The National Catholic Review

What’s up with Rick Santorum?

The uber-Catholic former Pennsylvania senator is not one to shy away from injecting his faith into the public realm, but some comments over the past few days reveal an odd sort of religious Manichaeism. On one side are those who subscribe to his very particular understanding of the world and his unique interpretation of Catholicism, and on the other is everyone else.

Consider a 2008 speech he gave at Ave Maria University in Florida. In it, Santorum employs language that is quite atypical for Roman Catholics these days, blending spiritual warfare and nationalist politics:

This is not a political war at all. This is not a cultural war. This is a spiritual war. And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country - the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age. There is no one else to go after other than the United States and that has been the case now for almost two hundred years, once America's preeminence was sown by our great Founding Fathers.

He didn't have much success in the early days. Our foundation was very strong, in fact, is very strong. But over time, that great, acidic quality of time corrodes even the strongest foundations. And Satan has done so by attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that has so deeply rooted in the American tradition.

Santorum describes how the “Father of Lies” attacked four pillars of American society-academia, culture, politics, and the church-to bring about the nation’s downfall. Decrying the lax sexual mores of American society and attributing that to the general decline of societal structures isn’t new for those of Santorum’s ilk, but his comments about Protestant churches are striking, especially considering his newfound base is comprised largely of Evangelical Christians. Santorum claims that Satan weaseled his way into universities to educate leaders who belonged to Protestant churches, churches that are no longer Christian:

And so what we saw this domino effect, once the colleges fell and those who were being education in our institutions, the next was the church. Now you’d say, ‘wait, the Catholic Church’? No. We all know that this country was founded on a Judeo-Christian ethic but the Judeo-Christian ethic was a Protestant Judeo-Christian ethic, sure the Catholics had some influence, but this was a Protestant country and the Protestant ethic, mainstream, mainline Protestantism, and of course we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it. So they attacked mainline Protestantism, they attacked the Church, and what better way to go after smart people who also believe they’re pious to use both vanity and pride to also go after the Church.

Presumably the non-Catholic Christians now voting for Santorum would pass his strict test of who is and who is not a Christian, but those who disagree with his political leanings don’t fare so well.

Speaking to the ongoing controversy over the HHS contraception mandate, Santorum claimed that President Obama is forcing a non-biblical theology on the Christian church. From the Chicago Tribune:

Obama's agenda is "not about you. It's not about your quality of life. It's not about your jobs. It's about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology," Santorum told supporters of the conservative Tea Party movement at a Columbus hotel.

When asked about the statement at a news conference later, Santorum said, "If the president says he's a Christian, he's a Christian."

But Santorum did not back down from the assertion that Obama's values run against those of Christianity.

"He is imposing his values on the Christian church. He can categorize those values anyway he wants. I'm not going to," Santorum told reporters.

Santorum said that he was not, in fact, questioning Obama's faith, but in the same breath ascribed a sort of neo-pagan philosophy to the president. From the Los Angeles Times:

"I accept the fact that the president’s a Christian," he said. "I just said that when you have a worldview that elevates the Earth above man, and says that, you know, we can't take those resources because we’re going to harm the Earth by things that frankly are just not scientifically proven, like for example that politicization of the whole global warming debate, this is just all an attempt to centralize power, to give more power to the government."

He added: "I’m talking about the belief that man should be in charge of the Earth and should have dominion over it and should be good stewards of it."

Scrutinizing Santorum’s faith is fair game because he makes such a spectacle of it on the campaign trail. For a man who wants to lead a secular multicultural society, his comments hinting at nationalistic-spiritual warfare and his reflexive tendency to dismiss those who disagree with him as “other” border on disturbing. Utilizing one’s faith to inform one’s politics is healthy and encouraging, especially when the resulting policies answer the biblical exhortation to protect the poor and marginalized. But claiming that those who differ from you in the values they hold or the worldviews they profess have been influenced by the Devil himself is truly bizarre and perhaps abhorrent.

