I Find Her Shallow Faith Disturbing

I normally try to not kick around the Catholic Church too much. While I certainly have some problems with its history and doctrine, my philosophy of “do what you want, just don’ try to impose it on me” means that I have little concern over its internal practices. I only get concerned when their beliefs and practices force themselves to my attention.


For example, their reactions to some of the proposed policies for ObamaCare. Their threat to shut down their hospitals should there be attempts to coerce them into providing birth control or abortions is a potent and valid one; their hospitals represent a very large segment of health care in the US, and they have an absolute right to exercise their rights in such a way.


But every now and then, I’ll see some prominent figure tout their proud Catholicism — while insisting that they can just blow off major aspects of official Church doctrine and beliefs.


I tend to see this mainly in Democratic politicians. The Church has some very strict prohibitions about birth control and abortion — they’re fiercely opposed to both. I happen to think they’re nuts on the first one and a little too extreme on the second, but hey — I’m not a Catholic, and no one is forced or coerced into becoming a Catholic. You wanna be a Catholic and live by those rules, be my guest. If the Church tries to put its beliefs into law, then I’ll have an issue, but until then — whatever.


Where I do get slightly miffed, though, is when the aforementioned soi-disant Catholic politicians try to gain the benefit of their “faith” while touting their rejections of key aspects — the aforementioned doctrines on abortion and birth control (which, as I feebly understand, are pretty much the same thing in the eyes of the church.) A good example would be when Joe Biden showed up with his Ash Wednesday mark. But the most egregious one has to be the discussion of faith by former (thank god) Speaker and current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-PALAMINO!). (Look it up.) Pelosi said, apparently, that the Church (and, apparently, too many members) have this whole “conscience thing” that they really, really need to get over, and that her both possessing and having used ovaries and a uterus puts her in a superior position than the Pope to make judgments about issues involving reproduction.


This actually reminds me of some comedian once making a similar statement towards the Pope — “you no play-a da game, you no make-a da rules!” And I have to admit, it has a certain appeal to me, intellectually.


But it is nothing short of a gross violation of several core Catholic teachings, as I understand them.


Here’s another thing I probably understand imperfectly about Catholicism: it’s a very hierarchical faith, quite possibly the most hierarchical of the major faiths. I know that Judaism and Islam have no equivalent authority figure to the Pope, and nor do most other Christian faiths. In fact, in some cases, that non-hierarchical structure has been a great strength to some of them; during the great purges and persecutions of the Jews, the lack of a central authority has helped them to survive. And in Islam, one of their greatest strengths is that they have no single authority that we can deal with, threaten, entice, or just plain talk to who can put some kind of restraints on the crazies.


But the Church does. It’s spent a couple of millennia creating and preserving and expanding and perpetuating that central authority. It’s fought like hell to keep it (in the literal sense, on many occasions, but — thank heavens — not recently), and it’s pretty much one of the defining aspects of the Church.


And here is a leader of great power and influence (shudder) who is not just defying the teachings of the Church, but openly dismissing them. Worse, she’s proclaiming her right to do so, and declaring that all Catholics should put their own beliefs and ideas and principles above that of the Church — while remaining members of the Church in good standing.


For decades, this has been so with the Church in the United States. Politicians have proclaimed their faith, and benefited publicly from that, while cheerfully backing laws and policies that violate what the Church says is right. President Kennedy took it on, but struck a fairly decent balance — he said that he had obligations both as president and as a Catholic, and would keep the two separate. And, I think, he did a halfway decent job — not that it came up too much in those pre-Roe, pre-Loving days.


His successors, though — his brother Ted, Pelosi, Biden, Mario and Andrew Cuomo, Jerry Brown, and a host (no pun intended) of others — have gone considerably farther, and the Church is at risk of losing much of its authority and credibility.


While Googling up some info for this piece, I came across a rather remarkable article on this very issue, written by two very prominent Catholic scholar and layman. They lay out a compelling summary of the problem and propose a solution that I think has some merit.


