The Catholic Dilemma

What Will Catholics Focus on this November?

The selection of Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate has created an interesting dilemma for Catholics.  The Catholic Church, its various organizations, clergy, and laity have spent a great deal of time criticizing some key aspects of this year’s Presidential race.  On one side we have the anti-Affordable, Care act/HHS ruling, anti-same-sex marriage, pro-life, “my religious freedom is being infringed upon” crowd—which becomes anti-Obama.  On the other side we have the anti-Ryan budget crowd.  How is this going to play out?

Much has been written by Catholic commentators on the need to respect their “conscience”…what does their conscience tell them on these complicated matters?

Let us say that we have Catholic person X.  X believes that the HHS ruling should be repealed because he owns a small business and does not want to have to offer services for sterilization, contraception, and “morning after” pills.  He also does not believe that homosexuals should be allowed to marry and is heavily pro-life.  These issues are all very important to him.  (I am not going to criticize those views in today’s post, but rather am just going to acknowledge that many people hold them).

Catholic person X also strongly believes in helping the poor.  He has heard about and supports the “Nuns on the Bus” who have been travelling around the country criticizing Paul Ryan’s budget.  He read about the letter from the Georgetown University faculty criticizing Ryan’s views prior to his speaking there—and agreed with it, that Ryan seems more Ayn Randian than Catholic in his views.  He has heard that the Catholics Bishops criticized the Ryan budget and disagreed when Ryan pointed out that the Catholic Bishops were wrong and to not represent his views of Catholicism.  He finds it distasteful to see a budget that seems to be very much against the good works that his Church does, and also seems to go against what he believes were some of Jesus’s most fundamental teachings.

What is Catholic person X going to do this November?  I believe that this is an important question. Further the answer to this question could decide the election, if we accept that the Catholic voting block is as large and influential as it appears to be.

I realize that I (or anyone else) cannot predict how this will turn out.  However, I would like to offer an opinion on how I feel it should play out.

The social justice issues that we see above are quite important to me, and I would hope that many of you feel the same way as well.  However, they are a secondary concern to the financial well-being of our country and its citizens.  By this, I simply mean that if we take a person who is going to lose some money because federal programs that help put food on the table are going to be reduced or cut and then assume that person is homosexual and in a relationship—which is more important food or marriage?  I would argue food.  I would argue health care.  I would argue loans for education.  I would argue that most of the things the Ryan budget aims to reduce or cut altogether are more important.

The social justice issues are not going to go away, we can live to fight for those causes another day—whether we support same-sex marriage, abortion, contraception, etc or even if we oppose those things.  The final word on any of those topics will not come this November.

The fact that our country is in a financial mess, that only looks to get worse by 2020 with the numbers of people expected to start claiming things like social security and Medicare.  This is a problem that needs to be dealt with soon.  Ryan’s plan will have devastating effects on the less well-off and senior citizens of this country.  In my opinion, the Obama plan has some pitfalls as well, such as not enough of a tax increase on those who can afford it to help pay for these basic and necessary services.  Regardless of where you stand on these issues, this should be the focus of the upcoming election.

So Catholics, which are you going to choose?  Are you going to vote for a social agenda dictated by Rome and Bishops that opposes a progressive social agenda? Is two people of the same-sex marrying, is contraception, is abortion more important to you than the national budget and helping our fellow citizens in need?

Aside: (I would argue that this stance would further exacerbate the health concerns of the poor (removing the HHS mandate for example), that would deny people of the same sex who love each other the same rights that heterosexual couples have, and could force rape victims to carry a child to term?  (I don’t mean to be crass when I write that, but that is what is at stake with the social justice issues on the political menu). 

The other option you have is to base your vote on the message that comes from Rome, the Bishops, and Jesus that we should do what we can to help the needy around us.  The Catholic Church does do a great deal of charitable work and is quite opposed to the Ryan Budget.   Make no mistake about it, if the Romney/Ryan ticket wins this election, the people who are most needy in our society will lose some services that help them to meet to their basic needs.  You could argue it is the one thing that the Catholic Church and I agree on!

