The quixotically named Catholic blogger Morning’s Minion has a post this morning in which he (yet again) tries to make the case that the pro-life issue is basically a wash between Senators Obama and McCain. Now, I know that many of our readers already agree that MM’s conclusion is wrong, and deeply wrong, but I want to focus on why this particular argument is wrong, because I think it’s an important question for Catholics living in our republic. So I’d like to ask that people avoid basic “I don’t see how any good Catholic could vote for Obama” comments in favor of discussing whether federalism can be a pro-life position, or is simply a passing of the buck.
Basically, neither candidate can be called “pro-life”….
OK, abortion. The starkest difference here is not related to the need to grant legal protection to the unborn child. No, the candidates instead indulged in a quaint little constitutional debate. Obama: “the constitution has a right to privacy in it that shouldn’t be subject to state referendum”. McCain: “I think decisions should rest in the hands of the states. I’m a federalist”. Sorry, but neither position qualifies as pro-life. It is a debate about which level of government has the right to strip legal protection from the unborn child…
While sitting down with a group of friends for an afternoon of games, the issue of pregnancy came up. My friends, which are of a liberal bent, had the following things to say about pregnancy: “the most contracted STD”, supporting a “parasite”, like “having cancer”, and a few other clever remarks we’ve all heard hundreds of times over. When the issue of abortion came up, you can bet they were all in support of a woman’s right to “choose”.
For those of you who were wondering during the debate last night, who the heck is Joe the Plumber?, here is a video of his encounter with Senator Obama.
Here is Joe’s reaction to the encounter:
I have run a small business, my law firm, since 1985. It provides the entire livelihood for my family. The first decade of the business we scraped by. Now it provides a pretty good living, and, God willing, will allow me to pay for college for my kids.
Abortion survivor Gianna Jessen speaks for 45,000,000 plus of our fellow Americans who are unable to vote come election day.
As Weekly Standard notes, Obama lied regarding his motivation for voting against the Illinois born alive infant protection act:
Questioned about his vote against the born-alive infants protection act, Obama said: “There was already a law on the books that required lifesaving treatment, which is why … I voted against it.” Obama and his colleagues never cited this law as a reason for opposing the bill in the Illinois Senate. More importantly, that 1975 law only protected “viable” infants–and left the determination of viability up to the abortionist who had just failed to kill the baby in utero.
(via Pro Ecclesia) Over at Public Discourse, Prof. Robert George has an article entitled “Obama’s Abortion Extremism” which is very much worth reading:
I have examined the arguments advanced by Obama’s self-identified pro-life supporters, and they are spectacularly weak. It is nearly unfathomable to me that those advancing them can honestly believe what they are saying. But before proving my claims about Obama’s abortion extremism, let me explain why I have described Obama as ”pro-abortion” rather than ”pro-choice.”
When Father Francis P. Duffy, pastor of Our Savior parish in the Bronx, was appointed chaplain of the 69th Infantry Regiment of the New York National Guard in 1914, he was already an old hand at being a military chaplain, having served as one in 1898 during the Spanish American War, although he never saw duty overseas during that brief conflict.
Some may recall that there was an episode of media hysteria a couple weeks ago over fears that the GOP vice presidential nominee couldn’t read — based upon Governor Palin’s failure (or refusal) in an interview with Katie Couric to name magazines and newspapers that had “formed her worldview”.
Judging by the questions that have been asked during the two presidential and one vice-presidential debates, one might have the impression that all Americans care about are the economy and Iraq. Granting the legitimacy of concerns about both, John J. Pitney Jr. runs through a list of topics thus far absent from discussion.
A new net ad from the McCain campaign on the ties between Senator Obama and William Ayers, unrepentant terrorist. Stanley Kurtz has done yeoman service in revealing the deep connections between Obama and a man who once declared war on the United States.
“Catholic Answers: Two books for voters who take their faith seriously”– Doug Kmiec, who has lately become something of a poster-boy and spokesman for ‘Catholics for Obama’, reviews Archbishop Chaput’s Render unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life (Doubleday, 2008) and A Nation for All How the Catholic Vision of the Common Good Can Save America from the Politics of Division , by Chris Korzen and Alexia Kelley.
