“And What I Have Failed To Do…”

What's this I hear from some people that they might "sit out" the Presidential election because they aren't comfortable with the likely choice of candidates?

Since when are elections supposed to make us "comfortable?" Since when do we exercise that right to vote, for which people fought and died, only when it's easy and clear-cut, and our choices are just the way we want them to be?

At Mass we pray, "I confess to Almighty God…that I have sinned…in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do…"

What we fail to do can make us just as guilty as what we do. A sin is a wrong choice, and to decide not to do something is just as much of a choice as to decide to do something.

A sin of omission is still a sin – and we are still responsible for the results.

What, then, makes us think that we are more responsible for the results of voting than for the results of not voting?

A vote is not a philosophical statement. It is a transfer of power. It is a pragmatic act to preserve, as much as possible under the circumstances, the common good, and to limit the evils that threaten it.

And in the pragmatic matter of elections, what matters is not how closely a candidate measures up to my preferences and convictions. Instead, it's a question of who can and will actually get elected. It does little good if the person I felt most comfortable supporting doesn't get to actually govern and implement those positions I like so much.

The vote can be used just as much to keep someone out of office as to put someone in.

If we fail to use that tool, however, and as a result the person who gets elected is far worse and does far more damage than the other person we did not like, then we still share responsibility for the damage that will be done.

Elections have seasons. In the earliest phases, the field is wide open. We can recruit candidates, or decide to run ourselves. We build up the name recognition and base of support for the person or people who would make the best candidate. This takes years of work.

Then the season of primaries arrives, during which voters choose between the candidates who have been recruited and who have been building up their strength.

Then the general election season arrives, and we may find that we don't like any of the names on the ballot. At that point, we have to shift our thinking and focus on "better" rather than "best." The reality usually is that one of several unsatisfactory candidates will in fact be elected. So we use our vote to create the better outcome and to limit the damage. That's the shift that some fail to make.

And we are still responsible for what we fail to do.

Fr. Frank Pavone


Father Frank A. Pavone is an American Roman Catholic priest and pro-life activist. He is the National Director of Priests for Life and serves as the Chairman and Pastoral Director of Rachel's Vineyard.

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  • Guest

    God bless you, Father Pavone!  Amen, amen!

    Many are not aware that our Catechism #2240 tells us that we have a moral obligation to vote.  This article is a beautiful explanation of why that is so!


    Vote for Huckabee and a brokered convention!  Most of all pray for our country & our leaders – if you're criticizing them, you have an even greater obligation to pray for them!

  • Guest

    Yes! A vote for a person in opposition to abortion is a must. If this election runs close, your vote can be a matter of life and death for millions, and possibly for the sovereignty of our nation as well. 

       Election of a President is not a popularity contest or a beauty pagent. It's about who will protect our nation -from invasion, economic disaster, or destruction from within, on a moral level too. If you can't trust someone to protect babies, they won't protect any other group either – especially if it involves pressure from money and power.  The U.N. has an evil agenda and we must not make ourselves subject to it either.       gmstmh

  • Guest

     Thanks Father.

    This is from CNS  I forwarded it to all my contacts.  I hope it helps those on the fence. 

    Obama pledged to Planned Parenthood: "I will not yield" to pro-life concerns 

    Washington DC, February 28 (CNA).-On Wednesday a full transcript of Democrat presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama's July 2007 speech to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund in which he vigorously defended legalized abortion became available. 

    In the July 17 speech, Obama attacked the Supreme Court decision that upheld the federal partial-birth abortion ban and the nomination of Supreme Court justices who favor overturning Roe v. Wade.  In the speech the senator said, "There will always be people, many of goodwill, who do not share my view on the issue of choice. On this fundamental issue, I will not yield and Planned Parenthood will not yield."

    Obama based his speech around the question, "What kind of America will our daughters grow up in?" 

    He specifically argued against the Supreme Court decision Gonzales v. Carhart, which upheld restrictions on partial-birth abortion. 

