Saturday, November 29, 2008

Date Night

Maybe we're making the grade as parents but we're seriously blowing it in the life-balance department. We never go out anymore. You know--L and J. The same L and J who were married for seven years before they had children. Who dined at world-class restaurants. The same L & J who traveled the globe together. Indeed, the very same mad cap love birds who were known to fly to Vegas for the weekend on two hours notice.

But lately, we've been two passing ships in the night. And in the day. And every time in between.

So today, on a whim, I took the plunge and made an effort to find a baby sitter so that J and I could have a BADLY needed night out. Nothing fancy, nothing hifalutin. Just nice. C'mon...surely it can't be asking too much to go to a restaurant where there are no pictures on the menus? No Chochkies, Chille's, Fritters, Portillo's, Applebee's, Fudruckers, Tooters, TGI Fridays, Outback, Cheeseburgers in Paradise, WoJos, and for the love of all that is Chuck E. Cheese.

We had it all planned. A dinner at a small but very nice bistro. You know, the kind of place where you can wear a pair of jeans and a turtleneck but you actually get wine poured from a --bottle (not from the 440z mega box perched on the back counter next to the ketchup packets). Children's menus are non-existent. Alas, there isn't a single food photo anywhere on the menu! This mommy was giddy with anticipation at the thought of our big night out--sans the offspring, of course!

There was only one hitch in the giddy-up. In order to leave said progeny in the care of one whom is not their parent, there is a certain amount of prep work to be done. Such as...ensure that the emergency number list is up-to-date. Feed munchkins early with special take-out fare in order to stifle whining and last ditch protests about being excluded from parents' night out. Document night time routine for sitter. Pick up clutter to the extent that sitter is duped into believing that his employers are not the craziest ones on the block. This process includes removing J's tools, screws, nuts, and bolts from food preparation surfaces, wiping goo of unknown origin from several often used handles, locating at least ONE of the four cordless phones rumored to exist somewhere in the house, and rounding up anywhere from five to fifty-five toys strewn from the basement to the attic. Straighten my office nook so that it doesn't appear as though a lunatic resides in the home. Make sure dog is fed and has gone outside to do his thing. Feed cat. Replenish water. Brush cat as giant mat is forming on his back. Check on dog who is currently consuming shredded, rubber playground material in the back yard. Return dog to kennel. Clean rabbit cage and provide food and water. Notice that six-year old son and his friend have smashed pumpkins in the front yard and have spread dismembered, rotten pumpkin parts on walkway. Listen to husband's conniption about said disaster and aid in the decontamination process. Notice that baby sitter is due in ten minutes. JoJo needs help going potty, dishes are still stacked in the sink, the dog is barking in his kennel, presumably because shredded rubber is not digesting well. Meanwhile, a phone's muffled ring can be heard but its vector remains undetermined. While assisting JoJo with bathroom activity, overhear upset friend caterwaul on answering machine about how we never pick up the phone. "I can't imagine what you're doing! Pick up that phone. I know you're there. Hellloooooo."

Five minutes until baby sitter arrives. Run upstairs to shower/dress. Suddenly recall that E's fish tank needs a partial replenishment. Forget it. In this family, we're living proof that a little clutter never killed anybody. Sorry fish. Just swim around the chunks.

Manage to squeeze in a shower while J greets sitter. He saunters upstairs to shower and dress. Current time: 7:15 pm. While he cleans-up after his twelve hour yard work day, I decide that I can rest my eyes for a few minutes on our bed. Apparently, I made it look rather inviting. J throws on some sweats and decides to join know, "just until she wakes up".

I woke up alright. At 10:30 pm.

Embarrassed and groggy, I skulk downstairs. Pay the sitter, endure his comical smirk, lock the doors. Sigh deeply as I notice that all the toys that were stowed just four hours ago are now hanging from a few lamps, crammed under seat cushions, and piled in various corners in the family room. Jabba the Hut smiles sheepishly from his evil lair atop our fireplace mantle. Two Polly Pockets dangle on a string and are desperately hoping to be saved by Luke Skywalker. Oops. I mean Mr. Incredible. Just yesterday, Luke met an untimely demise. Compliments of the dog.

As far as the next date night--let's just say we'll squeeze one in by the time E's in high school.