As to be expected, Kmiec finds a sympathetic ear in Korzen & Kelley, given their assertion that Catholics have become ‘preoccupied’ with abortion to the subordination of peace, the environment and welfare:
When Sara and I were working through our marriage preparation last fall, Fr. Gallinger warned all of us that we should make sure to have the marriage license ready before the ceremony. After all, there’s nothing like reaching Saturday and finding out that the courthouses are closed. I assume this is a general cautionary for people getting married elsewhere, for he continued in a humorous vein: “Of course, in Wyoming, if you can’t get into the courthouse, you know someone who knows someone who has the keys to let you in.”
In discussion with my more politically progressive Catholic brethren, I’ve had it put to me that the American political party which receives by preference has at its heart a “preferential option for the rich.” Supporting a Democrat such as Obama may mean compromising on the abortion issue (while hoping that the economic miracle that will spontaneously occur when a Democratic posterior inhabits the chair in the oval office may in fact do a better job of “decreasing the incidence of abortion” than actual restrictions) but at least we can be sure that there will be an end to senseless war mongering, a “preferential option for the poor”, health care for all, an end to the cruelty of capital punishment, restriction of those murderous pieces of inanimate metal called “guns”, etc.
This long list provides the “proportionate reasons” to vote for the most pro-abortion presidential candidate in history, not merely with a sense of reluctant necessity, but with a moral righteousness that scorns all others.
I live in the Land of Lincoln. I sometimes joke that we call ourselves that because Lincoln was the only honest politician ever to come from Illinois. Each summer the family and I go down to Springfield. We see the Lincoln museum and go over to the Lincoln tomb. We say a few prayers for the soul of the Great Emancipator. “It is all together fitting and proper that we do” that, but why do we do it?
Senator Obama claims that he is a Christian. Yet when citing the Golden Rule it applies to non-mistakes nor punishments:
The [“Born Alive controversy”] does show him to be a down-the-line pro-choice legislator. In fact, the charge that Obama is the most pro-choice candidate in years may well be true (though the other Democrats were pretty pro-choice too). When I read through the legislative history, I came to believe that Obama’s general impulse was: when it doubt, side with NARAL. If you’re ardently pro-life, you are absolutely justified in being scared of Obama for that reason alone, without having cast him as a serial killer.
Beliefnet’s Stephen Waldman
by way of Marc Stricherz: “Obama’s Moral Fortitude is Questionable “
by way of Matthew Fish: “disingenuous”
Good posts, worth reading.
Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit says it all:
“NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE? So we’ve had nearly 8 years of lefty assassination fantasies about George W. Bush, and Bill Ayers’ bombing campaign is explained away as a consequence of him having just felt so strongly about social justice, but a few people yell things at McCain rallies and suddenly it’s a sign that anger is out of control in American politics? It’s nice of McCain to try to tamp that down, and James Taranto sounds a proper cautionary note — but, please, can we also note the staggering level of hypocrisy here? (And that’s before we get to the Obama campaign’s thuggish tactics aimed at silencing critics.)
Ignatius Insight publishes a 2-part review-essay by Mark Brumley, on Fr. Rodger Charles’ An Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching:
It is a cliché in Catholic circles that the Catholic Church’s social teaching is her “best kept secret.” But like many clichés, there’s a great deal of truth to it. Few Catholics seem aware that the Church even has a body of social teaching and fewer still seem to know what that teaching includes. That shouldn’t surprise us, really, since surveys of Catholics over the last thirty years reveal a general decline in knowledge of the faith. Why should knowledge of Catholic social doctrine be exempt from the trend?
For years pro-lifers have dreamed about a national candidate who is not only pro-life, but who actually talks about it, and not just to pro-life groups. We have such a candidate in Sarah Palin. Here is the text of the relevant portion of her remarks at a rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania today:
Life, Faith, and Family. As American Catholics we need to exercise our civic duty to vote come this November 2008.
No particular reason for posting this. I just love the song. Something for the weekend.
Okay, maybe not.
But one of his characters was more intellectually- and existentially-consistent that many (or even most) Americans of any religious affiliation, including Catholics. I’m talking about the hitman Vincent in the 2004 film Collateral, starring Cruise and Jamie Foxx and directed by Michael Mann.
[This is a very slightly modified reprint of a post from my personal blog from several months ago, but one which I thought relevant to build upon as we seek to lay the foundation for a principled and polite discussion of politics from a Catholic perspective.]
