Tim Townsend writes a fairly lengthy piece about the election aftermath. He discusses the strong stand of the Bishops to inform the Catholic vote– a failed effort in many places, but successful in Missouri. An interesting piece
; excerpts appear below.
If you want a test of your intestinal fortitude, read the comments section after the article and try to follow the contortions of dissenting Catholics who try to rationalize their Obama votes. The irony of these people calling faithful Catholics and their Bishops “hateful” is too delicious.
Catholic bishops struggle with abortion in face of Obama victory
By Tim Townsend
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
“If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor; if the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil.”
Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George used this verse from the 127th Psalm to begin a statement released last week by the nation’s Catholic bishops warning President-elect Barack Obama and a majority Democratic Congress about their abortion policy.
The intended message is that efforts to steer the nation on a moral course are useless without God’s favor, and God’s favor cannot be gained by expanding access to abortion or codifying it into law.
The 270 bishops who attended the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual fall meeting in Baltimore last week together represent the strongest and most influential organized voice opposing Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortion.
But with so many Catholics voting for Obama, despite many bishops’ warnings against it, how much clout will the Catholic leaders have with a new administration that has a significant upper hand in the abortion debate?
In spite of efforts to reinforce church teaching about the “intrinsic evil” of abortion in the last weeks before the election, the nation’s Catholic shepherds failed to convincingly impress upon their 67 million-strong flock that abortion must be the pre-eminent issue they carry with them into the voting booth.
Instead, 54 percent of Catholics voted for Obama, whose stance on abortion was described in the days before the election as “fanatical” by Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City. In 2004, 52 percent of Catholics voted for George W. Bush.
Obama supports abortion rights and has said that, given the chance, he would sign the Freedom of Choice Act, legislation introduced in the last Congress that would make the abortion protections established by Roe v. Wade into federal law.
Opponents say that act would overturn some abortion restrictions — parental notification, laws banning certain procedures, constraints on federal funding — allowed by the court under Roe.
HEALTH CARE DILEMMA
In conversations with reporters and statements on the meeting floor, bishops sketched out situations in which Catholic health care facilities — a third of the nation’s hospitals, according to George — would have to close their doors if new federal law passed that forced health care workers to perform abortions. (The bishops said they would close the hospitals rather than sell them to companies that would allow abortions.)
“FOCA would have lethal consequences for prenatal human life,” George wrote in the bishops’ statement.
About a month later, Bishop Robert Hermann, the St. Louis archdiocese’s interim leader, began writing a series of searing homilies and columns on abortion and voting, telling Catholics they could not, in good conscience, vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights.
According to the church’s moral teaching, Catholics who vote for a candidate supportive of abortion rights precisely because of the candidate’s stand on abortion would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil.
But Catholics who reject the candidate’s abortion-rights stance can still vote for the candidate so long as it is for other “proportionate reasons.” Most bishops say there are no “proportionate reasons” that could outweigh the evil of abortion.
On the eve of the election, Burke told the Catholic monthly magazine Inside the Vatican that it would be “morally irresponsible” to make economics or the environment “the fundamental political issue” to vote on when “life itself … remains unprotected.”
Asked by a Kansas City radio station what he would say to Catholics who were thinking about voting for Obama, Finn — who is among the names floated as a potential successor to Burke in St. Louis — said, “I would say, give consideration to your eternal salvation.”
Whether Burke’s, Hermann’s and Finn’s tough stands were the reason is up for debate, but exit poll numbers show Missouri Catholics flipped the national numbers, with 55 percent voting for Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain and 45 percent voting for Obama.
Despite those numbers, Hermann chastened St. Louis Catholics who voted for Obama, in his first postelection column in the archdiocese’s newspaper.”If you made the mistake of voting for the culture of death, then when you meet your Maker, you will need to take responsibility for prolonging the legalization of abortion in this country,” Hermann wrote.
The bishops’ official voting guide, called “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” explains church teaching on several topics of interest to voters including social justice issues such as poverty, workers’ rights, the environment and health care.
It also says abortion is “deeply flawed,” “always opposed to the authentic good of persons” and something “we must never do, as individuals or as a society,” because it is “always incompatible with love of God and neighbor.”
But critics of the “Faithful Citizenship” — including some bishops — said it did not do enough to highlight the primacy of abortion as an election issue.
At their meeting last week, some bishops pounded liberal Catholic organizations such as Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United, for adopting language from the document’s passages on social justice issues to sway independent Catholics towards Obama.