With his rise in the polls, Santorum has a national platform that he can use to demonstrate how his Catholic faith shapes his political views, but he should also be ready for to answer questions about how he seems to reject some church teaching as well. Because in addition to talk of angels and demons, abortion and gay marriage, the church clearly states its views on immigration, war, torture, healthcare, and myriad other issues where Santorum diverges.


Tom Maher | 2/23/2012 - 11:30am
Meanwhile back here on earth, the Republican Primary last went on last night without the moralistic nonsense that eveyone finds so entertaining.  The Republican Primary should not become antoher "reality TV" experience like American Idol. 

The Republican crowd and the candidates refused to go along with John King's questioning on contraceptives directed at Rick Sanatorum.  It now considered good form in Repbulican events and forums to bluntly rebuff the moderator question, effectively telling the moderator John King of CNN that his question was too far away from the mainstream of concerns of the Republican Presidential primary.  

George Stephanopolis as moderator of ABC brought up a similar strange question at the  Republican primary debate over a month ago when he actually asked Romney if he would siupport a Consitutional Amendment to ban constraceptives.  Romeny replied in effect that no states and no group is even considering such a proposal and dismissed the question.

It good to see that the candidates asserting themselves more and more and taking more ownereship of the debates and what is discussed.  News anchors of very network  do exploit debate forums as moderators and should be prevented form doing so.  Th audience are also less tolerant of exploitive , over-the-top questions that have no real world applicability and that are just sensational, entertaining or cute.

It is time that Presiential politcal forums be taken seriously by news moderators because thet are serious.  If the news moderators abuse their role they should be stepped on by the candidates and now are.  We now have a new democratic process where the news moderators and moderated so only serious, down to earth issues are debated. 
Kang Dole | 2/23/2012 - 9:31am
Damnation, in a covenantal sense, means a cutting-off, a casting-away. I did not say anything about a word-for-word match-and I never even said that it would specifically refer to Israel, because I certainly see no reason to make Israel and America parallels (there's always Ninevah). But there is passage after passage laying out the consequences of covenant-violation, and oracle after oracle telling Israel and a host of nations of their impending realization of the wrath of God. And many—very many—of these passages cite the sort of social injustices that also drove Wright's words as being the catalyst for God's wrath. Peruse the prophets and you will see just how strong this impulse to announce God's wrathful vengeance is in the Bible (Amy's citation is one of so many possible selections). Yes, God's messengers announce oracles of hope, but they do not come independently of the proclamation of judgement. But just how many times can you find the concept of Satan being against Israel or any other nation?
Amy Ho-Ohn | 2/23/2012 - 8:18am
"Where in the Bible can we find 'God damn Israel'?"

"And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:
And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry."
Isaiah 5:5-7
Kang Dole | 2/22/2012 - 9:39am
I would actually argue that the latter statement—“God damn America”—is largely more in keeping with a significant prophetic strand in the Bible; in that sense, it does seem to be more in keeping with “normative” religion insofar as one accepts the Bible as in some way providing a measure for one’s religion. In fact, the language, laconicism aside, is so biblical in tone that I’ve always been surprised that people were so outraged by it.
Stanley Kopacz | 2/21/2012 - 11:16pm
Sanctorum serves up the full platter of lies of the anti-climatology cult, slandering a whole group of hard working scientists and projecting his own dishonest "thought" processes and political non-scientific motivations onto others.  My biggest difficulty with him is whether I should file him under "b" for buffoon or "p" for punk.  Thankfully, the voters of my state had the wisdom to throw him out of the Senate.
J Cosgrove | 2/21/2012 - 9:41pm
David Power,

There are actually lots of Catholics that are popular, Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubeo besides Chris Christie that have good track records.  Ryan, Jindal and Rubeo are very young and so are not likely this time.   There is hope the convention will be brokered and that there will not be a winner going in.  Delegates are committed for the first round but then can vote for someone else.  If that happens and it is a big ''If'' then it will be very interesting.  There ae already people pushing for it so that Jeb Bush could be nominated.  His problem is that he is George's brother and another Bush.  But he has been very popular.

