Catholic Voters and 2008

Are Douglas Kmiec and Father Michael Pfleger destined to be the representative Catholic voters of the election of 2008? It could be.

Kmiec is the California law professor with conservative, prolife credentials who early this year made a name for himself by publicly declaring his support for Sen. Barack Obama. The Democrat, Kmiec claimed (on what basis is unknown), could be counted on take a reasonable position on abortion.

Father Pfleger is the Chicago pastor who got his 15 minutes of fame during primary season by trashing Hillary Clinton from the pulpit of what was — up till then — Obama’s liberal Protestant church.

Different as they are in many ways, both men were early and vociferous Obama fans who spoke as Catholics.

While I question neither their sincerity nor their right as citizens to support whomever they wish, it’s impossible to ignore the real-life implications of their choice.

Professor Kmiec to the contrary notwithstanding, Obama is an aggressive abortion supporter who promises that as president he’d sign the notorious Freedom of Choice Act making abortion on demand a matter of federal law and who as a member the Illinois legislature opposed a measure requiring that efforts be made to save the lives of children born via botched abortions.

If elected, Obama says, he will nominate to the Supreme Court people who support Roe v. Wade, the court’s 1973 abortion decision. As a senator, he voted against confirming prolife Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito. For good measure, he opposes vouchers for parochial school parents and students and rejects amending the Constitution to bar legal recognition of same-sex marriage. And of course he promises “change.” Change indeed.

Can a Catholic vote in good conscience for someone who holds positions like these? Consider what the American bishops said in their pre-election document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, published last year:

A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil….

There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.

That leaves a small loophole — the possibility that someone might vote for a pro-choice candidate for a proportionate reason outweighing the evil of abortion. But the loophole was effectively closed by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver. Mulling the question of what might qualify as a “proportionate” reason in a case like the present one, he simply said he couldn’t think of anything that would outweigh the grave moral obligation to work for an end to the evil of legalized abortion that has poisoned American life for over 30 years.

I can think of no better advice for Catholics weighing their choices in this election who truly want to do the right thing than to read-carefully and prayerfully — the American bishops’ document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship and, if they have time, Archbishop Chaput’s admirable new book on Catholics and politics, Render Unto Caesar.

The first, which is available in English and Spanish, can be ordered from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at 1-800-235-8722. Archbishop Chaput’s book is published by Doubleday and available in bookstores and at online outlets.

Russell Shaw


Russell Shaw is a freelance writer from Washington, D.C. You can email him at

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  • Thanks be to God for shepherds like Archbishop Chaput. “Faithful Citizenship” is so obviously written by committee that it is almost impossible to use for anyone who is not well catechized…and too easily misused by someone looking for an excuse to vote for Obama because they don’t like Bush.

    I’d love to have a choice in this election…but there isn’t one. Sen Obama is the most anti-life, anti-family, anti-woman, and pro-marxist candidate we’ve had since…well I don’t know when.

    God save the Republic.

  • Grace Harman

    We, the American people stand where the German people (of the weakened Weimar Republic) stood when Hitler was promising “hope and power – by a Super-Race” (after a terrible time of out of control inflation). Hitler’s promise of change was believed and his agenda of screening out “useless eaters and unwanted” was accepted by the voters. People looked the other way as neighbors and relatives were carried off to the gas chambers. it was a reign-of-terror that threatened religions, races, and aged or handicapped.
    Obama targets the unborn and (even born-alive-as a threat to RoeV.Wade) and by extension those who would be screened out in rationed “Health-care”. Obama listened -for many years- to his pastor, who preached hatred of whites- until he realized this would work against his election chances. only then was Wright publically rejected. Both Obama and his wife have spoken against our nation. This is not a good attitude for a future president.
    Obama, also as Hitler did, carries hatred and prejudice, and an anti-life mindset. If elected he promises to promote both abortion and “gay” marriage which are against the teachings of the Church and God’s laws as well. If America chooses him, America will not be blessed by God -or the world, and it will usher in a satanic reign of terror here as well.

  • SolaGratia

    When one looks at what Obama has done as opposed to what he says, it is transparently obvious what we can look forward to if he is elected president. Those who believe otherwise are clearly engaging in wishful thinking rather than reality.

  • novusordoseclorum

    Back during the primaries I wasn’t too impressed with McCain but now that I have to compare him to Obama, McCain looks wonderful.

