Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Douglas W. Kmiec

5/15/2008 (6 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

"It won’t help now that the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) has endorsed Obama over Clinton. This is an endorsement that is deeply troubling."

Highlights

By Douglas W. Kmiec

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/15/2008 (6 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy


MALIBU (Catholic Online) - On Easter Sunday, this former constitutional lawyer to Ronald Reagan, endorsed Barack Obama for president.

While that turn of mind baffled my political pals, it infuriated some of my fellow Catholics. I very much regret the discomfort it has brought to these life-long friends.

The Catholic faith is for me, as it is for millions, the embodiment of “life to the full,” to borrow the title of the wonderful book authored by the late American Catholic legal scholar Edward J. Murphy.

Denied the Sacrament?

Having been drawn to Senator Obama’s remarkable “love thy neighbor” style of campaigning, his express aim to transcend partisan divide, and specifically, his appreciation for faith ("secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square"), I did not expect to be clobbered by co-religionists.

On the blogs, I have been declared “self-excommunicated,” and recently at a Mass before a dinner speech to Catholic business leaders, a very angry college chaplain excoriated my Obama-heresy from the pulpit at length and then denied my receipt of communion.

Building a Bridge to Life – Abortion as Tragedy, not ‘Right’

It won’t help now that the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) has endorsed Obama over Clinton. This is an endorsement that is deeply troubling unless the good Senator Obama intends to match it with the sobering acknowledgment that abortion is less “right,” than avoidable tragedy.

As the likely nominee of his party, Senator Obama can afford to start building the bridges his inspirational messages have described. To my mind, there is no better time than now to announce a fulsome initiative, among other things, to promote adoption as an abortion alternative.

Daily Kos Meet Catholic Online

Can Obama deliver on his promise to build bridges and unbuild walls? It is likely unusual for the progressive blog, Daily Kos, to be cross-referenced on Catholic Online, but here is a quotation from a recent blog entry at that liberal site:

“This has been Barack's pattern through his entire campaign. He has spoken truth to privilege. He's made everyone uncomfortable, and that's a good thing. He's taken hold of some very big skeletons in the American closet, and shaken them until they rattled. He's thrown the windows open and let in some air.”

The terminology of opening windows is, of course, reminiscent of John XXIII’s description of the animating purpose of the Second Vatican Council, when the Catholic Church, itself, was ecumenically unbuilding walls between itself and other faith communities.

A Clerical Be-Heading?

Bridge-building and ecumenical effort is not all kumbaya. My distressing, but wrongful, denial of the Sacrament pales in comparison to the prospect that Senator Obama, himself, may be subject to the Islamic punishment of clerical beheading for having been born to a Muslim father and then voluntarily taking up Christianity.

International strategic thinker Edward Luttwak recently speculated in the New York Times that by this happenstance of birth, it is not “realistic” to think an “Obama presidency “will decisively improve relations with the world’s Muslims.”

Luttwak also served President Reagan, so it’s possible his essay is a McCain IED, but I doubt it. No, Luttwak’s learned insight is yet another example of the on-going depth of the “clash of civilizations,” as Samuel Huntington called it: the one-time theory, but now uncomfortable and violent fact, that cultural and religious differences dominate the post- cold war world.

Religion’s purpose is not the in terrorem social oppression of the human spirit, but its liberation from the pain and emptiness of worldly matters and goods. To those of us who believe, it is the way of eternal salvation.

It is also moral instruction for this world. Religion and morality are related, just as law is often premised on morality. But faith’s true power is in what it proposes, not imposes, upon man’s reason.

Catholic Thinking – No Simple Matter

Whether Senator Obama’s Christianity actually endangers his life by immunizing, as Dr. Luttwak reports, “any Muslim who kills him” as an apostate, I’m not sufficiently expert to say. The president of the North American Islamic Society has publicly contested it. This much I know: contrary to some partisan claims masquerading as "voter guides," American Catholics are not precluded from voting for Senator Obama.

Catholic instruction provides that “a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.”

That obviously would preclude a Catholic voter from supporting a referendum providing public funding for abortion, but what about a candidate like Obama who is not pro-abortion, but of the view that the civil law best leaves this question to the mother in consultation with their own clergyman and doctor?

Catholic voters in this circumstance are asked to consider what other social goods Obama represents and whether they can honestly and openly say that they are supporting him for that reason and not his stand on abortion.

The American bishops have put it this way: “A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion. . ., if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.”

Are there “other important moral issues involving human life and dignity”? The list is long: the death and economic waste associated with an unjustified war in Iraq; failure to be good stewards of the environment; promoting a tax code that favors the wealthy and undermines a family wage; perpetuating an immigration system that divides families and overlooks the exploitation of labor and more.

Some of that “more” is also a candidate’s view toward adoption, which I again urge Senator Obama to address now in the shadow of NARAL’s endorsement so that he remains true to his method described on the Daily Kos of “making everyone uncomfortable.”

More than One Way to Be Pro-Life?

But there's a deeper question: Are Catholics -- indeed people of all faiths and no faith -- who address the wrenching economic or social circumstances or misinformation that pressure a mother into believing she has no alternative but to take the life of her unborn, really pro-abortion?

