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Friday, November 18, 2011


Robert Miller

This is a fine, indeed splendid, piece of analysis, Carl. More, after dinner. But I just had to congratulate you as soon as I read this post.


This is an excellent analysis; I think it is exactly right.


Candidate Obama knew—and this is essential—that he could not and would not win over serious, practicing, orthodox Catholics, but he also didn't care, because he knew the majority of Catholics in the U.S. are not serious, practicing, orthodox Catholics.



the actual, long-term "Catholic strategy" of this administration is to undermine and dismantle the witness and work of the Catholic Church

And Obama has a LOT of support for that by many self-hating Catholics, who own strategy is likewise to undermine and dismantle the witness and work of the actual Catholic Church and to reconstruct a church of their own making (just go over and read Commonweal, etc., where everything the Church (bishops, etc.) does is bad and Obama is a better Catholic than they are).

The politicized Catholics will continue to do so -- to the extent that they are Catholic, their politics informs and dictates their faith, rather than vice versa.


I doubt Obama even thinks in terms of "orthodox" Catholics. He thinks of reasonable, loving people who believe in some sort of God, versus others whom he sees as reactionary, insecure, tied to the past dogmas we must gradually let go, and formerly guilty of using the same sort of worldview to keep discrimination running full throttle. I don't think he is right ... But I also don't think he sees things in terms of strategies so much as noble causes the right side of which he is on. Hence his seeming arrogance. He seems himself as liberator, conservatives as trying to conserve ideas that keep "his people" down. Think of his radical white college prof mother. Mix in a late in life embrace of his black maleness, a dash of Jeremiah Wright, and that tells you all you need to know. For religion, think Katharine Jefferts Schori or Sister Joan C, with Biden think of Fr. James Martin after teaching at Georgetown for ten years.


This is an excellent analysis. You have hit the nail on the head. I think that the best thing that can happen to the Catholic Church in America will be for the Catholic Church to lose it's tax free status. That would free up priests and bishops to preach real Catholic doctrine from the pulpit. Nothing would quicker throw a wrench into the machinery of Obama's strategy to undermine the Catholic Church. Recently, a priest preached from the pulpit about the sinfulness of homosexual activity. The priest's sermon worried his bishop, who felt that such sermons would jeopardize the tax status of his diocese. I cannot imagine anything that liberal Democrats fear more than a Catholic Church where it's priests can not only teach authentic Catholic doctrine, but can also name names and party affiliations from the pulpit without fear of any kind of "tax status reprisal." It would not be painless, and things would not change overnight, but eventually Catholics would become well informed in their faith, and have much les excuse to vote for the liberal, pro-abortion, pro-religious suppression Democrat.


What is this about Catholics having been "reassured" by what Obama said at Notre Dame? Among Catholics who were concerned about Obama's stance on the life issues, I don't know of any who were reassured by anything that he said there (or anywhere else). At Notre Dame he said that he would seek to protect the conscience rights of doctors opposed to abortion. However, no one who cared about the issue could not have known that he was deliberately using the vagueness of his promise to make a political appeal to Catholics without betraying his Planned Parenthood base. At the time of the Notre Dame address, HHS had already proposed repealing the conscience clause regulations that the Bush administration had promulgated at the end of Bush's administration. Those regulations were designed to the provide conscience protection to health care workers who opposed abortion. If Obama was so interested in protecting the conscience rights of pro-life doctors, why was he proposing the repeal of regulations that protected those rights? His claim that he was interested in protecting conscience rights was so transparently false that no one took it seriously, much less professed "reassurance."

Rick DeLano

The logic of the analysis seems sound. Let's borrow a tweak from Bach's playbook and examine the situation from the opposite viewpoint:

"The Catholic Bishops knw—and this is essential—that they can not and will not win over serious, committed, orthodox Alinskyites, but they also didn't care, because they knew the majority of voters in the US are not serious, committed, orthodox Alinskyites."

Go thou and do likewise?


Huh? The "best thing that can happen to the Catholic Church in America will be for the Catholic Church to" pay taxes?

The best thing is for the Church to pay taxes on money that has already had taxes paid on it by the person who gave it to the Church?

The best thing is for the Church to pay taxes that are used to fund any number of outright evils, including seeking to oppress and persecute the Church?

The best thing that can happen to the Catholic Church is to give into the fraudulent mindset that the government is automatically entitled to take our money, that we should have to justify keeping our money.

Tax-free status is not a gift or grace from government. There is no presumption that all money belongs to the government and we are merely allowed to keep some of it. Freedom from taxation is the natural state, the presumption regarding taxation is that it starts from zero, that we are free men, not slaves, owners of the fruits of our labors, with it being incumbent upon government to justify taking those fruits of our labors.