If that should happen, we will see the personal destruction team come out in full force as the left goes into its destroy mode.  They have scared a lot of people because of what they will do to people personally.  That is why Mitch Daniels would not run because of what they would do to his wife.  The OP above is just a benign sample and America is not even a bit player.  It will be relentless but I hope it backfires.
david power | 2/21/2012 - 7:14pm
@Vince, Glad you liked it.

@JR, I have often pointed out the same bias and so Michael Loughlin knows that his record is not much better than that of a shill.He seems happy to go along with that and so good luck to him.Maybe he knows something I do not (quite possible) or he is just afraid to challenge his thought processes.
That Said Slick Rick is the man of the moment and deserves a posting just as Obama did 4 years ago (America went cheerleading) and to comment on Santorum is to have your caricatures at the ready.
Santorum is the only catholic in the race and so is an indictment on the shoddy level of catholic representation in American Politics.
What you need is a big fat man from New Jersey to run that country.
Two candidates for the job :)  
J Cosgrove | 2/21/2012 - 6:20pm
David Power,

Funny thing is I am not a big fan of Santorum, just pushing back at the reflexive way they portray him or anyone else they don't like here.  But Tony called me after I posted my response and thanked me.
Vince Killoran | 2/21/2012 - 5:14pm
Thanks David Power for the YouTUbe clip link-funny stuff!

"Scrutinizing Santorum’s faith is fair game because he makes such a spectacle of it on the campaign trail."  That is a fair observation and O'Loughlin stays within the the margins of decency when dealing with public officials running for office.

Some of the scrutiny will be over simple issues of honesty (e.g.,his cyberschool reimbursement caper) and consistency (e.g., prenatal testing; see:
Thomas Rooney OFS | 2/21/2012 - 4:28pm
@ David -

The information on RS is based on what I've read and seen in the debates.  I'll admit there is quite a personal spin on the way I present him in my post because I'm only giving my opinion; I don't like him and it seems to me that as President, he would be advocating an aggressive foreign policy and environmental stance.  Being a professed Franciscan who advocates for peace and protection of our natural resources, I find these positions repugnant.

He does embody the position of the classic "pro-life" ideology.  But I personally find the "Abortion is Murder" rhetoric counter-productive and instrumental only in steeling the "choicers" in their own positioning.  It turns the grave matter of abortion into a political football, a wedge issue that politicians on both sides of the debate have a vested interest in keeping alive, rather than solving.  Not to mention war, poverty, euthanasia, torture and human trafficking are all offenses to the dignity of life, that Santorum either does not address adequately or takes a position that is at odds with that of his, and our, Church. 

In my opinion, Rick Santorum can claim ot be anti-abortion.  But the jury is out regarding his claim to be pro-life.
Jim McCrea | 2/21/2012 - 4:11pm

Why Senator Santonarola Can't Help Himself
(snip)  “But Rick Santorum is a rare breed—a bona fide ideologue with a fixed and coherent world view. He can’t just switch some button and turn off the social stuff and talk jobs instead. It’s all woven together. ‘I'm not going to go out and lay out an agenda about how we're going to transform people's hearts,’ he said today. ‘But I will talk about it.’ ”
david power | 2/21/2012 - 2:29pm

You are not scaring him in the least.
It is just something people say when they have nothing relevant to say and cannot be bothered to reason things out or feel that the other person has a position very far from them which means that they are "nuts" or psycho.
The implication is that you are crazy.It works in some way because nobody wants to be considered nuts unless they are pleading temporary insanity.
I think Jim nailed it with the prayer in the White House.If I were Obama I would be leading the Rosary at every meal.Santorum has many knockers but the coolest American of living memory is backing him. 
Michael Appleton | 2/21/2012 - 1:33pm
Jim McCrea's description of Mr. Santorum's theology is fairly accurate in my view. It's A.J. Rushdoony meets Cotton Mather. I find myself virtually cringing whenever he invokes his Catholicism.
J Cosgrove | 2/21/2012 - 11:28am
Mr. Dean,

''Now, you're beginning to scare me.''

