"In politics as in religion, it so happens that we have less charity for those who believe the half of our creed,
than for those who deny the whole of it."
- Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832) from Lacon (1825)
People say Los Angeles is full of odd people. A few of my younger neighbors
in the building moved here to become stars – tattoos, body piercing, purple hair and all. Down in Orange County we have the international headquarters of that group that is out to prove, conclusively,
that the Holocaust never happened. Out in Riverside County we have the largest
KKK coven outside the South. And that is not to mention the leather-skinned,
rail-thin older Beverly Hills matrons tooling around in the Benz convertibles, or the seventeen-year-old Vietnamese dudes
tooling up and down Sunset Strip in new four hundred thousand dollar Lamborghini speedsters.
And we have all sorts of religious folks – the Hollywood Scientologist stars (Tom Cruse, John Travolta) for example. And there are still at lot of Foursquare churches out this way - the International
Church of the Foursquare Gospel was founded in 1923 over the next hill in the Echo Park section of Los Angeles (incorporated
and registered in the State of California on December 30, 1927) - Aimee Semple McPherson of Salford, Ontario moved here and
got all excited.
It seems we also have a Los Angeles-based canon lawyer and an assistant judge with the Archdiocese
of Los Angeles' tribunal, which seems to be an ecclesiastical court. He either
has too much time on his hands, or an overly developed sense of righteousness. He’s
certainly a good Bush Republican. Or perhaps he is a tad insecure in his faith
and is just asking for a little help here.
And I don’t recall the Catholic Church charging anyone with heresy
since that Inquisition business way back when. Well, maybe they have. Not having any, I don’t follow religion and news about it all that much.
But this caught
my eye. Imagine John Kerry on the rack, or being dipped in boiling oil. Burned at the stake?
Kerry cited in Catholic heresy case
Julia Duin, THE WASHINGTON TIMES, June 30, 2004
A Catholic lawyer has filed heresy charges against Sen. John Kerry with the Archdiocese of Boston,
accusing the Democratic presidential candidate of bringing "most serious scandal to the American public" by receiving Holy
Communion as a pro-choice Catholic.
The 18-page document was sent to the archdiocese June 14, but released to the
public only yesterday by Marc Balestrieri, a Los Angeles-based canon lawyer and an assistant judge with the Archdiocese of
Los Angeles' tribunal, an ecclesiastical court.
"Heresy is a public, ecclesiastical crime," said Mr. Balestrieri,
33, whose complaint is posted at www.defide.com. "It affects entire communities. It is one of the greatest sins you can commit."
If the Boston Archdiocese,
which is refusing comment on the case, decided to press heresy charges, the Massachusetts senator could be excommunicated.
"My goal is his repentance, not excommunication," Mr. Balestrieri said. The
charges do not seek monetary damages.
The Rev. Arthur Espelage, executive coordinator for the Canon Law Society in
Alexandria, said a Catholic layman can legitimately bring a case against another layman in a church court. The charges, known in church parlance as a "denunciation," are similar to a criminal complaint in secular
But "this is really unique," he said. "I have never heard of a case
like this being processed before."
The charges must be filed in the diocese where Mr. Kerry lives. If the Archdiocese of Boston rejects the case, Mr. Balestrieri can appeal it to the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith, headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in Rome.
Father Espelage said church officials, not politicians,
are the ones usually accused of heresy. But this suit may change that.
Mr. Balestrieri said he filed the heresy charge — plus an additional complaint charging "harm" to himself as a result
of Mr. Kerry's pronouncements on abortion and related issues — because canon law entitles Catholics to "possession of
the faith unharmed."
"By spreading heresy, he is endangering not just mine by every Catholic's possession of the
faith," he said.
"I am inviting all baptized Catholics who feel injured by Kerry to join the suit as third parties"
by reading the document on the Web site and then sending a certified letter of agreement to the Boston Archdiocese.
are saying you can be pro-choice and be a good Christian, that it is not contrary to the faith to support aborted murder,"
Mr. Balestrieri said. "This is a life-threatening heresy."
Cool. I wonder how far this will go?
Well, Kerry keeps going to Mass, and receiving communion. His business, not mine.
But he is confusing people. He
is opposed to the death penalty – as is the Church. He seems to say things
about helping the poor and unfortunate and those suffering and all that. Not
so radical, as the Church often says such things, and does help out now and then. But
Kerry doesn’t much think it is his business to tell women what they can and cannot do regarding abortion. He seems to think this is pretty much their own personal decision and they have to work it out as best
they can – balancing the moral, medical, religious and all other considerations.
Saying that it is something each woman should wrestle with and decide? That
seems to be the deal-breaker.
And now it is a political issue too.
Catholicism Plays New Role in Election – Experts
Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 12:03 PM ET – byline Ellen Wulfhorst
NEW YORK (Reuters) - John F. Kennedy was the first
Catholic president of the United States, and he had to reassure voters that he would not let his religion rule his presidency.
Four decades later, another Democratic senator from Massachusetts, John Kerry, wants to be the country's second Catholic
president, and he faces fire for not being religious enough.
… For their part, more churches are stepping into
politics. A group of Catholic bishops has proposed denying communion to politicians
like Kerry who are Catholic but do not oppose a woman's right to abortion.
… Catholics have this gap within
their ranks and are starkly divided down political lines, with traditional conservatives on one end of the spectrum and social
liberals on the other, said John Green, professor of politics and religion at the University of Akron in Ohio.
there's this large group of Catholics in the middle, centrist, moderate Catholics," Green said. "A lot of the fight in the Catholic community right now is over the people in the middle."
controversy over denying communion to pro-choice Catholic politicians such as Kerry is one such fight.
that have been raised about 'Is John Kerry a good enough Catholic?' are substantially and most effectively being raised by
the traditional Catholics trying to bring a lot of the middle-of-the-road people over to the Bush camp," said Green.
the more liberal Catholics are of course arguing, 'No, he's a fine Catholic and people ought to vote for him because he is
overall closer to Catholic teachings than President Bush."'
