Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

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Anonymous said...


As a Catholic, you've now got some serious thinking to do before voting for Obama:

Archbishop Chaput to Obama Catholics: If You’re Serious Catholics, You’ll Be Serious About Making Your Candidate Pro-Life, Not Editing My Words
May 22nd, 2008 by Peter J. Smith

The Catholic Archbishop of Denver is warning a group called “Roman Catholics for Obama” that if they’re serious about being faithful Catholics then they’ll do more than simply take his words out of context to justify electing the virulently pro-abortion Democratic senator to the presidency.

Archbishop Charles Chaput dedicated his Monday column in the Denver Catholic Register to challenge the group’s misrepresentation of his teachings on Catholics’ pro-life voting responsibilities from a January letter called “10 Points for Catholic Citizens to Remember.” Chaput revealed that he has more credibility on this issue as a Catholic, a bishop, and a former Democratic Party activist.

“Roman Catholics for Obama” posted the following quote from Chaput - a Catholic bishop known for his faithful adherence to the official teachings of the Catholic Church - giving the mistaken impression that Catholics could possibly vote for Senator Obama in the presidential election, despite his radical commitment to abortion:

“So can a Catholic in good conscience vote for a pro-choice candidate? The answer is: I can’t, and I won’t. But I do know some serious Catholics — people whom I admire — who may. I think their reasoning is mistaken, but at least they sincerely struggle with the abortion issue, and it causes them real pain. And most important: They don’t keep quiet about it; they don’t give up; they keep lobbying their party and their representatives to change their pro-abortion views and protect the unborn. Catholics can vote for pro-choice candidates if they vote for them despite - not because of - their pro-choice views.”

“What’s interesting about this quotation - which is accurate but incomplete - is the wording that was left out,” Chaput responded in his column. Roman Catholics for Obama had deliberately edited out the last sentence of the quoted passage which read, “But [Catholics who support ‘pro-choice’ candidates] also need a compelling proportionate reason to justify it.”

The passage following that sentence continued, “What is a ‘proportionate’ reason when it comes to the abortion issue? It’s the kind of reason we will be able to explain, with a clean heart, to the victims of abortion when we meet them face to face in the next life - which we most certainly will. If we’re confident that these victims will accept our motives as something more than an alibi, then we can proceed.”

Roman Catholics for Obama says on its website that Obama is a candidate that best represents Catholic social teaching and he “will look for common ground in addressing some of the most pressing needs of our time — among them alleviating poverty, protecting the environment, making peace and, we believe, creating a culture of life.”

The group does not explain “how” a President Obama would create “a culture of life,” when he is very pro-abortion and has gone to pains to get voters to conceive of him as more abortion-savvy than his opponent Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Instead the group says that “the call to embrace a culture of life often leaves us with a voting dilemma, as it is the rare candidate who adopts all of the positions that would best lead to such a culture.”

“After faithful thought and prayer, we have arrived at the conclusion that Senator Obama is the candidate whose views are most compatible with the Catholic outlook, and we will vote for him because of that — and because of his other outstanding qualities — despite our disagreements with him in specific areas.”

“I’m familiar with this reasoning,” said Chaput. “It sounds a lot like me 30 years ago. And 30 years later we still have about a million abortions a year. Maybe Roman Catholics for Obama will do a better job at influencing their candidate. It could happen. And I sincerely hope it does, since Planned Parenthood of the Chicago area, as recently as February 2008, noted that Senator Barack Obama “has a 100 percent pro-choice voting record both in the U.S. Senate and the Illinois Senate.”

Chaput said he had worked for the presidential campaign of Bobby Kennedy as a young seminarian in 1968, and as a priest in 1980 he supported the reelection efforts of President Carter. Although Chaput knew Carter was “soft on permissive abortion” he justified supporting him because Carter was not “aggressively ‘pro-choice.’”

“I believed he was right on so many more of the “Catholic” issues than his opponent seemed to be,” admitted Chaput about himself then. “The moral calculus looked easy. I thought we could remedy the abortion problem after Carter was safely returned to office.”

“In the years after the Carter loss I began to notice that very few of the people, including Catholics, who claimed to be ‘personally opposed’ to abortion really did anything about it. Nor did they intend to,” continued Chaput. Chaput described “personal opposition” to abortion for the past 30 years as “little more than pious hand wringing and a convenient excuse” and said he could not name a single “pro-choice” Catholic politician, who has ever taken sustained public steps to discourage abortion and save unborn lives.

“In the United States in 2008, abortion is an acceptable form of homicide. And it will remain that way until Catholics force their political parties and elected officials to act differently.”

“Changing the views of “pro-choice” candidates takes a lot more than verbal gymnastics, good alibis and pious talk about “personal opposition” to killing unborn children,” he said. “I’m sure Roman Catholics for Obama know that, and I wish them good luck. They’ll need it.”

Mattheus Mei said...

Anon, thanks for the comment, I've ready AB Chaputs full article, I appreciate your input. Might I encourage you also to read Sherry's post at Intentional Disciples. An excerpt from her post based on a conversation with a couple of top notch Moral Theologians:

Fisher then made a fascinating comment that I have not heard elsewhere - that there is no basis in Church teaching for comparing two very different “intrinsic evils” and determining that one is objectively and absolutely more grave than the other.

One can compare levels of a similar intrinsic evil. You could say that 4,000 abortions is more grave than 40 or that a genocidal conflict that killed 10,000 was a more grave evil than one in which only 500 died. But you can’t, on the basis of current Catholic teaching, categorically determine that abortion, for instance, is always and absolutely more grave than a given unjust war or torture or severe economic injustice. By definition, something that is truly intrinsically evil can’t be relatively less evil anymore than a person can be only mostly dead (well, outside the alternate universe of the Princess Bride, anyway - although I did encounter some situations that came pretty close on the cancer unit).

So one cannot state, as definitive Church teaching, that the gravity of the evil of abortion must outweigh all other intrinsic evils or any possible combination of intrinsic evils in our political calculations. An individual could arrive at such a prudential judgment in a particular situation in good faith but an equally faithful Catholic could come to a quite different prudential conclusion in good conscience. (Sherry’s note: As one theologian of my acquaintance pointed out so clearly this summer, one problem in the discussion in the US was a failure to make it clear when the bishops were sharing their own prudential judgments rather than articulating Church teaching that obliged all the faithful.)

The italics were her emphasis.

After careful consideration I am confident in my vote for Senator Obama after looking at the Plurality of issues that we face. I encourage all civic minded Catholics that they should first and foremost make themselves aware of what the Bishops have to say in their Voter Guide and then read the stances on the issues and the policies that they offer, both Obama and McCain, before making a decision.