Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Stupak de facto Rejects Church Authority and Accuses Bishops of Hypocrisy

Sources: Stupak: Pope doesn't control Catholic lawmakers - Water Cooler - Washington Times,

Stupak Calls Pro-Lifers Hypocrites | Blogs |,

Stupak says Catholic bishops and pro-life groups hypocrites for condemning health-care vote | The Daily Caller - Breaking News, Opinion, Research, and Entertainment

Stupak had a chance to choose between his faith and his party alliances.  His comments in the post vote fallout show he has made his choice… in favor of his party.  To defend his vote for Health Care against the teachings of the Bishops and the Pope, he has in effect denied their authority to teach what sort of behavior is moral.

Stupak on the Pope's Authority

Let's start with Stupak and his answering of questions on the authority of the Pope.  When questioned in an interview, Stupak demonstrated a gross misunderstanding of things:

PICKET: Do you believe in the primacy of the Pope over in Rome?

STUPAK: Do I believe in the primacy…can you explain that to me?

PICKET: Well considering the Vatican have in terms of the Catholic religion…

STUPAK: The Pope and the Catholic faith does not control Catholic legislators. We must vote reflective of our districts and our beliefs. When I vote pro-life, it happens to be my own personal belief, also my district’s beliefs and the nation's. As the polls show 61 percent of the American people believe we should not use public funds to pay for abortion. I agree with that.

Stupak displays the logical error of equivocation here.  Now it is true that the Pope does not dictate to the politician how to vote.  However, Stupak is bound to carry out his task as a political leader by applying Church teaching to how he views the issue.  If abortion is wrong, then one is not allowed to enable this wrong.  This includes not only the direct voting for abortion rights (formal cooperation) but also making the act of evil possible (material cooperation).

Given the Bishops of the United States had condemned the Senate Bill as being unacceptable, and denounced the option for the "Executive Order" as being inadequate, Stupak cannot claim he did not know that the magisterium of the Church had spoken out against the action he did set out to do.

Stupak on the Bishops

They say the first step to getting out of a hole you have put yourself into is to stop digging.  Stupak, however, seems to have increased the vigor of his shovel based trip to China by attacking the Bishops for hypocrisy.  He has said:

“The [National] Right to Life and the bishops, in 2007 when George Bush signed the executive order on embryonic stem cell research, they all applauded the executive order,” Stupak said in an interview with The Daily Caller.

“The Democratic Congress passed [a bill] saying we’ll do embryonic stem cell research. Bush vetoed it in 2007. That same day he issued an executive order saying we will not do it, and all these groups applauded that he protected life,” Stupak said.

“So now President Obama’s going to sign an executive order protecting life and everyone’s condemning it. The hypocrisy is great,” he said.

Stupak is guilty of the fallacy of the false analogy here [In that the conditions are not the same] and of a Straw Man [the opposition is not to an Executive Order in general, but is based on the lack of protections it will provide compared to law in this situation]. 

In 2007, Bush not only vetoed the embryonic stem cell research, but he also deepened those protections with an executive order.  In contrast, the health care bill does not protect life or conscience, but depends on an executive order which can be overturned (if Obama decides to do so.  Remember Obama's overturning of the Bush Conscience protection and his promise to create a "better" one?  It's been almost a year since he said that…) at any time or ruled unconstitutional, to supposedly do what the Bill will not. 

Jimmy Atkin points out:

To my mind, the addle-headedness of his [Stupak's] comments is great.

President Bush, for all his flaws, vetoed a Bad Bill and then issued an executive order to further protect unborn life.

What Stupak did was vote for a Bad Bill with only a hope that the next pro-abort president (or even Obama himself, or the courts) won’t void the executive order he got in exchange for his vote.

Whatever else, Mr. Stupak does not seem gifted in finding good analogies to back up his charges of hypocrisy.

(emphasis in original)

There is no hypocrisy on the part of the Bishops here.  The Bishops opposed the bill which Bush vetoed.  Bush also created an executive order to prevent evasions.  Stupak voted for a bill the Bishops condemned as contrary to Catholic moral teachings, and relied on the promise of Obama to pass an executive order, when his record on keeping such promises are poor.


Stupak, in denying the Church can judge his actions as immoral, has in effect denied Magisterial authority over his actions.  He may oppose abortion of course.  However, in his responsibility in passing the bill (which passed 219-212.  If he and his bloc had voted against it, it seems this bill would have failed 215-216) he does have to answer for his defiance of casting a vote which enabled policies.

Stupak may have been guilty of a deliberate sell out, or he may have merely been misguided in his trust of Obama (now that the Bill is passed, will Obama keep his promise, and if so in what form?).  However, he is wrong in his accusing the bishops and pro-life groups of hypocrisy.

The whole things smells of excuses on the part of Stupak.  Whether to justify it to his constituents or to justify it to his own conscience, he has done wrong, setting his religious beliefs aside in favor of a party platform.

We will now have to see what Obama does with this.  It is not impossible he will keep his promise to issue an executive order, but his track record is not good.  If Obama fails to keep his promise or passes an executive order which falls short of what is needed to protect life, Stupak will have to share the blame.

No comments:

Post a Comment