RIP Father Raymond Gravel, Progressive Catholic Priest

Father Raymond Gravel

Sad news via CBC News:

“Father Raymond Gravel, a well-known Catholic priest, an advocate for Quebec sovereignty and a social activist, has died.

[…]

“He served one term as the Bloc Québécois MP for Repentigny, before he was ordered by church authorities to choose between his priesthood or politics and returned to the pulpit.

“He was a progressive force in the Catholic Church and an outspoken supporter of gay and women’s rights.

“At one point Gravel called the Vatican’s opposition to same-sex marriages “discriminatory, hurtful and offensive.”

“Gravel challenged the Catholic Church to adopt a more compassionate tone and get in touch with the beliefs of its adherents.

“”The Church must evolve beyond the language of interdiction and condemnations,” he wrote in an open letter dated April 23, 1999. “Such language only proves, once again, to the entire world just how disconnected the Church is from reality.”

[…]

“Gravel personally opposed abortion except in cases of rape, but he said he also opposed rules and regulations that “infantilized” women.”

Listen to an interview with one of Father Gravel’s parishoners, Gregory Baum, a retired professor of religious studies at McGill University, after the fold: Continue reading

Nothing Sez ‘Common Ground’ Like Hatin’ teh JOOZ

by matttbastard

Awesome:

This January, a week after Barack Obama’s Inauguration, a conference called “Holocaust? A Sacred Lie by the West” was held in Tehran. Ahmadinejad, in a greeting that he sent to the conference, said that Zionists had “ensnared many politicians and parties.” In a follow-up statement, he added, “An incident known as 9/11 occurred. It is not yet clear who carried it out, who collaborated with them, and who paved the way for them. The event took place, and—like in the case of the Holocaust—they sealed it off, refusing to allow objective research groups to find out the truth.”

Iasked Thomas Pickering why Ahmadinejad had chosen that moment to talk so provocatively about the Holocaust. “I think he probably felt encouraged by the Pope,” Pickering replied, referring to the news that week that Benedict XVI had lifted an excommunication order on a British bishop and Holocaust denier. (The Pope later asked the bishop to recant.)

Heartwarming. Who says the Vatican has been backsliding on JPII’s ecumenical outreach efforts? Heckuva job, Ratzi.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Catholic Priest to Obama Supporters: ‘No Communion For You!’

by matttbastard

head_up_ass

Stay classy, Rev. Jay Scott Newman:

A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion, and supporting him “constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil.”

The Rev. Jay Scott Newman said in a letter distributed Sunday to parishioners at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Greenville that they are putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote.

“Our nation has chosen for its chief executive the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate or to run for president,” Newman wrote, referring to Obama by his full name, including his middle name of Hussein.

“Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.”

Translation: “[M]aterial cooperation with intrinsic evil” = all Obama supporters are gonna be community organizers–in hell.

Fired up, ready to go. To hell.

(BTW, who knew condemnation was such a versatile meal? I mean, you can eat and drink it. The Carnation Instant Breakfast of eternal consequence.)

Make sure to also check out Daisy’s post on Rev. Newman–who also happens to be her priest.

Woah.

h/t Cara @ Feministe

Related: William J. Gould, writing in Commonweal, on why it’s counterproductive for (anti-choice) Catholics to be single-issue voters:

While opposition to abortion is surely an important part of Catholic teaching, it does not begin to exhaust the riches of the Catholic social tradition. On the contrary, there are many other important matters—issues of foreign policy (including questions of war and peace), health care, whether and how we are going to meet our obligations to the poor, just to name a few—on which the Catholic social tradition has much wisdom and insight to contribute. To reduce Catholic teaching to opposing abortion, which many bishops are very close to doing, is to present a truncated version of the Catholic tradition… .

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

Update: Moving post from Bint Alshamsa, who also provides a link to Rev. Newman’s letter.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

A (Slightly) Less Glib Swipe at The Nascent Opus Dei Wing of the Conservative Party

by matttbastard

Rob Boston of Church & State Magazine:

Long the scourge of progressive Catholics, Opus Dei, with an estimated 80,000 members worldwide, has enjoyed a close relationship with the church’s conservative hierarchy, serving, as one writer put it in the mid 1980s, as a “holy mafia” to promote far-right views on “culture war” issues.

