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Torture and Catholic Santorum

Andrew Sullivan makes a reasonable point: [1]

I conscientiously dissent from the Magisterium on marriage equality, contraception, and women and married priests. But I publicly acknowledge that I am dissenting and this is not the hierarchy’s view and that I am not representing the Magisterium. Santorum, it seems to me, needs to be just as explicit in his statement that he dissents from his own church on the question of the inviolable dignity of the human person. He is advocating crimes “deliberately contrary to the law of nations and to its universal principles”. He is proposing to “break” a human person, without even due process. He is standing as the publicly Catholic foe of human dignity.

What’s he talking about? Santorum supports torture [2]. The Catechism of the Catholic Church [3]unequivocally condemns torture:

2297Kidnapping and hostage taking bring on a reign of terror; by means of threats they subject their victims to intolerable pressures. They are morally wrong. Terrorism threatens, wounds, and kills indiscriminately; it is gravely against justice and charity. Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity. Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputationsmutilations, andsterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.91

2298 In times past, cruel practices were commonly used by legitimate governments to maintain law and order, often without protest from the Pastors of the Church, who themselves adopted in their own tribunals the prescriptions of Roman law concerning torture. Regrettable as these facts are, the Church always taught the duty of clemency and mercy. She forbade clerics to shed blood. In recent times it has become evident that these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order, nor in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person. On the contrary, these practices led to ones even more degrading. It is necessary to work for their abolition. We must pray for the victims and their tormentors.

Joe Carter is worth reading [4]on the evasions certain pro-torture Catholics use to justify the unjustifiable.

I hope the moderator of tonight’s debate asks Rick Santorum how he squares his support for torture with his Catholicism. How does one hold the line on contraception, but ignore the line on torture?

47 Comments (Open | Close)

47 Comments To "Torture and Catholic Santorum"

#1 Comment By E-Ro On February 22, 2012 @ 3:14 pm

“marriage equality”

man i hate euphemisms. pro-choice, marriage equality, social justice, reproductive health. Sullivan called it “gay marriage” until very recently so why does he have to act like a PR arm of the Human Rights Campaign?

#2 Comment By E-Ro On February 22, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

and before anyone says anything, yes “enhanced interrogation” would be another one, obviously done so Bush-Cheney wouldn’t incriminate themselves.

i guess my feelings on it were always not that torture was this great necessary tool, but that i couldn’t work up much outrage over the fact that it was done on three of the top guys, and honestly i doubt a Gore administration would’ve reacted much differently in those cases.

#3 Comment By Mr. Patrick On February 22, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

I would guess that if we take a drink every time the moderators bring up contraception, we’ll be dead of alcohol poisoning by 11. If we take a drink any time they question torture, we’ll be sober as the state of Utah.

#4 Comment By vicke On February 22, 2012 @ 3:21 pm

This is what I find most objectionable to Santorum. This is why I fear a Santorum presidency. Plus I have the feeling that he gets too much advise from Christian-Zionists. According the these folks America is God’s chosen nations therefore it gets a pass to use whatever means necessary to enforce its decrees.

Ron Paul is the better pro-lifer.

#5 Comment By Don Quijote On February 22, 2012 @ 3:23 pm

Murder, torture, theft no problems, but heaven forbids that someone have sex outside of the bounds of marriage then you have a real scandal.

#6 Comment By JustMe On February 22, 2012 @ 3:23 pm

It makes sense in the context of the “culture war.” If you want to assert your “seriousness” in opposition to those gay-marrying, contracepting elites on the east coast, you’re going to come down in favor of torture.

The conservative culture war is not about working within a moral matrix as much as adopting certain cultural signifiers to indicate you are “one of them” in opposition to “those people.”

People who decide to start voting Republican because they like tax cuts will wake up one day and decide that humans are not responsible for climate change, if it exists at all, and that they don’t like the idea of universal health coverage. Conservative Catholic pro-lifers who are against contraception and vote Republican are going to wake up one day and decide that they favor the use of torture. Why? Because they want to assure everyone, and themselves, that they’re not Ted Kennedy, who they also decided that same morning was their greatest enemy.

#7 Comment By An Anachronistic Apostle On February 22, 2012 @ 3:30 pm

“How does one hold the line on contraception, but ignore the line on torture?”

I suppose one could cling to a doctrine which posits the selectively attuned attentions of Satan; not only as to person (and nation), but also as to topic.

#8 Comment By MH – secular misanthropist On February 22, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

Q: How does one hold the line on contraception, but ignore the line on torture?

