts the great Creeds of the Church, the Immaculate Conception, Papal Infalibility and the dogmatic teachings of the Church. He is nationally known for his strong belief in the humanity of the unborn.

That seems to meet the basic test of a devout Catholic.

The accusation that he is "spitting on the Church" or not being a "devout Catholic" seems based on two items.

1) A voted for Obama, though despite and not because of Obama's position on the criminal status of abortion.

2) He accused “right-wing Catholic blogosphere” of perpetrating “unrelenting personal attacks” upon him during the Presidential election cycle.


On point two, I happen to believe he makes an accurate observation. Even if it was not, making such an accusation against the "right-wing Catholic blogosphere" is hardly "spitting on the Church."

People really need to get over identifying their own personal political opinions with the Catholic Church.

Brian said...

Please read the American Papist link and also:

http://www.ncregister.com/site/article/15476

http://maryvictrix.wordpress.com/2009/01/28/douglas-kmiec-victim/

and especially:

http://www.moralaccountability.com/obama-on-abortion/defending-the-indefensible-kmiec-gives-it-one-more-try/

Susan said...

You too, Katherine?

Anonymous said...

Doug Kmiec if not " spitting on the faith" is either well intentioned but confused, dishonest, or letting pride get in his way (IE: has to be right and does not accept correction from his pastor or the number of bishops who have spoken out on the issue).

Katherine said...

(n.b. -- the third comment is a different Brian than the other comments)

Brian,

The links you provide make arguements against the logic and reasoning of Professor Kmiec. The arguments made in these links may or may not be correct (I happen to think they mostly are not). But that is besides the point.

Failures in logic or reasoning are not "spitting on the Catholic Church" nor a betrayal of the faith, nor evidence that a person is not a devout Catholic. It certainly is not licence to give others the right to dispense with the Christian obligation of charity and make public accusations that another person is not devout.

Conservative Catholics have severely wounded their cause and the pro-life cause by allowing personal attacks to overwhelm their message. They would be wise to change course, but increasingly I see little hope they will.

(as to Anonymous, Professor Kmiec has put forward his opinion and analysis. It has been his critics who insist they mus tbe right. Professor Kmiec has never made such a claim. Further, neither his pastor nor his bishop has corrected him nor told him anything he has said is in conflict with the Catholic faith. In fact, they have defended him against the most unjust actions some have tried to take against him.)

Brian said...

I agree that conservatives should cease the personal attacks and debate the issues and not demean the character of those we disagree with.

But it can be hard not to go on the attack when you see someone like Professor Kmiec who I think is deceiving people to further his own ambition.

If the Church teaches that abortion is intrinsically evil and then you go and write books defending politicians who have a 100% pro abortion voting record does it not then logically follow that you are not as devout to your faith as someone who works to elect those who also think that abortion is evil.

Anonymous said...

Katharine, not sure you would know what private conversatios have occurred. I do understand he was denied Holy Communion at his own parish, maybe not his pastor but I thought so.

Here is a link:

http://blog.beliefnet.com/stevenwaldman/2008/09/the-day-i-was-denied-communion.html


Do you have any public announcements of support from either his pastor or his bishop defending Mr.Kmiec that I can read?

Katherine said...

Anonymous,

The incident you cite was not at Professor Kmiec's parish church. Much more offensively, it was at a Mass preceeding a luncheon at which Professor Kmiec was the guest speaker, hosted by a very conservative Catholic organization.

The priest in question was subsequently directed to apologize to Professor Kmiec by the bishop of the diocese (which, in obedience, the priest did).

All of this information is easily available publicly.

Katherine said...

I agree that conservatives should cease the personal attacks and debate the issues and not demean the character of those we disagree with.

But it can be hard not to go on the attack when you see someone like Professor Kmiec who I think is deceiving people to further his own ambition.


Brian, I would like to have some confidence you are not doing exactly what you suggest should not be done in your first paragraph.

May I ask: You might be convinced Professor Kmiec has come to a mistaken idea on this matter. Let's accept that for the moment. But there would be multiple ways he may have arrived at that conclusion -- he lacks goods reasoning skills, he lacks logic, he has poor information, he has a mental illness, or he is trying to further his own ambition.

There is also the issue that while one or more of these or other ways may be how he came to the opinion he holds, we might not know which of these is the cause of those opinions.

How is it that you concluded it is ambition that drove Professor Kmiec to his conclusion and how did you collect sufficient information to be able to publicly declare that while still staying within the bounds of Christian charity?

Anonymous said...

Katharine, thanks for the clarification on receiving Holy Communion. Another weak shepherd in our midst....

Betty said...

Count the Pope among the "weak shepherds", as he too (along with the previous pope) has given communion to person who have voted for pro-choice candidates.