    "For the first time in Gonzales versus Carhart," Obama said, "the Supreme Court held—upheld a federal ban on abortions with criminal penalties for doctors. For the first time, the Court's endorsed an abortion restriction without an exception for women's health. The decision presumed that the health of women is best protected by the Court—not by doctors and not by the woman herself. That presumption is wrong."

    He warned abortion supporters that the partial-birth abortion ban should not be construed as an isolated effort, saying it was wrong to presume the law was "not part of a concerted effort to roll back the hard-won rights of American women."

    Obama said the decision had encouraged an Alabama lawmaker to introduce a measure to ban all abortions. "With one more vacancy on the Court, we could be looking at a majority hostile to a woman's fundamental right to choose for the first time since Roe versus Wade and that is what is at stake in this election," Obama claimed.

    The senator said he had a long tradition of support for legalized abortion, citing his efforts in the Illinois State Senate and his classes as a law professor.  "I have worked on these issues for decades now," he said.  "I put Roe at the center of my lesson plan on reproductive freedom when I taught Constitutional Law. Not simply as a case about privacy but as part of the broader struggle for women's equality."

    The dissent of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in Gonzales v. Carhart won praise from Obama while Justice Anthony Kennedy, who spoke for the majority, was held up for ridicule.
    "The only thing more disturbing than the decision was the rationale of the majority. Without any hard evidence, Justice Kennedy proclaimed, 'It is self-evident that a woman would regret her choice.' He cited medical uncertainty about the need to protect the health of pregnant women. Even though the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found no such uncertainty. Justice Kennedy knows many things, my understanding is he does not know how to be a doctor," Obama said.

    On the topic of judicial appointments, Obama reaffirmed his opposition to the confirmation of Supreme Court Justices Roberts and Alito, who are believed to be hostile to the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

    Obama also depicted his opponents as divisive, saying, "They want us to believe that there's nothing that unites us as Americans—there's only what divides us. They'll seek out the narrowest and most divisive ground."

    Senator Obama said he was "absolutely convinced that culture wars are so nineties," saying it was "time to turn the page." 

    "We're tired about arguing about the same ole' stuff," he continued.  And I am convinced we can win that argument. If the argument is narrow, then oftentimes we lose."

    He said abortion advocates should emphasize their support for women to have the "same chances" as men.

    Laura Echevarria, the political writer and former National Right to Life Committee spokeswoman who transcribed the July speech, criticized Obama's remarks. 

    "Many Americans see Barack Obama as a kind and compassionate candidate," she said. "However, Mr. Obama's compassion does not extend to our most vulnerable members of society- -unborn children."

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  • Guest

    There still remains a very viable candidate during this primary season for Catholics, his name is Mike Huckabee. He is 100% pro-life and is cvalling for a federal Marriage Ammendment that would strengthen traditional marriage in the United States. Mike has a real chance to prevent John McCain from gaining 1191 pledged delegates before the convention. If that happens, then it becomes a brokered convention where all of the delegates are free to vote for any remaining candidate. Mike Huckabee can still win.


    A vote for Huckabee is a vote for life.



  • Guest

    Great point Father, generally. I don't think however that there will be many confessions made on how we failed to vote. The Democrats are filled with perverted hope and the Republicans are filled with disgust.

    Let's see what else develops but my Christian conscience will let me sleep if I neglect the top lever. It certainly won't be out of apathy, indifference or laziness, then it would be a sin.

    Many think it was the right choice to enlist Stalin's help to stop Hitler. I'm not one of 'em.

  • Guest

    McCain's hands are not clean on the issue of nascent human life. He favors embryonic stem cell research and he favors using Federal dollars (my money and yours) to fund it.

    Unrepentant, self serving experimentation on and destruction of fellow brothers and sisters will destroy Dr Jekyll and his lab assistants.

    Perhaps Mr McCain is more dangerous than an overt pro abort like Obama precisely because Mr McCain supports the insidious evil of human embryo research which involves killing the person. This research is a poisonous gas that flows throughout society, silently smothering souls. McCain must be opposed, not supported.