Isn’t this the stance of the Republican party in general? There’s always a red meat culture war item they’re all over, but enhanced interrogation is protecting the homeland. Dick Cheney for example never seems to miss an opportunity to claim how effective it is at preventing something or other. The death of Bin Laden being the most recent example:

[5]

#9 Comment By Mark Shea On February 22, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

Easy. By calling torture by the bullshit euphemism “enhanced interrogation”. Euphemism is the best friend of the apologist for evil.

#10 Comment By Brian On February 22, 2012 @ 3:40 pm

“I hope the moderator of tonight’s debate asks Rick Santorum how he squares his support for torture with his Catholicism.”
Really? Seriously? Given all the problems the country is facing, that’s something you hope they spend time on? Do you also hope that we waste time during the debates in October asking Barack Obama why he thinks the Bible tells him that he should raise taxes on the rich?

“How does one hold the line on contraception, but ignore the line on torture?”
Really? Seriously? Given all the time you’ve spent on this in the past few weeks, you get this THIS wrong? Santorum stated clearly the other day that he thinks contraceptives should be legal. Are you going to attack him as a hypocrite now?

Man, we’re so boned. I pray that the Mayans were right.

#11 Comment By Caroline Nina in DC On February 22, 2012 @ 3:57 pm

Thank you, Rod, for bringing this up. I look forward to the discussion.

#12 Comment By Edward Hamilton On February 22, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

The Catechism unfortunately shows a tendency to whitewash the history of the RCC with respect to condemnation of torture. In fact, the proscription against the “shedding of blood” was circumvented in all sorts of ways by clerics who devised tortures that did not entail bloodshed, including precursors to the waterboarding techniques used by the US military. This is functioning as a loophole for Santorum, who I assume claims (like most Bush administration officials) that what they are doing in “enhanced interrogations” is not “really” torture in the sense condemned by the Church.

The Vatican could go a long way toward eliminating the validity of this explanation by coming clean about its own complicity, not only only remaining silent, but also in actively encouraging torture at various points in Christian history. (And yes, plenty of nominally Protestant governments were no better during the same stretches of history, and I’d criticize them in the same way if the context required. But Protestants generally don’t as frequently appeal to their own tradition as a source of moral authority.)

#13 Comment By Lasorda On February 22, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

Yikes. I can’t believe I’m about to do this, but I’m a lawyer and I can’t help myself. I oppose torture as we define torture while discussing the techniques used by the US military and intelligence services during the “War on Terror,” but I’m not sure this paragraph from the Catechism does our work for us. This paragraph only seems to prohibit torture if its purpose is “to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred.” It’s not clear to me that the official regime of torture implemented by the US Government had any of those as its purpose. In the best light, torture techniques used by the CIA et al. were for the purpose of extracting useful intelligence from detainees, etc. I suppose one could argue that our purposes might fall into the “extract confessions” category, but that is far from obvious. It’s likely that the drafters of the Catechism had in mind the extraction of true “confessions” that could be used for propaganda purposes.

Having said all that, I am sure that the Church teaches us that waterboarding KSM and his ilk is not morally licit. It’s just not clear to me that such a teaching is found in this particular paragraph from the Catechism. I mean, we might as well be precise.

#14 Comment By Gene Callahan On February 22, 2012 @ 4:33 pm

“Really? Seriously?”

That’s very original, Brian. I’ve never heard anyone use those words in that way before. I think you might be on to something there.

#15 Comment By CK On February 22, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

Sullivan also makes another point worth mentioning that is not addressed by political pro-lifers:

“A lawmaker who allows free contraception in health insurance can only be accused of indirectly causing sin to occur; but a president who authorizes the abuse and torture of human beings is directly, intimately involved with that decision and bears full moral responsibility for it.”

#16 Comment By Richard W Comerford On February 22, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

Mr E-Ro:

“i couldn’t work up much outrage over the fact that it was done on three of the top guys”

Mr. Dreher linked to an article by a Mr Carter. Mr. Carter cited several intelligent e professionals who came forward with the claim that the number of prisoners who underwent enhanced interrogation numbered in the thousands.

Information obtained under these circumstances is questionable at best.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

#17 Comment By Ping Lin On February 22, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

There’s a mighty simple reason torture is ignored by Santorum (and a majority of Republicans): showing mercy to our enemies is against the religion of Nationalism.

I didn’t really consider Nationalism as a religion until the whole Park51 Mosque brouhaha in 2010. During that controversy, the phrase “WTC is a sacred space” kept popping up over and over, and it caused me to bristle a bit without my fully knowing why.

