Saturday 30th July 2016

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic… The Foolish Calculations Of Politics: Gov. Corbett’s Decision

June 10, 2014 Featured Today No Comments

By STEPHEN M. KRASON

(Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s “Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic” column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly] in Crisis. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists. He is the author of several books including The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic [Transaction Publishers: 2012], and most recently published an edited volume entitled Child Abuse, Family Rights, and the Child Protective System [Scarecrow Press: 2013]. This column originally appeared in Crisismagazine.com. All rights reserved.)

+    +    +

In late May, Gov. Tom Corbett of my home state of Pennsylvania decided to throw in the towel on same-sex “marriage” and not appeal a federal district judge’s decision to strike down the state’s law that permitted marriage licenses to be issued only to male-female couples.
While Corbett is to be commended for legally defending the statute in the first place after State Attorney General Kathleen Kane refused to carry out her duty to do so, he said he would just accept the court’s decision and end Pennsylvania’s hold-out status as the only northeastern state not allowing same-sex “marriage.” Corbett claimed that an appeal couldn’t be successful.
That was an odd conclusion, since various other states have undertaken appeals of similar lower federal court decisions around the country. There is also no certainty that the Supreme Court ultimately is going to enshrine same-sex “marriage” as a constitutional right under the equal protection clause. Its decisions last year were narrow: invalidating a section of the Defense of Marriage Act that forbade granting federal benefits for same-sex couples living in states that had legalized same-sex “marriage,” and upholding a lower court’s striking of California’s Proposition 8 on the procedural ground that only the appropriate public officials — who also refused their duty to do so in that case — had the standing to appeal.
Indeed, as a former state attorney general himself, Corbett surely knew the facts about judicial process that at one time routinely were taught to law students: The judge’s decision carries no weight outside of his jurisdiction, which is the Middle District of Pennsylvania. It did not have the effect of legalizing same-sex “marriage” for the whole state — unless, at least, officials in the state wanted to apply it that way.
Media in the state perhaps got more to the core reason for Corbett’s decision: politics. His public approval rating has been low. He is up for re-election this year and is trailing his Democratic opponent. One media report said that he has recently been trying “to move to the political center” — which, of course, means in the direction of the secular left — “on several hot-button issues.” Another interpreted his decision not to pursue an appeal as an attempt to win over Democratic voters.
From a purely political standpoint, Corbett’s decision seems foolish and counterproductive. Left-leaning Democrats aren’t likely to flock to Corbett when they can have the “real thing” in November. The Republican Party has long had the tendency to allow itself to be defined by the Democrats. The Republicans try to “moderate” — move toward the positions staked out by the Democrats and leftist opinion-makers generally — in the belief that it’s necessary to win elections.
This is despite the fact that, since 1940, the track record of “moderate” Republican presidential candidates has mostly not been good. Even in Pennsylvania in the last few decades many of the most successful Republicans for the major statewide offices have been on the “conservative” side, such as Rick Santorum, Pat Toomey, and Corbett himself. The Republicans who were less successful or were ushered off the scene were the ones who tilted left, such as William Scranton III, Barbara Hafer, and Arlen Specter.
Republicans in general have often become known for downplaying long-term concerns and even sociopolitical philosophy for short-term political gain, and often wind up even losing out in the short-term. Perhaps all that Corbett will ensure is an uptick in the number of stay-at-home Republican voters in November.
Actions such as those of Corbett are troubling on a deeper, more profound level. He is apparently one of the typical politicians of today who can’t fathom the civilizational crisis that confronts us, or are just caught up in the day-to-day routine tasks of governing — “maintaining,” if you will — and can’t see past them, or simply are governed by the imperatives of politics.
For sure, one has to be concerned about these imperatives because after all one has to be at the levers of power in the first place to be able to accomplish anything. Still, if that becomes too much of a focus then power itself easily becomes the end, and the true ends of politics — and of human society and life itself — are lost sight of.
Corbett stated that as governor he had the duty to follow the laws as interpreted by the courts. Such a position comes dangerously close to saying that the Constitution — since it is that, our fundamental law, which is really in question here — equals what the courts say it is. That is just a step away from arbitrary government. It also makes the will of the courts take precedence over that of the people, as expressed through their representatives.
