Catholics & the 2004 Presidential Election - Collected Readings & Resources

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Sabotaging the Catholic Vote 

Posted by Earl at 2:35 AM

a monkey wrench in the worksAs posted by my fellow pundit Barbara Kralis on Fidelis . . .

The Catholic Church possesses the fullness of truth, the complete moral teachings of our age. We thank God for the Magisterium of the Church, for the solemn teaching office of our Pope John Paul II and the Popes before him, and the "ordinary magisterium" or the bishops in communion with him.

Yet, attempts by Church leaders are made every day to sabotage these teachings. Let us look at a number of recent damages:

On August 20, 2004, La Crosse diocese Attorney James G. Birnbaum wrote a letter to diocesan pastors and administrators, advising the pro-life Catholic Answers' 'Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics' was "too narrow to pass legal muster." Attorney Birnbaum, a lector at the diocese's Cathedral, advised the diocese not to allow the voter's guide on parish grounds because it violated tax laws.

Shortly thereafter, documentation was revealed showing this "Catholic" diocesan attorney personally donated thousands of dollars to various pro-abortion Democrat Party candidates since 1997 until June 2004. [1]

It was reported that Birnbaum donated $6,000 over the past four years to pro-abortion Democrat Congressman Ron Kind, whom the abortion group NARAL reports has l00 percent anti-life voting record.[2]

Why was this attorney, who financially supports legislators who promote procured abortion, allowed to issue a Catholic diocesan legal opinion that prohibited the distribution of an authentically Catholic voter guide? [3] CWN has reported Birnbaum has recused himself of issuing further tax information to the diocese...but, he will remain as the diocese's attorney on other matters. [4]

Attorney Birnbaum's actions surely raise questions concerning a personal conflict of interests and distortion of Catholic teachings for political gain. His directive has caused Priests in the diocese to believe they should not be telling their congregations what kind of people they should or should not vote for.

It is important to note that La Crosse's former bishop, Archbishop Raymond Burke, has mandated full distribution of The Voters Guide for Serious Catholics for the year 2004 in his new diocese of St. Louis.

Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life, recently discussed the issue of dioceses and their attorneys misinterpreting tax laws. Fr. Pavone suggested the following in his October 28 article, "Distorted Citizenship":

Unfortunately, the Church has been fed for decades with legal advice which is far more restrictive of the Church's freedom than the IRS or the FEC has ever been. And this is wrong. Not only are the IRS/FEC restrictions on the Church minimal, but the enforcement policy is even looser. No Church has ever lost its tax exemption by teaching about abortion, or the primacy of the right to life, or the duty of public officials and voters to advance the Culture of Life by voting. No Church has ever lost its tax exemption for doing what it exists to do, namely, convey the teachings of the Church. No Church has ever lost its tax exemption for distributing materials that did not cover a wide-enough range of issues; in fact, no Church has lost its tax exemption for distributing voter guides, period. [5]
Adding to the obfuscation of truth, the Catholic organization Pax Christi USA is placing ads that speak against infallible magisterial teachings of the Church. Targeting Catholic diocesan newspapers in three states, their ads read: "Catholic voters should not make abortion a single-issue litmus test for candidates."

The Diocese of Pittsburgh's Director of Communications, Robert Lockwood, says the diocese allows the Pax Christi ads because they do not oppose the teachings of the Church [6] ...and because "Financially, it's been a great assistance to our apostolate." [7]

Here is more disturbing news. Most recently, the Cardinal Newman Society completed a list of Catholic university employee donations [of $250 or more] to the Bush and Kerry campaigns, as reported to the FEC. The non-partisan study examines ten of the largest Catholic universities. It was revealed that more than 90.24% of the so-called 'Catholic' university employee gifts went to the Kerry campaign, totaling $196,025. The Bush campaign received just 9.75% of total donations, or $21,200. Moreover, a whopping 59.65% of Kerry's donations came from "Catholic" Georgetown University alone, or $116,915. [8]

Catholic parents, be mindful of what your kiddos are being taught at these so-called Catholic institutions. Alumni, remember this corruption when your alma mater asks you for donations. It would be better to donate your money elsewhere.

Another attempt of Church leaders to sabotage Catholic voters can be found within the worldwide "Catholic" organization of the Maryknoll Society of religious priests, including the Maryknoll Congregation of nuns, and the Maryknoll Mission Association of lay missionaries. Maryknoll is mailing worldwide their 4,000-word election guide. Entitled Impact on Peace, Social Justice and the Integrity of Creation, the voter guide emphases sixteen social issues such as "hunger and food," "water," "biotechnology," "U.S. unilateralism."

Stunningly, not one single word mentions the most preeminent of all human rights, "the right to life of the unborn." Not one word, of the 4,000 words, mentioned "abortion,'" "euthanasia," "embryonic stem cell research," "cloning," or "sodomy."

Another example of obfuscation can always be found with the well-known dissident priest, Fr. Richard McBrien, Chairman of the Theology Department at the Catholic University of Notre Dame. Appearing in his clerical collar on Fox News Channel Wednesday, October 13, 2004, McBrien told millions of viewers that they could vote for someone like a pro-abortion John Kerry. Fr. McBrien clarified his theological confusion:
"The American Catholic Bishops as a body do not follow the approach that's been taken by the archbishops of Denver, St. Louis and Newark and some other Bishops of smaller diocese...[Cardinal Ratzinger] said if someone votes for a candidate for other reasons, well, taking other issues into account as the American Catholic Bishops say they should, we should put everything in a consistent ethic-of- life framework, they said, then it would not be a sin to vote for... the teachings of our Bishops [is] that we have to follow a 'consistent ethic of life.' The proportionate reasons would involve taking other life issues in account... The proportionate reasons would be that you're looking at a candidate and trying to see what that candidate's views and policies are on a broad range of life issues...[the Bishops] have never said that [abortion trumps the other issues]. They have never said that...this is not a card game...there's no trump card." [9]
Fr. McBrien is a priest of the diocese of Hartford, CT, was one of the original dissenters/signers of Fr. Charles Curran's Statement of Dissent against Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae.

Fr. McBrien's dangerous book Catholicism [condemned by the U.S. bishops in l996] [10] clothed in dissent contains heretical teachings from Frs. Schillebeeckx and Hans Kung. Why has Fr. McBrien's Hartford bishop not silenced him nor removed him from teaching errors and ambiguities for too many years to our Catholic youth?

Here is another bishop who supports the excellent Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics, Bishop Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix. His spokesman, Mary Jo West, told this writer that Bishop Olmsted is fully allowing the Catholic Answers guides to be distributed in diocesan parishes. Emphasizing the importance of Catholic voters to be fully informed of the Church's teaching, Bishop Olmsted recently said:
The Catholic Church is actively engaged in a wide variety of important public policy issues.... We should do our best to be informed and to support those proposed solutions that seem most likely to be effective. However, when it comes to direct attacks on innocent human life, being right on all the other issues can never justify a wrong choice on this most serious matter.
However, just 117 miles away from Phoenix, in Tucson, AZ, Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas' office told this writer this week they will not allow the Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics to be used in their diocese. Instead, Bishop Kicanas is promoting the confusing Faithful Citizenship guidelines.

Bishop Kicanas held two public meetings recently to explain how Catholic social teaching applies to Catholic voters. "It's not a sin to vote for a pro-abortion candidate if it's because you are supporting that candidate for a wide range of reasons." Oh, by the way, Bishop Kicanas is Chairman of the USCCB Communications Committee. [11]

San Bernardino's diocesan Director of Office of Social Concerns issued on October 6, 2004 a diocesan directive saying that parishes are to only use material derived from the confusing USCCB's voter guide Faithful Citizenship.

