Friday, July 29, 2005

Roberts: a Catholic after St. Thomas More's Own Heart!

So implies DOUGLAS W. KMIEC of OpinionJournal. Hat tip to Jay Anderson of Pro Ecclesia for the link. Mr. Kmiec first summarizes the madness surrounding Senator Durbin and Judge Roberts a la Jonathan Turley of the L.A. Times. He then establishes just what the Roman Catholic Church teaches regarding Catholics in public life--and what she does not:
Yes, the Catholic Church is a defender of life. It has even issued statements that sound suspiciously like a certain famous declaration of self-evident truth--that we are all created equal, with an unalienable right to life. But the church is also resident in a world where Supreme Court precedent has tragically elevated personal preference over any once-proud declaration of right. What does the church expect of public officials in such an environment?

First and foremost, to be observant of church teaching in one's personal life. The church asks Judge Roberts and his fellow parishioners to pray to end abortion and, in social outreach, to create the conditions that make it less pressing. The church seeks to convert individual souls to the love of God and neighbor; it has no armies to compel either.

Yes, the late Pope John Paul II admonished Catholic public officials to work legislatively to limit abortion--something that even most Democrats proclaim to be doing at least during general elections. But there is not one iota of church teaching demanding that a judge or justice exceed the scope of his office to undo, on solely religious grounds, the public law of abortion or any other matter.

In this supposed controversy it is fitting to recall St. Thomas More, known to history for resigning the chancellorship of England when he failed to persuade Henry VIII not to declare himself head of the church. More is revered as a martyr for dying "the King's good servant, but God's first." But as the patron saint of lawyers and statesmen, More is far better remembered for his earnest efforts, at every turn, to avoid inescapable conflict among law, faith and public duty.

Judge Roberts listens carefully to the questions he is asked, and the extreme premise of Sen. Durbin's question--as reported--was a judicial action requiring an immoral act. One would hope that all Americans, Catholic or otherwise, would recuse themselves from that.
Mr. Kmiec gets it right. There's nothing in Catholic Teaching that requires Catholic American leaders to violate the integrity of the constitution. She presents the Truth. She clarifies those principles that allow the Truth to become reality. Her teaching has upheld the Rule of Law. Therefore, she does not advocate its destruction.

The Democrats that raise the alarm of the Catholic Roberts up-ending the constitution in the name of his Faith is an atrocious straw-man. If they believe that Judge Roberts will not responsibly interprete the law as a SCOTUS Justice is called to do, they should say so without playing the Catholic card. Otherwise, they join the long tradition of the intellectual's anti-semitism and the sad history of America's anti-catholicism. Perhaps such action would please the extreme Reasonable secularists of their party's hard left, but I doubt this will sell among the swingers.

Let Judge Robert's critics embrace honest criticism. Let's leave Catholic-baiting on the ash bin of history where it belongs.