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Ethics, Reason, and The Dubious Conclusion

John Powers 30 June 2009 No Comment

Carol Marin has a stern lecture for American Catholics who do not agree with the Democratic Party platform, and an even bolder tone against Bishops who might dare to adhere to the Catechism. Beware, Marin warns us, because you are besmirching Cardinal Bernadin, who on his deathbed proposed that Catholics accept a monopoly of the Democratic Party. Some Bishops have even been against holding Carol’s version of a “dialogue” with President Obama.

Lo and behold, some of those same Bishops who were the against combination of party and religion, paid out settlements in abuse cases, so of course, per the ultimately logical Marin we must “pray that the spirit of the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin fills the room and that Cardinal Bernard Law, now assigned to Rome, is nowhere in sight.” Cardinal Law must be always be shunned because not only did he pay settlements, he also disagreed with Cardinal Bernardin.

With all due respect to Cardinal Bernadin and Cardinal Law, there were abuse problems in many Catholic organizations (much like all other organziations) that were abhorrent. Yet, the disagreement between Law and Bernardin seems academic. Demonizing Cardinal Law does not invalidate the Catechism. Cardinal Bernardin put forth an opinion not a vetted out rubric of the church. Bernardin’s teaching (which I disagree with)  can certainly be supported by people of good will just as it can be disputed.

Where the problem comes in is when the opinion of one man meets the menace which is Chicago Politics. The Chicago Democratic Ward organizations and the Catholic Parish have been adjunct many times over the years to disastrous results. The seemingly benign opinions of a dying Cardinal are taken to extremes by politicians and their backers in the media looking for justification for their morally dubious positions. Extreme political action is somehow justified under an all-encompassing “dialogue” canard.

There is certainly nothing wrong with dialogue, and Pope Benedict XVI has many good reasons to speak with President Obama as a national leader and the Chief Executive of the United States. However, there are also quite a few good reasons to oppose the executive actions of President Obama while continuing conversations on any number of issues. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear on matters of life; the Catholic Church is in favor of it.

Opposition to the policies implemented by the President of the United States which are in direct contradiction to the teachings of the Catholic Church can certainly be patriotic and still respectful to one’s political opponent. There really are deep differences between the actions of our President regarding respect for human life and the Catechism (and most other religions for that matter). Trying to ignore these differences to promote a particular political party is neither consistent with Catholicism nor with being a good citizen.


The Financial Times, while generally written at a higher grade level than the Sun-Times, falls into the same dilemma of how to support a ethically questionable position when it is also shown to be unaffordable. The FT is leading cheers for embryonic stem cell research, even if it is paid for by a bankrupt State of California, telling us the $3 Billion experiment on human embryos “is a magnificent gesture of faith in the long-term future of the state and its science”

Never mind that California is already $24 Billion in the hole; never mind that no private business will touch this research; never mind that there are a multitude of alternatives to experimenting on human beings. One wonders, if the same kind of money were being thrown at a less harmful type of research would the financial press come out to support it? It reads to me that a paper purporting to be “recognised internationally for its authority, integrity and accuracy” drops all three of those to support stem cell research solely for is morally dubious nature.

John Powers is the President of the Chicago Daily Observer and a graduate of 8th Grade CCD at St. Patrick’s Parish in Wapella, Illinois.

image St. Boniface Church, Chicago, IL closed in 1990 by Carindal Joseph Bernardin

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