“What is at the core of being Catholic is the life issue, and that’s something the pope has never strayed from,” he said. “While other issues are important—such as helping the poor, the death penalty, views on war—these are things that aren’t tenets of the Catholic Church.”

In a word: bullshit.

These words spewed forth from the mouth of Tom McClusky, a ranking member of the Family Research Council.  He’s also Catholic.

Mr. McClusky’s outright lies (or complete misunderstanding of his own Christian faith) came in response to a statement released by 55 House Democrats stating that, basically, they’re Catholic no matter what pro-life fringe groups have to say about it.  I applaud their voice and encourage an even louder follow-up.  From The Washington Post:

The signers said they were fed up with being labeled “good Catholics” or “bad Catholics” based on one issue—abortion. They said their religion infuses their positions on many issues: poverty, war, health care and education.

“Some of us are pro-choice and some of us are pro-life,” said Rep. William J. Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.). “But we respect each other and we’re going to defend each other, because we’re all operating in good conscience.”

Being Catholic is to be complex and not tied to one issue.  One-issue Catholics, like Mr. McClusky, do the Catholic Church harm in focusing in on the sole hot-button issue of upholding “pro-life” principals.  I can attest to this because I personally cannot stand attending masses here in middle America because most people seem to be of this ilk.  Abortion is an issue stressed by certain facets of the Catholic Church, and I would never deny that it is important in the entirety of Catholic belief.  But, to say that helping the poor, the death penalty, and, especially, having opposing views to the proliferation of war are not tenets of the Catholic faith, you, sir, are gravely mistaken and ignorant.  I ask anyone to count the instances in which Jesus mentions helping the poor or refraining from warring with your brothers and sisters and then tell me that Catholicism does not count these amongst its greatest of tenets.

In fact, some very loud voices in the Church have voiced certain ideas that Catholics should move beyond being opposed to war but embrace pacifism fully.  From Fr. Robert Drinan, S. J. in the National Catholic Reporter:

John XXIII addressed the issue in Pacem in Terris issued on Easter Sunday, 1963. He said very categorically that “it is almost impossible to justify any modern war.” Vatican II echoed that sentiment but did not openly reject the seven principles which modern Catholic theologians continue to use to justify a war.

I have tested every war in the light of those principles. Only World War II seems to be justified. The hope in 1945 was that the establishment of the United Nations could prevent any further major war. The United Nations made it clear beyond doubt that all members of the United Nations solemnly promised and pledged that they would not go to war without the explicit the authority of the United Nations. The mandate denies the status of a just war to America’s military adventures in Vietnam, Grenada, El Salvador, and Iraq. There was a United Nations authorization for military action in Kuwait. But it still must be justified by the proportionality test in the definition of a just war. Can the liberation of Kuwait be deemed of more value then the loss of countless lives?

The just war principles can trace their origins to St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. They are summarized in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Paragraph 2309). But the doctrine in the last analysis is so remote and metaphysical that one has to wonder if it is usable in the modern world. The words of Pope John Paul II keep coming back, “War is always a defeat for humanity.” ( emphasis supplied)

Whether or not the words “pro-life” are specific to fetuses or to the human race in general, it is impossible to look at abortion as the sole issue facing the Catholic Church because, as I’ve said many times, war, the poor, education, health care, end of life issues, and, indeed, beginning of life issues (not exclusively related to abortion but including artificial insemination, contraception, etc.) are ALL tenets of the Catholic Church.  The Catholic Church is multi-faceted, which is one of the reasons I love being Catholic.

Peace, my friends.

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