Didn’t Hamilton in Federalist 78 say that the fundamental will of the people, as ensconced in the Constitution, was what the courts were charged with defending from political encroachment? On the contrary, the judge here discarded the immediate expression of the people’s will in the marriage laws of the state without any justification from their fundamental will embodied in the Constitution (if anyone seriously thinks that the Constitution was meant to embody a right to same-sex “marriage” he is foolish).
If one is going to speak of duties, both Corbett and Attorney General Kane ignored their fundamental duty of upholding a law based on the will of the people who elected them. This is essentially the same thing that happened with Proposition 8 (although it was even more pronounced in the Prop 8 case, since it involved a referendum).
While one can envision a situation where a law — passed by a legislature or even a referendum — would so clearly violate the Constitution that high public officials would actually be justified in refusing to defend it, that certainly wasn’t the case here. That would be a truly exceptional, perhaps even rare, situation.
One wonders how far Gov. Corbett’s sense of his duty to follow the courts would go. If the court had ordered racial segregation in the state, would he have said the same thing? Or is such a duty dictated by the politics of the moment?
Some have said that Corbett was particularly stung by the reaction he received last year when he said same-sex “marriage” was the equivalent of a brother and sister marrying each other. While the two situations are obviously not exactly the same, they are similar. Instead of beating a retreat, he could have done the cause of true marriage a service by explaining why they are similar and what really is wrong with the notion of same-sex “marriage,” and in fact why it isn’t marriage at all.
He could also have explained the inevitable corrosive moral and practical effects that official endorsement of same-sex “marriage” will have on true marriage, the family, children, and the culture. That would have been in the true spirit of the long-lost educative function of politics that so desperately needs to be recovered in our day. The problem is that that requires not just proper understanding, but also courage.
However, it appears that Corbett, like most of today’s politicians, is “courage-challenged.” Indeed, the quality most desperately needed by people in all walks of life to counter the homosexualist juggernaut is courage.
Not much was even asked of Corbett here. It was just a question of filing an appeal and preparing an appellate case. If he did not think his legal staff adequate, any number of legal advocacy organizations would have been prepared to help him. It wasn’t like he had to face down the federal judge and actually resist his mandate and set up a constitutional confrontation; that is something that a president and not a governor must bring himself to do when the federal courts act unconstitutionally.
Again, politics — not just electoral calculation, but also “getting along” in the current political environment — seems to have trumped duty, sound judgment, the people’s will, and concern for public morality and the common good. Insufficient attention to the last point is particularly troubling for the Catholic Corbett.
He publicly said that he upholds the Church’s teaching about marriage, but made it clear that he thought he had to separate that from his public actions. In a reversal, he even said that he was going to keep his personal feelings about same-sex “marriage” to himself. Besides ignoring the fact that the homosexualists and their allies have no such reluctance, Corbett betrays the century-old American confusion between strictly religious or sectarian beliefs and the natural law. It is also the Republican version of the endemic Democratic refrain, seen for so long on abortion, of “I’m personally opposed, but. . . .”
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has made clear, however, that such a stance is no more acceptable on the question of legal recognition of homosexual unions — which seems to extend to not just same-sex “marriage” but also the now-discarded notion of civil unions — than on abortion. Over a decade ago, the congregation said that a Catholic politician is obliged to clearly express opposition to efforts at legal recognition and vote against them. If such laws are already in force, he must oppose them “in the ways that are possible for him” and “attempt to obtain at least a partial repeal of an unjust law” when complete repeal is not possible.
It seems clear that appealing a judicial decision imposing such an errant public policy is well within the obligations of a Catholic politician who is in the position to do it.
In an era when one finds Catholic politicians actually leading the charge for abortion rights, the homosexualist policy agenda, and the rest of it, Gov. Corbett’s decision can hardly be considered one of the most grievous offenses. Most of what the congregation addresses, however, are obligations of Catholic public officials to stand up to do something to stop such immoral policies when they can. History is fraught with examples of how “sins of omission,” even small ones, have grave consequences.