As a non-Catholic, I look at much of their arguments and find myself sneering a little. I wholeheartedly support birth control, support euthenasia under restrictions, and accept abortion. Their argument hold no sway for me whatsoever.


Which is fine, because I’m not their target audience. Their audience is the Church itself — directly, through appeal to the authority figures, and indirectly, through trying to get the laity to help them push their arguments. And on that basis, this infidel thinks they make a damned darned good case.

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  • Anonymous

    Shorter JT:  I think a lot of Catholicism is bullshit, and I find the fact that Pelosi agrees with me disturbing.

    • Shorter Chico: I have nothing to say, but I get paid for clicking “Post” so…

      • Anonymous

        I wish I could like that twice.

    • Anonymous

      Chico, I think that in some ways I’m a better Catholic than she is. I share a lot of her disagreement with Catholic teachings, but 1) I don’t pretend to be a good Catholic, and B) I don’t work to actively sabotage their beliefs.


      • Anonymous

        I don’t know – your post is short on her pretending to be a good Catholic.  It’s an unfortunate truth that nowadays you can’t elected to anything except Berkeley City Council without beating a bible and a few amens.  Pelosi’s pretty close to Berkeley.  Maybe she goes along with the rituals of Catholicism.

        Strangely enough, a hundred years ago there was more tolerance for  atheism and agnosticism in politics.  I think it was William Taft who actually said that he didn’t think Jesus was God.  Can you imagine any presidential candidate saying that today?

        • Anonymous

          It would help, Chico, if you actually READ the link, where Pelosi puts her own opinions on moral matters above that of the Church.


          • retired.military

            Pelosi even tried to introduce her own version of doctrine into Catholicism and that earned her  a smackdown from either a cardinal or the pope.  IMO  Pelosi , Kerry and any other proabortion politician should be excommunicated (and done so publically).

          • Why should today be different from every other day?

          • Anonymous

            I read it.  There’s nothing about her even going to church, let alone pretending to be devout.

        • Funny you would attack Taft, who rarely missed church on Sunday, in the same fashion as the Evangelical Protestant fundamentalists did.  He was a Unitarian, which church does not believe in the Trinity, or Christ as God.  The attacks were so virulent and malicious that Taft became the first Republican to draw a majority of the Catholic vote (based on results in Catholic precincts; there was no reliable polling then).

          Of course, the attackers were Democrats, so you have that in common.

    • retired.military

      A. Pelosi is supposedly catholic.
      b.  Your views on catholics are not suprising.  But hey you know they only spend billions on charities and trying to relieve suffering.  I know that having someone actually doing something about those things instead of just talking about it to make themselves look good is anathamame (spelling) to liberals.
      c You just cant believe that someone would be morally against the slaughter of innocent childrent.
      d.  Please keep your views on catholics as it actually makes catholics look good.

    • I’ve found that there’s a lot that people think is Catholicism and then think is bullshit…  ignorance abounds… and Chico, you seem to have a Master’s degree in ignorance so I can’t be surprised at your comment…  

      It’d be interesting at some point to delve into what specifically you think is bullshit though a part of me thinks it’d be a complete waste of time…

      • Jim Addison

        Listen to that part of you.

      • Anonymous

        Rick, we’ve already established that you’re a cafeteria Catholic, just like Pelosi, only you choose different things from the cafeteria and leave different things.

        You ignore Catholic social doctrine and Catholic opposition to the death penalty, for example.

        • Actually Chico… you’ve established nothing of the sort…  what you have established is that you’re well versed in confusing your opinions with facts… but not much else…  you’ve also established that you’re quite ignorant about a lot of things yet consider yourself an expert in those same things… but we’re not attempting to establish your asshat credentials as that’s already been done and quite effectively…

          So… do you care to get specific about what you find to be bullshit within Catholicism?  I suspect the answer is no… and I wouldn’t be surprised…

          • Anonymous

            Well, I notice that you answered none of my points contrasting your opinions on the death penalty and economic policy with that of the Church and just spewed a few insults.