Susan said...

O.K., Katie girl. The news is reporting that your guy is reinstating EMBRYONIC stem-cell research on Monday. I am sure you will excuse this somehow. I am sure it is because the pro-life people are too strident, right?????

Anonymous said...

Instead of killing babies, why don't you dems hurry up and bump off Teddy Kennedy. He has no useful life left.

Brian said...

Katherine,

I'm actually being kind toward Professor Kmiec when I say his recent actions must be because of personal ambition and his wish to get appointed to a position in the Obama administration.

Otherwise, what explains someone who over the past year has written and given speeches totally contradicting what he has said throughout his career.

How else does one explain how someone can go from being a rabid pro lifer supporting Romney to overnight supporting Obama who even you would have to admit has a dismal pro life voting record?

Katherine said...

Brian,

Being a Catholic, I don't feel I am at liberty about making unkind assumptions about other people and stating those assumptions in a public forum simply because my mind can't come up with an explanation of their thinking to my satisfaction.

Paul Bradford said...

Katherine (and others):

I happen to identify with Doug Kmiec since I get attacked by the 'Right Wing Blogosphere' almost every time I post. I'm not saying I'm as smart or as learned as Prof. Kmiec, or that attacks against me have ever risen to the level that he's been forced to endure, but I've had enough of a taste of it to well understand why he'd complain about it.

How is it 'spitting on your faith' to spend a lifetime trying to develop a well-formed conscience and then to do one's best to engage others in a dialogue with the hope of getting closer to the truth? How is it 'spitting on your faith' to point out that there's a difference between civil law and moral law? (A distinction which Cardinal Ratzinger drew when he wrote Donum Vitae) How is it 'spitting on your faith' to be of the opinion that the candidate who promised to find 'common ground solutions' to the effort to reduce abortion might -- just possibly -- end up saving more lives than predecessors whose talent was for pitting half ofthe country against the other half?

I realize I'm speaking out of my own annoyance and that Prof. Kmiec is more than capable of expressing himself eloquently. I only mean to point out that the sharpshooters in the 'Right Wing Blogosphere' are only too happy to take down small targets along with the big ones.

Paul Bradford, Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

Brian said...

Katherine,

Do you not think there is a difference between making "unkind assumptions" about private individuals and making "unkind assumptions" about public figures who are engaging in political activity?

Paul,

Professor Kmiec has not engaged in dialogue with other pro lifers instead he accuses all of them of being part of some sort of right wing propaganda machine.

While some bloggers have simply engaged in vicious attacks, others have offered well written, reasoned rebuttals to Kmiec's claims yet he has lumped them all in the same category.

Again, I would urge you to read the following blog concerning this subject:

http://www.americanpapist.com/2009/01/open-letter-to-doug-kmiec-on-behalf-of.html

I'm also sure that you have to understand why someone from a group calling themselves Pro-Life Catholics For Choice would attract that sort of attack.

I'm also sure you can understand why for those who truly believe abortion is evil, groups like yours make them very angry.

You simply make me very sad and I can only pray that the Holy Ghost will someday touch your spirit and you will have a change of heart. There will come a day when you will change your mind as another blogger said about Professor Kmiec:

"One thing's for sure---the law professor had better hope he can out-argue Christ. That's one judge not known for suffering weaselly lawyers."

Katherine said...

While some bloggers have simply engaged in vicious attacks, others have offered well written, reasoned rebuttals to Kmiec's claims yet he has lumped them all in the same category.

Brian,

You are very correct that some right wing Catholic bloggers have engaged in vicious attacks against this devout and faithful Catholic.

Their number and stridency has surpassed anything I have seen before. Their lack of charity shames all who claim the name Catholic. Their reasoning is largely faultly and they often falsely claim the name of the Church in their private political opinions.

In re-reading Professor Kmiec's article, I would say it was mild towards the very nasty and intolerance voices I have experienced.

Fortunately, most of the American public and the Catholic faithful see these dangerous voices of intolerance for exactly what they are.

Anonymous said...

How can Catholics support the warmongering Republicans?

Paul Bradford said...

Brian,

Although my browser sprinkled it with all sorts of unreadable characters, I did read Thomas Peters' post in 'American Papist' as you suggested. I had already read Prof. Kmiec's Commonwealth piece when it first came out. As to whether or not Kmiec's criticisms were fair, I can only say that it's too bad he didn't supply links to the posts that triggered his criticisms. Do you think it would help if I started collecting links to the posts that seek to demonize me so that you and I can make a fair-minded assessment as to whether these posts make a contribution to the national discourse?

