Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Doubting St. Thomas

Last week, a DFL state representative was bounced from getting honored by a local Catholic high school due to his public advocacy on behalf of abortion.

The policy on such things must be different at the Catholic university a few miles up the road. The University of St. Thomas announces an upcoming gala celebration:

Congressman Keith Ellison, musician Debbie Duncan headline third annual Black History Month Heritage Gala Feb. 21.

The Office of Institutional Diversity will host the third annual Black History Month Heritage Gala on Saturday, Feb. 21. This year's theme is "Pilgrimage to the Promised Land: A Past to Cherish. A Promise to Fulfill." With the recent historical inauguration of Barack Obama as the first African American president of the United States, Congressman Ellison will deliver an inspiring message about our current realities, hope and change that is coming.
As a good progressive, Ellison is in lock step with all the Democrat sacraments, such as abortion and gay marriage. On these aspects alone, the decision to celebrate him on campus is suspect. But Keith Ellison has another line item on his resume that one would think the Catholic Church might have a teeny, tiny objection to. He happens to be an APOSTATE!

Sorry to use such a divisive word on you. But I had no choice. That's what they call members of the flock who leave the Catholic Church to pursue other interests. Keith Ellison was raised as a Catholic and lived as one until he converted to Islam while in college. Like it or not, that is known as apostasy, or more specifically, "apostasy a fide":

the complete and voluntary abandonment of the Christian religion, whether the apostate embraces another religion such as Paganism, Judaism, Mohammedanism, etc., or merely makes profession of Naturalism, Rationalism, etc. The heretic differs from the apostate in that he only denies one or more of the doctrines of revealed religion. Whereas the apostate denies the religion itself, a sin which has always been looked upon as one of the most grievous.
I see the punishment for such in the Catholic Church had eased a bit since the fourth century (" Apostates were punished by deprivation of all civil rights. They could not give evidence in a court of law, and could neither bequeath nor inherit property. To induce anyone to apostatize was an offence punishable with death ). And this isn't Riyadh, nobody is going to get their head cut off here. Plus, it may be the case that earning the official scarlet "A" in this day and age needs an official pronouncement from the Pope. But, turning your back on the church is still considered a rather serious mortal sin. Yes, the Church still disapproves of its members renouncing them (the intolerant bigots!)

Yet, St. Thomas is bringing him in, willing to overlook this issue in the name of . . . . what? Some more important issue? From their press release, an indication of what that might be:

His experience as a community activist and his message of inclusiveness through democratic participation resonates throughout the Fifth District and Minnesota. His priorities in Congress are promoting peace, prosperity for working families, and promoting civil and human rights.
What's a little apostasy compared to promoting prosperity for working families? Nothing if you're the local branch of the DFL party. If you happen to think of yourself as an outpost of the One True Faith, I'd think your priorities might be a little different. Which one is St. Thomas supposed to be again?

That's right, they are Catholic. But bringing up those troublesome "mortal sins" is really the antithesis of Ellison's "message of inclusiveness." If you want him to come, best adopt a hear no evil-see no evil policy on this one.

Except, these things have consequences. When a well known Catholic university employee in St. Louis was running around spouting politically fashionable liberal sentiments, the local Archbishop remarked:

I'm concerned that a leader at a Catholic university made these comments. It can lead Catholics astray," Burke said Tuesday.
That equally applies to honored speakers brought to a Catholic university to push their ideas. Any chance the students in attendance might get the impression the Church is perfectly OK with Ellison's decisions and philosophy? How could they not?

Truth be told, the average struggling Catholic is always looking for loopholes to the high standards set in the moral code. Anything thought to justify the practice of their favorite sins or moral sloth will be seized upon by some. It is an aspect of human nature. Catholics institutions playing games with their own rules and core beliefs create the biggest loophole of all. If they're not serious about adhering to their moral principles, why should the average slob be?

For the good of the Church, I call on St. Thomas to cancel Keith Ellison's appearance and celebrate instead with one of the many ardent, practicing, Catholics on the political scene. Like Nancy Pelosi. (D'oh!) Or Joe Biden (Screeeech!) Maybe Betty McCollum. (Oof!). Or Tim Waltz (Gack!)

You know, I'm starting to feel some compassion for the St. Thomas University booking agent. Maybe Keith Ellison doesn't look so bad after all.

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