Then again, maybe not.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love Being a Parent

#10 You get to live your childhood all over again. Sort of. Except this go 'round, you can fashion it the way you want it to be versus the way it actually was. I just have to be careful to remember that kids ultimately do their own thing. My dreams will not necessarily be theirs.

#9 I have an extremely valid reason to talk about super heroes, Polly Pockets, Webkinz, monsters, unicorns, baby penguins, American Girl dolls, fairies, and Transformers.

#8 Dressing and shopping for children's clothing is the best. It is so much fun.

#7 Children are living, breathing proof of God's sense of humor.

#6 I read to them all of the books and stories I adored as a child. E and JoJo have heard the entire Laura Ingalls Wilder collection. E is currently reading my old Peanuts comic strip books by Charles Schulz. We can't forget "Tales of a Forth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume.
Everything written by Shel Silverstein. "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint Exupery. I could go on and on.

#5 Kids are warm toasters on cold winter mornings. I love to wake before dawn and snuggle with either one of them.

#4 Children make holidays fun, especially Halloween, Christmas, and Easter.

#3 You meet a whole new circle of friends once you have kids. Between school, sports, scouts, lessons, and play dates, you are destined to meet people who share at least some of your interests.

#2 My kids' belly laughs can crack me up no matter what mood I am in.

#1 When I least expect it, my children express gratitude, empathy, and heartfelt love. No feeling can exceed my pride in them at those moments.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The 80s

A twenty-something family member recently asked me what it was like to be young in the eighties. OK...just the question makes me feel old. I can clearly remember posing a similar question to some ancient forty-year old; the only difference, of course, is that I was asking about the nineteen fifties! You know--poodle skirts, Wolfman Jack, dice on rear view mirror. Have big hair, overly bright clothing styles, and lace tights received the same type of stereotypical over-exposure? Can it actually be that the era of my young adulthood has attained a pop culture status only attributed to time periods that were, well...A LONG TIME AGO?

Apparently so. (Sigh)

Oh well. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Looking back, I would have to say that my twenties were a precursor to real adulthood. A training ground of sorts. Fun, heartache, attraction, drama, break-ups, enlightenment, rebellion, creativity, introspection, discovery. All of that stuff. Some people don't need that time to become real adults. I did. Boy did I. In fact, a wounded love interest once told me, "You'll be 21 until you're 40"...shortly before he chucked a few bills at the check and unceremoniously left me sitting alone in a Thai restaurant in the Haight. Turns out, he was only off by about a decade. It's fair to say that I had the mindset of a twenty-one year old until I was about, say, 30ish. So I was a late bloomer.

Better late than never.

Anyway, here are some of my standout memories from the eighties:

First year of college. 1984.
Broke it off with my high school boyfriend. At the time, he was crushed. Truthfully, I was relieved. I knew enough to know that I wasn't supposed to be making wedding plans at eighteen years old. I handled the break-up very poorly and for that I'll always be sorry. He deserved better and I just didn't have the maturity at the time to do it any differently. Anyway, he went on to marry another girl from our high school class. For all I know, they are still married. I hope they have been blessed with happiness.

Other than this initial drama, the world was my oyster that year. Everything was new, fresh, and enlightening. My first brush with freedom and I loved it. I wanted to know everything I could cram into my head about politics, religion, art, literature, writing, philosophy, and history. Participated in the anti-Apartheid protests on campus. And boys/men. Um...let's just say I had lots of dates, more than a few boyfriends. This is when I discovered that beautiful men, young and old, come in all kinds of diverse packaging. A certain Korean-American wrestler stole my heart early in the year. If I had married him, my first and last name would have been the same. What a lovely, appreciative young gentleman. We weren't intended for the long haul but whomever married him is a lucky woman, I'm sure. And EJ...who still tops my list as one of the all time greatest people ever. (I see 'ya Mr. Morris Day from The Time. You know you did The Bird). LOL. A friendship that endured despite the odds. A friendship of which I am immensely proud. My husband thinks he is "one great guy". And he is. I have to meet that wife of his 'cause if he picked her, she has to be great too.

