Denouncing Kerry only helps him, they say

Denouncing Kerry only helps him, they say

The liberals are getting desparate. Now, they’re claiming that by reminding John Kerry and other Catholics of the Church’s non-negotiable teachings, the bishops are helping him get elected. The implication is clear: either stop talking about this stuff or Kerry will get elected.

A couple of bad assumptions there. For one thing, they assume that the goal is prevent Kerry from being elected. Personally, I think that would be a good thing, but the overarching goal is to cause Kerry et al to convert and to prevent confusion and scandal among the faithful.

Also, the analysis ignores other factors that may influence the polling, assuming that only religious matters influence how Catholic voters vote. And it doesn’t define Catholic. What is a Catholic, for the purposes of this survey? Anyone who was baptized in a Catholic Church or does it have to be someone who goes to Mass almost every Sunday?

What a lousy piece of analysis this article is: it makes assumptions where there is not demonstrable cause-and-effect. For example, it assumes that because Colorado and Missouri have become battleground states, it’s because that’s where Archbishops Chaput and Burke and Bishop Sheridan are. Maybe it could have something to do with the steep rise in Hispanic immigration to Colorado over the past four years. Maybe other factors too. But the author doesn’t offer evidence to support his assertions, just innuendo and conjecture.

Like I said, they’re getting desparate.

  • Jeez, if the bishops have to start checking the political polls before they instruct on non-negotiable Church teachings…well, it’s silly. It’s like saying there is no Truth.

  • Probably, but this quote may explain our consternation as to why some of our brothers and sisters are voting for Kerry:

    “On an emotional level, these “cafeteria Catholics” have been derided by their conservative brethren as bad Catholics, too. They resent it when they’re considered insufficiently pious so they have a vicarious thrill when Kerry stands up for their position. ” (

    It could possibly be our hopes undoing.


  • Perhaps the habit of making important choices based on emotionalism and not reason is one of the roots of the whole cafeteria “Catholic” problem.

  • John I would whole heartedly agree with you!! I would also add that it is a reflection of the failed catechesis and (sheepishly looking around to see if Kelly is watching) ahem.. failed ministry within our churches.

  • It would be a GOOD thing in that it would put Hillary’s candidacy on hold indefinitely..a BAD think for the unborn…I just hope his “goose” is cooked!

  • .. failed ministry within our churches

    Jaime, you may be on to something.  I volunteer at a hospital and get to talk to a lot of Catholics of different ages and from different parishes. Sometimes I wonder if we really all belong to the same church.  A woman asked me the other night, when the church stopped requiring us to go to confession before receiving the Eucharist.

    The reason we have “Catholics for Kerry” is because these people have no clue about what the Church teaches.  On another blog, a lady made the comment that her bishop has no impact on her life.  She called him “just another Catholic fundraiser”  who appears “out of nowhere” just in time to tell you how to vote”.

    It seems to me that we have done a poor job in catechising the people in the pews.  John Kerry isn’t the only “Catholic” who thinks that church teaching is just a series of suggestions.  In fact, he’s probably in the majority.

  • I agree with you wholeheartedly Deacon Mike. 

    When I was running CCD and … (ahem) outh-yay inistry-may (still no sign of Kelly? whew!)  I was shocked at the fact that I had to teach CCD to the CCD teachers.  All of them were so excited about their faith (and their “knowledge” of said faith) that they wanted to share it with teens.  It is then I realized that most of the parishioners had the catechetical education of a sixth grader. 

    Again, good hearts… bad catechesis.  I think a lot of Catholic Kerry supporters are probably in the same boat.  (DISCLAIMER: The previous statement excludes all folks associated with [url=][/url] .  They are simply whack jobs with bad catechesis.  )

    Here’s my personal theory on this Deacon Mike.  Our catechesis is primarily focused on the Church’s greatest gifts, the sacraments.  That just ain’t enough.  Perfect example was early back in my inistry-may days.  There was a big debate on when students should get confirmed (14 or 16 years of age).  The argument was “if you have it at 16, it gives them a reason to come to CCD longer”.  My response was “If YOU don’t think there are other reasons to come to CCD then why should they?”

    As others have mentioned, I think there are A LOT of seminarians coming out that are better trained then the priests that taught me. 

  • My wife teaches special ed English in a working class HS near the harbor in LA.  Her new principal, just appointed this summer, has done nothing to find out what is going on in his new school or in the larger community around it.  He sits in his office most of the day and never walks around to see for himself what is going on in this struggling school.  He only talks about “bring up test results” to his teachers and has yet to reach out to the folks who could have the greatest influence in motivating the students to show up for class, do their homework, behave well in class, and work hard to get a good education – the parents.  He is in short a lousy principle and a very bad leader for this school.  I see many of our bishops cut from the same cloth.  Loyalty is won from people by good and virtuous leadership.  To think that a bishop can never do anything to use the awesome graces that are given him by the Holy Spirit to lead and teach his flock and then suddenly pop out of his office to lead that flock in a desperate cause in anything like an effective manner is in la la land.

