RI Bishop Thomas Tobin faces the Heat on Hardball about Abortion & the Law

To follow-up on Zach’s earlier post on this topic.

What’s the matter with RI?

First we had the governor vetoing a law giving gay partners burial rights, as Zach reference, we now have the Catholic Bishop denying communion to Democratic Representative Patrick Kennedy, Jr.  Chris Matthews on Hardball decided to take this position to task.   In one of his better interviews, he nails the Bishop on morality vs. the law and why the Catholic Church needs to stay out of the “law” business in our secular society.  The interview is a bit long but well worth viewing.

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h/t to Crooks & Liars

Given the new Bishop in Milwaukee (Listecki) and the one we have here in Madison (Morlino), I suspect that this type of interventional approach to our secular laws is one that we’ll be seeing more of in our state too.


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12 thoughts on “RI Bishop Thomas Tobin faces the Heat on Hardball about Abortion & the Law

  1. Do you differentiate between moral and religious perspectives?

    I oppose abortion on moral grounds, however, I would not enact legislation against it regardless of the views of my church. When you say “interventional approach to our secular laws” are you basing that statement on religious precepts or moral ones?

    1. Good questions. I would differentiate between moral and religious perspectives. This is something that Chris Matthews does brilliantly in this video too. In terms of “interventional approaches to our secular laws”, I’m referring to the church getting involved in trying to dictate the law based on their belief system. The Catholic Church is getting very active in doing this around the country on a whole slew of issues – in Washington DC on gay marriages (see their blackmail approach here – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/11/AR2009111116943.html), in Congress with the Stupak Amendment, in RI with Patrick Kennedy, in Catholic Hospitals with their end of life dogma (http://news.firedoglake.com/2009/11/24/catholic-bishops-enact-plan-for-300000-terri-schiavos/) etc. They are welcome to their moral teachings, but when they step over the line into the legal environment of a non-denominational, secular nation they’ve gone way to far. I’d also argue that many Catholics, both practicing and definitely those who are lapsed, including yours truly, believe that the church has no place in trying set the legal guidelines for Americans. This is why we need separation of church and state.

      1. And those are excellent points.

        How do we find that moral ground that is not religious per se but is a shared moral perspective of right and wrong that enjoins the religious and the nonreligious?

        Who are the moralists in America that are not church/religious oriented? Do we know of any?

        And to be clear , I am not singling out Christians in this. The Jehovah Witnesses, the Buddhists, the Muslims, and other faiths are in the soup that I refer to as religious.

        Where are the moralists that believe in right and wrong? What are they saying about abortion, the death penalty, drugs, adultery, etc., etc?

  2. First of all, religious organizations should have exactly the same right to petition the government as any other group. No more, no less.

    I like how the quote from JFK is treated as absolutely correct and beyond question. I also thought Matthews was obsessive with minutuea – the whole, “what laws would you pass” was just awkward and misplaced for this guest. It really was kind of idiotic. Bishop Tobin is not advocating specific laws – he’s telling a voluntary member of his church that it is against the church’s teachings to support abortion. The church, like any other organization, can tell it’s members how to behave if they want to be in good standing with the organization. For example, what would NOW do if a member was going around publicly speaking against abortion rights or equal rights legislation. Or a gay rights organization supporting DOMA type stuff. A PETA member defending dog fighting. The freedom to assemble means that within the context of the organization, the organization has the right to set it’s own rules/agenda. You don’t like it? Leave.

    Where did this story come from anyway? It wasn’t the church broadcasting to the world, how people should act. How all politicians should vote. It Kennedy who revealed a communication between Tobin and Kennedy – that he not receive communion as long as he supports abortion.

  3. I see the tone of this blog invites respectful discussion and exchange of ideas.

    I am not a liberal nor a Democrat. I personally prefer the Democratic party over the Republicans, but their embrace with abortion is a deal-breaker for me. I vote Republican, as the lesser of two evils.

    I am a faithful Catholic, and an enthusiastic supporter of Bishop Morlino. Perhaps I can help your readers understand what is happening here and in Rhode Island, and all over the country.

    For many decades, the US bishops were willing to take a very low profile, avoiding any waves, helping American Catholics “fit in” with American culture. Basically, they were asleep at the wheel — providing no moral leadership. They were mainly concerned with keeping up a respectable image for themselves.

    As a result, hundreds of gay priests were allowed to prey on adolescent men, and even a few real pedophiles abused our young children. It was a terrible thing.

    Both Catholic families and the secular world reacted with anger and disgust, and demanded that the Bishops should clean house, do their jobs and be the moral leaders.

    The bishops have done a wonder job at getting rid of the offenders, and seeking justice and healing for the victims. Some still complain, but I was close to the center of the scandal, and the bishops did more than anyone could expect at accepting responsiblity and paying for their damage.

