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Tough Tony Spanks the Pope
February 11, 2002
by birdman

Antonin Scalia is quite vocal about being a devout Catholic, which I suppose is one of the reasons that he feels that government officials should have the final say on a woman's reproductive rights (so long as they decide she doesn't have any). The Church fathers told Tough Tony that a fetus (even a two cell one) is a person and he never seems to have questioned their wisdom.

Tony and Clarence Thomas are even rumored to be members of the shadowy cult within a Church called Opus Dei, an extremely conservative group of Catholics founded by Josemaria Escriva, a Spanish priest who had rather close ties to the Fascist Franco government.

Thomas, in fact, converted to Catholicism during his time on the Court possibly figuring that since he let Scalia tell him how to vote on the SCOTUS cases he might as well let him make his religious decisions as well. One might wonder, though, how Clarence reconciles his apparent penchant for pornography with his devotion to religion but then FBI double agent Robert Hanssen was an Opus Dei member and he used spy equipment to allow neighbors to watch him nail his Catholic school teacher wife so maybe the Opus Deis are more open-minded than they let on.

Now, as conservative Catholics are constantly reminding liberal Catholics the Church is not a democracy. If you're a Catholic you're supposed to support Church doctrine and you can't agitate within the Church for things like married priests or the use of birth control methods other than applied mathematics. If you're a Catholic politician or public figure and think women have the right to make their own reproductive decisions Church officials will often deny you the right to speak at Catholic institutions (It's happened to Mario Cuomo, Anna Quindlen, even Tom Ridge). Some bishops have even urged that pro-choice Catholics be excommunicated (booted) from the Church. It is common for conservative Catholic clerics and lay people to denounce 'cafeteria' Catholics - those who accept some doctrines and not others.

Although the Church's opposition to abortion has attracted a good deal of attention a much less publicized fact about Catholic doctrine is that during the time of Pope John Paul II the Church has denounced the death penalty as a moral evil. He has on numerous occasions pleaded for the lives of condemned prisoners even successfully persuading the late Gov. Mel Carnahan of Missouri to commute a death sentence during a papal visit to St Louis. Two American Cardinals even pleaded for the life of Timothy Mc Veigh last year. The Pope has even gone so far as to tie the death penalty to abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide and denounce all of them as a part of the 'culture of death'.

Now the inclusion of the death penalty in this list of evils has apparently riled the Scalias of the world. But when you can pick presidents I suppose you don't have to pay too much attention to Popes and last month Tough Tony went out to Chicago (undoubtedly making sure he left Clarence a cheat sheet on the how the current cases should be decided) and actually ripped the Church's position on the death penalty. A few weeks later when speaking at Georgetown (I notice the invitation wasn't withdrawn) he was asked about the statements and said that any Catholic jurist who feels the death penalty is immoral is engaging in "sabotage" and "would have to resign."

Well Holy Roman Empire, Batman. It looks to me like Scalia is attending the cafeteria instead of the Church and I'll just bet he's dragging Thomas through the buffet line with him.

So let's see the Church denounce Scalia. Can you imagine what the Catholic bishops would have said if Ted Kennedy or Barbara Mikulski or any pro-choice Catholic politician had made a speech urging all judges who accept the Church's teaching on abortion to step down from their positions because they were defying the law? They would have howled in outrage. So now the Church has a chance to stand up to 'Cafeteria' Tony who picks and chooses among the doctrines that he will accept. It also has a chance to reaffirm its support for life, and for the person it claims as its founder, himself a victim of capital punishment. But has anyone heard any Church figure speak out on Scalia's statements? Is the opposition to the death penalty serious or is it just window-dressing to be trotted out when there is an impending execution? Does the Church have a real, seamless commitment to life or only an obsession with fetuses and the sexual activity that creates them?

So today I am putting up $500 of my own money that I will donate to a social service agency of the first American diocese that denounces Antonin Scalia for his open defiance of the Pope and Church doctrine and bans him from speaking in any diocesan facility.

I'm waiting. But I have a feeling my money's safe.


birdman was once an employee of a Catholic social services agency although he and the Catholic Church split up due to unreconcilable differences many years ago.

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