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Trump Is Driving Catholic Voters Toward Clinton

Donald Trump has held onto the support of evangelical Christians even as he has screwed up the name of a book of the Bible, said he doesn’t feel he needs forgiveness for anything, and struggled to answer the question that…Continue Reading

Catholic Tim Kaine Now Supports Taxpayer-Funded Abortion

Well, of course, the media thinks that Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Hillary Clinton’s choice for vice president, is the most Catholic of Catholics. The Washington Post gushed over him, calling the senator the “Pope Francis Catholic” due to Kaine’s work…Continue Reading

Pro-abort VP candidate Tim Kaine gets standing O at Mass, bishop mum on denying Communion

RICHMOND, Virginia, July 26, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-abortion Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Senator Tim Kaine received a standing ovation at his parish on Sunday and several Catholic priests praised his nomination. Meanwhile, as Catholics call for Kaine to be denied…Continue Reading

Anti-abortion duo behind Planned Parenthood videos cleared

HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas judge on Tuesday dismissed the last remaining charge against two California anti-abortion activists who made undercover videos of themselves trying to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood. District Judge Brock Thomas dismissed the tampering with…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: Islam is ‘fundamentally a form of government’

Cardinal Raymond Burke said in a telephone interview that Islam is “fundamentally a form of government.” Speaking with Religion News Service, the patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta said that “when they (Muslims) become the majority in any…Continue Reading

Nienstedt: misconduct allegations retribution for opposition to gay marriage

In other words, he’s the real victim here. Marino Eccher of the PiPress says, “John Nienstedt, the former archbishop of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul, said accusations of sexual misconduct against him were part of a false smear campaign in response…Continue Reading

5 faith facts on Mike Pence: A ‘born-again, evangelical Catholic’

(RNS) While an official announcement has not yet been made, IndyStar and other media outlets are reporting that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will be presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s running mate. Pence became governor of the Hoosier State in…Continue Reading

Trump In Tatters As Catholic Voters Shift Their Support To Hillary Clinton

A new Pew poll on religion and the 2016 campaign revealed devastating news for Republicans as Catholic voters have shifted their support to Hillary Clinton. A new Pew poll on religion and the 2016 campaign revealed devastating news for Republicans…Continue Reading

St. Anne Catholic Church prepares for 136th annual novena

There used to be a steady flow of stories, tales of miracle cures. They were covered in the Daily Journal, the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, in the early 1900s. The Catholic church in St. Anne, a village of 1,239,…Continue Reading

More deception in the war on Card. Sarah

Speaking at a liturgy conference in London, Card. Sarah, clearly not acting in his role as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, made a personal appeal to priests to say Mass ad orientem and the world is coming down on his head.…Continue Reading

Cardinal Caffarra on Marriage, Family, Amoris Laetitia, & Confusion in the Church

cardc

Editor’s note: the following is an exclusive interview with Cardinal Carlo Caffara, conducted by OnePeterFive’s Dr. Maike Hickson. Cardinal Caffarra is Archbishop emeritus of Bologna and former member of the Pontifical Council for the Family. It was in a letter to Cardinal…Continue Reading

Vatican Liturgy Chief asks all priests and bishops to face east for Mass, faithful to kneel for Communion

LONDON, July 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Speaking at a conference on the liturgy in London yesterday, Cardinal Robert Sarah, the highest authority on the topic in the Catholic Church under Pope Francis, asked all bishops and priests to adopt the…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Did Tim Kaine Truly Get a Catholic Education?

During his speech at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night, vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia emphasized that his “faith became something vital” during his studies at a Jesuit high school. And Kaine has mentioned the importance of his Jesuit education a number of times recently in campaign speeches. But from his time in high school until now, it doesn’t seem Kaine has ever learned to embrace the fullness of the Catholic faith.…Continue Reading

Catholics urged to fast, pray for peace; group plans novena for nation

By Catholic News Service • Posted July 27, 2016 MANCHESTER, N.H. (CNS) — Bishop Peter A. Libasci of Manchester is urging Catholics to pray and fast for peace in response to the ongoing violence in the U.S. and around the world. “The current civil unrest in our country, the acts of unspeakable violence in Orlando, Dallas, Baton Rouge, and in Nice, France, the violence and political instability in Turkey, and the ongoing suffering in the…Continue Reading

Pope Francis on his way to Poland

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is on his way to Poland for his 15th Apostolic Journey aborad and where he will also be participating in World Youth Day events. The Alitalia Airbus A321 on which he is travelling is scheduled to land in Krakow at 16.00. He is accompanied on board the plane by a Pontifical Delegation and some 70 members of the press. Before setting off for the airport a group of young refugees of…Continue Reading

An eighty-four year old priest brutally murdered by Islamic terrorists during Mass in a Church in Normandy – The seed of hate

2016-07-26 L’Osservatore Romano Paris, 26. Shock and horror at the “absurd violence”, radical condemnation for “every form of hatred” and prayer for the victims. These were the first sentiments expressed by Pope Francis – through the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr Federico Lombardi – at yet another episode of jihadist terror in Francis, barely two weeks from the attack in Nice of 14 July. Two men armed with knives broke into a…Continue Reading

Catholic priest to Tim Kaine: ‘Don’t show up in my communion line’

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — A Catholic priest asked that pro-abortion Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine “do us both a favor” and not show up in his Communion line. “I take Canon 915 seriously. It’d be embarrassing for you & for me,” tweeted Dominican Father Thomas Petri, the vice president and academic dean of the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies.