The best thing that can happen to the Catholic Church is that government learn its place.


Unfortunately, I find myself in agreement with your analysis of the situation. I truly wish that I could see flaws in your arguments. Our only hope is that more and more, the majority, of American bishops begin to stand courageously against abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia and stem cell. It's more than standing up for freedom of conscience! That fight is too little, too late. Perhaps because of politics over faith, too many bishops have played soft-ball over non-negotiable Catholic issues, leading Catholics in the pews to believe that they have a 'choice' regarding which Catholic doctrines to pick and choose to believe. The Catholic church has been on the defensive for a generation with liberal socialism. It's time that Catholics in the pews are led courageously by the USCCB. I'm not holding my breath. There are some terrific Catholic bishops like Ohmstead and Vasa but how much support do they receive from their own priests and laymen?

Dennis Sinclair

Splendid treatment of a thorny situation!

Ned (in NH) Ransom

Sad to say, but this writer has it absolutely correct. The only thing he overlooks is the active involvement of so many 'Catholic' clergy (our own Jesuit pastor and his guest celebrants from Holy Cross that preach Obamamism, the majority episcopate, who align themselves with and support pro-abortion 'Catholics' like Shaheen, Pelosi, Biden, the Kennedys (alive and dead) - but once a month make a passing reference to the 'need' to respect life, the cowardice of Cardinals and Bishops who fail to rein leftist priests who preach class-envy, racial hatred and socialism/Marxism (Chicago) or call to account 'Catholic' politicians that trade on their 'religion' yet flagrantly violate the fundamental principles of Catholicism (see partial list above.) The US hierarchy 'fiddle' the wording of the worst and most offensive translation of the liturgy to introduce a marginal adjustment (as Advent starts) - while serious Catholics ache for strong leadership.

Gail F

You're right on the money. It has dismayed me to see, for the past several years, that the sort of "Catholic" politician Nancy Pelosi or Kathleen Sebelius is, has been the ticket to high office in this country. Sell your soul and you will go far! I am from what was Steve Driehaus's district. I think he exemplifies what happens to Democratic politicians who do try to stay true to their Catholic faith -- they end up grasping at any straw to hold on to their careers. I'm sure he doesn't think that he looks like, or is, a hypocrite, even as he sues the SBA List for calling him a liar. A supposedly pro-life politician suing one of the biggest pro-life political groups, taking up tens of thousands of dollars of its budget as well as all the work hours spend on the suit? Really??? The hypocrisy makes me sick.

It's clear that President Obama and/or the leaders of the Democratic party deliberately sought out people willing to do whatever they say and parade around as Catholics, so they can claim that Catholics approve of their policies and give themselves the stamp of Catholic approval to whoever still cares about that, in the process picking up a lot of lukewarm and uninformed Catholics. I think the Bishops get too wrapped up in local concerns and individual cases. They need to see the big picture! The Catholic Church is being worse than mocked, it's being used to further this administration and its policies. That must be stopped. "Catholic" politicians and voters in this country have the right to do whatever they like. But Pelosi, Seblius, et all need to admit that they are no longer Catholic. They won't, though, because if they ever do they'll be out of a job. Not just anyone can do what they do, it has to be a Catholic who does it. Evil? Oh yeah.

Political Junkie

I would take farther the author's comment about "the Catholic vote" not being one monolithic voting block. Concur that many, perhaps most, self-identified Catholics don't agree with and live as though it were critically important the entirety of the Church's teaching on faith & morals. However, unlike politicians like Biden, Sebelius, Obama chief of staff Daley, Teddy Kennedy and a raft of others who jettisoned their adherance to Catholicism as they climbed the political ladder, the average Catholic who dissents from the faith was not nearly so mercenary or deliberate about it. There are roughly 3 subgroups among the Catholic electorate: orthodox, practicing, faithful Catholics who typically go to mass weekly and are known, via multiple polls over the years, to be significantly more likely to vote for the non-Obama type. Then there are the die-hard opponents of Catholic teaching on faith & morals combined with die-hard, always-vote-for-the-Democrat types. Finally, there is the middle group which is where the danger for Obama and the opportunity for his opponent lies. This is no doubt the group that Gerson was talking about though he may not have distinguished it as a subset of Catholic voters. And I'm happy to say that I think he may be right...if Obama's opponents play it smart. Obama and his Catholic set dressing including Sebelius, may have jumped the shark, gone too nakedly after Catholic beliefs and practices that people in the middle group - and even some simple die-hard Democrat voters in the second group - have seen Obama for his true (anti-Catholic, pro-abortion) colors.... Simply put, Obama has dismayed the "Independent" Catholics and they, like the political Independents, may be the key in the 2012 election.


