Under the Glass places both the secular and religious media’s coverage of the Church and other issues of importance under a magnifying glass to uncover what is hidden between the lines.
March 12, 2009

A dose of well-intentioned relativism from the peanut gallery

Barb Shelly, an editorial columnist from the Kansas City Star, reacted with surprising balance in her commentary on Archbishop Joseph Naumann’s criticism of the former member of his flock, Kathleen Sebelius, who was recently appointed by President Obama to become the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Unlike the unabashed support of individuals like the formerly pro-life professor Doug Kmiec, or façade organizations like “Catholics United” and “Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good,” Shelly claims to share the archbishop’s sadness, and gives a fair account of the archbishop’s column published recently in the Archdiocesan newspaper “The Leaven.”

Nevertheless, she can’t refrain from slightly twisting things with her careful choice of words while describing:

“Naumann goes through the usual litany of sins: Sebelius is too close to Planned Parenthood and abortion doctor George Tiller. She supports embryonic stem cell research. She has consistently vetoed legislation to impose restrictions on abortion providers. (Most of them were unconstitutional, but that's not for him to point out.)”

Actually, none of them were. The alleged “unconstitutionality” of the laws she vetoed is Sebelius’ excuse - and the  pro-Obama  Catholics’ alibi - to justify the undisputed pro-abortion militancy of the Kansas former governor, turned “pro-life” only by the Orwellian use of language by people like James Salt, Chris Korzen, Alexia Kelley and the master of the “Big Brother” redefinition of the pro-life cause, Douglas Kmiec.

Shelly concludes her brief comments by strategically lamenting Archbishop Naumann’s work to uphold Church teachings:

“It's a thoughtful column and few readers will question the archbishop's sincerity. But I think that Naumann's expression of sadness will make a lot of Catholics sad about the restraints of conscience one needs to accept to be a good member of the flock.”

Sebelius and pro-Obama Catholics will certainly agree with her. They have been peddling the  narrative that Sebelius actually agrees with the teachings of the Church, but has just minor “conscience” differences with the Pope and the Magisterium when it comes to putting them into practice.

No doubt, they have been successful since Catholics are equally supportive on both sides of Sebelius’ appointment.

Shelly may be acting in good faith. In fact, for too long, too many Catholics have been taught that “conscience” is actually that little feeling we all have inside, and that, it is able to triumph over any Church official teaching on the strength of the feeling’s intensity.

But some of Sebelius’ Catholic supporters should know better: neither conscience nor free will are diminished by doctrine, but enhanced and properly informed to make the right kind of decisions… as in “the Truth will set you free.” 

That is the Catholic position.

Alejandro Bermudez

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.