  • Jaime, Deacon Mike, interested in starting a discussion on why and what to do about the lack of catechesis among the general Catholic population? Might prove helpful for all.

    Dom, do you think they are desparate or do you think we need to not delude ourselves into believing that just because we wholeheartedly disagree with Kerry that Bush will win?  Are our hopes foolish? Can we act more, can we influence more? What if the fence sitters fall under the Kerry ad campaign spell? What if those of our faith influence others more than we are?

    I live in a “battleground” state-Michigan. We are getting ads that I’m sure the rest of the country isn’t getting.  It’s intense, let me tell you. Direct, nasty and intense. Not saying Bush isn’t just as gung-ho, just saying that we can’t claim victory just because we don’t want Kerry. How well can we gage the polls? How to tell what is really happening? Any ideas? Anyone?

  • Jen,

    I don’t think I’m deluded and I don’t say this based only on Catholic matters, but on looking at the whole political situation: I’ve been saying for weeks and I continue to believe that, barring a major surprise event, Bush is going to win and it won’t be as close as people think.

    As for acting and influencing, I think at this point that the only influence we can have is on the few individuals we know. The time for big campaigns and national action is past.

    I think some of the polls are accurate, but I don’t put a lot of faith in them: the process is not as foolproof as the media would have you believe as the outcome of any poll is highly dependent on who you ask and what questions you pose. After all, if they were accurate, why do they all vary so much?

    There’s really no sense in worrying too much, because that’s much you can do about it other than talk to those you know and pray. And, after all, isn’t that doing what’s really effective anyway?

  • Well, being in such a pro-Kerry state as you are, I guess that makes me feel better-the deluge here is unbelieveable, that is, if you believe the ads-that is what makes me question and be wary of a certain outcome of Bush’s victory.

    However, can you flesh out your certainty a little more?

  • We’re getting the ads too because New Hampshire is a battleground state and they watch the local stations.

    My opinion on why I think Kerry will lose is too complicated to go into detail here. Among other reasons, they are resorting to increasingly more desparate tactics, certain news stories that go beyond simple poll numbers but into voter motivation and all that give me reason to believe the polls are not accurate indicators and so on.

    If I recall correctly, the polls weren’t all that accurate before the 2000 election, but with all the controversy I think people forgot that.

  • We suddenly seem to have two different threads going on at the same time.  As to the catechisis issue, I really don’t know what the answer is.  I do know that when I was growing up, a protestant, pre-VII, we would go out for a pizza on Friday nights and the Catholic kids would sit there ‘til midnight when they could eat their pepperoni pizza.

    I thought it was strange, but I respected them for it and not a single one would have ever considered biting into a piece of meat at 11:55.

    Today only 7 days of the year are days of abstinance and a lot of Catholics either feel like they are being seriously deprived or they just go ahead and eat meat anyway.

    What scares me is that so many Catholic kids are now going to public schools.  How much Catholic teaching can they learn in a couple of hours of PSR each week?

    As to the adults, we have offered adult education at our parish and the response has been very poor. 

    Some have said that the bishops are driving people away from the Church.  But if people don’t value their faith enough to learn about and practice it, are they “in” the Church anyway?  Most of us in this discussion would agree that John Kerry is a Catholic in name only.  What other organization would allow someone to publicly refuse to follow it’s laws and still let that person be a member? 

    Imagine someone saying, “I’m a jew and I belive it’s wrong to eat pork, but I’m going to do it anyway.”  Or proclaiming himself to be a Baptist with a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other? 

    It seems to me that liberalism, and our desire to get along, or fit in, is destroying our faith.  We have the one true faith.  We have the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  We have bishops who can trace their ordinations all the way back to the Apostles.  Why do we need to apologize?  Why are we willing to allow someone to proclaim himself or herself a Catholic when they don’t understand or appreciate what we have?  I don’t know.

  • Deacon Mike-tell me you work in parish life!

    I just started this topic in the Discussion forum so that we don’t get off track of this blog entry.

  • Yes, I do.  I’m in a small parish, mostly older people, in suburban St. Louis.

    One reason we have mostly older parishioners is that we closed our school four years ago.  Many of the younger families left the parish.  There was a lot of bitterness and resentment over the whole thing and a lot of folks blamed the pastor.  The fact is that he worked harder than anyone to keep the school open.  But, people have to blame someone, so they blamed him.  The pastor has since been transferred to a larger parish, again with a school.  They’re having financial problems, so he’s going to have the same problems all over again.  There are just more numbers to the left of the comma.