[…]

Opus Dei does not publish a directory of members but is known for its interest in targeting the rich and powerful. Over the years, rumors have surfaced that certain high-profile Catholics might be members. Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito have been fingered as possibilities. There is no proof in either case, but Newsweek magazine reported in 2001 that Scalia’s wife has attended functions at the Catholic Information Center, and his son Paul, a Catholic priest, has spoken there.

[…]

[Opus Dei founder Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer]’s critics were less than pleased with his fast-track to sainthood, noting that in 1958, Escriva had written a fawning letter to Francisco Franco, the fascist dictator of Spain, congratulating him for extending official recognition to the Catholic Church.

The May 28, 1953, missive reads, “Although alien to any political activity, I cannot help but rejoice as a priest and Spaniard that the Chief of State’s authoritative voice should proclaim that, ‘The Spanish nation considers it a badge of honor to accept the law of God according to the one and true doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church, inseparable faith of the national conscience which will inspire its legislation.'”

The letter asks God to bestow on Franco “abundant grace to carry out the grave mission entrusted to you.”

Opus Dei members subsequently ingratiated themselves into important positions in the repressive Franco government. Alberto Moncada, a Spanish journalist who has researched the period, says Opus Dei operatives were entrusted with turning around Spain’s anemic post-war economy, but the effort collapsed after numerous scandals.

The group also flourished under dictatorships in Chile and Argentina during the 1950s and ’60s.

Now, I don’t want to erroneously drop the other ‘F’ bomb on former Opus Dei spokesperson (and current “active” OD member) turned Conservative Party candidate Nicole Charbonneau Barron. But even someone normally allergic to tinfoil (such as yours truly) can recognize how some might say this ideological marriage of convenience between far-right-and-even-further-right positively screams “hidden agenda” (in a number of different languages, including Latin). Oh, and re: historical parallels between Franco and Harper: draw your own conclusions, true believers.

I just hope the phrase “holy mafioso” enters the Canadian political lexicon sometime before October 14th.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

So Much For The ‘Mass-Market Paperback Conspiracy’ Vote (Although Maybe There’s an Opportunity To Make Inroads With the ‘Master and Servant’ Crowd…)

by matttbastard

CBC News:

A Conservative candidate running in a Montreal South Shore riding is a past spokeswoman and current member of Opus Dei, a secretive Catholic organization.

Nicole Charbonneau Barron, who is running for the Tories in Saint-Bruno-Saint-Hubert, is an active member of the ultra-orthodox society.

The Conservatives were not aware of her affiliation when she was chosen as a candidate, the party’s Quebec campaign spokesman Jean-Luc Benoît told newspaper La Presse.

[…]

Barron granted media interviews in 2006 as Opus Dei’s Montreal spokeswoman, at a time when a controversial film inspired by Dan Brown’s worldwide bestseller The Da Vinci Code was released in movie theatres.

The South Shore resident told francophone TV network LCN the movie was a caricature of the Catholic institution, and only a portion of Opus Dei members practised self-mortification, which features prominently in the film.

Risking eternal damnation for indulging the flesh, Gilles Duceppe nearly creams his chinos at the news:

Referring to the discovery that Nicole Charbonneau Barron, the Conservative candidate for St. Bruno-St. Hubert, a riding on Montreal’s south shore, was the former spokesperson for the group, Duceppe called Opus Dei a “secret society” with a “narrow ideology” that doesn’t fit with a modern Quebec.

“Those people are against a lot of things that are generally accepted in Quebec,” he told reporters in Quebec City. “That candidate said very openly that self-whipping is a sacrifice they have to make. I question such practices.”

Hmm. Not to defend everybody’s favourite shadowy ultra-orthodox papal sect, but, um, what’s wrong with a little self (or *ahem* mutual) whipping every now and then (between consenting adults, of course)? One hopes the Quebec BDSM community respectfully requests further clarification from M. Duceppe.

