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A Few Important Questions on Catholicism

Discussion in 'One Bread, One Body - Catholic' started by Abaxvahl, Jun 30, 2018.

  1. Abaxvahl

    Abaxvahl Member

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    Hello OBOB,

    I am currently waiting for my parish priest to return in about a week so that I can begin my instruction to be able to join the Catholic Church. I have settled every issue I had with it (mostly my pride in rejecting teachings I didn't like, as if I were God), although I do have one issue that I can not find an answer to, and I have asked many Catholics, but none can give a definitive answer. So I thought maybe to ask here.

    Paragraph 2306 of the CCC states: "Those who renounce violence and bloodshed and, in order to safeguard human rights, make use of those means of defense available to the weakest, bear witness to evangelical charity, provided they do so without harming the rights and obligations of other men and societies. They bear legitimate witness to the gravity of the physical and moral risks of recourse to violence, with all its destruction and death." My question is about the meaning of "in order to safeguard human rights, make use of those means of defense available to the weakest." To my knowledge, under certain circumstances someone can have an obligation to defend someone else, does this mean that I would have to use violence in some cases, or can I use non-violent means alone always to fulfill this? The reason I ask is because I do not ever want to do a violent thing (this lifestyle, called non-resistance, forbids self-defense, calling the police, harming another in defense of anything, etc, though you can resist things and defend them non-violently, no matter if it fails or not). So if I can fulfill this without being violent, then I'll be fine for this issue. I would think that you could, as it says "those who renounce violence" at the beginning, but many have told me in certain cases you can have an obligation to do something violent in order to defend someone.

    Another question that immediately follows is, do I have an obligation to defend myself violently ever? If I have to use violence in the first question (for others), I'd think I would for myself. Not sure.

    A third question, is in paragraph 2240 of the Catechism, it says: "Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one's country." How authoritative is this statement? I have heard that you do not have to vote in a system that you feel is entirely immoral and corrupt (I don't wish to vote for my reasons of not wanting to do violence, non-resistance forbids voting and petitioning the government, also "this is America" and corrupt is a given). And if I do have to vote, do I fulfill this right no matter who I vote for (specifically I would always vote for my neighbor "Bob the Baptist")? And does this mean I have to vote every single time there is an election, or primary? Local, state, and federal?

    A fourth bonus question, that is infinitely less important to me than the above three, other than the Haydock commentary, what are some really good and complete Catholic commentaries on the Bible? I'd like to get one for studying better.

    Thank you for your time.

    (Note: I know self-defense is a right, and I can not say it is a sin, this is just for me and my lifestyle. Also, though rarely, some take non-resistance as somehow being like anarcho-capitalism, which it is not. It does not follow a "non-aggression principle" (NAP), it simply does not resist evil by force. Which is not at all like the NAP, which specifically allows resisting things by force, and is based around that. Radically different.)
     
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  2. TuxAme

    TuxAme Quis ut Deus? Supporter

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    If you can defend the rights of others without bloodshed, you're obligated to do so.
     
  3. chevyontheriver

    chevyontheriver Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Self-defense is a right, and to a degree can be an obligation, particularly if you are needed for taking care of other people. For example a mother of young children. Likewise the defense of others may be an obligation, particularly for family or others you are responsible for. For an example a mother of young children again. It is a prudential decision to do this using violent or non-violent resistance. It is likely that some form of resistance could be called for, but again, that is prudential. You are not compelled to have to use violent means or to have to use non-violent means. You are free to choose what seems best at the time according to the situation. Sometimes you just let the robber have the purse and billfold.

    If you are well trained and competent in non-violent resistance it may be the best thing. If you are clueless about effective non-violent methods, that may actually backfire. Just as if you don't know how to shoot a gun, trying to defend yourself with a gun may go very badly. Whatever is done, it is best to be trained in how to react properly and safely in the situation before it actually arises.

