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Dossier Introduction by John Mallon 


Introductory Note: This Inside the Vatican dossier is an effort to assess the issues in the 2004 US election, and how Catholics are viewing those issues. It is an effort to inform consciences on these issues, and thus we believe the dossier will continue to be of value even after the elections.


The great dream of Catholics in the United States, especially since the waves of immigration beginning in the mid-19th century, was to assimilate, assimilate, assimilate. The drive was to overcome the discrimination that said “Irish need not apply” and the great Protestant suspicion of what those mysterious “papists” would do if they got into any position of authority. The fear was that the non-establishment clause of the United States Constitution would be surreptitiously breached and undue influence over American affairs would be secretly given to the Pope in Rome.


The long hoped-for assimilation appeared to arrive with the election of President John F. Kennedy, a handsome, young and Catholic president, in 1960. His election seemed to signify a new era in America. In his words, the “torch has been passed” to a “new generation of Americans, born in this century.” Prosperity was widespread, the great challenge of the Axis powers had been met, and domestic bliss and the “American dream” seemed within reach of all. Well... almost all. But soon the civil rights movement was to rise up demanding equality among the races, and young Catholics joined the struggle, including fresh-faced, crew-cutted clergy and smiling full-habited nuns.


Ever since the famous address by Kennedy to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association in Houston, Texas, of September 12, 1960, the cliché surrounding Catholics in public life concerns whether the official will be “taking orders from Rome.” Of course, this was nonsense then and it is nonsense now. No Roman pontiff would ever “give orders” to the head of a sovereign state. He may state Catholic teachings with prophetic warnings or condemn certain policies, but that is not the same as “giving orders.” 


With the Second Vatican Council, even the Church seemed to be getting into the act of social change. Where I grew up in the Boston area, every Catholic home had portraits of Pope John XXIII side by side with Jack Kennedy. They seemed to represent one movement. Rightly or wrongly this “movement” was affiliated with the Democratic Party. With its history of support for labor unions and other social causes, the Democratic Party was viewed as the party of the “little guy,” advocating for the immigrant, the needy and the downtrodden, and, in this, seeming to carry common cause with the Catholic Church. If you were Catholic you voted Democrat. Period. 


Notwithstanding the nuclear threat, the times in the early 1960s were so optimistic (at least until the Kennedy assassination) it may have seemed that we were enjoying a type of “secular salvation” via “civil religion,” and the Catholic faith, which seemed to be thriving outwardly, didn’t seem as necessary inwardly. Faith flourishes under difficult times and, in America at least, these were good times. 


Faith was compartmentalized in many lives and even John XXIII commented on “baptized pagans.” For many, the faith seemed antiquated, and many assumed Vatican II “fixed all that” and then lived accordingly, without a close look at what 


the documents actually said. Instead of being perceived as the Church opening her arms to the modern world offering salvation, the Council was seen by many as genuflecting before the modern world in conversion and capitulation. It is no wonder that, in this climate, Humanae Vitae (1968) came as a shock. 


Then, in its flurry to get behind various kinds of “liberation” movements, the Democratic Party forgot the “littlest guy” of all: the unborn child in the womb. “Women’s liberation” became inextricably tied to freedom from childbearing, while in the meantime being “liberated” to the “sexual freedom” they perceived men as having. 

In 1973, a new “right” was invented in the name of “human freedom”: the right of a woman to kill the unborn child in her womb, according to her inverted fiat — i.e., “choice.” And this choice, which the Catholic Church declares to be an intrinsically evil act, has in turn become inextricably enmeshed as a central (if not the central) plank in the Democratic Party platform. Nevertheless, in the minds of many, the “symbiosis” between the Catholic Church and the Democratic Party remains, and is very difficult to dislodge. Jokes continue about the US Conference of Catholic Bishops being “The Democratic Party at Prayer.”

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Liberalism in the Democratic Party was viewed as unquestionably morally superior to the Conservatism of the Republican Party. It was common to hear a priest a generation ago shake his head and shrug saying, “You just can’t be a Republican if you’re a Catholic.” And this remark passed as conventional wisdom, not inspiring anywhere near the sputtering outrage that questioning the Catholicism of pro-abortion Catholics does today. (It is worth noting that the very same people who falsely accuse the Church of silence during the Nazi regime and the Holocaust are often the very same people demanding that the Church stay out of current affairs, especially the abortion holocaust and the immoral policies of groups like the United Nations Population Fund.) 


This Special Dossier of Inside the Vatican is not intended to be partisan, although some will inevitably perceive it as so. There is no morally ideal political party. But as a Jesuit friend said to me recently, “The Democratic Party has betrayed the Catholic Church.” 


For many, the longed-for acceptance and assimilation into American society of a century ago became a blind liberal partisanship resulting in a compromise of the faith. This need not be. There is no inherent conflict between American democracy and Catholicism. In fact, it is the duty of Catholics to influence society by their witness and fidelity and, yes, their votes. 


Opposing abortion is consistent with the best of America. It is not “imposing” religion, but rather it is a demand that laws against murder not be waived when it comes to the unborn, who, while not fully developed, are fully human from the moment of conception. For one group to claim the right to deprive the right of another group (the unborn) to live is tyranny, and will ultimately destroy any society that sanctions it. 

To vote pro-life is American patriotism at its finest.
Mallon is a Contributing Editor to Inside the Vatican. 



“I,  A Catholic Bishop” 

by Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz 



Exclusive: Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis The archbishop of St. Louis, Raymond Burke, on his October 1 pastoral letter on politicians and abortion. The complete text is available on our web site, insidethevatican.com 


Archbishop Raymond Burke started a controversy when in January of this year, he issued a pastoral letter and a notification in the Diocese of La Crosse telling pro-abortion politicians there they could not receive Communion if they did not publicly recant their position. That was when he was the bishop of La Crosse. When he was transferred to St. Louis, he made headlines when he said that he would deny Communion to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) if Kerry were to campaign within Burke’s archdiocese.


The controversy has carried on through the year because of the presidential campaign and because Burke and others have also talked about voters who vote for pro-abortion candidates.


On Oct. 1, the Memorial of St. Therese of Liseux, the archbishop issued a pastoral letter to the flock of his archdiocese giving them Catholic teaching on the key issues of the day to keep in mind when they go to the voting booth this November. In an exclusive interview, Archbishop Burke talks with Inside the Vatican about his letter, voting, politicians and his relationship with other bishops.


Inside The Vatican: Do you find it in the least ironic that the Eucharist has become a hot topic in the secular United States in a presidential campaign?


Archbishop Burke: Yes, I do in one sense; you wouldn’t think it would be. But in another sense, it has to be when you have Catholic politicians who are knowingly and in a public way, taking positions that are contrary to the moral law. In one sense it surprises me, in another sense it doesn’t.


ITV: With your notification to Catholic politicians in the Diocese of La Crosse, you started a huge debate among the U.S. bishops. A few have supported what you said and did by doing the same themselves, but the rest are divided among those who simply say that it’s up to the politician’s own conscience or who say they can’t make any statement at all, or those who say nothing at all. How do you view this division? It’s obviously not good, but is there a good effect to it?


Archbishop Burke: I think so. To me the difficulty is a misreading of Canon 915 [“Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion”], which has its source also in opinions of canon lawyers which, I think, are erroneous.

I think that the good result of it is that the whole question of the worthy disposition to receive Holy Communion is being very much underlined. People are coming to an understanding that we can’t claim some right to receive Holy Communion; I’ve heard people use that language which is very misguided. The Eucharist is always a gift to us which we must be disposed to receive worthily. The good thing in it, I think, is that people are becoming much more conscious about something that St. Paul addressed back in the early days of the Church and that is, how do you come to the Holy Eucharist, and in what state of mind are you to approach Communion? If you are not one with Christ in your life, especially with regard to serious moral questions, then you sin against the Body of Christ by receiving Holy Communion in that state.


ITV: I’m curious about what this has done to your relationship with your brother bishops. How did this go over at the June USCCB meeting? How were you received? Were you heard at all?


Archbishop Burke: I certainly was able to speak my mind and people listened respectfully. I don’t know how many agreed or disagreed with what I had done and what I said in the meeting, but at least I was able to speak my mind. I think it’s clear that Cardinal [Theodore] McCarrick and his committee did not accept at all what I had done in La Crosse and believed that it should be viewed as the action of an individual bishop. I think that’s what’s fairly clear to me, and I think clear to everybody.


