Dissent's just fine, but what Tim Kaine offers is hypocrisy

Dissent’s just fine, but what Tim Kaine offers is hypocrisy

Dissent’s just fine, but what Tim Kaine offers is hypocrisy

In this Aug. 3, 2016 file photo, Democratic Vice Presidential candidate, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. speaks during a rally at the J Douglas Galyon Depot in Greensboro, N.C. Kaine is predicting that the Roman Catholic Church may eventually change its opposition to gay marriage. (Credit: AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File.)

There's no problem with dissent in Catholicism, which is like a big Italian family, but the hypocrisy of invoking one's faith to defend positions clearly at odds with Church teaching make politicians such as Tim Kaine, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi hypocrites.

Commentary

Last week Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine suggested that the Catholic Church will one day change her mind and affirm same sex marriage.

Speaking at the Human Rights Campaign’s annual dinner, Kaine said he had evolved on the issue.

“I think it [the Catholic Church] is going to change, because my church also teaches me about a creator who, in the first chapter of Genesis, surveyed the entire world, including mankind, and said, ‘It is very good’,” Kaine said.

He then recalled Pope Francis’s remark, “Who am I to judge?” in reference to gay priests.

Kaine, like Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden, describes himself as a “devout Catholic.” All three politicians are open supporters of the Democratic party’s platform, which allows abortion up to the point of birth. Biden recently conducted a same-sex wedding ceremony in the Naval Observatory — the Vice President’s lodgings — and Nancy Pelosi is a proud winner of Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Award.

What disturbs me, as a priest and a fellow Catholic, is not that there are Catholics who dissent from church teaching. I don’t wish for all Catholics to march in lockstep, and I treasure Catholic universality and diversity. Part of that is the tradition of dissent.

Dissenters are Catholics too. Maybe they’ve been hurt and offended by other Catholics in some way. Maybe they get angry and protest against the church’s teaching on contraception, or maybe they write articles and books arguing against particular church doctrines they don’t believe.

Maybe if they’re feminist they scoot off and get themselves “ordained” in a Methodist church by a renegade female “bishop.” Maybe out of compassion and pastoral concern they reject the church’s teaching on divorce and remarriage, same sex issues or lack of communion with Protestants.

If so, they dissent openly, and there is an honesty about open dissent that wins one’s respect. The dissenter holds passionate views. They think the Catholic Church is just plain wrong about this or that, but they stay in the Church as “the loyal opposition.”

Like a big Italian family, we Catholics quarrel and argue and yell at each other and cry, threaten and bear a grudge, but then maybe we hug and shrug and pass the pasta.

Catholics such as Kaine, Pelosi and Biden, however, don’t do that. Instead, they grin and make nice and pretend the Catholic Church is something she is not.

When they say they are “devout Catholics” and that the Catholic Church is going to change on gay marriage, or say innocently that the Catholic Church really does allow abortion, or that the Catholic Church will ordain women one day, they are revealing themselves to be either hopelessly ill-informed about the faith they claim to follow “devoutly,” or they are being dishonest — or, perhaps, they are both ignorant and dishonest.

They are also displaying cowardice. If they really, honestly believe that abortion is good for women, good for society and good for the poor, then they should not just smile and play nice. They should stop being hypocrites, have some guts, say what they really mean, and campaign against the Catholic Church.

If they really, honestly believe that same-sex marriage is good for gay people, good for the family, good for society and good for the world, then they should stop being hypocrites, campaign heartily for what they believe in, and work against the Catholic Church.

Such honesty would be refreshing, and we would all know exactly where we stand, but for them to trot along to Mass on Sunday, receive communion and play the “devout Catholic” is only fooling those who wish to be fooled.

To play the devout Catholic and marry two men in the Vice President’s lodgings, to play the devout Catholic and receive the Planned Parenthood Margaret Sanger Award, to play the devout Catholic and say publicly that you believe one day the church will change her mind about same-sex marriage, is hypocrisy of the highest order.

Finally, Catholic politicians such as Kaine, Biden and Pelosi like to separate their “private faith” from their “public position.” They are not shy however, of playing the public Catholic when it suits them.

They’re happy to line up at Notre Dame to receive an award as a public Catholic. They’re happy to meet and greet the pope as a public Catholic, and they’re happy when the media turn up to see them attending Mass. Are they private Catholics or not?

Is it even possible to separate one’s “private faith” from “public position?” What if the issue is immigration reform? Could a right-wing Catholic  politician push for mass deportations of illegal immigrants while saying, “In private I support amnesty, but my public position is to deport them all?”

What if the issue were a working wage? Could a right-wing Catholic senator say, “I privately support an increase in the minimum wage to help working families, but my public position is that there should be no increase?”

There would be outrage at such hypocrisy, and rightly so.

Priests and bishops are called to task when we fail, and so it should be.

Why is it considered bad form therefore, when we point out the blatant, public and scandalous hypocrisy of so called “devout Catholic” politicians?

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