In 1960, Catholics voted overwhelmingly for Kennedy. Today, their votes are split down the middle, polls show.
"What you see now is
a Catholic community that by and large is a swing vote between the parties," Lugo said.
"And we're talking about a lot of voters here."
This is madness.
consider France, a country half of America gleefully reviles. There most everyone
actually is Catholic, for real, and will say something nice about the Pope if pressed, and enjoys all the Saints
Days when you don’t have to go to work. But none of them I know take these
centuries of Catholicism all that seriously. It’s kind of like cultural
background noise. And politicians there run on actual issues – issues of
governance, of taxes and services, on immigration policy, on safety. The nuts
and bolts stuff of how things run. One doesn’t see French, or any European
politicians, running on their religious fervor and promises to follow the teaching of the Church, much less on their personal
relationship God. Voters would think them quite loony. You don’t get political points for shouting you’ve been born again. Hell, folks would cross the street to avoid you.
eat it up.
Well, maybe that’s what wrong with them and right with us.
Or maybe it’s the other way around.
Comments? Rick the News Guy in Atlanta -
On this Catholic stuff, particularly France versus here…
My late mother-in-law,
who was Jewish but who had worked with lots of Catholics in her day and prided herself on being up on all of what she considered
the "inside dirt" of Christian politics, would tell me her Catholic friends would remark that, when it came to being "Catholic,"
the Irish were much more hard-line than the Italians, probably because they lived farther away from the Vatican and didn't
"see firsthand all the crap that went on day-by-day." I guess that theory would
place the French, both geographically and religiously, somewhere in between.
But it seems to me, in recent years,
that American Catholics have been on this Pope's "naughty" (as opposed to "nice") list, and just as significantly, the other
way around; there have been many news stories about so many liberal Catholics in this country claiming the Roman Church has
no right to tell them how to live their lives.
So I think what we may have here is one of the few old-time "wedge
issues" in this campaign, in which, on the one hand, the more the church (and guys like Balestrieri) try to isolate Kerry,
they more they risk isolating the Church itself from American Roman Catholics; while on the other hand, just maybe the Bush
campaign can cut enough mavericks (that is, Roman loyalists) away from the herd to make a difference in the November elections.
campaign is working hard on “reaching out” churchgoers according to this in the Washington Post. In short, the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign
has sent a detailed plan of action to religious volunteers across the country asking them to turn over church directories
to the campaign, distribute issue guides in their churches and persuade their pastors to hold voter registration drives.
this could cause any one of these churches to lose its tax-exempt status. These
churches might become de facto and then de jure political organizations.
But there is Republican-sponsored legislation working its way through the halls of congress to have that change of
status be considered only after three violations of the rules on these matters.
Think of this change in the law as an exemption made so you can keep your exemption.
If you’re a golfer – think of it as a “two Mulligan” rule.
But what are you being asked
By July 31, for example, volunteers are to "send your Church Directory to your State Bush-Cheney
'04 Headquarters or give [it] to a BC04 Field Rep" and "Talk to your Pastor about holding a Citizenship Sunday and Voter Registration
By Aug. 15, they are to "talk to your Church's seniors or 20-30 something group about Bush/Cheney '04" and
"recruit 5 more people in your church to volunteer for the Bush Cheney campaign."
By Sept. 17, they are to host at
least two campaign-related potluck dinners with church members, and in October they are to "finish calling all Pro-Bush members
of your church," "finish distributing Voter Guides in your church" and place notices on church bulletin boards or in Sunday
programs "about all Christian citizens needing to vote."
You got a problem with that?
recall where I saw this comment, but someone suggested that if he belonged to a church that provided the member directory
to a political campaign, he’d be really annoyed. And he wondered if you
can sue a church because they didn't issue a privacy statement telling you that your personal information could be passed
on to a third party, for non-religious purposes, without your knowledge or consent?
But it would
be disconcerting to be attending your Church as usual and suddenly find yourself on the Bush-Cheney mailing list, being asked
for time and money to help out. And then suddenly find your Church softball team
is wearing “Bush Rocks” uniform shirts. And then find yourself being
button-holed by your fellow parishioners to vote the right way, God’s way, in November.
So you find your church
suddenly shifted into something it hadn’t been before. Would you assume
its your fault and your faith had been, up until this summer, inadequate – that you hadn’t seen who God had chosen
to run the country and you should support? You’d then feel both humbled
and enlightened. Your fellow parishioners and your spiritual leaders had opened
Or maybe you’d resent it. Maybe you think religion and
politics are separate spheres – one personal and one civic. Then you’d
be kind French.
Could you live with that?
Note that the Southern Baptist Convention, a conservative denomination
that one could say is rather tight with President Bush, said it was offended by the Bush-Cheney campaign's effort to use church rosters for campaign purposes.
The Southern Baptists?
"I'm appalled that the Bush-Cheney campaign would intrude on a local congregation in this way," said Richard Land,
president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
"The bottom line is, when a church
does it, it's nonpartisan and appropriate. When a campaign does it, it's partisan
and inappropriate," he said. "I suspect that this will rub a lot of pastors'
fur the wrong way."
Jeanne over at Body and Soul says… George Bush - insulting Christians everywhere he goes.
fine campaign motto!
Bush would say there are just wayward Christians. And he wants to win this time.