  • Cooky642

    I have to agree with novusordoseclorum: In the primaries, I would have voted for anyone BUT John McCain (we had recently moved and our timing was “untimely”: I couldn’t vote here and couldn’t get back to my previous home, either). With either Mr. Obama or Mrs. Clinton as the Democratic nominee, I’d have had to vote Republican. I’m still not convinced that Sen. McCain can be trusted, but I’m SURE that Mr. Obama can’t. This is a “lesser of 2 evils” election.

    As for Prof. Kmiec and Fr. Phleger, they will have to answer to God for their choices, as will I. However, any respect I might have had for them is gone.

  • Social Justice

    I am so sorry that the Church is taking the position of judging our candidates on the issues of abortion and gay marriages. I do not advocate neither of these but I look at what has evolved over the past 7 plus years of the Bush administration, the Republican congress and senate and the very conservative Supreme Court. All of these failed to take a position other than give us lip service about abortion. Our society is riddled with greed promoted by these so called righteous religious panderers. Look at the poor as they get poorer and ignored by these pandereers. We have lost jobs and the rights of the workers are being stripped.

    Also we have loss funding to help our needy brethren and to educate them. Discrimination is now the law of the land especially against our brethren who are illegal. This so called Republican party abuses these illegal workers for their own gain and then tell us that we are wasting our taxes for their health and welfare. What hypocrisy? I know of one Catholic Republican Congress Person in this diocese who blatantly expressed outright discrimination in the questionnaire mailed out the constituents.

    Speaking of funding to take care of the parents who brought children into this world, there is less than ever and continue to be cut for the enrichment of the wealthy. Is the Church that naive?

    Where is the Church now on Social Justice? I think it has lost its way. I do not see the so called conscience of the church when it comes to those who advocate the care of humanity – the children of God. Actions speak louder than words (lip service.)

    God help the Church when it advocates voting in good conscience for candidates pandering us and do nothing or any good for the welfare of humanity and the children of God. I hate bringing it up the Church’s bad choice for the 7 years of the Bush administration that promote greed. It was obvious of Bush’s and the Republicans’ intent prior to each election.

    I say let God be the judge, not the Church, for the acts that Sen Clinton, Sen. Obama, and Sen Kerry who allow abortion to stand. We need to take care of the children of God. We need to stop being greedy and selfish.

  • mkochan

    The unborn are the chilren of God and they are the poorest of us all. Do you know of a single unborn baby who owns anything?

    It is the Democrats who continue to oppose school vouchers to give poor parents the power and funds to make good school choices for their children.

    Social justice does not equal wealth redistribution by the government.

    CE is not “the Church”.

    Abortion is the paramount issue and the Church is right to advocate an end to it. And those who vote pro-life are not being greedy and selfish.

  • I often hear that “Bush has done nothing for the pro-life movement.” In fact, Bush has appointed conservative Supreme Court justices who (we think) do not agree with Roe. Then there is the partial birth abortion ban that Bush signed which Clinton had vetoed how many times? I can almost guarantee you that if we had Kerry in office, we would have had more liberal justices and another veto on partial birth abortion. Even if Bush hasn’t made all our dreams come true, he has shown integrity in his pro-life convictions.

  • Makis Chrysafi

    RE: Social Justice: I’ll admit the Republican Party should have done much more — and much different — in terms of immigration law reform, how we treat illegal alien workers, corporate greed, the birthrights of children born in the United States and a whole host of other social issues.

    However … I half suspect that Social Justice might be an abortion rights supporter trying to distract faithful Catholics away from what is truly important. All of us as members of this larger culture should protect the God-given right to life (first), liberty (second), and the pursuit of happiness (third), then generously support mothers and their unborn children and encourage those elements in society that strive to teach and encourage faith, virtue and holiness.

    Catholics are forced to make unpleasant choices among imperfect political parties and candidates. But if I am not allowed to vote my well-formed Catholic conscience, then I am not allowed to do what I know to be good, holy and just AND I AM NOT FREE. Just because I vote for pro-life, pro-family political parties and candidates does not mean I am for the inhumane treatment of the poor and corporate greed. Moving the Democratic Party to be pro-life and pro-family is infinitely more difficult than to move the Republic Party to be more socially just. Look at the party platform!

    To Social Justice, I ask: If we get to your brand of social justice through eliminating all inconvenient (unwanted) children through abortion, euthanizing our elders, undermining the family and legalizing immoral and unnatural behavior in the name of liberty, haven’t we lost it all?

