Friday, June 13, 2008

Presidential candidates and the right to life (Part II)

Holy Hour for Vocations, tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. St. Andrew’s is one of many parishes around the Archdiocese who is celebrating a Holy Hour tonight on the eve of priesthood ordinations (seven men will be ordained as priests of Washington tomorrow). Please join us!
Continuing the post from Tuesday regarding the two main presidential candidates, the following are excerpts from an article written by Sen. Sam Brownback (a leading pro-life voice in the U.S. senate) in the National Catholic Register about John McCain and his views on the right to life. To read the article in full, please click on today’s title.

“Pro-lifers can trust McCain”
By Sen. Sam Brownback, R.-Kan.

…I am convinced that John McCain is our best hope to advance the cause of human dignity on a broad spectrum of life issues. He is a true American hero, a consistent social and fiscal conservative, and most ready to be commander-in-chief.

Perhaps most important, however, John McCain is the best pro-life candidate to win in 2008.

Sen. McCain has a long, consistent 24-year pro-life voting record. Long before he decided to run for president, John McCain opposed abortion, fought to restrict it and supported overturning Roe v. Wade. He is no Johnny-come-lately to the cause.

John McCain is not pro-life out of convenience, but based on principle.

John supports a ban on all forms of human cloning and will fight to sign it into law. He has been on the cutting-edge of the fight to deal with explicit material on the Internet and protecting our children from a coarsening of the culture. He understands that America needs a culture willing to sacrifice to advance in our long-term struggle with Islamic extremists.

In 1993, John and his wife Cindy adopted a little girl from Mother Teresa’s orphanage in Bangladesh. John and I share a commitment to promoting adoption in this country, and each of us knows from experience what a blessing an adopted child can be.

John has been endorsed by a number of pro-life stalwarts, including former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, famed Notre Dame law professor Gerald Bradley, and by former spokeswoman for the U.S. bishops, Cathy Ruse. All have come to know John McCain as a man of principle, consistently committed to building a culture that values life.

I have long said that the future of the cause of life is tied to our ability to ground our conviction about the sanctity of life in the truth of our shared human dignity. The best way I have found to express this is to say that we strive to be “pro-life and whole-life.”

Of all the candidates running for president, I am convinced that John McCain is the best candidate to advance this message.

From abortion to immigration to the dignified treatment of military detainees, John McCain remains committed to the truth of human dignity. He knows from experience what it means for a society to trample on the truth of the value of the human person. He is committed to defending the dignity and value of every person, regardless of their status.

John McCain is today and has always been opposed to abortion. But to be pro-life is much more than to be anti-abortion. John understands, like few others, that we must ground our pro-life conviction in the cause of human dignity and human rights.

For him, every life, here and around the world, whatever its status, is beautiful and precious, a child of a loving God.

In elections, there are no perfect candidates. In this election, however, there is a man of whom we can be proud. John McCain understands that long before he can win your vote, he must win your trust. Sen. McCain has earned the trust of the American people, and I am doing all I can to see that he also earns their vote.

As John often says, there is no greater honor than to serve a cause greater than your own self-interest. For his entire life, John McCain has served causes greater than himself. It remains my great honor, and, as I see it, my duty to support John McCain as the best pro-life candidate for president in 2008.


At 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I trust we'll have a similar reading on the two candidates and their position on war? Because war has had a much, much greater impact on a much larger amount of people than abortion has in the past few years. And the resulting economic situation our country is in is in part because of an overeagerness to go to war.

One candidate is tired of war and ready to be more diplomatic. One candidate jokes about bombing even more countries, and says a timetable for leaving isn't important. One candidate sees the economy having a tougher and tougher time on American families, and one says we should just keep on doing exactly what we're doing economically, since it works so well. One candidate has worked his way up through life, from welfare to a nomination for president. One left the mother of his kids after she was injured, cheated on her, and married into money.

I am so sick and tired of seeing my church become a mouthpiece for the GOP over the issue of abortion, and willingly allow itself to be used in such a way that otherwise makes a mockery out of the gospels. Yes, it'd be nice if there were no abortions ever, but the fact of the matter is that there always has been, even when they were illegal, and even if it's outlawed again, there will still be abortions that happen. With the problems facing our country and our world, anyone who votes soley on abortion and no other reason is a zealot who can't see the forest through the trees.