Will Putin Get A Pulitzer?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Waving off the clerics who had come to administer last rites, Voltaire said: “All my life I have ever made but one prayer to God, a very short one: ‘O Lord, make my enemies look ridiculous.’ And God granted it.” The tale of the thieved emails at the Democratic National Committee…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred . . . The Indissolubility Of Marriage, As Affirmed By The Liturgy

By JAMES MONTI Later this year, as you may have already read, a revised edition of the Order of Celebrating Matrimony is going to be promulgated in the United States, featuring notably a new, more accurate translation of the Latin text revised according to the principles of the Holy See’s 2001 instruction Liturgiam Authenticam. Additionally,…Continue Reading

James Patrick: The Loss Of A Child

By DONALD DeMARCO We had five healthy and happy children. “God giveth and God taketh away.” And so, in His inscrutable wisdom, He called our sixth child to His home the day after he was born. It would have been far more difficult for us if we had lost our first child. And it would…Continue Reading

Companions Of Jesus

By JAMES DRUMMEY Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Below is a talk given by James Drummey, editor of the Catholic Replies column, at a retreat in Vermont, June 11, 2016. We are publishing his talk in two parts because of its length.) + + + Of all the 73 books in the Bible, only one —…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred . . . The Indissolubility Of Marriage, As Affirmed By The Liturgy

By JAMES MONTI Later this year, as you may have already read, a revised edition of the Order of Celebrating Matrimony is going to be promulgated in the United States, featuring notably a new, more accurate translation of the Latin text revised according to the principles of the Holy See’s 2001 instruction Liturgiam Authenticam. Additionally,…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Sacraments Of Christian Initiation

By DON FIER Two key features have been always present in the Church’s liturgy, dating back to apostolic times: There is one and the same Paschal Mystery and it is celebrated in a variety of forms. There is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I recall thinking that when I was younger I understood that G.K. Chesterton alluded to the Church’s cultural diversity when noting that Christianity would be externally different for us had Christ been born in China or elsewhere. The many Christian symbols, such as the dove, the fish, the lamb, and the ship, would have been supplanted by others. The…Continue Reading

Have Trust In God’s Promises

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Nineteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Wisdom 18:6-9 Heb. 11:1-2, 8-19 Luke 12:32-48 In the first reading today we are told that the ancient Jews knew the night of the Passover beforehand so that they would have courage through the sure oaths that had been made to them. It seems to us to be…Continue Reading

From Casuistry To Mercy… Toward A New Art Of Pleasing?

By MSGR. MICHEL SCHOOYANS Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Michel Schooyans wrote the following essay for LifeSiteNews, which graciously granted reprint permission to The Wanderer. The essay is appearing in two parts because of its length; part one appeared in last week’s issue. (John-Henry Westen, editor-in-chief of LifeSiteNews, provided this background information about the essay: (“Msgr. Michel Schooyans, a top…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Profile Of A “Saturday Vigil Commando”

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Meet the Saturday vigil commando: She will go to Mass any day of the week, at practically any time of the day, except Sunday. She is a veritable fixture at the Saturday vigil Mass and will even return to the parish on Sundays faithfully once per month to help count the offertory collection, but will…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Olaf

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Vikings! The word Viking comes from a Scandinavian word vik meaning bay or creek, with the extended word meaning pirate. The images the word brings to mind are amazing ships landing around Europe, even on the northeastern fringes of North America, to raid, pillage, and destroy. Although this did happen to some extent, the Vikings also…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. John Cassian

By CAROLE BRESLIN Frequently, the lives of the saints demonstrate that God calls us to go in directions that we would never consider unless it became clear that it is God’s will. St. Francis Xavier went to the Far East, St. Damien died in Hawaii on the opposite side of the world from his native Belgium, and St. John Cassian…Continue Reading

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading