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FUMARE

Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Catholic Democrats in House Issue Statement

From the Washington Post: (my comments are in bold/italics)

Still reeling from the attacks on Sen. John F. Kerry's brand of Roman Catholicism during the 2004 presidential race, 55 House Democrats issued a joint statement yesterday on the central role that the Catholic faith plays in their public lives.

The signers said they were fed up with being labeled "good Catholics" or "bad Catholics" based on one issue -- abortion. They said their religion infuses their positions on many issues: poverty, war, health care and education.

Of course, as most of us already know, then-Cardinal Ratzinger debunked this view in his July 2004 letter to the U.S. Bishops:

"Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."

"Some of us are pro-choice and some of us are pro-life," said Rep. William J. Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.). "But we respect each other and we're going to defend each other, because we're all operating in good conscience."

Well Bill, you may be operating in good conscience, but your conscience has not been properly formed. The Church is very clear that abortion is a grave sin and that legislators must work for the legal protection of the unborn. Again, from Ratzinger's letter:

"The Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that authorise or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a 'grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. [...] In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to 'take part in a propoganda campaign in favour of such a law or vote for it.'"

The statement stressed that all of the Catholic Democrats share the goal of reducing the incidence of abortion.

"We envision a world in which every child belongs to a loving family and agree with the Catholic Church about the value of human life and the undesirability of abortion -- we do not celebrate its practice," the statement said. "Each of us is committed to reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies and creating an environment with policies that encourage pregnancies to be carried to term."

I hope these Catholic Democrats really do want to reduce abortion (though I am very skeptical based on their record over the last 30 years), but so long as they refuse to work to grant legal protection to the unborn, their position is untenable for a Catholic.

The statement also said that though the Catholic Democrats "seek the Church's guidance and assistance," they "accept the tension that comes with being in disagreement with the Church in some areas."

This is the equivalent of holding up three fingers to the Church and telling Her to "read between the lines."

Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) said the Catholic Democrats "have decided to stop letting others define us." But Tom McClusky, a Catholic who is acting vice president for government affairs at the Family Research Council, predicted they would fail.

"What is at the core of being Catholic is the life issue, and that's something the pope has never strayed from," he said. "While other issues are important -- such as helping the poor, the death penalty, views on war -- these are things that aren't tenets of the Catholic Church."

McClusky has it mostly right. The Church teaches that the the "other issues" are important, but the Church does not specify "how" we are to address theses issues (let alone how legislators must address these issues). This is not the case with abortion, gay marriage, or euthanasia. The Church is crystal clear that such things must never be permitted or sanctioned by law.

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