I'm pretty sure Pope Benedict would not think so. In any event, Benedict's predecessor several hundred times removed, St. Peter, reminded his apostles that they must be always “prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.”

Whether an Obama presidency would readily improve relations with the Muslim world or not, whether or not you think me less pro-life (which I'm not) by my endorsement, it is important to both reaffirm civility and the related principles of religious freedom that refute gleeful crusades, at home or abroad, to single out supposed apostasy where none exists.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

Of nearly 38,000 immigrant children in the U.S. - only 280 deported Watch

Image of Federal officials expect another huge surge of children from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to begin shortly after the temperatures go down.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a surprising bit of news, the Obama administration has quietly released a huge majority of the illegal immigrant children who poured over the U.S. Mexico border earlier this year. Furthermore, they're making their homes in very well-to-do American ... continue reading


Classic Cloward-Piven: Here's the simple reason why Obama is breaking the immigration system in the USA Watch

Image of Obama's Cloward-Piven strategy is showing.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

You can't fix something unless you break it first. This appears to be what Obama has done to the U.S. immigration system. Political analysts now expect that Obama will use the current immigration crisis to overhaul the system into something he likes. But more ... continue reading


Stopping at nothing, Davos Man, Warren Buffett, donates staggering $1.2 billion to promote abortion Watch

Image of Obama awarding Buffett the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Warren Buffett has given $1.2 billion to fund abortion advocacy and "research." This startling conclusion comes from the New York Times, which is reporting that he donates hundreds of millions of dollars at a time to a foundation named after his late wife, Susan ... continue reading


Get ready America: Obama set to bypass Senate on international treaty Watch

Image of President Obama and his administration are getting ready to present a climate change treaty to the U.N. and are willing to ignore a Constitutionally required Senate approval to do so.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama is working to create a sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut fossil fuel emissions; however, he is seeking to do this without ratification from Congress. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This agreement is ... continue reading


That was one costly Web site! In fact the most expensive in Internet history. The Cost of Healthcare.gov estimated $1.7 Billion Watch

Image of The 60 contracts related to the development and operation of the Federal Marketplace started between January 2009 and January 2014. The contracts ranged from health benefit data collection and consumer research, to cloud computing and Web site development.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

That's one might expensive Web site! It's estimated that the Healthcare. Gove Web site, intended to facilitate health care reform, or "Obamacare," has cost U.S. Taxpayers about $1.7 BILLION dollars. That's not even the half of it, as the U.S. government is ... continue reading


Obama administration announces new HHS mandate rules Watch

Image of Sylvia Burwell, HHS secretary, said that the new rules will ensure access to free contraception,

By CNA/EWTN News

The Department of Health and Human Services issued on Friday new rules regarding its contraception mandate, after the Supreme Court ruled against its application to certain companies this summer. (CNA/EWTN News) - The rules create a new way for non-profit groups to ... continue reading


BEEN THERE: Attorney General Eric Holder shares personal experiences while in Ferguson Watch

Image of Attorney General Eric Holder shakes hands with Bri Ehsan, right, following his meeting with students at St. Louis Community College Florissant Valley.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In Ferguson, Missouri to investigate the officer-involved shooting of teenager Michael Brown, Attorney General Eric Holder shared personal stories of his own encounters with racial discrimination. "I am the Attorney General of the United States, but I am also a ... continue reading


One percent? Try the MORE THAN A THIRD in U.S. who rely on Welfare Watch

Image of Back in the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Back in the "Occupy Wall Street" days, protestors rallied around the concept of the United States' "One Percent," which referred to the people with power in the U.S. government. On the other side of the coin, more than ONE THIRD of all U.S. households are now ... continue reading


SMILE FOR THE CAMERA! Texas Governor Rick Perry cheerfully turns himself in Watch

Image of Under duress, Texas Governor Rick Perry maintained an upbeat and positive attitude. Arriving at the Travis County courthouse in Austin for booking and fingerprinting, Perry gave a warm smile for his mug shot.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Under duress, Texas Governor Rick Perry maintained an upbeat and positive attitude. Arriving at the Travis County courthouse in Austin for booking and fingerprinting, Perry gave a warm smile for his mug shot. He's charged with felony corruption charges ... continue reading


HIDDEN FROM VIEW: President Obama renders decision largely in private, despite claims of transparency Watch

Image of Facing charges of executive overreach, to allegations that he is presiding over opaque policy-making, U.S. President Obama has been making decisions typically behind closed doors

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Facing charges of executive overreach, to allegations that he is presiding over opaque policy-making, U.S. President Obama has been making decisions typically behind closed doors. Unilateral action on such issues as immigration, gay rights and tax policy has ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 1:26-31
26 Consider, brothers, how you were called; not many ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 33:12-13, 18-19, 20-21
12 How blessed the nation whose God is Yahweh, the ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 25:14-30
14 'It is like a man about to go abroad who summoned ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 30th, 2014 Image

St. Rumon
August 30: St. Rumon, also known as Ruan, Ronan, and Ruadan, was probably a ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter