Sunday 29th March 2015

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

Comment on this Article:

Cardinal Burke says confusion spreading among Catholics ‘in an alarming way’

LifeSiteNews: Since the extraordinary synod on the family, we have entered a period of uncertainty and confusion over several “hot-button” issues: communion for divorced and “remarried” couples, a change of attitude towards homosexual unions and an apparent relaxing of attitudes…Continue Reading

Bishop backs Catholic school’s removal of teacher over pro-marriage Facebook comments: cites Pope Francis

SOMERVILLE, NJ, March 23, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Catholic school has decided not to rehire a theology teacher who rejected the argument in favor of gay “marriage” on her private Facebook page, her family has announced. The controversy began last…Continue Reading

Creepy Catholicism.

Martin O’Malley is the latest Catholic politician to come out as a duplicitous “Catholic.” Deacon Kandra posts an excerpt here from an interview in which O’Malley displays some amazingly twisted thinking to support homosexual marriage–even though he’s a Catholic. As far…Continue Reading

Polish Bishops’ Conference rejects Holy Communion for divorced and “remarried”

The Polish Bishops’ Conference has issued a communiqué firmly rejecting the proposals that divorced and “remarried” Catholics should be admitted to Holy Communion without amendment of life. The communiqué, published on 12th March, includes the following statement: “In view of the…Continue Reading

Celtic Catholic priest and friends pile on archbishop

On Monday March 16, KALW radio’s City Visions will host a program “Can Bay Area Catholics and Archbishop Cordileone find Common Ground?” Scheduled guests are the Reverend Vincent Pizzuto; Most Holy Redeemer parishioner and teachers’ union representative Ted DeSaulnier; and…Continue Reading

The Traditional Case for Capital Punishment

A group of Catholic publishers recently issued a joint statement urging an end to capital punishment. I have great respect for all of them – I have written for all of them at one point or another. I disagree with…Continue Reading

Cardinal Müller: Pope Is Not Above the Word of God and the Catholic Faith

Edit: Rorate tends to understate things.  They want a sober response.  We’d like to offer this translation of Giuseppe Nardi’s appreciation of their take on Cardinal Müller’s recent letter appearing in the Osservatore Romano and additional commentary from other important Italian…Continue Reading

Is the Synod Secretariat Stacking the Deck Again?

The Vatican today announced that the vice president of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for the Study of Marriage and the Family will be a consulter to the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops. Professor José Granados‘ appointment,…Continue Reading

Gay activist: Of course our goal is to ‘indoctrinate children into LGBTQ agenda’

TORONTO, March 13, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — A homosexual activist has candidly admitted that gay-themed materials and policies pushed in grade schools across North America are for the sake of “indoctrinating” children into an unquestioning acceptance of homosexuality. “I am here…Continue Reading

Pope . . . giving holy Communion to remarried divorcees “won’t solve anything”

On the second anniversary of his pontificate, the Holy Father gave a lengthy interview to a Mexican television journalist. – CNA/Bohumil Petrik VATICAN CITY — In a new, wide-ranging interview published Friday on the second anniversary of his election, Pope…Continue Reading

Cardinal rebukes head of German bishops: We can’t ignore Christ’s teaching on marriage

German Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, who headed the Papal Council Cor Unum until 2010 and was made a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, has publicly opposed the words and direction of the German Bishops’ Conference. In a Letter to the…Continue Reading

Catholic dissenters’ convention keynoter: A pornographic sex columnist?

Seattle, Wash., Mar 12, 2015 / 02:31 am (CNA).- Dan Savage coordinates an annual pornography festival. He has made obscene tirades about Pope Benedict XVI, denigrated the practice of monogamy, insulted high school students and publicly harassed politicians he opposes.…Continue Reading

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 subscribe 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

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope: Life Of St Teresa Of Avila Can Help Renew Consecrated Life

st thera avila

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said the life of St Teresa of Avila, characterized by “total self-giving to God,” is a “great treasure” that can help to renew consecrated life today. The pope spoke of the witness of St Teresa in a letter, issued Saturday, to the Superior General of the Order of Discalced Carmelites, Fr Xavier Cannistrà, to mark the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the saint’s birth. Listen to the report by Laura…Continue Reading

Mass at Santa Marta- Ode to joy

2015-03-26 L’Osservatore Romano Joy and hope are Christian traits. It is sad to find a believer who knows no joy, fearful in his attachment to cold doctrine. This was the very reason for Francis’ ode to joy during Mass at Santa Marta on Thursday, 26 March. At the beginning of Mass, the Pope acknowledged the Carmelite “Hour of Prayer for Peace”. “Dear brothers and sisters”, he said, “the day after tomorrow, 28 March, will be…Continue Reading

The exhibition of the Holy Shroud of Turin

pope741

(Vatican Radio/VIS) A press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office on Wednesday to present the upcoming exhibition of the Holy Shroud of Turin (Turin, 19 April – 24 June 2015), on the occasion of the second centenary of the birth of St. John Bosco, which will be specially dedicated to the young and to those who suffer. The Pope will also make a pilgrimage to Turin from 21 to 22 June. The…Continue Reading

Pope calls for renewed prayers for Synod on the Family

(Vatican Radio) At a rain-soaked General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis called for renewed prayers for the upcoming Synod of Bishops in the Family. After meeting briefly with a group of sick people gathered in the Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis greeted pilgrims in Saint Peter’s Square. The Pope began his reflection by noting that March 25th, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, marks a special stage in the journey of catechesis on the family, a…Continue Reading

How Far Can One Sink?