            But I’ll play.   It was really JT’s criticisms of the Church that I was referring to, but what I find bullshit about the Church is the utterly corrupt hierarchy, which for hundreds of years lived off of the labor of people enslaved by conquistadors carrying the cross, and more recently has done its best to cover up for too many depraved priests. 

          • I like the Catholic concept of subsidiarity when it comes to social justice… and completely see the argument against the death penalty to be sound and consistent with the Church’s pro-life position… I admit to struggling with its abolition but am not one who stridently opposes the Church’s view on it…  Catholics live along every point of the spectrum as to what might be defined as a seeker and what might be defined as a saint…  to suggest that those who fall more toward the seeker side are cafeteria Catholics is to exhibit complete ignorance and bigotry… but who can be surprised that you Chico would go there? 

            The Church has historically sinned… and acknowledges those sins, including the latest sex abuse horrors…

            Yet human beings, in and out of the Church, f*ck up consistently… to use your argument then, humanity is bullshit…

            I can’t go there… though there certainly are some within the human race who I think give credence to the theory… some who I’d say post regularly here on Wizbang in fact…

          • Anonymous

            Isn’t it possible that all religion is a tool of the devil?   That is, the Scripture itself provides clues, just enough to show that Someone has a sense of humor.  The story of Lucifer himself, the Garden of Eden.

            When humans are warned against hubris and original sin, yet human religious leaders (99.9% men) claim to speak for God and claim power for that, is it that “humanity is bullshit,” or that the Church as a human institution must also be bullshit?  After all, wouldn’t the crafty devil work in that way, not by claiming evil, but by corrupting humans to think they were fronting for God Himself?  I prefer the Buddhist idea – “the Buddha is a dried turd.”

            I attach a picture I took last week – it’s an advertisement on the side of the Milan cathedral, on repair scaffolding, celebrating vacuous materialism.  Sums up the decadence and corruption of the Church.

          • Fail.  The advertisement is affixed to the structure leading to the local Metro station… you’re an idiot Chico… or more accurately, you cling to idiotic notions that make you look like quite the fool…

          • Anonymous

            Wrong, the Metro sign is in the foreground.  The ad is attached to scaffolding on the Duomo itself.  Here’s a closer view.

          • I stand corrected and found other pictures to substantiate it.  The Cathedral has been under repair for some time now and the advertisements are indeed affixed to the scaffolding used in the restoration efforts….  my apologies Chico… you were correct… 

          • Anonymous

            Rick, for the record, I think you’re a good guy.

            We are probably pretty close on a lot of things.

  • jim_m

    That’s right.  The whole problem with religion is this sin and morality thing. If only Christianity could dump the whole sin-salvation thingy it would be a whole lot easier for everyone to just do whatever they liked.

    The dems hate religion just like they hate the Constitution and the rule of law.  It restricts them from sh*tting all over everyone else. 

  • Anonymous

    Let’s just say that Nancy’s Catholicism is one of convenience.

  • Anonymous

    “I find her lack of faith … disturbing.”

    • retired.military

      “”I find her lack of faith … disturbing.”      ”

      Here let me fix that for you

      “”I find her total absence of faith … disturbing.”      “

    • herddog505

      I must stick up for SanFran Nan here.  She may be very (ahem) confused about the teachings of her church, but I will give her credit that she has FAITH, i.e. she believes in God, the divinity of Jesus Christ, and salvation through His life, death, and resurrection.  She may therefore be a good Christian, but NOT a good Catholic.

      • Does not compute.

        • herddog505

          I argue that it does: one can be a good Christian* without being a good Catholic, though the converse is not true.


          (*) Defined broadly as belief in the Triune God and the divinity of Jesus Christ.

          • I do believe that a Christian can be good, as you’ve defined good broadly, without being a good Catholic… I can’t agree with the converse being false… that to me does not compute… maybe you want to explain what you believe a good Catholic is…

          • Anonymous

            I think you’re going a little too deep here, Rick. What herd seems to be saying that “Catholic” is a subset of “Christian,” so to be “Catholic” is to be “Christian.” Therefore, if you’re a “good Catholic,” you’re by definition also a “good Christian.”