Related: A fairly balanced profile of Opus Dei from TIME Magazine; Opus Dei’s Canadian homepage.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

McCain’s (Anti-Choice) Hail Mary

by matttbastard

Rounding up coverage of Biden reaction last week, I quoted former Clinton adviser Howard Wolfson, who thought that Obama going the old white political insider route “gives an opening to the McCain campaign to pick a woman or make an out-of-the-box selection.” Well, today the McCain campaign took that opening and charged through it:

(h/t Petulant for the vid)

Now, before you get all ZOMG glass ceiling shattered!!1 at the prospect of a female veep (which begs the question: why didn’t McCain vet Senator Clinton, hmm? No. Re. Spect.) keep in mind that Palin is, by and large, a Trojan hammer, as NARAL president Nancy Keenan outlines in the following press release:

Washington, D.C. – Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said that Sen. John McCain’s selection today of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate is further evidence that a McCain presidency will be just another four years of the same old Bush-style anti-choice policies. Just like McCain, Palin opposes a woman’s right to choose. Palin has also stated her opposition to abortion even in cases of rape or incest.

“John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate proves just how rigid and extreme his administration would be when it comes to a woman’s right to choose,” Keenan said. “For 25 years, McCain has opposed a woman’s right to choose, and we know that he will continue to push anti-choice policies in the White House. McCain’s pick of anti-choice Sarah Palin is further evidence that his White House will be just another four years of Bush-style policies. Any remaining doubts about McCain’s extreme anti-choice position should be put to rest when voters learn about the combined anti-choice records of Sarah Palin and John McCain.”

Palin, a member of the anti-choice group Feminists for Life, said during her campaign for governor that she is opposed to abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. [Juneau Empire, “Abortion Draws Clear Divide in State Races,” accessed 8/29/08 and Anchorage Daily News, “Governor’s Race: Top contenders meet one last time to debate,” 11/03/06.]

“Americans are tired of the kind of divisive anti-choice policies that Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin have pledged to continue to support. The contrast between pro-choice Sen. Obama and anti-choice Sen. McCain is clear. Voters are looking for a leader who respects women’s freedom and privacy. Barack Obama is that leader.”

Sen. McCain’s selection of Palin as his vice-presidential running mate is especially troublesome for the unique audience of women voters NARAL Pro-Choice America is targeting: Independent and Republican pro-choice women in suburban and exurban swing districts. These women play a pivotal role in the presidential election. Recent polling confirms how, once these voters know McCain’s extreme opposition to a woman’s right to choose and family planning, they will switch parties to support Sen. Barack Obama.

NARAL Pro-Choice America, which tracks all choice-related votes in Congress and ranks all 50 states on the status of women’s reproductive rights, classifies Sarah Palin as anti-choice.

Information about the polling can be found here. Learn more about NARAL Pro-Choice America’s actions to educate voters on McCain’s anti-choice record at www.MeetTheRealMcCain.com.

This 2005 Nerve article by Lynn Harris gives some background on Feminists for Life:

According to its tastefully designed website, FFL — describing itself as a “nonsectarian, nonpartisan, grassroots organization … shaped by the core feminist values of justice, nondiscrimination, and nonviolence” — “recognizes that abortion is a reflection that our society has failed to meet the needs of women.” The goal of the group: “systematically eliminating the root causes that drive women to abortion — primarily lack of practical resources and support — through holistic, woman-centered solutions.”
Well, that’s refreshing. No railing against the ladies for making selfish choices, no little pictures of tiny feet. A commitment to non-violence, a focus on the “root causes” — they use the word ” holistic,” for God’s sake. It all sounds entirely reasonable, doesn’t it?
Try radical. The group believes abortion is an act of violence that is unacceptable under any circumstances. Unacceptable under any circumstances. Including rape, incest, major fetal defects, and danger to the mother’s life. This position — “holistic solutions” aside — puts [FFL] to the right of their sister organization, Attila the Hun for Life.

Not only that, but FFL is sketchy about birth control. “Preconception issues, including abstinence and contraception, are outside of our mission,” reads their website. “Some FFL members and supporters support the use of non-abortifacient contraception while
others oppose contraception for a variety of reasons.” So it’s not clear precisely how FFL would go about reducing unwanted pregnancies. Or, for that matter, rape and incest.

