“In their directive, ‘Faithful Citizenship,’ our American Catholic bishops make clear that people don’t necessarily need to have their vote determined by a single religious issue. One could say, ‘I don’t like Hillary’s position on abortion but her social services policy should help reduce the number of abortions. I love her position on the environment and immigration reform and so I’ll vote for her.’”
Thomas Groome, Professor of Theology, Boston College
Thomas Groome, Professor of Theology at Boston College, a Jesuit research university, is a former priest and an advocate of jettisoning celibacy, he left the priesthood to get married, and an advocate of ordaining women as priests. Coming from that perspective, I guess it is praiseworthy that he wrote an article in The New York Times entitled To Win Again Democrats Must Stop Being the Party of Abortion.
When I came to this country from Ireland some 45 years ago, a cousin, here 15 years before, advised me that Catholics vote Democratic. Having grown up in the Irish Republic, I was well disposed to Republican Party principles like local autonomy and limited government. Yet a commitment to social justice, so central to my faith, seemed better represented by the Democratic Party. I followed my cousin’s good counsel.
But once-solid Catholic support for Democrats has steadily eroded. This was due at least in part to the shift by many American Catholic bishops from emphasizing social issues (peace, the economy) to engaging in the culture wars (abortion, gay marriage). Along the way, many Catholics came to view the Democrats as unconditionally supporting abortion.
Last year’s election was a watershed in this evolution. Hillary Clinton lost the overall Catholic vote by seven points — after President Obama had won it in the previous two elections. She lost the white Catholic vote by 23 points. In heavily Catholic states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, she lost by a hair — the last by less than 1 percent. A handful more of Catholic votes per parish in those states would have won her the election.
Her defeat is all the more remarkable considering that Mrs. Clinton shared many Catholic social values. By contrast, Mr. Trump’s disrespect for women, his racism, sexism and xenophobia should have discouraged conscientious Catholics from voting for him. So why did they? Certainly his promises to rebuild manufacturing and his tough talk on terrorism were factors. But for many traditional Catholic voters, Mrs. Clinton’s unqualified support for abortion rights — and Mr. Trump’s opposition (and promise to nominate anti-abortion Supreme Court justices) — were tipping points.
In its directive, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops make clear that American Catholics do not need to be single-issue voters. The bishops say that while Catholics may not vote for a candidate because that candidate favors abortion, they can vote for a candidate in spite of such a stance, based on the totality of his views. Yet despite that leeway, abortion continues to trigger the deepest moral concern for many traditional Catholics, including me.
Go here to read the rest. I don’t want to be too hard on Professor Groome. Writing a column that is negative about abortion in The New York Times when one is a liberal takes a fair amount of courage. The hell he will catch for doing so from friends and colleagues should not be underestimated, and I salute him for recognizing the evil of abortion. Having said that, the column left me cold. Abortion is legal in this country largely due to Catholics like Professor Groome who vote for the party of abortion year in and year out because they let other issues sway their vote. Let that sink in for a moment. About a million innocent people in this nation are done to death by abortion each year. The Democrats make abortion the center piece of their party. No compromise on a woman’s right to choose to slay her children is their battle cry in election after election, and Catholics, who are taught from childhood to protect innocent human life, go on blindly supporting this party. Of course quite a few Democrats are Catholics in name only and are radical pro-aborts. I am not speaking of them. I am speaking about Catholics like Professor Groome who genuinely recognize the evil of abortion and yet allow other factors to sway their votes. To them, I repeat the words of Abraham Lincoln that he spoke on March 6, 1860:
What we want, and all we want, is to have with us the men who think slavery wrong. But those who say they hate slavery, and are opposed to it, but yet act with the Democratic party — where are they? Let us apply a few tests. You say that you think slavery is wrong, but you denounce all attempts to restrain it. Is there anything else that you think wrong, that you are not willing to deal with as a wrong? Why are you so careful, so tender of this one wrong and no other? You will not let us do a single thing as if it was wrong; there is no place where you will allow it to be even called wrong! We must not call it wrong in the Free States, because it is not there, and we must not call it wrong in the Slave States because it is there; we must not call it wrong in politics because that is bringing morality into politics, and we must not call it wrong in the pulpit because that is bringing politics into religion; we must not bring it into the Tract Society or the other societies, because those are such unsuitable places, and there is no single place, according to you, where this wrong thing can properly be called wrong!
When we stand before God for the particular judgment we will all have sins to answer for. One of those sins should not be that we lived in a time when the child sacrifice known as abortion became popular and legal, and, although we recognized its evil, we supported it with our votes.