You say, "While some bloggers have simply engaged in vicious attacks, others have offered well written, reasoned rebuttals." I can only hope that, in engaging me, you will do your best to respond with a well-written, reasoned rebuttal.


You say, "Professor Kmiec has not engaged in dialogue with other pro lifers". I don't really know if that's true for Prof. Kmiec, but you cannot say that of me. As much as it pains me to endure ad hominem attacks, I really to want to 'engage in dialogue'. Let's see if you and I can have a dialogue that is fruitful.


You say, "I'm also sure you can understand why for those who truly believe abortion is evil, groups like yours make them very angry." I don't want there to be any misunderstanding. If you remain angry at me after we have both worked hard to clear up the misunderstanding then so be it; but I hope and pray that anger doesn't prevent you from actually understanding what I say.


In the first place, let's see how much you and I can agree to agree about. As far as I understand it, we both acknowledge that the Church has authority to speak on matters of morality; that she has always taught that abortion is immoral; that she is right now and has always been right in asserting that a developing fetus is a living human being with as much right to continue living as anyone else; that she is right in urging the faithful to do everything possible to improve protections for the unborn; and that laws should be instituted that maximize protection for the unborn. That's an awful lot of common ground!


Now, let's look at some matters upon which we may or may not agree. I am of the opinion that, in order to improve protection for the unborn, we ought to begin by addressing the problems faced by the unborn children of unmarried mothers. I say that because I think that the fact that 80% of all abortions in the US are procured by unmarried women is a significant piece of information. I say it also because I honestly believe that different strategies need to be employed to protect unborn in different situations. Typically the unmarried woman's unborn child is faced with different, and more lethal threats to its survival than the married woman's unborn child. Please let me know if you think this opinion of mine is unreasonable.


I have spent numerous hours sorting through data made available by the U.S. Census Bureau's yearly statistical abstract of population data. The Bureau has kept track of abortion data since 1973 as well as data pertaining to married and unmarried women of childbearing age. Because I've studied this data I know that the abortion rate for unmarried women was 31.61 per 1000 women of childbearing age in 1973, that it rose steadily to a peak of 53.87 in 1981 and that it has steadily declined to a rate of 31.44 in 2004 (the last year for which data is available). I'm convinced that this number is the single most important number for assessing the degree to which we are protecting the unborn. Do you agree or disagree?


I am also of the opinion that the restrictions placed on abortion access since 1973 are relatively minor. That is, the likelihood of a pregnant woman being able to procure a legal abortion has been nearly 100% since Roe. Since that day we have been a Pro-Choice society. In other words, when a woman brings a baby to term she does it out of her own free choice rather than because she's unable to procure an abortion. I am very eager to know whether or not you agree with this. If you disagree I would very much like to know what you believe about the matter. What percentage of women who give birth each year are 'forced' to do so even though they would, if they could choose, have gotten an abortion?


There are two plausible explanations for why the abortion rate has come down so much since 1981. One explanation is that policy makers have been able to work their way around Roe and have been effective at restricting access to abortion. Another explanation is that women have increasingly become convinced that their unborn child has a life worth saving and they have exercised their legally safeguarded freedom to choose life. I believe the latter explanation. What do you believe?


There are three important things we can do to protect the unborn that have nothing to do with restricting access to abortion. We can continue to educate (I'm already of the belief that education efforts have been remarkably effective and that more improvement is possible); we can improve conditions for single mothers (I wonder whether you believe that government assistance to single mothers has generally increased or generally decreased since 1981); finally, we can strive to protect unmarried women from pregnancy (I wonder if you realize that -- even though the current abortion rate is lower than it was in 1973 -- the current unmarried pregnancy rate is 38% HIGHER than it was in 1973. If pregnancy rates were decreased to 1973 rates more than a quarter of a million lives would be saved each year). Until you tell me what you think, I have no way of knowing whether you agree with me that these three strategies for protecting the unborn would save a significant number of lives.


I've talked about where we agree, I've talked about where we may or may not agree, but before I talk about where we disagree I want to make a general point about human relations. Oftentimes two people who want the same result can have dramatically different ideas about how to attain that goal. In the heat of conflict about their different ideas either one might accuse the other of not really wanting to reach the goal. Each one might be convinced that the other is trying to undermine success. A disinterested party, viewing the conflict from the outside, might easily see that the sincerity of BOTH is genuine. I think you and I are in that situation. You've let me know that you believe that my ideas are contrary to the goal of protecting the unborn, I wonder if you realize that I'm convinced that YOUR ideas are contrary to the goal of protecting the unborn. A disinterested party, considering our conflict, might have no way of determining which of us is right -- but he would realize that we are both TRYING to work out the solution properly.


