Monday, October 20, 2008

Fr Nate Reesman: Straight Talk on the Election

Fr. Nate Reesman is the associate pastor at St Mary's Parish of Elm Grove, WI. He preached on "render unto Caesar" this last Sunday--and it's worth reading excerpts.

It is NOT consistent with Christian belief to conclude that religion and faith have no place in politics or the shaping of public discourse and policy. ... “Who would Jesus vote for?” Well, that’s not really a helpful question either- Jesus does not have a candidate or a political party. The Catholic Church does not endorse party platforms. And it’s not because we’re concerned about our tax exempt status- it’s because we want to be careful not to identify one way of governing or one means of social reform exclusively as THE way to implement the message of the gospel. I think that is part of why Jesus responded as he did in this gospel passage for today.

...A related point and a crucial one: just because the Church takes a position on an issue, it does not mean the issue is a religious issue. Faith must inform our positions on the major topics in this election, but, that does not mean that non-believers should not hold the same position. What our faith does (through the tools I already mentioned) is help us to see each of the major issues more clearly as human issues. Abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cells, so-called same-sex unions are NOT religious issues. They are HUMAN issues. They are about the truth of the human person which means that everyone should be able to come to agreement about them- believers and non-believers alike.

That's worth repeating: human issues actually have a truth-component which is NOT "religious."

It follows from this, that Catholic voters and politicians are not imposing their religious beliefs on anyone when we say, for example, that embryonic stem cell research is always evil and must be opposed at all costs. We are advancing the truth, and others are free to reject it; it is not an imposition to explain what is true to a society that is frequently confused about truth.

That means that there is no merit to the notion that an office holder, or even a voter for that matter, can claim to hold to one view privately while legislatively supporting another, as though what is true is a matter of personal preference and should not be forced on the public at large. Really, all legislation is about truth and morality- it’s simply a question of whose version of it. The truth is not an imposition, and we should not fear it.

Umnnnnhhhh....yes. Decidedly so.

...when it comes to our duty to promote policies that alleviate poverty or provide health care to all, those are general aims, that employ broad systematic means, and good people of faith can disagree about what those means are. There are lots of ways to alleviate poverty. Either candidate could be correct on that question depending upon the circumstances.


...there are certain issues that involve more concrete and specific actions that are, quite frankly,
never permissible under any circumstances, not only because they are the direct result of a personal decision (in a way that something like creating poverty could never be), but more importantly because they attack human dignity at the most basic of levels. And such issues should never have the moral force of law behind them, either permitting them or endorsing them

These are called intrinsic evils- there is no circumstance or situation where they can ever be allowed or promoted or protected... Abortion is perhaps the most obvious of these types of acts. It is never a good thing, much less a right, under any circumstance- it only brings pain and misery. There is no exception. Ever. Also: embryonic stem cell research. Euthanasia. And, so-called same-sex relationships


A Catholic can never vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion, IF the reason they are supporting him is precisely because they agree with them on this issue. That is called formal cooperation in the advancement of a grave evil and is grounds for a mortal sin

No surprise there.

...a person can support a candidate whose position on an issue involving intrinsic evils is wrong, for example, a candidate who supports legalized abortion, but, only if the voter has a truly serious or proportionate reason to do so.

Such as? Fr. Reesman uses the example provided by Abp. Chaput of Denver:

“What would such a “proportionate” reason look like? It would be a reason we could, with an honest heart, expect the unborn victims of abortion to accept when we meet them and need to explain our actions- as we someday will.” (page 230). If you support a pro-choice candidate, be prepared to explain your decision to those people who lost their lives because of legalized abortion

And here's a very pertinent observation about "poverty causes abortion...." is a poor argument to suggest that the authentic pro-life position is to support a candidate who seems to propose a better formula for eliminating poverty while still pledging to keep abortion legal, on the grounds that poverty causes abortions. Certainly the alleviation of a variety of social conditions, chief among them economic hardship, would help reduce the number of abortions. But we did not abort millions of children during the Great Depression- the decision to have an abortion comes down to a disposition of the heart.

(The claim that "poverty causes abortions" is inaccurate from the get-go, as a large number of abortions are procured by college-aged white females--and college-graduate, employed, white females...)

Fr. Reesman spent a lot of time thinking, clearly, about the issues--and this will cause more than a little controversy at St. Mary's, which has a lot more (D) members than the casual observer might think.

Pray for him, and for our Country.


Disgruntled Car Salesman said...

Not surprising, he's right on the money.

Anonymous said...

Interesting read, dad. Question: Should Catholics avoid voting for the non-baptized? McCain's on the right side of a lot of issues but can hardly be called a "man of faith" and is ineligible for the sacraments.

Dad29 said...

It's not surprising that you leave comments as "Anonymous" because they are stupid and irrelevant.

1) McCain is an Episcopalian, which means that he WAS baptized.

2) The concern has to do with the issues, not baptismal-records.

Thurmlee said...


No. Nowhere in any Catholic teaching does it say or even imply that Catholics cannot vote for someone who is not baptized. There were two points in that sermon, and appearantly you missed them both. 1) Abortion, Euthenasia, Embryoic stem cell research, etc are not issues of faith, but human issues. Do you support basic human dignities or not? 2) As Catholics, we cannot vote for a candidate who supports an intrinsic evil without becoming party to that evil.

Anonymous said...

What's with the attitude? I am just as anonymous as you are, "dad29." From an avowed Christian was I wrong to expect a dose of kindness? You must be having a hard day.

McCain by his own words has said he is not baptized. He says he's not a member of a congregation, Espiscopalian or otherwise. The concern here is not "baptismal records" but where his heart is.

Anonymous said...

The good father is knucking futs. The women who has been raped has the right to an abortion. To deny that right is lunacy.

Dad29 said...

Anony 1: Frankly, I'm tired of silly-ass inanities from LeftoWonzies. No "attitude," just tired of wasting time (like this.)

For the LAST TIME: the point of the sermon was the ABORTION QUESTION, not "baptismal records." And by the way, it's irrelevant that McCain "doesn't belong to a congregation." What's relevant is that he WAS baptized an Episcopalian.

Anony 2: So you're in favor of killing the CHILDREN of criminals, eh?

Now that's an "enlightened and compassionate" take on things if I ever saw one.

Jack said...

Hey, dad. Being a crumpy old ass doesn't make you right, or even close. If McCain is an Episcopalian, why does he go to a Baptist Church? Jack

Dad29 said...

Well, Jack, unlike you, I can read what's publicly available: he was baptized Episcopalian and switched.

So you're just a stupid old ass.

Jack said...

Yoo,hoo, dad. Did you not say above "McCain IS an Episcopalian". I thought I read that. Up to your old tricks!!Still thinking that being a 'crunpy old ass' scares people. I bet you're a real "hit" at family gatherings. Look at my review of Chaput's book. He just a strange old church princess. Jack