The Catholic Leadership has created quite a conundrum for its members.  Are you going to base your vote on the social issues of the day or are you going to vote with the mission of Catholic charity on your mind?  It is your choice, and it could not be more important.

Thanks for Reading.  I look forward to your comments.


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17 thoughts on “The Catholic Dilemma

  1. Grundy from Dacula, GA, United States

    It should be a dilemma, but every Catholic I know votes republican down the ballot for the pro-life issue alone. I often wonder how an election would turn out if the democrats took the pro-life position as well. Until a women's rights third party surfaced with a reasonable amount of support to take back pro-choice votes, I bet the democrats would win easily.

    1. reasonbeing from Rochester, MN, United States Post author

      I get what you are saying. I grew in Massachusetts, which, was and I still think is largely Catholic and largely blue. Yes I realize that Romney was elected, but mostly Dems have been elected to office from there. I think that historically Catholics have tended to vote Democrat. I just think it will be interesting to see how that plays out this year.

  2. Loren Miller from Bedford, OH, United States

    Something to keep in mind: the RC church has NEVER to my knowledge been about rights for the individual. The parishioner is supposed to "pray, pay, and obey," period. Whatever rights he or she may have are granted by the church (or so it thinks). The church, on the other hand, claims the right to dictate how its flock are to comport themselves, how they are to behave and what they may or may not do. The church further thinks it has the right to press its particular modus operandi onto civil governments, since the law of its god is supposed to be above man's law. Long story short: we're supposed to conform to them on their say-so.

    The catholic church reminds me too much of the cartoon of the wacko in the insane asylum who thinks he's Napoleon, who gives orders and directives while the staff placate his delusion. The church has power only because those who believe it willingly grant that power to it. Take that power away and ol' Nappy may throw a fit and threaten hellfire and damnation, but its threats are empty and meaningless, as they always have been.

    It's time to stop placating.

    1. reasonbeing from Rochester, MN, United States Post author

      Loren–why don't you have your own blog? I know I would be a regular reader. Well said as usual. The Church is most certainly not a democracy and is far more concerned on self-preservation and growth than about any single individual. I find this case interesting because the RC leadership has harshly criticized both of the presidential tickets. I am quite curious to see how the Catholic vote ends up. My hope is with Obama, but if I am wrong, it could be enough to sweep Romney/Ryan into the White House…

      1. fester60613 from Binghamton, NY, United States

        Loren – a prime and current example of the church *losing* power is Ireland. After the government's investigations and discovery of mountains of evidence, the Irish Prime Minister (I forget the Gaelic term), speaking as "The State" basically told the church to shut the hell up and go away. The thrust of his message was that Ireland is a sovereign state that kow tows to no one, and that the power of the church was broken. As he was speaking a minion was sent with a summons to the archbishop, ordering him to testify in further investigations: but it was never served, because the archbishop was on his way to the airport – conveniently "recalled" to the Vatican at just the right moment!
        Part of the agreement between the church and the Irish State to pay reparations to the tens of thousands of children that were repeatedly abused by priests and nuns and others was that the church would pay tens of millions of Euros. The deadlines came and went and no money was forthcoming from the Vatican. So the Irish State *confiscated* church property and sold it at auction! Brilliant! Not just a slap in the face, but a kick, I should think, to the Vatican's holy balls!
        The cumulative effect of the church's lies and cover ups and reneging is that the Irish are leaving the church in droves. The sheeple have rebelled and the Vatican's left pissing into the wind.
        Pretty much the same thing happened in Boston when Cardinal Law's cover ups were revealed… but he got a *very* cushy job in Rome as his "punishment".
        The archbishop of Milwaukee, Timothy Dolan, purportedly hid over $300 million in church funds so they could not be used to pay reparations to abused kids in that archdiocese. Further, the black kids that were abused got on average between 15% and 20% *LESS* money than did the white kids that were abused! Dolan's punishment was to be moved to New York where he's now a Cardinal – and the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops.
        The church, as you say, has NEVER been about the rights of the individual – unless the individual is a bishop or archbishop or cardinal who undertakes to hide the Vatican's dirty laundry.
        The leadership of the RC – bishops and above – are nothing more than corporate scum, 1%ers who care nothing for their followers except how to wring them dry and exploit them for money, power and political control.
        Scum. Filthy festering scum.

