In conjunction with three articles in the February 16 edition addressing the intricacies of the abortion debate, America offers here three more pieces on that neuralgic subject and other political issues Catholics will have to reckon with under a new presidential administration.
In “A Change in Tone,” Thomas A. Shannon, emeritus professor of religion and social ethics at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, looks back at the “fairly harsh and strident” rhetoric employed by some U.S. bishops prior to the November election, and calls for a change of tone as Catholics seek to establish a respected place in the public square. “When the rhetoric of an argument is reinforced by a position of authority,” Shannon writes, “the danger of neither side in an argument hearing the other is magnified exponentially.”
Gerald Coleman, S.S., a lecturer in moral theology at Santa Clara University, considers the much-talked about Freedom of Choice Act, or FOCA, which Barack Obama has pledged to sign if it reaches his desk. That legislation would vastly expand the rights of women to obtain an abortion, and threatens the independence of Catholic hospitals, Coleman writes, but ultimately he concludes that FOCA has little chance of passing. A far more pressing issue, and one that Catholics would do well to pay more attention to, is the distressing fact that close to 60 percent of young Catholics approve of the legality of abortion.
Finally, Cornelius F. Murphy. Jr., takes another look at Faithful Citizenship, the 2007 document authored by the bishops on the responsibility of the Catholic voter, and finds much in it worth preserving and reflecting upon as Catholics attempt to work with Barack Obama’s new administration. “As Catholics bring their moral principles into the public square,” Murphy writes, “they have a unique opportunity to convince others of their value, since these conceptions of the good belong to all.”