Polite Catholic Barbarians at the Obama Moment

What has troubled me so deeply about the upcoming presidential election is that for the American Catholic voter the November 4 choice really should be a “no-brainer”. We shouldn’t have to think that deeply about our obligation to use our vote to protect the unborn. It shouldn’t be this difficult! Neither party loyalty, nor social issue concerns, nor even a healthy Catholic concern for the common good should ever distract Americans from our most pressing and urgent focus — the abortion holocaust.

And yet we note calls to “deeply ponder” issues, “social justice” activists unjustly demoting abortion to the lower rank of the lesser socioeconomic issues, diocesan newspapers obscuring the Catholic obligation to put opposition to abortion first, and most disturbingly, parish-level seminars on the 2007 USCCB document Faithful Citizenship (FC) presented in such a way that pro-Obama Catholic attendees leave without changing allegiance.

Unfortunately while the misuse of FC to condone a vote against the unborn by over-emphasizing lesser social issues is a fact, yet the time has come to tell the sad truth about FC itself. The document itself is deeply flawed, and lends itself readily to the very kind of misuse that is at issue. Nowhere does it clearly and openly acknowledge that given the choice between pro-abortion and anti-abortion candidates, the Catholic voter is obliged to choose the anti-abortion candidate — he must always vote for and never against the unborn — no matter his party affiliation. Incredibly, at one point FC even repeats the slogan made so famous by Catholic rationalizers who have no stomach to fight abortion: Catholics are “not one-issue voters”!

baby-flag.jpgThese defects allow those predisposed to vote for Obama to rationalize either that Obama’s perceived other social “positives” are good enough to offset his abortion promotion, or that McCain’s corresponding “negatives” are sufficient to offset his abortion opposition. Neither of these rationalizations is sustainable from the Catholic position, because as the bishops and the Vatican have repeatedly said, policies promoting or condoning the large-scale killing of innocent human life are intrinsically, inherently, fundamentally, and grievously in violation of the most basic principles of justice, principles upon which the condemnation of all other injustices depends and from which the opposition to all other injustices receives its moral credibility and authority. Therefore a society failing to protect the most vulnerable (those most deserving of protection) is incapable of defending justice adequately in all other contexts, since in such a society claims to justice are only considered legitimate if made by those powerful enough to forcefully vindicate them (when one can’t get away with it), but are not respected when those deserving of such claims are completely defenseless (when one can get away with it).


The FC document itself reads as though it reluctantly must acknowledge that abortion is intrinsically immoral, but without the stomach for it. It reads like the reluctant statement of lifelong Catholic Democrats whose party loyalties constitute serious impediments to their not-so-well-developed pro-life sentiments. The correct nuances appear in the document — to the extent they appear at all — only in the form of strained and legalistic technically correct statements, statements nonetheless inappropriately wrenched from any adequate context. No cultural outsider reading FC could remotely even guess that we murder 1.5 million unborn children annually in America, a terribly urgent situation and a more prescient and sober background for conscience formation currently. In other words, either the document was deliberately crafted to create a mistaken overall impression despite a few technically correct “lip service” statements, (the more undesirable and cynical view), or it was a product of the reluctant and nouveau pro-life Catholic for whom being a Democrat has always been at least as important as being a Catholic. How sad in either case!

And the only logical motivation would be that of allowing an overall impression among FC readers favorable to Obama despite his abominable record of class warfare against the pre-born, support for genocide of the unborn, and terrorism in and out of the womb.

As an aside, I read recently that in Hitler’s time a secretly-Nazi candidate ran for President of Belgium (1936) and among other things the people mistakenly thought at first he was a saintly Catholic who would bring somewhat radical but “needed” social reforms not really desired by the “stodgy” local Belgian Church. The Vatican however apparently was informed about his secret Nazi identity, and that his frequent “retreats” were actually secret meetings with Hitler to continue to undermine the Church in Belgium, especially because the Church was seen as the only significant remaining cultural anti-Nazi resistance and Hitler secretly feared and wanted to suppress this resistance.

The amazing and perhaps shocking thing that happened next, especially for many modern American Catholics who think of the provisional practice of the clergy not endorsing or rejecting certain candidates as something dogmatic and irrevocable (imagine if we clung to the actual dogmas with such tenacity!), is that the reigning Cardinal archbishop of the time told the entire people of Belgium not to vote for this specific candidate, something that cost him the election and probably saved the country.

Catholics must not vote for Obama, and if this seems too simply put, the reader is invited to consider what it is, in the final analysis, that really separates civilized people from barbarians. Barbaric actions are what make barbaric people, and barbarians even come in the polite variety. There are those who would always make nice conversation, never say anything offensive, and never vote for any candidate in favor of slavery or suicide bombings, no matter how attractive the other aspects of their platforms, yet all the while employing a thousand forms of denial which allow them to turn the other way while the unborn are being dismembered and torn apart. How horribly we are treating our littlest and most defenseless of innocent brothers and sisters! Can anything worse be imagined? Would you vote for Obama if instead of being in favor of abortion he advocated slavery, yet had all the other policies you deem attractive? Then why can’t you see the injustice of abortion for what it is?

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