I suppose that what is involved here is the question of a bishop’s relationship to the conference of bishops. I think in some people’s minds there’s a notion that has developed which I think is wrong and also I think damages very much the exercise of the episcopal office. And that is that a bishop cannot take action in such a question even if he is convinced in his conscience that he must without it first being studied by the conference of bishops and there being some kind of action taken at the conference level. If we follow that line, then in any kind of really critical question of pastoral direction or correction, the individual bishop anymore doesn’t act – and that’s harmful to the flock.


As I understand from my study of the whole nature of conferences of bishops, their purpose is to help bishops to organize joint pastoral action and I think the conference of bishops has been very helpful. I think, for instance, of coordinating our work on teaching Natural Family Planning. I think of a lot of other...


ITV: Migration issues....


Archbishop Burke: Oh, migration issues and so forth; those have been very much helped by us working together. But I don’t think it’s the intent of the bishops conference to subsume the teaching office of the individual bishop, and also his office of disciplining, of applying Church discipline, his governance of the diocese.


And I’m not saying that the conference is doing that necessarily, but I think this could be the impression that is sometimes given.


So I did what I knew in my conscience I needed to do as Bishop of La Crosse and I didn’t do it to embarrass any other bishop or to be a challenge to the conference of bishops. I believe it was something that, as a bishop, I was obliged to do; it didn’t depend on the conference of bishops.


ITV: One of those who was subject to you in La Crosse, Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), wrote an article in America responding to your article in America, said the difference between you and he is that he is a John Courtney Murray kind of Catholic, while you are not. I’m not sure what kind of Catholic that leaves you as, but how would you respond?


Archbishop Burke: I’m not an expert on Father Murray’s writings, but in my discussions with people who know Father Murray’s thought well, they tell me that that’s an absolute distortion; that he would never understand freedom of religion to be a so-called license in politics to act outside of the moral law. In fact, he would have been someone who would have very much insisted on the political order founded on the natural moral law.


I think where the confusion enters in, and I have...well, I shouldn’t comment on that...where the confusion comes in is that people see any intervention on the part of a person who’s Catholic to be a confessional act, or an effort at confessionalism, in the sense of forcing the whole nation to follow certain religious doctrines or practices. But this isn’t the case and I’ve insisted on this repeatedly. It’s a question of upholding the natural moral law. The fact that I’m a Catholic doing that doesn’t change the fact that if our civil law does not have its foundation in the moral law, then the common good will not be served.


And I think that’s where Congressman Obey and a number of other people, even in terms of my latest pastoral letter here, people are saying it’s a question of Church teaching. And it is Church teaching because obviously the Church also teaches the law that God has written in our hearts. But it’s not a confessional teaching; it’s not something that’s peculiar to the Catholic faith. It’s a part of the moral heritage that belongs to everyone.


ITV: Some say this is a particularly American issue, it doesn’t come up in Europe or anywhere else around the world and even the Pope has given Communion to a pro-abortion Italian politician.


Archbishop Burke: The issue would have to be an issue in any country that has Catholic politicians in public office. They’re obliged to uphold the moral law or they simply cannot receive Holy Communion. The Doctrinal Note [on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life], which was published, not just for Catholic politicians or Catholics in the United States but for the whole world, makes it clear that Catholic politicians are obliged to uphold the moral law in their political activity. I’m quite sure the Doctrinal Note doesn’t talk about Canon 915, but its application flows naturally from that teaching in the Doctrinal Note, which is nothing new.


I don’t know about this claim that the Pope gave Communion... The one thing that has to be said in all of this is that the Holy Father or any bishop when he is giving out Holy Communion, he doesn’t know everyone who is presenting himself or herself for Holy Communion and so he might have given Communion to someone who shouldn’t have received Holy Communion because he was not in full communion with the Catholic Church or was engaged in some public and obstinate sin, but he didn’t do it knowingly. In other words, he didn’t know who the person was.


I think it was in Time magazine this summer or so, maybe it was even June, that this picture appeared of the Apostolic Nuncio (to the U.S., Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo) giving Holy Communion to John Kerry and apparently, it was on the occasion of the installation of Archbishop [Sean] O’Malley as Archbishop of Boston. But I’m sure that the Apostolic Nuncio didn’t know the whole situation with Senator Kerry and at that point, the archbishop certainly had even taken his office yet, so he couldn’t have admonished Senator Kerry as he did later on.


ITV: Did anyone at the Vatican read your letter before you published it?


Archbishop Burke: No, not that I’m aware. I don’t think so, because there were no drafts floating around.


ITV: Some in your flock are claiming that you are interfering in the voting process, telling them how to vote. How do you respond?


Archbishop Burke: I’m not telling anybody how to vote in this sense: I’m not telling them for whom they should vote. But I am telling them how to vote in the sense of what are the moral requirements for the right exercise of the right to vote. In other words, I’m setting forth for them the moral considerations of which they have to take note in voting. But I’m not telling them for whom they should vote.


People have to read the pastoral letter – there isn’t anything in the pastoral letter which is new; it’s all what the Church has taught perennially. Then it’s a matter of their conscience. In that sense, I suppose to put it simply, I’m telling them how to vote in the sense that I’m telling to vote according to their conscience and helping them to form that conscience correctly.


ITV: So now that they know in their conscience what the Church teaches, now they need to act according to their conscience.


Archbishop Burke: Exactly. That’s my obligation as a bishop in such serious matters to present the Church’s teaching.


ITV: So you would reject the charge that you are supporting the Republican party by what you wrote.


Archbishop Burke: Absolutely right, I reject it. It’s not a question of supporting one party or the other. And people have told me I’m a hypocrite and that I really secretly am. That’s not true. What I set forth is the Church’s teaching.


ITV: Given what you wrote, does a Catholic really have a choice this year? Obviously, John Kerry is out of the question. But Bush has his problems, too, if he’s elected...


Archbishop Burke: Yes, I have my difficulties with President Bush, too.


ITV: If he is elected and then taken out of office somehow, Dick Cheney, who supports gay “marriage,” becomes president.


Archbishop Burke: Yep.


ITV: And Bush also supported pro-abortion Sen. Arlan Specter in the Pennsylvania primaries over pro-life Rep. James Toomey showing that when it comes to political expediency, he is willing to eject his pro-life stand. And he is the first president to authorize federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. So what, then, does a Catholic do?


Archbishop Burke: I know there are some Catholics who have just thrown up their hands in this whole matter and said, “I’m not going to vote for anybody because there’s nobody who upholds the moral law in its integrity.” My response to that is you have to look for the candidate who will restrict as much as possible evils such as procured abortion, embryonic stem cell research, cloning, same-sex “marriage,” euthanasia. It’s better to support a candidate, and I’m not telling people to vote for Mr. Bush or not, but you have to look for the candidate who will most restrict these evils. Then, at the same time, we need to insist with those who are elected to office that they uphold the moral law and address these questions, whether it be about embryonic stem cell research or whatever it might be.


ITV: In your letter you claim no particular wisdom in voting matters. But some people might look to you anyway. What about voting for a candidate in, say, the Constitution Party who is 100 percent pro-life? Is that a realistic kind of thing? It becomes a matter of prudential judgment on the part of the individual voter. But here’s a person who doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting into the White House. Is that basically like not voting at all?


Archbishop Burke: Basically it is. I used the term in the pastoral letter “viable candidate.” But again, it has to be somebody who is going to limit these evils. If you have two candidates who are both...


ITV: Who are equally bad?


Archbishop Burke: Yes, exactly, both in favor of all of these positions which we view as intrinsically evil, well then you’d be in a position in which you wouldn’t be able to vote at all.


ITV: You have an interesting phrase that becomes almost a refrain in the letter – “Christians without borders.” Six times you say we have to love without boundaries. Why do you introduce this concept here and how does it relate to life issues?


Archbishop Burke: It’s basically the teaching that’s contained in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The radical nature of Christ’s teaching is that charity with Christ now has no borders, has no boundaries. In other words, you cannot exclude an individual or a class of people from your charity, from your concern, your solidarity. I keep repeating it because there is that tendency in discourse about the common good to exclude a certain class of people, for instance the unborn, or those who are seriously ill, the aged, or embryos. So I keep repeating that so that people realize the radical nature of our vocation to love as Catholics.


