|NL Coat of Arms: Seek ye first the kingdom of God|
Will Frank Coleman make a good premier for our province? I don’t know and at this point it may be anyone’s guess. His wife’s and his children’s candid opinions might be our most reliable guide at this point, assuming we could access them. However, failing that, I think we have heard and seen enough to make some essential points. How is a man to be evaluated for political office? Is character a chief consideration? Does honesty and integrity figure anywhere into the equation? Or is the determination to be made on the basis of a results-oriented ability to achieve certain ends?
In this posting my comments will focus on mainly one matter: On the basis of the recent “abortion controversy”, has newly minted politician Frank Coleman managed to retain his Catholic credentials? Has there been an egregious violation of Catholic character and allegiance to the Church, resulting in a most fundamental misrepresentation of the Catholic faith? Is Frank Coleman worthy of the name “Catholic?” Does he deserve the stamp of “faithful Catholic politician”?
The media have been very reluctant to bring up the subject of Frank Coleman’s religion. Scary and extreme stuff like religion must be kept ultra-personal and out of sight; so says the moral relativists but such an approach is dangerous to the common good.
My analysis is not meant to be a personal attack but solely an attempt to protect the Catholic faith from further misrepresentation and scandal. Consider this posting then as a public service.
Coleman pronounced what I call his “Ten Commandments” for political leadership in an interview last week with VOCM’s Paddy Daly. He had previously issued at least one statement via a press release through his Twitter account to answer questions about his involvement in the March for Life in Corner Brook. The VOCM interview is posted in one of my previous blog entries. Were these “Ten Commandments” actually statements of faith or were they ten outrageous public statements amounting to a denial (at least objectively) of his Catholic faith?
First Commandment: Thou shalt not impose thine own personal views when the “groupthink” bullies clamour
Coleman said: “I do not intend to impose my personal views.”
The Church says: Catholics are “wide of the mark who think that religion consists in acts of worship alone” and “plunge themselves into earthly affairs in such a way as to imply that these are altogether divorced from the religious life.” Such a split is “to be counted among the more serious errors of our age,” a “scandal” and one “fought vehemently against by Jesus Christ Himself in the New Testament threatening it with grave punishments.” Vatican II, Gaudium Spes, (43)
I imagine that it will suffice for a good number of “active’ NL Catholics that Coleman asserts his pro-life position and particularly that he attends the annual March for Life in Corner Brook. However there is an extreme split in logic evident when Coleman qualifies his position by saying he won’t impose his personal views. Clearly Coleman grasps the fact that abortion kills a small child yet he is willing to say “Although I believe that abortion is the intentional murder of a defenseless child, rest assured, I won’t do anything to stop it.” If this can be termed logic, its name is Insane. Which other categories of human beings does Coleman believe could be terminated through laws?
I’ve posted recently on the cowardly and shallow defense of “I’m Personally Opposed, But” (IPOB) argument raised by Coleman and thousands more “pro-life” politicians like him.
And exactly who are the people that Coleman won’t impose his views on? Precisely those “liberated” individuals who are divorced from reason and the common good and who facilitate, knowingly or not, the bankruptcy of a moral minded state. What about the large number of NL’ers who, regardless of whether they identify as “pro-choice” or “pro-life”, have some degree of opposition to the state denying the citizen’s “right to choose” whether taxpayer money pays for the destruction of little babies in the womb? Does Coleman have no respect for this large body of voters? His choice to not “impose his views” will certainly impact these people significantly and will, in effect, constitute an imposition.
How shallow and hypocritical of Coleman. His “First Commandment” indicates that he respects only the shrill voice of bullies, in this case that hyper-sexualized constituency with more than its fair share of loud mouthed extremists who constantly shout out the mantra of “choice.”
It was a scandal when, during the election of 2004 Catholic Prime Minister Paul Martin, he made so bold as to declare on national TV his determination to preserve a woman’s “right to choose”. The next year under his watch “same-sex marriage” was enshrined into Canadian law. How shocking was his conduct to many devout Canadian Catholics! And how much more shocking that his own priest and Archbishop considered him a “faithful member” while he was at work dismantling Canada’s moral fabric.
Paul Martin, although a Catholic, never claimed the title of “pro-life” nor is there any record of him participating annually in a local “March for Life”. That would have seemed totally off the wall at the time, altogether too incomprehensible that a pro-life Catholic politician could be respecting on the open airwaves a woman’s choice to kill her child. Yet here we are about ten years later in Canada and another Catholic politician, this time claiming not only impressive pro-life credentials, but also visionary leadership as a founder of a private Catholic School, is using the same dangerous euphemisms and safe-speech tactics in order to rally support for a bid for provincial Premier. Just when we couldn’t imagine the Catholic standard being so low and corrupted another renegade Catholic politician tries to demolish the standard altogether. This is what the silence and blindness of the Canadian Bishops accomplishes.
As to the further lunacy of “imposing personal views”, more needs to be said:
It is especially fraudulent for politicians to take this position. Inflicting their views on others is precisely what legislators are elected to do and every vote they make does just that. Further, if a politician is not going to be guided by his own personal views, then (a) why would he bother to tell us what his personal views are, and (b) exactly whose personal views is he going to be guided by?
Politicians who say they are Christians but that they won’t impose their religious beliefs on others are also frauds. If some guy claimed to be a Christian while owning a chain of triple-X theaters and porn shops, no one would believe that he is sincere about his faith. That also applies to politicians. When a person says that if their faith collides with their politics, it is their faith they will abandon, what they are actually saying is that God can’t trust them. So why should we?
Of course, when it comes to this “forcing beliefs” issue, the most important point is that 45 to 50 million dead babies have had the pro-choice mob’s beliefs forced on them. [Source]
Second Commandment: Thou shalt not judge the “hard” choices of others
Coleman said: “That is not my role. I wasn't ever given any crown to make judgment on the choices that people have made …I am NOT trying to find ways to exact control over people's choices.”
The Church says: Coleman need not profess any crown or power to judge in himself. He need only joyfully embrace his Catholic faith which insists: “Political leaders” are “not to give in, but to make those choices which, taking into account what is realistically attainable, will lead to the re-establishment of a just order in the defence and promotion of the value of life.” St. John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, (90d). Furthermore, “it is, however, the Church’s right and duty to provide a moral judgment on temporal matters when this is required by faith or the moral law.” The Participation of Catholics in Political Life, (3)
Very conveniently Coleman, after the fashion of the tolerance mob, offers only one-half of the Bible’s verdict on judgement:
Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Luke 6:37
However, the Christian is indeed exhorted to judge:
Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. John 7:24
Christians are called to judge righteously, that is, with the same judgment that God judges. Such judgment must issue from a well formed conscience, fully in tune with the Holy Scriptures and with the teaching of Christ’s Church. A Catholic is never called upon to surrender his/her conscience in order to accommodate moral evil or the bad choices of others which run contrary to the common good. Nor should a Catholic like Frank Coleman hesitate to speak the truth of God on the subject of a reprehensible evil such as abortion, which was the context of his Second Commandment.
It is a question of the lay Catholic’s duty to be morally coherent, found within one’s conscience, which is one and indivisible. “There cannot be two parallel lives in their existence: on the one hand, the so-called ‘spiritual life’, with its values and demands; and on the other, the so-called ‘secular’ life, that is, life in a family, at work, in social responsibilities, in the responsibilities of public life and in culture.
Living and acting in conformity with one’s own conscience on questions of politics is not slavish acceptance of positions alien to politics or some kind of confessionalism, but rather the way in which Christians offer their concrete contribution so that, through political life, society will become more just and more consistent with the dignity of the human person.
Those who, on the basis of respect for individual conscience, would view the moral duty of Christians to act according to their conscience as something that disqualifies them from political life, denying the legitimacy of their political involvement following from their convictions about the common good, would be guilty of a form of intolerant secularism. Such a position would seek to deny not only any engagement of Christianity in public or political life, but even the possibility of natural ethics itself. Were this the case, the road would be open to moral anarchy, which would be anything but legitimate pluralism. The oppression of the weak by the strong would be the obvious consequence. The Participation of Catholics in Political Life, (6c,d)
Third Commandment: Thou shalt not hope to overturn the status quo on evil
Paddy Daly asks: Let's just call it a march or rally. Does that not in fact mean that you are putting forward your opinion that would hope to change policy and legislation? Coleman said: No I don't. I don't believe [so].
The Church says:
But responsibility likewise falls on the legislators who have promoted and approved abortion laws, and, to the extent that they have a say in the matter, on the administrators of the health-care centres where abortions are performed.” St. John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, (59b)
Again, Coleman seems comfortable with the status quo on all aspects of abortion, including the payment by taxpayers of the actual “terminations” at the local killing centres. I believe it is accurate to say that as the new Premier he will be the new administrator-in-chief of all government operations, including the province’s healthcare system. As such, he will be accountable to God for the lives of every innocent child who dies through his neglect of duty, to the extent that he had a say in the matter.
The responsibility for healthcare management and costs, under which abortion services fall, belongs to the provincial government, not the federal government. Even though a provincial government may not place an impediment that altogether prevents abortions from being performed, it has latitude to rule that abortions performed in private clinics will not be paid for by the taxpayer, as P.E.I. and New Brunswick currently do. Furthermore it can require stricter conditions for abortion procedures in its hospitals, an altogether reasonable approach given the controversial nature of abortion and the fact that with modern medicine it NEVER takes place out of medical necessity.
It would have been perfectly legitimate for Coleman to respond to Paddy Daly’s question by expressing great empathy for the women victimized by abortion in our province, which he partially did, but then reinforce the objective truth about abortion, appealing for justice for the unborn child who is also and always a (dead) victim. He could then have gone on to say, at the very least, that he and his Cabinet, at the appropriate time, would look at the current delivery of abortion “services” and ensure that the best interests of all NL’ers were being taken into account.
Granted, that would have given rise to more alarm and more questions, but Mr. Catholic politician, at all costs live up to your calling, and if you still can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
Fourth Commandment: Thou shalt respect the prevailing laws of society even if they run counter to the common good
Paddy Daly asks: We've had societal debates (same sex marriage, alternative lifestyles) that have led to legislation. Can you speak to any of those? Do you think that's a legitimate road we now have to go down?
Coleman said: I have respect of the rule of law or whatever that rule of law is regarding whatever social issue you're speaking of. I said that in my statement on Friday. I said, look, you know I respect the rule of law and I’m prepared to obey it and I understand that people have choices to make and I respect those choices and I'm not about, under any circumstances, Paddy, to exercise any influence over choices people make.
Coleman was given an open door here to reiterate Catholic teaching on the subject of “same sex marriage” and gender ideologies. He altogether declined to shine a light on these unnatural vices, but rather excused them on the grounds that they have been settled by law. Catholics serving in politics, as well as Catholics heading to the polls, are required to take their consciences with them.
“a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals." The Participation of Catholics in Political Life, (4b)
“…the family needs to be safeguarded and promoted, based on monogamous marriage between a man and a woman, and protected in its unity and stability in the face of modern laws on divorce: in no way can other forms of cohabitation be placed on the same level as marriage, nor can they receive legal recognition as such. The Participation of Catholics in Political Life, (4c)
Christians have a "grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. [...] This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it"
Oftentimes, Catholic politicians who hold anti-life positions defend their voting record on the ground that they are following their constituency or the will of the “majority.” One cannot however defend an unjust law on the ground of political consensus. We do not consider the “Jim Crow” laws, which discriminated against African Americans, “just” because the majority of the population supported them.
Catholic politicians have the responsibility to work against an unjust law, even when a majority of the electorate supports it. When Catholic politicians cannot immediately overturn an unjust law, they must never cease to work toward that end. At the very least, they must limit, as much as possible, the evil caused by the unjust law. Pope John Paul II illustrates for us this important moral principle: “[W]hen it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, (Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae, “On the Value and Inviolability of Human Life” [March 25, 1995], n. 73c).
Among the many "social conditions" which the Catholic must take into account in voting, the above serious moral issues must be given the first consideration. The Catholic voter must seek, above every other consideration, to protect the common good by opposing these practices which attack its very foundations. Thus, in weighing all of the social conditions which pertain to the common good, we must safeguard, before all else, the good of human life and the good of marriage and the family. On Our Civic Responsibility for the Common Good (29)
Fifth Commandment: Thou shalt assume all faiths are equally based upon the truth
Coleman said: The strength of a democracy rests on our ability to draw upon leaders from varied faiths.
The Church says:
Democracy succeeds only to the extent that it is based on truth and a correct understanding of the human person. Catholic involvement in political life cannot compromise on this principle; otherwise Christian witness to the splendour of truth in the public sphere would be silenced and an autonomy from morality proclaimed. Pope Benedict XVI, Ad Limina Visit Canadian Bishops 2006, (3c)
“Democracy must be based on the true and solid foundation of non-negotiable ethical principles, which are the underpinning of life in society.” The Participation of Catholics in Political Life, (3a)
All men of good faith and from different religious backgrounds and traditions can indeed make a contribution to our political process. However, the Catholic Church claims to be the one true Church ordained by Jesus Christ for the salvation of all mankind. Other Christian groups and denominations, even other religions, are not excluded from salvation but the Catholic Church alone possesses the fullness of truth granted to man by God. The following paragraph from the Catechism helps to express this truth:
819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth" are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements." Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity."
Christian and other faith group leaders undoubtedly will have their views on how best to govern in a democracy; however the Catholic Church is entrusted by God with the fullness of truth concerning the nature of man and his eternal welfare. Thus the Catholic Church alone has the God given competency to speak definitively to the claims of democracy and man’s relationship within that system; to wit, in this very abortion controversy, the Catholic Church demands consideration, justice and protection for every human being involved, especially the unborn child.
Once again, Frank Coleman, as a Catholic, has failed to reflect the mind of the Church, this time on the very political system of which he desires to be part. Does he believe that the Catholic Church has the full weight of heaven behind it to oversee and pass judgment on our democratic process when it goes astray? If so, why is he dodging Catholic truth at every turn in respect of this abortion controversy?
All this is not to say that Coleman must go around preaching the Bible and extolling the superiority of the Catholic faith and denigrating other religions. In fact, it may be necessary for him in political office to only rarely, if ever, mention his Catholic faith. However, as a Catholic Premier, he must know and respect the truth—as revealed and taught by the Catholic Church and particularly as it pertains to the common good—and apply it in thought, word and deed to the best of his ability.
Sixth Commandment: Thou shalt not limit in any way existing state funding, even for moral crimes
Coleman said: I do not in any way intend to dictate any change in current public funding models or policies that would have any negative impact on what current access to those services are in the province right now.
“Those services” are the suctioning and dismembering of babies in their early stages of development. Does Frank Coleman not appreciate the gravity of his own words?
The Church says:
“As John Paul II has taught in his Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae regarding the situation in which it is not possible to overturn or completely repeal a law allowing abortion which is already in force or coming up for a vote, ‘an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality’.” The Participation of Catholics in Political Life, (4a)
Seventh Commandment: Thou shalt respect a diversity of (corrupt) views and enforce conformity to their immoral behaviours
Coleman said: We are very embracing of the diversity that exists in our society and I understand that. I get that. But it is important that we be tolerant of people with private views.
