Rick Santorum’s ‘phony’ Catholic theology

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has lambasted President Barack Obama for holding a “phony theology.” In the farce that politics … Continued

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has lambasted President Barack Obama for holding a “phony theology.” In the farce that politics have become, this is more than just a laughing matter. The Constitution expressly prohibits a religious test for public office and assailing the president’s theology goes against American tradition. Notice that this attack on religion in the political arena does not come from an atheist: Rick Santorum is firmly rooted in a traditional Catholicism with evangelical overtones. To the shame of believers, wars have been waged over theology throughout the ages, and Santorum’s rant goes against the basic principles of the founders of the Republic who strove to separate theology from politics.

Scott Olson


Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum greets guests following a campaign rally on February 26, 2012 in Traverse City, Michigan.

Santorum’s attack ok the president for not basing his theology on the Bible has been taken to the wood-shed, so to speak, by Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete who remarks how-off base Mr. Santorum is about the role of the bible in Catholic theology, while Huffington Post’s Mike Lux takes Mr. Santorum to Sunday School, where the Bible is really read.

Mr. Santorum has tried to deflect criticism by stressing that his “phony theology” remark was directed at the president’s environmental policies. Actually, Obama has used science rather than religion in his push towards “green energy.

But Santorum considers religion rather than science the touchstone of public policy and therefore finds fault with the “hoax” of climate warming.
This finding, he says, “elevates the Earth above man,” thus discouraging increased use of natural resources.

Let it be said that theology is not the same as dogma or doctrine. Dogma, as the Greek word suggests, is a “given”: doctrine is “teaching” and both dogma and doctrine are products of theology. For its part, theology is a speculative science that examines biblical and revealed truth through the prism of logic and science in order to provide a better understanding of the faith.

Scott Olson


Guests arrive for a campaign rally with Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum February 26, 2012 in Traverse City, Michigan.

For example, the Bible reads that Jesus took bread and said “This is my body.” Through the ages, theology has explained the meaning of Jesus by relying on philosophical systems like Aristotelian logic. The explanatory term produced was “transubstantiation.” That term is not a part of revelation in the scriptures, but a theological explanation produced in the 12th century when Aristotelian logic was the baseline for philosophy. Theology is duty-bound to explain the faith in terms derived from other philosophies such as Gadamer’s Epistemology (Bernard Longergan) and Heidegger’s Existentialism (Karl Rahner).Thus, unlike dogma which never changes or doctrine which gives answers, theology is always changing because it is always asking questions about how best to express the faith in contemporary terms.

Theology is also called upon by the church to include scientific principles. Aquinas, for instance, upheld the sacredness of life once the soul was infused into a fetus, which is Catholic doctrine. But he adopted Aristotle’s physics that delayed the formation of the fetus into a human body until after the first trimester. As science has changed with better knowledge of DNA and the genome, Catholic theology has moved away from Aquinas’ time frame, although the principle remains the same.

Theology today borrows not only from the physical sciences, but also from the behavioral and social sciences. Thus, for instance, instead to treating the “consummation of marriage” as an entirely physical act, the self-giving that the sacrament requires now has a psychological component. This theology has opened up the door to more annulments, because the mental health of a partner may have impeded full commitment, even after years of physical contact.

The scope of Catholic theology is on exhibit in
Caritas in Veritate
from Pope Benedict XVI. In that encyclical, the pontiff shows that the pro-life stance of the church about abortion includes concerns for clean water (2:27) and control of industrial pollution (4:48-52) by the collective action of governments. He writes of a “covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying. (4:50)” This sounds very different from Mr. Santorum’s notion of dominion over nature, because, as Holy Cross alum Chris Matthews sharply noted, the pope has pointed Catholics in an opposite direction. The “phony theology” Mr. Santorum speaks of is Mr. Santorum’s.

  • xxixpines


  • ACIM1

    The fact that Catholics are not denouncing Santorum’s twisted interpretations of the Bible and Catholic theology is sickening. He is making the Catholic Church look like a Dark Ages institution. After their pedophilia scandals, the Church can ill afford all of this negative publicity. But if the Catholic leadership does not put a stop to it, they have only themselves to blame for the outcome.

