Monday, October 20, 2008

No Time for Propaganda


This last weekend, Time magazine published an article titled "How Catholics are Judging Obama and the Democrats". I'm going to ignore the childish dual reference to judging in the title. The article's author makes the following statement:

"In early October, Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton released a letter to be read in every pulpit in the diocese that said, in part: "Abortion is the issue this year and every year in every campaign. [Catholics] are wrong when they assert that abortion is only one of a multitude of issues of equal importance. Abortion must take precedence over every other issue." But just last fall, the American bishops released Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility, a document that reminded Catholics that "all life issues are connected." Over the past few years, archbishops around the country have spoken out in favor of immigration reform, opposing the use of torture, and advocating policies that focus more on the poor.
As a result, many Catholics can now argue that neither party fits precisely with Catholic social teaching — the Democratic position on abortion is still unacceptable but so are GOP positions on education and health care and the war in Iraq."

The author seems to duck her responsibility of actually reporting what the document said by including 5 words ("all life issues are connected") from the 42 page document in quotes. Was it an attempt to let the document speak for itself? And it wasn't that she was quoting some she was interviewing, she made the decision to include the reference . The statement, "all life issues are connected." is taken from paragraph 25:

25. The right to life implies and is linked to other human rights—to the basic goods that every human person needs to live and thrive. All the life issues are connected, for erosion of respect for the life of any individual or group in society necessarily diminishes respect for all life. The moral imperative to respond to the needs of our neighbors—basic needs such as food, shelter, health care, education, and meaningful work—is universally binding on our consciences and may be legitimately fulfilled by a variety of means. Catholics must seek the best ways to respond to these needs. As Blessed Pope John XXIII taught, “[Each of us] has the right to life, to bodily integrity, and to the means which are suitable for the proper development of life; these are primarily food, clothing, shelter, rest, medical care, and, finally, the necessary social services” (Pacem in Terris, no. 11).

Now why would the author also reference the following paragraph (found 3 sections prior to the one above) to add a little bit of honest balance? It seems that it adds important context to the statement she decided to print.

22. There are some things we must never do, as individuals or as a society, because they are always incompatible with love of God and neighbor. Such actions are so deeply flawed that they are always opposed to the authentic good of persons. These are called “intrinsically evil” actions. They must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned. A prime example is the intentional taking of innocent human life, as in abortion and euthanasia. In our nation, “abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others” (Living the Gospel of Life, no. 5). It is a mistake with grave moral consequences to treat the destruction of innocent human life merely as a matter of individual choice. A legal system that violates the basic right to life on the grounds of choice is fundamentally flawed.

I don't know if there ever was a time when reporting was anything other than propaganda, maybe it's just a romantic idea of the past. I do understand that reporting is the journalist's interpretation and selection of the facts, but does it have to be so obviously (left and right) deceptive? The author certainly doesn’t have to agree with what the Church teaches but disagreement is one thing, spreading ideas, facts, or allegations deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause ... that’s propaganda.

12 comments:

Germanicus said...

All life issues are connected. The connection is based on a hierarchy with life on the top. What is it about our thinking that we are so eager to make everything equal? We see connected but understand equal. Connected can mean a great number of things. The Bishops have gone to great pains to be as clear as possible about this. Practicing Catholics can not support abortion, euthanasia, genocide, or terrorism. Immigration reform, water use, and poverty are also important issues but not as important as those issues which directly take a human life.
This is common sense. Murder is a more serious crime than assault and it is punished more severely. That does not mean we believe assault to be unimportant but it is not considered to be on equal terms with murder.

Joshua 24:15 said...

While I certainly agree with the original post and Germanicus' reply, I must add that there are other factors associated with Obama and with the socialist-leaning media that need to be evaluated by Catholics. As in my previous post, I point to freedom of speech and on economic potential based on skill and effort, as two examples that are important, too. Individual freedoms becoming subserviant to "The State" are a continuation of the hardcore non-negotiable life issues of the Faith.

Serviam! said...

Joshua,

If you took the current two candidates and swapped only their views on abortion - leaving everything else the same - would it change who you currently plan on voting for?

