Catholic Bishops attack Obama again

Let’s be clear: I deplore Embryonic Stem-Cell research or usage in any way at all except for a good-faith attempt to bring to those embryonic human beings to birth.  This is because, as an Eastern Orthodox Christian who aspires to be a member of Christ, ie, one of His body-parts, I don’t consider endorsing human destruction of unborn humans — even disabled ones (I am Disabled, perhaps from birth or before) — to be in keeping with Christ’s body-parts.*

However, the U.S. Catholic bishops go out of their way to attack the democratically- and Constitutionally-elected Obama Administration in recent news releases on the issue.  They’ve been indignant that we elected him and VP Joe Biden (himself a Catholic), as they made clear at their winter meetings days after the 2008 Elections, televised live on cable.  But as any Civics student could have told them, the Executive Branch of the US Government doesn’t lawfully appropriate money, Congress does.  The Executive Branch does nothing with money that Congress has not authorized.  This is the bishops’ national release; this is from one of their most “conservative” divisions, Pennsylvania.

Their Eminences and Excellencies could be forgiven (if I had the power!) their confusion, after their boy in the White House, George W. Bush, appropriated money without Congressional authorization several times, occasionally with active deceit on the part of the corrupt then-Republican leadership of both Chambers.  (And they wanna come back?!?!?!)  False or cowardly Federal judges or Congressmembers allowed this ACTUAL theft of taxpayers’ money to fly almost completely under the radar.

What do I want?  President Obama and Vice-President Biden are no more nor less a threat to advance abortion or its related horrors than a Congress that hasn’t brought to the floor a Constitutional Amendment to reiterate the protection of unborn Americans in 27 years in the Senate, and EVER in the House, NOT EVEN UNDER REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP!  Instead, Republican alleged “pro-lifers” spend their time and money (and yours) fighting [PDF] real Democratic proposals (and candidates) to eliminate nearly all abortions voluntarily by addressing their causes — showing that they view the lives of Unborn Americans less sacred than their own political power (witness their last-minute, repeated deceptions over [lack of] abortion funding in America’s Healthcare Reform).

What I want is for the bishops and other non-Democratic pro-lifers to understand that specific parties and candidates clearly aren’t how to prevail, but bona fide proposals on the floor of Congress.  Based on that, who’s the REAL pro-life party?  THE DEMOCRATS, AFTER ALL!!!

And what about the bishops’ dioceses’ tax exemptions for targeting Obama/Biden?  After all, a partisan church’s tax exemption is like spending YOUR TAX DOLLARS ON THEIR FAVORED PARTY OR CANDIDATE.  (There are Orthodox Church clergy who could be called on the carpet equally and worse than these. But Catholic bishops tend to have more resources on which to call, and lawyer friends advising them, so they should know better. Orthodox, not so much yet.)

(*–The only exception I can see is, in shorthand, to save the life of the mother: where the best available medical opinion[s] is that continuing the pregnancy will kill her in and of itself, not via suicide or threats thereat, or financial impoverishment [falling through our coarse Social Safety Net], her own mental illness or disability, etc.  Because I don’t believe we can require mothers by law to actually — not metaphorically — lay down their lives for their babies; that must be voluntary.)

PS: I’m not “an anticatholic;” I’m a convert from Catholicism with extensive graduate work in Catholic and other (Western) Christian theological ethics.  I don’t “hate Catholics;” some of my best relatives and old friends are still Catholic.  Just for the record.

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“We the Dollars, in order to form a more perfect Union…”

I’m DISGUSTED with all the money Democratic Party organizations and candidates and progressive groups now have to cravenly beg from me, to have a shot at making a showing in elections in this brave new Scalia/Citizens United world we’re forced to live in!  I guess Repugs like him think it’s a fair clawback for the personal government assistance some of us need … nevermind the Corporate Wealthfare you KNOW they’re now pouring through the floodgates.  That illegal, immoral ruling was “the mother of all Nuclear Options.”  Apparently “limited government” only applies when the GOP is out of power, and “originalism” and “judicial activism” and “legislating from the Bench” only when they’re IN power.