Summer of 1985. Partied like it was 1999. Actually, considering all of the craziness that summer, it's a feat that I made it to 1999. The Palladium in San Francisco was where we could be found most weekends. Or the I-Beam. Throw in Das Club, The Edge/ Vortex. We CANNOT forget DV8! In San Jose, it was Oasis, Club 47, and Paradise Beach. Worked a temp job which started each weekday morning at 7:05am. Most nights, I was out until 4am. And I made it into the office and on time, fresh as a daisy. Now, I'd be nearly comatose if I attempted that even once. Went to a house party in Woodside, California where the dwelling had suffered a catastrophic fire a few nights before. Only nineteen year-old kids would think it a nifty idea to set up a kegger among smoldering ashes. "Burning Down the House" was played numerous times that warm, summer evening. And of course, we also heard..."The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire, we don't need no water let the motha****** burn. Burn motha******, burrrnnnnnnn....". Oh brother....

1985-1988: Shared a house with three men. (Had my own room, of course.) All of them were quite a bit older than me and had long since graduated from college. I was surely ready for some sanity after a year in the dorms. The owner of the home was especially protective of me. And I got to live in a beautiful, hillside house, relatively close to campus for $250 a month. Kid you not. The owner still lives there and is married. I will forever be thankful to him for the safe haven he provided.

1987: Met and fell head over heels for someone who was great...just not great for me. Learned about art, photography, and much more. Developed my own cultural awareness for the very first time. Began questioning all kinds of things I once believed as immutable truth.

1988: Was called a N***** lover by some random idiot. I can still feel the sting of that insult. For the first time, I really understood what racism must feel like. Internally. I witnessed first hand how it can chip away your willingness to trust others. How it breeds inner suspicion. How it
destroys innocence.

1989: Finished my thesis, graduated from college and blew off the establishment. Became a vegetarian, lived in the Vulcan Warehouse artists' community in Oakland, California and dropped out of mainstream life. Pierced a few body parts. Met people from all walks. Next door neighbors were several members of a Bay Area thrash metal band. Begged them to lower the amp volume one night so that I could finish my senior thesis. To their credit, they turned it down, despite their need to practice for a gig that night. Apparently, even Dirty Rotten Imbeciles can be swayed by a college girl's tearful pleading.

Discovered that a pained, struggling, artist's existence is a romantic notion but not a plausible lifestyle most people can endure for the sake of a craft. More than a few people I knew at that time are now what might be called "high visibility". No names mentioned here, of course.

There is more to tell. Lots, actually.

"The 90's", however, is another post. Duty calls.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Introducing Sir Winston Churchill

We'll just call him Winston.It fits

Antiquity + One More Year = REALLY OLD

The Wise One is now officially Ancient Wise One.

We look forward to continued advice, counsel, and yes, prophecy.

Happy birthday Oracle!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Premio Dardos

My blog awards go to (--in no particular order and for varying reasons. New awards in purple):

Stuff White People Do

Opinionated Catholic

Ask Sister Mary Martha

Ironic Catholic

Crummy Church Signs

Every Day Catholic Woman (U.K--Right back at 'ya Joanna)

Thinking Love, No Twaddle (U.K.--FYI Mum...Americans rarely use the word TWADDLE. I think we should use it more. It just fits somehow.)

Velveteen Mind

Zippy Catholic

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What Catholics Believe

Every now and then, I'm going to share a random teaching/tenant of our faith 'cause it sure seems like there is MUCHO confusion out there--among Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Today's pearl is about death. More specifically: What happens to us when we die? The answer that a knowledgeable Catholic will give you just might fall into your new information category. Turns out, it's a two-part saga. Like Rocky I and II. Or Star Wars and the Empire Strikes back. OK, before I date myself any more, here goes:

First, if you've made the cut, so to speak, your immortal soul goes to Heaven. You experience immeasurable love, joy, and happiness as you commune with God and the angels and saints for all eternity. But gets better. Sort of.

When we recite the Creed in Church, we speak of Jesus coming back "to judge the living and the dead." We're not joking around on this point. We believe in the resurrection of the body. At the end of time, all of creation will be judged and chosen bodies will join souls in Heaven. So, a word to the wise...If I were you, I would start thinking about taking care of that sacred vessel. Wouldn't it be a letdown to actually make it into Heaven and then, at the end of time, be reunited with an old broken down hoopty of a body? Talk about motivation for an exercise plan!

As a side note...the Church allows cremation. You just can't be cremated BEFORE your funeral Mass. I don't know how the Lord will put all of those cremated body parts back together but then again, He is, you know, God. Who am I to question His engineering capabilities?

If you think I'm off of my rocker, be sure to reference numbers 686, 999-1000 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I know--not exactly light reading. Still, I thought I ought to provide a source so you don't think I'm making up stuff as I go along. I'll leave that to the nuns. Just kidding.

*Credit also given to "In the Know With Father Joe"--a column written by Fr. Joseph Krupp.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Truly Inspired

Click on this image to enlarge.

It's about time someone said it, don't you think?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

A New Blog Award!

This award acknowledges the values that this blogger
shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary
and personal values every day.

Thanks again Mum!

Next post will be devoted to my list of recipients.

Friday, November 07, 2008

To Obama Supporters... Whom I Call Friends

Dear Friends and Family...

Congratulations on Obama's unprecedented victory. While I greatly disagree with most of his left-of-center positions, I would be dim indeed if I didn't realize the amazing achievement his election represents. Despite my disappointment over McCain's overwhelming loss, I was moved by Obama's election night speech. Oddly, what struck me the most was the image of Jesse Jackson, openly weeping because of the reality before his him: President-elect Obama. How could Jackson not reflect upon the groundbreaking moment he was witnessing? Who could not appreciate the sacrifice, toil, and bravery demanded of so many African-Americans in order for Obama to achieve the pinnacle of the American dream? I can only imagine the pride and the triumph felt by Jackson and by so many others on that unseasonably warm, historic evening in Grant Park.

Even I became overwhelmed with emotion. Some might be surprised by the degree to which I can relate to the sentiment so prevalent among Obama faithful. The issue of race and the shame surrounding it has had a devastating effect upon many whom I call near and dear. Perhaps Obama's election will finally confirm what so many have known for a long time: Our ethnic heritage, while an important part of how we define ourselves, need not limit our talents, abilities, and achievements. How sad that so many people I have known and loved never discovered the freedom and the esteem that emerges from this essential truth. How limiting and degrading it must be to deny one's own heritage. Barack Obama's election may be just the thing so many need to finally close the book on race as a detracting factor in our beloved country.

If only we conservatives could clone Mr. Obama but reprogram our new "model" with pro-life zeal, laissez faire economic ideals, and more pragmatic foreign policy leanings. What a candidate that would be! I, too, have a dream.

To my friends who also happen to be Obama supporters...I know you are thrilled over this outcome and rightly so. While we part ways on policy, I congratulate you on this well earned victory. And, as I mentioned to my son just today, we don't have to agree with Mr. Obama, but as Americans, we must all respect the soon-to-be President Obama, who will confront numerous challenges upon assuming office. His will certainly not be an enviable position. He will need our support where we are morally able to provide it.

I pray for Barack Obama and his family. The weight of the responsibility and the duties that lay ahead will be great indeed. I hope all of you join me in this prayer.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Special Forces Required

Even a prayerful Catholic needs an A-Team power assist from time to time.

Now would be one of those times.

Father Corapi tells us that our Blessed Mother keeps her combat boots on stand-by and she's ready for battle. Against sin, that is. We better call her in and ask her to lace 'em up. Looks like she's needed now more than ever.

Blessed Mother Mary...and all the rest of the saints in Heaven...including my dear, late Mother-in-Law Millie. Intercede for us, please. Ask for His grace as we face tremendous opposition to His most basic gift to humanity...LIFE.

I am discouraged and overwhelmed by the mandate bestowed upon our president-elect. I fear that the culture of death has become so insidious, so pervasive that it is no longer even recognized as such. This evil is disguised as "choice", as "freedom", and as a "right". How twisted the notion of liberty has become when an entire class of citizens are expendable in exchange for another class's quest for less encumbered lives. Something tells me that the Framers concept of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" did not provide for murdering undesirable citizenry as a means to that end. But hey, what do I know?

Several years ago, Millie shared this with me: When she was a student nurse in the 1950's, it was a routine practice for lay hospital staff to baptize very young, pre-born children who died as a result of miscarriage or stillbirth. She recalled once creating a small tear in an amniotic sac to sprinkle holy water on a tiny, fallen child. At that time, it was a concern that every life, even in its earliest stage, received Jesus' Sacrament. Now, we're debating whether a child who miraculously survives a failed abortion is entitled to medical care or should be permitted to die in any one of many barbaric, unspeakable ways. If you dare describe these atrocities as anything other than "procedures" or "reproductive freedom", prepare to endure the wrath of the current culture. Anti-woman. Extremist. Right-winger. Hate-monger. Meanwhile, God help you if you're caught purchasing a mascara reportedly tested on boll weevils. Ingrid Newkirk and her PETA henchmen will b-slap you faster than you can whimper, "Going forward, product testing will only be conducted on whiny toddlers and unsightly old-people".

My God, have we lost our way. And while we can't place all the blame in Obama's lap, he has and will be a powerful opponent to right-to-life issues.

So I'm calling on our army of patron-saint-reinforcements this early, Wednesday morning. On behalf of this frustrated, bewildered sinner, pray that I and so many like me, maintain the zeal and the stamina required in the next several years ahead of us. 'Cause we're gonna need all that and more my friends.

*I know you guys will kick in. You always do. Besides, with Millie up there, what choice do you have?

*Disclaimer to my non-Catholic friends and readers: Catholics do not believe that saints are deities with God-like abilities. Nor are we taught, for that matter, that St. Mary, the Blessed Mother, is a deity. Saints, which are all souls residing in Heaven, readily accept requests to pray with us and for us. Saint's prayers have a V.I.P status of sorts-- so it's generally a good thing to have a saint on your prayer team. Most of us need all the help we can get.

Monday, November 03, 2008

More Bishops Weigh In: Say No to Obama

I keep singing the same old tune--even though it's a song that many friends and family have grown weary of hearing. Here I go again: In good conscience, no Catholic can cast a vote for Obama.

The following is a profound statement from two, prominent American bishops. (I don't know how I missed this one. I'm remiss in posting it so late.)
They make it clear that pro-abortion Catholics are in direct opposition to their Church and are placing their eternal salvation in serious jeopardy. (I feel uneasy and sanctimonious even typing this strong statement--but the fact of the matter is--they are voicing the correct and courageous position.)

Our Moral Responsibility as Catholic Citizens
Joint Pastoral Letter – September 8, 2008
Most Reverend Joseph F. Naumann, Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas
Most Reverend Robert W. Finn, Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph

Dear Friends in Christ,

With the approaching general election this November, we believe this to be an important moment for us to address together the responsibility of Catholics to be well informed and well formed voters.

Except for the election of our next President, the people of Northwestern Missouri and Northeastern Kansas will be choosing different candidates for different offices in our two dioceses. Yet the fundamental moral principles that should guide our choices as Catholic voters are the same.

For generations it has been the determination of Catholic Bishops not to endorse political candidates or parties. This approach was initiated by Archbishop John Carroll – the very first Catholic Bishop serving in the United States. It was long before there was an Internal Revenue Service Code, and had nothing to do with a desire to preserve tax-exempt status. Rather the Church in the United States realized early on that it must not tether the credibility of the Church to the uncertain future actions or statements of a particular politician or party. This understanding of the Church’s proper role in society was affirmed in the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern Word: “The Church, by reason of her role and competence, is not identified with any political community nor bound by its ties to any political system. It is at once the sign and the safeguard of the transcendental dimension of the human person.”(Gaudium et Spes n.76)

A Right to Speak Out on Issues

At the same time, it is important to note that the Catholic Church in the United States has always cherished its right to speak to the moral issues confronting our nation. The Church has understood its responsibility in a democratic society to do its best to form properly the consciences of her members. In continuity with the long history of the efforts of American Bishops to assist Catholics with the proper formation of their consciences, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) this past November issued a statement: Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. In that document our brother bishops took care to note: “This statement is intended to reflect and complement, not substitute for, the ongoing teachings of bishops in our own dioceses and states.”

It is in this context that we offer the following reflections to assist the Catholic people of Northwestern Missouri and Northeastern Kansas in forming their consciences in preparation for casting their votes this November.

Many Issues: Prudential Judgments

Every Catholic should be concerned about a wide range of issues. We believe in a consistent ethic that evaluates every issue through the prism of its impact on the life and dignity of the human person. Catholics should care about public policies that:
a) promote a just and lasting peace in the world,
b) protect our nation from terrorism and other security threats,
c) welcome and uphold the rights of immigrants,
d) enable health care to be accessible and affordable,
e) manifest a special concern for the poor by attending to their immediate needs and assisting them to gain economic independence,
f) protect the rights of parents to be the primary educators of their children,
g) create business and employment opportunities making it possible for individuals to be able to provide for their own material needs and the needs of their families,
h) reform the criminal justice system by providing better for the needs of the victims of crimes, protecting the innocent, administering justice fairly, striving to rehabilitate inmates, and eliminating the death penalty,
i) foster a proper stewardship of the earth that God has entrusted to our care.