Two and half years ago, when the situation in Iraq was pretty much at its worst Bush’s popularity was already headed steeply down (though not yet as low as it is now), I was talking to one of my very liberal friends, and he commented: “You Republicans enjoy it now. We’ll take back congress at the next election, and there is no Republican on earth who could win the presidency after eight years of Bush. He’s destroyed your party for a generation.”
“What if we nominate McCain?” I asked.
When it comes to abortion, the choice in this election couldn’t be more stark.
The Gods of the Copybook Headings
As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.
Senator Obama has stated that he wants the Internet to be regulated. CNET had this exchange of a MoveOn.org member asking Senator Obama this very question:
He asked Obama: “Would you make it a priority in your first year of office to reinstate Net neutrality as the law of the land? And would you pledge to only appoint FCC commissioners that support open Internet principles like Net neutrality?”
“The answer is yes,” Obama replied. “I am a strong supporter of Net neutrality.”
This “Net Neutrality” law would be something along the lines of the Fairness Doctrine. Conservapedia states that the Fairness Doctrine required broadcasters who aired material on controversial issues to provide “equal time” for the expression of opposing views. The end result was censorship, broadcasters simply refrained from airing public affairs programing.
Deal Hudson (InsideCatholic.com) reports that the U.S. Bishop’s Conference Gave ACORN Over $1,000,000 in 2007:
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development gave $1.1 million to ACORN in 2007. You can find this fact on the CCHD website. If you add up all the groups called ACORN or Association Of Community Organization For Reform Now, you get a total of $1,111,000 in 2007.
Now, this wouldn’t be the same ACORN repeatedly making the news for its bullying “direct action” tactics and subject of repeated investigations for voter fraud, would it?
One is often told by pro-choice advocates that even a complete legal ban would not succeed in eliminating abortions — just in driving them under ground. I think that’s true.
However, I see no reason why our inability to eliminate all abortions through a legal ban should prevent us from having a legal ban.
Consider, for a moment, what we as Catholics say abortion is: the destruction of an innocent human life. Now there are other forms of destruction or assault upon innocent human life in our society, and we have legally banned many of them. Yet we have never yet seen those bans result in a the complete elimination of those crimes.
The question of the role of religion and faith in politics should not be as controversial as it is today, and yet it comes up time and again. Will a Catholic president bow to the Pope? Will a Mormon president bow to the Prophet in Utah? Will a candidate be willing to honor the “separation of church and state”, not allowing his faith to interfere with his politics? Will an evangelical vote to remove science from the classroom, since “science conflicts with religion”? Some of these concerns are legitimate; others are formed by prejudices, propaganda, and general misunderstanding, and thus easily dealt with.
Below is the text of the legislation that Obama is pledged to sign. Here is an analysis from Americans United for Life assessing the likely impact of the Freedom of Choice Act. Obama is the most pro-abortion candidate to ever run for national office on a major party ticket.
Destiny attended Emmeran Bliemel at his birth on the feast day of Saint Michael the Archangel, patron saint of soldiers, in 1831 in Bavaria. From his early boyhood his burning desire was to be a missionary to German Catholics in far off America. Joining a Benedictine Abbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 1851, he was ordained a priest in 1856.
Even more, the Word of God is the foundation of everything, it is the true reality. And to be realistic, we must rely upon this reality. We must change our notion that matter, solid things, things we can touch, is the most solid, the most certain reality. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord speaks to us about the two possible foundations for building the house of one’s life: sand and rock. He who builds on sand only builds on visible and tangible things, on success, on career, on money. Apparently these are the true realities. But all this one day will vanish. We can see this now with the fall of two large banks: this money disappears, it is nothing. And thus all things, which seem to be the true realities we can count on, are only realities of a secondary order. Who builds his life on these realities, on matter, on success, on appearances, builds upon sand. Only the Word of God is the foundation of all reality, it is as stable as the heavens and more than the heavens, it is reality. Therefore, we must change our concept of realism. The realist is he who recognizes the Word of God, in this apparently weak reality, as the foundation of all things. Realist is he who builds his life on this foundation, which is permanent. Thus the first verses of the Psalm invites us to discover what reality is and how to find the foundation of our life, how to build life.
Pope Benedict XVI
First general congregation of the world Synod of Bishops
on “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.”
Rome – October 7, 2008.