    Regarding "fence sitters" in my first post.  I was referring to folks who like the "folksy" wordsmith Obama.  His rhetoric will form a noose around the necks of those lured in. 

  • Guest

    Ya know, if Obama or Hillary happen to take this election because many stay home, not voting, citing no perfect candidate, I will expect to hear no complaints from those folks when homosexuality, abortion, and embryonic research go full steam ahead with preferential treatment and our tax payer dollars.

    If we can see absolute carnage coming and we don't have the ability to stop it but lessen it, we are obliged to lessen it.

    Heaven help us!! 

  • Guest

    One thinking is that if Obama (dare I speak his name) got in then the forces of good would mobilize and wage a bloody war. If McCain got in then the forces would languish in confusion.

    This one is going to require more analysis and more prayer than we want to dedicate.

    This is not yet a run-away train, elkabrikir, but it has the real potential to be.

  • Guest

    wgsullivan: I'll combine your "full steam ahead" phrase with

    goral's Many think it was the right choice to enlist Stalin's help to stop Hitler. I'm not one of 'em.

    Hitler's steam trains traveled to Auschwitz, Stalins steam trains chuffed to Siberia. Both destinations equaled death sentences for many.

    My point is, McCain may appear as an ally with regard to life issues but his underpinning beliefs are inconsistent. (Either life begins at conception and is to be protected or it is not.) Further, he is a big government guy which will only lead to more intrusions into religious freedoms.

    Red cabooses attached to the end of a train signify a complete train versus just a stack of cars. I, as a Little Red Caboose, won't give the "engine" legitimacy or allow myself to be dragged into a death camp.


    (Because this article is about abortion, I'm limiting my thoughts regarding McCain to that issue. He is weak in many other areas as well, in my opionion.)

    Thank you for the productive dialog. We must work through these issues together as Catholics and Americans.

    PS I reposted because of a typo that bothered me.  This should be ordered after wgsullivan.sorry 

  • Guest


    It is true McCain has supported funding of HESCR in the past. That is wrong. But to dismiss him in favor of a Clinton or Obama because they are less "dangerous" is whistling past the graveyard if you believe withholding support for John McCain in November would somehow not make much of a difference. Either of the two Democratic frontrunners pose great danger to the moral fabric of this country up and down the scale.

     Not only would their policies not help the cause of human life at the embryonic level (massive HESCR funding from a Clinton or Obama administration is a given), but with both houses of the U.S. Congress in the Dem camp (with the real possiblilty that their voting majority may widen) the next four years would prove to be an undending nightmare for those of us on the front lines of defending unborn life. Everything from Supreme Court nominees (pro-Roe, and quickly confirmed) to Federal Appeals Court judgeships (Congress is now deadlocked over dozens of Bush appointees. That would change with Dem president nominees) to cabinet-level appointments (I hear echoes of "getting over [our] love affair with the fetus" uttered by a previous Clinton cabinet member), not to mention tens of millions in foreign "aid" to fund the export of abortion "missionaries" overseas to "assist" women with "reproductive services." Click on the link below to read the Clinton laundry list of outrages we can expect were she elected:


    If there is a silver lining around Senator McCain's dark cloud it would be Senator Sam Brownback's recent discussions with John McCain on the subject of HESCR. According to Brownback, McCain's previous support of such may be wavering. Let's hope those discussions continue.


    I for one do not intend to stand by and see what few barriers are now in place protecting unborn life (Mexico City policy, no fed funding for military base abortions, etc) torn down by an Oval Office sock puppet for George "Project Death" Soros (Obama), or the gal the militant pro-aborts are raving about. If we can expect McCain to "chastise [this country] with whips," you can bet your life Clinton or Obama will "chastise [this country] with scorpions."

  • Guest

    Valid, perceptive supporters of God’s gift of life recognize many fundamentals that others miss. An enumeration of some of these fundamentals follows.

    1. In our political system of checks and balance, no single elected official imposes, nor can quell a national culture of death. That culture is sustained through deliberate collaboration of multiple agents, at multiple levels, both within and outside of government. Politics, however, is the lynchpin by which that culture was imposed initially through government, and is continually maintained thereby.