Naturally, we can’t hope to win the money race against our own Corporations, most rich people, and corrupt government officials/politicians, which is exactly how Scalia et al. timed this unprecedented procedural power-grab, a coup d’etat under color of law.

What can we do?

Actually, “conservative” support for Corporations attacks the culture, family,* tradition, family farms, small towns, etc., so they should be with us in trying to oppose this new trend by somehow MAKING CORPS.’ MONEY IRRELEVANT.

(*–As theologian Stanley Hauerwas pointed out a generation ago.)

Massachusetts “Upset”?

Did the Repugs steal Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat?  Why are the MSM calling their win an “upset,” after telling us 24/7 right before it how it was a tossup?  Election fraud investigators say if there’s an otherwise inexplicable spike in polling numbers in the final days before an election, something fishy may be going on.

Maybe the Senate needs to investigate before letting the Democratic substitute go and seating the GOP “winner.”  Or even pull one from the Repugs’ playbook and just seat Coakley like they did in their own favor in the House a couple years ago.  But after 8 years of Republican shenanigans, Obama, Coakley, et al. still practically fell over themselves to declare defeat — very strange.  If this is “socialism,” basically it’s the kind where there’s just one party, or token opposition, and the one party governs even when it’s not technically in office … and pours taxpayers’ money into corporations, fixes elections under sham democracy, etc etc etc.

When they attack Obama, they attack America.

That’s right.  One has the right to disagree with healthcare reform, though it seems irrational to me to do so.  But to fundamentally question Obama’s Presidency is to seek to overturn the 2008 Election just because they disagree with the outcome.  That’s sour grapes, breaking the rules of majoritarian democracy.  Has he succeeded in doing anything he didn’t “promise” to do in getting elected?  Arguably he has gone back on several promises already.  In any case, it’s too soon, 8 months into a new Administration, lacking High Crimes and Misdeeds (not that they ever get prosecuted anyway … only sex).  These attacks are driven by something less political than anti-constitutional, anti-democratic, racist, deceptive (fake “grassroots” incited, recruited, planned, and bankrolled by Big Business, Big Lobbyists, etc.), libelous (probably actionable), etc.  Unlike 2000 and 2004, there are no serious accusations that Barack Obama was not the choice of both a majority of the voters or intended voters last Election Day, and of the Electoral College.  Attacking his very being President, then, without grounds as I have said, is attacking America, democracy, the Constitution, the rule of law, the voting majorities of Nov. 4.

Just like they did with President Clinton.

That’s right: They now believe no Democratic Party member can ever ‘legitimately’ be President.  They persecuted Clinton, they kept out elected Presidents Gore and Kerry, and it seems they will persecute Obama.

Just so we’re clear what’s going on here.

And when they openly bring guns to political rallies and public meetings, they mean to threaten democracy itself.

THAT is Fascism.

Harper Catholic Communion: IT *IS* A SCANDAL!

Near as I can tell from the NY Times’ unusually dense syntax, self-righteous Canadian theocon minority Prime Minister Stephen Harper received, and an archbishop administered to him, Roman Catholic communion, a no-no since Harper’s Evangelical Protestant, specifically the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination.

The fact that it was at the funeral for former Governor General Romeo LeBlanc July 3 just magnifies the technical scandal — theologically speaking — of this joint action by Harper and the unnamed “archbishop,” identified by Canada’s Catholic Register (a weekly newspaper owned by the Archdiocese of Toronto) as Moncton, New Brunswick, Archbishop Andre Richard, who ISTM (they don’t say) may have been chief celebrant of the Mass, since it took place in his archdiocese.

I don’t know why they’re “covering the controversy” rather than the main story; maybe I just missed that.  ISTM that putting the consecrated host in his pocket might have been the least-worst thing Harper could’ve done, especially if afterward he or a flunkie returned it respectfully to the Church, which regards it as truly though mystically (and not symbolically) Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood.  After all, it’s not exactly a State secret that, with very few exceptions applying mostly to certain Eastern Christian Churches,* NON-CATHOLICS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO RECEIVE CATHOLIC COMMUNION!!!!!  In the U.S. an announcement to this effect is commonly made at mass vocally or in print, especially if a significant number of non-Catholics are known to be in attendance, such as would have been the case at His Excellency’s State funeral (presumably in Both Official Languages … and I don’t mean Latin!).

