Ono Ekeh was a former program coordinator for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. This past March he was asked to resign when, at the urging of Deal Hudson and others, the USCCB conducted a review of his postings to his blog and the Catholics For Kerry internet forum. In this week's edition of The National Catholic Reporter, Ekeh defends his "political orientation" and participation in Catholics For Kerry, criticizing the notion that being Catholic and Democrat are mutually exclusive,
What precisely does "more engagement" mean? What is meant by "working within political parties"? Does it not allow for Catholics to seek similar goals of creating a culture of life and human dignity, even if our political orientation impels us to seek it in different ways?
The response, of course, lies in the Bishops' call -- within the same document -- to:
. . . encourage all citizens, particularly Catholics, to embrace their citizenship not merely as a duty and privilege, but as an opportunity meaningfully to participate [more fully] in building the culture of life. Every voice matters in the public forum. Every vote counts. Every act of responsible citizenship is an exercise of significant individual power.
Every voice matters. Every vote counts. Precisely why some Catholic clergy and laity have a hard time believing that putting Kerry in the White House will contribute towards this end, what with his consistent voting record on ending the lives of the unborn. Catholics may have legitimate disagreements and grievances with the Bush administration, but how does one support a presidential candidate endorsed by NARAL and for whom pro-choicers are marching on Sunday? -- how does Ekeh square his support of Kerry's candidacy with the bishop's admonishment:
In protecting human life, "We must begin with a commitment never to intentionally kill, or collude in the killing, of any innocent human life, no matter how broken, unformed, disabled or desperate that life may seem. . . . We urge Catholics and others to promote laws and social policies that protect human life and promote human dignity to the maximum degree possible. Laws that legitimize abortion, assisted suicide, and euthanasia are profoundly unjust and immoral.
I agree with Ekeh that Catholics should seek to "change a culture, not just a law" -- and the battle to end abortion requires not just the prohibition of the procedure but to work to alleviate the economic and social conditions that compel women to make this choice. I agree with Ekeh that "issues such as health care, child care, family leave, wage inequity, domestic violence" should be effectively addressed. There is no question that all of this should be part of the struggle to build a "culture of life."
But working for the latter simply does not excuse or justify supporting a politican whose distinctly anti-Catholic voting record on abortion (not to mention verbal promises to his supporters) indicates that his administration will be a direct impediment to ending this profoundly unjust and immoral horror visited upon so many innocent lives.
Update Amy Welborn was likewise mystified by Ekeh's defense -- good discussion here.
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.