Fifty-five (out of 71) Catholic House Democrats issued a statement that attempts to make their pro-abortion stance legitmate. It fails to do anything but to further publicize their break with the Church established by Christ:
As Catholic Democrats in Congress, we are proud to be part of the living Catholic tradition — a tradition that promotes the common good, expresses a consistent moral framework for life and highlights the need to provide a collective safety net to those individuals in society who are most in need. As legislators, in the U.S. House of Representatives, we work every day to advance respect for life and the dignity of every human being. We believe that government has moral purpose.
If only what they wrote was really true. But when the most vulnerable among us are not safe, no one is safe. Their support, even for partial birth infanticide, makes their assertion here both non-sensical and the height of hypocrisy.
We are committed to making real the basic principles that are at the heart of Catholic social teaching: helping the poor and disadvantaged, protecting the most vulnerable among us, and ensuring that all Americans of every faith are given meaningful opportunities to share in the blessings of this great country. That commitment is fulfilled in different ways by legislators but includes: reducing the rising rates of poverty; increasing access to education for all; pressing for increased access to health care; and taking seriously the decision to go to war. Each of these issues challenges our obligations as Catholics to community and helping those in need.
Catholic faith and morality is not a menu list from which we can randomly select! All they are saying is that if you are born and can vote, then they take your life very seriously. If, however, you are below the radar of their constituencies, then you have little or no value at all. There is a lot of money in dead babies and dead babies cannot vote. Like Pilate they wash their hands of innocent blood; like Caliphas they assert that it is better for one, or even millions to die, than for a whole people– at least those supporting a hedonistic society– to be destroyed. Jesus was silent before Herod, the murderer of John the Baptist; their absurdity also leaves us stunned, if not entirely silent. Take a child’s life and there are no more issues, and no civil rights either.
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. 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. We believe this includes promoting alternatives to abortion, such as adoption, and improving access to children’s healthcare and child care, as well as policies that encourage paternal and maternal responsibility.
It is not only with the Catholic Church that we seek concurrence, but with the Creator, himself. They cannot themselves agree with what the Church teaches in that if it were so they could neither vote nor become spokespersons for the abortion industry. However, each and every one of them has done so and they take money from Planned Parenthood and others who lobby for abortion. If what they said was true, they could not do this. They are bought-and-paid-for and they have made membership in the Democrat party increasingly untenuable for practicing and faithful Catholics. It is somewhat ironic that canon law still forbids membership in organizations deemed incompatible with itself like the Masons, who seem mild and harmless by comparison, when the Democrat party has an explicit platform that conflicts with the core of Church teaching. The Good News, as Pope John Paul II wrote, is precisely the GOSPEL OF LIFE. Abortion attacks at the very heart of the Christian kerygma! You cannot be a Catholic, indeed not any kind of true Christian and disciple of Jesus Christ, while being pro-abortion, in any way. If I had my way, membership in the Democrat party, and in pro-abortion groups like the NAACP, NARAL, Planned parenthood, Catholics for Choice, etc. would be forbidden under pain of mortal sin and excommunication. If and when they disavowed the murder of children, the sanctions could be lifted; but I guess, we will never see churchmen going as far as this… unfortunately.
In all these issues, we seek the Church’s guidance and assistance but believe also in the primacy of conscience. In recognizing the Church’s role in providing moral leadership, we acknowledge and accept the tension that comes with being in disagreement with the Church in some areas. Yet we believe we can speak to the fundamental issues that unite us as Catholics and lend our voices to changing the political debate — a debate that often fails to reflect and encompass the depth and complexity of these issues.
The Church’s guidance is spurned and when we seek to intervene, her tax exemption status is threatened. The “primacy of conscience” does not mean that we can do whatever we like. If my conscience told me that it was okay to blow up abortion clinics, I am sure that someone would put me into restraints and lock me away.
The American Bishops have responded, “As the Church carries out its central responsibility to teach clearly and help form consciences, and as Catholic legislators seek to act in accord with their own consciences, it is essential to remember that conscience must be consistent with fundamental moral principles. As members of the Church, all Catholics are obliged to shape our consciences in accord with the moral teaching of the Church.”
The Christian conscience must be informed by the teaching Church and must abide by certain moral principles. The case made here is further evidence of ecclesiological dissent on their part; and no matter whether they are credentialed or not, they are seeking to convert fellow Catholics to their false understanding. I would submit that they are in heresy about conscience, about the sanctity of human life, and about the core meaning of the Gospel itself. We can work with men and women of good faith outside the Church; however, we should not abandon those elements that constitute the essentials of our identity. They admit to creating tension with the Church in certain matters; but despite their protestation, they do not have the divine authorization to declare these matters insignificant or not part of core teaching. By not admitting the sanctity of human life as a fundamental issue, they seek to maintain the pretense of their Catholicity. We do them no justice in allowing this cherade to continue unchallenged. They are accurate that the “depth” and “complexity” of the issues are not well addressed in public debate; however, they are frequently the ones who seek the shut down discussion about matters like ”the beginning of human life,” “the arbitrary delineation for rights in the womb established by Roe versus Wade,” and “the meaning of human personhood.” They will even use language, not to amplify but to blur the important distinctions that should be made– partial birth is not called “infanticide”, pro-choice is not labeled as “pro-abortion” (the real issue here), and the unborn child is never called a baby, even after nine months, but only the non-discript “fetus”. Before they should start preaching to the bishops; they would do best to get their own house in order.
As legislators, we are charged with preserving the Constitution, which guarantees religious freedom for all Americans. In doing so, we guarantee our right to live our own lives as Catholics, but also foster an America with a rich diversity of faiths. We believe the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties.