    The reason that paragraph 2306 is there in the Catechism as written is to allow for non-violent defense AND to warn that non-violent methods can still be misused as exercise of offensive power. We have to respect even opponents. We cannot use offensive power and have to be cautious even in the use of defensive power. We can use violence, but even better to use non-violent means of resisting, where it can work. You have to know your opponent. A guy strung up on PCP might require a gun, or Judo, but won't respond to talk. It all depends. I don't have a gun or know any Judo. I would be toast.

    As to 2240, I think you should definitely vote, IMHO. You don't have to vote for Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dum. You can pick other candidates. Last election I didn't vote for either of the two main candidates for president, but I did vote. My tiny little vote didn't do much, like if you voted for Bob the Baptist. But that vote was an exercise of the legitimate power of the people in this country. Being involved in politics is not necessarily bad, if kept in perspective, and I did work hard to gain votes for my presidential candidate, who got about 50,000 in my state alone. I was responsible for at least 50 of those votes by my campaigning. It was not coersive. Was my candidate worthy? Maybe. Better than the other two for sure.

    The Ignatius Study Bible and associated commentary appear to be worthy. That from Ignatius Press, a very good source for Catholic books. Older is 'A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture' by Bernard Orchard, available as a used book. Then there is the Navarre Commentary.
     
  4. Radagast

    Radagast has left CF Supporter

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    Well, it is the Catechism. On the duty to vote, these may be helpful:

    Our Grave Moral Responsibility to Vote

    A Canadian Catholic Voters Catechism - Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver
     
  5. Abaxvahl

    Abaxvahl Member

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    Then I guess the question is, what if your attempts fail? The defense can't always be to succeed. Unless you're always meant to do the more effective even if violent thing?


    Thank you this was very helpful. :) It seems that it depends on the situation (I absolutely hate not having rules to dictate things, but it is what it is here). With voting, I'll see about that. I don't like ever following the news (I thought about it and realized not one news article I've read in my entire life has ever been relevant to me, not even one, and I've read many, so I stopped following it entirely), but I guess it is to be done.

    And thank you for these commentary reccomendations, I will likely get one of these.

    These were helpful, thank you. Although with the second one, it seems that I'd have to look for these things (certain qualities in candidates) when doing it. If someone is perfect in all these qualities, but will absolutely not win or isn't even running, is a vote for them considered legitimate? I'd think so, but I am not sure.
     
  6. Open Heart

    Open Heart Well-Known Member

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    Paragraph 2306 basically is a rah rah for those who do non-violent resistance. It's saying the Church does not obligate you to be violent if you are using passive resistance instead. That includes for yourself.

    May I comment on this? I am a convert to Catholicism. I spent a lot of formative years, from age 11 to 18, in a Quaker church, and as you know, the Quakers are pacifists. There were beautiful stained glass windows in the church, many of which depicted scenes from the Bible, but also the lives of Quaker saints. One in particular was very confusing to me. It was a pioneer home being invaded by Indians, who were about to kill the little children, and the parents were doing nothing to protect their kids from death. This was supposed to be a good thing. And yet I knew it to be a horrible thing. I kept it to myself, because I couldn't put my thoughts into words, not for a long time. But now I can say it. It was a moral abomination for those parents to do nothing but pray. God entrusted those children to them, and they failed in their responsibility.

    I am a very non-violent person. But I believe there are those limited circumstances where violence is not only justified, it is morally demanded. Leviticus 19:16 states, "neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor." We are required to do whatever it takes to protect. That is what I see in scripture, and scripture is very, very Catholic. So yeah, I'm very into non-violent resistance. I go to protests and do my thing, and hope I don't get arrested or beaten in a riot. But I am also willing, should the situation ever arise, to be more than non-violent.

    Paragraph 2240 is just as authoritative, in terms of requiring our obedience. So yeap, you gotta vote. However, you can use your vote as a platform of complaint. I am not sure what country you live in. Here in the US, we really only have two people to choose from that have a possibility of winning. But there are still third party candidates. Why? Because when a third party candidate takes away a significant amount of votes, the loser of the election thinks to himself, if only I had had those votes! And the party considers whether to adopt the positions of the third party. So voting for a third party is a way of lodging a PROTEST vote against the system. I do it all the time.