            Where you might have been derailed is how a lot of people define “Christian” itself as a subset of “Christianity,” usually as a non-denominational sort of faith that — in my experience — tends towards evangelism and fundamentalism.

            I think I can get a slightly better perspective on these things, being outside the whole “Christian” circle…


          • I can’t square this notion that a good Catholic isn’t necessarily a good Christian… that is what does not compute with me… someone square that with me and I’ll attempt not to go deeper… though Catholicism is arguably, the deepest of the deep…

          • Anonymous

            Re-read herd’s statement: it says “if you’re a good Catholic, you’re also a good Christian; but if you’re a good Christian, you’re not necessarily a good Catholic.” You’re reading it backwards.


          • Aight… I can see how you read it that way but we’ll need Herd to weigh in… by the way, Christians are, logically, a subset of Catholics…  Catholics were your initial Christians… and then folks decided to split away from Catholicism…  not sure that plays into this though I’m sure that’s gonna garner some reactions…

          • Anonymous

            That’s historically speaking. I’m talking Venn diagrams. The Christians left the Catholic “circle” and established one of their own. It’s arguable whether or not they were two separate spheres, but now it’s quite clear that “Christian” contains “Catholic” — ask any Catholic if they’re Christian, and it’s a definite “yes.” Ask a Christian if they’re a Catholic, and it’s a crap shoot — maybe, maybe not. Most importantly, both groups recognize the other as being within the sphere of “Christian.” (Well, with a few oddball exceptions.)


          • I see your point… though unfortunately, there are definitiely those whose Venn diagrams would separate the Catholic and the Christian circles… and I thought perhaps Herd was heading in that direction… I see where there’s a possibility I’m mis-reading that now…

          • herddog505

            I think Jay Tea has hit the nail on the head for me, but I’ll throw in my two cents:

            In my view, Catholics are a subset of Christians (I would even go so far as to argue that they are the “original Christians”).  One can therefore be a good Christian (a Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, etc.) without being a good Catholic.  However, one cannot be a good Catholic – defined as accepting the doctrine and dogma of the Catholic Church – without being a Christian because the core tenent of Catholicism, as it is for other Christian faiths, is belief in the Triune God and the divinity of Jesus Christ.

            Where SanFran Nan and many other Catholics are wrong, IMO, is that they look upon Catholic dogma as something that they can pick and choose (I believe that the term for this is “cafeteria Catholics”; I note that the phenomenon is not confined to the Catholic faith, by the way).  If they can’t in good conscience accept ALL the Church’s teachings, then they really are fooling themselves if they believe that they are Catholic.  Indeed, if their “conscience” tells them that the Church is wrong on some issue, they it seems to me that they have a moral duty to leave the Church and really ought to consider why they joined in the first place.  Did they sleep through catechism classes?  Did the priest lie to them: “Oh, no!  You don’t have to follow ALL these rules.  Actually, don’t even think of them as rules at all!  No!  There’s just sort of helpful suggestions.  Just let your conscience be your guide.”

  • Of course the catholic church is bullshit, to declare one man as ‘holy’ is a mockery of God. Nowhere in the Bible is the word ‘religion’, religion is the invention of man, and not God.
    A christian is asked in The Bible to live the lifestyle as Jesus demonstrated; naturally God knows that we fail a number of times. But as is stated in the Bible “God loves the sinner, but hates the sin” should be self explanatory. Pushing abortion, killing 40 million babies is not christian like.

    • Where is one man declared holy Inge?  Be specific.

      • The man declared ‘holy father’ is the catholic church own pope!

        • herddog505

          I think you’re making too much of an honorific.  “Holy Father” is an ecclesiastical title not unlike “The Reverend Mister” or “His Eminence” (or even the civil title “The Honorable”); I suspect that the Pope would be the first to ackowledge that only one man has ever been “holy” in the sense of being Divine.  The Pope is merely His vicar.

