[Updated because I accidentally published this before I was finished with it.  I probably shouldn’t blog so late at night!]

Cardinal Stafford pulled no punches in talking about President-Elect Obama, his extremism on abortion, and what it all means for America and for Catholics.  I found this article via Fr. Z.  This is an excerpt, with my emphases:

Cardinal at CUA: Obama is ‘Aggressive, Disruptive and Apocalyptic’

Posted By Elizabeth Grden On November 14, 2008 @ 7:58 am

His Eminence James Francis Cardinal Stafford criticized President-elect Barack Obama as “aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic,“ and said he campaigned on an “extremist anti-life platform,” Thursday night in Keane Auditorium during his lecture “Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II: Being True in Body and Soul.“

“Because man is a sacred element of secular life,” Stafford remarked, “man should not be held to a supreme power of state, and a person’s life cannot ultimately be controlled by government.”

“For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden,” Stafford said, comparing America’s future with Obama as president to Jesus’ agony in the garden. “On November 4, 2008, America suffered a cultural earthquake.”

Cardinal Stafford said Catholics must deal with the “hot, angry tears of betrayal” by beginning a new sentiment where one is “with Jesus, sick because of love.”

The lecture, hosted by the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, pertained to Humanae Vitae, a papal encyclical written by Pope Paul VI in 1968 and celebrating its 40 anniversary this year.

The article is… meh.  Much more informative is the actual audio from that section of Cardinal Stafford’s speech, although I don’t think it gives the full picture, either.  Here are some excerpts from that audio, transcribed by me:

Under all of that grace and charm [of Obama], there is a tautness of will, a clenched jaw, a constant–a state of constant alertness to detect and resist any external influence which might threaten his independence.  A state of alertness?  Yes, that is putting it mildly.  [A section I can’t make out clearly, but something about Obama carrying out “operations against the enemy city.”]

Here, the cardinal turns to Obama’s July 2007 address to Planned Parenthood: transforming America, signing FOCA, Roe v. Wade, not wanting his daughters to be “punished with pregnancy,” and his refusal to yield on the issue of abortion.  Then he continues:

[Obama’s] rhetoric is post-modernist and marks an agenda and ambition that are aggressive, disruptive, and apocalyptic.  Catholics weep over these words.  We weep over the violence concealed behind the rhetoric of our young president-to-be.  What should we do with our hot, angry tears of betrayal?  First: our tears are agonistic.  We must acknowledge that.  For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal.  We will know that garden.

First: Contrary to what the article-writer would have us believe, the cardinal is not making a personal attack on Obama himself, but rather responding to Obama’s appearance, his rhetoric, his statements, and the sort of agenda suggested by them.  He is not judging the man’s soul, but only externals.  As I said yesterday, there is a difference.  We absolutely can and must think critically about things like appearance, rhetoric, statements, and agenda; that doesn’t mean we hate or want to hurt the person underneath it all.

Second: I think that Obama’s agenda, as it has been presented to date, does look to be aggressive, disruptive, and, yes, even apocalyptic.  Aggressive and disruptive because it threatens to destroy existing laws restricting abortion, as well as the states’ sovereignty, the states’ rights to enact such restrictions.  It also threatens the rights of citizens to not have any part in aborting children.  I think especially of Catholic and other religious medical practitioners who refuse to perform abortions.  I think of all citizens who don’t want to fund abortion.  Obama’s agenda seems like it may submit freedom of religion to freedom of abortion.  I don’t think it’s going too far to say that sounds pretty apocalyptic.  Religious freedom has been held precious in this country since its foundation, and suddenly, we’re going to have a president who possibly wants to trash it in favor of a practice most citizens find intrinsically evil, a practice we cannot in good conscience tolerate?  Right, nothing horrible could come out of that situation!  A little persecution here and there, what could it harm?

Third: Cardinal Stafford senses something warlike about Obama, where abortion is concerned.  Obama seems to be in a guarded state of “wartime consciousness,” to borrow a phrase from Peter Kreeft.  And if Obama is in wartime consciousness over abortion, then we Catholics had very well better be too!  This is how Kreeft describes the wartime consciousness we must have:

… a very practical alertness and attention and also a very practical sense of perspective and sense of values.  Little things no longer loom so large, and large things (life and death) no longer seem so little and far away.  No one complains about lumpy beds on a battlefield or bleats about their “sexual needs” or worries about their stock options.  (How to Win the Culture War, InterVarsity Press, 2002, p. 22)

In other words, we need to be alert, get our priorities straight, and generally get serious!

Now, I ask you, what better place for us to do all that than the Garden of Gethsemane?  I think that most practicing Catholics already “know that garden” pretty well.  I don’t think it will be particularly new territory for us.  But I do think it is going to become much more central and constant in our lives in the near future.

Fourth: I think it very odd that the cardinal suggests that Catholics are being betrayed by Obama.  We are not being betrayed by Obama.  We’ve known since long before 4 November that Obama holds an extreme stance on abortion.  Maybe I’m too cynical, but I really believe that all Catholics have known that all along, and that some of them have simply chosen to disregard it.  And that’s the betrayal.

Our betrayal comes from our fellow Catholics, or so-called Catholics.  And it’s not just from people like Biden, Pelosi, the Kennedys, Kerry, Giuliani, et al.  There’s been plenty of betrayal among the ranks of the clergy, as well as among the normal people in the pews.  The election is just one latest indicator of that, because it’s not just a recent betrayal.  It’s been building up for a long time–40 years now, if we look to the Humanae Vitae cataclysm as the starting point.

That’s the betrayal.  It’s massive and pervasive.  And Catholics are starting to realize that we’ve suffered too much betrayal, for too long, and amidst too much silence from the hierarchy.  That is the cause of our agony!

It’s not that Catholics are going to start arriving at the the Garden… it’s that we’re going to wake up and cast off our sleep.  And the question then is going to be:  What do we do now?  What will we make of this experience?  Are we just going to roll over and go back to sleep?  Are we going to cower and whimper like lost puppies?  Or are we going to use it to collect ourselves and prepare ourselves to possibly confront a very serious, determined, and powerful opponent over the single most important issue there is in our age?  And, perhaps more importantly, are we going to confront the traitors in our midst?  What are they going to do–are they going to be with us or not?  I think it may be a little of both: some will draw closer to us, while others will flee.

Here’s the cold, hard fact: unless Obama changes his stance on abortion, faithful Catholics are going to be in quite a difficult situation… strained relationships with our nation’s leader… even more strained relationships with some of our brethren.  And we’ll be very lucky if “strained relationships” doesn’t turn out to be a gross understatement.

As always, there is so much uncertainty.  I would love to be proven wrong about Obama–I’m sure Cardinal Stafford would, too, and so would all of us who feel uneasy about him and his plans for our country.  I pray every day that we will be proven wrong.  I pray every day for him.  I want to like him and be loyal to him and have him on my side.

But if I’m not proven wrong, then I would much rather be in Gethsemane, and even hanging on Calvary, with Christ and my fellow Catholics.  That’s one thing I am certain of.

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