That is an interesting comment.  No one I know personally ever said that about me.  I do speak my mind some times but try to be funny where I can.  On another blog that I used to comment on frequently the moderator said I was irrepressible so that might be scary to some.  What gets me upset here is when authors or commenters attack others without any Christian love.  A good example is Mr. O;Laughlin OP above where there was no charity or attempt to understand, only an attempt to denigrate.  It is one thing to disagree it is quite another to belittle and mock.  That is what I find scary.

Just what did I say that scares you.  I am constantly asking for a dialogue on this blog.  Is that is what is scary or is it that I really love my Catholic faith and appreciate what all the nuns, brothers and priest have done for me and my family and millions of others.  Or that I want to see the poor get a chance to get jobs and succeed.  Maybe we should have a beer together some time so that there is less misunderstanding.  Do you live in the Northeast?  I live in New York but often go to Philadelphia where I grew up and the Boston area where I have relatives.

Please be specific instead of throwing negative terms at someone.  If we had a dialogue, there would be less misunderstanding.  We can always disagree but can do it cheerfully.
Robert Dean | 2/21/2012 - 10:44am
To JR Cosgrove:  In the past, I found you merely annoying in a runt-cum-schoolyard bully kind of way.  Now, you're beginning to scare me.
Thomas Rooney OFS | 2/21/2012 - 10:07am
A "President Santorum" makes me uneasy, and not simply because of his religious posturing (which is bad enough for the nation's top PUBLIC servant).  Santorum is the neo-con of neo-cons.  The government in the bedroom determining who we can set up housekeeping and legal contracts with.  Removing all barriers to oil and gas drilling on our shores, disturbing ecosystems and practically guaranteeing nother BP disaster with the lax regulation  And he's practically licking his chops over the prospect of going to war with Iran and God knows who else.

I am sadly underwhelmed by our prospects for President.  It's not just Santorum...but he frightens me the most.
Jim McCrea | 2/20/2012 - 7:28pm
Rick is a restorationist dominionist fundamentalist evangelical masquerading as a Catholic Christian.

I suspect that the President prays each night the Santorum is his opponent in November.  What a gift from God THAT would be!
Amy Ho-Ohn | 2/20/2012 - 6:56pm
Belief in the Devil and his minions is an article of Catholic faith. But believing that human wisdom suffices to identify real, empirical events in human history, still less in contemporary politics, and attribute them to his activity is just plain nuts. A lot of evil has been done by people who believe that.
Beth Cioffoletti | 2/20/2012 - 5:13pm
You must spend all your time on the internet, David :-) ... I sure wish I could get you to read some Merton.  The very best of Catholicism, in my opinion.
Kang Dole | 2/20/2012 - 3:24pm
Thank you for spelling my name correctly this time, Mr. Kosgrave. But no thanks for not answering my question. When a politician runs on the expectation that he will institute biblical policies, what is the significance of such a premise? Does it mean anything beyond being a Sign to conservative Christians? Does it indicate an actual desire to institute a biblical platform? If Santorum really does think that he will enact biblical policies, then there's something really juicy there to ruminate* on. And that's because there is a rub that faces anyone who wants to claim to represent the side of Bible-based policy; namely, that the Bible offers no foundation for any kind of consisitent or coherent policy. It's a rich tapestry, the Bible-and it violates its own principle by being a mix of threads.

"They will know us by our love"
Oh, yeah-your love always comes shining through. Would that I could but share in a fraction of your love-bursting tone, Mr Cosgrave. Alack!

*Presumably, the exclusion of ruminating animals without a split hoof from the dinner table will be high on Santorum's policy agenda.
J Cosgrove | 2/20/2012 - 2:18pm
Mr. Rosenzweig,

Thank you for the mis-representation.