    I think a lot of people are being disillusioned by parish and school closings and mergers.  What they don’t seem to realize is that gasoline costs twice what it did a year ago, but they’re still putting the same ten bucks in their weekly envelopes.  Teachers are asking for more money, and rightly so, but the money just isn’t there.

    It’s a vicious circle.  Fewer students means fewer schools.  Fewer schools means fewer kids are getting the right catechisis.  Those kids grow up and join the New Hope Life Evangelistic Pentacostal Church on the Rock of Jesus because some football player says it’s the place to go.

    What’s the answer?  I don’t know.  I would like to see adult education on the Catechism.  One thing I’m doing in my parish is starting mandatory training for Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist.  At least they’ll get some idea of what we’re doing on the altar.  Hopefully they’ll get excited about it and pass it along.  It’s much, but it’s a start.

    Have a lovely weekend.

    Go Cardinals (and archbishops, and bishops, too)

  • Deacon Mike:

    I can relate to the adult catechesis problem in the St. Louis area – and this failed or bad catechesis is passed on to the children by parents , elementary schools and high schools, even some of those which claim to be Catholic.  It is sad to see.

    I have my own stories, mostly failures, bit a few successes, with catechesis where I am (St. Chas. County).

    The cycle must be broken somehow.  My guess is that the Catholic education system (grade school and HS) in the Archdiocese of STL will be changed to ensure that the teachings of the Church as presented in the CCC will be taught in the not too distant future. 

    As someone above stated (Jaime, I think), in different words,  PSR or CCD volunteers who lack a thorough understanding of the Faith, in many cases, do more harm than good.  The catechetical materials in the past have also been harmful to a proper understanding of the Faith.

    But as I said, I think there are changes coming, which will break the cycle and at least allow the young to grasp the faith more firmly.  I suspect many of the older folks are comfortable right where they are, particularly when their un-Catholic beliefs and attitudes are confirmed or even encouraged by their priests.

  • Deacon Mike,
    You said something very interesting—

    I had a prof who was a Jew and said precisely “I am a Jew but I prefer to eat pork.”  She felt she could do that because she viewed Judaism as an ethnicity and a community, not a religious system.  Therefore she felt she could claim to be Jewish and still eat pork and do whatever she wanted.  Judaism does not have a Pope or a teaching magisterium exactly like we do.  They have more of a system of mores and sages whose work one can study to understand and apply. 

    On the other hand, the number of Baptists who will claim to be Baptist with a cocktail in their hand is few.  This is because it automatically labels them as a “backslid” Baptist—a designation which is well known and scorned among Baptists.  Baptists also do not have a Pope, but they are very literal about what scripture says and very literal with each other.  Because they don’t have a teaching authority and a sense of history like Catholics, they can be a bit brittle in their teaching however.

    As Catholics, we are a third case, with elements of both the other cases, plus more.  We do have a Pope and a teaching magisterium so we do have canon law and norms to follow.  We do have norms of behavior which signal belonging to the Faith or leaving the Faith.  We should not ignore these.  If the Baptists can define being “backslid” we should be able to define it much better, and act on it more wisely.  We also have the “ethnic” Catholic who thinks he can do anything he wants and doctrine is a matter of his discernment ALONE.  This is not acceptable for Catholics because of our magisterial structure and our way of teaching….

    But you can see how these things fit together, yes?




  • In the forum elsewhere on Bettnet, I have remarked on the goals for catechesis, which need to be more precisely defined.

    As in anything else, there are levels of learning, motivation and accomplishment, which one can expect of a general population.  There is a level of proficiency (for lack of a better term) which should be attained by normal everyday catholics.  This we must teach to, in such a way as to prevent them from liviing in sin, and prevent them from leaving the Church.

    This ordinary level can be defined correctly in the mind and heart of the Church, and must be, if we are to teach the beautiful Catholic Faith properly and effectively.

    Also, there are higher levels which some of the people may find themselves in, which must be reached also.  To scorn those levels out of a sense of false democracy or humility is wrong.  If God sees fit to do this, who are we to call it wrong??

    St. John of the Cross and St.Teresa of Jesus approach these topics on their treatments of teaching about prayer.

    The largest problem that we have in Catechesis is that we have not applied principles of sound and faithful pedagogy to the job of teaching the Faith.  We usually have just gone in there hoping to impart “INSPIRATION” or “EMOTION” or some such poppycock.  Inspiration and emotion don’t cut it in math class or history class and they won’t cut it in religion class, either…..

    I am a former teacher and this absolutely sticks out like a sore thumb….It is crucial.