At Mass on Sunday we were asked to sign a postcard for our bishop to deliver to our congressional delegation on the importance of not passing the Orwellian named Freedom of Choice Act or FOCA. The instructions for the card read, in part,
The “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA) is a radical piece of legislation that creates a “fundamental right” to abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy. No governmental body at any level—federal, state, or local—would be able to “deny or interfere with” this right, or to “discriminate” against its exercise “in the regulation or provision of benefits, services, or information.” For the first time, abortion would become an entitlement the government must fund and promote.
This engendered a thought from my wife and me. Are you happy now?
The relationship of the Catholic Church with conservatives and the Republican party is a very conflicted one. The institutional Church is probably second only to academia in glomming onto every new bit of left wing lunacy that comes bouncing down the pike. The Church has, however, as a whole been stalwart on life and family issues.
Unfortunately, the opposition to abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and gay marriage, indeed one could say based on these issues the defense of Western Civilization, places them at loggerheads with their emotional allies: liberal democrats.Catholic social teaching is embodied in Matthew 25:35 and if there is any party that is about feeding the starving or, now we see in relationship to Guantanamo, freeing the imprisoned it is the Democrat party. And to a great extent our Hierarchy likes being popular. It’s a fault of most people but many Catholics the age of our bishops remember when being a Catholic was a social impediment (why was JFK’s election important after all?) and they don’t, at some level, want to be too closely associated with the Evangelical lumpenproleteriat that provides the energy and foot soldiers of the pro-life movement.
In the 2004 election the Heirarchy was taken aback by demands of conservative Catholics and conservative non-Catholics alike that they adhere to their own rules in regards to support for abortion:
2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.72
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.73 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.74
2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:
You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.75
God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.76
2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,”77 “by the very commission of the offense,”78 and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law.79 The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.
2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation: “The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.”80 “The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.”81
John Kerry, obviously, didn’t pass the test and neither did the flaccid response of our bishops. Having been burned in 2004, they became too cute by half. In 2007 a pamphlet was issued called Faithful Citizenship. In this document or bishops managed to make voting for any candidate acceptable while appearing to condemn abortion across the board:
34. Catholics often face difficult choices about how to vote. This is why it is so important to vote according to a well-formed conscience that perceives the proper relationship among moral goods. A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.
35. There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons.Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.
Essentially, this construction allows you to take any social ill and elevate it above abortion.
The Sunday prior to the election a pastoral letter was read in our parish which emphasized that it was only wrong to vote for a pro-abort politician if you were voting to express your own support of abortion. This was simply nonsense because even pro-aborts claim they are against abortion (safe, legal, and rare and all that crap) but in favor of “choice.”
By trying to be cute, our bishops managed to score an own-goal.
In the past the Catholic Church has been free to cooperate with Democrats on social and defense issues (by the latter I mean our bishops support for the communist dictatorships and insurrections in Central America and being in favor of unilateral nuclear disarmament at one time declaring the possession of nukes to be immoral) while allowing Republicans to do heavy lifting on life issues. Since the Roe decision Republicans have been in the White House for all but 12 years and with a pro-life president much of the pro-abortion movement’s legislative agenda was not possible.
In 2008, the bishops woke up to the fact that they were looking at the political branches being controlled by pro-abortionists and they had undercut their own ability to teach on the importance of abortion by having already taught that opposition to abortion was a matter of the individual voter’s conscience.
Now they are trying to play catch up but it is far too late.
The “radical” law they are now opposing was first introduced in 2007. The man who is President has said he will sign that law from the earliest days of his run for the presidency. Instead of fighting the election they are now stuck fighting a rear guard action and they will find their allies few and far between.
In a quest to be invited to the right parties and seen with the right people our own bishops stand condemned of being complicit in the abortion of about one million children each year by continuing to allow pro-abort Catholic politicians to receive the Eucharist and by failing to teach the simple truth from the pulpit: that besides the horror of infanticide and euthanasia all other issues pale by comparison.