I believe, and I fully realize that you disagree, that many lives could be saved if we bridged the Pro-Life/Pro-Choice gulf and looked for common ground solutions. In fact, I believe more lives could be saved that way than could ever be saved by locking the two sides into combat and having each side try to unravel the work of the other. I COULD BE WRONG, but I'm TRYING to work out the solution. I'm convinced that you, too, are trying to work out the solution and I commend your efforts. Even though I disagree with you I would never be so arrogant as to make a statement like "I can only pray that the Holy Ghost will someday touch your spirit and you will have a change of heart. There will come a day when you will change your mind"


It would be downright silly (not to mention mean) for me to call for divine intervention to correct the fault that exists in you and prevents you from agreeing with me. We can disagree about the best way to save lives without EITHER of us being defective in morality, sincerity or intelligence. I will surely pray for you, but I won't be making any suggestions to the Almighty about what it is you need.


Paul Bradford, Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

Brian said...

Unborn life is the most innocent of all life and certainly deserves protection from the state. If abortion is the taking of an innocent life and is considered murder and murder is illegal in this country, why shouldn't abortion also be illegal?

Paul, I don't think you can logically or spiritually defend your answer to the above question and that is the bottom line of this discussion.

I'm glad we can have a friendly and intelligent discussion of these issues.

Katherine said...

I am going to stand in the middle between Paul and Brian. Along with President Bush and Senator McCain, I don't think abortion should be made a crime of murder.
But I do support legislation to curtail it, using whatever opportunites are politically feasible at the moment, be it legal restrictions, assistance to women, etc.

Anonymous said...

This is why America thinks the Obama haters are nuts:

Before starting class last week, volunteer OK hunter safety instructor Kell Wolf "asked if any of the students voted for" Obama, then told the guilty parties to leave for supporting "the next thing to the Antichrist" (Tulsa World).

Kurt said...

Brownback - Turncoat

I am not a politician, I am a priest. So I would like to give my priestly perspective about the recent endorsement of Senator Sam Brownback for the candidacy of Kathleen Sebelius for Secretary of Health and Human Services: Senator Brownback's cowardly betrayal of his Catholic faith is even more damaging than his political permission for this renegade to take office.

The situation is atrocious. An extremist abortion hack (called the most pro-abortion governor in the nation by many), who falsely calls herself "Catholic," is given the opportunity to preside over the nation's healthcare system and normalize abortion even further; this radical is then endorsed by a US senator who also calls himself "Catholic" and who, many believe, wants her job back home when she becomes the abortion queen in DC.

With pro-lifers like Senator Sam Brownback, who needs pro-aborts?

Moral theologians can work out what level of cooperation in evil the Senator's endorsement represents - he is, after all, an influential senator whose opposition, if he had given it, may very well have stopped her nomination. Yet, those of us who do not breathe the rarified air of Washington DC and who have dedicated our lives to defending the sanctity of human life understand one thing: any covenant with the abortion industry or its promoters is consent to the killing. As a convert to the Catholic Faith, Senator Brownback seems not to understand the Church's profoundly wounded heart with regard the slaughter of the innocents. The Church tells us never to participate in that slaughter, no matter what the cost; we do not give aid and comfort to the enemies of human life, we do not stand by while the innocent are being dragged off to a violent murder, and under no circumstances do we endorse the political aspirations of their executioners. Politicians who sell the lives of babies for political gains are the worst kind of turncoats.

Yet, this Catholic Senator's decision constitutes, I think, a watershed moment for all of us who want to see an end to the immoral industry of baby-killing in our country. We will never be served by the compromise of our principles in any form. Catholicism is the solution to this culture of death. If only Catholics ourselves would fully live up to our doctrine and put it into practice, there would be no "Tiller the Killer"s in Kansas, no partial birth abortions, no immoral sex education in the schools or Planned Parenthoods dominating our public life. Self-described "Catholics" like Brownback (in politics), Doug Kmiec (in academia), Hannity, Matthews and O'Reilly (in media) and others are not the solution to the problem - they are enablers of the problem. Despite their high-sounding lip service to the culture of life, they are compromisers. They will never end abortion because they don't want to end abortion.

I have often said that false Catholics, whether they be Cardinals, politicians or janitors, are the ones who have the most to account for on the Day of Judgment when they will have to account for ignoring Christ in His "least brethren," the unborn. Whether through advocacy of the evil (like Sebelius) or negligence in stopping it (like Brownback), they have blood on their hands. They've been given everything the Church has to offer: the teaching, the sacraments, the example of the saints and the grace to stand against Satan and all his works and all his empty promises. In other words, they know better, and the Biblical warning applies to them: "To whom much has been given, much will be required." Cowards and turncoats beware.

Sincerely,


Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,
President, Human Life International