By Kathleen Gilbert
January 14, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Catholic bloggers have responded after Doug Kmiec, the Catholic law professor who sent shockwaves through the pro-life community by vocally supporting pro-abortion Barack Obama in his bid for the presidency, issued a scathing indictment of the Catholic blogosphere, which had responded negatively to his position.
Kmiec claims the blogs unfairly vilified him and imperiled relations between the Obama administration and the Holy See with outlandish condemnations of the President-elect.
In an article entitled "A Tangled Web," to be published in Commonweal magazine January 16, the Pepperdine University law professor lambasted the Catholic blogosphere as "my online tormentors," "the smallest dollop of substance in a big steaming stew of personal contempt," "a thinly disguised political front for the GOP," "hate-filled," "venomous," and "Machiavellian."
"My online tormentors like to claim that their beef with me is my alleged abandonment of the prolife cause or willful misstatement of church teaching," wrote Kmiec, who said he was in fact "unabashedly prolife" and had "never consciously misstated the doctrine of the church." "Were the Holy Father to tell me I had contradicted the magisterium on any given page of my Obama book, I would tear out that page," he wrote.
The blogosphere's response to his Obama endorsement, said Kmeic, "feeds a politics of odium, misleading people of faith and good will, diminishing and at times obliterating our ability to know one another."
Kmiec also complained that the Catholic outrage was secretly rooted in partisan politics. "Right-wing Catholic bloggers, acting as a thinly disguised political front for the GOP, remain fixated on the goal of precipitating an unnecessary war between the Holy See and America’s next administration," wrote Kmiec. "Unless the sore losers of November 4 manage to poison the well, the Holy See and the Obama administration should be working more closely together in service to others than any administration in modern memory."
"The scurrilous remarks of conservative bloggers missed the point, which was that I and millions of others who voted for Obama did so not despite our Catholic faith but because of it," said Kmiec.
The law professor also criticized Denver Archbishop Chaput for disallowing the pro-abortion "Catholic" VP-elect Joseph Biden to receive communion, saying such a move was "using communion as a weapon."
In response, Thomas Peters of the popular American Papist blog issued an open letter to Kmiec challenging him on the wholesale condemnation of Catholic bloggers, which he said was "in dire need of a reality check."
"Hyperbolic fluff has always been part of the background noise of the blogosphere, but to equate that with the excellent Catholic journalism represented in many blogs is the worst sort of overgeneralizing," wrote Peters. "It is like complaining that 'the press' is persecuting you, and then proceeding to quote exclusively from the National Enquirer gossip pages."
Peters said that Kmiec's invective was not rightly aimed at major Catholic bloggers, but comment boxes and less popular blogs.
"Kmiec is asking that we shut down (or criticize heavily) an open room of vocal Catholics because of a few hecklers," he continued. "Kmiec’s choice to only call out the hecklers has allowed him to avoid other legitimate, constructive criticisms of his position."
Peters suggested Kmiec "perfected the art of misdirection" in issuing an article that focused on his "personal hurt."
"For someone who 'never thought it was mainly about [him]', Kmiec spends most of the time talking about himself, long after he apparently gave up pursuing an open debate in a public forum (or any even playing field). Instead he has chosen to portray himself as some sort of martyr in his Catholic support for Obama."
The blogger also questioned Kmiec's appeal to papal loyalty, stating that while the Pope is not responsible to correct Kmiec, "It is, however, the responsibility of local bishops to speak out when they think clarification is needed, and yet every time a bishop has done so, Kmiec has either disagreed with them or ignored them.
"Indeed, dozens of bishops have called into question Kmiec’s distinctive arguments for how a Catholic can support Obama, but unless such admonitions bear the papal seal, Kmiec evidently feels free to disregard it.
"Kmiec tries to portray episcopal disagreement with his positions as always a case of misunderstanding or prejudice .... In fact, one of Kmiec’s detractors with the highest visibility (as well as the author of a New York Times’ bestselling book on the subject of faithful citizenship), Archbishop Charles Chaput, can hardly be described as ignorant of American political history, reality, or Kmiec’s own position. How does Kmiec respond to this sort of criticism? Again, not with counter-arguments, but with cries of ‘foul!’”
Peters said he would "readily condemn the calumnies" Kmiec has suffered by nameless bloggers. However, he called on Kmiec to apologize "for the overgeneralizing and wild mischaracterization he has perpetrated against the 'right-wing Catholic blogosphere', who, in my estimation, have actually shown an admirable restraint in their dealings with someone that they genuinely believe is endangering unborn lives and setting a dangerous example of Catholic voting in U.S. democratic elections to come."
Popular Catholic writer Mark Shea of the "Catholic and Enjoying it!" blog also commented to the Catholic News Agency (CNA) that Kmiec's criticisms were misdirected, and suggested Kmiec failed to recognize his relative solitude amongst pro-life Catholics in supporting Obama.
“It's not like there was a huge field of one-time pro-life Catholic leaders who suddenly turned about and started making excuses for Obama's pro-abortion zeal,” Shea told CNA. “He was one of the most prominent alleged pro-life Catholic voices out there banging the drum for Obama, a man who has pledged to sign the single most destructive act of pro-abortion legislation in American history. What did he expect?”
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