Mister Pterodactyl
Monday, August 09, 2004
Catholics vs. Democrats, round three (or whatever).

"Citing his deep Roman Catholic roots and constitutional responsibilities, U.S. Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) says he will not let Archbishop Raymond L. Burke 'coerce' him into imposing the church's abortion teachings on America's pluralistic society
'In my view, Bishop Burke attempted to use his interpretations of theology to coerce me into taking specific positions on matters that I believe are matters of constitutional law,'
'[W]hile I detest abortion and agree with Catholic teaching that in most instances it is morally wrong, I decline to force my views into laws that, if adopted, would be unenforceable and would tear this society apart. That judgment may be wrong, but it is a judgment honestly arrived at, and one that I am obligated to make.'"

David Obey is a U.S. Congressman from the 7th District in northwest Wisconsin. Archbishop Raymond Burke is now the archbishop of St. Louis, and previously was the bishop of La Crosse, WI. Last year, Burke published a letter in a church paper stating that he had warned Obey and two local politicians to vote the church line on abortion issues or risk church sanction (not to mention their immortal souls, natch). He has also said that he would refuse communion to Senator Kerry, if he presented himself.

Obey himself calls his record 'mixed.' He has voted to ban partial birth abortions, to bar the transportation of minors to get an abortion, and to make harming a fetus in the commission of a crime a separate, federal crime. He has voted against banning human cloning and against banning funding for family planning funding in the U.S. and abroad (see here). What seems to particularly trouble the bishop, though, are his failure to oppose stem cell research and to limit access to military hospitals.

"I told him that I hoped that no member of the armed services would seek an abortion, but that I was simply not prepared to deny to any woman stationed in Iraq, wearing the uniform of the United States, the use of a military hospital for any purpose."

This is a question that has often occurred to me: just how closely does one have to follow the doctrines of one’s church in order to remain a member in good standing? Burke apparently believes that the answer is one hundred percent. Obey is, well, not obeying, and good for him.

I’m concerned about the possible consequences of Burke’s stance. [Never mind that it may make me less likely to vote for Catholics.] Religious doctrines change. They change because leaders reinterpret them, or because new situations require new rules. True believers may think that their leaders have divine guidance, so are infallible. [Guess what I think.] Burke, accordingly, has averred that Catholic politicians are bound to at all times vote in accordance with those doctrines regardless of their personal feelings or any other consideration, or else. In essence, he’s demanding complete control over them in the name of the church; a Papal veto, if you will. And what does that remind you of?

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