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The headlines say Gov. Brown is Catholic. He says he's not sure what that means.

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Oct 07, 2015

Nearly every headline story about California’s new law allowing assisted suicide (except the CWN story) mentioned that Governor Jerry Brown, who signed the legislation into law, was raised as a Catholic and once studied as a Jesuit seminarian.

Why is that information relevant? The editors and headline writers seem anxious to let us know that even a Catholic can accept the arguments for choosing suicide. But that approach is disingenuous, since throughout his political career, Brown has opposed the Catholic stand on virtually every major question involving respect for human life. In fact his opposition to Catholic teaching on these issues has been so pronounced, one might wonder whether Brown still thinks of himself as a Catholic.

Oh, wait. There’s no need to wonder. The Sacramento Bee asked the governor precisely that question, earlier this year: “Are you a Catholic?” He answered with a question: “What does that mean, by the way?”

Governor Brown isn’t sure whether or not he’s a Catholic. So it’s all the more remarkable how many headline writers think he is, and want the world to know.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Jul. 11, 2016 4:43 PM ET USA

    There was a day when someone asked me if I were Catholic, that shame would force me to say, "Yes. But a bad one." Mayor Kenney, take heed. God cares not a whit for your mayoral opinions of His Law.

  • Posted by: feedback - Jul. 09, 2016 11:34 AM ET USA

    The quick rise of Cupich from obscurity to prominence is a mystery. It seems that nobody in the Vatican bothers to consult with the priests and pastors who are directly exposed to his peculiar style of governance. In Chicago, Cupich is known as being generally inaccessible to his clergy.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jul. 09, 2016 10:05 AM ET USA

    "...who identifies himself as a Catholic." Well said, Phil. Against all reason the millions who vote for those intent on destroying the Church hold themselves up as their own gods. "Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven." The repercussions of "Who am I to judge?" will continue to echo through the political corridors that rule those who identify themselves as Catholic, but who do not live, speak, or listen as Catholic. Catholicism is a disciplined way of life as much as a service to God.

  • Posted by: shrink - Jul. 09, 2016 9:15 AM ET USA

    Hearing a farewell instead of an apology betrays a deep shamelessness in the speaker, and those who lack shame have come to terms with evil. Recall Cdl Levada's att-a-boy send-off of Santa Rosa Bp Ziemann. Z was sent away in 1999 for sexual extortion. Levada joined “friends throughout California and beyond in thanking him (Z) for the energy and gifts he has shared far and wide. Our prayers and good wishes go with him.” Good wishes, indeed, since reports emerged that Levada gave Z legal cover.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Oct. 10, 2015 10:42 PM ET USA

    I think that Jerry's question is very relevant in the modern Catholic culture of the West. On the one hand, we have the New Age nuns who seem to be tight with Pope Francis. Then there are the Catholic politicians who claim to be more Catholic than the pope (e.g., Nancy). Then there are the SSPXers who too claim to be more Catholic than the pope. Then there are the cafeteria Catholics. Then there are the orthodox Catholics, some of whom prefer the Extraordinary to the Ordinary...