Catholic Pro-Abortion Sign

American Catholics choose death

Actually, you apparently can.

For pro-life Americans, perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Barack Obama’s second-term victory is that 51% of Catholic voters sided with him.

It was shocking enough that 54% of Catholics embraced him last time around, but at the very least, you could say in 2008 that the full extent of Obama’s anti-life dogma wasn’t widely known and the alternative wasn’t exactly a crusader for the pro-life cause.

But now?

This is after four years of reminding them that the president believes in a fundamental right to snuff out innocent souls in the womb – and out of it. After he asserted state dominance over the religious liberties of private Catholic institutions. After he stood for taking Catholics’ money and putting it to abortion against their will.

Really? The end result of all that was a whopping three-percent decrease in Obama’s Catholic support?

Sure, the mainstream media wasn’t about to vet Obama’s gravest offenses, and Mitt Romney’s campaign was generally unwilling to raise them. Yes, some bought the fiction that Romney’s and Paul Ryan’s economic views were equally bad affronts to Catholicism. And a few especially gullible Catholics may have been hoodwinked into thinking ObamaCare was somehow “pro-life.”

But the unavoidable truth is that a majority of Catholics who went to the polls were faced with something their own faith defines as a mortal sin and chose to overlook it. The suffering of God’s children called to them, and they didn’t answer.

In every religion, there are cafeteria believers who pick up the parts that make them feel good while ignoring the inconvenient stuff, who see churches as nice social bodies but not true representatives of divine authority and wisdom. It now appears that constitute a greater share of American Catholicism than pro-lifers have been willing to admit.

Perhaps how the culture sees them is of greater concern than how God does. Perhaps they stand to gain something else from other issues that trumps whatever pangs of conscience they might feel from abortion. Perhaps they embrace the modern sexual ethos to the point where they were happy to get a birth control deal at the expense of their fellow Catholics’ rights. Perhaps they just don’t care about the unborn.

To be fair, it’s not as if their leaders were putting forth a united, unambiguous message about the right to life. Throughout the campaign, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops implied that abortion was no more morally objectionable than fiscal policies they opposed.

More importantly, for years the church’s actions have not matched its rhetoric on abortion’s evil. Ted Kennedy, Rudy Giuliani, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, and scores of other prominent self-professed Catholics in public office have unabashedly promoted abortion – theoretically an excommunicable offense, yet the excommunication never happens. If flouting the faith has no consequences for abortion’s most powerful protectors, why would anyone expect more out of the average churchgoer?

It’s no wonder Catholics don’t oppose abortion to a meaningfully greater degree than the average American: the forces guiding their perspective on the subject aren’t that much more compelling than those acting on the rest of the country.

While Catholic theology remains a powerful worldview that sides unambiguously with the right to life, and the church may remain a powerful champion of the unborn elsewhere in the world, it is sadly time for pro-lifers to face an unpleasant reality: the United States’ Catholic community is no longer a natural ally of the pro-life cause.

I pray that my Catholic friends and allies succeed in revitalizing their church’s commitment to life, but as a pro-lifer, my duty to the unborn takes priority. That means refocusing on the right to life’s essential nature as a universal liberty cause rather than a sectarian doctrinal one, resolving to challenge abortion’s defenders and enablers no matter how close to home they reside, and – while still reminding wayward Catholics what their theology really says on the subject – maintaining more realistic expectations about whether that will be enough to reach them.

  • Ward Ricker

    What is to be surprised about? Using religious arguments will not lead
    people to oppose abortion, especially when abortion is not even directly
    mentioned in the Bible. If people wish
    to do so they can use the Bible to support abortion, just as much as they can
    use it to oppose abortion. (It’s all in
    the interpretation.)

    And now we can see it clearly. It was the Catholic Church which took
    “the bull by the horns” back when abortion laws were being
    liberalized, and the Catholic Church has consistently opposed abortion
    since. So now we see that over half of
    their own people don’t follow their teachings on the subject (at least not
    enough to make them vote against a pro-abortion president. And I believe the abortion rate among
    Catholics is as high as among non-Catholics).
    Is it any surprise that the rest of the world out there isn’t voting
    against abortion?