ITV: In your pastoral letter you begin with a story about a Bavarian sacristan’s remembrance of the Nazi era. Are you making an equation here between what’s happening in the US and what happened then? Or are you saying we’re headed down that path or possibly headed down that path?


Archbishop Burke: What I’m doing here is I’m saying this situation is instructive for us because here was a situation in which a government was attacking a whole class of people, actually several classes of people, and somehow the general citizenry became cooperators in that. And we have to recognize that in the question, for instance of abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, whatever it might be, a class of people are being excluded from the care for the common good. And we’re responsible for that. And that’s the reason I use that example.


I don’t think it’s a question of if we’re heading down that way. I mean, it’s a fact that 40 million unborn children have been aborted since 1973. In some way, and I make the point at the end of the letter, too, even as Catholics we have to ask ourselves, “What have we done?” If all Catholics would join those Catholics and other people of good will who were working to promote the respect for human life, this situation wouldn’t be what it is.


ITV: You also bring to mind your own final judgment. Is that something which is just not on people’s minds today, even on bishops’ minds?


Archbishop Burke: I can’t comment on anybody else, but I know this – it’s on my mind everyday. That should be on every Catholic’s mind. Part of our day is supposed to be at the conclusion of each day we make an examination of conscience and we pray the act of contrition because we realize that we have to give an account of our stewardship of God’s gifts when we die and God may call us at any time.


I think in the general population and even, sadly, among Catholics, perhaps because of poor catechesis or whatever, there has been first of all a loss of the sense of sin and if there’s been a loss of a sense of sin, the corollary to that is the loss of the sense of the final judgment.


ITV: One final question – would you care to tell us how you plan to vote?


Archbishop Burke: (Laughs) I’m going to vote in accord with the principles that I set out in my pastoral letter. How’s that?


ITV: That’s good.


Szyszkiewicz is a frequent contributor to the Catholic press in the United States. He is formerly editor of The Catholic Times, newspaper of the Diocese of La Crosse.




Abortion, elections and the “Catholic vote”

By Judie Brown


As we face another presidential election, the eighth since Roe v. Wade, the same old worn out rhetoric is back again.  Prior to each presidential election, the language seems to settle into the same style of hysterical hand wringing. It always has; the 2004 campaign has followed the same pattern.


Some say Catholics have a duty to vote for George W. Bush rather than John Kerry because one man is said to be pro-life while the other is clearly dedicated to abortion on demand.  Some say that if Catholics fail to do their duty and vote properly in this election, the pro-life movement will be doomed to failure.


Oh sure, we still have remnants of a “Mexico City policy” on the books, and the law does contain a watered-down version of the original Hyde Amendment.  No question about it. But haven’t the past 31 years taught us anything?  The uncomfortable fact is that members of both major political parties have occupied the White House since the Supreme Court’s 1973 rulings, yet abortion continues unabated regardless of who holds the presidency.


Of course, it is possible that the next president will nominate a couple of Supreme Court justices, appointments that could or could not be helpful to the babies.  Don’t forget that it was a pro-life president, the beloved Ronald Wilson Reagan, who appointed Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Catholic Justice Anthony Kennedy, neither of whom have lifted a finger on behalf of the preborn.


So just how is this election any different?  And why is the Catholic vote important?


To my way of thinking, there are better, more fundamental questions to be asking at this point.  There are some basic moral principles at stake here, particularly for Catholics, which really make the current election controversy seem quite overstated.


A “Catholic vote” can only be examined in light of attitudes among Catholics.  Prior to collecting information on Catholic attitudes as they apply to politicians, we have to know what Catholics actually understand with regard to Church teaching.  For example, it is an undeniable fact that abortion is an intrinsically evil act that is never, under any circumstance, condoned by the Church.  But how many of the people surveyed who identify themselves as “Catholic” understand this basic truth?  That will weigh heavily on the findings collected in such a poll.  


Whether the poll is related to politics or faith itself, the outcome cannot be credible without this basic information about the individual Catholics being queried.  But as far as I know, this process is not part of any organized poll or the subsequent results – at least not in the past 30 years.


If we were to gather all this information about what a Catholic believes and knows to be true prior to finding out how he might vote, we would be confronted with a few shocking details.  For example, if it is indeed true that at least half of all Catholics in the United States favor abortion in at least some cases, then it is clear that far too many Catholics have either not been taught basic teachings or have remained in the Church under a false notion.  The false notion, of course, is that one can treat Catholic teachings just like one treats choices at a cafeteria – picking and choosing according to personal taste.  Some teachings are okay on Friday; but over the weekend others are more appealing.


Sorry, but that kind of “Catholic” is really not going to vote based on solid Church teaching. But how many of these improperly catechized Catholics are out there?  Only God knows.  On the surface, at least, it’s easy to say the answer to that question is, “far too many.”


The “Catholic vote” is, therefore, a nice phrase without much substance.  Today, even the bishops of the United States cannot seem to agree that protecting Christ in the Holy Eucharist from sacrilege is serious enough to deny pro-abortion Catholic public figures access to Holy Communion.  


One can deduce that these same bishops are not teaching with any continuity the fact that abortion is an act of murder, the fact that other “issues” are irrelevant when the fundamental right to life is denied an innocent human being, or the fact that nobody can favor the direct killing of innocent persons and be assured that his eternal salvation is not in jeopardy.  I even know of a few bishops who speak as if they think “hell” is a merely a term and not a place.


For these reasons, it is abundantly clear that the “Catholic vote” is a dubious factor in any election.   This sad reality reflects the real problem that is facing us. Thirty-one years have passed since Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decided the fate of untold millions of innocent human beings.


Presidents have come and gone and the numbers are much the same.  Oh sure, the statistics say that surgical abortion rates are down, but chemical abortion rates are going through the roof.


What if surgical abortion rates really are down? Is that a victory?  Or should we consider that our true mission is to be helping our fellow Catholics, and subsequently all Americans, identify every innocent human being as part of our human family?  Isn’t it the task of the Catholic, who recognizes fundamental truth as morally undebatable, to strive to help his fellow human beings discover that same fullness of truth?


Abortion is not going to stop because one man or another is elected.


Abortion is not going to stop as long as we rest on our laurels because a president signed a bill that will regulate one specific kind of murder at one specific stage in a preborn child’s life (which is precisely all the partial-birth abortion law does).


Abortion is not going to stop until … when?  Until the majority of all Americans — not just Catholics — reject the act of abortion because it is sinful, because it is deadly and because it offends God.  Then, and only then, will that same majority attain sufficient power — through God’s grace — to see to it that abortion is erased from the political debate because it will be totally illegal with no exceptions.


Before his death, Jim McFadden’s young son Robert, who was involved with his dad in the publishing of the Human Life Review, wrote something that his sister Maria found on his computer.  It is worth reading, especially now when the emphasis on Catholic votes and White House residents has somehow blurred our vision:


In order to win this struggle we must avoid trying to win it.  We must do what we do against abortion not because this or that action will secure us a victory but because it is right to perform that action.  We can fight endlessly for good, moral legislation to save unborn children, but with the willingness to lose a fight rather than sacrificing principles to win.  We can try to remember Christian charity and compassion for those among us who are risking their chances of eternal happiness by fighting against God.  … We must continue to educate, to provide the calm voice of reason and logic to counter the often-hysterical rantings of the other side.  We must try to “play this game” as if we were on God’s team, trying to follow His coaching and not as if we were coaching God.



Judie Brown is president and founder of American Life League, the nation’s largest Catholic pro-life educational grassroots organization.  She is a recognized expert on the sanctity of human life and member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.  Mrs. Brown is the author of three books.




Pro-Choice Candidates and Church Teaching 

‍  ByArchbishop John J.Myers 



Amid today’s political jostling, Catholic citizens are wondering whether they can, in conscience, vote for candidates who support the legalized killing of human beings in the embryonic and fetal stages of development by abortion or in biomedical research.


Responding to requests to clarify the obligations of Catholics on this matter, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, under its prefect, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, released a statement called “On Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion.” Although it dealt primarily with the obligations of bishops to deny Communion to Catholic politicians in certain circum- stances, it included a short note at the end addressing whether Catholics could, in good con- science, vote for candidates who supported the taking of nascent human life in the womb or lab. 