Thank you for the attempted put down.

And I love the tone also.  They will know us by our love.
Kang Dole | 2/20/2012 - 1:16pm
Mr. Cosgrove, if you’re not actually addressing the content of what Santorum had to say about Satan, then who cares?
If you’re concerned that people are digging up old audio clips of what Santorum has said, then I would say two things. First, methinks that audio clips from well before four years ago will be dug up, should Santorum get the Republican nod. Gird your loins, if that is upsetting. Second—and more to the point—the issue with how Santorum uses religious rhetoric is not just an issue of 4 years ago. He continues with the same sort of rhetoric, as his varied remarks and reworked remarks from this past weekend show. It’s insubstantial and based on demonization. (I mean, it’s literally based on demonization!) For example, when he said that Obama’s policies are not “based on the Bible,” what is the implication? Would a Pres. Santorum have biblically-based polices? What on earth would that look like! If you have an easy answer to that question, than there just isn’t any way that you will convince me that you’ve read much of the Bible recently.
J Cosgrove | 2/20/2012 - 12:40pm
Mr. Donaghy,

Thank you for your response.  One way of thinking about the Incarnation was taught all the way through my 16 years of Catholic education and in the homilies at Mass on Sunday.  The other wasn't and this is the first I have heard of it.  So forgive me for not considering it.   It is probably a topic that is worthy of some discussion on this blog.

I do not plan to say anymore but before I get accused by the editors of dominating a thread, all I am doing is responding to those who addressed what I said and clarifying my comments.
J Cosgrove | 2/20/2012 - 12:27pm
Mr. Rosenwieg,

The idea of a devil goes back several thousand years and is part of Catholic and most Christian theology.  So that he exists or has affected mankind is not something to debate whether it is part of Christian theology or not.  Just what he does presently is certainly something to debate and I never said that I agree with the specific assertions about the US made by Santorum.  There will never be any proof of the devil's activity.  Could you imagine the reaction if it was proved Old Scratch was caught with his pants down in bed with our academics.  We would not have a new Great Awakening, we would have THE GREAT AWAKENING.  And he certainly does not want that.

But it interesting how some want to take a four year old audio clip in a religious setting and turn it into a political event.  I never thought Santorum should be the Republican nominee and I do not think he believes he will be the nominee.  But instead of taking what he said and pointed out the foolishness of what he said for his political ambitions the knives came out for him personally.  That is a common event around here and one not worthy of a Jesuit organization.  They disclaim their support for the author's viewpoints but still employ them and allow them to comment.

So I find the reactions to Santorum in the OP and then to me personally by commenters more interesting than what Santorum actually said.   It was Christian love at its best.  Believe what I believe or you are damned.  Sort of what they are accusing Santorum of.  And I actually don't believe that Santorum espouses that at all.

In the end this is all about politics and not religion.  One problem I have with liberal politics is its hypocrisy not its objectives.  One commenter said today, saying you are liberal and that you care is much important than actually accomplishing your goals.  We have a 70% illegitimate rate among some sub populations here in the US and that is the result of liberal policies.  They were good intentioned though.
T BLACKBURN | 2/20/2012 - 11:19am
This thread was interesting for awhile. If I had gotten here sooner I would have mentioned that while America, under the leadership of George Washington (who is father of our faith but never uttered ther name of "Jesus" nor referred unmistakeably to Him in public) through Calvin Cooledge (who never said anything in public) - and, therefore, while God was accordingly looking over us and preventing the Father of Lies from prevailing, - while that America existed we spent four years in a bloody civil war. That fact is forgotten by Catholics like Rick Santorum and by Republican fundamentalists. But I, for one, do not believe Ken Burns made it all up.

