Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Catholics for Obama?

Catholics for Obama?

          President Obama is doubling down on his persecution of the Church, particularly through the HHS mandate.  Hercules Industries won an injunction against the mandate, and the administration has appealed.  And the President has made it clear that his determinations of what violates Catholic consciences are more authoritative than the judgments of actual Catholics, including the Pope.
          Now we have Catholics in swing states receiving phone calls from people claiming to be practicing Catholics supporting Obama, asking them how they could really consider voting for Mitt Romney, a Mormon.  Now I doubt if many of these callers are really Catholics, and if any are really practicing Catholics, and I find it deeply offensive that they would suggest that a voter’s Catholic Faith should make him a bigot.  Catholics, of any religious group, should have the historical awareness to be sensitive to people being disqualified from public service due to their religion.
          It is clear that the President is actively courting the Catholic vote while at the same time persecuting the Church.  And it is time for all of us Catholics, especially those considering voting for the President, to take a long, hard, honest look at ourselves.
          I wrote not long ago of a conversation I had with a professor of moral theology about the idea of an Obama vote potentially being a mortal sin.  He acknowledged that it would be unconscionable to vote for a candidate who supported racial segregation, and eventually agreed that the same must be said about abortion.  There are numerous intrinsic evils supported and promoted by President Obama that make a vote for him morally indefensible, but I would like to think a little more deeply about abortion and segregation.
          Most of our friends who are practicing Catholics and Obama supporters would at least give voice to the pro-life message.  If pressed, they would also claim that they would not vote for a candidate who supported racial segregation, or slavery for that matter, regardless of that candidate’s positions on other issues.  My point today is not to argue, but to encourage reflection, because I contend that in many cases, that is exactly what they would do.
          Let’s go back a few generations to the time when Southern Democrats, the Dixiecrats, were a major force in the Democratic Party.  Many ran for President and a couple could realistically have gotten the nomination.  Our Democrat Catholic friends should imagine being in that situation, with a Dixiecrat running against a Republican for the President of the United States, in 1948, perhaps.
          The Dixiecrat takes every position that Barack Obama currently takes, and the Republican takes every position of Mitt Romney.  Most importantly, the Dixiecrat has a “D” after his name on the ballot.  He also, however, favors racial segregation, or at least allowing states “choice” over segregation.  He may even be personally opposed to segregation, but he will not impose his morality on communities in states that want it.
          Would our 21st century Catholic Democrats refuse to vote for such a candidate?  Out of hand, almost all would probably claim they would refuse.  But I would ask them to think a little more deeply about the question.  Surely there were many people who thought segregation was wrong, but voted for candidates who supported it because they felt the culture and political climate made it imprudent to cast a vote on that single issue.  Many of these were church-going people who considered their votes very reasonable, perhaps even open-minded.
          The modern Catholic Democrat may object that that’s totally different from abortion today.  But I contend that the only difference is that we can look at issues like segregation with 20/20 hindsight.  If we were living in that period, we would have been in a culture that saw such things with gray areas all around.  We would have gotten the same arguments that we get today about abortion, and if we give in to them now, there is no reason to believe we wouldn’t have given in to them then.  Only the Church stands for human rights on these issues with no gray areas.  If we are unwilling to let a Catholic conscience be our guide today, why do we believe we would have done so 70 years ago?
          The other difference is that abortion is even worse than segregation.  Segregation denies the basic human dignity of a class of human beings.  Abortion does the same.  Segregation denies certain people many of their basic human rights.  Abortion denies certain people all of them.
          It may sound like I am taking a judgmental tone, but I am not.  I only judge the objective morality of actions, and would never judge someone’s subjective culpability.  Most have never seriously thought about these things anyway.  I am writing this as a call for self-reflection.  If you are a Catholic Obama supporter, please take the time to consider what your political loyalty might really allow you to support.  There were many religious people who opposed slavery that voted for candidates who promoted it.  It was the votes of practicing Christians that brought Hitler to power. 
          If you know a Catholic Obama supporter, the opportunity may arise to lovingly pose these questions.  For those of us who refuse to support intrinsic evils with our votes, that is great.  But we are not off the hook, either.  The Republican Party is not the Catholic Party, and our participation in it should serve the purpose of bringing our values to the party, not supporting every platform position without question.
          If all people of faith had refused to allow their votes to advance the cause of slavery or segregation, the suffering of countless men, women and children would have been ended generations earlier than it was.  The same is true of abortion.  If every pro-life person refused to allow his or her vote to be used to advance the killing, the right to life of every human being in this country would already be restored.  It would never have been lost in the first place.
          At the time, men and women who stand firm for these principles are labeled as closed-minded, judgmental, and unreasonable by their opponents.  But history regards them as heroes.  Let us, as Catholic Americans, be labeled however we must, but in history, may we go down as a generation of heroes.  May we be the ones who stopped the killing, who restored value in our society for every human being, and may we receive our reward in Heaven.