Sunday, October 19, 2008

An Open Letter to Catholics Voting for Obama

You go against your faith when you vote for Obama. Pure and simple. You have every right to do that. But don't pretend that you can be a faithful Catholic and vote for a pro-abortion candidate. This isn't my opinion. This is Church teaching. If you feel that it is equal in faith to be against someone for being a pro death penalty and pro war candidate, it isn't. But even it were, with Obama you have chosen the wrong candidate as well. More on that in a bit.

The difference in all those issues for a Catholic though, is put best by Bishop Chaput of Colorado:

Faithful Catholics want to live their faith fully — and one of the principles of Catholic social teaching is that we can never deliberately kill innocent human life. Abortion always, deliberately kills an innocent unborn child. Nobody can honestly claim to be a faithful Catholic and then support a false “right” to abortion; it’s just an elegant way of evading the brutality of what abortion actually does.

But what about killing in war and the death penalty, you ask? Bishop Chaput says this:

I’ve written and spoken against the death penalty for more than 30 years. And along with most other American bishops, I opposed our intervention in Iraq. But these issues are different in kind, not merely degree, from the violence involved in abortion. Anyone rooted in Scripture and Catholic tradition will understand the distinction if he or she reasons honestly. Genocide, euthanasia, abortion, and deliberately targeting civilians in war — these things are always grievously wrong. But in Catholic thought, war and capital punishment can be morally legitimate under certain carefully defined circumstances. Abortion is never morally justified.

The Bishops of Dallas and Fort Worth issued a joint document concerning Catholic's political responsiblities. It said in part:

"There are no ‘truly grave moral’ or ‘proportionate’ reasons, singularly or combined, that could outweigh the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by legal abortion each year.”

But let us be clear: issues of prudential judgment are not morally equivalent to issues involving intrinsic evils. No matter how right a given candidate is on any of these issues, it does not outweigh a candidate's unacceptable position in favor of an intrinsic evil such as abortion or the protection of "abortion rights."

To vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or "abortion rights" when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in the evil - and, therefore, morally impermissible.

These statements do not tell the faithful who to vote for. You are, of course, free to vote for whoever you wish. They are made to clarify Church teaching because there has been such confusion on these issues.

Now, for many of you, you imagine that the war takes precedence. You loathe war and feel that being against that is equivalent to being against abortion, so that justifies your vote. It doesn't. Our faith teaches that abortion is always an "intrinsic evil." But you fool yourself in thinking that Obama is against war. He was against the Iraq war, but not war. In fact, he is ready to go into Afghanistan in a big way and Pakistan:

When I am President, we will wage the war that has to be won, with a comprehensive strategy with five elements: getting out of Iraq and on to the right battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan; developing the capabilities and partnerships we need to take out the terrorists and the world's most deadly weapons.

In July Obama said that he wanted to send two more brigades, or some 7,000 US troops, to Afghanistan. So if it is that "killing" thing that bothers you about war and you are using that as an excuse to vote for Obama as a Catholic, I am here to tell you that there will be killing on the battlefield of Afghanistan and Pakistan because that is what happens in war.

Maybe the death penalty bothers you as a Catholic? Obama is for that as well:

"I believe the death penalty is appropriate in certain circumstances."

Many of you have tried to dismiss Obama's radical view on abortion by saying there are other issues for Catholics, like war and the death penalty, but Obama is wrong on those issues as well.

Maybe the immigration issue is one that you feel as a Catholic we need to address with compassion. McCain went against many of his own party to craft immigration reform that shows compassion for illegal immigrants just trying for a better life here with a temporary worker program and a path to citizenship. McCain said this about his own party this year:

"We have to address this issue with compassion and love, because these are human beings. I think some of the rhetoric that many Hispanics hear about illegal immigration makes some of them believe that we are not in favor of or seek the support of Hispanic citizens in this country,"

And this about illegal immigrants:

"We need to sit down as Americans and recognize these are God's children as well. And they need some protection under the law; they need some of our love and compassion."

Maybe being a good steward of our earth is your issue. McCain went against many of his own party there as well with Climate Change in the forefront as an issue by promising to "establish a market-based system to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, mobilize innovative technologies, and strengthen the economy."

So if the horror and evil of abortion doesn't bother you enough as a Catholic to vote for McCain, then you have to ask yourself about the other issues that matter to you. Because in Catholic faith and tradition, Obama loses there as well.

As one of our Deacons said in the homily at Church today, you can't say "I'm personally opposed to child abuse, but if my neighbor does it, that it his choice."

The same is true of abortion.

It took almost 100 years to end the law that allowed slavery. We have fought long good fights before and won. Don't tell yourself that things will never change. They can. If we just keep fighting the good fight and vote as the good Catholics we are.