    If we wish to end abortion we have to move it out of the religious
    arena. Abortion is not a religious
    issue, except to the extent that people allow their religious beliefs to guide
    their own personal decisions about whatever issues they are faced with. Abortion is a human rights issue – pure and
    simple. It is about the right to life
    guaranteed in the Constitution and we would like to think is a universal value
    held by the human race. The problem is
    not that Catholics don’t take a strong stand against abortion. The problem is that people who otherwise
    stand for human rights do not. At my
    website I have listed all the “Human Rights Organizations” listed in
    the Yahoo! Directory – over 100 of them: http://www.abortionreason.com/humanrightsorgs.php.
    Out of those, only three oppose
    abortion! Fifty so-called “Human
    Rights Organizations” actually support killing preborn human beings! Fifty-or-so more don’t seem to have anything
    to say about the greatest human rights violation going on in the world
    today.

    This is where the problem lies. It makes little difference what the Catholic
    Church says; their members are going to do what they want anyway. But when
    people who claim to stand for human rights support abortion, what chance do we
    have of ending it? We need to stand against
    abortion not because it violates “God’s will”, but because it is a
    flagrant violation of human rights, and we need to get people, especially the
    people in “Human Rights Organizations”, to see this. They will see it much more clearly when we
    keep issues of God and religion out of the debate.

    • Ward Ricker

      Sorry about the messed up formatting.

  • Sparky

    Oh Calvin it’s even worse than that. Hispanic Catholics voted for the President 76% to 23%. You can bet the Republican Party is about to drop your cause like a bad habit in the next cycle, because as Romney said himself if the Repbulican Party loses the Hispanic vote it will cease to exist as a viable party. Here’s to hoping the bubble remains intact.

    http://srnnews.townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2012/11/08/most_catholics_vote_for_obama_but_latinos_and_whites_divided?page=1

    • Jean

      If the Republican party drops the pro-life cause (which is highly unlikely), they will definitely cease to exist as a viable party.
      Also, most Hispanics didn’t not vote for Romney because he is pro-life, but because of his stance against illegal immigration.

      • Sparky

        That’s the point. They voted for the pro-choice candidate despite their social value differences. But hopefully the Republican Party will take your advice and consign themselves to irrelevance.

      • standtall909

        Ahhh………..now we’re hitting the nail on the head. You got it Jean, the abortion issue with the hispanic population is secondary. Their main concern is immigration. The kicker is that the Priests and Bishops in highly concentrated hispanic communities, are not even talking about it. Their prime focus is immigration and social justice. Abortion and gay marriage is not even on their radar in most hispanic communities. Abortion is just not the focus. And that is a fact. I know, I am in a large hispanic parish.

  • ProTruth2

    Throughout the campaign, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops implied that abortion was no more morally objectionable than fiscal policies they opposed.

    Just FYI, it’s always a good idea to read the original documents, since bloggers are not necessarily the most reliable narrators. No intellectually honest reading of the bishops’ “Faithful Citizenship” guide could possibly conclude that it implied that abortion is no more morally objectionable than a fiscal policy; perhaps that is why the blogger that you used as a source chose not to link to the document. I would encourage you to read it, so that you may be better informed. The bishops’ April letter to the House Committee on Agriculture, cited by the other blogger, has nothing to do with abortion or the presidential campaign.

    prominent self-professed Catholics in public office have unabashedly promoted abortion – theoretically an excommunicable offense, yet the excommunication never happens.