Of course, it’s obvious now. “Sacred”? Sacred to whom? Not sacred to Jesus, the Man never set foot there. But sacred, of course, to those who treat America as a god — it certainly would be a sacred space. And much of what passes for Nationalism these days bears all the hallmarks of a religion gone amok — the concept that ideas counter to it, in and of themselves, are dangerous; the zealous condemnation of anyone who doesn’t share it; the frequent and necessary proclamations of fealty in public as a social signifier; and so on.

We may well be wandering into golden calf territory here.

#18 Comment By Richard W Comerford On February 22, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

Mr. Edward Hamilton:

“the proscription against the “shedding of blood” was circumvented in all sorts of ways by clerics who devised tortures that did not entail bloodshed, including precursors to the waterboarding techniques used by the US military.”

I do not know which Inquisition you are referring to. But the Royal Inquisition of Spain is now (thanks in no small part to Mr. Google) pretty well documented. For the period of over 350-years the Inquisition operated throughout the Spanish Empire there is no evidence in primary documents to support the charge that the Inquisition “devised tortures that did not entail bloodshed, including precursors to the waterboarding techniques used by the US military”.

This particular slander was made (by of all persons) by Teddy Roosevelt in response to the Anti-Imperialist League’s (founded in part by Mark Twain) accusation that the U.S. military was using the “water treatment” on Filipinos during the insurrection against U.S. rule that took the lives of about 1-million Filipinos. Most of the victims were of course Catholic.

One of the justifications given by our government to justify this brutal counter insurgency was to bring “Christianity to the Filipinos”

God bless

Richard W Comerford

#19 Comment By E-Ro On February 22, 2012 @ 5:07 pm

^considering liberals are always going on about what is and isn’t “insensitive” you figure they might question the sensitivity of Muslims placing a mosque there (i know, it wasn’t super-close, blah blah blah, but still.) you wouldn’t build a Catholic Church next to a Holocaust site even though Nazism was pseudo-scientific and not religious in nature, cuz of the debated relationship between the Church and Hitler. i’m talking on principle so please no one point out that one exists or whatever.

as for three people vs. thousands, i was talking about waterboarding.

#20 Comment By Richard W Comerford On February 22, 2012 @ 5:10 pm

Mr Lasorda:

“It’s not clear to me that the official regime of torture implemented by the US Government had any of those as its purpose. In the best light, torture techniques used by the CIA et al. were for the purpose of extracting useful intelligence from detainees”

The US Governments own standard for all ag3encies on this matter is FM 34-52 (Mr Google can find you a copy) which by Executive Order is applicable to all US Agencies finds that torture is “counter productive” as an interrogation technique.

There is no reason to torture a prisoner other than terror.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

#21 Comment By Richard W Comerford On February 22, 2012 @ 5:14 pm

Mr. E-Ro:

“as for three people vs. thousands, i was talking about waterboarding.”

So was I.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

#22 Comment By Erin Manning On February 22, 2012 @ 5:22 pm

Mr. Lasorda, my own light bulb moment on these sorts of things included the realization that neither the Catechism nor Canon Law nor just about anything the Church officially says should be mistaken for British/American-style law. (Thanks again, Mark Shea!)

In other words, when the Catechism says “Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity…” it is emphatically NOT saying “…but it’s okay for intelligence gathering or to prop up the Right Side in a military situation or in some other things we didn’t think to mention.” It’s more a description of the deleterious effects of torture than an exclusive list of when torture’s not okay (with any presumption that it might, despite being evil, sometimes be).

Does that make sense?

#23 Comment By E-Ro On February 22, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

can you give the specific link? i looked through Carter’s article and didn’t see him mention it. i was under the impression that while several techniques had been used on detainees waterboarding had been limited to KSM and a couple others, as a last extreme if the others failed.

#24 Comment By steve On February 22, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

Lie down with dogs and get up with fleas. That is how I see the Catholic Church and evangelical movement and their ties to the GOP.

Steve

#25 Comment By Charles Cosimano On February 22, 2012 @ 5:47 pm

Oh no! I’m going to agree with Richard and that means the world is going to end.

The purpose of torture is terror, pure and simple. The information it brings is rarely reliable and not worth the trouble. But as a tool of policy, it is a way of saying to the rest of the world, and no just to the godless Musslelmans, but also to the cheese-eating surrender monkey Euros that we are a people who torture people for the fun of it, We are not people that you want mad at you.