  • jdavis115

    There’s no such thing as bad publicity. Anything that distracts from the catholic church’s pedophile scandal is welcome for them.

  • JosephD1000

    The definitive proof for the argument to keep theology out of politics is that it causes meaningless arguments on issues where the facts required are already at hand.

  • usapdx

    All voters should know Rick’s history. Why would a person running for president want to bring their religion into our government?

  • ccnl1

    Maybe Ricky S. does have some understanding of the sexual problems in the USA.

    To wit:

    The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:

    : The failures of the widely used birth “control” methods i.e. the Pill ( 8.7% failure rate) and male condom (17.4% failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and STDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and STDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Guttmacher Institute.

    Added information before making your next move:

    from the CDC-2006

    “Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars.”

    And from:

    Consumer Reports, January, 2012

    “Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

    Here’s a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active “post-teeners”: Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

    “Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about,” said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. “They view it as a way to have intimacy without having ‘s-ex.'” (It should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)

    Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the “stupid par

  • amelia45

    Of course Santorum is a phony Catholic. He picks and chooses Catholic doctrine just like the rest of us.

    He is a Republican parading in Catholic dress. But, then, so are the bishops.

  • thomasmc1957

    Santorum represents the absolute WORST of what the Church has to offer.

  • wehutson

    I am sorry to say this is a very disjointed article, and it has to bend and reach and stitch around its points from the edges of the references given. It’s wholly uncompelling.

  • backspace1

    No, i don’t agree we that we get Grace involved in this. What could she possibly find that the state hasn’t uncovered.
    a botched investigation?
    2. ignored warnings about the existing and potential for crime
    3. A front line news orgainization refusing to get involved
    4. Failure to collect evidence
    5. Failure to secure the crime scene
    6. Failure to monitor the crime scene after,
    7. Failure to clean up the crime scene.after
    8.a continuation of dumping of remains(animal) in the crime scene, after and
    then the state just covering it up with dirt.
    9. a continuation of using the crime scene as a dumping site?
    10. Crime scene open the day after to the public.
    and the best of all,
    11. Two churches adjacent to the property and the property itself robbed! in that same week.
    no connection.

    Keep in mind this is now cleaned beautiful peice of State govern-mental property, that was abandoned or ignored by it’s political stewards until there was a death?
    I mean, I can ask her but i don’t think she wants to get involved. it’s a local issue why make it a national spectacle?

  • backspace1

    Has the church cleaned up their that bit of dumped trash they put in the forest after i pulled it out for them to clean up?

  • backspace1

    or did they throw it back in the woods?
    let me give you a clue as to why i don’t like the church

  • James210

    you should calm down,
    they shun soldiers on the wall and never take the warning seriously.
    then they turn on you.
    Take it from me, once a soldier on the wall for my community,i look outward for them, until they turned on me, now,
    I look in on them and the weaknesses i once protected, i now exploit.
    we are the same brother

  • timothyp16

    Why was this article even written? I’m no fan of Santorum, but the candidate was not referring to Obama’s religious beliefs. What he was saying was that Obama has a belief in climate change that resembles the same kind of belief exhibited in a religion or theology, and that those who disagree are heretics.

  • mmth42

    As usual, religion is the problem. It has, at least since 1960, been used as a litmus test for the opportunity to run for the presidency; the only reasons JFK was able to win despite anti-Catholic prejudice were (a) his speech about the separation of church and state (the one that nauseated Santorum) and (2) the public’s intense dislike of “Tricky Dick” Nixon.
    Remember, Santorum said in public not only that he was sickened by JFK’s speech but also that sex was solely for procreation. After his wife goes through menopause, will they then abstain? By his theology, they must–to the amazement of many Roman Catholics, who no doubt welcome the chance to make love without violating the Papal Bull against contraception. Let’s see a Gingrich/Santorum ticket–or the reverse–which tries to use its popishness to keep voters’ minds off Gingrich’s two divorces (again against Catholic doctrine). Viva il Papa!

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