This is by no means an exhaustive list.

While the above issues, as well as many others, have important moral dimensions, Catholics may and do disagree about the most effective public policies for responding to them. How these issues are best addressed and what particular candidates are best equipped to address them requires prudential judgments – defined as circumstances in which people can ethically reach different conclusions. Catholics have an obligation to study, reflect and pray over the relative merits of the different policy approaches proposed by candidates. Catholics have a special responsibility to be well informed regarding the guidance given by the Church pertaining to the moral dimensions of these matters. In the end, Catholics in good conscience can disagree in their judgments about many aspects of the best policies and the most effective candidates.

The Priority of Rejecting Intrinsic Evil

There are, however, some issues that always involve doing evil, such as legalized abortion, the promotion of same-sex unions and ‘marriages,’ repression of religious liberty, as well as public policies permitting euthanasia, racial discrimination or destructive human embryonic stem cell research. A properly formed conscience must give such issues priority even over other matters with important moral dimensions.
To vote for a candidate who supports these intrinsic evils because he or she supports these evils is to participate in a grave moral evil. It can never be justified.

Even if we understand the moral dimensions of the full array of social issues and have correctly prioritized those involving intrinsic evils, we still must make prudential judgments in the selection of candidates. In an ideal situation, we may have a choice between two candidates who both oppose public policies that involve intrinsic evils. In such a case, we need to study their approach on all the other issues that involve the promotion of the dignity of the human person and prayerfully choose the best individual.

Limiting Grave Evil

In another circumstance, we may be confronted with a voting choice between two candidates who support abortion, though one may favor some limitations on it, or he or she may oppose public funding for abortion. In such cases, the appropriate judgment would be to select the candidate whose policies regarding this grave evil will do less harm. We have a responsibility to limit evil if it is not possible at the moment to eradicate it completely.

The same principle would be compelling to a conscientious voter who was confronted with two candidates who both supported same-sex unions, but one opposed abortion and destructive embryonic research while the other was permissive in these regards. The voter, who himself or herself opposed these policies, would have insufficient moral justification voting for the more permissive candidate. However, he or she might justify resorting to a write-in vote or abstaining from voting at all in this case, because of a conscientious objection.

In 2004 a group of United States Bishops, acting on behalf of the USCCB and requesting counsel about the responsibilities of Catholic politicians and voters, received a memo from the office of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, which stated: “A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.”

Could a Catholic in good conscience vote for a candidate who supports legalized abortion when there is a choice of another candidate who does not support abortion or any other intrinsically evil policy? Could a voter’s preference for the candidate’s positions on the pursuit of peace, economic policies benefiting the poor, support for universal health care, a more just immigration policy, etc. overcome a candidate’s support for legalized abortion? In such a case, the Catholic voter must ask and answer the question: What could possibly be a proportionate reason for the more than 45 million children killed by abortion in the past 35 years? Personally, we cannot conceive of such a proportionate reason.

Time for Catholics to Exercise Moral Leadership

The number of Catholics and the percentage of Catholics in the United States have never been greater. There has never been a moment in our nation’s history when more Catholics served in elective office, presided in our courts or held other positions of power and authority. It would be wrong for us to use our numbers and influence to try to compel others to accept our religious and theological beliefs. However, it would be equally wrong for us to fail to be engaged in the greatest human rights struggle of our time, namely the need to protect the right to life of the weakest and most vulnerable.

We need committed Catholics in both major political parties to insist upon respect for the values they share with so many other people of faith and good will regarding the protection of the sanctity of human life, the upholding of the institution of marriage between a man and a woman as the foundation of family life, as well as the protection of religious liberty and conscience rights. It is particularly disturbing to witness the spectacle of Catholics in public life vocally upset with the Church for teaching what it has always taught on these moral issues for 2,000 years, but silent in objecting to the embrace, by either political party, of the cultural trends of the past few decades that are totally inconsistent with our nation’s history of defending the weakest and most vulnerable.

Thank you for taking time to consider these reflections on applying the moral principles that must guide our choices as voters. We are called to be faithful Catholics and loyal Americans. In fact, we can only be good citizens if we allow ourselves to be informed by the unchanging moral principles of our Catholic faith.