    No canon lawyer agrees with this statement. One of the greatest living canon lawyers, Edward Peters, explains excommunication and politicians in this post (A Primer for Those Who Prefer Knowing to Opining), which may or may not interest you. Canonists and moral theologians agree that someone who advocates for abortion ought not to present him or herself to take the Eucharist, and that he or she should be advised of that fact privately. There is canonical justification for a priest to publicly refuse Communion to that individual if he or she presents him/herself anyway, but there are also pastoral reasons for him to not do so. If you are genuinely interested in the moral and pastoral teachings on participation in and denial of the Eucharist, there is plenty of information out there.

    To be fair, it’s not as if their leaders were putting forth a united, unambiguous message about the right to life.

    I will admit confusion as to why a blog post that makes assertions about what message Catholic leaders send does not link to any message sent by a Catholic leader, particularly when the Catholic church issued many statements, fact sheets, and bulletin inserts on pro-life issues in general and the HHS insurance mandates in particular. For future reference, the USCCB’s website is helpful when you want to pontificate on what Catholic leaders teach.

    • http://twitter.com/CalFreiburger Calvin Freiburger

      And once again, AntiTruth obsessively tortures fact, logic, and interpretation to conjure up errors where none exist, to indulge his pathetic fantasies.

      “No intellectually honest reading of the bishops’ “Faithful Citizenship” guide could possibly conclude that it implied that abortion is no more morally objectionable than a fiscal policy”

      As would be obvious to saner, more fair-minded readers than you, I’m not denying any of the pro-life things Catholic leaders have said; I’m pointing out that the rhetoric I link to — “serious moral questions,” “resist for moral and human reasons,” “these are economic, political and moral choices with human consequences,” etc. — provided sufficient cover to those who wanted to rationalize voting against life (and of course, as I’m sure someone as exquisitely informed as you must be aware, similar comments about non-abortion issues have been made with some regularity by church officials). It’s great to call abortion a “grave evil” and such, but that doesn’t at all imply ignoring the other positions they stake out couldn’t be “evil” or “sinful” too, in their eyes, and to contend otherwise strikes me as mere semantics.

      “No canon lawyer agrees with this statement.”

      Gee, if only I had linked to some sort of Catholic or Scriptural elaboration on that theory….and maybe put it in blue text, so it’s nice and easy to see…..even if Peters is correct and all the devout Catholics I’ve known are wrong, it seems abortion being more acceptable in the Church’s eyes would *strengthen* my argument by making them look *worse* on the issue, not the other way around.

      Lastly, as I’m sure you’re also fully aware, I know what the USCCB has said on the mandate, etc., because I’ve written about it repeatedly right here. Nothing I’ve written in this post denies or contradicts that they’ve done good. The point is how their misdirection and similar rhetoric on other issues clouds the clarity of their message on abortion (Indeed, a smart cookie like you so committed to understanding things accurately ought to know that’s kind of implied by criticizing mixed messages) — and how, ultimately, Catholics overall aren’t taking the pro-life message to heart.

      • http://twitter.com/Astraspider Astraspider

        “(The Bishops’) misdirection and similar rhetoric on other issues clouds the clarity of their message on abortion”

        Welcome to the real electorate. No one is a one issue voter (well, not many of us). Picking sides might seem easy for you and me, but there’s a lot of internal calibrating to be done for a voter in the middle. Hispanic Catholics probably cared more that the Republicans spent their entire election cycle insulting them, rather than what one part of church doctrine might teach. Whites who don’t attend church regularly were a winning group for Obama, so Catholics get folded in there, too, and may have voted on a variety of issues. And there are also large swaths of religious constituencies whose nature is not to bring their faith into the voting booth.

        “… it is sadly time for pro-lifers to face an unpleasant reality: the United States’ Catholic community is no longer a natural ally of the pro-life cause.”

        You and I have bandied this back and forth for a while. I’m feeling a little self-satisfied that you’ve come over to my view: that the Bishops are your natural ally but the laypeople really aren’t. My one cudgel on that front was always Catholic birth-control use rates. Maybe now you’ll appreciate that as a leading indicator.

