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THE LESSON OF LOUISIANA

12/8/2002 - 3:25 PM PST

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Deacon Keith A Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC

Well, the votes are counted and the unfaithful Catholic beat the faithful Catholic in Louisiana. At least that is one way of viewing what happened.

And both major political parties need to pay attention.


Hidden in the close race is the political story of the future and the determining force in the 2004 presidential campaign, Catholic Americans awakening to the obligations of their citizenship and the obligations of their baptism. Catholic Americans who are beginning to inform their political participation by that faith.

You see, you simply cannot “fit” faithful Catholics in the prevailing categories of “left” or “right”, “liberal” or “conservative.”

On the predominant human and civil rights issue of our age -- the inherent dignity of every human life - no matter what the age or stage of that life, from conception to natural death and all in between -- the current ruling class of the party calling itself “Democrat” has left behind those of us who understand the infallible teaching of our church on life, (which is the same the truth revealed by the natural law), in the dust. One simply cannot be both a faithful Catholic and what is euphemistically now called “pro-choice”-period.

The bottom line on the Louisiana race was that the victorious Democrat is unfaithful to her baptism in her approach to abortion while the losing Republican candidate was faithful. You see they were both professing Catholics. That is why, in the eleventh hour, the race got so close. Catholics came out of the woodwork, both in Louisiana and nationally, shook of their political lethargy and began to mobilize.

Perhaps if these faithful Catholics had begun sooner the results would have been different. This race was not about which candidate was Democrat or Republican. Neither will the presidential race of 2004 be such a simple exercise.

I, like many of my fellow Catholic Americans, grew up equating being Catholic with being a Democrat because -- at least so I thought --Democrats cared more about the poor, the working class, the marginalized and those with no voice. The current ruling elite of the Democratic party has proven just how wrong that stereotype probably always was…but now definitely is. The current Democrat party has come to embrace a notion of “freedom” as a power over others and “choice” as a right to do whatever one wants.

The absolute failure to hear the cry of the child in the womb is simply one more example of the unbridled hypocrisy of the current leadership of the party that claims to care more about the poor. Medical science has confirmed what our conscience has always known, that child in the womb is one of us.

His or her voice cannot be heard because it is muffled in the once hallowed home of the womb and disregarded by political opportunists. Once the first safe home of every human person, too many wombs have now become hostile environments that can be invaded, at any time and for any reason, and reduced to chambers of horror for thousands of smaller persons, children, who have an inalienable right to be born.

However, that other party called “Republican” has all too often earned the stereotype of its opponents that it cares about children only when they are in the womb and that once outside, it proposes a public policy of “every person for themselves.” This could become the case if a “survival of the fittest” approach to the market economy becomes the most important priority of the leadership of the Republican party and its leadership.

The Republican talk of a “compassionate” conservatism must be confirmed with a reaffirmation of our obligations in human solidarity- we simply are our brother’s keeper- and a public policy that acknowledges our special responsibility for the poor in our midst. Though “big government” solutions have arguably not worked all that well in the delivery of charity, they must now be replaced with a new approach to empowering the mediating associations to deliver that charity and not with a “libertarianism” that cares little about our social obligation.

Also, the dynamism of the market economy must be infused with the values that make us truly free. We must build a moral market economy and affirm the truth that markets were made for man (and woman) and not man for the market. That will best be done through expanding participation in the market economy to all who yearn to be truly free.

Informed, faithful and engaged Catholic citizens are beginning to see the connection between the “social teaching” of their Church (which is true for all persons and not just those “who believe”) and their politics. They are gathering around what I call four pillars of political and social participation; the dignity of life, the primacy of family, authentic human freedom and solidarity ...

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