Catholics & the 2004 Presidential Election - Collected Readings & Resources


Thursday, April 15, 2004

How to tell a duck from a fox  

Posted by Jeff Miller at 9:30 AM

This column by Archbishop Chaput titled "How to tell a duck from a fox" is just too good not to post the whole thing:

Thinking with the Church as we look toward November

"If it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it's probably a duck. A fox can claim to be a duck all day long. But he's still a fox."

We've all heard that saying, or some version of it, a thousand times. The reason is simple: It's true. Our actions prove who we are. If a gulf exists between what we say, how we look and what we do, we're not living in a spirit of truth. A fox, even if he quacks, is still a fox. Sooner or later, it becomes obvious.

I remembered this last week as I read yet another news report about candidates who claim to be Catholic and then prominently ignore their own faith on matters of public policy. We've come a long way from John F. Kennedy, who merely locked his faith in the closet. Now we have Catholic senators who take pride in arguing for legislation that threatens and destroys life -- and who then also take Communion.

The kindest explanation for this sort of behavior is that a lot of Catholic candidates don't know their own faith. And that's why, in a spirit of charity, the Holy See offered its guidance and encouragement in a little document last year On Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Public Life.

Nothing in this Roman document is new. But it offers a vision of public service filled with common sense.

First, quoting John Paul II, it reminds us that, "man cannot be separated from God, nor politics from morality." In other words, unless our personal faith shapes our public choices and actions, it's just a pious delusion. Private faith, if it's genuine, always becomes public witness -- including political witness.

Second, while Christians "must recognize the legitimacy of differing points of view about the organization of worldly affairs," they are also "called to reject, as injurious to democratic life, a conception of pluralism that reflects moral relativism." Appeals to a phony definition of pluralism and tolerance can never excuse inaction in the face of grave evil -- including attacks on the sanctity of life. Catholics can only ensure real pluralism by "living and acting in conformity" with their religious convictions so that, "through political life, society will become more just and more consistent with the dignity of the human person."

Third, "(democracy) only succeeds to the extent that it is based on a correct understanding of the human person." Catholic lawmakers who do not vigorously seek to protect human dignity and the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death are not serving democracy. They are betraying it.

Fourth, "those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a `grave and clear obligation to oppose' any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them." Politics is the exercise of power. Power always has moral implications. And God will hold each of us accountable -- from the average voter to senators and presidents -- for how well we have used our political power to serve the common good and the human person.

"Pro-choice" candidates who claim to be Catholic bring all of us to a crossroads in this election year. Many Catholics, including some Church leaders, argue that "(we) should not limit (our) concern to one issue, no matter how fundamental that issue is." That's true -- but it can also be misleading.

Catholics have a duty to work tirelessly for human dignity at every stage of life, and to demand the same of their lawmakers. But some issues are jugular. Some issues take priority. Abortion, immigration law, international trade policy, the death penalty and housing for the poor are all vitally important issues. But no amount of calculating can make them equal in gravity.

The right to life comes first. It precedes and undergirds every other social issue or group of issues. This is why Blessed John XXIII listed it as the first human right in his great encyclical on world peace, Pacem in Terris. And as the U.S. bishops stressed in their 1998 pastoral letter Living the Gospel of Life, the right to life is the foundation of every other right.

The humorist James Thurber once wrote that "you can fool too many of the people too much of the time." Our job as Catholics this election year -- if we're serious about our faith -- is to not get fooled.

Candidates who claim to be "Catholic" but who publicly ignore Catholic teaching about the sanctity of human life are offering a dishonest public witness. They may try to look Catholic and sound Catholic, but unless they act Catholic in their public service and political choices, they're really a very different kind of creature.

And real Catholics should vote accordingly.


Ongoing commentary by the editors of CatholicKerryWatch


Sen. John Kerry stands with Kate Michelman (right) President of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Since 1995, Michelman's group has given Kerry a 100% rating for his voting record to defend abortion.

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Contributing Editors:

Oswald Sobrino of
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Earl E. Appleby of
Times Against Humanity

Jeff Miller of
The Curt Jester

Jamie
Ad Limina Apostolorum

Christopher Blosser of
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Ad Limina Apostolorum
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Organizations

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News Resources

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Kerry Communion Watch @ Beliefnet.com

The Candidates on Abortion: Where do they stand?

