NiceDeb has a video excerpt of Rick Santorum’s address at Lee’s Summit, Missouri, in which he again said what needs to be said, that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops should have known better than to trust the Left.
“They got what they deserved”, he said. “They fell into bed with the secular left, and then wondered why they forced them to do what the secular left wants them to do.”
I still have not seen video of the entire speech, but have heard from attendees who told me they were deeply moved by the speech, as a whole. This wasn’t an isolated remark. He’s been saying it in all of his interviews, including one the other day with Hugh Hewitt, which I wrote about.
I will correct Rick Santorum on one thing that he says in the video. He understands the difference between a “right” and an “entitlement” more than most people do, and so I don’t think I’m going to say anything here that he doesn’t know and agree with, but the way that he expressed the topic of the “right to healthcare”, he seems to imply that healthcare is not (in an absolute sense) a right. Healthcare is a right just as self-defense is a right. Everyone has a right to own a gun because they have a right to self-defense, but that does not mean the federal government must provide guns for people. By the same token, everyone has a right to healthcare because they have a right to life, but that doesn’t mean the federal government must provide it. There is a difference between “rights” and “entitlements”, and he knows that. He could just do a better job of explaining the difference in these speeches sometimes. Because people have a right to defend themselves, we have law enforcement officers who provide that defense. That is government providing for defense of people whether or not they own a gun, however we all know, I hope, that the best defense is the cop that is closest to you. A federal agent at a desk in Washington isn’t going to provide much help in a domestic violence situation in Los Angeles. Catholic teaching on subsidiarity, that government closest to the people is best, is consistent with American values, that local government is best. We are “entitled” to healthcare the same as we are “entitled” (because we are human beings with dignity deserving of protection) to a police force, but we’re not going to be any better served by a national healthcare system than we would be served by federal agents in Washington dictating to the Los Angeles police force on how to deal with a particular domestic violence situation on Mulholland Drive. If that victim has to rely on a police force operating according to strict rules handed down from Washington, then that victim is not going to be well-served. I sure wish the USCCB would acknowledge the importance of subsidiarity, and I wish Rick Santorum would express a little better what “rights” and “entitlements” are. He knows the difference, and can explain it, I’m sure.
It’s clear to me that many people, particularly non-Catholics may not be able to understand what this is all about because they haven’t done their homework on this issue and also, perhaps, because they don’t understand how important freedom really is in Catholicism. I am hopeful that I can explain some things about it for several reasons. First, I am a faithful Catholic myself (a convert). Second, I am also a Passionist, and believe me, there are Passionists who sympathize with the Left and Passionists who sympathize with the Right and we are all still Passionists (and Catholic, and Christian). I have a friend whom I love who is a Passionist and who served as a community organizer in Chicago, the very sort of activity that I have written many very critical articles about. We disagree on a lot, but we both love Jesus, we love each other, and we love our fellow man. We are Passionists! We can disagree, even strongly, and it doesn’t mean we don’t love each other. Third, I covered this topic (the religious left) for David Horowitz for almost a year, and finally, Rick is my friend.
Rick Santorum is a faithful Catholic. He’s a daily Mass attendee in that he attends daily Mass whenever it’s possible for him to do so in the midst of a presidential campaign. I have said many times in regard to what friendship is, “We are friends to each other as much as we are Christ to each other.” Rick Santorum has been that to me, and so that is why I say that he is my friend. It doesn’t mean I worship him. Tony Layne has been Christ to me. Jerry Wilson has been Christ to me. Stuart James has been Christ to me. Sister Lisa has been Christ to me. I have Jewish friends who have been “Christ to me” in the sense that they have shown great humility and sacrificial love in their dealings with me. I am not an easy person to be Christ to, believe me. Rick Santorum is my friend in the sense that he has shown me in a very personal way that he is authentically humble and sacrificial in his heart and that he puts love and truth ahead of worldly gain, and more specifically, ahead of political gain. You may disagree with me on that, but I know him and I know it to be a fact. So, what I’m trying to say here is that it doesn’t matter if you think his criticism of the bishops is politically beneficial or politically detrimental. He says what he says because he believes it’s the RIGHT thing to do, and for no other reason.
Rick is saying what needs to be said. It is true that we have a new president of the USCCB, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, and so we should certainly not lay blame at his feet. I have said I’d like an Archbishop Dolan teddy bear that I could hug every time he does something awesome. I do love him, and appreciate him very much, and I do not really lay blame at the feet of any one person (particularly Archbishop Dolan), nor of all the bishops, nor of my own bishop whom I dearly love and appreciate, but it is true that the USCCB as an organization has done what Rick says they have done. They have gotten into bed with the Left, and that has ensured the Left’s ability to maintain power and trample on us this way. As Rick says, they should have known better. Many of us, including Rick Santorum, were telling them these things for a long time, as we believe is our duty for the good of the Church and for the good of the country.