Cardinal Ratzinger stated that a “Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to pre-sent himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of a candidate’s permissive stand on abortion.” But the question of the moment is whether a Catholic may vote for a pro-abortion candidate for other reasons. The cardinal’s next sentence answered that question: A Catholic may vote for a pro-abortion Catholic politician only “in the presence of pro- portionate reasons.” 


What are “proportionate reasons”? To consider that question, we must first repeat the teaching of the Church: The direct killing of innocent human beings at any stage of development, including the embryonic and fetal, is homicidal, gravely sinful and always profoundly wrong. 

Then we must consider the scope of the evil of abortion today in our country. America suffers 1.3 million abortions each year — a tragedy of epic proportions. Moreover, many supporters of abortion propose making the situation even worse by creating a publicly funded industry in which tens of thousands of human lives are produced each year for the pur- pose of being “sacrificed” in biomedical research. 


Thus, for a Catholic citizen to vote for a candidate who supports abortion and embryo-destructive research, one of the following circumstances would have to obtain: either (a) both candidates would have to be in favor of embryo killing on roughly an equal scale or (b) the candidate with the superior position on abortion and embryo-destructive research would have to be a supporter of objective evils of a gravity and magnitude beyond that of 1.3 million yearly abortions plus the killing that would take place if public funds were made avail- able for embryo-destructive research. 


Frankly, it is hard to imagine circumstance (b) in a society such as ours. No candidate advocating the removal of legal protection against killing for any vulnerable group of innocent people other than unborn children would have a chance of winning a major office in our country. Even those who support the death penalty for first-degree murderers are not advocating policies that result in more than a million killings annually. 


As Mother Teresa reminded us on all of her visits to the US, abortion tears at our national soul. It is a betrayal of our nation’s founding principle that recognizes all human beings as “created equal” and “endowed with unalienable rights.” What evil could be so grave and widespread as to constitute a “proportionate reason” to sup- port candidates who would pre- serve and protect the abortion license and even extend it to publicly funded embryo-killing in our nation’s labs?


Certainly policies on welfare, national security, the war in Iraq, Social Security or taxes, taken singly or in any combination, do not provide a proportionate reason to vote for a pro-abortion candidate. Consider, for example, the war in Iraq. Although Pope John Paul II pleaded for an alternative to the use of military force to meet the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, he did not bind the conscience of Catholics to agree with his judgment on the matter, nor did he say that it would be morally wrong for Catholic soldiers to participate in the war. In line with the teaching of the catechism on “just war,” he recognized that a final judgment of prudence as to the necessity of military force rests with statesmen, not with ecclesiastical leaders. Catholics may, in good conscience, support the use of force in Iraq or oppose it. Abortion and embryo-destructive research are different. 


They are intrinsic and grave evils; no Catholic may legitimately support them. In the context of contemporary Ameri- can social life, abortion and embryo-destructive research are disproportionate evils. They are the gravest human rights abuses of our domestic politics and what slavery was to the time of Lincoln. Catholics are called by the Gospel of Life to protect the victims of these human rights abuses. They may not legitimately abandon the victims by supporting those who would further their victimization. 


Archbishop Myers heads the archdiocese of Newark. This column appeared in the Wall Street Journal on September 17. 



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Let’s Make a Deal: Catholic Conscience and Compromise

Two September anniversaries Give us plenty to think about, this year and every year


By The Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.


“If you sup with the devil, you’d better bring a long spoon.”

— American folk saying 


September is the month when election campaigns get serious. So it’s also the traditional season for Catholic politicians to explain why their faith won’t “dictate” their public actions.


Forty-four years ago this month (Sept. 12, 1960), John F. Kennedy delivered remarks to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association wherein he effectively severed his Catholic identity from his public service. It’s OK to elect me president, he argued to a wary Protestant audience, because I won’t let the pope tell me what to do.


In pledging to put the “national interest” above “religious pressures or dictates,” Kennedy created a template for a generation of Catholic candidates: Be American first; be Catholic second. This was an easy calculus for Kennedy, who wore his faith loosely anyway. And it was certainly what the American public square, with its historic anti-Catholic prejudice, wanted to hear.


The Kennedy compromise seemed to work pretty well as long as the “religious pressures” faced by Catholic elected officials involved issues like divorce, federal aid to Catholic schools or diplomatic relations with the Holy See. Each of these issues was important, surely, but none involved life and death. None was jugular.


In 1973, by legalizing abortion on demand, the U.S. Supreme Court changed everything. The reason is simple: Abortion is different. Abortion kills. The great Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke for the whole Christian tradition when he wrote:

“Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And that is nothing but murder.”


Resistance to abortion cuts across all religions. It’s not a “Catholic” issue. In fact, it’s finally not a religious issue at all, but a matter of human rights, reinforced by the irrefutable scientific fact that life begins at conception.


After 1973, because of Roe v. Wade, Catholic elected officials faced a choice. They could either work to change or at least mitigate permissive abortion laws, while at the same time trying to repopulate the courts with pro-life judges. Or they could abandon the unborn and look for a way to morally sanitize their decision. For those who chose the latter course, the leading Catholic political figure of the day stepped in to help them out.


Twenty years ago this month (Sept. 13, 1984), then-New York Governor Mario Cuomo delivered a speech at the University of Notre Dame that sought to give intellectual muscle to the Kennedy compromise. Cuomo, unlike Kennedy, was more educated about his faith. Cuomo, unlike Kennedy, had the benefit of seeing where Kennedy’s Houston speech had finally led. But Cuomo, like Kennedy, was a man with presidential prospects. To what degree those prospects shaped the talk he gave — “Religious belief and public morality: a Catholic governor’s perspective” — is unclear. But the results remain with us still.


Cuomo argued that “in our attempt to find a political answer to abortion — an answer beyond our private observance of Catholic morality” — he had concluded that “legal interdicting of abortion by either the federal government or the individual states is not a plausible possibility, and even if it could be obtained, it wouldn’t work.” He might privately oppose abortion but, in his view, he had no right to “impose” that belief on others.


In hindsight, Cuomo’s speech is a tour de force of articulate misdirection. It refuses to acknowledge the teaching and formative power of the law. It implicitly equates unequal types of issues. It misuses the “seamless garment” metaphor. It effectively blames Catholics themselves for the abortion problem. It selectively misreads history. 


In the end, Cuomo argued that “approval or rejection of legal restrictions on abortion should not be the exclusive litmus test of Catholic loyalty.” With those words, he wrote the alibi for every “pro-choice” Catholic who has held public office since.


In deference to his understanding of pluralistic democracy, Governor Cuomo — despite his personal opposition to abortion — went on to resist repeated attempts to restrict abortion in his own state of New York. He also supported public funding of abortion for poor women.


His Catholic conscience apparently did kick in on selective issues though, whether “pluralism” liked it or not. Governor Cuomo vetoed legislative efforts to re-institute the death penalty — 12 times.


Next month, October, is Respect Life month. It’s a good time to reflect on the meaning of the Kennedy-Cuomo legacy. In brief, it’s OK to be Catholic in public service as long as you’re willing to jettison what’s inconveniently “Catholic.”


That’s not a compromise. That’s a deal with the devil, and it has a balloon payment no nation, no public servant and no voter can afford.


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Archbishop Chaput is Archbishop of Denver, Colorado. This article originally appeared in The Denver Catholic Register, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver, reprinted by permission.



'Abolish the United Nations Populations Fund'


An Interview with Steven W. Mosher, 

President of the Population Research Institute

By John Mallon


Note: A shorter version of this interview appeared in the October issue of Inside the Vatican magazine as past of a special section on the Catholic Vote. We publish here the interview in its entirety courtesy of Inside the Vatican. To obtain a copy of this special edition or for subscription information on Inside the Vatican, call 1-800-789-9494, or go to http://www.insidethevatican.com


Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. ...  Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife. —Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, No. 17


Steven W. Mosher, President of the non-profit Population Research Institute, is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on the population question. His writings demonstrate that overpopulation is a myth, and that the efforts of population controllers to reduce human numbers have led to massive human rights abuses and undermined the health of women and children. Steve came face-to-face with the nightmare of population control when he was the first American social scientist to live in rural China in 1979-80. What Steve Mosher witnessed in China shocked him deeply. He saw pregnant women hunted down by population control police and subjected to forced abortion for violating China’s one-child-per-family law, Women mutilated through forced sterilization and women forced to endure life-threatening forms of birth control.