So Mr. Santorum's theology has an historical problem before he even gets to his religious problems. Since turning 60 (during that Civil War) I have believed no one under 60 should be allowed to read Revelation. The good news for youngsters is that I am lately convinced everyone under 60 should have to read the Song of Songs. Let Mr. Santorum carry out that assignment and revise his theology accordingly.
John Donaghy | 2/20/2012 - 11:07am
JR Cosgrove: Within the Catholic theological tradition there are several different ways of thinking about the Incarnation. One is that Jesus became flesh because of the sin of Adam and Eve. Another tradition - found in St. Bonaventure and Blessed John Duns Scotus - is that the Incarnation is part of God's plan from the beginning of creation. (Excuse the poor explanation of a complex andvery fruitful theological position.)
The Magisterium has, as far as I know, never tken a position for or against either position.
Jacqueline Michell | 2/20/2012 - 10:40am
I have long admired Merton's writings, so I had to send this thought from the chapter first quoted in #6.
As an older pre-Vatican II Catholic, I remembers receiving a lot of this type of instruction.  But the short quote, given above, is for me, part of a very intentionally ironic chapter.
He gets to the 'meat' of the subject, as usual very briefly and effectively:  '' . . . No longer is there any sense that we might be expected  to take upon our shoulders the wrongs of others by forgiveness, acceptance, patient understanding and love, and thus help one another find the truth.''
Tom Maher | 2/20/2012 - 10:28am
What's up with Rick Santorum indeed. 

As someone said on a local radio talk show: "Santorum is not running for President, he's running for Pope."   Santorum is alienating most Americans with his strange moral arguments on public policy and practice. 

It is very distrubing to hear dozens of last weekend's news shows videos of Santorum extensively commenting on his dated and unheard of anti-contraception veiws  as central Presidential campaign issues.   His private religious views are out of place with most of the public's needs and concerns.  Santorum is demonsrating his lack of political judgement and leadership ability in failing to focus on the major politcal concerns of the American public.  Santorum is not being Presidential.  Santorem is making himself even more un-electable than he already is for no meaningful politcal purpose. 

Who talks about contraception even in theological circles today?  This is a dead issue that has not been heard of for at least half a century.  Very annoyingly he is undercutting the church's position on religious liberties which everyone believes in by turning the church's position into a nore limited anti-contraception arguemnts which almost noone believes in or understands.  This theological concerns shows a lack of political and executive judgement in creating meaningful policy that can be supported.   What will he do next?

Whoever Santorum is he should not be President.  Santorum is unelectable.
Marie Rehbein | 2/20/2012 - 10:22am
JR, evil exists to highlight good.  It can never be eradicated, but one can choose to do evil, just as one can choose to do good.  I think Mr. Santorum fails to recognize the preeminence of free will in the relationship between God and man, and he chooses instead to claim that he knows God's will to be whatever he, Mr. Santorum, chooses to do and whatever he feels others should be permitted to do.  This reduces to believing that one can work one's way into heaven and that not perfecting oneself in this life defaults to eternal damnation.  That may be a form Catholicism took during in the medieval world, but it is not enlightened Catholicism. 
J Cosgrove | 2/20/2012 - 10:13am
''I hope that you will find some good Catholic theologians who will introduce you to a God of Love and Mercy and the manifestation and incarnation of that Love which is the Christ.''

I was taught by nuns, Christian Brothers, and Jesuits.  All of whom taught me that the Resurrection was the result of the Fall.  No Fall, no need for redempton, no need for Christ to die and be ressurected.  Were you taught differently?  Why is there a need for a Redeemer in whatever theology you want to teach the people here if there was not a Fall? 

It is very interesting how the personal attacks take place here.
Beth Cioffoletti | 2/20/2012 - 9:53am
Here's another MErton quote, which may be a stretch for some, but captures for me the very essence of Christianity and the Catholic Church.  Not a word about the Devil.