  • Grace Harman

    My break with the Democratic Party came when Geraldine Ferrero announced that if her teenage daughter became pregnant, she would arrange an abortion for her own grandchild. Having suffered several miscarriages, I saw pre-born babies as real children -not “blobs of tissue” whose loss was to be “gotten over” quickly. I felt that abortion is an act of murder (as the Chuech teaches) and I had once held in my hand a 5 week pre-born baby that had finger and toe buds and a human appearance though only about 1/2 inch in length.)I knew the “blob of tissue” claim was a lie, so could not accept the idea that abortion was a “right” after that.
    Life is sacred, and must be protected. Marriage and real families are the foundation of society and that must be protected too. As Catholics we need to motivate both parties to support these truths, not cave in to an increasinly anti-life and anti- Christian U.N. agenda.

  • fw1952

    Social Justice brings out some good points but misses the essence of abortion.
    1. The Church teaches us that we must care for the poor. As other posters have written, unborn children are the most needy of all. They absolutely must rely on others for their very existence. They can’t get jobs, better their education, work overtime, etc. They must rely on others. They are, indeed the most needy.

    2. Senior citizens rely on Social Security in their later years. We have killed 45,000,000 potential wage earners and eliminated any chance of their procreation, creating a loss of probably 80,000,000 other potential wage earners. These 120,000,000 would be paying Social Security taxes today. When Roosevelt first started Social Security, their were over 20 people paying the tax for every recipient. Today the number is 4, and within 20 years it will be 2. Another negative effect of abortion.

    3. Immigration- We are right to be concerned about illegal immigration in which every illegal immigrant commits a felony by being here. But the other side of the story is that because of abortion, we just don’t have a sufficient number of workers to man the restaurants and other small businesses that need lower paid workers (ie: students, etc.) Thus, closing the borders could have negative effects on these small businesses. One resolution to the lack of help is to increase wages paid in order to attract decent help. This in itself is inflationary.

    4. Taxes-As a result of abortion, health care costs have increased by approximately $1,000,000,000 per year. And if justify abortion, then why not reject Church teachings on artificial contraception? In the 1980’s the Supreme Court upheld Roe Vs. Wade by saying that when contraception fails, a woman needs to have the ultimate resolution, abortion. Add artificial contraception to health care costs, and now the expense soars to many billions of dollars per years.

    5. If we accept abortion and artificial contraception, then we accept that sexual activity is mostly about pleasure and not procreation. Then why not allow homosexual marriage? And if we review Humanae Vitae (sp), we will see that the Holy Father argued that if the use of artificial contraception became widespread, then adultery would soar and as a result, the divorce rate would soar. No one would argue that his warnings have not materialized. Also, he said that abortion numbers would dramatically increase. But 1,200,000 per year, in this country alone.

    6. Racism-We have made incredible progress in the fight against racism. But blacks constitute 12% of the American population but represent 33% of all abortions. We are killing black children at about 3 times what their numbers represent. And recently, their is discussion as to why many Planned Parenthood centers are located in minority neighborhoods. I guess it’s the Sanger legacy.

    7. Women’s rights-Often it is argued that abortion is neccessary to improve the lives of women. But since abortion kills over 600,000 young girls, how exactly does the plight of women improve as a result of the death of this many young women?

    Catholics who vote pro-life are often accused of being single issue voters, but an analysis of this issue indicates the residual effects of this moral evil, effects which touch the lives of every American citizen, negatively.

  • I weary of the “what has he done but talk” argument…the laundry list of Bush Administration policies restricting abortion is too long to list here, but the link here ( which is left over from the 2004 campaign and therefore a little dated, gives the list and the sources.

    I also hate the idea that if I place one issue ahead of the others, I’m a “single issue voter”. Hogwash. I care about the rest of the social teaching of the Church, but for Pete’s sake…innocent children are dying and women are being scarred through abortion. On top of that, Western civilization is being gutted of talent and dignity due to our 40 year “sex binge”.

    The Leftists may yet win the Cold War…the final battles will be fought at the ballot box and the OB-GYN clincs.

    Get married. Make babies. If not because it’s God’s way, then at least out of self preservation for our country and the West.

  • jayreilly

    We do have a choice! While most people believe this country is only an two-political-party nation, we are not. In truth,there are much more than the major party candidates to choose from. If enough Catholics and other people give their vote to a truly pro-life and Catholic candidate, maybe we can break the hold the Dems and GOPs have had on the political landscape of our Country.

    I am planning on casting my vote for president this November for Alan Keyes ( I urge alll of you to do the same and tell all your friends about Alan Keyes.