Ralph Neas of the People for the American Way made it official. He said it. I bet he didn't even know he said it. Debating C. Boyden Gray of the Committee for Justice on the Fox News Channel's Hannity and Colmes July 29, he was decrying the implication in a Committee for Justice ad that certain senators on the Judiciary Committee were anti-Catholic. The now famous ad defending federal court nominee Bill Pryor depicted a court house door bearing the sign, "Catholics need not apply."
After voicing his outrage at the suggestion — which Mr. Gray denied making — that the senators were anti-Catholic, Mr. Neas further protested that he himself was Catholic. Program co-host Alan Colmes also protested that several of the senators in question were Catholic. This, of course, proves nothing, because there is no shortage — especially in the U.S. Senate — of people who were raised Catholic and yet spit in the face of common Catholic teachings and beliefs.
It is here that Mr. Neas spilled the beans. After angrily demanding an apology from Mr. Gray for allegedly calling people anti-Catholic, he said, "Our position at People for the American Way is to oppose those nominees of an extreme right-wing judicial philosophies [interruption] ... in opposition to reproductive rights — many other issues."
In case you missed it, as Mr. Neas obviously did, he just characterized normative, orthodox Catholic belief as "extreme right wing." If by "reproductive rights" he means abortion on demand as defined by Roe vs. Wade, he further insults Catholic belief by employing this transparent euphemism, and in so doing he tipped his hand as to the true attitude toward Catholicism held by him and those he is defending.
Mr. Neas' tone certainly indicated his contempt for things "extreme right wing," which further indicates that he has some contempt for Catholicism since normative Catholic teaching is, by Mr. Neas' definition, "extreme right-wing."
It follows that in the minds of Mr. Neas and the obstructing senators, a judicial candidate who happens to believe, agree with and holds true the teachings of his Catholic faith is to be considered "extreme right wing" and somehow dangerously unfit for high judicial office.
For the record, Catholic teaching condemns all abortion as intrinsically evil and therefore always and everywhere wrong. If holding this normative Catholic belief makes one "extreme right wing,"thensomeonehas moved the fulcrum on this balance, or Mr. Neas' perspective is coming from an extreme left-wing perspective, because the Catholic Church hasn't moved on this in 2,000 years.
Catholics and other pro-lifers do not oppose abortion because they want to "control women'sbodies"orother things their opponents' protest signs stupidly suggest. Catholics oppose abortion because it is murder, and murder cannot and must not be countenanced in a civil society.
If the senators wish to distance themselves from a 2,000-year-old intellectual and legal tradition that supports this, and instead align themselves with those whose greatest contribution to Western culture is "Keep your rosaries off of my ovaries," that's their choice.
If the senators view the latter group as the "mainstream" and the defenders of 2,000 years of civilization as "extreme right wingers" that is also their choice. But they should not be shocked — shocked! — when they are opposed by Catholics.
If the senators believe the Catholic tradition is a lot of nonsense, that's fine. But if so, they should not call themselves Catholic because this is what Catholics believe. It is time that the Catholic Church be dealt with on its own terms rather than dissent, misunderstandings and bigoted fallacies.
With regard to senators who protest that they are Catholics, yet regard judicial candidates as "dangerous" and "extreme right wing" precisely because of their deeply held Catholic beliefs, one must ask these senators what exactly they think Catholicism is. Catholicism, among other things, and at the very least, is a set of beliefs, and we have senators who reject those beliefs as "extreme" and contemptible while simultaneously protesting that they are Catholic.
By their public support for abortion, they have effectively placed themselves out of communion with the Catholic Church. So what exactly do they mean when they call themselves Catholic? Their upbringing? Which evidently failed in forming them as Catholic adults?
It does suggest that dissident or fallen away Catholics are acceptable for the bench but orthodox Catholics who actually believe what they profess are not.
John Mallon is contributing editor of Inside the Vatican magazine and a political consultant.
It is sad that the media made such a big deal about Boston's Archbishop's residence. To me it's such a red herring for people to raise it as a way to attack a bishop, and I appreciate Archbishop O'Malley's reasons for moving downtown to the Cathedral rectory, but agree that it's unfortunate it's under the media glare.
I used to live right across from the seminary grounds on Lake Street and loved having the Cardinal's residence right there. I would go up and walk around and pray there sometimes, and occasionally see Cardinal Law coming and going and chat with him.
Thank God, Boston College isn't going to get their grubby hands on it. That would be horrible. They would see it as a victory of their dissidence over the Church.
This idea grew out of my contact with a group fighting the bias against Bill Pryor offering to help them in their arguments against their opponents.
Here's my pitch:
Mallon Consulting is a consulting service specializing in Catholic-related public policy issues.
• Researching particular questions of Catholic teaching and doctrine to formulate arguments, rebut objections and build cases with a strong basis in orthodox Catholic teaching
• Framing positions in clear concise terms understandable to the layperson for speeches, talking points, legal briefs, press releases, news conferences and media interviews and presentations
• Speechwriting, press releases, talking points, dealing with media, etc.
American Law and Politics is increasingly on a collision course with Catholic teaching and belief, from judicial appointments to homosexuality to bioethics--as you well know. Few congressional offices, media outlets, PACs or pro-life/pro family advocacy groups have the resources to hire a full-time staffer to address these research needs to be prepared to meet challenges from the media, opponents and so forth, I will be offerring these services. If I do not have the answer you are looking for off the top of my head, I can get it quickly from other expert sources and official documents.
Half the battle is know where to look for the needed information. After almost 20 years experience in pro-life/pro-family work as theologically trained journalist, I have the knowledge and contacts to locate solid theological answers to questions on Catholic teaching, and frame them in a clear, concise way for effective sound-bites for the media and heated arguments. I know where to get the answers and how to deliver them for maximum impact understanding and brevity. If necessary, I will also be available to deliver those responses to the media or other context where appropriate.
• I hold a BA in theology from Boston College (cum Laude) and an MA (with distinction) in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. At Boston College I was instrumental into transforming the student paper The Observer of Boston College from a political conservative paper into an orthodox Catholic paper on campus, which made some people unhappy. It also helped form me into a seasoned veteran of our current "Culture Wars."
• I served for three years (1994-1997) as spokesman for the Archbishop of Oklahoma City. In this role I had to formulate complex theological concepts into five second soundbites for the media.
• At the same time I served as editor of the archdiocesan newspaper The Sooner Catholic. On my watch in those three years the newspaper won eleven journalism awards despite my never having run a diocesan newspaper before.
• Since 1997 I have been (and remain) a contributing editor for Inside the Vatican magazine, an international news monthly on Vatican affairs. My duties at Inside the Vatican included the pro-life/pro-family/bioethics beat which included coverage of the volitile United Nations conferences in both New York and Europe, Cairo+5, Beijing+5, the gathering of the world's religious leaders at the UN and the Summit on the Rights of the Child.
• I was also an informal consultant (he sought my advice) to Governor Frank Keating when he was first approached by the Bishop Wilton Gregory to serve on the Bishops' Review Board.
• Before that I served as a consultant on Catholic issues in the successful battle run by political consultant Marc Nuttle to bring a right-to-work law to Oklahoma, which liberal members of the Catholic clergy were opposing.
• I have been called on numerous times by local TV stations to comment on Catholic issues in the news. I am currently residing in Oklahoma City, but I would like to relocate, preferably to the Washington, DC area, to pursue this line of work.