Documentation

LifeIssues.Net

Periodicals

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Related Documents & Articles

Worthiness To Recieve Communion: General Principles
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Evangelium Vitae
Pope John Paul II

Worthy to Receive the Lamb: Catholics in Political Life and the Reception of Holy Communion, from Archbishop Donoghue (Atlanta, GA), Bishop Baker (Charleston, SC) and Bishop Jugis (Charlotte, NC).
August 4, 2004

Catholics in Political Life U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. June 7, 2004.

Catholic Politicians and Bishops. By Most Rev. Raymond L. Burke, Archbishop of St. Louis. America June 21-28, 2004.

A Time For Honesty, Pastoral Statement by The Most Reverend John J. Myers, Archbishop of Newark. May 5, 2004.

Why Communion Could Be Denied to Anti-Life Legislators. Interview with Father Thomas Williams, dean of the School of Theology of the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum.

Why Don't Catholic Politicians Practice What the Catholic Church Preaches?, by Judie Brown. Washington Dispatch April 19, 2004.

How to tell a Duck from a Fox: Thinking with the Church as we look toward November, by Archbishop Chaput. Denver Catholic Register April 14, 2004.

On the Dignity of Human Life and Civic Responsibility, a Pastoral Letter by La Crosse Bishop Raymond L. Burke.

Blood On Their Hands: Exposing Pro-abortion Catholic Politicians, by Mark Stricherz. Crisis May 2003.

The Failure of Catholic Political Leadership, by Robert P. George & William E. Saunders. Crisis 18, No. 4 (April 2000).

Denying Holy Communion: A Case History, by Bishop Emeritus Rene Henry Gracida. [PDF Format].

Ten questions regarding the denial of the Eucharist, by Barbara Kralis.

Recommmended Reading

John Kerry, Abortion and the Catholic Church

Irreconcilable Differences", by Matthew Mehan. NRO Sept. 16, 2004.

John Courtney Murray and the 'Liberal Catholic' Justification of Abortion Investigative report by Christopher Blosser. August 30, 2004.

"Please answer the question, Senator Kerry", The Mighty Barrister. August 2, 2004.

You wouldn't even ask. Fr. Pavone (Priests for Life). July 2004.

Kerry isn't making abortion stand clear, by Raymond J. Keating. Newsday July 27, 2004.

Senator Kerry May Be Human . . . But is He a Person?, Catholic Kerry Watch. July 23, 2004.

Kerry's Catholic Problem, by Brent Bozell. July 7, 2004.

The Body Politic and the Body of Christ: Candidates, Communion and the Catholic Church. Debate btw/ Thomas J. Reese, S.J. and George Weigel. June 23, 2004.

The Kerry challenge, by George Weigel. May 5, 2004.

Rites and Wrongs: Why John Kerry should not take communion, by Philip F. Lawler. Wall Street Journal April 30, 2004.

John Kerry's Catholic Problem", by Cal Thomas. April 26, 2004.

Kerry Distorting Catholic Doctrine. Newsmax.com interviews George Weigel. April 16, 2004.

"Personally Opposed, But…" Five Pro-Abortion Dodges, by Todd M. Aglialoro. Crisis April 1, 2004.

On Embryonic Stem-Cell Research

Reagan vs. Reagan and The Stem-Cell Cover-Up, Catholic Kerry Watch, August 14, 2004.

Senator Kerry dismisses religious convictions as "ideology"  Catholic Kerry Watch. August 9, 2004.

Ron Reagan & Functionalism, Revisited, Catholic Kerry Watch. July 29, 2004.

Out of Touch, by Michael Fumento. Refuting Kerry's claims on the use of embryonic stem cells. Citizen Magazine August 2004.

Stem Cell Defection, by Ramesh Ponnuru. National Review August 16, 2004.

Stem Cell Research: Fact Sheets, Letters to Congress and Articles from the USCCB.

On Voting, "Proportionality" and Cardinal Ratzinger's Memorandum

What Ratzinger Said, by James Akin. Sept. 9, 2004.

Bishops Refute Flawed Theology (of Andrew Greeley) Barbara Kralis. August 22, 2004.

Thoughts on Proportionality, Catholic Kerry Watch. July 12, 2004.




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