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Can a Catholic Vote for Barack Obama?
Pilgrimage, A Journey of Rediscovery:
See the renaissance of traditional Catholicism on DVD.
Hear (then) Cardinal Ratzinger speak -- before he became Pope Benedict XVI.
Those who accuse presidential aspirant Senator Barack Obama of empty rhetoric must have missed his speech last July, recently made public, to the benefactors of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. At that festive event, he was as sharp and specific as a scalpel.
“The first thing I’d do as president,” he told a cheering audience, “is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing that I’d do.”
The audience cheered enthusiastically. And well they might. As NARAL enthuses on its web site, this act would “codify Roe v. Wade’s protections and guarantee the right to choose for future generations of women.”
In short, if we are to take Obama at his word, his first priority as president would be to serve an early death sentence on millions of unborn Americans.
Obama’s record as state senator in Illinois and as United State Senator show that these particular sentiments are not, as he might say, “just words.”
In 2002, as an Illinois state senator, Obama voted against the Induced Infant Liability Act and twice helped kill it in committee. This bill would have protected those miracle babies that somehow survived late-term abortions.
When Jill Stanek, a delivery-ward RN, appealed to Obama’s committee that certain abortion doctors might be ideologically inclined to let such babies die, Obama replied, “What we are doing here is to create one more burden on a woman, and I can’t support that.”
Obama’s Planned Parenthood speech five years later showed no softening of the heart. He attacked the Supreme Court for upholding a congressional ban on late term abortions, calling the decision “disturbing,” and he worried out loud that the appointment of one more judge like Sam Alito or John Roberts could mean the end of Roe v. Wade.
To be sure, Obama voted against both Roberts and Alito and proudly reminded the audience of the same.
Although a self-described bridge-builder, on the issue of abortion Obama may be building his own ideological “bridge to nowhere.”
“I will not yield and Planned Parenthood will not yield,” he told his supporters, before adding disingenuously, “but that doesn’t mean that we can’t find common ground.”
Just what “common ground” a man who holds even the life of certain newborns cheap can find with people who believe all human life is sacred eludes those of us less visionary than Mr. Obama.
Ostensibly compassionate, Obama pities his fellow citizens who fail to see his “big picture.” Instead, he lamented, such people “seek out the narrowest and most divisive ground.”
This seems to be a failing largely of fashion. As he joked to his audience, “Culture wars are so nineties.”
“It is time to turn the page. We want a new day here in America,” Obama continued, adding in his newfound colloquial voice, “We’re tired about arguing about the same ole’ stuff.”
What makes Obama’s appeal even more troubling is this very colloquialism, his unsubtle attempt to use language and skin color to link his dubious crusade to that of the civil rights leaders of the past.
In speaking of the debate between abstinence education and contraception-oriented sex education, for instance, Obama pulled an ace from up his sleeve that no other candidate could have.
Said Obama shamelessly, “As Martin Luther King used to say, “‘It’s not either/or it’s both/and.’” To be clear, King was not talking about sex education.
“We’re the country that’s fought generation after generation to extend that equality to the many not restrict it to the few,” Obama carried on, now fusing a woman’s right to an abortion to that of a black child’s right to an equal education. “We’ve been there before and we’re not going back.”
Martin Luther King’s niece, Alveda King, has an altogether different take on her uncle’s legacy. As she says simply and logically, “How can the ‘Dream’ survive if we murder the children?” Unlike Obama, Alveda King is sensitive to the fact that black babies are nearly three times more likely to be killed in the womb than white.
President Bush captured the spirit of that legacy when he signed into law The Born Alive Infants Protection Act. This act, passed by unanimous voice vote in the Senate in 2002, is comparable to the one Obama killed in Illinois.
“It is a step toward the day when the promises of the Declaration of Independence will apply to everyone, not just those with the voice and power to defend their rights,” said Bush in signing the bill.
“This law is a step toward the day when America fully becomes, in the words of Pope John Paul II, ‘a hospitable, a welcoming culture.’” Indeed, the Pope himself had earlier admonished America to honor its civil rights history by outlawing abortion.
From the perspective of the Catholic Church, abortion is like no other social issue. The Catholic Church allows for the possibility of a just war and even capital punishment under certain circumstances, but there is no such thing as a “just” abortion.
Anyone who has doubts about the Church’s official position need only read the Pope John Paul II’s 1999 revisiting of Pope Paul VI’s historic encyclical, Humanae Vitae. The Pope does not mince words.
Depriving an innocent human being of life, and life undeniably begins at conception, is “always morally evil.” He adds, “This tradition is unchanged and unchangeable.”
There can be no yielding, he continues, to “convenient compromises” or the “temptation of self-deception.” How can there be? “We are dealing,” says the Pope bluntly, “with murder.”
In some Catholic circles, self-deception rules. There are those who had hoped to use the illegal immigration issue to offset abortion issues much as they used the death penalty issue in 2000 against George Bush.
But, as John McCain will certainly attest, God works in strange and mysterious ways. That issue no longer works even as a diversion.
A Catholic can vote for Obama. If he is willing to pay the price, he can do any fool thing he wants. After all, who among us hasn’t done something foolish or sinful?
But most of us have better sense than to brag about it on our bumper stickers.
Providentially, Pope John Paul II issued the revolutionary Motu Proprio, Ecclesia Dei, an Apostolic letter that reauthorized the Latin Mass worldwide. I was commissioned to produce a documentary called “Pilgrimage: A Journey of Rediscovery” that captured the celebration in Rome of the tenth anniversary of that same Apostolic letter.
In the course of shooting the video, I attended an audience with Pope John Paul II and interviewed one-on-one then Cardinal, Josef Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. After twenty-five years wandering in my own personal desert, I have been a regular participant at a traditional mass ever since.