In an interview with Culture and Cosmos, the Director of the Family Life Office of the Arlington, Virginia diocese said, "Faithful Citizenship equates abortion with debt relief. They are not equal." [12]

Archbishop Harry Flynn of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis forbids the Catholic Answers' Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics. A phone call to the Archdiocesan office revealed that Flynn allows only the USCCB voter guide, Faithful Citizenship.

It was reported by Catholic World News that the diocese's reason for banning the excellent guide, in favor of the confusing USCCB guide, was that they "felt the document was too one-sided...You can only read the document and come to one conclusion," said Dennis McGrath, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese.

The Culture of Life Foundation and Catholic World News reports that "Faithful Citizenship has been criticized even within the Church for placing the paramount issue of abortion on the same moral plane with lesser issues like promoting 'social justice'and 'global solidarity.'" [13]

Unfortunately, this is the status quo in most U.S. Catholic dioceses.

The laity not only should, but also must, discuss problems of disobedience, errors, and heresy with their pastors and bishops. In fact, Pope Leo XIII declared, "When circumstances make it necessary, it is not prelates alone who have to watch over the integrity of the faith." In addition, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church [Lumen Gentium n.37], Apostolicam Actuositatem [Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity n.2] and The Code of Canon Law n. 212 teach that laity have not only the responsibility but the duty to openly reveal to their bishops their needs and desires fitting for children of God. [14] In addition, the laity are permitted and even obliged to express their opinion on things that concern the good of the Church.

The Catholic Church's social teachings on the human condition are vast and complete. However, faithful Catholics may legitimately disagree on different points of view and on how to implement these social teachings. One can never disagree on the teachings regarding the right to life of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly. [15]

"One can never approve of abortion; but it is above all necessary to combat its causes. This includes political action" proclaimed Pope Paul VI [16]

Pope Pius XI, in his more relevant than ever landmark encyclical, warns—this will give you goose bumps:
Those who hold the reins of government should not forget that it is the duty of public defend the lives of the innocent...among whom we must mention in the first place infants hidden in the mother's womb. And, if the public not defend them, but by their laws and ordinances betray them to death at the hands of doctors and others, let them remember that God is the Judge and Avenger of innocent blood which cries from earth to heaven. (Casti Connubii n.67).
Only by a return to the order established by God in all our social structures, including obedience to God and His divinely ordained Roman Pontiff, by all public servants, could the way to true peace and true justice in this world be attained. Everything else is a false peace, a false justice. Disobedience by Church leaders to Church teachings contributes to the disorder which rules creation that once subject to Divine Order.

Abortion will not end until the work of the Church is consistent and faithful to the most preeminent of all human rights—the right to life of the unborn.

Editor's Notes:
  • For the original annotated article, see "Some Attempts to Sabotage Catholic Voters," on Renew America.
  • See also "Does the Bishops' Voter Guide Confuse Priorities of Magisterial Teaching?" on the same site.

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
Catholic Analysis

Earl E. Appleby of
Times Against Humanity

Jeff Miller of
The Curt Jester

Ad Limina Apostolorum

Christopher Blosser of
Against The Grain

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Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics

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Kerry's Critics


Ad Limina Apostolorum
The Black Republican
The Blog From The Core
Catholics for Bush [Blog]
Catholic Light
Defensor Fidei (Jimmy Akin)
Domenico Bettinelli, Jr.
The Galvin Opinion
Just Being Frank
Laudem Gloriae
Let's Try Freedom
Mark Shea
[The Meandering Mind of a Seminarian]
The Mighty Barrister
Open Book
Thrown Back
TriCoastal Commission


Catholics Against Kerry
De Fide
Kerry Wrong For Catholics
Priests For Life

News Resources

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New York Times
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Kerry Communion Watch @

The Candidates on Abortion: Where do they stand?




National Catholic Reporter
National Catholic Register
The Hill
Crisis Magazine
National Review
Weekly Standard

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. 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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