Judging the Judge Part II

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As a result of my recent blog posting, entitled “Judging the Judge,” I received a good deal of complimentary comments, but was inundated by very critical comments.

I would like to answer those who criticized what I said. First I will give some explanations of things that may have been unclear.

In moral theology there are certain reflex principles which are used in order to resolve a doubt. In the case of two testimonies which are contradictory, i.e., “he said, she said,” the doubt is resolved, all things being equal, by taking the word of the superior. Judge Kavanaugh is the superior in this case, not because he is a man, but because he is a federal judge, and a very renowned one at that. He has stronger credibility, according to this moral principle, than his opponent.

I say “all things being equal,” since it is possible that the word of an inferior could be more credible than that of a superior, for various reasons. But when both seem credible, presumption must be made in favor of the superior. Perhaps my critics disagree with this principle, but nonetheless it is Catholic moral theology.

By saying that the immoral actions of a seventeen year old, especially while drunk, should not affect his qualifications later in life, should not be taken as an absolution or a condonation of the immoral behavior of teenagers. It is simply to say: if he repents of his immoral actions, and if this repentance is accompanied by the amendment of his moral habits, these actions should not disqualify him in the future from responsible and honorable positions in society. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux said “Penance is second innocence.” There is the outstanding example, as well, of Saint Augustine, who led a morally dissolute life as a young man, but who converted from it and went on to become a great saint and one of the greatest doctors of the Church.

It is a mortal sin to get drunk. Inebriation, however, does reduce the culpability of a sin, inasmuch as the excessive alcohol impairs the use of reason, as well as moral inhibitions, with the result that people do and say things while drunk that they would never do or say while sober. This is Catholic moral theology. If you do not accept this, your argument is with both Catholic moral theology and even common sense, because everyone knows that this is true.

I do not believe, however, that Judge Kavanaugh is guilty of the aggressive behavior of which he is accused, because I do not find the testimony of Dr. Ford to be credible, owing especially to the many memory lapses concerning the circumstances of the event.

This is my conclusion. It was also the conclusion of the FBI. Others may find her credible. I do not impose my conclusion on them, and they should not impose their conclusion on me.

But this is exactly what my critics did. I received about thirty hate emails, many of them interspersed with vulgar and filthy language, such as the S-word and the F-word, but nearly all of them accusing me of condoning sin, of being a child abuser, of being non-Catholic, and of other horrid things. One of them said, “You are a pig, Bishop.” Another said, “How many young boys have you f****d?” These were not isolated cases. Only two of the thirty emails that I received were civil and balanced, although they expressed disagreement.

First, let me say that attacking your opponent with anger, hate, insult, and filth does much to detract from your credibility. People who are confident of their positions are able to defend them with rational arguments, not F-words.

Second, to express my opinion about the credibility of Dr. Ford’s testimony, or that of any witness, is entirely my right, and I should not be harassed or preyed upon by Leftists who disagree with me. Abusive language and false accusations are themselves a form of violence.

The Leftists have turned their political views into religious dogma, and they are ready to burn at the stake anyone who disagrees with them.

Judging the Judge

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The recent weeks have been dominated ad nauseam by the accusations against Judge Kavanaugh. Here I will give my reflections on this case and provide some moral principles.

In the first place, I have no knowledge of the judge’s political views, and am quite indifferent regarding his approval. Although he comes highly recommended in conservative circles, the fact that liberal neocon George W. Bush supports his nomination is disquieting. On the other hand, the hatred that the Leftists have for him is reassuring.

What is of particular concern is the manner in which he is being accused.

In the first place, I found Dr. Ford’s testimony against him to be very unreliable and inconsistent. The prosecutor who interrogated her published these inconsistencies in a report to the Senate.

Secondly, I find it hard to believe that she would have said nothing about the incident to anyone for thirty-six years.

Be these things as they may, what should we think about Judge Kavanaugh?

Moral theology — indeed the law of God — requires us to not think any evil of him beyond what is evident. If there is insufficient evidence to make a certain judgement of guilt, then we must hold him guiltless. If there is sufficient evidence to cause suspicion of guilt, then we may lawfully suspect him. To think evil of someone without sufficient evidence is a sin of rash judgement, and it is a mortal sin if the matter is serious. This matter is certainly serious.

In this case, however, it is Judge Kavanaugh’s word against Dr. Ford’s word. Moral law requires us, in that parity of contradictory testimony, to take the word of the superior, which in this case would be that of Judge Kavanaugh.

Furthermore, the testimony of Dr. Ford is weakened severely by the fact that she was not cross-examined. The purpose of cross-examination is precisely to test the truthfulness of the witness. Cross-examination by a good lawyer would have demonstrated the many contradictions in Dr. Ford’s testimony, as reported by the prosecutor who questioned her.

As well, it is a general principle in both civil law and moral law that the accused has the right to face his accuser. This right was denied to Judge Kavanaugh.

The fact that the Leftist senators kept the information secret until the last minute also seriously taints the integrity and honesty of the senators who oppose Judge Kavanaugh. For if they had really believed the information to be true, it is of such a nature that it should have been brought forth immediately.

I therefore conclude that Dr. Ford’s testimony should be discounted for all of the reasons I have stated above.

Even if, however, one should accept Dr. Ford’s testimony as true, I do not believe that the qualifications of any human being should include actions which he or she performed when seventeen years old. Teenagers do many imprudent, foolish, stupid, and sinful things, but in many or even most cases they recover from these bad actions or habits and act like responsible adults. Furthermore, what the judge is accused of is not even a complete act. It was not a rape. Even as it is reported, the prosecutor said that it is not actionable even from the point of view of prosecution as a crime. Furthermore, Judge Kavanaugh is supposed to have performed this act while drunk, according to his accuser, which would reduce culpability, if the incident did indeed occur.

If Judge Kavanaugh had done something like this in more mature years, then I would say that there would be reason to block his nomination.

I would like to find out from both the accuser and from the senators some of their activities during their teenage years.

What is most lamentable about the whole matter is the absolutely deplorable manner in which these hearings took place, with no regard for the most fundamental rules of evidence, or even of human decency.