"My Catholicism is not the religion of the bourgeoisie nor will it ever be. My Catholicism is of all the world and of all ages. It dates from the beginning of the world. The first man was the image of Christ and contained Christ, even as he was created, as savior in his heart. The first man was destined to be the ancestor of his Redeemer and the first woman was the mother of all life, in the image of the Immaculate Daughter who was full of grace, Mother of mercy, Mother of the saved."
- Thomas Merton
Introductions East & West, 35-6
Beth Cioffoletti | 2/20/2012 - 9:48am
"Without this person, there is no meaning for Christ, the Resurrection or redemption or salvation."

JR - this is exactly the system of theology that Merton attempts to correct in his chapter (The Moral Theology of the Devil) in New Seeds of Contemplation.  The false notion that the world was created in order that man might sin so that God would have an opportunity to manifest His justice.

I hope that you will find some good Catholic theologians who will introduce you to a God of Love and Mercy and the manifestation and incarnation of that Love which is the Christ.
Marie Rehbein | 2/20/2012 - 8:59am
"It's greatest principle is to love your neighbor as yourself.  Not a bad idea but not a religion because it is based on a false premise..."

NOT a bad idea???  Based on a false premise???  Jesus said it was the Greatest Commandment.

Now who's channeling the father of lies?
J Cosgrove | 2/20/2012 - 7:37am
The problem with the Devil, Satan, Beelzebub, Lucifer or in this case the Father of Lies is that he is an essential part of the Catholic Church and Christianity.  Without this person, there is no meaning for Christ, the Resurrection or redemption or salvation.  But he makes people uncomfortable to acknowledge his presence but as I said without his presence there is no Christianity.

What we call Christianity then is just a quaint cultural or social organization based on a number of principles accepted at the moment to make members feel something positive about their life.  It's greatest principle is to love your neighbor as yourself.  Not a bad idea but not a religion because it is based on a false premise and serves no purpose other than making one's life on earth bearable and have a temporary purpose.  Also good ideas.  But such an approach is very limited.

This discussion is not new here and it challenges one on what they believe.  Evil exists and the Church has a position on where that evil originates.  Obviously we are products of the Enlightenment and devils are silly things, superstitions really, that are only stories we tell children.  They are portrayed as such in art and literature and believers of these stories are mocked as simple minded.  If I were the devil, I would be proud of my accomplishments. 

So Mr. O'Laughlin has to deal with what he believes his religion is all about.  Is what Mr. Santorum saying anything different from what the Church taught for 2000 years and for that he is being castigated with such words as uber Catholic because a subset of the Church wants to throw such beliefs away and head off in what they see is a more enlightened direction.  There is a saying about the road to hell...
Kang Dole | 2/20/2012 - 10:53am
Mr. Cosgrove,

It seems to me that in focusing your critique on the supposed discomfort people have with a pretty solid element in Catholicism-Satan and his doings, etc.-you are eliding what may be more to the point: Santorum isn't just talking about the activities of Satan, but rather is producing a narrative in which Satan is squared off against the US of A-which Santorum seems to have situated in, shall we say, a rather prominent position in the world's salvation history-and that the various political developments that Santorum disapproves of are basically the scat pointing to the fact that Satan has been rooting around in America's bushes. It's a stale kind of US exceptionalism that utilizes a rhetorical strategy that doesn't go beyond, "My opponent is doing the devil's work." It doesn't go beyond that, even if he wants to amend what he said later with, "even if it's just by accident." (i.e. I believe he's a Christian, but...)

J Cosgrove | 2/20/2012 - 10:00am
Sorry Marie,

After I wrote that, I realized that I left something out after I presssed the post button.  It was written in a hurry and early in the morning. So try the following

''It's greatest principle is to love your neighbor as yourself.  Not a bad idea but not a religion because unless it is taken in the context of salvation and a plan from God it is based on a false premise and serves no purpose other than making one's life on earth bearable and have a temporary purpose.'' 

Some may be able to say it better than the addended lines above but from the context of what else I said most should understand what was meant.  But thanks for the Christian charity you showed in your answer.
Beth Cioffoletti | 2/20/2012 - 6:12am
In Thomas Merton's book, Seeds of Contemplation, there is a chapter entitled "The Moral Theology of the Devil".  The devotional life of thsoe who are "faithful" to this kind of theology consists above all with an obsession with evil.  Rules and punishment (the Law) triumphs, and there is no mercy.

