Thursday, November 13, 2008

Do More than Half of American Catholics Need to Go to Confession Right Now?

Well, we all need to go to confession regularly if we are serious about saving our souls. But where do the 54% of us who voted for Barack Obama stand now? Some of our shepherds are giving us serious food for thought on this subject.

Radio host Hugh Hewitt interviewed Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph before the election, and asked him how he would address the Catholics who were then undecided about whom to vote for. His reply:
Well, I just don’t think there’s any question that in all of Church teaching that the life issues, particularly the protection of unborn children against the crime of abortion, has to be our greatest priority. This is an ongoing slaughter of 4,000 children every single day for the last 35 years. And if we don’t do anything about it, we bear a lot of responsibility. If we support and promote persons who have pledged to extend it and intensify the slaughter, then we bear a great responsibility with them.
Is it a grave sin to vote for a pro-abortion politician? asked Hewitt. Bishop Finn's reply:
I think it is, of course. You know, how important is, you know, someone might say how important is my vote. Well, ask somebody if they think what they think if their vote was taken away from them, or if they felt that they had been defrauded of their vote. And I think all of us as Americans would say my vote’s very, very important. So…and then we’re talking about the willful destruction, direct destruction of a human life. And so when you couple the gravity of the sense of our vote, and the gravity of the action of abortion, and we see candidates pledge that they’re going to, for example, in addition to promoting everything that we have right now, they’re going to enact the Freedom Of Choice Act, removing all reasonable limitations. So many Americans say they want limitations on abortion. The Freedom Of Choice Act would remove every single limitation that’s been put in place by well-meaning folks for the last 35 years – parental notification, mandatory waiting periods, counseling, the use of ultrasounds, and not to speak of the fact that taxpayers will have to pay for abortions, and also the conscious clauses will be removed from individual healthcare workers, or even institutions. So you can’t support a person who wants to go to complete full-scale war against the unborn.
What about a Catholic who will vote for an absolutist on abortion because that candidate is better than the opposing candidate on questions of poverty, global warming, etc.? Suppose such a Catholic thinks that dealing with these issues will in turn reduce abortions Bishop Finn's answer:
[T]he real root of abortion in our country is this total disregard and numbness about the value of human life. It’s the idolatry of self and selfish convenience. It’s the total neglect of personal responsibility. These are the things that are at the root of abortion, not just poverty. I’m afraid some people think that if we throw enough money at people, well then they’re going to stop all their choices for abortion. I don’t think that will work. I don’t think that it would be the solution fully, even if it was. And the same people who are then promoting someone who wants to remove limitations on abortions, which are measurable at having reduced abortions by 125,000 a year through parental notifications and the like, they can’t be serious. They can’t be serious that voting for someone who’s going to throw some more money at the poor is going to reduce abortion. What they’re looking for is a way to salve their conscience, and give them a rationalization that will help them sleep tomorrow after they vote....People have to realize that they will be held accountable for these important decisions before God.
Does being accountable before God for one's vote means that one could lose one's immortal soul over it?
Well, of course. I mean, the decisions that we make are important, and they have…you know, these people who get elected, they don’t just arrive all on their own. We elect them. We, you and I support them or we don’t. And so we have some participation in that. Now you know, someone wrote to me and said well, you know, I voted for Obama, I’ll repent later. And well, you know, I hope that God does change a heart if they feel that they’ve made a terrible mistake and to have to repent. But it’s much more important and vital that we make the right decision when it’s before us.
May a Catholic who votes for Obama knowing he is voting for abortion rights absolutism present himself for Communion the next day?

Well, they shouldn’t. It’s not a matter of public action, so it’s not the same scandal as a public official who places, a legislator who places a public vote in support of abortion. But no, if formal cooperation, there’s absolutely no doubt about it that if you agree with the right of abortion, you shouldn’t be, you’re in grave sin. You shouldn’t be receiving the Sacraments.
Archbishop Raymond Burke, canon law expert and formerly Archbishop of St. Louis, is now Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura at the Holy See, what might be thought of as the Vatican's Supreme Court. In a pre-election interview with Inside the Vatican, the Archbishop was even more pointed on the question of subordinating abortion to other pressing issues:
It is not my intention to engage in partisan politics. I wish that both of the major political parties in the United States of America were more coherent regarding the right to life. The Democratic Party, however has, over the years, put forth and defended a political agenda which is grievously anti-life, favoring the right to procured abortion and "marriage" between persons of the same sex. One can legitimately question the wisdom of the decisions taken in the war in Iraq, but war in itself is not always and everywhere evil, as are, for example, procured abortion, human cloning, embryonic stem-cell research, and the so-called "marriage" of persons of the same sex. Engagement of the nation in a war cannot be placed on the same moral level as the nation making laws which permit the wholesale killing of the unborn or the artificial generation of human life or experimentation on embryonic human life or "marriage" between persons of the same sex.

Procured abortion is the fundamental moral issue in the safeguarding and fostering of human life. To make economics or the environment the fundamental political issue, when life itself, in its most innocent and defenseless form, remains unprotected is morally irresponsible. Yes, the government of the United States must address a number of critical issues, including the current and most serious economic crisis. But it must address first its duty to promote the common good by defending the life of every human being, from the moment of its inception, and by safeguarding the integrity of marriage and the family.
Thus spake two of our shepherds, saying some of the same things I have been saying. So these are not just my opinions on Catholics supporting Obama that I spout here.


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