During the past two weeks of convention frenzy, we haven’t heard much about “the Catholic vote.” But plenty is happening there.
The Catholic vote has traditionally been a bellwether
for presidential elections. Some new poll data shows Democratic
presidential candidate Barack Obama has some work ahead of him if he’s
going to woo white Catholic voters.
At the same time, more and more bishops are coming out with
statements in response to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent televised
comments misrepresenting Catholic Church teaching on abortion.
In the midst of a lengthy political campaign, matters of
public policy that are also moral issues sometimes are misrepresented
or are presented in a partial or manipulative fashion. While everyone
could be expected to know the Church’s position on the immorality of
abortion and the role of law in protecting unborn children, it seems
some profess not to know it and others, even in the Church, dispute it.
Since this teaching has recently been falsely presented, the following
clarification may be helpful.
The Catholic Church, from its first days, condemned the aborting of
unborn children as gravely sinful.Not only Scripture’s teaching about
God’s protection of life in the womb (consider the prophets and the
psalms and the Gospel stories about John the Baptist and Jesus himself
in Mary’s womb) but also the first century catechism (the Didache or
Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) said: “You shall not slay the child by
abortions. You shall not kill what is generated.” The teaching of the
Church was clear in a Roman Empire that permitted abortion. This same
teaching has been constantly reiterated in every place and time up to
Vatican II, which condemned abortion as a “heinous crime.” This is true
today and will be so tomorrow. Any other comments, by politicians,
professors, pundits or the occasional priest, are erroneous and cannot
be proposed in good faith.
This teaching has consequences for those charged with caring for the
common good, those who hold public office. The unborn child, who is
alive and is a member of the human family, cannot defend himself or
herself. Good law defends the defenseless. Our present laws permit
unborn children to be privately killed. Laws that place unborn children
outside the protection of law destroy both the children killed and the
common good, which is the controlling principle of Catholic social
teaching. One cannot favor the legal status quo on abortion and also be
working for the common good.
Which explains why a candidate who supports abortion is having a
hard time ‘winning over’ faithful and informed Catholics of any color.