      2. Loren Miller from Bedford, OH, United States

        Wow, RB, I barely know what to say, other than: "Thank you!" I've posted my thoughts here and there on the internet, on one topic or another, but not with horrid regularity. I suppose I find it easier to react to someone else's thoughts than to get my muse's ass in gear (be it known: my muse is a SLACKER!) and come up with something utterly my own, but so it goes.

        One of these days, maybe I'll carve out some turf on my own and hold forth, presuming my narcoleptic muse can be bothered. Until then, I'm sure you'll see me around here.

  3. The Secular Thinker from West Lebanon, NH, United States

    As far as I can tell, their are two types of Catholic followers, at least for the purpose of this debate: Those who put the church above politics, and would be against Ryan's budget cuts, yet mostly likely still vote for a Republican ticket nearly always because of abortion, and then there are those who fit into the more fiscal conservative, who already agree with Ryan's budget and care more about what they pay in taxes than the social welfare policies from the Vatican.

  4. rachel from Portland, OR, United States

    I just found this by accident. I have a very dear friend who is an atheist and posted a story from this site so forgive me if my Catholic views offend the atheistic community. The article asks what Catholics are to do. Here is the problem most of us face: Democrats are right on with REAL political issues ( enviornment, money, foreign policy, job creation ) but Republicans tend to hold our moral views. Third party candidates never get enough of the vote to win. It puts us in a tough spot. For the record I thought Obama's "workaround" for the contraception issue was brilliant–only the most radical people are still crying foul about it. I thought it was a good fix, most Catholics I know agree. The only issue I have with it is that the government is telling insurance companies that they have to sell a specific product. Near as I can tell insurance companies don't seem to care. So what are Catholics gonna do? We are gonna follow our conscience just like everyone else. One person mentioned that lots of us just vote for whoever is pro-life–a lot of us will do that. A lot of us realize that voting prolife doesn't have any real effect on abortion and will vote based on other criteria. I think Mr Obama has done a lot of good and I still don't know jack about about the Republican candidates. I don't know who I will vote for, ideally I would vote for a pro-life Democrat. Don't laugh, there are a few. Or just as unlikely, a Republican that's good at politics. So, like the article suggest, we Catholics may be screwed.

    1. reasonbeing from Rochester, MN, United States Post author

      Thanks for commenting Rachel. You didn't say anything offensive, not sure why you were worried about that. Reasonable people are always welcome here. I agree with you, I have no idea how the "Catholic Vote" will go, yet feel it will be quite important to this year's election. Your comment was honest and well thought out, stop by anytime.

      Quick question, what site did your friend post one my blogs on? I would like to check it out.—RB

  5. Proteus from New York, NY, United States

    Catholics will do what they always do – take their marching orders from Rome. With Paul Ryan on the ticket, their votes for Romney are assured.

    1. Cephus from Redlands, CA, United States

      That's what struck me as funny about a recent discussion I had with an American Catholic, who told me flat out that he had no interest in listening to anything the Vatican had to say, he couldn't stand the Pope and vehemently disagreed with just about everything that ever came out of his mouth, yet apparently, he still considers himself a Catholic.

      Go figure.

  6. kennypo65 from Pittsburgh, PA, United States

    I've been an atheist since I was 13, but I consider myself a "cultural Catholic". It is a part of my identity. Just like many Jews I know who are atheists still consider themselves Jewish. Tradition and culture are much harder to change than religious belief.


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