Thursday, January 29, 2004

Catholics for Dean(?)

Coming under heavy criticism in various Catholic blogs this week is Catholics for Dean, an organization founded by Timothy Huegerich. Mr. Huegerich contends that the issue of abortion pales in comparison to the many social wrongs committed by the Bush administration, especially regarding "capital punishment, euthanasia, infanticide, and most wars." Because of Howard Dean's "opposition to the Iraq war and his partial opposition to capital punishment," Mr. Huegerich and his fellow Catholics believe themselves entitled to vote for a pro-choice presidential candidate who recently compared pro-lifers to the Taliban.

Peter Vere replies:

To a practicing Catholic, what lay in a woman’s womb is not just some anonymous blob of cancerous tissue. Rather, it is a human life. Abortion ends that human life. Therefore a Catholic is no more open to negotiating the abortion issue than an African American is open to debate over slavery. Catholics believe that abortion is murder, and when the state permits abortion, Catholics believe that abortion is state sanctioned murder. Regardless of whatever stance a candidate puts forward when it comes to other issues, abortion trumps them all. As practicing Catholics we believe in freedom of choice within the abortion debate only insofar as a well-formed Catholic conscience always chooses a pro-life candidate over one who is pro-abortion. We simply have a hard time voting for politicians who campaign on the killing – rather than the kissing – of babies.

Now, I can understand and to some degree am sympathetic to CFD founder Tim Huegerich's gripes with the Bush administration, the actions and policies of which I admit are flawed in many respects. I also recognize Mr. Huegerich's right, as a Catholic, to take a principled stand against President Bush based on the war in Iraq, capital punishment, or economic policies. Catholics are permitted to disagree on these issues. The pro-life record of the current administration is certainly a matter of contention among orthodox Catholics.

However, in no way does this render Dean's stance on abortion excusable, or translate into a "right" for Catholics to vote for a Democratic candidate who, verbally and as a matter of policy, actively supports the deliberate murder of a baby. To cite the CDF's Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life:

Catholics . . . have the right and the duty to recall society to a deeper understanding of human life and to the responsibility of everyone in this regard. John Paul II, continuing the constant teaching of the Church, has reiterated many times that those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them. [Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, 73].

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