    I remember back in, I think, 1980, when Reagan ran against Mondale, and I hated them both. There was an actor running as a write in candidate. As an actor, he had played the part of Bozo the Clown. I wrote him in and voted for him. I came home and announced to my husband, "I just voted for Bozo the Clown." My husband didn't even look up. "Which one?" he asked.

    But I absolutely do agree that we in modern democracies have a RESPONSIBILITY to vote. WE are the government and it is our duty to govern as best and as fairly as we can to the degree that we can. When we don't vote, we are like the King that goes off on fox hunts and plays around in brothels while his ministers misrule the kingdom.
     
  7. Davidnic

    Davidnic Well-Known Member Staff Member Site Advisor Supporter

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    You do not have to vote all the time. Voting is a serious responsibility and the Church teaches we can't ignore it.

    But you can make the moral judgment that you believe you would cooperate with evil in all the choices given. Because of this I often have to vote third party or heavily weigh my options.

    So if after serious consideration a person believes they cannot vote for the presented options...they do not have to. But then the course of action should be to work in some way to change that. That can be by trying to make a difference in their chosen party, opt for a third party, try to change things from the ground up locally, or some effort.

    Basically we cannot dismiss the importance of voting but if its because a person recognizes the importance you refuse to cooperate in evil that is allowable.
     
  8. chevyontheriver

    chevyontheriver Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If presented a Hobson's choice, or a choice between Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, I can see not voting, because that only ratifies a wrong choice. But when we do have the option to vote for other parties, or to write in a candidate, I think it is almost a requirement to vote. An exception might be when the vote itself is illegitimate. Might need to boycott such a vote if even voting is propping up an unjust system. I don't think we are there yet in the USA.
     
  9. Davidnic

    Davidnic Well-Known Member Staff Member Site Advisor Supporter

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    Yep that's why it's important to look at third parties and know your States write in rules.

    In some states something like the American solidarity party and others can be added to the ballot through petition campaign or other means. It may not make a difference immediately but over time it could.
     
  10. chevyontheriver

    chevyontheriver Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We ran a petition drive in Minnesota to get Evan McMullen on the ballot, and we got the signatures in time so it worked out. Oddly, the Democratic Party failed to get Hillary Clinton's name on the Minnesota ballot in time, and it became a big court case, but the court allowed her name on the ballot anyhow. She won Minnesota by only 40,000 votes. McMullen got 50,000 votes. She barely avoided a humiliating defeat in, of all places, Minnesota.
     
  11. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    This was a very interesting answer to me personally, having attended Quaker services at times (3 times), and also aware of the full import of Matthew 7:12, but also not a pacifist (Matthew 7:12 means that just like I would want another person to help physically protect my own child, for instance, so should I if the roles were reversed). But the verse you cited of Lev 19:16 really caught my attention, since the wording isn't that clear in that translation, and I found that the variety of major translations have a variety(!) of meanings in their translation. Have a look: http://biblehub.com/leviticus/19-16.htm

    New International Version
    "'Do not go about spreading slander among your people. "'Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor's life. I am the LORD.

    New Living Translation
    "Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people. "Do not stand idly by when your neighbor's life is threatened. I am the LORD.

    English Standard Version
    You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.

    Berean Study Bible
    You must not go about spreading slander among your people. You must not endanger the life of your neighbor. I am the LORD.

    New American Standard Bible
    'You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the LORD.

    King James Bible
    Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD.

    Christian Standard Bible
    Do not go about spreading slander among your people; do not jeopardize your neighbor's life; I am the LORD.

    Contemporary English Version
    Don't be a gossip, but never hesitate to speak up in court, especially if your testimony can save someone's life.

    Good News Translation
    Do not spread lies about anyone, and when someone is on trial for his life, speak out if your testimony can help him. I am the LORD.

    See? That's at least 3 quite different meanings.