Bender: Losing tax exempt status does not mean that the Church starts paying taxes. It means that donations to the Church can no longer be used as a tax deduction.

Ed Mechmann

Re: Tax exempt status.

It's not just a question of the deductibility of donations. The real threat is that Church property will be subject to real estate taxes, every parish will be subject to corporate taxes, and the administrative burden of the tax codes will have to be borne.

Chief Justice John Marshall said "the power to tax involves the power to destroy". Does anyone believe that governments will not use that power to destroy the Church, or at least to bring Her to heel?


Does anyone believe that governments will not use that power to destroy the Church, or at least to bring Her to heel?

I believe that governments will not succeed in doing those things, though they will continue to try.

Robert Miller

This is a really interesting thread.

What I was about to say, before being interrupted by dinner at the beginning, is that I think it is one of BO's main objectives to provoke a schism in the Catholic Church in the US. This is an essential requirement of his policy.

Most US Catholics (even I, a life-long registered Republican, who has never voted for a Democrat)retain certain "tribal" sympathies for the Democrat Party. This is not, in the first instance, a matter of being "liberal" or "anti-life". It is a reflection of decades of reliance on a political machine for jobs, sustenance and connections. I've never voted for them, but I know their local machine provided my family with jobs and political insight that made my career possible.

Now, most US Catholics didn't experience the sharp break with the tribal solidarity that some of us felt in the 1950s and 1960s when Catholic Democrats joined in with the destruction of Joe McCarthy, and when the Kennedys called down a hit on fellow-Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem. For some of us, the experience of the unbridled criminality of the Kennedys, tolerated by the Church in the US (and elsewhere), finished our tribal allegiance with the Democrat Party.

Today, however, we face a new problem. It made sense tactically,for the last 40 years or so, for us US Catholics to ally with people who, for a variety of reasons, want to restrain the growth of government. But now we find ourselves in alliance with know-nothings: Tea Party anti-deficit fanatics, anti-(mostly Catholic) immigrant fanatics and intergenerational (Boomer) usurers and publicans (or "tax collectors", as our current English translations so obtusely translate the word).

Archbishop Gomez has it right, I think: US Catholics need to start saying that we were here long before you and your red, white and blue. And we had, and we have, a far superior vision of the Christian Commonwealth. Learn from us and our Magisterium.

On this mercifully last Sunday of the Liturgy Club bowdlerized English translation of the Roman Missal, I offer a humble: Viva Cristo Rey!

J.T. Lebherz

Well penned Carl and, for what it's worth, it perfectly compliments and reflects my own thoughts concerning BO from day one. There's nothing new or confusing about anything this president has accomplished. He's constructed the kind of house he wanted to build and got a lot of help from Catholics who threw truly Catholic beliefs to the sidelines.

Father Joseph LeBlanc, SJ

As brilliant as Mr. Olson may think he is, he is rather naive. There are some outstanding comments made here in defense of the Church. As a graduate of Notre Dame, I must tell you that I was horrified that Father Jenkins invited him to speak at the graduation ceremony and then offer him a honorary doctorate. I am still wondering where Bishop D'Arcy was during that time.

It all gives me an aching sadness.

Carl E. Olson

Father LeBlanc: Did you actually read my post? Did you read any of my links? How, exactly, am I naive, especially since you apparently agree with me? And why feel the need to insult me? I expect better of Jesuits.

John Germain

Obama's strategy works because the hierarchy in the US is week, affraid, and not willing to suffer criticism (just think how spineless they would be if they were subjected to marterdom as the REAL Apostles were.)Catholics will continue not being Catholic until we get some fearless leaders for bishops, bishops who will not allow opposing church teaching yet remaining in the church. We have been infiltrated by an army of discent and the current USCCB is affraid of them. May God have mercy on them for thier cowardness. The vinyard is in shambles.