Ok, a little fun with it, but yeah, it’s purpose is terror.

#26 Comment By E-Ro On February 22, 2012 @ 5:58 pm

yeah that infernal Catholic Church sure is an efficient GOP political machine. i hear they’re still trying to pick a successor to Pope Neuhaus.

#27 Comment By savia On February 22, 2012 @ 5:59 pm

Mr. Edward Hamilton,

The tradition that Catholics refer to as a source of moral authority is Apostolic teachings on faith and morals.

It does not refer to each and everything said and done.

#28 Comment By E-Ro On February 22, 2012 @ 6:01 pm

“But as a tool of policy, it is a way of saying to the rest of the world, and no just to the godless Musslelmans, but also to the cheese-eating surrender monkey Euros that we are a people who torture people for the fun of it,”

this is such a lame argument

#29 Comment By Fran Macadam On February 22, 2012 @ 6:09 pm

You can’t be good at your job unless you really enjoy it. Think about what that entails in regards to torture.

#30 Comment By Lasorda On February 22, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

Erin, I don’t think I’m bringing American law into this at all. I think I am just interpreting this paragraph based on its plain meaning. It lists several “purposes” for torture that are prohibited. Expressio unius est exclusio alterius. If the drafters had wanted to expressly prohibit all forms of purposive torture, they need not have listed any purposes. I’m not sure what is going on here. I understand that the Catechism is not a legal document–I’m Catholic–and I’m open to the idea that this paragraph is sloppily written. But if that’s the case, don’t put it forward as evidence that Rick Santorum is dissenting from Catholic teaching.

In fact, I do think that Santorum is dissenting from Catholic teaching. I just don’t think that this paragraph from the Catechism provides evidence of that.

#31 Comment By Liam On February 22, 2012 @ 6:21 pm

I was hoping Rod would pick up on Sully’s comments to this extent.

And, it should ever be remembered, as Mark Shea steadfastly reminded the wilfully evasive for years, that Catholic teaching as now developed not only proscribes torture but affirmatively prescribes humane treatment of prisoners. A Frances Kessling-worthy evasion of the proscription doesn’t get you to satisfy the prescription. The fact that capital punishment is permitted under certain limited circumstances does not mean that torture and inhumane treatment are lesser-included permitted actions against prisoners, any more than rape would suddenly become a permitted action against a prisoner.

My main *civic* objection against Catholic folks like Kerry, Pelosi, Biden, and Santorum and a bunch of his fellow travelers is the same: don’t trade on your Catholic bona fides for political support. If you disagree with the Church, don’t try to get people to vote for you because of your Catholic faith. Don’t try to exploit Catholic networks as exemplar of Catholic faith. Et cet. You are certainly free to run; you’re just not entitled to credibility when you trade in such a fashion. (I would apply this to myself, too.) In this regard, there are plenty of people on both sides of the aisle who have serious problems, and I am no longer interested in their quibbles on that score; it’s not false equivalency.

#32 Comment By Dave D. On February 22, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

Yeah, it’s done for terror, that’s why we do it publicly and leave their broken bodies tied to posts in front of a live webcam. Geez, listen to yourselves. It’s not like Santorum is planning to open a chain of McTorture selling a Waterboarding Value meal with a side order of Catholicism. This is something he should just decry because it’s bad PR, it doesn’t really work, is immoral, and is incidental to real problems because it’s so rare.

#33 Comment By Kirt Higdon On February 22, 2012 @ 6:35 pm

In the encyclical The Splendor of Truth, Pope John Paul II quotes from the documents of the Second Vatican Council which condemn torture as intrinsically wrong without any qualifications as respect to purpose. Both Conciliar documents and Papal encyclicals are of even greater weight in Catholic teaching than the Catechism.

“Consequently, without in the least denying the influence on
morality exercised by circumstances and especially by
intentions, the Church teaches that “there exist acts which per
se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are
always seriously wrong by reason of their object”.131 The
Second Vatican Council itself, in discussing the respect due to
the human person, gives a number of examples of such acts:
“Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of homicide,
genocide, abortion, euthanasia and voluntary suicide;
whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as
mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce
the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as
subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment,
deportation, slavery, prostitution and trafficking in women
and children; degrading conditions of work which treat
labourers as mere instruments of profit, and not as free
responsible persons: all these and the like are a disgrace, and
so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate
those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice,
and they are a negation of the honour due to the Creator””

#34 Comment By AnotherBeliever On February 22, 2012 @ 6:38 pm

“Mr. Patrick, on February 22nd, 2012 at 3:19 pm Said:

I would guess that if we take a drink every time the moderators bring up contraception, we’ll be dead of alcohol poisoning by 11. If we take a drink any time they question torture, we’ll be sober as the state of Utah.”