    2. Accordingly, certain realities present themselves very clearly. The following seem such.

    3. Restricting one’s life-supporting aspirations to just electing a president isn’t enlightened thinking.

    4. Waiting till election day to "send a message" isn’t, either.

    5. Candidates for all political offices at all levels need be made aware, early, of constituent resolve.

    6. Such resolve need be consistent with moral convictions that guide individuals’ lives.

    7. Whether well observed or not, the Ten Commandments fill that purpose in the lives of most.

    8. God’s Great Commandment "Love God .. Love your neighbor as yourself" underlies the Ten.

    9. Innocent, defenseless human beings in the womb are our neighbors.

    10. Mothers of these unborn are our neighbors, too. Yet they occupy a uniquely precarious status.

    11. As the agent legally free to order her baby killed, she’s vulnerable to 3rd-party pressures to do so!

    12. Back to #8, above. At a minimum, "to Love" is to care about and help a neighbor in need.

    13. (Well numbered?). God isn’t likely to forget those who won’t love neighbors with a simple vote!

    14. Perenially, 50% of all eligible to vote fail to do so, allowing 3,000 human beings killed each day!

    15. Others ignore the abortion-facilitating actions of candidates, voting for them for other reasons!

    16. Assuming God’s records are pretty good, those related to His Great Commandment surely are.

    17. Eternity’s a long time for anyone to pay for election day indifference (lack of caring) to neighbors.

    18 . Pro-life groups need put these ideas as 1st priority, aided by clergys’ teaching obligations to Love.

    19. Learning well God’s intent expressed in #8, citizens need actively initiate #s 3, 4 & 5 pronto!


    Peace,        Jakes

  • Guest

    I just read a voter guide on the 3 Republican front runners. Huckabee is out in front of both McCain and Paul on all life issues as well as protecting traditional marriage.   gmstmh

  • Guest

    Dennis:  it would be good if McCain publicly stated his "evolving stance" on embryonic research.

    And, I do agree that the Democrats are an horrific pair.


  • Guest


    I respectfully request that you reconsider your position.  First, we are not yet a point where we have to choose between broken glass and rusty nails.  The primaries are still on, the field has narrowed but the leading candidates have not yet been chosen.  I encourage you and all Christians of good will to inform their consciences and vote for the candidate they determine to best embody virtue and holiness.

    If you know nothing about Mike Huckabee, please do check him out, view his videos, read his positions on key issues, examine his track record.  He is far from broken glass or rusty nails.  If you find, as I have, that he best embodies those qualities that would make him a compassionate and virtuous leader, please support him while you can, before it is too late.

    Before we have a glass-or-nails choice.

    And don't forget to pray for him.  Pray as if everything depends on God, and work as if everything depends on you.

    May God richly bless you in his mercy and love.


  • Guest

    In my post of 2/29/8 I should have inserted the following as Item 8a:

    8a     Persistently and actively collaborating with associates, "smoke out" publicly, all candidates' truly held positions on Love of neighbors in the womb and the mothers who bear them.

    Peace,        Jakes


  • Guest

    I beg forgiveness for my apparent mistake in an earlier post. 

    Bottom line.  I prefer Huckabee but he most likely won't be a choice.  If McCain wins the primary and loses the general there will be many more innocent children and elderly die.  Those that choose to stay home and not vote I trust will pray hard for the souls of the added victims.  It may have been their votes that could have slowed the blood flow. 

    I still expect to not hear a peep from those that stay home if Obama or Hillary take the win.  You gave up your right to complain when you gave up your right to vote. 


  • Guest

    Thank you for calling our attention to Obama's remarks, elkabrikir!  I knew he was a pro-choice extremist from his opposition to the Illinois born-alive infants protection act, but this article shows how deeply committed he is to the whole cause personally.  

  • Guest

    Dear father,

    i am 15 and me and my boy-friend think that i might be pregnant. what can i do?