(Via Wheat & Weeds)
I’m not sure that anyone, at any point of the political spectrum would consider what our nation witnessed last night under the name of “debate” to be an example of scintillating civic discourse. No one has asked me how to run our national political campaigns, so I thought I’d just present my idea of an interesting debate unasked for. My goals are that it promote real discourse, and that it provide enough entertainment value that people will be likely to watch.
The debate is to be conducted before an audience, with security to escort out anyone who becomes too disruptive. The seating should be in the round, so we can invoke gladiatorial archetypes as we watch the candidates spar.
In Peggy Noonan’s weekend Wall Street Journal column she congratulates Gov. Palin on what she judges to have been a strong (though not substantive) debate performance. At the same time, however, she still sports bruised feelings from the reception that she and other “conservative critics” of Palin received in recent weeks:
We saw this week, too, a turn in the McCain campaign’s response to criticisms of Mrs. Palin. I find obnoxious the political game in which if you expressed doubts about the vice presidential nominee, or criticized her, you were treated as if you were knocking the real America—small towns, sound values…. As for the dismissal of conservative critics of Mrs. Palin as “Georgetown cocktail party types” (that was Mr. McCain), well, my goodness. That is the authentic sound of the aggression, and phony populism, of the Bush White House. Good move. That ended well.
Well, I’m sorry that her feelings are bruised, and its true that cultural slights can be rather cutting, but there’s a disagreement of principle at play here as well as simple payback. (And there is payback. Don’t imagine that all those middle-American conservatives haven’t noticed how the “Georgetown cocktail party types” talk about “Rush Limbaugh conservatives” or “talk radio crazies”. Some of this is simply a matter of people enjoying the chance to see the shoe on the other foot.)
I am a fan of Governor Palin, but is she really a true blue Hockey Mom? Is there an Oliver Stone movie or a Michael Moore mockumentary on this burning issue in the offing?
“From the dawn of the Republic, America’s quest for freedom has been guided by the conviction that the principles governing political and social life are intimately linked to a moral order based on the dominion of God the Creator. The framers of this nation’s founding documents drew upon this conviction when they proclaimed the “self-evident truth” that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights grounded in the laws of nature and of nature’s God. The course of American history demonstrates the difficulties, the struggles, and the great intellectual and moral resolve which were demanded to shape a society which faithfully embodied these noble principles. In that process, which forged the soul of the nation, religious beliefs were a constant inspiration and driving force, as for example in the struggle against slavery and in the civil rights movement. In our time too, particularly in moments of crisis, Americans continue to find their strength in a commitment to this patrimony of shared ideals and aspirations.
As Zach indicates, the title of this blog itself is something of a quandary: what does it mean to be a Catholic in America? To participate in this great “American experiment” in ordered liberty? — these are questions which I’ll admit preoccupied me for some time now.
On December 16, 1997, Pope John Paul II welcomed the Honorable Lindy Boggs as Ambassador to the Holy See with the following words to her and the American people:
You represent a nation that plays a crucial role in world events today. The United States carries a weighty and far-reaching responsibility, not only for the well-being of its own people, but for the development and destiny of peoples throughout the world. With a deep sense of participation in the joys and hopes, the sorrows, anxieties, and aspirations of the entire human family, the Holy See is a willing partner in every effort to build a world of genuine peace and justice for all. …
One of our readers, Rick Lugari, asked for a post on Lepanto today on the anniversary date and here it is.
It’s become increasingly common for the Church to talk about “rights” when describing our fundamental duties to our fellow men. Reading through Faithful Citizenship, you’ll find several references to the “fundamental right” to life, echoing statements by the late Pope John Paul II in various encyclicals. However you’ll also find reference to the right to a just wage, housing, accessible health care, the choice of where to educate one’s children, etc. For instance: “Affordable and accessible health care is an essential safeguard of human life and a fundamental human right.” (Faithful Citizenship, 80) “Parents—the first and most important educators—have a fundamental right to choose the education best suited to the needs of their children, including public, private, and religious schools.” (Faithful Citizenship, 72)
I must admit, I really wish the Church had not got into using “rights” terminology at all — in part because I think the Church is using the term “right” in a different way from the standard American usage, thus causing confusion; and in part because it seems to me that it reverses the direction of obligation in human actions.
