In Case of Terrorist Attack: Electoral College

For anybody politically active, there is a little nagging worry about what would happen in case Al Queda and Co. strike in order to disrupt the election of our next president. Outside The Beltway has a nice round up of issues facing November but what about the December elections? Elections for president and vice president are indirect after all and it’s the Electoral College that has the final say.

In Illinois, that’s 21 people trudging down to Springfield one fine December day to meet, conduct their vote, make sure the paperwork is in order, and go home. But what if on arrival, their meeting place were bombed and all 21 were killed? What then? Even if it weren’t some nefarious plot but just blocked arteries or the proverbial bus coming out from nowhere, surely there is some law setting the procedure for handling a tragedy and ensuring that come January 21 votes from Illinois are counted for President.

The federal law is clear. Electoral College member selection is a matter for each individual state legislature. So what procedure has Illinois set up? I ended up talking to Steve Sandvoss, a very helpful fellow down at the state board of elections. After consultation with a colleague, the answer came back that the legislature hasn’t acted at all in the area but that presumably the party that nominated them would meet, appoint any needed replacements, and the votes would be cast the way that the people wanted them to be cast.

This isn’t a bad guess at where the political process would eventually force the Governor (who has to certify the electors to the federal archivist) and the legislature (who, according to federal law, has the right to select them however they please) to end up at but flying by the seat of your pants is not something you want to do. Clear rules are very much preferable as we all found out on 9/11. There’s plenty of time to think this sort of thing through and push through a bipartisan procedure that will fill this void in state law. Let’s hope it doesn’t take a tragedy to fill this legislative void.

One temptation, of course, would be for the legislature dominated by one party to replace the electors of another party to a slate that would vote differently. Another temptation would be for the Governor to not certify the new name(s). A third temptation would be for a Senator and a Representative to try to get the new elector(s) votes nullified on the grounds that they were improperly selected. In a very close election, who knows who will yield to temptation when the law itself is mute?

Call to Inaction

Call to Action has an optional celibacy campaign. Considering that this is a Chicago based organization, I thought it might fit here. Of course if they contacted Most Reverend Michael Wiwchar who has offices a measly 3.7 miles (thanks, yahoo maps) away, they would find that anybody who was married and wished to enter the priesthood would be able to go to the good Bishop and become a Catholic priest. Anybody who wanted more churches with married priests would be able to support the diocese (and the many other dioceses headed by bishops who permit married priests) with their presence and their funds.

There is no need for lobbying, campaigns, petitions, or anything. If the people want it, they merely have to go where it is offered, as it has been since the beginning, in the Catholic Church.

For anybody from Call to Action who might be reading this, step out of HQ on W. Roscoe and walk towards lake Michigan for 0.2 miles. Turn right on N. Damen Ave and take a brisk 3.2 mile constitutional. Turn right on W. Rice St. and go about 3 blocks to number 2245.

Along the way, they can wrap their heads around this specifically:

These individual Churches, whether of the East or the West, although they differ somewhat among themselves in rite (to use the current phrase), that is, in liturgy, ecclesiastical discipline, and spiritual heritage, are, nevertheless, each as much as the others, entrusted to the pastoral government of the Roman Pontiff, the divinely appointed successor of St. Peter in primacy over the universal Church. They are consequently of equal dignity, so that none of them is superior to the others as regards rite and they enjoy the same rights and are under the same obligations, also in respect of preaching the Gospel to the whole world (cf. Mark 16, 15) under the guidance of the Roman Pontiff.

Three point seven miles away from their solution and these guys won’t take a walk to solve their desire for married priests.

Rite Matters

The Catholic Church is a thing of many complex parts. It is geographical in scope. The Pope heads the Universal Church (that’s his pope hat), the Roman Catholic Rite (that’s his patriarch hat), a diocese in Rome (that’s his bishop hat), and is a priest. Priests are subordinate to bishops, bishops are subordinate to patriarchs, and all patriarchs are subordinate to the Roman pontiff but at the same level of responsibility they are at the same level, with the same rights and privileges. Priests can’t mess with one another’s parishes, nor bishops with one another’s diocese in the normal course of things. But the geographic limits break down when you get to the patriarchal level. The patriarchs (there are several, not all of which are in communion with Rome) run different rites under which each assigns bishops to geographic territories without regard to the geographic territories of other rites.

Thus, if you are a Catholic layman, you can elect to participate in any of the particular organizational structures embodied in any rite (though you’re encouraged to stick with your own in the normal course of things). The point of the rites is to create alternate valid structures of approaching God that fit the different styles and temperament of mankind all within the Universal Church and under the Pope.

For Catholic laity, the upshot is that if a bishop screws up badly enough to endanger your ability to stay in the Church, you don’t have to leave the Church because he won’t permit a married priest or doesn’t address the pedophilia issue adequately. You can leave the rite and sign up with another bishop who covers the same territory but isn’t going to torture you with issues that are not essential matters of faith and morals but are a major obstacle to continuing your spiritual journey towards God and away from sin. The profound ignorance of most Catholics regarding their rite rights is a very sad thing.

Centuries ago, there was an idea of splitting things up on ethnic lines. Thus, in Chicago, you have the Roman Catholic diocese of Chicago headed by Francis Cardinal George but you also have St. Nicholas in Chicago for Ukrainians headed by Michael Wiwchar. Vatican II, in one if its more inspired reforms, killed that idea officially and called all the rites back to what they were, particular flavors of a universal faith. The document (read it, it’s short) doing this is called ORIENTALIUM ECCLESIARUM.

Shifting from one rite to another is not something to do willy nilly like shifting from KFC to Burger King from one meal to another. But if the choice is between exiting Catholicism and exiting a rite, finding a better rite for your particular spiritual needs is a lot better as it may very well solve your problem without you having to shift over into a whole new theology.

The particular church that I go to, St. Peter & Paul Romanian Byzantine Catholic Church (yes, there’s a St Peter and Paul RC church as well), is under John Michael Botean whose official residence is in Canton, Ohio and who has services running under his authority from Boston to LA (he get’s a lot of air miles, I suspect). It’s an absolutely tiny diocese with 4 churches in the Chicago metro area, only one of which is in Chicago proper, the afore mentioned Peter and Paul, a mission church.

Cardinal George, (who I’ve met) is an impressive fellow and I don’t think that there are very many people in his territory who would take the opportunity to jump to another rite because I don’t see there being much of a need with him. But clearly not all bishops are so well qualified.

Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself

Somehow the Chicago Boyz have decided to seriously lower their standards and allow me to stop flitting about and join in their fun.

I’m TM Lutas, your local Romanian, Byzantine Catholic, minarchist, Windows, Mac, Linux, and visionary blogger. And I intend to defend this blogging niche against all comers. B-)

Seriously, it’s a real joy to gain exposure to the wider audience of the Chicago Boyz group blog and to have a place where I can talk about local and economics issues. My general rants will continue to be exposed over at my main blog Flit(TM) hosted by Bruce Rolston of Flit (and I’ve never really figured out why he gave me a blogging platform either).