The Church says:
“…no Catholic can appeal to the principle of pluralism…to support policies affecting the common good which compromise or undermine fundamental ethical requirements.” The Participation of Catholics in Political Life, (5)
Catholics are “called to reject, as injurious to democratic life, a conception of pluralism that reflects moral relativism.” The Participation of Catholics in Political Life, (3a)
The question is often framed this way: “In a pluralistic society isn't it better, however, if a politician makes up his own mind, without being sectarian and advancing only the views of his own religion?”
First, in no other matter, save religion, is a politician expected to leave his personal beliefs at the door to civil office. Yet, in no other matter, save religion, is the right to personal belief protected by the Constitution, for citizens and politicians alike.
Secondly, some worldview is going to be the foundation of everyone's thinking, giving it coherence and direction. It might be atheism, agnosticism, scientism, communism, feminism, nihilism or simple egotism, but, for most people it is religion. It determines their conscience and, as a consequence, their decisions and actions. To ask them to set it aside, or for them to set it aside, may have the appearance of pluralism but in reality it calls into question their integrity. If something so important can be set aside, how can they be trusted to hold to other less important principles?
Sadly, opinion polls show that the public has a low confidence in politicians, believing that they flip-flop according to the political winds. Nothing could be more disastrous for a democracy. Far better to have a man of known principles in office, even if they are not entirely one's own, than a man of no principle. The ancient political philosophers, such as Plato and Cicero, correctly identified the weakness of democracy, its tendency to mob mentality over principle. For democracy to work the principles of politicians need to be known and their word be trustworthy. [Source]
Eighth Commandment: Thou shalt not live by a personal code of conduct
Coleman said: I would think it would be refreshing that somebody would stand up and say look this is what I believe in but it's not going to affect how I'm going to do my job.
The Church says:
A Catholic strives to "have the mind of Christ" in every judgment and act. “There cannot be two parallel lives in their existence: on the one hand, the so-called ‘spiritual life’, with its values and demands; and on the other, the so-called ‘secular’ life, that is, life in a family, at work, in social responsibilities, in the responsibilities of public life and in culture.” Pope St. John Paul II, Christifideles Laici (59)
If I said that I believe harassment in the workplace is totally unacceptable but that this view is not going to affect how I do my job, would you really want me as an employee, let alone a manager or leader in an organization?
Ninth Commandment: Thou shalt manage and mould the hard truths to thine own political benefit
Coleman said: This is as far away from a protest as anything I can imagine. You know probably it’s more like a parade of people who have, you know, similar views. And who are walking to sort of indicate that there may be an alternative.
The Church says: The March For Life is based on the teaching that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. The Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that authorize or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a "grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. [...] In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to 'take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law or vote for it'" (no. 73).
Coleman is suggesting the March for Life is more like a parade that people attend to celebrate life and who simply want to share the opinion that it might be better not to deliberately kill tiny babies. However—to follow through on Coleman’s reasoning—no problem if that’s what you really feel you must do, we’re only making a suggestion. What a pathetic betrayal of the pro-life position!
Tenth Commandment: Seek ye first to command the troops and run a tight ship
Coleman said: I'm here to, what I believe is, run the province.
The Church says:
No Catholic, least of all a politician, can “think of delegating his Christian responsibility to others; rather, the Gospel of Jesus Christ gives him this task, so that the truth about man and the world might be proclaimed and put into action.” The Participation of Catholics in Political Life, (4b)
“The democratic structures on which the modern state is based would be quite fragile were its foundation not the centrality of the human person. It is respect for the person that makes democratic participation possible. As the Second Vatican Council teaches, the protection of ‘the rights of the person is, indeed, a necessary condition for citizens, individually and collectively, to play an active part in public life and administration’.” The Participation of Catholics in Political Life, (3c)
Frank Coleman, as a Catholic, should be thinking primarily of the salvation of souls in his new position. This would necessitate widespread and ongoing efforts to achieve the common good, thereby truly improving people’s lives, not just keeping a machine running smoothly—as you would simply administer a business. Coleman has a higher calling as a civil servant. As a servant of God, he is now a servant of the people in a much more profound role. He now has a much greater responsibility before God and a correspondingly greater accountability. However, his comments do not reflect such a reality. He seems to be saying what he thinks the chattering masses wants to hear.