If you travel to Gettysburg you will see a statue to a Catholic priest, and here is why this statue was erected. One of the crack units in the Union Army during the Civil War was the Irish Brigade. On July 2, 1863, the 530 men of the Irish Brigade, survivors of the 2500 who originally enlisted to fight under the Stars and Stripes and the green shamrock banner of the brigade, were about to be sent into the Wheat Field. Brigade Chaplain Father William Corby addressed the troops.
I live in a small town, Dwight, Illinois, about 35 miles southwest of Joliet. It is a lovely place, about 4400 people, set in the midst of a sea of corn and soybeans. My wife and I moved here in 1985 and have been very happy. Soon after we moved to Dwight I joined the local Rotary Club. There I met Jim Oughton and his brother Richard Oughton. Both had served in WW2, Jim as a naval officer, and Dick as a marine fighter pilot. They were also the two richest men in town, the scions of a family that had been the wealthiest family in town for well over a century.
A State owned church in France
Liberte, Egalite, Fraternitie. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Often when we look upon these mottos of two of the three great revolutions, the French and the American (the third of course being the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia), we often feel they are comparable and born of the same mother, the so-called Enlightenment. We certainly have been taught this in school, and it is true to an extent. The desire for man to be free is inherent in us. But how and by what means we attain that freedom is often the deciding factor in whether we really become free, or exchange one slave master for another. That is where the mottos of these revolutions show us why one failed, and descended into unspeakable horror and bloodshed, and the other, with all its imperfections, succeeded and became the greatest democracy in world history.
I used to dream about the great things I would set up someday when I had the money. I had ambitions of expanding Casper College into Wyoming’s second university. I had aspirations of setting up a scholarship fund that would help worthy students attending college. I built businesses in my mind, crafted scenarios where, once I had the money, I could start doing things that would make a difference.
To an extent, those dreams remain, even though reality is slowly draining my hopes that I’ll ever have millions of dollars lying around to fund these projects. Still, in my spare time, I think of smaller ways to make a mark on the world. I think of soup kitchens or adopt a family or something that would help some poor family get back on their feet, or at least endure another day.
It doesn’t take a Catholic conscience to want to help those less fortunate, and it doesn’t take supernatural charity to want to give a hand up to those coming after us. That much decency, I believe, exists in most, if not all of us.
It is election season in the United States, and so there is even more than the usual amount of fuss in Catholic intellectual circles in this country about the place of Catholics within our republic.
Can a Catholic vote for a politician who is “pro-choice”? Can a Catholic vote for a politician who supports the Iraq War? Can a Catholic support capital punishment? What is a “Catholic response” to the economy? What is a “preferential option for the poor”? Is it true that “universal health care” is a “life issue”?
Some, who claim to be more in touch with that illusive entity “the rest of the world”, inform me that it is uniquely American for people to engage in these sort of knock-down, drag-out fights about how it is that our faith tells us we must vote. This may be, though I must admit that I find it a little hard to accept, since it seems nonsensical to me to claim that people in other countries vote on the basis of something other than what they believe to be right — and that they determine what is right by some means other than consulting their moral and theological/philosophical understanding of the world.
Michael Reagan has written how strongly Sarah Palin reminds him of his adoptive father Ronald Reagan. I fully concur. Palin is a political talent of the first order. Here is my take on her performance in her debate with the hapless Joe Biden:
1. Palin brought home the fact that she and her family lead lives much closer to the lives of middle class Americans than any of the other candidates running on the national tickets, and in a year when Congress and the President have shrinkingly small approval ratings that is important.
2. She ignored some of the questions from the moderator and talked about what she wanted to talk about. Great!!! Political debates aren’t academic exercises, they are part of a political struggle and Palin, as opposed to Biden, understood that.
I love praying the rosary. It always has given me peace whenever I have recited it, and my family prays the Sorrowful Mysteries together each Lent. However, the person who has the greatest devotion to the Rosary in my family is my Protestant Uncle Ralph.
When I was growing up my family lived next door to Uncle Ralph and his family. Uncle Ralph was my favorite uncle. He always had a sense of fun, loved to shoot the breeze with kids and did a hilarious Donald Duck imitation. My Dad’s family were all Protestant; my brother and I were Catholic because my Dad had married my Catholic Mom, so I was surprised one day during my teen years when Uncle Ralph pulled out his rosary and told me how he came to always carry it.
We are twelve Christians who love our Catholic faith looking to engage the world through our writings to better express the teachings of Jesus for the betterment of the common good. American Catholic is the outward expression of this engagement with the world.