        • http://twitter.com/CalFreiburger Calvin Freiburger

          “I’m feeling a little self-satisfied that you’ve come over to my view”

          Actually, you’re rewriting history. I haven’t changed a thing, and what I’ve written above *isn’t* what you were arguing. You were using the fact that many Catholics have no objections to birth control as a cheap excuse to take away the freedom of Catholics who do. I explained why that was morally horrendous and intellectually laughable.

          “expecting the Bishops to stop communicating social justice doctrine to service only abortion politics is a little absurd”

          I don’t expect them to “stop communicating social justice doctrine”; I just think it would be nice if they stopped defining “social justice” in ways the Bible does not and employing it to defend policies and oppose reforms that have nothing to do with helping the needy.

          • Mickey

            I’m impressed Calvin. Not only do you know more than constitutional law professors but you also know more about theology than Bishops themselves. You should be named Emperor.

          • http://twitter.com/CalFreiburger Calvin Freiburger

            Trolling with straw-men may be easier than articulating disagreement with actual ideas, but it’s about what I’ve come to expect from pro-choice commenters.

          • Mickey

            You pick and cherry pick what doctrine you wish to follow just like everyone else Calvin. Get real.

          • http://twitter.com/CalFreiburger Calvin Freiburger

            Well, you don’t see me creating reasons to kill anyone my faith (nondenominational Christian, by the way) tells me not to kill.

      • ProTruth2

        to indulge his pathetic fantasies.

        I’m a she, actually. Your error is forgiven.

        • http://profiles.google.com/jflare29 John Flaherty

          I completely disagree with your assessment.
          I CAN understand understand how an intelligent reader could misunderstand the bishops’ statements, especially with regard to abortion and economics.
          Most statements regarding abortion HAVE stated that abortion needs to take precedence, sure, but most of those same statements have made their point in language that’s so wishy-washy that nobody really cares.

          Contrast this with the statements from bishops earlier this year that implied that the Ryan budget could well place the souls of the populace at risk. Again, they never outright condemned him per se, but they only very reluctantly admitted that he might have a point. Even his own bishop struck me as being rather more tepid than needed.

          I also contest the rationale that Dr Peters might provide for refusing excommunication or denying communion. Yes, it’s true that the persons involved need to be brought back to faith. It’s ALSO true that such people DO inflict scandal on the Church and the public.
          My key beef with Dr Peters is, he insists on being a canon lawyer. ..And insists on being just that legalistic and equivocal. Such legalisms and equivocations have their place, but they require a very different approach to catechesis to be genuinely effective. In the present cultural context, Dr Peters’ typical reasons strike me as being almost worthless.

          Most pastoral reasons I have ever heard essentially amount to one thing: Bishops don’t want to stir controversy.
          I think this a very serious problem. A bishop’s role inherently involves controversy.
          I think the bishops will need to be much more vigorous about discipline within the Church if we wish to see this country survive.

          • ProTruth2

            My key beef with Dr Peters is, he insists on being a canon lawyer. And insists on being just that legalistic and equivocal.

            Excommunication is a canonical penalty. It is governed by canon law. You might not like the law, but jurisprudence is a thing on which not all opinions are equally valid.

            In the present cultural context, Dr Peters’ typical reasons strike me as being almost worthless…I think the bishops will need to be much more vigorous about discipline within the Church if we wish to see this country survive.

            The “present cultural context” is one in which Catholic politicians are electable, in part because their opponents cannot plausibly say that their votes are controlled by church officials. Catholic leaders shouldn’t be too eager to change that state of affairs. Conservative Christians are currently in a marriage of convenience with Catholics, but they don’t like your faith, they don’t consider your interpretations of scripture to be valid, and if you ever cease to have common goals (e.g., if abortion is outlawed), they will turn on you. Catholics are barely a quarter of the population. That’s not going to be enough to get a politician elected if s/he is running against an opponent with an ad campaign promising to represent his/her constituency rather than the Vatican.

            Excommunication as a means of influencing political leaders has a history of backfiring that goes all the way back to the Middle Ages. It’s not going to be effective in a religiously pluralistic society.