    However…. the world got more than it asked for when it asked the Bishops to wake up and do their job. The Bishops are now wide awake and alert. They are no longer content to lead “Sunday morning Chrisians.” They ask Catholics to be Catholic, 24/7, at home, at work, and in the voting booth. The US bishops also know that they must be the prickly conscience of our nation, speaking out on issues that affect us all.

    This could be a good thing for liberals, if they recognize the opportunity. Catholicism is not a right-wing faith.

    A great many liberals have a deep respect for human life. They don’t fall for the fallacy of “choice,” because they know the death of every child, convicted criminal, and sick person is a blow to us all. Pro-life liberals have been frustrated for years, having no home in either the Democrat or Republican parties. Now they finally have a powerful ally with a voice, in the US bishops.

    The bishops will support liberals in efforts to help the poor and provide healthcare. They already provide a great deal of charitable assistance to the poor, and they charitable healthcare too.

    The bishops will defend freedom rights as well. They will defend on the right of all (including themselves) to speak out on any issue, and they will resist government efforts to punish or silence their rights under the First Amendment.

    My personal opinion is that the Democratic Party could dominate this nation, with overwhelming support of people, if they could just separate themselves from abortion. Already, 51% of Americans self-identify with the pro-life side.

    The Democrats need to say, “WE DO NOT BELIEVE THAT KILLING IS THE SOLUTION TO ANY PROBLEM.” They can be anti-war, anti-death penalty, anti-abortion, anti-euthansia. They can be pro-environment, pro-welfare, pro-healthcare, pro-immigration. Add a dash of fiscal responsibility, and VIOLA! They will be ethically consistent AND enjoy overwhelming support of middle-class Americans.

    Good luck with that!

    1. Catholic bishops have long been supportive of the oppressed and other victims and I hold no countenance against them in that support. They also should hold their flock to higher standards; one cannot be a force for morality ands tolerate immorality in their midst.

      I would rather they were Catholic than be identified as Republican or Democrat.

      When religious people begin to use the force of law to implement their religious beliefs as the law of the land, well, that is when I object.

      I am opposed to abortion but I support the right-to-choose by any woman. It would be my hope that Catholics would work towards convincing women to choose life rather than implementing political power into the milieu to force others to live with Catholic beliefs. The same holds true for other religions.

      1. When religious people begin to use the force of law to implement their religious beliefs as the law of the land, well, that is when I object.

        Example please.

    2. Del, I’d argue that your comment about the priests abusing young boys being gay is incorrect. Psychologically they are discriminating pedophiles. Sexually they are immature, but to use the paintbrush of calling them gay pedophiles is a misconception. As Gregory Herek a research psychologist at the University of CA says “pedophilia is a psychosexual disorder characterized by a preference for prepubescent children as sexual partners, which may or may not be acted upon. Rarely does a pedophile experience sexual desire for adults of either gender.” Take a look at this article for more information http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/gays-anatomy/200809/homosexuality-and-pedophilia-the-false-link. Anna C. Salter writes, in “Predators, Pedophiles, Rapists and other Sex Offenders”, that when a man molests little girls, we call him a “pedophile” and not a “heterosexual.” Of course, when a man molests little boys, people say outright, or mutter under their breath, “homosexual.

      1. As a general matter of course, I don’t disagree on the point that going out of your way to identify pedophiles as gay is a veiled effort to smear homose_xuals. But I can’t agree with the reasoning:

        that when a man molests little girls, we call him a “pedophile” and not a “heterose_xual.” Of course, when a man molests little boys, people say outright, or mutter under their breath, “homose_xual.

        Of course when a man gets married we don’t say it’s to a woman. Heterose_xual is still the norm and absent any other indication, it is assumed. A rational person can see that heterose_xual is the norm, and homosex_ual is the exception and that doesn’t necessitate attaching a negative connotation. To say that “pedophile” is somehow not as bad as “homose_xual pedophile” is just plain absurd, if not largely inaccurate.

        The whole priest pedophile issue is a separate issue and mostly independent of se_xual preference. That said, the facts are what they are – and the se_xual abuse of priests was almost exclusively of boys.


        1. FYI My above post kept getting flagged as spam – the added underscores were to get my post through.

  4. Del, you call upon the Democrats/liberals to make a blanket statement “WE DO NOT BELIEVE THAT KILLING IS THE SOLUTION TO ANY PROBLEM.” Yet I fail to see you call upon the Republicans/conservatives to do the same. I see multiple dichotomies on the “right”, for example pro-life vs pro-death penalty; less government involvement in individuals lives vs government involvement in personal matters (gay marriage, Terry Schiavo, etc); less government spending vs what we spend on wars (particularly when it comes to Haliburton and Blackwater); pro-life vs pro-war to name but a few.

    “Religious factions will go on imposing their will on others unless the decent people connected to them recognize that religion has no place in public policy. They must learn to make their views known without trying to make their views the only alternatives.” Barry Goldwater

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