In a way, the USCCB has become something of a farce. I say that because so many people, even many Catholics, are of the mistaken belief that the USCCB is an authoritative body over all Catholics in America. In fact, it is each bishop who has authority in his particular diocese. But the bottom line for all Catholics is that each person must do what they believe God wants them to do. Each person must have freedom of conscience or else no one would ever freely choose to become Catholic, right? Freedom of conscience is a big deal for Catholics, and that is why you are now seeing Catholics (finally) close ranks on the issue of the White House attacking our freedom of conscience.
It’s still important to hold their feet to the fire, though, despite the fact that we are clearly closing ranks on this.
Will we do it again? Will American Catholics put their consciences to sleep? Will we discover excuses for begging out of the political battle that our bishops have now joined? Count on it: some of the best liberal minds at our Jesuit-run universities are working on that project right now. Given a year, they will produce plenty of arguments in favor of the Obama administration, and against the Catholic hierarchy.
This is the story of the past 40 years, isn’t it? Church leaders take a clear stand on a controversial issue, and then dozens of dissenting Catholics—priests and pundits and theologians and even the occasional bishop—examine the argument minutely, finding difficulties and loopholes and exceptions and objections and nuances, and conclude that the Church is not teaching with authority and Catholics can safely ignore the official statements.
Following the decision of the Obama Administration’s HHS department to dispense with religious liberty and force religious groups to violate their consciences, it seems the Bishops are roused from their slumber. It seems. I am not so sure. They may still be asleep.
Like our Jewish neighbors, we Catholics have always believed that God chooses us and gives us the supernatural gift of faith. It’s not that we decide our faith. You bet, we freely decide how firmly and generously we will live out our faith, but we are “born into” a Church. Faith is a gift from God given us on the day of our baptism into His Church.
Just like we’re “born into” a natural family. We are a member of a human family. That family is often flawed and imperfect. In fact, there are times when we’re angry at it and might even drift away from family events. But, family membership is in our blood.
So it is with our spiritual family, the Church. Oh, we may get upset with her to be sure; we may even drift away from her. But, she never leaves us. The Church is in our supernatural DNA.
I agree, my beloved Archbishop, that I was born into a spiritual family when I was baptized, but I was not born naturally into it. You see, I am an adult convert. My parents were Baptists. It took me over two decades to find the Church because I didn’t see it, despite having many Catholic friends. Unless people know what Catholicism is, they aren’t going to see it as being different from anything else, and if the USCCB is getting in bed with people who support abortion in the name of helping people like me (I’m poor) then naturally they’re not going to know what Catholicism is. It will just be seen as just another social club, and if it is a social club that has sold out to the Left (or to the Right, for that matter), then we can’t really blame people for hating us…can we?
Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote:
“There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church—which is, of course, quite a different thing.
These millions can hardly be blamed for hating Catholics because Catholics “adore statues;” because they “put the Blessed Mother on the same level with God;” because they “say indulgence is a permission to commit sin;” because the Pope “is a Fascist;” because the Church “is the defender of Capitalism.” If the Church taught or believed any one of these things, it should be hated, but the fact is that the Church does not believe nor teach any one of them. It follows then that the hatred of the millions is directed against error and not against truth. As a matter of fact, if we Catholics believed all of the untruths and lies which were said against the Church, we probably would hate the Church a thousand times more than they do.
I am glad Rick Santorum speaks out against the radical Left wherever it is found….even if it is found at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. I know that he does this for the common good (a term misused by the Left), so that Catholics (and everyone else) may have the freedom in America to choose to do the right thing. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are no threat to the Catholic Church, nor vice versa, but the leftists in the Church are a threat to both, in my humble opinion, and it’s important that they be called out for it by Catholics who know better. It doesn’t mean we don’t love our Catholic friends on the Left. It means we DO love them, we love God, we love the Church and we love our country.
Freedom and love are what we are about. Not either/or. Both/and.
Know this. Rick is running for president because Obamacare threatens the lives of children like his daughter Bella. I have heard him say many times, publicly, “If it were not for Obamacare, I wouldn’t be running.” He, a faithful Catholic father of seven, still deeply in love with his wife and a protector of his children, particularly his disabled daughter Bella, has been personally betrayed by the Catholic hierarchy here in America and by lay leftist Catholics at the USCCB who failed to stand against top-down medicine that results in rationing. They should have known better than to walk down that path to begin with, and he is right to call them out, for the sake of his daughter and for others like her. Rick Santorum’s candidacy is, when it all boils down, a man defending his family because he loves them so very much. Any criticism of him should be done with that in mind, and as a disabled mom of four under the poverty line, I will defend Rick Santorum’s candidacy with every ounce of energy I have until he is President. And then, I will defend his presidency with every ounce of energy I have, as well….because I am the faithful. It’s what we do.
God bless the bishops. God bless my friend Rick Santorum, and God bless America.