As the Register tells us:

During the Mass, Moncton Archbishop Andre Richard approached the front row where Harper and other VIPs were standing and distributed Communion to everyone, including the Protestant Harper. Though video shows Harper receiving Communion, it does not show him consuming it. Harper insists he did and told CCN in a July 11 interview he made a decision when entering public life not to seek Communion in Catholic churches but to accept it if offered.

Having served in my Catholic days as an altar boy or music minister at many “big Masses,” and also as an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, I can easily imagine Abp. Richard being preoccupied with many things that day.  In addition, Latin Rite clergy aren’t commonly tasked with “guarding the chalice” in quite the same way Eastern clergy are (unless Democrats in the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania are concerned! [scroll down]); it’s just a different approach or attitude toward administering communion, though the fundamental principles are outwardly similar.  Nevertheless, IT’S THE FRIGGING PRIME MINISTER, NATIONAL TV, A “STATE” FUNERAL, WITH AN ARCHBISHOP, not some summer cottage chapel in the woods with some anonymous guests of uncertain affiliations wearing cutoffs and flipflops!  A deacon or “master of ceremonies” could have taken some of the worry out of the occasion for the Archbishop and helped guide him discreetly around ‘landmines’ such as prominent non-Catholics in the VIP pew.

Ironically, although many of today’s “conservative Catholics” attack the Latin Rite’s modern option of communion-in-the-hand, receiving it in his hand instead of right on his tongue left Harper with the option of saving the Archbishop’s face as I’ve suggested above, even voluntarily taking some temporary heat himself from attack-dog media and politicians, coming up roses in the end if he returned the host respectfully at an opportune moment, even a “teachable moment.”  IOW, Major Brownie Points with Catholic voters!

Of course, more points if Harper had been able to say not that he made himself a unilateral theological decision to receive forbidden Catholic communion if mistakenly (or improperly!) offered, but that he’d consulted his local Latin Rite bishop in Calgary “when entering public life,” and even gotten a second opinion when he became a national figure from, as the kosher hot dog ad used to say, “an even higher authority.”  Don’t they have Protocol people in Ottawa anymore?!!!  In any event, Catholic authorities would have kindly and gently explained the impropriety to him, ways to politely decline or step aside when approached by a priest or EM, even thanked him for his concern to inquire … and probably gossipped about it, increasing his “cred” in their midst!  (Not that I want to help the man politically or anything!)

Now, I’m not a Latin canon lawyer or approved theological ethicist, though I have plenty of background and training.  But ISTM holding the host for later respectful return would have been at worst a mild sacrilege in Catholic eyes, with good intentions.  Eating it is pure scandal, the worse because of how publicly it was done (even if not shown on TV, but hyped in the media for days afterward).  And there are really considered to be no other options: Even dissolving it in water would require disposing of the now-sacred water in a sacrarium, a special sink in a Latin church’s sacristy that empties directly into the ground by sacral arrangement, rather than the sewage system or septic tank.  (‘Can’t dump Jesus in the sewer, dawg!’)  While water may be more easily portable, as in an empty bottle, if it had to be returned in another city … bottles of water are too easily discarded or otherwise mishandled.  An undissolved host is unmistakable, and can be carried reverently in any suitable container. 

Of course, Catholic Church sanctions are useless against non-Catholics, unless they want to try to physically lock Steve-o out of their churches and ceremonies.  From his perspective, it should be about respect for Catholic faith, just like you take your shoes off when visiting a mosque and wear a yarmulke when visiting a synagogue, and if the Orthodox parish you’re visiting stands males on one side and females on the other, going along without protest.

This piece, seemingly drawing from wire copy, suggests there was indeed protocol confusion of an uninformed variety on the part of both the Prime Minister and the Archbishop, who I’m certain doesn’t have such high-level guests in his archdiocese every day!:

Richard said a protocol officer told him before the ceremony that anyone who wanted to take part in communion would signal their willingness to do so.  “I’m sure he (Harper) didn’t mean any desecration or nothing of the sort,” the Archbishop said. “Somehow, the gesture was misunderstood. I think he should have been briefed by the protocol of what has to be done in a Catholic ceremony.”