  • herddog505

    Jay TeaPelosi said, apparently, that the Church (and, apparently, too many members) have this whole “conscience thing” that they really, really need to get over, and that her both possessing and having used ovaries and a uterus puts her in a superior position than the Pope to make judgments about issues involving reproduction.

    Here’s another thing I probably understand imperfectly about Catholicism: it’s a very hierarchical faith, quite possibly the most hierarchical of the major faiths.

    I’ve heard a few Catholics trot out the “individual conscience” defense, and I’ve frankly been bewildered by it every time I’ve heard it.  Where do they get this idea???  As I understand the Catholic Church, the Bible and its interpretation as expressed through church doctrine are NOT matters for discussion or “individual conscience”: they are the LAW of the church*.  Now, one can disobey the (L)aw and be a good Catholic: this is what confession and penance are for, but the intent in these things is NOT a “get out of jail free card”, but rather a candid admission that one has broken the (L)aw, that one is sorry for it, and that one will attempt to stop doing it.

    But some people go further than merely saying, “Meh, I can do what I want so long as I go to confession afterward”: they try to claim that the act condemned by the church is not a sin in the first place because their “conscience” tells them that it is not.  I wonder if they ever stop to question just who is forming that “conscience”: God or the devil.  I’m pretty sure that Eve’s “conscience” told her that it was just fine to eat the apple… If our consciences were such infallible guides, then what need would we have of the church at all?  Of the Bible?  Indeed, of salvation?

    But I do not completely discount conscience: it has a role to play.  In this case, the person must look at the teachings of the church, examine his own conscience and beliefs, and determine if he is or should be a member of that church (this is the point of catechisms and Confirmation in various faiths: are the tenants of the faith clearly understood and freely accepted?).  There are many faiths that I could not in good conscience accept, and I would feel myself a hypocrite or a liar if I tried.  It seems to me that these “conscience Catholics” need to understand that they are not suited for their church and move on.


    (*) Other faiths have similar views of their dogma and doctrine.

    • Anonymous

      Canon Law is like Sharia Law in that respect – you have to follow it, and mostly there’s no room for individual reasoning.


      • herddog505

        Invidious connotation aside, you are mostly correct.  However, I argue that individual reason always plays a role in solving the logical problem:

        I wish to do X.  Does the (L)aw have anything to say regarding X?  If so, would my proposed action conflict with that (L)aw?  If so, then is my desire to do X so strong that I will ignore – break – that (L)aw?  Am I prepared to suffer the penalties for this?

        Conceptually, it’s no different than obeying traffic laws.  The difference lies in the penalties.  Jaywalk and get a ticket.  Disobey God’s law (salvation aside) and go to hell.

      • Complete and utter buffoonery… and something evidentiary of someone who has read little of Catholic theology or the writings of Catholic theologians… 

      • Anonymous

        With a few trivial differences, Chico. Under Canon Law, the only punishments are spiritual, not temporal — it’s been a few centuries since the Catholic Church has been able to inflict corporal punishment on its members. Second, one can freely reject Canon Law and walk away; Sharia law is imposed on everyone, and heresy is a capital offense. Finally, one has to willingly choose to accept Canon law; it is never imposed on the unwilling.

        But apart from those hardly-worth-mentioning differences, yeah, they’re just alike.


  • Anonymous

    Interesting article, but no, the Church does *NOT* see abortion and birth control as the same thing (except for those cases where someone is using abortion as birth control).

    The Church sees abortion as wrong since it is killing an innocent human life.  (Which is scientifically indisputable.  Philosophically, people can debate if the human life is a person, but scientifically, it clearly is a human life.)  Abortion is legal in the United States for the entire nine months of pregnancy, late term abortions are done up until 36 weeks of gestation.  Hopefully you will agree that at least at 36 weeks gestation that abortion is killing an innocent human life.

    The Church is opposed to artificial birth control (natural family planning is fine) because she believes it harms the relationship, that it makes sex less intimate and less loving.  You end up using your spouse instead of giving yourself to your spouse.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe your battle is with God and not with His Church – a more convenient target?