"The people who listen to this sort of thing, and absorb it and enjoy it, develop a notion of the spiritual life which is a kind of hypnosis of evil.  The concepts of sin, suffering, damnation, punishment, the justice of God, retribution, the end of the world and so on, are the things over which they smack their lips with unspeakable pleasure.  Perhaps this is because they derive a deep, subconscious comfort from the thought that many other people will fall into the hell which they themselves are going to escape..  And how do they know they are going to escape it?  They cannot give any definite reason except for the fact that they feel a certain sense of relief at the thought that all this punishment is prepared for practically everyone but themselves.

"This feeling of complacency is what they refer to as "faith", and it constitutes a kind of conviction that they are "saved".  (Seeds of Contemplation, Merton p. 92, 1961, New Directions)
J Cosgrove | 2/20/2012 - 12:14am

Mr. O'Laughlin is just piling on an article that came out a couple days ago.  The quote is from an audio tape from 4 years ago and the original translation which he used was not accurate.  He just copied it from somewhere else.  Santorum actually said ''educated.''  If you want to hear the recording, it is up on youtube!
J Cosgrove | 2/19/2012 - 11:52pm
The knives are out for Rick Santorum here as Mr. O'Lauglin does his best at a hit job.  Some interesting phrases chosen to make Santorum look bad:

religious Manichaeism
on the other is everyone else
isn’t new for those of Santorum’s ilk
weaseled his way into universities
but in the same breath ascribed a sort of neo-pagan philosophy to the president
he makes such a spectacle of it
nationalistic-spiritual warfare
his reflexive tendency to dismiss those who disagree with him as “other” border on disturbing.
is truly bizarre and perhaps abhorrent
he seems to reject some church teaching as well
the church clearly states its views on immigration, war, torture, healthcare, and myriad other issues where Santorum diverges.

I suggest that Mr. O'Laughlin elimate the highly inflammatory rhetoric and suggest a debate on each actual point he disagrees with.  It might be enlightening as opposed to throwing lots of red meat out to raise emotions.  But he might find the debate uncomfortable for his own positions so I do not see him every taking such a tack.
ed gleason | 2/19/2012 - 7:21pm
Let America Mag. provide a service in this uproar.. Have the mag print the best arguments for and against why BC is intrinsicaly evil. Make em as short as possible. about half a page each..  Winston Churchhill  wanted to know why Sinapore fell so quickly and wanted it on one page.. he got it..
Amy Ho-Ohn | 2/19/2012 - 6:38pm
It sounds to me like Ricky is under the influence of the father of incoherent gibberish. Do his speech-writers write this stuff for him or can he just not read and talk simultaneously?

"And so what we saw this domino effect, once the colleges fell and those who were being education in our institutions, the next was the church."

What does that mean? Is there some way you can read it out loud and make sense of it? Even if we assume "education" is a misprint for "educated" it just doesn't parse.

I understand he's trying to channel JPII for his Ave Maria audience and I'm sure they got it too. But to anybody who hasn't read the original, this sounds like complete nonsense. Is this really the best the Catholic right has to offer? Forty years of new springtimes in the Church and this is the flower of Catholic rhetoric?
Marie Rehbein | 2/19/2012 - 4:28pm

It will be quite a gift to the Democrats to have him become the Republican candidate.  People refer to Rick as the Catholic Ayatollah, while he is insinuating that Obama is a secret Muslim  -  it follows the Stephen Colbert character's pattern of saying "I don't see race.  People tell me I'm white, and I believe them"  -  "If the president says he's a Christian, he's a Christian."

It sounds to me like Rick himself is under the influence of the "father of lies".  Combine him with the bishops and their phoney First Amendment concerns, and the Catholic Church becomes revolting to those outside it and embarrassing to those inside.