OK, I have a guess about what’s going on here now.  If there was a huge crowd — and it’s just a parish church, not a large cathedral — and VIPs were seated in the front pew, it was probably arranged, by government staffers, for the Archbishop to serve them in-place, while everybody else who wished and was able to receive, would leave their pews farther back, get in line, and receive from him and/or other ministers in the building.  Rather than have the GG, the PM, etc., standing in line when the missiles come over the North Pole (or the foreign navies intrude in Nunavut).  It’s not a question of special treatment, merely reasonable logistics given the 24/7 responsibilities of these specific attendees, halfway across the country from the National Capital.  Similar accommodations are often made with communicants with mobility challenges.

An added issue would be the presence of M. LeBlanc’s coffin near the front of the church, probably where communion is often administered to people standing in line on normal Sundays and weekdays, etc. … as well as the unfamiliarity of many if not most of the attendees with how to receive communion in this particular building with its architecture, internal furnishings, etc., since it’s not their own parish.

For their part, the VIPs were probably briefed generically by a government (not Church) staffer, without regard for their denominations or (if Catholic) specific communion intentions (which ISTM Canadians more than even Yanks would consider intensely private matters, perhaps not to be “signaled” in advance through a flunkie: a cultural thing).  I could see this adding to the confusion of a ‘principled’ Evangelical Protestant Canadian like the PM who at least once in his life considered just such a scenario … hence his perceived hesitation, a kind of sacramental “decisijig” owing to miscommunication, or what tabloids might style a “miscue.”

This doesn’t appear to have been the only such, if my friends at the Monarchist League of Canada are right.

Last word: While it’s common for Protestants to use the verb take in connection with communion, for Catholics it’s receive — though the actions commonly involved are outwardly the same.  The would-be communicant approaches or in special cases like this is approached by the minister, and the minister gives him or her the communion.  (Unless your denomination does the trays and little cups served from pew to pew like on an airline — no disrespect meant.  Also, sometimes there’s more ‘self-help,’ like the bread and/or wine left on the altar for folks to administer to themselves as invited by the minister.)  If you find yourself about to be given communion when you believe you should not, for whatever reasons, you are permitted, hoped, and/or expected to “signal” your intention not to receive without making a big fuss, yelling, gesticulating grandly, turning your back, running away, or anything of the sort.  Like they say in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, DON’T PANIC.  Remain calm.  “No thanks,” a small but clear hand gesture, fingers over the lips, something like that.  Remember that when you’re in that situation, it’s just you and him (or her), two fallible human beings, face to face.  Most Latin Rite clergy these days are less anal about the flow of the almighty ritual than in former days perhaps, and will be understanding; the Vatican II Mass / in English (I can’t say for sure about French! 😉 ) is less pompous than its Tridentine / Latin predecessor — relatively more laid-back, as its critics will tell you(!).  I received in an Episcopalian cathedral once (while Protestant, on a normal Sunday, even with a “priestess” presiding — a cute one too!), and I’d guess the same there.  Most other situations, even more so. 

Even a State funeral on national TV.

This extended meditation on the pitfalls and pratfalls of public life has been sponsored by the letter Q, the number 69, and the word Sniglet!

(*–Without having consulted Eastern Christian bishops or councils!  Orthodoxy, my Church, forbids receiving non-Orthodox Mysteries [“sacraments”], and administering them to non-Orthodox, for reasons familiar to most Catholics my age or older.)

PS: For the record, Catholicism excludes non-Catholics from communion because they believe the sacrament properly reflects the “communion” of the main participants in the church service itself, to wit, Catholics.  It’s not a question of hospitality or inhospitality, “ecumenism,” “liberalism” or “conservatism,” “niceness” or “meanness.”  Catholics consider themselves the Body of Christ “mystically,” and communion as I said, also, though in a different way.  And non-Catholics, in varying degrees of “communion” or out of communion with them, especially with the Pope of Rome at their head.  This is all Catholic theology, not church politics per se.  They take the same attitude towards us Orthodox — as we do them and all non-Orthodox — although Rome permits us in extremis, as well as permitting their own people to receive our Mysteries in extremis, though they did that unilaterally.

