Faith, Stones and the Top Ten Catholic Teachings Rick Santorum Rejects

[Photo by Gage Skidmore]

If you are one of those who “enjoys” the topsy-turvy nature of the election season, the only real show to watch these past few months has been the Republican Primary. I will say that I have managed only to watch the debates via the filter of my friends on Twitter, but still it has been fascinating. Like every arm-chair political pundit, I too have been wondering who has the best shot at unseating President Obama – for the record, I think John Huntsman was the only legit threat – and now that it’s down to the final four, the past few weeks have been pretty wild.

One of the issues that keep arising is the boldness with which Rick Santorum has been speaking the ways his faith influences his politics and should influence the laws of the United States. I am not a fan, but I get why some people might like him. No one is going to fault him for not speaking his mind including saying that 1960′s John Kennedy’s Speech about the separation of church and state made him want to vomit.  His “throw up” comment combined with his comments about the snobbery of a college education and a growing list of other provocative statements may be moving him closer to the Dan Quale and Sarah Palin Quotable Club than the White House. But I guess we’ll see . . .

In any case, one of the Santorum posts that has been going around is the Top Ten Catholic Teachings Santorum Rejects while Obsessing about Birth Control post by Juan Cole. His list is as follows:

1. So for instance, Pope John Paul II was against anyone going to war against Iraq I think you’ll find that Rick Santorum managed to ignore that Catholic teaching.

2.The Conference of Catholic Bishops requires that health care be provided to all Americans. I.e., Rick Santorum’s opposition to universal health care is a betrayal of the Catholic faith he is always trumpeting.

3. The Catholic Church opposes the death penalty for criminals in almost all situations. (Santorum largely supports executions.)

4. The US Conference of Bishops has urged that the federal minimum wage be increased, for the working poor. Santorum in the Senate repeatedly voted against the minimum wage.

5. The bishops want welfare for all needy families, saying “We reiterate our call for a minimum national welfare benefit that will permit children and their parents to live in dignity. A decent society will not balance its budget on the backs of poor children.” Santorum is a critic of welfare.

6. The US bishops say that “the basic rights of workers must be respected–the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions…”. Santorum, who used to be supportive of unions in the 1990s, has now, predictably, turned against them.

7. Catholic bishops demand the withdrawal of Israel from Palestinian territories occupied in 1967. Rick Santorum denies that there are any Palestinians, so I guess he doesn’t agree with the bishops on that one.

8. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops ripped into Arizona’s law on treatment of immigrants, Cardinal Roger Mahony characterized Arizona’s S.B. 1070 as “the country’s most retrogressive, mean-spirited, and useless anti-immigrant law,” saying it is based on “totally flawed reasoning: that immigrants come to our country to rob, plunder, and consume public resources.” He even suggested that the law is a harbinger of an American Nazism! Santorum attacks ‘anchor babies’ or the provision of any services to children of illegal immigrants born and brought up in the US.

9. The Bishops have urged that illegal immigrants not be treated as criminals and that their contribution to this country be recognized.

10. The US Conference of Bishops has denounced, as has the Pope, the Bush idea of ‘preventive war’, and has come out against an attack on Iran in the absence of a real and present threat of an Iranian assault on the US. In contrast, Santorum wants to play Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove and ride the rocket down on Isfahan himself.

Read full post by Juan Cole here.

Now when I first read this list, my inside snarky junior high school boy voice was like, “Yeah, Santorum take that, you big mean right-wing hypocrite!” Because, let’s be honest, it does seems like a serious amount of selective faith positions are being used to support political ones. Now I am not Catholic. I personally differ on some social and theological positions that the Roman Catholic church holds and I also agree with a great deal of what the Catholic Church believes and does, but again, I am not a Catholic, so I do not know what the expectations are of the members of the Roman Catholic Church. Should a member agree with everything that the Catholic Church believes in doctrine and practice? Wow, that’s a huge question for Catholics around the world.

I am so very glad that I am a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA) where, in our tradition, every member agrees with every one of the social and theological positions that our denomination has ever taken.

Oh . . . wait a minute.

Dangit, I guess it’s hard for me to really get on Santorum too much because really, is any of us pure of heart and action when it comes to our denominational or religious affiliations let alone the entirety of our faith? I think not. So while I would love to bask the condescending glow of his own inconsistencies and hypocrisy, I keep hearing Jesus scream into my ear,

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. - Matthew 7:1-2

Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her. – John 8:2-11

Please don’t get me wrong, I am also not defending him, his positions or the tone of the attacks that are coming from the GOP primary. It is probably safe to say that much would have to happen in order for me not to support a 2nd term of Barack Obama. What I am doing is calling on those of us Christians who vigorously disagree with the folks like Santorum, to do so with a little more care than others might, because, while he is certainly opening himself up to public scrutiny by seeking the highest elected office in the land, I do not think Jesus’ would see that as an excuse to unfairly judge or cast any stones his way.

12 comments

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  • liminaphile  

    As I recall from my catechism, ultimately each individual must act on their conscience, but they are supposed to seriously consider the Church’s position on the issue and not deviate from it lightly. What is required is not absolute obedience, but careful consideration and reflection.

    So I think where a lot of more liberal Catholics have a problem with Santorum and his ilk is that while we are conscious of where we differ from the Church and have genuinely put some thought into it, he sets himself up as more Catholic than thou and doesn’t even acknowledge where his faith diverges from the Church’s teachings.

    And what is even more upsetting is that the bishops appear to be so politically partisan that they don’t call him on it. They are allowing his version of cafeteria Catholicism to stand as some sort of exemplar. Why? Because he agrees with them on the sex stuff? What is up with that?

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  • Donnie McLeod  

    Santorum says Obama is a faux Christian. Romney is not a Christian. That means they are both being damn to suffer eternal damnation. This sure makes it easy to be an anti-theist. No one can possiply be worthy if some one so easily can damn someone else.

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  • dennissinclair  

    Most, if not all the things posted here are not the teachings of the Catholic Church, but are opinions of individuals, like the US Conference of Catholic bishops, a moral person, or a personal opinion, probably well-formed, of Pope John Paul II.  You can reference the Catholic Catechism. Most is what has been published here is nonsense.  Trying to denigrate the truth for the sake of a seriously flawed ideology.  Death penalty: CC 2266.  There are others but why try to cure the incurable and willful ignorance of a few. 
    Even the devil quotes scripture.
    Do you believe the recent HHS mandate is a good thing?  Just wondering.

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  • Jim Stochl  

    Bruce, thanks for ruining my day with the Matthew 7:1-2 citation. Just sort of takes all the fun out of bashing anyone we disagree with. It does seem like the ten things are positions taken by the church on issues, and not doctrinal issues. It may be hair splitting, but is it more important as a card carrying (name a faith) to believe in the doctrine or to believe in the social positions. Example, was Bonhoeffer wrong in affirming basic Lutheran doctrine, but rejecting the social positions of the German Evangelical Church? Thanks for this thoughtful post.

  • Shawn Coons  

    Darn you and your antiquated notion of applying the same standards to ourselves that we use to condemn others. The next thing you’ll tell me is that Democrats are just as partisan as Republicans.

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