Obama supporter takes pope’s statement on abortion out of context

Tue, 09/02/2008 - 3:26pm
By: Letters to the ...

As a Catholic, I felt I had to respond to Robert Clark’s letter regarding Catholics and voting for Obama. It is disingenuous to use statements made by Pope Benedict XVI (at the time Cardinal Ratzinger) to try and justify voting for a pro-abortion politician.

Mr. Clark was referring to the memorandum entitled “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion – General Principles,” which was not written specifically to address the issue of Catholics and voting. It was written to address the problem of Catholic politicians who support abortion and then present themselves to receive communion during mass.

The actual paragraph in the statement is, “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.” (Please go here for an excellent explanation of material cooperation and proportionate reasons by Bishop John Myers – scroll down to “types of complicity in abortion” http://www.wf-f.org/Myers-90-cooperation.html)

If one is well versed in the Catechism and teachings of the Catholic faith and has read the statement by Cardinal Ratzinger in is entirety, one would have a much fuller understanding of the moral implications of voting in regard to one’s communion with the Catholic Church.

The memorandum definitely does not support a vote for any pro-abortion candidate by any means. Considering that the Catholic Church teaches that abortion is the unjust killing of an innocent life, “proportionate reasons,” in the case of deciding on Obama over McCain, would not absolve you from “remote material cooperation.”

Barack Obama may be a staunch supporter of the poor and downtrodden, and he may have excellent programs in every other way, but without the right to be born, without protection for the most vulnerable of society, what do these things really mean?

If one is faced with the choice of two pro-abortion candidates, one could use proportionate reason to vote for one of them (versus not voting at all) by weighing the other issues involved.

Between a pro-life candidate and a pro-abortion candidate, if your wish is to vote in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church, you simply cannot vote for the pro-abortion candidate.

“Proportionate reasons” is not some “out” given by the Church to vote however you want and remain sinless.

It seems to be some sort of code for being unenlightened to call Catholics “one-issue voters” when it comes to abortion. However, to an informed Catholic with a well-formed conscience, the issue of defense of the life of the unborn is intricately connected with the sacredness and defense of all life in every aspect in accordance with natural law.

Abortion represents so much more than just another issue. It’s not just abortion that the Catholic Church is against. It’s an entire cultural mindset that sets the selfish interests of the one person against anything that stands in its way, even an unborn child in the womb of its mother.

It is a fight against the “dictatorship of moral relativism,” to quote Pope Benedict XVI, where anything goes as long as it “feels right.” We have done great harm to society with this type of thinking.

We kill our children in the womb day after day and then we actually have the temerity to find it “shocking” when schoolchildren shoot up a school or passers-by walk past a dying person on the street with hardly a backward glance.

Isn’t abortion turning to murder to solve the “problem” of an unwanted pregnancy?

Our children are taught that murder is a solution, that life is not sacred, and that only lives that are perfect and wanted at that particular moment have a right to be born. Abortion is the seedbed of violence.

No matter what your religious affiliation, a child in the womb is a human. He/she will not be born a bald eagle, a puppy or a horse. (The bald eagle’s eggs are protected by the government!) When a woman is pregnant, she is pregnant with a child.

How can it possibly be that her emotional state alone determines whether she carries a “clump of cells” to be rejected or a beautiful growing child worthy of life?

If a man kills his wife and unborn child, he can go to prison guilty of two murders. But, a woman can kill that same child and it’s considered just another choice – does this make sense? But ... I digress.

In determining who to vote for in the upcoming election, as Catholics, we have the choice between someone who is against abortion and someone who is for it, more for it than any politician I have ever seen.

If we call ourselves Catholics and practice our faith in full, we simply cannot in good conscience vote for Barack Obama or support anyone with this type of pro-abortion record.

Another quote from the same memorandum, “Christians have a ‘grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. [...] This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it.’”

In a world that finds very little to be scandalous, it is quite simply a scandal that so many people who are politicians and who support abortion should call themselves Catholic too. They mislead Catholics and non-Catholics alike. They are jettisoning their spiritual beliefs for personal material gain (to be elected). Jesus never said being a Christian would be easy. In fact, he promised that it would be difficult.

For anyone who is interested, I would highly recommend reading the encyclical letter “Evangelium Vitae” by Pope John Paul II. It gives a very good overview of where the Church stands on the issue of life, not just abortion, but the many issues that are related to it.

As I said before, abortion is not just about one issue. It’s about our enslavement so thoroughly to our personal pleasure that we would sacrifice a human life to continue on with whatever was so important to us that it cannot be interrupted by a child – a child that is a consequence of the choice not to put off that pleasure until the time when that same child would not be considered a burden.

“To claim the right to abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over others and against others. This is the death of true freedom: ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin’ (Jn 8:34).” (From Evangelium Vitae).

The Catholic Church will not tell you for whom to cast your vote. However, the Church will give guidelines for moral behavior in accordance with God’s laws, and it will, based on these laws, tell us if we are in communion with the Church or in a state of sin that needs to be reconciled before receiving the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ at Mass.

If you feel you must vote for Barack Obama, that is certainly your choice. But please, please, do not use the pope’s statements or the teachings of the Catholic Church to try and justify a vote for a pro-abortion candidate.

Myths, misunderstandings and misperceptions abound regarding the teachings of the Catholic Church. It’s understandable coming from those outside the Catholic faith. Unfortunately, many, many Catholics have never taken the time to truly understand the faith they profess. As with so many things, we have to take the time to seek and to learn. I would urge anyone voting in this election to truly look at the issue of abortion and what it means to us as a society.

Susan Bertram

Peachtree City, Ga.

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