Today one of our commentators made the suggestion that anybody who remained as yet "undecided" on who to vote for, or even "hesitated" in voting for Bush, did not consider abortion an important issue -- and even proposed that they might be recruited by supporters of Kerry to infiltrate this blog.
Coincidentally, the question of whether Catholics should vote for Bush was the subject of a recent op-ed piece by Matthew Abott (Should Catholics vote for Dubya?" 7/20/04). *
Mr. Abott (fairly, I think) presents both sides of the issue, presenting the thoughts of one reader on why Catholics ought to vote for Bush:
". . . In light of our understanding of the Church's role in guiding us in our electoral process without actually telling us who to vote for, let us consider what the Church has said to 'nudge' us in the right direction this election year:
"1) Belief in capital punishment, while a present day [but not intrinsic] evil, is not necessarily heresy and thus does not warrant the severe penalty of excommunication;
"2) Belief in the Iraqi war, while denounced by the Pope, still can be dissented from and does not warrant the severe penalty of excommunication;
"3) Belief in abortion is a heresy, a terrible, inexcusable evil, and always warrants the severe penalty of excommunication. [According to the Code of Canon Law, 'a person who procures a completed abortion incurs an automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication.']
According to this argument, abortion occupies a position of higher priority than the death penalty or the debate over 'just war' -- and it is precisely for this reason why one ought to vote against Kerry, since a Kerry victory would assuredly ensure the repeal of any legislative advancement the pro-life movement has made under the Bush administration.
However, Mr. Abott goes on to present the case of Janet M. Thompson of the Fides Foundation who would not recommend that Catholics vote for Bush on grounds that he isn't unconditionally pro-life, and takes issue with those who justify such a compromise:
"Appealing to 'proportional cause' to justify voting for pro-abortion candidates is erroneous; whatever good may have been gained from such a practice is far, far outweighed by the evil, not only the killing of the innocent, but the steady deterioration of the moral fabric of society – moral compromise does not build strength, it only spawns greater compromise.
"Given the above, the liceity of voting for pro-abortion candidates cannot be conclusively affirmed by the application of those principles so often appealed to; therefore, the only certain morally licit recourse is to the Fifth Commandment, 'You shall not kill.'"
What's my point in mentioning this op-ed? -- I believe that the case can clearly be made (and has been made by several of our bishops) why Catholics should not vote for John Kerry. However, I do not think this is grounds for questioning the moral integrity or pro-life commitment of those who are as yet "undecided" about whether to vote for Bush in November. It seems to me a subject very much open for discussion.
I'm grateful for Matt's raising of the question, and would be interested in hearing my co-editors weigh in on this question.
* * *
On a parting note, you may have heard that in response to the roster of pro-abortion Republicans slated to speak at the GOP convention, some 127 members of Congress drafted a letter to the president urging him to request that Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde, a longtime pro-life champion, be added to the list -- said letter being signed by more than half of the Republicans in the house (SOURCE). Let's pray for the success of this effort, and a renewal of the GOP's commitment to advancing the culture of life.
* Lest anybody cast doubt on Mr. Abbot's credibility or impugn him as not giving due consideration to abortion as the most critical issue in this campaign, Mr. Abott happens to be a contributor to some fairly reputable organizations: ". . . the former executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee and the former director of public affairs for the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League. He is also a contributor to Cruxnews.com, MichNews.com, RenewAmerica.us, AmericanDaily.com, ChristianNewsToday.com, Catholiccitizens.org, "The Wanderer" Catholic newspaper, IllinoisLeader.com, TCRNews2.com, CatholicExchange.com, Catholic.net, and Catholic.org."
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.