But even if a society should be utterly anti-life, the Catholic politician’s first allegiance is not to his constituency, but to his faith in God and the values given to us as believers. It is not for the Catholic politician to vote against his basic beliefs, and I doubt this is really the case anyway, but for him to maintain and fight for them. If his constituents remain unconvinced of his positions, then our system gives them the opportunity to vote him out of office. It would be better to maintain one’s personal integrity and lose an election, then to win an election and forfeit one’s immortal soul. Voting for things in which one does not believe shows just how morally bankrupt these men and women are; they would seek to make the bishops and the rest of the Church into clones of themselves. Further, it is wrong to minimize the right to life position as only a religious stance.
As Catholic Democrats who embrace the vocation and mission of the laity as expressed by Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles Laici, we believe that the Church is the “people of God,” called to be a moral force in the broadest sense. We believe the Church as a community is called to be in the vanguard of creating a more just America and world. And as such, we have a claim on the Church’s hearing as it does on ours.
It is the Church herself that speaks in broad strokes. The role of the laity to be a positive moral force has no “broadest sense” apart from that which is realized in the innumerable practical acts of charity and mercy that we perform. There is always a human face to the moral life of believers. You cannot claim to care for the multitude or for general principles, unless you are also willing to help the beggar at your door, the frightened girl who has visited the local Pregnancy Crisis center, and the child who cannot yet voice his needs and dreams. The politicians write, “…we have a claim on the Church’s hearing as it does ours.” There is some truth to this, but the fact remains that dissenting politicians and others do not constitute the Magisterium. They must distinguish their role as not an authoritative one in the Church. The Church would leave to the laity any political work necessary to achieve a better and more moral society. However, the teaching authority of the Church, and the truths of Christ, are not open to any kind of political or judicial review. The fact is, many so-called Catholic politicians have made themselves into adversaries of the Church on numerous important matters– homosexual behavior and unions, abortion, capital punishment (to a lesser extent), euthanasia, various lines of medical research, etc.
Here are the names signed to the document. It would have been better for them to seek the inclusion of their names in the apocalyptic Book of Life.
The members who signed the statement and how they voted on some of non-negotiable issues for Catholics follow:
Rosa L. DeLauro (Against Partial-birth abortion-NO ; Funding for ESCR-YES; Direction to reconsider Terri Schiavo case-Not Voting)
David R. Obey (PBA-Yes ; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV )
Wm. Lacy Clay (PBA- NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NO)
Hilda L. Solis (PBA- NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
James R. Langevin (PBA-Yes ; ESCR- YES ; Schiavo-Yes)
Bart Stupak (PBA-Yes; ESCR-No; Schiavo-Yes)
Anna Eshoo (PBA-NO; ESCR-NO; Schiavo-NV)
Bill Pascrell (PBA-Yes; ESCR-NO; Schiavo-NO)
Betty McCollum (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Gene Taylor (PBA-Yes; ESCR-No; Schiavo-Yes)
Raul M. Grijalva (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Carolyn McCarthy(PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
John B. Larson (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NO)
Ed Pastor (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Joe Baca (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES ; Schiavo-Yes)
William Delahunt (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Tim Ryan (PBA-Yes; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Silvestre Reyes (PBA-Yes; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Mike Thompson (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Linda T. Sanchez (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Charles A. Gonzalez (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Xavier Becerra (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Diane Watson (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Michael H. Michaud (PBA-Yes; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-Yes)
Nydia Velazquez (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Jim Marshall (PBA-Yes; ESCR-No; Schiavo-Yes)
Frank Pallone (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NO)
John T. Salazar (ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
James P. McGovern (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
George Miller (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Tim Holden (PBA-Yes; ESCR-No; Schiavo-Yes)
James L. Oberstar (PBA-Yes; ESCR-No; Schiavo-Yes)
Dale E. Kildee (PBA-Yes; ESCR-No; Schiavo-Yes)
Patrick J. Kennedy (PBA-Yes; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NO)
Cynthia McKinney (ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NO)
James P. Moran (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NO)
Michael Capuano (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NO)
Richard E. Neal (PBA-Yes; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Mike Doyle (PBA-Yes; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NO)
Peter A. DeFazio (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Maurice Hinchey (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Dennis A. Cardoza (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Joseph Crowley (PBA-Yes; ESCR-YES ; Schiavo-NV)
Jim Costa (ESCR-YES; Schiavo-NV)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (PBA-NO; ESCR-YES; Schiavo-NV)
Loretta Sanchez (PBA-NO; ESCR-YES; Schiavo-NV)
Robert Brady (PBA-NO; ESCR-YES; Schiavo-Yes)
Marty Meehan (PBA-NO; ESCR-YES; Schiavo-NV)
Grace Napolitano (PBA-NO; ESCR-YES; Schiavo-NV)
Luis V. Gutierrez (PBA-NO; ESCR-YES; Schiavo-NO)
Jose Serrano (PBA-NO; ESCR-YES; Schiavo-NV)
Stephen Lynch (PBA-Yes; ESCR-YES; Schiavo-Yes)
Edward J. Markey (PBA-NO; ESCR-YES; Schiavo-NV)
Nancy Pelosi (PBA-NO; ESCR-YES; Schiavo-NV)
Lane Evans (PBA-NO; ESCR-YES; Schiavo-NO)
Maybe those of us who know better, should include all of these names to our prayer lists? The response of the American bishops says clearly, “While it is always necessary to work to reduce the number of abortions by providing alternatives and help to vulnerable parents and children, Catholic teaching calls all Catholics to work actively to restrain, restrict and bring to an end the destruction of unborn human life.”