Oh dear, neither of these is a viable path forward. Can someone suggest some other key phrases that won’t kill us/leave us stone-cold sober and highly annoyed by the debaters please??

#35 Comment By E-Ro On February 22, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

Nancy Pelosi’s Catholic cuz she thinks the churches are pretty

#36 Comment By Richard W Comerford On February 22, 2012 @ 7:36 pm

Mr. E-Ro:

“can you give the specific link?”

Yes. This guy was a legend in certain circles. he is retired Army Colonel, and professional interrogator, and he discusses this matter at length. He writes in part:

“I served 30 years in the U.S. Army as an intelligence officer, which included extensive experience as an interrogator in Vietnam, in Panama and during the 1991 Gulf War. In the course of these sensitive missions, my teams and I collected mountains of excellent, verified information, despite the fact that we never laid a hostile hand on a prisoner. Had one of my interrogators done so, he would have been disciplined and most likely relieved of his duties.”

Read more: [6]

God bless

Richard W Comerford

#37 Comment By Glaivester On February 22, 2012 @ 7:57 pm

The purpose of torture is terror, pure and simple.

Actually, torture can sometimes get you useful information [keep reading].

The information it brings is rarely reliable

But the right information can be VERY useful, even if it is not reliable. In fact, unreliable information that supports the actions you want to take can be more useful than reliable information.

and not worth the trouble.

Sure it can be worth the trouble. You torture someone into confessing that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction(TM) that he is about to use against the U.S., it can be incredibly useful information, because it gives you a reason to go to war.

It’s useful even if it isn’t accurate, because by the time it is discovered to be faulty, you’ve already got the war you wanted.

#38 Comment By Charles Cosimano On February 22, 2012 @ 8:19 pm

If you want to go to war you don’t to bother to get any information other than the enemies strength and troop dispositions. First you decide to go to war, then you make up the reason, if you want to bother.

But you don’t have to torture anyone to do that, you just consult your PR people. It is a lot less work.

#39 Comment By JonF On February 22, 2012 @ 8:37 pm

Re: Lie down with dogs and get up with fleas.

And some of those fleas may be carrying the Black Death.

All the worldly power and influence possible are not worth trading away the faith’s spiritual treasures.

#40 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 22, 2012 @ 10:11 pm

Almost everyone is expressing their opinion on torture, but the original point was, here is this candidate talking about the depth of his Roman Catholic faith, and he is in direct violation of the teachings of his church, which, on other questions, he proposes everyone should be obedient to.

Erin, at least, is consistent in her obedience.

Santorum is, like most people in public life who wave their faith like a banner, a stinking hypocrite. The least he can do is admit that on this issue, he has a conscientious objection to the teaching of his Magesterium.

Now from my point of view, there are VERY FEW Catholics who do not have such reservations. Anyone who has such reservations, and then proclaims the importance of absolute obedience, is a hypocrite. What distinguishes the various mutually antagonistic schools of RC thought is, each takes exception to a different aspect of official doctrine, and therefore offers some sophistry as to why that isn’t really what their church teaches.

JonF, you are correct, but we have no consensus on what the faith’s spiritual treasures are.

#41 Comment By Erin Manning On February 22, 2012 @ 10:24 pm

Lasorda, I would agree with you that there are better cases to be made regarding the Church’s prohibition against torture than merely citing the Catechism, but again, I don’t think that the Catechism is trying to posit a narrow definition of torture. In fact, there was a raging debate (if I recall correctly) over whether there should have been, in the English translation of that passage, a comma after the word torture, which some argued would show definitively that this was NOT a case of (as you put it) “Expressio unius est exclusio alterius,” but something else entirely.

The point, though, is that there’s plenty of Church teaching for Santorum to consult before being a cheerleader for torture, including the various writings of the bishops of America on the USCCB’s website–so it’s not some obscure doctrine that most Catholics in America wouldn’t be able to figure out.

Many Catholics on the right hate contraception but love torture; many Catholics on the left love contraception but hate torture. But if we really want to think with the Church, we will move to the recognition that the things which are evil often are those things which objectify a human being, so that he or she is no longer neighbor, friend, and beloved, but a *thing* to be used for our purposes. Whether that purpose is sterile sexual pleasure or the infliction of pain to force information from the detainee, the fact remains that in both cases we have taken the first step away from the Divine by failing to see His reflection–the Divine Image–in the person we merely wish to use for whatever selfish gain we hope to obtain.

