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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-06-10 - 6:19 a.m.

Joan Chittister – From Where I Stand

By Joan Callaway

Even though I am not Catholic, time after time I read Joan Chittister’s weekly articles in the National Catholic Reporter and find what I consider a truly visionary and ecumenical wisdom. A Benedictine Sister, Sister Joan has been recognized by universities and national organizations for her work for justice and peace and equality for women in the Church and in society. I wait for her words each week.

In this week’s article, “The Picture Is An Illusion,” she chides President Bush, who is “credited with more capital punishment than any other governor in the nation,” and who as President has a doctrine of pre-emptive war with the death it brings to the innocent, and an economic policy that has produced national deficits that have necessarily curtailed important social programs. She contends that his recent visit with the Pope was a blatant manipulation for the Catholic vote, “a vote traditionally attuned to causes of justice, world peace, and social issues.”

She did not spare the Pope, however. The Pope said to President Bush during their interview, while we may agree on the one issue of abortion, “Your visit to Rome takes place at a moment of great concern for the continuing situation of grave unrest in the Middle East, both in Iraq and in the Holy Land.” The Pope on the one hand continued to scold the President for ignoring the many diplomatic efforts to prevent the pre-emptive invasion of Iraq. The President smiled, but ignored his words, but this did not come through in the photograph. Yet with the other hand the Pope provided a Catholic campaign photo-op for the world when he accepted from President Bush America’s highest honor, The American Medal of Freedom.

Chittister tells it as she sees it: “…there is only one thing the pope could have done to make the picture as clear as the words: he could have refused the medal from the president who refused the words. Then those who saw the image would have suffered from no illusions about either the breadth of the Catholic message or the panoply of concerns that those must have who court the Catholic vote.”

Column after column I find her ideas provocative and truthful. You can find all of her columns archived at http://nationalcatholicreporter.org. I hope you will. She tells it like it is!

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