    Here's a typical commentary:
    Pulpit Commentary:
    "Verse 16. - Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people. For the evil done by mere idle talebearing, see Bishop Butler's sermon, 'Upon the Government of the Tongue,' and four sermons by Bishop Jeremy Taylor, on 'The Good and Evil Tongue; Slander and Flattery; the Duties of the Tongue.' Neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour; that is, thou shalt not endanger his life, which is the result of the worst kind of talebearing, namely, bearing false witness against him. Thus the effect of the false witness of the two men of Belial against Naboth was that "they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died" (1 Kings 21:13; cf. Matthew 26:60; Matthew 27:4)."

    Gills:
    "...neither shall thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour; either by bearing a false testimony, whereby his blood is in danger of being shed when innocent; or by being silent, and not hearing a testimony for him, whereby the shedding of his innocent blood might have been prevented; either way may be interpreted standing against it: the Jewish writers think, that a man by this law, is bound to do all he can to preserve the life of his neighbour, when it is by any means in danger, by drowning, or by thieves and wild beasts, so Jarchi:

    I am the Lord; the just and righteous One, who will resent and punish for all unjust proceedings in courts of judicature, secret tale bearing, doing any injury to another, or not preventing it when in the power of his hands."

    Both at the bottom of this page:
    http://biblehub.com/leviticus/19-16.htm
     
  12. Open Heart

    Open Heart Well-Known Member

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    I almost never go to Christian translations for the Old Testament, since they often translate from the Greek (Septuagint) rather than from the original Hebrew. The New American Bible (Catholic translation) is an exception to the rule.

    Here are two translations I commonly use:

    Mamre Machon (Jewish Publication Society)
    Lev 19:16 https://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0319.htm
    "neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD."

    New American Bible (USCCB)
    Lev 19:16 http://www.usccb.org/bible/leviticus/19
    "nor shall you stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake. I am the LORD."

    When you go by the original Hebrew text rather than the less reliable translation of a translation, it becomes clear that we are obligated to take action to help our brother (including ourselves) avoid harm. Rationally, I would say that this implies this is whatever the best help is that we can offer. It certainly includes non-violent options. Giving moral support to someone being bullied is the most common application of this verse that I can think of--just going and having lunch with the person being ostracized or inviting them over to your home.

    But there are times when only violence is going to make a difference. I raised my kids that if they ever ever started a fight that they could look forward to scrubbing the floors with a toothbrush. But if someone started a fight with them, they were to finish the fight. Not only that, but if they saw a gentle soul being hit, they were to intervene and fight on their behalf, only to the extent needed to stop the bully. (My kids took martial arts, so their fighting was very controlled.) If the school then suspended them, I'd take them to the movies to reward them for being a hero to the victim.

    The point is, there are times when barbarians come over the hills to your village, with the intent to kill you, rape your wife, and make your children into slaves. There is no negotiating. They do not respond to non-violent resistance except to squash you. The only thing they respond to is superior violence. So you have to make a choice of whose life is more valuable: the life of the barbarians, or the life of your wife, children and yourself, or what cause is more just.

    Sometimes the barbarian is the psychopath who invades your home to rob and kill at the point of a knife or gun.

    Sometimes the barbarians are an entire mentality, such as Islamic State, which kills even other Muslims, even peacekeeping groups, in its attempt to come to absolute world domination.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2018
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  13. Open Heart

    Open Heart Well-Known Member

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    Wonderful way to put it, Davidnic. In other words, we don't have to necessarily vote for bad choices, but at the same time, don't abdicate out of our responsibility entirely.
     
  14. mark46

    mark46 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm sure that many Catholics and many Catholic saints would disagree.

    You are correct that this "an eye for an eye" response is solid OT teaching.

    I do not agree that this the teaching of the NT. If it were, there would be many examples of Jesus and the apostles using violence to protect others. Instead, we have example of turning the other cheek.