So yes, lets continue to support GOP pols because someday they might get the chance to appoint a supreme court justice who just might overrule Roe v. Wade. And if that means continuing senseless wars (which the pope has been pretty vocal on I thought?) and even signaling a willingness to start a THIRD war, it's a small price to pay for that possibility that someday, women will have to go back into dark alleys and underground doctor's offices with coat hangers, instead of doing something, as wrong as it might be, safely. Makes perfect sense! In the meantime I look forward to bishops using communion as a weapon to reward politicians who are pro-war, pro-death penalty, and pro-rich people when it comes to economic policies, while denying communion to the pols who most support social justice programs and economic fairness (not socialism, fairness) for everyone.

At 12:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On April 13, 2008 at the Democratic Compassion Forum held at Messiah College, Barak Obama was asked the following question:

Q: Do you personally believe that life begins at conception?

A: This is something that I have not come to a firm resolution on. I think it's very hard to know what that means, when life begins. Is it when a cell separates? Is it when the soul stirs? So I don't presume to know the answer to that question. What I know is that there is something extraordinarily powerful about potential life and that that has a moral weight to it that we take into consideration when we're having these debates (

How is it that a potential leader of our country does not know when life begins but feels he knows when, how and who should pay for a life to end?

At 12:20 PM, Blogger CynthiaBC said...

Below is a statement from then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who is by no means a "mouthpiece of the GOP." I believe it's from 2003. The last paragraph is particularly relevant to this discussion.

Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion

General Principles

by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

1. Presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion should be a conscious decision, based on a reasoned judgment regarding one’s worthiness to do so, according to the Church’s objective criteria, asking such questions as: "Am I in full communion with the Catholic Church? Am I guilty of grave sin? Have I incurred a penalty (e.g. excommunication, interdict) that forbids me to receive Holy Communion? Have I prepared myself by fasting for at least an hour?" The practice of indiscriminately presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion, merely as a consequence of being present at Mass, is an abuse that must be corrected (cf. Instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum," nos. 81, 83).

2. The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. The Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that authorize or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a "grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. [...] In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to 'take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law or vote for it’" (no. 73). Christians have a "grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. [...] This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it" (no. 74).

3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

4. Apart from an individual's judgment about his worthiness to present himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion may find himself in the situation where he must refuse to distribute Holy Communion to someone, such as in cases of a declared excommunication, a declared interdict, or an obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin (cf. can. 915).

5. Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.

6. When "these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible," and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, "the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it" (cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts Declaration "Holy Communion and Divorced, Civilly Remarried Catholics" [2002], nos. 3-4). This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgment on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.

[N.B. A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favour of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.]

At 12:26 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

To the anon-
There’s also always been war….

I like when someone clearly states their opinion, so thank you for sharing, however, I don’t agree with your views. Being pro-life is about more than being anti-abortion, and I’m glad to see that distinction referenced in the article on McCain.

All life is valuable. Each and every soldiers and civilian in Iraq and Afghanistan are someone’s son, daughter, brother, sister, mother and or father. Each one is God’s child. However, the defining point of a civilized society is how well it protects its weakest members. If we don’t look at abortion for what it is- murder of innocent children, how can we possible lay claim to being a country of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

The anon’s statement that there have “always been abortions” (and always will be) is a mute point for those who seek to stop the LEGALIZATION of it. If one were to operate from that viewpoint, why not legalize drugs- sell them along side the lifesavers in CVS? Why work at gang intervention- we could just unionize them (and if we legalized drugs, they’d be set). Abortion has become pervasive. We live in a society who, in large part, accepts genocide as “okay.” Changing that very fact SHOULD be our focus; it is our obligation as Christians, and it makes us responsible citizens, not zealots.