Mary Kay Culp

Yes, it is a good analysis. But tonight I was reminded of why Kathleen Sebelius et al feel as they do, and I realize I am being generous here, but hear me out. My daughter rents and sells breast pumps out of her house. A girl stopped by tonight when I was there to get some tubing for hers. She has a friend who just had a baby. The girl works at Wal Mart. Her relationship with the baby's father is so so. She can take two months off, but with no pay. She had a crummy breast pump by another company that girl number one is lending her. She needs a good one because her baby won't latch on so she is pumping and feeding the baby through a bottle, but again, she using a crummy pump. My daughter just rented out her last one, but soon one will come back. I told the girl I would pay for it for her friend. Anyway, we got to talking about girls and why they are so stupid about men. She mentioned another friend who just found out she is pregnant and is considering abortion. I told her where her friend could go for help (a nearby crisis pregnancy center). The girl knew of it, liked it and said she would make sure she knew. But driving home I thought this is why people like Sebelius and friends think birth control (and now paid for birth control) and abortion are the way to go. They have no belief in, nor hope for changing the way girls think. I refuse to give in to this and still believe there is hope, but it is hard to be hopeful in a world so drunk with contraception and sex, sex, sex. I am the head of a state pro-life group but I keep thinking I should quit and undertake a vocation of speaking at high schools about the difference between women and men (between the ears!) My good friend runs a maternity home in an urban area. She wants to join me. Why can't our priests preach this? Why can't our Catholic high schools and colleges? Women and men are different creatures and keep projecting their feelings on each other and not understanding the differences. In the meantime our girls get pregnant, get abortions, and get breast cancer. Or they have their babies and try to raise then alone and put the baby in daycare and work at Walmart and after they pay Daycare have no noney left, and of course have to resort to tax money which is costing us all and making Sebelius and Obama turn to getting rid of the elderly. And all for almighty sex without commitment instead of Almighty God. We need courage to speak the truth to our friends and relatives and that includes no contraceptives, no abortion but first NO SEX outside marriage and to quit being taken in by the idea that "I wouldn't have sex with him unless I loved him. He wants to have sex with me, ergo, he must love me." No he doesn't because he can tell himself it is not necessarily his baby because you were not the kind of girl that was careful with herself. Oh, nevremind for now. But that's how I see it. My heart breaks for them all. And it is just so frustrating watching this over and over and over. The only hopeful sign is the young Catholic movement built around Theology of the Body. That is the only thing that gives me hope, but it is still a long way away from the typical single mom who works at Walmart.


I suspect that most Democratic Catholics will vote for Obama in 2012 . . . they have no alternative. The question is: What will many "independent" Catholics do, particularly those who are inclined, for many reasons, to vote Democratic, but who are open to voting for a Republican. Given the present state of the Republican field, and their social/cultural liberalism, they may regrettably consider that a vote for Obama is the only option.

The voting pattern of Catholics in the United States is the closest to the general electorate of all religious groups in this country. I believe that Obama won among Catholics in 2008 about 55-45 while the general electorate was about 53.5% for Obama. Among most other religious groups/denominations in the United States, they are either heavily Republican (Mormon, conservative evangelical) or heavily Democratic (Mainline Protestantism, Muslims, Jews). I am pretty sure that this is an accurate observation.

This political diversity may be an explicit sign of the universality of the Church . . . having Right, Left and everything in between within our midst. At first sight, this may seem to be a bad thing, but now I'm not so sure. If the Catholic Church is the universal Church, as we believe that it is, wouldn't it be inhabited by every manner of human attitude and behavior, a broad spectrum of political diversity? I think that it would . . . and should.

Claudia Ramirez Interesting enough...Catholics are be strengthened by the foundation of their faith each day. Slowly, God is prevailing in what is truly GOOD. Obama should think about this.


Why is the Catholic strategy always only abortion? No offense but there are many life issues beyond conception that are equally important. I think Catholics consider issues beyond just abortion when considering a candidate to represent them. No candidate is has a perfect record when it comes to Catholic teaching, so the issue of who to choose is complicated. Obviously on this thread it seems there is only one issue of concern. I just think there is a big picture of life issues that need to be examined.

Carl E. Olson

AS: Three points:

1. Actually, Obama's "Catholic strategy" appears to be primarily about abortion (it's one of the few issues that he has been consistent on for his entire career in politics). Which is in keeping with liberalism in general for over forty years.

2. The Catholic Church focuses on abortion in her social doctrine and moral teachings for a number of reasons, including the fact that abortion is murder and a grave evil, that life is the first and primary human right, and that a culture of death cannot be redeemed and changed until the willful, "lawful" murder of innocents is addressed directly and frankly.

3. Finally, it's easy to talk about considering issues "beyond just abortion" when you've not been aborted and are thus alive and kicking. Common sense suggests that talking about the "big picture" is a moot point if you have been killed in the womb. To put into perspective, consider your comment rendered in this way: "I think Catholics consider issues beyond just slavery when considering a candidate to represent them. No candidate is has a perfect record when it comes to Catholic teaching, so the issue of who to choose is complicated. Obviously on this thread it seems there is only one issue of concern. I just think there is a big picture of freedom issues that need to be examined." Hmmmm...

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