Steve returned to his studies at Stanford University and wrote about the population control horrors he witnessed in China. Bowing to demands of the Chinese government, Stanford expelled Steve Mosher rather than grant him the Ph.D. he had earned.


Steve Mosher was named President of the Population Research Institute (PRI) in 1996 by Father Paul Marx, O.S.B., Ph. D., who founded the organization in 1989. He granted the following interview to Inside the Vatican especially for this Special Dossier on the Catholic vote in the American presidential election and the effect it will have on human rights abuses in the name of population control and ideologically driven "sexual and reproductive health" efforts worldwide. 


John Mallon: Mr. Mosher, your mission statement says, "The PopulationResearch Institute is dedicated to stopping human rights abuses committed in the name of family planning, and through research and education to dispelling the myth of overpopulation." From your point of view based on your experience in this work, what's at stake in the current presidential election?


Steven Mosher: What is at stake in the current presidential election is precisely the sanctity of human life and the integrity of the family. I think the positions of the candidates on the life issues are well known. John Kerry is in favor of abortion. George Bush is self-avowedly pro-life. 


As far as the integrity of the family is concerned, by thatI mean that couples have the God-given right to decide for themselves the number and spacing of their children. I think that President Bush respects that right. I think that John Kerry by his votes in favor of population control programs over the past 20 years in the U.S. Senate has clearly ceded those rights to government. That a very dangerous thing. 


We see in the case of China a government which has expropriated the people's right to decide for themselves the number and spacing of their children, and we see the terrible crimes against women and children that result from that position. So I think there's a very clear choice that the voters have between a candidate who is pro-natal in the broadest sense of the word, is open to new life, and a candidate who is anti-natal and opposed to new life.


ITV: You've spoken out forcefully against the methods of the United Nations Population Fund. (UNFPA) They claim they just want to improve the conditions of poor women in the developing world. What is the problem with what they're doing? 


Mosher: The problem with what the United Nations Population Fund does is this: First of it misrepresents what it is about. This is the United nations Population Fund, after all. It is not the United Nations Maternal Health Fund, It is not the United Nations Pre-Natal Care Fund. 


It is an organization that was set up in 1968 for the purpose of reducing fertility rates around the world, and over the past three-and-a-half decades it has not deviated from that purpose. To give you one example, the UN Population Fund recently offered the government of Pakistan $250 million in aid in return for the insertion of sex education programs in all of the primary and secondary schools throughout Pakistan—sex education programs which would not only provide—impose—sex education on young and innocent children but would also attempt to instill in them norms of small family size—to instill in them anti-natal attitudes. 


The UNFPA demanded control over this curriculum and control over the budget of these programs. The government of Pakistan finally said no, that they did not want to cede control of their schools over to the UN Population Fund. 


So this is a radical group, which, in the case of Pakistan, attempted to usurp the national sovereignty of Pakistan where the business of educating its own children was concerned—education of Pakistani children. All for the purpose of doing what? All for the purpose of achieving a reduction in the birth rate, in fertility reduction. 


So, all of the propaganda emanating from the UNFPA about maternal health is just that: propaganda. Propaganda intended to disguise its real purpose, which is reducing the birth rate.


ITV: You've anticipated my next question which is why is it that health issues of poor women worldwide have been placed in the hands of a UN agency dedicated to controlling population?


Mosher: Yes, and that is precisely where it shouldn't be. We should be dealing with the health problems of poor women in the third world but not by preventing them from having children. The United Nations Population Fund and other UN agencies argue that when they sterilize a woman they are actually preventing her from dying in childbirth. Well, it is true that a woman who has had her fallopian tubes ligated is not going to get pregnant again, and  therefore is not going to be at risk of dying in childbirth. 


But let's be honest about what the real purpose of the organization is. The real purpose of the UNFPA's sterilization emphasis is to prevent children from being born, not to save mothers from dying in childbirth. That's just a secondary, indirect consequence of what they are really about. It is equivalent to my saying let's reduce the number of traffic fatalities in this country by forbidding everyone to drive a car. Well, if we did that, if we forbid everyone from driving cars we would reduce the number of automobile accidents to zero. But most people would agree that the cure is worse than the problem. 


In the same way, the UNFPA says they'll reduce maternal mortality by preventing women from having babies. Even when they want children, even when they and their husbands decide they would like children, the UNFPA would like to put them out of the business of childbearing. It is the wrong solution to the wrong problem.


ITV: The UNFPA claims they do not promote abortion, yet their documents and rhetoric is filled with references to "safe" abortion which usually translates into "legal" abortion. Would you comment on that?


Mosher: Safe abortion is just a euphemism for legal abortion. The United Nations Population Fund would like to see abortion legalized worldwide, including in the 114 countries where there are significant restrictions placed on abortion; and it works to that end. Now it has occasionally made clear in documents its own pro-abortion stance, but it likes to work with affiliates. It likes to affiliate with other groups like the International Planned Parenthood Federation which has joint projects with the UNFPA in different parts of the world, which then carry water on the abortion issue so that the UNFPA can avoid doing heavy lifting. 


But make no mistake about the fact that this is an organization that is devoted to aborting and sterilizing and contracepting as many women as possible. In fact, its own publications make clear that when it is talking about reproductive health what it is principally concerned about is making sure that women have access to contraception, sterilization and abortion. They measure reproductive health by the percentage of women who have access to abortion, sterilization and contraception. 


What that means is that a society enjoying perfect reproductive health, that is where all the women are either contracepting, are sterilized and have easy access to abortion would be a population which would not be able to reproduce at all. That would be perfect reproductive health in the eyes of the UN Population Fund, ironically enough.


ITV: Isn't there a risk if population runs unchecked? What is the proper Catholic response to population issues?


Mosher: I think there's even a problem in even thinking that population is something that governments want to be intimately involved in. These are decisions that should properly be made by husbands and wives, not by the state. We are all gifted with creative intelligence from God and we can respond to our own circumstances by adjusting our fertility using Natural Family Planning, abstinence and other means. That God-given right to reproduce should not be usurped by governments or government planners. When it is, you see the horrific consequences that result. 


ITV: Why is it that traditionally, men of extreme wealth have such an interest in population control?


Mosher: This is a question that has long puzzled me. Why did John D. Rockefeller III make it his life's work to reduce the number of poor and unwashed? He was a man of great wealth, perhaps the wealthiest man in the country during the 1940s and 50s, before the era of Bill Gates, Ted Turner and Warren Buffett. He began his organization, the Population Council, in New York with his own money because the Rockefeller Foundation thought that interfering with the birth rate was too controversial a topic for the foundation to undertake. It made the other trustees nervous. So as a true believer he used his own money to set up the Population Council, spent his own money to fund projects shipping contraceptives around the world to countries like India. 


What in the world was he thinking of here? In a sense, I think that men of great wealth have a guilty conscience. Somehow the sight of all the numerous poor of the world make them feel guilty for the wealth that they posses. Of course by the standards of John D. Rockefeller III, or Bill Gates or Ted Turner, we're all poor, and so we would all be subject to these fertility reduction programs. 


In one sense I think he was also laboring under the misguided notion that you can reduce poverty by eliminating the poor. Of course, you can't do that. We know the way to reduce poverty is to set up the rule of law, put in place a system of respect and safeguards for private property. You set in place a fair and just legal system, you allow entrepreneurs to keep the proceeds of their enterprise rather than have them taxed away or stolen away by corrupt officials. 


If you do those things you will soon find your gross national product doubling and doubling again. You don't cure poverty by eliminating the poor, you cure poverty by making the poor the agents of their own development by giving them the opportunity to start businesses, by giving them protection from government usurpations by corrupt officials. If you give them those protections and opportunities they will quickly set about improving their own lives. 


How do you envision the world under a Kerry presidency?


Mosher: I think the first day of a Kerry presidency would fairly closely resemble the first day of the presidency of William Jefferson Clinton. You recall that on January 23 of 1993 he did several things which set back that cause of life and family. One of the things he did was authorize the release of funds to the United Nations Population Fund. 


