Doug Kmiec – A Response to Deacon Keith Fournier
Gospel of Life and by His Holiness Benedict XVI in instruction he gave before his elevation to the seat of St. Peter. We are to “promote life and work within the existing political and legal reality.” To just engage in systematic theology or philosophic discourse loses sight of the unborn children, we might actually – right now, this day -- save by improving the life circumstance of expectant mothers – which, by the way, is the experience of all those who have donated time at crisis pregnancy centers as well as the formal conclusion of studies by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United both showing significant reductions in abortion through economic support.
The Deacon correctly observes that he “could never be accused of being what (Doug) now rejects as a “Republican Faith Partisans” (RFP’s).” “Like him, the Deacon continues, “I might be considered a ‘Reagan Democrat,’ at least in the sense that I left the Democratic Party when it abandoned children in the womb and I voted for Ronald Reagan. . . . The problem is that many Catholics do not know the Social teaching of their Church or have wrongly allowed ‘experts’ on the ‘left’ or the ‘right’ to interpret what it is for them.”
Amen, brother. You are indeed not an RFP, since this shorthand applies to those who do not write with courage and insight, as I described your work in the book acknowledgements, but those who instead ply the trade of demonizing and denigrating their political opponents, and worse, those who unfairly and mistakenly portray voting for Senator Obama as a sin contrary to faith and morals. It is, as you noted at the outset, not the calling of the Church to tell us how to vote and you and I join in the expectation that everyone from bishops to priests to fellow parishioners will not use in terrorem tactics denying Communion, threatening the denial of Communion, pronouncing in public press without pastoral counseling the demand that Catholic office holders go to confession, or otherwise being manipulated by those who have learned to win elections by setting red against blue, and who care little if at all, about the full social teaching of the Church.
And what is that teaching? It is not well discussed in the general church since it has been arbitrarily closed off to many by those who insist on putting out fraudulent voter guides that list the reversal of Roe as a nonnegotiable demand to be fulfilled prior to any consideration of family wage, just war, environmental stewardship, or the reasoned welcome and treatment of the immigrant family. RFPs – Republican Faith Partisans – thus take the carefully nuanced and balanced teaching of the Church, including its just call to give life primacy, and derive from it only their own electoral success paid for by a “pro-life” label without meaningful result; the skewing of the tax code in favor of the affluent and in disregard of the dignity of human work (John McCain over the last decade has voted against a modest increase in the minimum wage at least 8 times, yet he is foresworn to keep “the Bush tax cuts” whose target audience is more concerned with compensation packages in the millions of dollars, than the minimum wage); and a war without justification or even well-conceived military objective costing us $720 million a day or $500,000 a minute, according to the work of Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard public finance lecturer Linda J. Bilmes. The money spent on one day of the Iraq war could buy homes for almost 6,500 families or health care for 423,529 children, or could outfit 1.27 million homes with renewable electricity, according to the American Friends Service Committee.
The costs of war and failed, nay untried, diplomacy are great. Perhaps it is those costs that prompted George W. Bush to veto, and his protégé John McCain to sustain, the disapproval of extending (SCHIP) which had sent more than six million children from low income families to the doctor, cutting the number of uninsured children by one-third. No one has even begun to calculate the cost of John McCain’s drastic proposal to dismantle the present health care relationship with employers and to tax the value of health care to employees. There is reason to be leery, however, of McCain’s prescription of the same principles of deregulation that he brought to the financial markets for which we are paying dearly today, and a predicted increase in the numbers of uninsured will pay tomorrow.
Deacon Fournier is a splendid teacher of the faith. Reflecting upon that faith, he concludes: “Truly good governance begins with the smallest governance, the family and should give priority to the principle of subsidiarity. We were made for one another and we find our human fulfillment only in giving ourselves to the other. Then there is that other vital principle, a principle of social charity called solidarity, which insists that we are “our brothers (and sisters) keeper.”
Those are important words, and they are echoed by these:
“Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves -- protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe ; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology. Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who is willing to work. That's the promise of America -- the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister’s keeper. That's the promise we need to keep. That's the change we need right now.”
Those are the words of Barack Obama accepting the nomination for President of the United States. Their resonance with Catholic teaching is self-evident. Can a Catholic Support Him?As a matter of faith, yes. As a matter of hope, unquestionably.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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