Sunday, October 19, 2008

American Church Leader Weighs In...Finally

Finally, an American Catholic Church heavyweight, Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput,publicly cautions against support of Barack Obama:

"To suggest - as some Catholics do - that Senator Obama is this year's 'real' pro-life candidate requires a peculiar kind of self-hypnosis, or moral confusion, or worse...the work of Democratic-friendly groups like Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good have done a disservice to the Church, confused the natural priorities of Catholic social teaching, undermined the progress pro-lifers have made, and provided an excuse for some Catholics to abandon the abortion issue instead of fighting within their parties and at the ballot box to protect the unborn.Pro-Obama Catholics "seek to contextualize, demote and then counterbalance the evil of abortion with other important but less foundational social issues."

Not surprisingly, Archbishop Chaput chose to qualify his words with the notation that he made this statement, not on behalf of the Church, but as a private citizen. Traditionally, the clergy has been resistant to oppose or support political candidates for fear of losing the IRS tax-exempt status attributed to all qualifying, religious organizations. Still, you have to hand it to him...he used a precarious loophole to unequivocally communicate what is surely the collective conscience of our Church leadership. And you have to believe that the Catholic powers-that-be knew he was going to do it. My guess is even the Holy Father gave at least a tacit approval of the Archbishop's public declaration of these gutsy assertions.

My only criticism is one you might expect: What took you guys so long?? We're in the homestretch, with the McCain campaign flailing as much as 3-4 percentage points in the polls. I am convinced that more Catholics would side with their Church if presented with a clear declaration as to which side this is. On the face of it, one would expect that the appropriate choice in a candidate should be obvious based on Church teaching. But that's just it. Many Catholics are confused on even the basics.

The Church must consistently and repeatedly counter the near endless barrage of hokum spewed by non-Catholics and "new age" Catholics alike--seeking to reinvent traditional tenants of the faith. American Catholics are especially vulnerable to the prolific forces which work long and hard to convince us that a vote for Obama indeed equates to support for the sanctity of life. After all, he opposes the Iraq War. And he seeks to implement universal health care. More than a few Catholics are convinced that his positions amount to a pro-life stance. Throw in Obama's charm, charisma, celebrity status, and all around likability factor and what you have is a Catholic Obama supporter, albeit an errant, Catholic Obama supporter. Unfortunately, however, their errant statuses in no way invalidate their votes. Like any politician, Obama will gladly take 'em where he can get 'em. And I'm pained to say, he'll get 'em from many, many Catholics.

In the last ten years especially, we have seen our Church deftly wield the power of PR. And yet, when it comes to Obama and his unwavering support of abortion, Church communication has been tepid. As such, it does appear that Catholic leaders have been hesitant to put more of their own skin in the game. And because of it, we repeatedly witness Catholic Christians badly losing their way. It is a certainty that any Catholic committed to Obama's campaign has strayed from the core teaching of the Church. The thing is, I'm not at all convinced that these Catholics, brothers and sisters in our own parishes, are even aware that their pro-Obama support is tantamount to a repudiation of Catholic Doctrine. We're told during Lent that a complete refusal to fast and to sacrifice as directed is seriously sinful. And yet, similar direction with regard to withholding our vote from a politician known to actively support the death of hundreds of thousands of human beings, is often voiced in timid and unenthusiastic tones.

I'm thrilled that at least one daring Catholic man-of-the-cloth is willing to make the matter perfectly clear... Better late than never, anyway.

I've often said that we can learn much from our Evangelical friends. We have grown accustomed to their ability to form a united and consistent voting block--one that repeatedly influences and perhaps even sways electoral outcomes at every level. If most American Catholics voted in alignment with Church teaching on the issue of life, Obama's chances for winning in November would be non-existent. This cohesion, this much coveted solidarity, is a worthy goal but has been utterly elusive.

We have much work to do. Let's all put some skin in this game--even if the topic is uncomfortable and perceived as overly controversial. When we remain silent, and I mean any and all of us, the reality is that children die.

Over and over again.


Marilena said...

any catholic who knowingly supports obama and votes for his ticket is commiting a mortal sin. why? because he supports abortion and homosexual marriage. mortal sin is nothing to laugh at either. and unfortunately, alot of catholics shrug it off and don't even bother confessing it, and alot of them wont confess it. the thing is, they can't get away with commiting a mortal sin. if they don't confess it during their earthly life, then hell looms near at death. they are not going to get away with it. God sees all and He hears all. when we die, we are judged according to our works. this is something they might want to think about before they knowingly support a pro abortionist, and a pro homosexual ticket.

Leigh said...

Thanks for your comments. This post is going to take a different turn than I intended but I feel the compelling need to respond to your pronouncements.While I share your extreme disdain for the Obama/Biden ticket, we part ways when it comes to equating a pro-abortion stance with a pro-homosexual marriage position. And yes, I know the Church's position on gay marriage. However, the murder of a child is not at all equivalent to the union of two, same sex adults. For the record, I am not an advocate of same sex marriage -at least not in the way marriage is defined by our Church. Having said this, however, I have often stated that I am not stridently opposed to civil unions. As one with gay relatives and friends, I know, in my heart of hearts, that homosexuality is not a "choice". Anyone with gay children knows that these kids exhibit signs of their orientation at ages when sexuality, as a concept, is totally unknown to them.

As a matter of conscience, I cannot find it in me to doom well intentioned people to a life of loneliness. If that in some way implicates me in the judgment you describe, then so be it. I'll take it up with the Lord on my own day of reckoning.

With all due respect, let's be careful to distinguish condemnation of ACTIONS versus pronouncements of others' eternal salvation. This judgment belongs in God's hands alone.

Ggoose said...

Compared to the last presidential election where a very small number of bishops came out against the flurry of "seamless garment" arguments for John Kerry, the pronouncements from a greater number of the bishops this election have been a breath of fresh air. Numerous bishops have come out indicating the priority that should be given to the abortion issue. While they haven't stated Obama by name, I think its pretty clear where those dots point.

I was glad to see Chaput say what he did but in the liberal Catholic world, who is listening? Dissent is part and parcel of the movement. Overall, I think things are heading in the right direction. Unfortunately it takes time. I only hope that the actions of the increasing number of bishops willing to weigh in on the topic are not lost on the faithful who are trying to do service to their conscience by informing it. ... and I certainly hope its not too little too late.

Yesterday Biden made a mistake that deserves correction almost as bad as the one Pelosi made with respect to St. Augustine. We will see if one is coming ....

Carlos Echevarria said...

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Keep up the great work!!!

Mrs. L said...

Welcome back to blogging:)
Yes, it is mind blowing to me as well to think how Catholics in this country can be so clueless about the culture of death that is all around us. But what is even more disturbing to me is the amount of Catholics who KNOW EXACTLY what they are doing by voting for Obama. I wonder how these people will explain to God that they cared more about their financial well being than ending the holocaust that is currently being tolerated by so many in our country. Yes, the only way to change it is for each and every single one of us to speak up about it and pray, fast, and pray, pray, pray for God's Mercy.

God Bless:)

Anonymous said...

I have seen people who profess to be Catholic saying in a rather slipperly way that 49million dead babies don't count much-their standard of living is more important.
God help them.
How they go to Mass and see Christ there on the altar and can think like that is beyond me.
Doesn't anyone pray for discernment these day?