By DONALD DeMARCO “With [Premier] Wynne’s sex education curriculum, we have at last splashed down in a miasmal sewer in which it’s hard to sink any further.” So writes Harley Price, who has taught philosophy at a number of prestigious universities. Many, including outraged parents and indignant members of the medical establishment, agree with him.…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . A Spiritually Sound Approach To Depression

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY The Catholic Guide to Depression, by Aaron Kheriaty, MD, with Fr. John Cihak (Sophia Institute Press, 228 pages). Visit www.sophiainstitute.com or call 1-800-888-9344 for more information or for ordering. + + + This book has a lengthy introduction, and is then divided into two parts. The first is entitled “Understanding Depression,”…Continue Reading

What If Hillary Doesn’t Care?

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO What if Hillary Clinton’s emails were hacked by foreign agents when she was the secretary of state? What if persons claiming to have done so are boasting about their alleged feats on Internet websites and in chat rooms traditionally associated with illegal or undercover activities? What if this is the sore…Continue Reading

In Defense Of Economic Freedom

By JOHN YOUNG I believe in complete economic freedom. An extreme position, it will be said, and one not only against Catholic social teaching, but also against common sense. It implies, surely, that I have a heartless disregard for the vulnerable, or at least a naive trust in capitalism — the unrestrained capitalism that Pope…Continue Reading

Some Thoughts About Catholic Care Homes . . . The Old, Weak, And Suffering Are In The Forefront Of Our Spiritual Battle

By PHILIP TROWER (Editor’s Note: Philip Trower, The Wanderer’s longtime correspondent from the United Kingdom, recently moved into a care home. The home’s superior, Sr. Hannah, asked him to write about why he chose to move into Nazareth House. Below is his letter to her.) + + + Dear Sr. Hannah, As I understand it,…Continue Reading

The Wanderer Interviews His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke . . .

burk10

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who previously served as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome from June 2008 until November 2014, recently visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. Prior to that he served as Archbishop…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Message From Cardinal Burke

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Divine Revelation: Gradual And Progressive

By DON FIER We left off last week reflecting on God’s motive for revealing Himself to us in a supernatural manner. In a word, His sole motive was that of boundless love for mankind. God gratuitously and unconditionally chose to “communicate His own divine life to the men He freely created, in order to adopt them as His sons in…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: As readers of this column know, we like to quote Fr. George Rutler from time to time because his weekly bulletin columns at the Church of St. Michael in New York City are sources of both information and inspiration. After starting his March 22 column by noting that history is “replete with the failures of famous figures,” such…Continue Reading

We Have Been Raised With Christ

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Easter Sunday (YR B) Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37-43 Col. 3:1-4 John 20:1-9 In the Gospel reading today, we hear about Peter and John entering the Lord’s grave after they had been informed by St. Mary Magdalen that Jesus had been taken away. We are told that when the Beloved Disciple saw the burial cloths there and…Continue Reading

Nothing To Toast Between China And The Vatican

By FR. BERNARDO CERVELLERA (Editor’s Note: Fr. Bernardo Cervellera is a member of PIME [Pontificio Istituto Missioni Estere], a society of apostolic life. He is the editor-in-chief of AsiaNews, a news service of PIME. (In the essay below, Fr. Cervellera noted China’s willingness, at least in words, “to enter into dialogue with the Vatican,” but decried its refusal “to compromise…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Why My Parish Is Facing “East” Together This Lent

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The futile closed circle of therapeutic naval-gazing hangs on like an overused joke in a few places still, one of them being the Church. The priest and people facing each other during the entire liturgy is a vestige of the illegitimate seizure and subjection of 2,000-year-old liturgical development by primitivist vandals in the post-Vatican period.…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Faustina And Divine Mercy

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Divine Mercy Chaplet had never been one of my favorite devotions until my aunt died. As she lay in the hospital during her final hours, I sat in the room, visiting with the endless stream of visitors who stopped in to see their fellow volunteer. By six o’clock, the room was quiet. I decided to read…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. John Of God

By CAROLE BRESLIN In our time, it is common to hear parents bemoan the fact that their child is impulsive, or strong-willed, or irresponsible. Even the Holy Family suffered when our Lord, at the age of twelve, stayed behind in the Temple. How Mary and Joseph must have agonized over the missing Child Jesus. How do you tell God you…Continue Reading