The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…

Today’s winner is Paul Moses, writing at Commonweal, a publication that prides itself in distorting the teachings of the Church and acting as its own magisterium. Moses’ attempts to diminish Obama’s support for the murder of unborn human beings, promotion of homosexual marriage, and frontal assaults on the rights of the Catholic Church earn him the award today. (Moses’ comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

Tom Moran, a veteran New Jersey political columnist, wrote today on what he said is Archbishop John Myers’ politicking for the Republican presidential ticket.

Moses, clearly an Obama supporter, despite the many attacks on life and liberty that the president has launched, takes exception with a Bishop who speaks the truth. Myers highlights the evil present in Obama’s platform and actions. What Moses can’t stand is clarity. The Devil lives in the gray areas. Shining light on evil will make the morally weak attack from the shadows, as is the case with Moses in this piece.

The quote Moran refers to, contained in a pastoral letter on marriage that Myers released, is: “We must exercise our right to vote in defense of marriage and life. This is our duty as citizens and believers.” In an editorial, the Star-Ledger said Myers maintains it was a coincidence that the pastoral letter was issued at this point in the election season. The paper disagreed, saying that “to issue a pastoral letter such as this, at this time, is clearly intended to influence the vote of New Jersey’s more than 1 million Catholics. It may not be an explicit endorsement of Romney, but Myers’ meaning cannot be missed.”

What makes this particularly hard for Moses and many other pro-party-of-death evangelists is that the distinctions are crystal clear. When a party officially endorses unlimited access to death for the unborn, it becomes increasingly more difficult to evangelize for them without attacking those who highlight their evil positions. A person of well-formed conscience cannot help but make the right choice. Myers is simply attempting to aid people in properly forming their consciences.

It’s reasonable and necessary for an archbishop to explain the church’s position on marriage and the family. In fact, I think church authorities have stumbled on that somewhat. But Archbishop Myers had to know that reporters would zero in on his reference to the “duty” of Catholic voters in a document issued at the height of the presidential race. For my own part, the most eye-catching passage in the pastoral letter states that if Catholics are “unable to assent to or live the Church’s teaching in these matters, they must in all honesty and humility refrain from receiving Holy Communion until they can do so with integrity; to continue to receive Holy Communion while so dissenting would be objectively dishonest.”

I would think that Myers wanted reporters to zero in on the “duty” of Catholic voters. In this election, voting for the pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, anti-Catholic candidate can only be done in 3 ways: 1) The voter is not aware of the candidate’s positions, 2) the voter is not aware of the moral gravity of the candidate’s positions, 3) the voter understands the first 2 points, but chooses to vote for the immoral candidate anyway. Myers is simply attempting to eliminate #1 and 2. While Moses might find Myer’s statement on worthy reception of the Eucharist eye-catching, it is a valid point, which highlights the gravity of choosing the 3rd path, namely voting for an immoral candidate willingly.

Especially since we are in the midst of a heated and divisive political campaign, this passage serves as an invitation for Catholics to follow Tom Moran’s path out the door. This evidently was not lost on the Episcopal Church’s bishop of Newark, who responded in an op-ed article: “My hope and prayer is that we can move beyond arguments about unfounded threats to the flourishing of families and focus our attention on the real threats, such as the rising tide of unemployment and poverty, which has left more than 295,000 children in our state — including 42 percent of children in Newark — living below the federal poverty level. … Let us use the reach and blessing of our religious traditions to help all families and children flourish — housed, clothed, fed and healthy.”

Moses frames the debate as a matter of driving people away from the Church due to the trouble some people have in a bishop speaking with moral clarity. A bishop cannot help a person that refuses to follow the teachings of the Church. If a person leaves the Church because the teachings are too difficult, then it wasn’t the bishop who sent them away. It was the person who sent Jesus and His commandments away.

Finally, quoting the bishop of a sinking denomination, which is losing membership by the droves due to its watered down teaching does not make for the best source. Claiming to be concerned for the “real issues” does not establish those issues as having primary importance. Protection of life and liberty should come before actions to alleviate the massive unemployment and poverty that the current administration has neglected until the election season. That is not to say that these issues are unimportant – because they are. We must first be concerned with addressing the greatest evils.

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award for Tuesday, October 2, 2012 to Paul Moses.