I known this blog’s purpose isn’t to be political, but I also must say:
The war isn’t the cause for our economic woes. Those seeds were planted long ago (long before George W.). We are a country who has not made changes that are necessary to compete with a global economy and keep up with a growing international population. Our oil crisis is a direct result of our unwillingness to change. Our foreclosure problem is a result of people wanting something today and not looking at the long term ramifications of their action. And I won’t even touch on the environmental issues. We are a “NOW” society who is paying the price for its mentality.

In addition, many snippets of conversations are taken out of context, blasted over every airway and repeated an incalculable number of times over the internet. McCain said that withdrawing our troops from that region wasn’t important when we look at the fact that we have troops stationed all over the world. The mission of those troops is to promote stability in the regions in which they are dispatched. So, although withdrawing our troops may not be a major point of focus for this candidate, achieving stability in that region is. What’s going to happen to the people of that region if we withdraw too quickly? We have a responsibility to them. I don’t believe this was a just war, but we’re there, and we need to be responsible now.

At 3:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Cynthia. I'm not a fan of politics, but, I do believe it is nearly impossible for a presidental candidate to please EVERYONE on the many "charged" issues our society is dealing with; war, abortion, definition of marriage and the rights granted, etc.

It is a privelage to be able to vote - but I persoanlly do not always find the decision easy. I take it one election at a time and was unaware of the words cited in your post. Thanks.

At 4:35 PM, Blogger fran said...

Perhaps those who "find it very hard to know [what that means] when life begins," might reflect on the following:

Psalm 13:13-15
"Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb. I give you thanks that I am fearlfully, wonderfully made; wonderful are your works. My soul also you knew full well; nor was my frame unknown to you when I was made in secret, when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth."

Jeremiah 1:5
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you."

On the candidates:
Regardless of how one "worked his way up through life...," regardless of when one "left the mother of his kids..., both candidates are sinners, as we ALL are sinners. Jesus did not come to call the righteous but sinners. (Matthew 9:13 )

As disciples of Jesus aren't we too called to help, advise, assist, and maybe, just maybe, aid in the salvation of our fellow sinner? If the Church, NOT the GOP, supports a position on abortion, am I not called to spread that message to my fellow sinner?

If "Since, the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion." And if "This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. And if "Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law," [CCC 2271] am I not called to share this teaching with my fellow sinner? I sure hope someone would do that for me.

And on Roe v. Wade - it is not necessarily this law which needs to be overturned, but instead the mind of every person who does not hold the opinion that every life is sacred, from conception to natural death, to be turned to and obedient to the Creator of each of them.

At 4:46 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

After I posted earlier, I listened to a round table discussion about the candidates’ views on the economy and the war. Some speakers represented the GOP and others, the Democrats, but what was funny was the conclusion. Both groups agreed that the candidates will end up looking much more alike (both moving toward a center) on those two issues as it gets closer to election day. It was also stated that many of their views on other issues aren’t significantly polarizing to one another- except for the right to life.
Here’s what gets to me about this candidate- if a candidate were in favor of rounding up any group of people (say of one particular race) and singularly killing them, would that be okay? Of course not, and no other issue would come before it. We know that voting for a pro-choice candidate condones killing of a singular group of human beings, our youngest. If the candidate doesn’t look at abortion with the moral equivalent of racial genocide, perhaps his excuse could be ignorance. But, this particular candidate should know better- not only by what he was taught as a Christian, but from his own life experiences. I don’t understand how a man like Obama, who must have experienced and suffered from racial inequities and was forced to defend his own value, could look at another with something less. How can he NOT understand that every human life is equal in value to his own? Doesn’t he draw conclusions from his own experiences? How can we trust such a person to make ANY sound political decision of ANY kind for ANY issue when they do not have a healthy understanding of the foundation of morality? All forms of social justice stem from it.

At 4:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally I'll be voting for the pro-choice candidate, and his being pro-choice has pretty much nothing to do with while I'm voting for him.

Even if the abortion issue is the first one we look at to judge the moral character of a candidate, it's still important to look beyond that issue. McCain is a failure in that respect, whether you look at his personal decisions in life or at the policy stances he's running on. Lots of anti-abortion candidates have proven themselves to have absolutely no moral highground to run on, outside of that particular issue. If, in this day and age, abortion is still the absolute number one priority above each and every single issue (including war, economy, immigration, business regulation, safety, trade) then there is a disconnect between the reality of our political universe and the person who believes that.

At 6:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"With the problems facing our country and our world, anyone who votes soley on abortion and no other reason is a zealot who can't see the forest through the trees."

If Obama changed his position on abortion tomorrow and became pro-life, would NARAL still support him? No. The 'zealot' statement can be applied to both sides.

At 7:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey 6:58... sure it can. Personally I have no time for anyone who is so single-minded and focused on one issue above all others when there are more pressing needs facing our country. I question anyone who votes simply based on a politician's position on abortion, whatever that position is, and no other issue.

At 12:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Personally I have no time for anyone who is so single-minded and focused on one issue above all others when there are more pressing needs facing our country. I question anyone who votes simply based on a politician's position on abortion, whatever that position is, and no other issue” (7:06 PM anon).

I find your statement ironic. Having “no time” is a single minded approach; you leave no room for discussion in your approach to a complicated and sensitive issue, that of “life”. Sounds like a zealous approach to me. Personally, I feel one of the more pressing problems facing our country right now is the very fact that we have many people that “have no time” to listen to each other.

At 7:25 AM, Blogger fran said...

"...when there are more pressing needs facing our country."

I am not saying that any individual should be a one issue voter, or base his/her decision on whom to vote solely on a candidate's abortion views. There are a multitude of issues facing our country today. No doubt about that. But, when it comes to the issue of abortion in the US, and the fact that 1.2 million abortions were performed in the US, in 2005, alone, the issue of abortion IS something every citizen of this country should be doing something about. How they choose to do it is up to them.

At 10:23 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

The Catholic Bishops wrote-
“All believers are called to faithful citizenship, to become informed, active, and responsible participants in the political process. Every voice matters in the public forum. Every vote counts. Every act of responsible citizenship is an exercise of significant individual power.”

The Catholic Bishops developed a list of questions to be considered when evaluating candidates:

1. Does he support or oppose a state tax credit directly linked to public and private education expenses incurred by parents, including tuition for religious and independent schools, tutoring, test preparation, etc.?

2. Does he support or oppose an increase in the amount of the public assistance grant, which has not been raised since 1990? Does he support or oppose the death penalty?

3. Does he support or oppose a ban on cloning human embryos for any purpose, including for embryonic stem cell research and other medical experimentation?

4. Does he support or oppose the right of religious-affiliated health care and human service providers to offer services to the community in accord with their religious beliefs?

5. Does he support or oppose taxpayer funding of abortion?

6. Does he support or oppose parental notification prior to abortions performed on minors?

7. Does he support or oppose extending to migrant farm workers the same labor rights granted to all other workers in the state?

8. Does he support or oppose a state definition of marriage as between one man and one woman?

9. Does he support or oppose criminalizing immigrants for their undocumented status and imposing criminal penalties on the organizations who provide them with services?

Catholics have a moral responsibility to participate in the political process. In voting, we must also consider a number of factors- one in five of our (in the U.S.A.) pre-school children is growing up in poverty, basic healthcare is still out of the reach of many, many families are not free to send their children to the school of their choice and violence has become commonplace in many of our communities. But one issue is fundamental for the faithful- the right to life. Fran dropped the stat from 2005- 1.2 million babies aborted! Our Catholic faith demands that we speak up when evil is acted out. Some (hopefully many) will speak up when they cast their votes, others will participate in marches and many others will work in a number of other ways. It is morally responsive to do so, not zealous.

At 11:50 AM, Blogger fran said...

A must read for all bloggers and Catholic voters alike:

"Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship - A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States"

Two excerpts to go along with our discussion, here.

"In making these decisions, it is essential for Catholics to be guided by a well-formed conscience that recognizes that all issues do not carry the same moral weight and that the moral obligation to oppose intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our actions. These decisions should take into account a candidates commitments, character, integrity, and ability to influence a given issue. In the end, this is a decision to be made by each Catholic guided by a conscience formed by Catholic moral teaching."

"As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate's position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitmately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support."


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