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 July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

In President Obama's war on religious freedom the people suffer another loss Watch

Image of A July 21 executive order has dealt a huge blow to the cause of freedom of religion in the United States.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama's July 21 executive order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual-self-identification has lead to strong criticism from several prominent U.S. bishops, calling the executive order "unprecedented and extreme." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Efforts against female genital mutilation could be thwarted by population growth Watch

Image of Due partly to community activism and legislation, the prevalence of FGM, which involves the cutting away of the external female genitalia, and the marriage of girls under the age of 18 has decreased slightly over the last 30 years, UNICEF said.

By Lisa Anderson, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Advances in fighting female genital mutilation, or FGM and child marriage could be offset by population growth unless the rate of progress increases, according to new data released Tuesday by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). (Thomson Reuters ... continue reading


FREE SPEECH VIOLATED: Tea party groups' lawsuit against IRS proceeds Watch

Image of Among the individuals named in the lawsuit is Lois Lerner, who headed the division that processes applications for tax-exempt status at that time.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

They're not going to take it - and they're taking their claims to court. A federal judge has allowed a lawsuit by 10 tea party groups to move forward against the Internal Revenue Service. The judge rejected a request by the federal government to dismiss all the ... continue reading


'Suing the president is the right path to go down here,' Boehner declares Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The House of Representatives has no plans to use its own constitutional authority to withhold funding from actions by President Obama. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) indicated that if the president takes actions that exceed his constitutional authority, ... continue reading


Federal government says state death penalties are 'unconstitutional' Watch

Image of A federal judge has called California's death penalty unconstitutional. Surprisingly though, this judge is a conservative republican, a party that has long opposed federal overreach into state rights.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A federal judge ruled that California's death penalty is unconstitutional on July 16, claiming that the state's system is arbitrary, unfair, and cruel and unusual because of a lengthy process that leaves prisoners in the dark about their actual death row status. ... continue reading


'American people have a right to know,' Issa proclaims Watch

Image of Darrel Issa says that Simas' testimony was

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa of California said administration claims that White House political director David Simas was immune from testimony were "absurd" and "deeply disturbing." Defying a subpoena, Issa has now set up a new high-profile fight ... continue reading


Cheat on your taxes? It just got a lot easier Watch

Image of If you still fear a knock at your door anytime soon, it must be noted that one's chances of getting audited vary greatly and are based on income.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

If you cheat on your taxes - or senselessly worry that some indiscretion in your recent past will have the Internal Revenue Service shortly breathing down your neck - things just got a little bit brighter. The GOP-controlled House has voted to slash the budget ... continue reading


While federal tax revenues are at an all-time high - federal government still running a deficit Watch

Image of What's the old saying?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While federal tax revenues continue to run at a record pace in fiscal 2014, their still no way out of the forest yet. The federal government's total receipts for the fiscal year closed last month at an unprecedented $2,258,565,000,000, according to the Monthly ... continue reading


President Obama accused of being insufficiently engaged in border crisis Watch

Image of President Obama wishes to make clear to parents and adults in Central America that there is no payoff for sending their children on the dangerous journey northward.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

With hundreds, if not thousands of unaccompanied children streaming across the United States' southwest border with Texas - and more on the way - America's border security and policies may be in transition. Republicans and some Democrats have since accused U.S. ... continue reading


Put the spotlight - ON ME: Obama uses first person singular 99 TIMES in speech Watch

Image of In President Obama's recent speech, he used a first person singular, on average, every 12 seconds.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"I," "Me," sand "My" were words used by U.S. President Barack Obama in a speech vowing unilateral action. In fact, Obama used the first person singular a whopping 199 times. This figure did not account for instances when he quoted a letter from a citizen or ... 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 Kings 3:5, 7-12
5 At Gibeon Yahweh appeared to Solomon in a dream ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130
57 My task, I have said, Yahweh, is to keep your ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:44-52
44 'The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in ... Read More

Reading 2, Romans 8:28-30
28 We are well aware that God works with those who ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 27th, 2014 Image

St. Pantaleon
July 27: St Pantaleon came from Nicomedia, near the Black Sea, in Asia. ... 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