Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Archbishop Chaput to Roman Catholics for Obama

CNA ran a story with a summary yesterday. Today, the full text of Archbishop Chaput's column is on the First Things blog. Worth reading. He talks about his early involvement in politics, in the Democratic party, as a seminarian, prior to Robert Kennedy's assassination, and then later for Jimmy Carter's re-election bid, when he was a priest in Pennsylvania. He overlooked Carter's waffling on abortion then. And Roman Catholics for Obama seems to be following the same logic. However,
In the years after the Carter loss, I began to notice that very few of the people, including Catholics, who claimed to be "personally opposed" to abortion really did anything about it. Nor did they intend to. For most, their personal opposition was little more than pious hand-wringing and a convenient excuse—exactly as it is today. In fact, I can't name any pro-choice Catholic politician who has been active, in a sustained public way, in trying to discourage abortion and to protect unborn human life—not one. Some talk about it, and some may mean well, but there's very little action. In the United States in 2008, abortion is an acceptable form of homicide. And it will remain that way until Catholics force their political parties and elected officials to act differently.
He goes on to say that on their website, Roman Catholics for Obama quote him on whether it is acceptable for Catholics to vote for a pro-choice candidate ... incompletely, leaving out a very crucial bit
But [Catholics who support pro-choice candidates] also need a compelling proportionate reason to justify it. What is a "proportionate" reason when it comes to the abortion issue? It's the kind of reason we will be able to explain, with a clean heart, to the victims of abortion when we meet them face to face in the next life—which we most certainly will. If we're confident that these victims will accept our motives as something more than an alibi, then we can proceed.
And to conclude:
Changing the views of "pro-choice" candidates takes a lot more than verbal gymnastics, good alibis, and pious talk about "personal opposition" to killing unborn children. I'm sure Roman Catholics for Obama know that, and I wish them good luck. They'll need it.
In a related, but equally neuralgic area, Sherry W has an interesting re-post (from the 2004 election campaign conversation) on issue of communion for pro-abortion politicians. Here's a quote, an issue that I've not really seen addressed anywhere else:
Fisher then made a fascinating comment that I have not heard elsewhere - that there is no basis in Church teaching for comparing two very different "intrinsic evils" and determining that one is objectively and absolutely more grave than the other.

One can compare levels of a similar intrinsic evil. You could say that 4,000 abortions is more grave than 40 or that a genocidal conflict that killed 10,000 was a more grave evil than one in which only 500 died. But you can't, on the basis of current Catholic teaching, categorically determine that abortion, for instance, is always and absolutely more grave than a given unjust war or torture or severe economic injustice. By definition, something that is truly intrinsically evil can't be relatively less evil anymore than a person can be only mostly dead (well, outside the alternate universe of the Princess Bride, anyway - although I did encounter some situations that came pretty close on the cancer unit).

So one cannot state, as definitive Church teaching, that the gravity of the evil of abortion must outweigh all other intrinsic evils or any possible combination of intrinsic evils in our political calculations. An individual could arrive at such a prudential judgment in a particular situation in good faith but an equally faithful Catholic could come to a quite different prudential conclusion in good conscience.
(Emphases in original) Def. read the comments as well. And, Mirror of Justice is having a similar conversation.


Dogwood Dell said...

"Justification" is an other word for spin. It's also a method to avoid the truth - regardless of the topic.

Fortunately the truth is direct and clear.

When one says a situation is complex and deflects around the issue, then one traditionally avoiding the heart of the issue.

Hummmmm....reminds me of a "conversation/debate" (AKA-ambush) we had at a coffee shop one night in 5-Points on a different topic with a thrid party.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to let folks know that we added the four sentences to which the Archbishop refers, plus the following text, to the front page at www.romancatholicsforobama.com:

*Archbishop Chaput's full letter has always been linked from this page, but the quotation above was expanded by four sentences in response to concerns he expressed in his May 19 Denver Catholic Register column. We've urged since we launched the site that voting Catholics read all of the material posted or linked here, and we continue to do so.

We also link to the May 19 column.