Obama should have been Catholic
Donatism was a heresy that had a brief, intense life from about 311 to 411. I don't know how they date it to the year, but see http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/1994/9404hotm.asp
It stemmed from the persecution of the Emperor Diocletian, where Christian priests and laypeople were forced by threat of torture and execution to renounce Christianity, produce holy scripture to be burned and to inform on fellow-Christians.
After the end of the persecution, Christians who had renounced, burned and informed were taken back into communion under various conditions of penance. The Donatists held that those who had done so weren't fit to administer holy rites, and that any rites they performed were invalid.
Basically, the Donatists declared that any rite or sacrament was invalid when performed by a priest who was in a state of sin.
To Catholics, this would be worrying. To priests the idea that their parishoners had a strong self-interet in the probity of their lives...
A livable difference of opinion you might think, but the Donatists were obnoxious in ways you couldn't ignore. Practices such as forced conversion and literally forcing people to kill them so they could be martyred, for example.
Yes, yes, we all know that the history of the Catholic Church surpressing heresy was always and forever a Bad Thing, but just between us, these jerks needed surpressing. It's in the books, you can look it up.
So what the #$%& does this have to do with Obama? I hear you say.
Well, everybody is aware of Obama's pastor, the Rev. Wright, a hateful, over-the-top, racist demagogue. It was bound to come out sooner or later and now it has.
Obama has as usual, been masterful at saying basically nothing in the most inspiring way imaginable.
Too bad he didn't have this small package of factoids about the Donatists.
What the Roman church's answer to them was that what is importent in the sacrament, is not the priest, but God's actions through him and it.
"The Water of Life can flow through the jaws of a dead dog," is the pithy way they put it.
Perhaps he can't be blamed. Even very Catholic Lech Walesa didn't reach for that one after he got caught by surprise at a mass in Gdansk some years back, when the priest burst into a vile anti-semitic harangue. Caught like a deer in the headlights, he didn't realize that what he was supposed to do was walk out.
But at any rate, there it is. Remember you read it here first.