Katha Pollitt disputes FFL’s appropriation of the ‘feminist’ moniker:

It is indeed feminist to say no woman should have to abort a wanted child to stay in school or have a career–FFL’s line is thus an advance on the more typical antichoice position, which is that women have abortions to go to Europe or fit into their prom dress. You can see why their upbeat, rebellious slogans–“refuse to choose,” “question abortion,” “women deserve better”–appeal to students. (But what do those students think when they find that the postabortion resources links are all to Christian groups and that FFL’s sunny pregnancy-assistance advice includes going on food stamps or welfare?) Exposing the constraints on women’s choices, however, is only one side of feminism. The other is acknowledging women as moral agents, trusting women to decide what is best for themselves. For FFL there’s only one right decision: Have that baby. And since women’s moral judgment cannot be trusted, abortion must be outlawed, whatever the consequences for women’s lives and health–for rape victims and 12-year-olds and 50-year-olds, women carrying Tay-Sachs fetuses and women at risk of heart attack or stroke, women who have all the children they can handle and women who don’t want children at all. FFL argues that abortion harms women–that’s why it clings to the outdated cancer claims. But it would oppose abortion just as strongly if it prevented breast cancer, filled every woman’s heart with joy, lowered the national deficit and found Jimmy Hoffa. That’s because they aren’t really feminists–a feminist could not force another woman to bear a child, any more than she could turn a pregnant teenager out into a snowstorm. They are fetalists.

All of which makes me wonder if, by picking Palin as his running mate, McCain is actually making a play for pro-life Evangelicals and Catholics, rather than disaffected Clinton voters. By tapping a socially conservative abortion foe, the McCain campaign may be attempting to once again make the Christian Right vote a factor in November, after many believed religious conservatives didn’t trust McCain enough to wholeheartedly support him. David Waters of WapO’s On Faith points to a recent CBSNews.com interview with Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission:

CBSNews.com: Who’s on the list of people mentioned for VP that you think would most excite Southern Baptists and other members of the conservative faith community?

Richard Land: Probably Governor Palin of Alaska, because she’s a person of strong faith. She just had her fifth child, a Downs Syndrome child. And there’s a wonderful quote that she gave about her baby, and the fact that she would never, ever consider having an abortion just because her child had Downs Syndrome. She’s strongly pro-life.

She’s a virtual lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. She would ring so many bells. And I just think it would help with independents because she’s a woman. She’s a reform Governor. I think that, from what I hear, that would be the choice that would probably ring the most bells… .

And, true to Land’s prediction, (church) bells are ringing in exultation, as noted by Waters:

Evangelical leaders were elated Friday.

Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council:

“Sarah Palin clearly addresses the issues so many conservatives are concerned about. It balances out the ticket,” said Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council. “She’s also really a checkmate for the Democratic Party because folks who were looking to make history for Barack Obama can make history by voting for John McCain in seeing the first woman elected to the vice-presidency. It was a very strategic move by John McCain.”

Pro-life advocates and website were buzzing Friday about McCain’s choice.

“Sarah Palin is the whole package. There couldn’t be a better vice presidential pick,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an influential pro-life PAC. “By choosing the boldly pro-life Sarah Palin as his running mate, John McCain has taken his stand as the one true, authentic pro-life ticket.”

“[T]he one true, authentic pro-life ticket.” I have a feeling McCain’s [deliberately ambiguous] latter day pro-life branding effort has completely answered any lingering doubts conservative Christian voters may have held regarding his commitment to key socon issues. Instead of an ‘out of the box’ decision, choosing Palin as his VP nominee amounts to more of the same from John McCain: “a classic, Rovian appease-the-base choice.”

Update: Ramesh Ponnuru believes the cons outweigh the pros with regards to Palin as VP. Interesting analysis, as Ponnuru is, theoretically, representative of the market being targeted.

Update 2: More on the conservative reaction to Palin @ The Great Orange Satan (h/t Chet).

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers