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CNN's Roland Martin misstates Catholic teaching in defending Obama

By Michael M. Bates
web posted April 6, 2009

CNN's Roland Martin is hosting Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull for the next eight weeks.  On last Monday's program, Martin clearly demonstrated he's going to have trouble living up to the program's title.

The subject was the Notre Dame-Barack Obama controversy.  Martin argued with the Catholic League's William Donohue that inviting the adamantly pro-abortion Obama to the school and awarding him an honorary degree is no different from Notre Dame's 2001 treatment of former President George W. Bush, who supports capital punishment:

And one of the critical issues when it came to Bush speaking in 2001, death penalty. I have heard Pope Benedict, as well as Pope John Paul II talk about the death penalty, and they rank it just right up there with abortion.

Minutes later, Martin said:

Well, again, though, I like how you talk about the abortion piece. But, again, Catholics are just as vigilant when it comes to the death penalty.

And so all I'm saying is, if it's good for one, it should be good for the other.

Are abortion and capital punishment morally equivalent in the eyes of the Catholic Church?  Paragraph 2267 of the Church's Catechism begins:

The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor.

Paragraph 2271 discusses abortion and says in pertinent part:

Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion.
This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.

Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law. . .

Martin claims he's "heard Pope Benedict, as well as Pope John Paul II talk about the death penalty, and they rank it just right up there with abortion."

Not according to Pope Benedict XVI.  As Cardinal Ratzinger, he wrote:

Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities. . . to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible. . .  to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about. . . applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

In defending Notre Dame's invitation and awarding of an honorary degree to Obama, Roland Martin distorted the Church's teachings.

Martin started the program by saying:

But, look, I'm not going to bother with the silly notion of who's a liberal or a conservative on this show. I voted for Obama and also for George H.W. Bush, Republicans and Democrats. On some issues, I might be called a liberal, on others, a conservative.

I judge people based on the issues and refuse to be pigeonholed and wedded to the ridiculous notion of ideology. Our goal on this show is very simple. That is to speak the truth to the power, no matter the party or the person.

Wow, he actually voted for the first President Bush.  But that was over 20 years ago.  If Roland is, as he claims, conservative on some issues, he's gone out of his way not to show it.

My experience is that public personalities who eschew what they disdainfully call labels are invariably liberals.  Conservatives don't have a problem admitting their perspective.  For them, ideology is hardly "a ridiculous notion."

Roland Martin's hosting of the program may require amending the show's title.   How does All Bias, All Bull sound? ESR

Michael M. Bates is a regular contributor to Enter Stage Right. His web site can be found at http://www.michaelmbates.com/.


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