    The Church has a doctrine of just war. And yes, we are to prevent our children from being harmed. However, we oppose the death penalty. We are to choose to escape, rather than stand and fight. And, yes, I agree that martial arts training is a good idea. This allows us to respond and leave the scene. We not required or expected to "finish the fight" and defeat those who raise a fist to us.

    IMHO, we are to be judged by how we treat the prisonor, how we love our enemies, not how well we defeat them in personal combat.

     
  15. mark46

    mark46 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I agree that there is a place for 3rd parties.

    However, I would point out that choosing not to decide between the major parties does not absolve us of having allowed the winner to be elected. IMHO, by voting third party, we are saying that it makes no difference who is elected.

    For a century, many Catholics have voted for the candidate who election is most likely to help the weakest among us: the poor, the sick, the prisoner, and those discriminated against.

    Since the 60's some have decided that it much more important to vote for someone who statements are against abortion and homosexual state marriages, deciding that these are the only important "life" issues). My point is that there are serious differences between imperfect candidates. And many times, statements of position will have little effect. As Mayor Koch used to say, "if you support 70% of my positions, voted for me; if you back 100% of my positions, you need to see a psychiatrist."

    In the current US system, we have primaries that determine the major candidates. Then we choose among imperfect choices. We can also say that each of the imperfect choices supports something to which we have moral objections, in which case we vote 3rd party or not at all. We are indeed making a protest vote. Often we make the difference, as 3rd party voters did in electing Bill Clinton and George Bush. More often, we simply allow others to make the choice of who is pass the laws.


     
  16. chevyontheriver

    chevyontheriver Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I am not responsible for the sordid outcome of The Donald winning. Nor would I have been responsible for Hillary winning if that sordid outcome had happened. I voted for a candidate I could stomach, and I could not stomach The Donald nor Hillary so I did not vote for either of these two inadequate candidates. Please do not put it on me if an inadequate candidate wins. It is on the people who voted for the inadequate candidate, not those who didn't vote for the other inadequate candidate. The majority of the electorate voted in this past election for inadequate candidates, mostly to stop the other candidate. That is the real problem, people voting for inadequate candidates on purpose, to stop the other inadequate candidate. It's not my problem I found an adequate candidate. I do not need absolution for casting a worthwhile vote for a good candidate.
     
  17. Davidnic

    Davidnic Well-Known Member Staff Member Site Advisor Supporter

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    Agreed 100% and Catholic moral Teaching also would not hold a vote that upholds conscience as responsible. You can't fix a broken moral or political system by playing into the design flaws.

    And we can't make our judgements based on proportionalism and use that to excuse cooperation with intrinsic evil.
     
  18. Abaxvahl

    Abaxvahl Member

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    Thank you for this, I'm glad to know it is allowed, although violence being an obligation sometimes is just something I may have to deal with (I hate it for many reasons, not the least of which I feel I'm being dragged into the rules of a fallen world which isn't even my fault, but it is what it is, as looking at the issue all over and the answers seem to be this). Unless of course, not standing idly by can be fulfilled non-violently (which will fail often, but is an attempt). The area is muddy and honestly I'll just do more to go around any situation like that. I won't be responsible for anyone in my lifetime probably, so it's likely to be irrelevant.

    Third party and write-ins looks as what I'll do, partially the violence thing, mainly because of my lack of interest in politics and how I do not follow the news at all for any reason (there is a very real chance I will not even be aware of an election going on unless someone reminds me, I think I missed one recently, not sure, unless it's later this year).
     
  19. chevyontheriver

    chevyontheriver Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I don't consider 'violence' as an obligation as much as the use of force perhaps being required. Non-violent means can force an outcome as effectively or more effectively than violent means. This is brought home by Gene Sharp in his old book "The Dynamics of Nonviolent Action" from 1973. One can be very forceful while being non-violent and respecting the full agency of someone who opposes you.
     
  20. chevyontheriver

    chevyontheriver Well-Known Member Supporter

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    There is an election in November, and many states are have already had primary elections or soon will have them. Some Senate seats are up for election, all House of Representatives seats, many governorships, many state offices, just not the president yet.
     
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