Sunday, September 07, 2008

Failing To Discuss The Possible Apostasy Of Sarah Palin Turns Catholics Into Good Germans

In an unrelated post, Father John Zuhlsdorf has published a partial reply to my question concerning whether Sarah Palin should be considered an apostate in a state of mortal sin.
His post is entitled 'Gov. Palin: ex-Catholic? Stop bugging me about it'; hopefully he does not adopt the same offhand approach to penitents seeking Reconciliation outside the appointed hours.
He writes,
"To my knowledge Gov. Palin was baptized in the Catholic Church, but her parents left the Catholic Church for some Protestant sect when she was around 12 years old."
So by the time she was presumably dragged kicking and screaming from Catholicism, she was old enough to have received a significant degree of religious instruction, together with the sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation, Communion and possibly Confirmation; in other words, she was old enough to be expected to know right from wrong.
"I don’t hold twelve-year-old children accountable for the actions of their parents."
Unfortunately, many 12 year olds have had the fear of Hell put into them for being a bit sluggish about getting out of their beds in time for Sunday Mass. Many 12 year olds have had to sit through sermons warning them of the dangers of sin, death, Hell and punishment. If Father Zuhlsdorf were a cradle Catholic, he would know this. Stating that a 12 year old is not responsible for the actions of the parents is only valid in matters where the 12 year old cannot be assumed to know better, such as whether or not they should own a handgun or get a tattoo. Sarah Palin 'left' the Church at an age when she presumably could be expected to know better. Failing to apportion an appropriate measure of blame for her actions to her seems to deny the efficacy of the sacraments and instructions that a 12 year old can be expected to have received. A 12 year old should have recited the words 'one holy, Catholic and apostolic Church' often enough to know that anything other than Catholicism is guff.
"Would that be even slightly rational?"
Since when were the demands of a religion made subject to the dictates of reason? Have I missed something somewhere along the line?
"I understand she attends a non-denominational Christian church of some sort."
Unless I'm gravely mistaken, there is only one 'non-denominational' Christian Church - the Catholic Church. I will give Father Zuhlsdorf the benefit of the doubt and presume that he is not stating that the Catholic Church is merely one of many valid Christian denominations; the lack of clarity in his prose does not make his position immediately obvious.
"Apostasy" is accomplished by a formal act, not by being taken away from the Church as a child and then growing up in a Christian sect. I wish she were a Catholic! I wish everyone were Catholic! But she’s not, and it seems not to be her fault."
Governor Palin was baptised a Catholic. She was either removed from, or removed herself from, the Catholic Church at an advanced age, by which time she should have received a level of instruction sufficient to educate her that separation from the Church is not a moral good. Again, Father Zuhlsdorf's prose is not clear - he cannot reasonably be saying that receiving Baptism does not make one a Catholic. So what is he saying? He cannot reasonably be saying that instruction in the Catholic faith is ineffective - so what is he saying? He cannot possibly be saying that people cannot be held accountable for their own actions - so what is he saying?
"Some who are Catholic really aren’t… "
One might have thought that a matter for God and the higher clergy to decide.
"...and in the case of some politicians that is their fault."
At last, something upon which we agree.
"Until it is revealed that Gov. Palin has made some sort of formal act of apostasy from the Catholic Church or done something anti-Catholic, I think you ought to breathe deeply and regularly, trying breathing into a paper bag, and maintain some control."
That patronising tone of Father Zuhlsdorf's conclusion does not alter, in any way, shape or form, the fact that Sarah Palin, a baptised Catholic, 'joined' another 'church' at an age when she could have been expected to know that to do so was sinful; and that she does not appear to have made amends for this error. Accordingly, to my mind the question as to whether or not she is an apostate remains unresolved.
Sarah Palin is pro-life - this is good. However, to vote for the secular political party of which she is a bought-and-paid for creature, and to the fate of which she has bound herself, simply because she is pro-life is akin to supporting Mussolini because he made the trains run on time. It turns those Catholics who do so into advocates of the perpetual wars and continuing hellish economic evils that would be visited upon the USA by President McCain. John McCain is the most dangerous kind of old man, in that he is an old man without wisdom - he seems to have no reading, fails to possess an enquiring mind and still seems to revel in the sobriquet 'Maverick' at the age of 72. This is not a good mental place for a man his age to be in. Sarah Palin would be part and parcel of every piece of misbegotten, hellish madness that a McCain presidency would visit upon that greatest of nations; and saying that 'but she's pro-life' as a justification for the further shedding of American blood, and the further impoverishment of the American middle classes, turns those Catholics who vote for her solely because she is pro-life into, in the words of the late Hunter S. Thompson, good Germans.
Personally, I would not want to be an American voter this year, faced as I would be with a choice between a mean old man and a messianic abortionist demagogue. Pray for discernment, and for the soul of Sarah Palin.

2 Comments:

Blogger Berenike said...

Well, no-one ever got the fact of the real presence across to me until I had left my Catholic high school and a priest happened to lend me Duffy's "Stripping of the Altars". I don't remember any doctrinal content at all from sermons or RE. In sixth year the new young chaplain did try to teach us about original sin, and I think something vaguely sank in of that. We did liberation-theology-inspired reading of some Scripture, and talked about social justice.

When I was about 13 one of the kids living next door to my best friend said "that red light means God's in the church". I was somewhat surprised, but said "aye right" because it was clearly one of those weird sentimental things adults say that don't really mean what the words mean. Or else he was taking the mickey, because no-one but no-one behaved as though God was in the church.

I had no idea what being a Catholic meant, believe me. None. And my character is such that I am likely to "go for" religion, which kept me interested until I found something solid in that Duffy book, whereas the healthier personalities of my classmates weren't attracted by the pap. We were not taught Catholicism. And if one is brought up by parents who then mosey along to another church, then the chances are in those five years of the use of reason you have not learned that Christ's mystical body is the Catholic Church. When I was a theology student, our (very pious and orthodox) scripture lecturer used to give us readings from Barth occasionally, pointing out with rueful amusement that he was more Catholic than most Catholic scripture scholars. The validity of the sacraments aside, you do not know what someone will have been taught when they tell you they went to a Catholic school, were raised Catholic, go to Mass every Sunday. One simply cannot know. Certainly, given the complete mismatch between what you assume Mrs Palin would have known, and what I experienced and have observed, one simply cannot know.

07 September, 2008 22:49  
Blogger The Cellarer said...

We don't know what she had been exposed to at her parish or school, how often she went to Mass, were the parents supportive or actively anti - Church until the family left the Church or her own maturity at age 12 - some of my S1 can have fairly in depth discussions about faith while the other day I had to go right back to basics about the Church with some S1!

Clearly one between God and Mrs Palin and for the rest of us to leave alone.

09 September, 2008 22:57  

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