These funds had been held up by the first Bush administration and the Reagan administration on the grounds that the United Nations Population Fund was participating in a program of forced abortion and forced sterilization in China. Clinton overturned that overnight. 


He also did away with the Mexico City Policy which forbids US funds from going to any organization that promotes or performs or lobbies for the legalization of abortion. This was a policy that, I think, had the broad support of the American people, the majority of whom did not want their money going to abortion-performing groups overseas. 


Clinton did this in the past, and Kerry—if the future is a Kerry presidency—would do precisely the same thing. This would set back human rights. Obviously it would set back the rights of women considerably in countries around the world. It would not be good for their general health or the health of their families either. 


To The extent that our foreign aid focuses on fertility reduction it ignores other primary health care and thus indirectly leads to the deaths of millions. 


ITV: The UNFPA, together with their friends at Planned Parenthood seem to behave as though they had some kind of international authority. They are not a sovereign state but they act as though they have some kind of governmental authority behind them when they attempt to inflict their programs. What authority do they actually have to do what they do?


I think that they assume they have a lot more authority than they actually do. It is no secret that the UNFPA and the UN Development Fund and these other groups would like to see a supranational government authority set up using the structure of the United Nations. They would like to have the UN have its own system of justice, its own courts, its own police force, its own ability to tax, its own independent source of revenue. 


But even in the absence of that it behaves, vis-a-vis poor countries, as if it already has that kind of authority. A large part of that is the power of the purse. There are about forty countries in the world which receive at least a quarter, and sometimes as much as a half of their health care budgets from international organizations, like the UN Population Fund. 


That financial grant of money to these governments gives the UNFPA tremendous clout as in the case of Pakistan, which we discussed earlier, they try to dictate what children are exposed to by way of teachings about life and the family. They try to dictate the laws of countries around the world trying to increase access to "safe" abortion—which as I said earlier, is a euphemism for legalizing abortion. They try to impose sterilization and contraception on peoples around the world.


When, in fact, if you look at what the people themselves want, oftentimes this kind of so-called reproductive health care is way down on the list. If you ask people, as we have, at PRI—if you ask women in Kenya and Ghana and the Ivory Coast and Nigeria what they want by way of health care they'll say "We want help with AIDS, we want help with cholera, typhus, we want help with other tropical diseases like malaria. We want inoculations for our children, we need vitamins for our kids." Way down on the list, usually last, is reproductive health care and family planning.


Yet, even though this is last on the list of health needs by women in the developing world, it is first on the list of things that are being provided by the UN Population Fund. 


The time has come to abolish the UN Population Fund. We have been working for several years at not only defunding the UN Population Fund, but taking the moneys thus freed and putting them into child survival programs so that we can save the lives of children rather than focus our efforts on trying to prevent them from coming into existence. 


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More information may be found at PRI's Website at www.pop.org.


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It’s Still God, Country and Family 

An Interview with Ambassador Ray Flynn

By John Mallon


Question and Answer session with Raymond L. Flynn on the upcoming U.S. Presidential election.  Mr. Flynn is the former Mayor of Boston, U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, and presently National President of the Catholic Alliance.  


John Mallon: Ambassador Flynn, you have been a prominent and well-respected pro-life political leader in Boston and the nation for many years.  What should Catholic voters be thinking about as the national election approaches?


Ambassador Ray Flynn: As the U.S. presidential election approaches, the question that the media usually asks is, “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has responded, this is the wrong question.  The question should be, “How can we – all of us – especially the weak and vulnerable – be better off in the years ahead?”  Our bishops further state that, “elections are a time for debate and decisions.  Our nation has been attacked and has gone to war.  We have moved from sharing surpluses to allocating the burdens of deficits.  Our world faces fundamental questions of life and death, war and peace, who moves ahead and who is left behind.”


Our Catholic Church has been hurt badly by the clergy sex abuse scandal in the United States.  Some of us have been doing everything we can to heal the wounds and rebuild confidence and trust.  But lay Catholics must not abandon their responsibility as Americans to act on our faith in political life.  Our Catholic tradition teaches us that responsible citizenship is a virtue and 

participation in the political process is a moral obligation.


You have been around politics a long time.  You worked in many campaigns.  What are some of the most offensive political statements that you have heard this year?


That four Massachusetts judges (not the people – not even the Massachusetts Legislature) changed the definition of marriage.  Outrageous.

‍ 

Another was when U.S. Senator John Kerry said he would only appoint pro-choice judges. 


Or when some Democratic U.S. Senators said if you are a faithful Catholic lawyer, this disqualifies you from serving on the U.S. Supreme Court.  This is anti-Catholicism at its worst. 


Also, when pro-life Democrats were denied a role at the Democratic National Convention in Boston.


Or when bishops and priests are photographed with pro-choice politicians receiving an honor from the church.  This creates the impression with Catholic voters that the life issue is just not that important.  Bishops must exercise more order and discipline or the chaos and mistrust in the Church will continue.


Or when Catholic politicians say, I am personally opposed to abortion, but I will not impose my religious beliefs on others.  As if issues like abortion and traditional marriage were not rooted in the common law.  


Finally, or when it is said that it is an act of discrimination to want to protect the sacred institution of marriage.


You have been a courageous, outspoken, and oftentimes the lone lay Catholic voice defending the Church.  You were ridiculed for this.  You certainly paid a heavy political price as U.S. Ambassador when you publicly urged President Clinton not to veto the partial birth abortion bill.  So the question is, whom should Catholic leaders support in this presidential election


The Catholic Church as an institution does not and cannot endorse candidates for political office, but Massachusetts Catholic Bishops and the Massachusetts Catholic Conference have asked me and Catholic Citizenship to help register and encourage lay Catholics to become more politically active.  Catholic Citizenship is a national lay political and education organization.  It also cannot endorse candidates for public office, but its members certainly can.  Catholic Citizenship positions must be consistent with our Catholic faith.  As an organization, we are neither liberal nor conservative, Democrat nor Republican, but faithful Catholics and loyal Americans.  Some of our members are Republican and others are Democrats.  But many Catholics are like me, registered Democrats, but support the person who best reflects our Catholic values.  As I often say, “It is more important for me to be a good American and a good Catholic, than a good Democrat or Republican.” 


Just as the Church meets its obligation to share our social teaching and highlights the moral dimensions of these issues, we must actively participate in the debate on public policy.  This must be the responsibility of all faithful Catholics.  Catholic Citizenship has been doing that for many months. One problem however, has been that we receive very little financial support.  Without question, Catholic political influence in the U.S. is at an all-time low.  Even Catholic politicians do not pay much attention to Church teachings.  Unlike other religious organizations and groups, we do not have the resources or organization to effectively fight back and advance our important message.


I can’t imagine Jewish groups, the N.A.A.C.P., or gay and lesbian groups putting up with that kind of criticism that the Catholic Church receives from the media.  They shouldn’t, and neither should we.  So what do we do?


I recently returned from a six-day visit to Ohio, and encouraged and spoke to thousands of Catholics and respected Irish Catholic organizations like the Ancient Order of Hibernians (A.O.H.), to become more active in the national election.  Catholics must carry the values of our Catholic faith in the voting booth, as the Knights of Columbus recently and effectively proclaimed.  We must build on these efforts.


The Catholic Church is not a special interest group.  Important moral issues that impact our Church, country, and society are at the forefront.  You’ve worked closely with the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops over the many years.  What is the Catholic approach to faithful citizenship that you have learned from the Church and would like to share with us?


The Catholic approach to faithful citizenship begins with moral principles, which come from the Scriptures and Catholic social teaching They are spelled out in a booklet called A Call to Faithful Citizenship.


In this election year, first and foremost, there is a contrast between the two major political parties on the life issue.  The Republican Party is pro-life and the Democrat Party is not.  It is essential for Catholics to speak out on this central life issue.  As the Church has said, “there must be a place at the table for children destroyed before they are born; for the hungry and those who lack health care; for families who need decent work; for wages, education, and hope for the future.”  How can the poor and vulnerable have a real place at the table where policies and priorities are set?  How can we protect our children, stabilize the sacred institution of marriage and strengthen the family?  These are the right questions for Catholics to answer and work for change.