Joshua 24:15 said...

No. See my previous response for specifics.

J. Thorp said...

Serviam's question raises a question of my own: do Catholics have an obligation to weigh only those candidates who have a reasonable chance of winning, or all candidates?

We talk as though these are two-party races, and for *many* intents and purposes, they are. But I don't believe we are called to be single-issue voters, and we do have a responsibility, as Joshua suggests, to look at candidate's stances on other important issues.

Is there an anti-abortion ticket on the ballot? Absolutely.

Does that ticket better represent the Church's values and my own? Maybe ...

Do we not have an obligation to investigate and vote accordingly?

When we vote by default for (quite often) the only *major-party* candidate who is anti-abortion, I believe we sell the church short. What of an anti-abortion, anti-Catholic candidate? An anti-abortion candidate who is demonstrably untrustworthy? Or the outspoken abortion opponent who has yet to spend his or her political capital to work against abortion even when given the opportunity? How does that substantially differ from the politician who claims to be "personally pro-life" but professionally pro-choice?

My read is that we, as Catholics, may occasionally be called to lose an election on principle -- by voting for a candidate who has no shot. More than that, we may be called to work to advance third-party candidates who represent us better than either major party. Perhaps we should pray for vocations to public service ...

No joke -- this is real to me (and disconcerting, because I know I do not do enough in this regard). I'm coming to the realization that voting well simply may not be enough ...

Joshua 24:15 said...

FELLOW BLOGGERS-- I NEED TO AMEND MY COMMENTS FROM MY LAST RESPONSE. I MISREAD SERVIAM'S QUESTION AND ANSWERED AS THOUGH HE WERE ASKING IF MY VOTE WOULD CHANGE IF ABORTION WERE "OFF THE TABLE" AND I WAS ONLY LOOKING AT OTHER ISSUES. IN FACT, HE ASKED WHETHER MY VOTE WOULD CHANGE IF THEIR VIEWS WERE SWITCHED AND OBAMA WAS PROLIFE AND MCCAIN WAS PROABORTION-- IN WHICH CASE MY ANSWER WOULD BE "YES" THAT WOULD CHANGE MY VOTE SINCE AS A CATHOLIC WE ARE REQUIRED TO HOLD LIFE ISSUES ABOVE THE OTHERS. SORRY FOR THE CONFUSION-- JTHORPE, YOU RAISED SOME GOOD QUESTIONS BUT BEFORE I RESPOND I REALIZED MY MISTAKE AND WANTED TO CLEAR IT UP... BEFORE THE EXCOMMUNICATION IS ORDER.. :)

Joshua 24:15 said...

OK, now back to the thread...

JThorpe asks a great question-- when should we consider 3rd, 4th, etc party candidates over someone who is really likely to win...

Short answer: yes, if we are to adhere to the "non-negotiables" instruction for voting Catholics.

And, as we've pointed out, the label of "prolife" doesn't always mean our strict Catholic version, especially for many politicians who equivocate with "life of the mother" and the other life issues besides abortion.

I don't know McCain's views on euthanasia or stem cell research, for instance. I do know that Obama fails on most if not all life issues.

Yes, it's complicated and like JThorpe I know I don't do enough to study the candidates and work for the advancement of strict prolife candidates.

J. Thorp said...

I must issue a correction, too: What I meant to ask about halfway through my post was, "Is there *more than one* anti-abortion ticket on the ballot?"

The answer is still, "Absolutely."

Joshua 24:15 said...

JThorpe, who are the anti-abortion candidates currently? McCain seems to be "yes", Obama is clearly "no." Who are the others? Thanks.

Serviam! said...

Chuck Baldwin - Constitution Party (http://www.constitutionparty.com/)

J. Thorp said...

That's one, Serviam! -- also *possibly* Libertarian candidate Bob Barr, although he may talk the talk better than he walks the walk, and his VP candidate is questionable at best on life issues.

It's tough -- so much info out there, and hard to figure what's true ...

J. Thorp said...

I kinda wish I'd paid more attention to Ron Paul during primary season ... but he has endorsed the Constitution Party ticket Serviam! mentions.