#42 Comment By Another Matt On February 22, 2012 @ 11:07 pm

Whether that purpose is sterile sexual pleasure or the infliction of pain to force information from the detainee…

… or fertile sexual pleasure …

#43 Comment By Erin Manning On February 23, 2012 @ 1:28 am

Another Matt, I know we’re talking past each other on this, but let’s look at it again.

It does not objectify either a man or a woman to notice and appreciate that part of their God-given sexual complementarity exists in that system of biological reproductive capacity which in its fullest sign of the marital union, the two-becoming-one, results in a new human person who is the living symbol of her parents’ love for each other. That they might seek sexual pleasure in the context of this love and its embrace is not a mere side-effect, of course, but the important truth here is that they do not seek merely to use each other’s bodies for their own pleasure while attacking the order of creation itself.

Now, if a man were to see his wife as both a pleasure-dispenser and baby-machine without any true desire to understand and appreciate her as a full human being with her own needs, he, too, would be objectifying her; and if a woman saw her husband as a pleasure-dispenser and progeny-producer such that each additional child was a mere weapon of her control over him, she would be objectifying him. But that objectification would not be *because* they appreciated each other’s fertility but in spite of it; in fact, they don’t appreciate it as the gift it is, but seek to use it just as manipulatively as any contracepting couple.

Of course, the problem in our age is not so much what I’ve described above, however much ages past may have dealt with it. It might be possible that our pendulum-shift in the direction of the objectification of contraception came about because of such sins of objectification in the past, though–that too often men and women failed to appreciate the totality of the gift, the profound meaning of what it is to have another person voluntarily choose to belong to you and you to him/her, and the balance necessary in such a relationship throughout its earthly existence. In simpler words, a man I once read about who thought marriage was supposed to be 50-50 nearly divorced his wife, until he realized two important things: that marriage was supposed to be 100-100, and that he could only control his own 100 percent. When he started giving 100 percent without asking for anything back, his marriage improved dramatically as his wife sought to measure up to his generosity and love.

#44 Comment By Dave D. On February 23, 2012 @ 3:20 am

He’s a hypocrite when its an unpopular issue. If he was one of the many catholics who use birth control, he’s daring to defy a corrupt hierarchy. How come Obama gets a pass for doing the same things despite theoretically being as much of a Christian?

Selective outrage gets old, real fast.

#45 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 23, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

“we will move to the recognition that the things which are evil often are those things which objectify a human being, so that he or she is no longer neighbor, friend, and beloved, but a *thing* to be used for our purposes.”

Amen to that, whether or not this or that church teaches it, and even though I don’t always empirically agree on what objectifies human beings, or how. Whatever disagreements we may have over the details, those things that objectify a human being is a good standard for evil.

(Note to Dave D.: Barack Obama is not and never has been a son of the Roman Catholic Church. Rick Santorum allegedly is. If Obama belongs to a church which, e.g., forbids contraception, and tries to say he is a member in good standing but disagrees with the teaching, then you would have a point.)

#46 Comment By Another Matt On February 23, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

Dear Erin,

There are dangers for objectification in all of these scenaria. If I were using my spouse for sexual gratification alone, I would be objectifying her. If I were using her to make babies, I would be objectifying her. If I were using her in order to have a mystical religious experience, I would be objectifying her.

Belief that you can “attack the order of creation” by wearing a condom just smacks of an essentialism and mysticism that I just do not possess the mental wiring to get behind – sex doesn’t have an essence, but hundreds of overlapping properties. If you’re suggesting that using contraception is “the same” as an “any port in a lust-storm” attitude toward sex, that’s just as insulting as if I were to tell you, “yeah, the only reason you sleep with your spouse is so you can get off on the mystic high you also get from praying and eating your silly Christ wafer on Sunday.” That is not something I would ever tell anyone in earnest.

Some people just aren’t into symbolism, or regard symbolism as a kind of objectification.

#47 Comment By Erin Manning On February 23, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

Well, again, Another Matt, I think we’re talking past each other; I’m using words in the context of Catholic philosophical traditions which are quite old, and don’t translate well to sound bites.

But the “order of creation” simply means that sex has two innate purposes: unity and procreation. To attack these purposes is to attack what sex is, what it is for. Rather than continue to take Rod’s blog too far off topic, I’d ask that you consider looking into what the Church has written about this, if you’d really like to understand.