  • irishsmile

    As a strong pro-life Catholic, I do have a dog in this fight. According to the published stats, Hispanic Catholics supported Obama by 20% more than Evangelical Hispanics. There are, I believe two glaring reasons for this difference. The first is pretty obvious. Being baptized, married & buried in the Catholic Church does not make one a practicing Catholic by any stretch of the imagination… & far too many people check-off Catholic as their religion when it just isn’t accurate. They are CINO’s, Catholic in name only, & this is, unfortunately, very common.They are definitely not practicing catholics nor are they even practicing ‘Christians’ too often.
    The second red flag is the lack of spiritual leadership at the top in some/many dioceses. If the bishop won’t lead the way… most/many of the lower-level clergy are terrified to speak out because it is a very short stick in a hornet’s nest. If each and every bishop had ensured that the 5 non- negotiables (abortion, fetal stem cell, cloning, euthanasia and gay marriage) of the Catholic Faith had been explained and taught in every parish, perhaps the Catholic stat would have been analagous to the Evangelical stat. Faithful Citizenship left a lot of wiggle room…. and, believe me, few Catholics even bothered to read it. It was just one more wordy document. The question now for me, as a Catholic, is whether the USCCB, as a group, will man-up and really fight this war giving no quarter to the abortion promoters. Political expediency within the clergy is one of the big reasons for the psycho ‘Catholic’ vote.

  • MOS was 71331

    How does anyone know the religions of the people who voted for 0bama? There’s nothing on a ballot requiring the voter to identify his or her religion, and, even if there were, there’s no way to tell whether the voter correctly identified his or her religion. I suppose it’s possible people entering or leaving the polls were asked about their votes and their religion. I was an election judge in El Paso county, Colorado, and there were no people outside my assigned polling place asking questions of entering and departing voters. I’d bet these cited percentages come from questions asked of only a few hundred or a few thousand voters.

    Most of the religious statistics on women getting abortions are collected and published by the Guttmacher folks, and they don’t explain how they obtain their numbers. I doubt many abortion clinics ask their women patients what religion they practice, and I also expect many patients would lie when they answer such a question. A pro-abortion zealot would probably claim to be Catholic to discredit the most outspoken religion which opposes abortion.

    • Sparky

      What other conspiracy theories are running around in that head of yours? Oh, please, do go on.

  • http://twitter.com/Mundabor Mundabor

    Mr Freiburger, as a staunch European Catholics I see two main issues: 1) the appalling instruction and 2) the cowardly clergy. The two are closely interconnected, as it was the cowardice that impeded the instruction and it is the lack of instruction which makes it difficult for the “catholics” (small c) to really “get” the warnings.

    What is needed is an open fight and shocking measures: excommunication for *all* the likes of Biden & Pelosi, constant hammering from the pulpit, and much more aggressive bishops.

    We aren’t there, and Cardinal Dolan rubs himself against Obama as if he were a nice chap good for a chap and a laugh.

    Therefore, the “catholics” (small c) remain poorly instructed, and the clergy continues to behave cowardly.

    It might change, of course. But from Rome and from New York the decision must come that we are at war, and must act accordingly. Until this happens, I can’t see any big change.

    Mundabor

  • Patricia

    I think it would be great if just a small amount of the energy being put into defending the Catholic church here would be channeled back into saving life. I personally have never understood why people remain with a church whose teachings they don’t agree with and don’t intend to obey. If my church body did not strongly dtsnd for life I would be out of there. If they don’t agree with Catholic teachings, why do they stay?

  • http://profiles.google.com/jflare29 John Flaherty

    Since the election last week, I keep hearing about how the GOP needs to “quit worrying about the social issues so much” and focus on economics. For the life of me, I can’t understand the gripe.
    I’m hard pressed to explain any time the GOP genuinely mentioned anything of worth about social issues in the first place.
    How can a party abandon principles that it never truly espoused in the first place?

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