Wednesday, December 22, 2010


     Q.  A Catholic myself, I’ve always wondered how Catholic pro-abort politicians and advocates square themselves with the reality of mortal sin when they go to confession.    Do you suppose they confess it, vow “firm purpose of amendment”  with fingers crossed and then go on to receive Communion  or what?
    A.  Some do I’m sure.  But most take advantage of a theological heresy that they are convinced provides them with a loophole but which has been condemned by the Church in an encyclical in 1975. It’s a thing I first bumped into in 1946 when my roommate who was taking theology from a liberal Benedictine…in contra-distinction to me who was sitting at the feet of Ernie…told me he didn’t have to worry about going the limit with his girlfriend back in Red Wing, Minnesota because it wasn’t a mortal sin.
      Q.  How in the world did he think that?
        A. The liberal Benedictine said to commit a mortal sin you would have to subjectively reject God, that particular acts alone are not enough to constitute mortal sin and because he decidedly did not reject God he was in the clear.   That’s not what Ernie said.  He said it is wrong to say that particular acts are not enough to constitute mortal sin.  Later the Holy See issued Persona Humana which cleared it up and ratified what Ernie told us. 
      Q.  Interesting.  But I would think that it would have been obvious from the very beginning.
       A.  But very human rationalization intruded.  I learned not very long ago that this whole controversy was sneaked into a doctrine called “Fundamental Option.”   The doctrine before this intriguing bit of heresy was sneaked in was not controversial.  It maintains that each person gradually develops an orientation for his life to be either for or against God. 
      That comes from Augustine and is connected to his famous two cities—the City of God whose members love God even to contempt of themselves and the City of Man whose members love themselves even to the contempt of God.   Somehow the bad guys embroidered the City of God portion to say you really have to denounce God willfully in order to commit mortal sin and be estranged from Him.   So once again Ernie was far ahead of his time in anticipating Persona Humana.
        I always thought Greeley was taking great liberties with theology in his writing and political advocacy but could never pinpoint how until I was told what teaching this heresy is fallaciously connected to—“Fundamental Option.”   Harmless sounding title.   Not long ago I asked a theologian whom I view as a direct intellectual heir of Ernie to discuss it at Catholic Ciitizens, Fr. Brian Mullady OP who did a brilliant job.
          Q.  As good as Ernie?
         A. You will understand with no disparagement to Fr. Mullady that in this octogenarian’s judgment no one is as good as Ernie 1946-50.
          Q.  Are you overjoyed with the Census that shows growth of congressional seats in states where  Republicans are strong?
         A.  Yes but tempered by the worry that here in Illinois where we Republicans have picked up four seats from The Squid, the redistricting process which will be controlled by Madigan, Cullerton and Quinn could by redrawing the map to eliminate one seat as required can distort the districts so as to minimize chances for Republicans to win.
           Q.  But I read in the blog The Illinois Review…in an article by a former Republican state senator…that Madigan is so fundamentally decent a chap that he will not stretch district dimensions and will continue to be fair and square.
          A.   Ah yes.  Yes indeed.  Have you taken a look at the 4th district that is represented by Rep. Luis [Little Looie] Gutierrez?   If you hurl a raw egg at a car windshield you will notice how it splatters with rivulets here and there.  That’s how the 4th looks because it was drawn so as to include maximum Hispanic voters who elected Little Looie enabling him to set forth on his dream to be the ranking demagogue for immediate amnesty of illegals.  No, I’m sure the coming map drawing will reflect the same fairness as exhibited in the architecture of the 4th.   


  1. the redistricting process which will be controlled by Madigan, Cullerton and Quinn could by redrawing the map to eliminate one seat as required can distort the districts so as to minimize chances for Republicans to win

    We'll counterbalance that here in Wisconsin. But who cares? In 2 years, Illinois will be BK and a subdivision of Indiana.

  2. I suspect that many Catholics subscribe to the ‘primacy of conscience’ which became the catchphrase in the wake of Vat II. While not anything new – one was always expected to “follow one’s conscience” - the difference post-Vat II was that people now felt they could decide unilaterally what conscience consisted of. Basically it came down to: “Well if I don’t feel it’s wrong, then it’s not wrong – for me”. Thus the slide into Relativism (which was Modernism under a new title…) which the Holy Father has inveighed against repeatedly.

    What the Church has always meant by ‘following one’s conscience’ is following a rightly-ordered or informed conscience – a conscience informed by the teachings of Christ, handed on to us for centuries in the Catholic Church.

    Today, as many centuries ago some Catholics don’t want to listen to the Church’s teaching when it conflicts with their personal preferences. It is not new. People still have “itching ears” and look to others to tell them what they want to hear. But that is not Catholicism.

  3. The 4th CD is an abortion, but it isn't a partisan gerymander. Rather, it is the result of the Voting Rights Act requirement to create "majority-minority districts.

    To create a third black majority district, part of the South Side must be connected to the West Side and near west suburbs. That separates the Hispanic southwest side and Hispanic northwest side; linking them requires that ludicrous loop out to the edge of Cook County.

    No, for a real example of partisan contortion, see the 17th CD.

    The remap will probably hurt Republicans, but not that much. The Democrats controlled the 2000 remap, so it is already stretched in their favor.

    That was probably a contributing factor in the swing of four seats in 2010. However, that swing
    leaves Republicans exposed.

    If the Democrats try to remap their way back to 12 seats, I think that will backfire, and they may not regain any seats or at most one.

    What is most likely (I think) is that the Democrats will eliminate one Republican seat for the state's loss of a seat, protect all their incumbents, and attack one of the weaker new Republicans - probably Dold or Walsh.

    As to abortion and Catholic politicians: IANAC, but I think it has nothing to do with any complicated ideas about mortal sin and rejection of God. It is rather the idea that a public official should not use his authority to impose moral rules that derive from personal sectarian beliefs.

    If my Adventarian Church says that eating chicken on Sunday is wrong, I must not eat chicken on Sunday - but I have no business imposing the Church's rule on non-Adventarians as a matter of general law.

    You may have seen this catchphrase: "If you think abortion is wrong, don't have one" - with the implied addition, "don't interfere with others having abortions."

    The analogy fails, IMO, because abortion is an act done to a second, unwilling party - the unborn child. "If you think slavery is wrong, don't have a slave"? That's obviously fallacious.

    But the argument is plausible enough for the average politician who needs to rationalize "pro-choice" votes.