Rather than “run the province”, how much better if Coleman had said his job was to restore trust in the political machinery of the province, with an emphasis on character, integrity, and principles? He maintains that everybody matters so why not use that as a launching pad to emphasize the vital necessity of advancing the common good? At least he would have pointed people in the right direction in their expectations. His extensive background in the business world could no doubt play a crucial role in his future success as Premier, but it certainly shouldn’t be the chief selling point. Even renegade Catholic Pierre Elliot Trudeau had pitched his “just society” to appeal to more than simple economics.
Frank Coleman recently said:
I'm a fellow of conviction; I'm not afraid to admit who I am, and I think that I have an approach to managing my own affairs and my business that could be helpful in the province — and I'll let the people of the province decide that over the coming months…"
The province is just rocking, and I don't want to see that stop. I really believe that we are, and have a chance of, becoming, one of the most prosperous jurisdictions in the entire continent.
But is our province really “rocking”? Many would disagree with this assessment, on a purely economic basis, let alone on the basis of looming crises in debt, healthcare, and demography. I maintain on the social issues as well we are in a state of crisis, largely precipitated over the course of decades due to the same kind of political neglect of the common good as detailed in this posting.
Well then, how should Coleman have approached this whole political affair?
As a Catholic.
As the Church prescribes for politicians bearing the name of Christ.
“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.”
Aim for the heavens.
“Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Take his lumps.
If judged unworthy of office, he would only be following in the footsteps of his Master, of whom, likewise, the world was not worthy.
Is there nobody out there to help a Catholic become a worthy politician?
Catholic saints have been martyred while uttering dying words such as these: “Man cannot be separated from God, nor politics from morality.” St. John the Baptist surrendered his head to defend God’s eternal law on marriage and divorce. Were any of them “imposing their personal views,” “judging others” or trying to “change policy”?
Pope Benedict XVI in 2006 chastised the Canadian Bishops for the extreme “split between the Gospel and culture, with the exclusion of God from the public sphere,” thanks especially to renegade Catholic politicians who have caused Canadian society to go amuck "in the most disturbing of ways" through neglect of the truth and of discipline.
Tragically, our Catholic Bishops give little evidence of taking the warning seriously. Not one in our province has stepped forward to diffuse this scandal, safeguard the faith and advance the supreme goal of the Church, which is the salvation of souls, including Mr. Coleman’s. Such silence fails to confirm both Catholics and society in the truth, much less empowers them to make wise decisions in overseeing their political masters and striving for the common good.
Yet Bishops are there to keep the whole counsel of God before the people continuously and this duty encompasses a presentation of the entirety of Church teaching in as succinct and practical way as possible. Administering Holy Communion to one and to all and a pious sentiment here and there about the Eucharist, about the poor, or about “social justice” falls far short of the divine plan.
This is without a doubt the greatest calamity in the entire Frank Coleman political debacle and a tragic loss in terms of God’s best for the future of our great province.
The deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of his life is always morally evil and can never be licit either as an end in itself or as a means to a good end. It is in fact a grave act of disobedience to the moral law, and indeed to God himself, the author and guarantor of that law; it contradicts the fundamental virtues of justice and charity. "Nothing and no one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether a fetus or an embryo, an infant or an adult, an old person, or one suffering from an incurable disease, or a person who is dying. Furthermore, no one is permitted to ask for this act of killing, either for himself or herself or for another person entrusted to his or her care, nor can he or she consent to it, either explicitly or implicitly. Nor can any authority legitimately recommend or permit such an action" Evangelium Vitae (57e)