Ambassador Flynn, you were a State Representative, a Boston City 

Councilor, the Mayor of Boston, and U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican.  You 

know government and politics as well as anyone.  What practical advice would you give Catholics who want to get involved in the election?


I have a few quick suggestions:


Always remember politics is personal.  Register to vote and make sure members of your family, neighbors and friends are also registered. Meet with friends and people in your neighborhood to discuss these issues of importance.  Send a letter to your local elected officials as well as members of Congress.  Don’t vote for them if they do not respect you or your values.


Send a letter to local newspapers expressing the sentiment of your group.  Do not allow the media to ignore current issues of importance to Catholics, while only focusing on unsubstantiated character issues that were raised and debated years ago.


Get actively involved in political campaigns in your community and neighborhood. Attend political forums and ask questions important to our faith and nation.  Call the candidates and ask their positions on issues important to you.  Encourage good people to run for office, support them with campaign contributions.  It’s money, media, organization and special interests that control politics and government today.  Catholics must get involved in the political process if the U.S. is to remain a strong and compassionate moral nation.


Let me underscore one last but essential point.  Faithful Catholics should not let other people make political decisions for them, particularly when these people may not share your core values.  Remember, it is still, God, Country and Family that count most in our nation today.


If you had your wish, what is the one or two things you would want Catholics to be reminded of in the weeks ahead?


Everyone should be reminded of the extraordinary record of care and compassion of the Catholic Church in helping the poor, handicapped and immigrants, educating our children, and caring for the sick and needy.   Also, remember the unsung heroes of our country:  the many faithful and loyal nuns and priests who we hardly ever read about.  This is the Catholic Church that I know, not the one often depicted in the media.  But we must also expect more from Church leaders.  They need to be more courageous in defending Church principles and teachings and stop worrying about being popular with everyone.  


We must demand more of a Catholic presence in the media, especially the Catholic press.  Young people get most of their information from MTV, “Sex and the City,” and Hollywood.  They certainly are not going to hear about Catholic values in today’s media.


Lastly, while we support the doctrine of separation of church and state, it is unacceptable for some clergy to hide behind this smokescreen because they are reluctant to speak out on sometimes unpopular but important moral issues.


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Raymond L. Flynn is the former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican and Mayor of Boston. President of the Catholic Alliance. He is also a best-selling author of The Accidental Pope and John Paul II, A Personal Portrait of the Pope and the Man.




A PASTORAL LETTER TO THE CATHOLIC PEOPLE 

OF TEXAS AND CIMARRON COUNTIES IN OKLAHOMA 

ON OUR MORAL RESPONSIBILITY TO SOCIETY 

By Father Stephen V. Hamilton, S.T.L. 


Father Stephen Hamilton is representative of the many good young priests now working in parishes in America. He was ordained a priest in 1999 for the archdiocese of Oklahoma City. From 1995-2000 he studied at the North American College in Rome. He is currently pastor of St. Peter Church, Guymon, Oklahoma; Good Shepherd Church, Boise City, Oklahoma; and Sacred Heart Church, Hooker, Oklahoma. This Pastoral Letter may be also found on his Blog (Weblog) at http://gloriapatri.blogspot.com 

—The Editor 



The peoples of the world are in the midst of an escalating battle that raises almost daily questions about the morality of so-called advances in society. Indeed, with the good knowledge science provides us, and the power technology places in our hands, it seems that anything that can be done is done. Unfortunately, the Natural Law, placed in the very order of creation by God, is often ignored as some assume that the ability to do something is what establishes that action’s morality. And still others take no care whatsoever to evaluate the morality of their actions. 


In the past many years legalized abortion has dulled the conscience of our nation as more than 40 million babies have been sacrificed to the idolatrous god of choice. This sin against the most basic and fundamental of all rights — the right to life — has had tragic consequences for our nation. It has brought with it a host of other moral questions and undeniable evils. 


I am convinced, too, that the scandal of sexual abuse and its cover-up in the Church has been very pleasing to Satan. The voice of Holy Mother Church is the very voice of Christ (cf. Lk. 10:16), and therefore the strongest of moral witnesses. 


However, with the moral credibility of her leaders eroded, many find it much easier to disregard the Church and her teaching. Thus, in the past few months, it has been very sad to watch the confusion and scandal over those who would both claim to be Catholic, presenting themselves for Holy Communion, and who would avow, consistently and publicly, positions inconsistent with Catholic Faith. 


I am aware that this has caused much confusion for you too. Indeed, there have even been some confusing words heard within our own parishes on this matter. 


By human birth we become the citizens of our respective nations (in a wider sense, citizens of the earth) and by Baptism we become citizens of Heaven (cf. Eph. 2:19). We must never lose sight that our focus and goal should ultimately be eternity and the kingdom that does not end; however, we must also care for this world, for we have been made its stewards by God who created it and called it good (cf. Gn. 1:26-31). The Catholic Church considers the proper development of this world and our dedication to our homeland to be a virtue, the virtue of patriotism. This civic virtue flows from the honor we give to our parents (filial piety) and those who have gone before us in this land. 


The duty and moral responsibility to foster the good of all society should come as no surprise. How many times in the Old Testament does God instruct His People Israel of their moral responsibility to foster a world that is more just toward all? This is the reason for God’s command to Israel to provide for widows, orphans, foreigners, exiles, and the poor (cf. Ex. 22:21-23). In the New Covenant, Jesus Christ does not revoke this moral responsibility to society. Rather, he extends the boundaries of this duty and calls his disciples to view all persons as brothers and sisters. For what we do to the least among us, we do to the Lord himself (cf. Mt. 25:40)! In fact, what we do to the least among us will be, Christ teaches, deserving of eternal reward or eternal punishment. The Second Vatican Council teaches that just as surely as it would be mistaken to disregard our earthly duties because we seek the city which is to come, the Kingdom of Heaven, “it is no less mistaken to think that we may immerse ourselves in earthly activities as if these ... were utterly foreign to religion, and religion were nothing more than the fulfillment of acts of worship and the observance of a few moral obligations. One of the gravest errors of our time is the dichotomy between the faith which many profess and the practice of their daily lives” (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et spes, December 7, 1965, n. 43a 


THE LEAST AMONG US 

We rightly ask ourselves, who is the least among us? How do we best provide for the needs of the least among us? The unborn, the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the sick, the dying, the imprisoned, the uneducated, and those unjustly deprived of liberty are all examples of the least of our brothers and sisters. And we routinely seek to offer them help and to create a world where they have a voice. While there is legitimate debate about the best social policy for reducing poverty, increasing jobs, providing shelter, education, and health care, there are other injustices that are so evil that there can be no legitimate debate and Christ’s faithful cannot remain silent so long as such evil persists. 


We must recognize that there is a hierarchy of social issues. Certain issues depend upon others and, therefore, rank after more primary or fundamental issues. Among the issues of our day, the right to life is the most basic and fundamental human rights issue. The Declaration of Independence, by no means intended to be a religious document, makes just such a claim: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Without first securing the protection of all human life, it makes no sense to discuss how best to provide for the progress of that life. If life is not first secured, it is pointless to consider other issues. The Declaration of Independence would be severely weakened, if not rendered totally meaningless, if the order of unalienable rights was listed as liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and life. There is no liberty or pursuit of happiness to be had if we do not first recognize that the “inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2273). To put it simply, what kind of guarantee is excellent health care and education if whether one is allowed to live remains a question? 


The Church’s teaching is consistent and clear: the deliberate and direct killing of an innocent human person is intrinsically evil, always wrong, and, therefore, can never be justified (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2258). The issues of abortion, euthanasia, and embryonic stem cell research (which destroys the human embryo) are just such intrinsic evils (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 2271 & 2277). I firmly believe, with all due respect for the many worthy needs of those around us, considering the absolutely weak, vulnerable, and silent status of the unborn, that it is the unborn human person who is the primary example of the least of our brothers and sisters. Our Holy Father has taught us, “[a]mong all the crimes which can be committed against life, procured abortion has characteristics making it particularly serious and deplorable” (Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, The Gospel of Life, March 25, 1995, n. 58a). To be Catholic, and truly in communion with Christ Jesus, requires that we never formally cooperate with intrinsic evil. In addition, as we must speak the truth about abortion, we cannot fail to clearly proclaim to all those impacted by abortion and its aftermath, that there is hope, healing, and forgiveness by the abundant mercy of God. 


