Alma Acevedo

Those ‘personally opposed…but’ politicians

Alma Acevedo
By Alma Acevedo
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September 17, 2012 (Mercatornet.com) - Along with the electoral season comes the inevitable “I am opposed to […], but it is a personal decision.” Just fill in the blank with abortion, euthanasia, surrogacy, or any morally contentious matter. The rhetorical finesse quenches the debate, bypassing the polemical minefield. As a media and public silencer, to save face and buy time, it is a mediocre but successful technique. As a meaningful proposition, however, it fails.

“I am opposed to […], but do not believe it my role to impose my personal views on others” is a kindred statement. The first clause appeals to the party base; the second, to the rest. With one stroke, candidates thus persuade the rank and file that their values are safely aligned, while appeasing the opponents’ concerns.

Besides, we would not want our political leaders to impose anything, would we?

Their affirmative counterparts run on similar linguistic tracks: “I favor [outlawing abortion, curtailing euthanasia, banning surrogacy,…], but will not impose my personal views.” The ostrich maneuver. Label it personal and the interrogation halts to an end. Yet, as with the ostriches’ legend, the rhetorical move escapes reality.

Momentarily imagine a candidate professing the following: “I am opposed to [incest, domestic violence, racism, sexism, human exploitation, ethnic cleansing, rape, bribery], but it is a personal decision.” No chance. The candidate would be (justly) booed all the way to oblivion and shame.

The difference lies in the object. When the issue is thought to be morally controversial (politically sensitive), it is labeled “personal”, as if personal simply meant subjective, private, or to be resolved by sheer individual preference. When its moral nature is socially settled (politically safe), the “but it is personal” defense is not invoked.

Why should contentiousness define what a personal decision is?

What is, then, a personal decision? Non-moral and moral decisions are both “personal” insofar as they are a human individual’s, and not a human collective’s. Decisions of a non-moral nature, having nothing to do with ethics or morality, are individual or “personal” in the lowercase letter sense, so to speak. For instance, whether to go shopping or to the cinema tonight, and whether to choose vanilla or chocolate, are matters of individual choice such as preferences, interests, and tastes.

Personal (individual) decisions may also involve issues of more consequence, such as whether to study economics or finance. They are, generally speaking, decisions relative to particular circumstances. The choices are based on conditions specific to the individual. “Personal” may also signify private reasons the person legitimately chooses to keep secret, such as when someone retires for “personal” reasons.

Moral decisions, on the other hand, are personal. They are not simply matters of individual (relative to oneself) choice, but spring from the very core of human personality: human intellect and free will. They are personal for they entail universal and objective normative principles linked to properly human goods. Individual circumstances may influence the degree of moral responsibility in specific cases. An ethical conclusion, however, is not merely a subjective “personal view” but a personal judgment stemming from right reason and free will.

G. K. Chesterton wrote in What’s wrong with the world, “most modern freedom is at root fear. It is not so much that we are too bold to endure rules: it is rather that we are too timid to endure responsibilities.” Candidates must boldly stand for something; we must responsibly learn. Just as they do not confound as impositions their positions on economic affairs, their stances on major moral issues should not be thus construed.

These matters are not solely private or relative, but hold wide public repercussions, in terms of human dignity and the common good. That they are contentious does not preclude their discussion, but beckons it. Far from imposition, their responsible and reasonable discussion enhances free civic discourse and action. Conversely, the candidate’s reticence imposes an impoverished public debate, thus undermining the conditions necessary for a democratic society. Rather than tolerance, this silence may signal indifference, hesitation, deceit, or cowardice.

The “but it is personal” linguistic maneuver must be exposed for what it really is: a cheap electoral season pass whose political currency has expired. Because moral decisions are personal, candidates ought to tell us what and why. Because they are personal, we, the citizens, ought to ask and to know.

Alma Acevedo, PhD, teaches courses in applied ethics and conducts research in this field. This article first appeared at Mercatornet.com and is reprinted under a Creative Commons License.

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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