Sunday, October 19, 2008

"Judgment Day Is On Its Way"

Ironically enough, in the city where the "Communion Wars" that've roiled American Catholicism for the last four years saw their birth, the Democratic nominee was greeted by his largest domestic crowd of this campaign yesterday -- 100,000, according to police estimates, under St Louis' Gateway Arch.

It being the "Rome of the West" -- where Catholics make up over a quarter of the metro-area population... and the faithful await a successor to the Holy See's new "chief justice" Archbishop Raymond Burke -- it's worth noting that reports of mass sanctions have yet to emerge. But the gathering came just a day after two Missouri prelates joined the critical mass of US prelates reminding their flocks of the imperatives of church teaching at the ballot box as the polls in the key stateĀ continue their recent swing in the Democrat's favor.

In the state's northwestern corner, adding to a joint pastoral issued last month, Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St Joseph all but named Barack Obama in a column stating that "despite hardship, beyond partisanship, for the sake of our eternal salvation," a Catholic voter "should never" throw their support behind a pro-choice candidate, while in St Louis itself, the interim head of the 560,000-member archdiocese Bishop Robert Hermann cited the catechism, John Paul II and Benedict XVI in writing that "that the issue of life is the most basic issue and must be given priority over the issue of the economy, the issue of war or any other issue.

"These same teachings inform us that when both candidates permit the right to abortion, but unequally so, we must chose to mitigate the evil by choosing the candidate who is less permissive of abortion," Hermann added.

From his new perch in Rome, Burke wasn't so circumspect late last month, telling the Italian church's daily newspaper that "the Democratic Party risks transforming itself definitely into a 'party of death' because of its choices on bioethical questions."

Given the history, the new prefect's return as lead-off hitter would've been more surprising by its absence... but far beyond the Gateway City, the talk, teaching and tensions among the churchfolk keep escalating at a dramatic clip with 17 days to go 'til 4 November.

Rather than post texts, here are links to some of the latest:
  • From the Synod in Rome, in advance of the US bishops' highly-anticipated post-election discussion on political support for abortion, NCR features a mix of synodal and electoral musings from the conference's president and vice-president -- Cardinal Francis George of Chicago and Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson -- along with Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, who additionally -- and pointedly -- gave over his latest column for the DC Standard to the question of "Who Speaks for the Church?" Also of note is an open letter from Mary Gail Frawley O'Dea -- the child sex abuse specialist recruited by the USCCB to address the scandals at its 2002 June Meeting in Dallas -- to her bishop, Charlotte's Peter Jugis, on the tone of the church's pro-life message. (On a related note, by all accounts North Carolina remains one of the handful of battlegrounds where the presidential race is stillĀ a complete toss-up.)
  • Elsewhere in the mix, Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson tackles the proposed Freedom of Choice Act, the editors of America take up the meaning and import of "Voting One's Conscience"; newly-ordained Bishop Vann Johnston of Springfield-Cape Girardeau celebrates Trig Palin before noting that "it is a correct judgment of conscience that one would commit moral evil by voting for a candidate who takes a permissive stand on intrinsically evil actions when there is a morally acceptable alternative"; and from Archbishop Tim Dolan of Milwaukee -- himself a St Louis native -- a stout defense of the munus docendi as expressed in this cycle, with an appeal to the legacy of Cardinal Joseph Ritter, the Gateway City prelate who desegregated its Catholic schools six years before Brown v. Board overturned "separate but equal" as the law of the land.

All that said, it's gonna be a long 16 days.... Regardless, buona domenica a tutti. And Go Phils.

Emily Rasinski/St Louis Post-Dispatch