THE FORMATION OF CONSCIENCE 

The human conscience needs special consideration due to the moral confusion of our society. Too often, the appeals to conscience made by many people are really more properly an appeal to individual opinion, or still worse, an appeal to a spirit of disobedience which refuses to recognize undeniable truth. The conscience of the human person is not an opinion or a feeling. Rather, it is the voice of God within us which assists the human person in evaluating and making a judgment to choose good and avoid evil. In the weakened condition of mankind, caused by original sin, the conscience must be properly formed by the truth. Once properly informed with the truth – and only then – the judgment of one’s conscience may be reasonably followed (however this does not necessarily mean one’s conscience is always free from error). The conscience is positively formed by recourse to the Natural Law, the revelation of God, and the teaching of the Church. 


A particular item of moral confusion in our day is the appeal that many people make to the issues of capital punishment and we become citizens of Heaven (cf. Eph. 2:19). We must never lose sight that our focus and goal should ultimately be eternity and the kingdom that does not end; however, we must also care for this world, for we have been made its stewards by God who created it and called it good (cf. Gn. 1:26-31). The Catholic Church considers the proper development of this world and our dedication to our homeland to be a virtue, the virtue of patriotism. This civic virtue flows from the honor we give to our parents (filial piety) and those who have gone before us in this land. 


The duty and moral responsibility to foster the good of all society should come as no surprise. How many times in the Old Testament does God instruct His People Israel of their moral responsibility to foster a world that is more just toward all? This is the reason for God’s command to Israel to provide for widows, orphans, foreigners, exiles, and the poor (cf. Ex. 22:21-23). In the New Covenant, Jesus Christ does not revoke this moral responsibility to society. Rather, he extends the boundaries of this duty and calls his disciples to view all persons as brothers and sisters. For what we do to the least among us, we do to the Lord himself (cf. Mt. 25:40)! In fact, what we do to the least among us will be, Christ teaches, deserving of eternal reward or eternal punishment. The Second Vatican Council teaches that just as surely as it would be mistaken to disregard our earthly duties because we seek the city which is to come, the Kingdom of Heaven, “it is no less mistaken to think that we may immerse ourselves in earthly activities as if these ... were utterly foreign to religion, and religion were nothing more than the fulfillment of acts of worship and the observance of a few moral obligations. One of the gravest errors of our time is the dichotomy between the faith which many profess and the practice of their daily lives” (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et spes, December 7, 1965, n. 43a). 


THE LEAST AMONG US 

We rightly ask ourselves, who is the least among us? How do we best provide for the needs of the least among us? The unborn, the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the sick, the dying, the imprisoned, the uneducated, and those unjustly deprived of liberty are all examples of the least of our brothers and sisters. And we routinely seek to offer them help and to create a world where they have a voice. While there is legitimate debate about the best social policy for reducing poverty, increasing jobs, providing shelter, education, and health care, there are other injustices that are so evil that there can be no legitimate debate and Christ’s faithful cannot remain silent so long as such evil persists. 


We must recognize that there is a hierarchy of social issues. Certain issues depend upon others and, therefore, rank after more primary or fundamental issues. Among the issues of our day, the right to life is the most basic and fundamental human rights issue. The Declaration of Independence, by no means intended to be a religious document, makes just such a claim: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Without first securing the protection of all human life, it makes no sense to discuss how best to provide for the progress of that life. If life is not first secured, it is pointless to consider other issues. The Declaration of Independence would be severely weakened, if not rendered totally meaningless, if the order of unalienable rights was listed as liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and life. There is no liberty or pursuit of happiness to be had if we do not first recognize that the “inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2273). To put it simply, what kind of guarantee is excellent health care and education if whether one is allowed to live remains a question? 


The Church’s teaching is consistent and clear: the deliberate and direct killing of an innocent human person is intrinsically evil, always wrong, and, therefore, can never be justified (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2258). The issues of abortion, euthanasia, and embryonic stem cell research (which destroys the human embryo) are just such intrinsic evils (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 2271 & 2277). I firmly believe, with all due respect for the many worthy needs of those around us, considering the absolutely weak, vulnerable, and silent status of the unborn, that it is the unborn human person who is the primary example of the least of our brothers and sisters. Our Holy Father has taught us, “[a]mong all the crimes which can be committed against life, procured abortion has characteristics making it particularly serious and deplorable” (Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, The Gospel of Life, March 25, 1995, n. 58a). To be Catholic, and truly in communion with Christ Jesus, requires that we never formally cooperate with intrinsic evil. In addition, as we must speak the truth about abortion, we cannot fail to clearly proclaim to all those impacted by abortion and its aftermath, that there is hope, healing, and forgiveness by the abundant mercy of God. 


THE FORMATION OF CONSCIENCE 

The human conscience needs special consideration due to the moral confusion of our society. Too often, the appeals to conscience made by many people are really more properly an appeal to individual opinion, or still worse, an appeal to a spirit of disobedience which refuses to recognize undeniable truth. The conscience of the human person is not an opinion or a feeling. Rather, it is the voice of God within us which assists the human person in evaluating and making a judgment to choose good and avoid evil. In the weakened condition of mankind, caused by original sin, the conscience must be properly formed by the truth. Once properly informed with the truth – and only then – the judgment of one’s conscience may be reasonably followed (however this does not necessarily mean one’s conscience is always free from error). The conscience is positively formed by recourse to the Natural Law, the revelation of God, and the teaching of the Church. 


A particular item of moral confusion in our day is the appeal that many people make to the issues of capital punishment and war. Capital punishment and war are often presented on the same plane as abortion and euthanasia. But such is not the case and cannot be supported by Church teaching. Though it is true that capital punishment and war should be last resorts, and “can rarely be justified, they are not intrinsically evil; neither practice includes the direct intention of killing innocent human beings” (The Most Rev. Raymond L. Burke, Archbishop of St. Louis, Pastoral Letter on Our Civic Responsibility for the Common Good, October 1, 2004, n. 30). The constant teaching of the Catholic Church has always recognized, and continues to recognize, the principle of legitimate self-defense. This principle affirms that individuals have the right to protect the good of their own lives and nations have the right, even a duty, to protect the lives of their citizens. This principle is not an exception to the intrinsic evil of deliberate and direct killing of innocent human life. Rather, it recognizes that in protecting human life, individuals and nations are not guilty of murder even if the aggressor is stopped with lethal force (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 2263-2267). Capital punishment and war fall within the realm of legitimate self-defense. We can and should long for the day when the standards of prison security we enjoy in this country will be found throughout the world, thus removing all cause for recourse to capital punishment. We can and should long for the day when the peace of civil order will be so stable that mankind may not need recourse to war. But to be absolutely clear, capital punishment and war, though they should be avoided, can be morally justified and are not intrinsically evil. Therefore, one who would treat capital punishment and war as life issues equal to abortion and euthanasia cannot reasonably claim to have a properly formed conscience or to enjoy the support of authentic Catholic teaching. 


CONCLUSION 

We have been given a high calling. The challenge to be God’s People in the midst of the darkness of the world carries with it many questions and problems. But we have been set in the midst of God’s creation, illumined by the light of Christ, so that our light may shine brightly. What good is light if it does not illuminate the path? What sense would it make to light a lamp and cover it up (cf. Mt. 5:14-16)? No, the light of our faith must shine to transform the world, bringing it more and more into conformity with God’s plan. Therefore, though our high calling is not without problems, the proper response can never be to fail to engage the world. Rather, we must always work to do the Lord’s will here and now. 


My prayer is that these words of mine, insignificant though they may be, will be of help as we exercise our moral responsibilities in the upcoming elections. I firmly believe that my duty to you as your Pastor demands that I teach the Catholic Faith with clarity. Rest assured that my words are not intended to limit your freedom, but to help with the proper formation of conscience so that, evaluating the questions of our day, you may more joyfully choose the Truth, that it may set you free (cf. Jn. 8:31-32). 


Through the intercession of Holy Mary, who brought to light God’s own Son, I ask God’s blessings upon each of you and your families, and I assure you of a place in my prayers and a remembrance in the Holy Mass. 



Given at the parish of St. Peter, Guymon, Oklahoma, on this 3rd day of October, “Respect Life Sunday,” in the Year of Our Lord 2004. 




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