PPS: Then again, given that LeBlanc was formerly a Liberal MP and Senator, and/or that Maritime Tories — even Catholics? — are likely to be Red Tories vs. Harper’s Blues (aka “American [GOP] Republicans”), maybe it WAS a conspiracy against Harper!!!  😉  (Just kidding; I know nothing.)

PPPS: Communion-in-the-hand is not an option in Orthodoxy, for the simple reason that Communion is served thusly: The priest has previously sunk a large piece of the Bread into the chalice and poured the Wine and water over it, filling the chalice.  As each communicant approaches, they tip their head back (or their baby’s head!) and open their mouth.  Father takes a long-handled spoon with a tiny bowl at the end, obtains a tiny piece of this mixed Bread and Wine, and tips the spoon’s contents into the person’s mouth.  So if Harper was at LeBlanc predecessor Ray Hnatyshyn‘s funeral in ’02 … well, it wouldn’t have been an issue, because Orthodox funerals don’t include Communion!  I’ve seen Orthodox priests serve communicants in wheelchairs by approaching them, but most of the time we line-up for Communion, so you can’t get in line by accident, so it’s no problem either. 

So … Go Orthodox, sir!

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Remember Next November

… in 2010 … who the Republicans voted to bail-out, and who they told ‘Drop Dead.’  They were OK with letting crooked bankers rob us blind, but when it came to union auto workers and the rest of America, they thumbed their noses, except Senators Specter, Snowe (an Orthodox Christian!), and Collins.

Yes, the GOP is as amenable to “bipartisanship” in opposition as they were in so-called leadership.  Why should WE?!!  They march in goose-step, hoping with Rush Limbaugh that America goes down like the Titanic … apparently even McCain, Mr. Conciliatory, is celebrating the Depression.  (‘Why do “conservatives” hate America?’)  Not hurting THEM too much, is it!  I’ll take a “Limousine Liberal” over a hypocritical, self-declared “Compassionate Conservative” any day!!!

In the interest of Full Disclosure, apparently I’m going to get a few more dollars in Food Stamps, and that one-time $250 lump-sum in my SSI/Disability (which will probably claw-back the Food Stamps!  Talk about taking from Peter to pay … well … Peter!).  Again, frankly, most individual beneficiaries of Bailout 2.0 are gonna sock it away in the bank and not “Go shopping” like us pobres who have NEEDS, so really, it would’ve done more good going more to us.  But then, apparently not even Specter, Snowe, and Collins, as Repugs, could stomach that.  And Specter comes from Philly….  With friends like him….  But hey, where else are we gonna get the money to pay your “Eat the poor,” upward-transfer taxes, eh?!!!  Wages?  Lotto?  Dean Graziosi?!

Think the Election went off without serious problems?

Think again.  Brad Blog reports a slew of them, including an Al Franken 12-point exit-poll win reduced to a virtual tie in “results” by suspicious voting machines … a probable 60-seat Democratic-caucus Senate imperiled by suspicious voting machines … a question of whether California’s anti-Gay referendum really passed … a question whether the good people of Alaska really intended to send a convicted felon back to the Senate … and a GOP threat to sue if any results diverge much from exit polls – talk about chutzpah!!!  Also material on Black Box Voting.org.  And I read somewhere an allegation of vote-machine hacking in Virginia.  And another from our Republican Irony Department: Alleged “voter fraud” by Pennsylvania’s fired fascist senator Rick Santorum, formerly a young GOP rising star.

Could I be as Irish as I am and not suspect that the powers behind the power have ‘allowed’ us a President Obama in order to fuel a roaring comeback in 2 or 4 years???  Have they shown as much real concern for the things they claim they’re concerned about, regarding Obama, as about their own power, cynicism, manipulativeness, enrichment (trillion-dollar-bailout, anybody?!), “liberties” (theirs not ours), impunity, corruption, etc.?