Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Palin is an Apostate! Oh no!

This is my last political post for a while. I promise.

I just couldn't pass up this exercise in lunacy from America magazine. I know, I know. Insert Jesuit joke here.

Michael Sean Winters paints Palin as an apostate because her family left the Church when she was 12 to join the Assemblies of God. Because of this:

(While) many Catholics may warm to Palin’s moral views, for example, her opposition to abortion, the cavalier way she evidently treats an act of severe sacramental and canonical significance should give pause to those who take their religion seriously.

Umm, Michael. She was 12. How cavalier could she have been (currently be)? Did you even read your own article a couple of paragraphs up?

The Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law is very nuanced. Canon 751 deals with heresy, apostasy and schism. It recognizes that in a situation like Palin’s, the severity of the crime could be mitigated by diminished personal freedom: Even a precocious teenager who commits an act of apostasy might be so strongly influenced by familial considerations that the perpetrator’s guilt is diminished.

Not only that, but it's a common legal principle among civil law systems (like canon law) that if you see two different words used in the same statute, the presumption is that the lawgiver meant it that way because the words carry two different meanings. This is why "Catholic" and "Christian" are not interchangeable in this portion of the Code. Of course, then this nugget gets dropped, which really drives home the point that the whole article is nonsense.

For the rest of us, it is beyond hypocritical for certain conservative Catholics to denounce Joe Biden because he is Catholic and does not support making abortion illegal while applauding a self-described "hockey Mom" who is skating close to apostasy. The Church's sacramental traditions and beliefs are as worthy of respect and defense as our moral traditions and beliefs.

Actually, Biden's position is much worse. Palin doesn't claim to be Catholic, so we don't expect her to tow the Catholic line. Biden (and Pelosi, and whoever else) has decided to formally shirk the Church's teachings, then be a complete hypocrite himself by saying that he really does believe all that Magisterium stuff. This is a lie, probably a sacrilege when he receives the Eucharist, and a source of scandal to other Catholics.

Catholics should be accustomed to heretics in the political arena. At least Palin is honest that she rejects what the Church teaches, perhaps even out of ignorance. Joe has no such excuse.

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