Bishops and Obama

First Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput criticized Democratic nominee by name and suggested that those who support him of having "done a disservice to the Church, confused the natural priorities of Catholic social teaching, undermined the progress pro-lifers have made, and provided an excuse for some Catholics to abandon the abortion issue…"

Then, Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino interrupted a forum trying to discuss the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ document "Faithful Citizenship." That document was adopted by the entire hierarchy last November with 97.8 percent of the bishops voting in favor of its passage. But, according to Bishop Martino "No USCCB document is relevant in this diocese…The USCCB doesn’t speak for me."

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Now, Bishop Rene Gracida, the retired bishop of Corpus Christi, has made a commercial that states no Catholic can vote for a pro-abortion candidate and that "Barack Hussein Obama is a pro-abortion candidate." Bishop Gracida, you may recall, made such a mess of his diocese that he found himself in civil court being sued by his brother bishops in Texas. And, his radio ad is being distributed by Randall Terry, famous for starting Operation Rescue. "I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you," Terry said in 1993. "I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good.... Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a Biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this country. We don’t want equal time. We don’t want pluralism." Charming.

Along with Chaput and Martino, Gracia fails to see why it is inappropriate for clergy to endorse candidates by name. To be sure, it is undoubtedly the role of the hierarchy and clergy to help the laity form their conscience. But, selecting a candidate is the end of the process of conscience formation. The prelates have allowed their concern for abortion, which is understandable, to color their assessment of the value of different approaches to the issue, which is up for debate, leading them to oppose Obama by name in public, which is inappropriate.

Why is it inappropriate? The bishops’ document "Faithful Citizenship" says, "In fulfilling these responsibilities, the Church’s leaders are to avoid endorsing or opposing candidates or telling people how to vote. As Pope Benedict XVI stated in Deus Caritas Est, ‘The Church wishes to help form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest. . . . The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible.’"

But, there is another reason. Voters have to assess not only a set of policy positions but the character of the candidates. The three prelates dismiss the distinction the Obama has drawn between being pro-choice and being pro-abortion. Given the history of the Democratic Party on the issue, their suspicion is understandable: could Obama merely be giving lip-service to abortion reduction? But, what to make of John McCain "straight talk" when he says that he believes life begins at conception and, in the very next breath, affirms his support for embryonic stem cell research? Which would be better for the pro-life cause: a sincere Obama who promotes abortion reduction or a cynical McCain who does only what is needed to manipulate pro-life voters? Maybe Obama is not sincere and maybe McCain was as confused as Nancy Pelosi when discussing embryonic stem cell research. It is up to voters to make such determinations, not prelates.

In the end, the stance of Chaput, Martino and Gracida harkens back to the days when the laity were expected to "pray, pay and obey." But, we lay people will not be infantilized. I saw 100,000 people fill downtown Denver yesterday to cheer on Obama. Their archbishop should realize that his approach is ill-advised for another reason: It is not working.

Michael Sean Winters

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9 years 1 month ago
Sen. Obama addresses this claim in a recent interview with Relevant magazine: “The email rumor that’s been floating around is that somehow I’m unwilling to see doctors offer life-saving care to children who were born as a result of an induced abortion. That’s just false. There was a bill that came up in Illinois that was called the “Born Alive” bill that purported to require life-saving treatment to such infants. And I did vote against that bill. The reason was that there was already a law in place in Illinois that said that you always have to supply life-saving treatment to any infant under any circumstances, and this bill actually was designed to overturn Roe v. Wade, so I didn’t think it was going to pass constitutional muster. Ever since that time, emails have been sent out suggesting that, somehow, I would be in favor of letting an infant die in a hospital because of this particular vote. That’s not a fair characterization, and that’s not an honest characterization. It defies common sense to think that a hospital wouldn't provide life-saving treatment to an infant that was alive and had a chance of survival.” Senator Obama has stated repeatedly that he supported the federal version of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, which passed Congress and addressed this same issue. Senator Obama opposed a state version of this legislation in Illinois because there was an existing state law that had been on the books for 20 years that already required such medical care, it was drafted in a way that would have rendered it unconstitutional, and it was even opposed by the Illinois State Medical Society.
9 years 1 month ago
I find it troubling that Archbishop Chaput, and others, think that disagreeing with them does a disservice. I believe quite the reverse is true. When the hierarchy is wrong, there is an obligation to do so in whatever way the Spirit prompts. Had Jesus and the Prophets followed the Archbishops dictates, there would be no Church. For the Archbishop to deny the gift of prophesy by the faithful is hubris and a denial of the workings of the Holy Spirit.
9 years 1 month ago
From Glenn, quoting Sen. Obama "It defies common sense to think that a hospital wouldn't provide life-saving treatment to an infant that was alive and had a chance of survival" Exactly! Of course it defies common sense but this is exactly what happened at Christ Hospital (yes, Christ, as in Our Lord and Saviour) in Illinois, as reported by its Labor and Delivery nurses in independent testimony to Congress. It is this testimony that lead to the passage of the Born Alive Infants Protection Act. And it the same testimony that Sen. Obama heard as a state senator. One nurse recalled the plight of a 22 week old with Down Syndrome who was born alive after a failed abortion. In jarring testimony, she reports taking the baby to a soiled utility room, wrapping him in a blanket, and watching him gasp for breath for 45 minutes before his death. The hospital admitted that 20% of its abortions result in a live birth and those statistics presume a similar ghastly end for several children. Note Obama's careful choice of words-- "an infant that had a chance of survival". This particular infant had a chance of survival but it may have been low, very low. But one wouldn't know unless a doctor intubated the infant and transferred him to a neonatal intensive care unit for further care. But why would you think an abortionist would have any vested interest in even trying to save a life that he had just attempted to destroy? That was the point of this bill-- that doctors indeed were not trying. But Sen. Obama, out of an allegiance to Roe v. Wade, chose not only to not vote in favor of the bill, but actively fight against it on the floor of the Illinois State Senate. I don't think Sen. Obama supports infanticide, and verbal hyperbole on this is not helping the real substantive prolife arguments on this. On the other hand, I do think that his allegiance to Roe v. Wade is so extreme that it has blinded him to any consideration of the fetus.
9 years 1 month ago
So you think that the Bishops should not point out that voting for Obama means voting for a man who is rabidly pro-abortion and agains banning partial birth abortion? I can't believe this nonsense and all the mental gymnastics that so many of your ilk are performing in order to try to convince yourselves and others that this travesty is justified. See John 11:35
9 years 1 month ago
The McCain Family did the ultimate pro-life action---they adopted a child. So it is unfair to say that McCain only gives lip service to the pro-life cause. We can never forget that Obama voted against helping and giving medical assistance to a child who survived an abortion. In the Obama world it is better to let such a child die---like the lawyer and Pharisee who walked past the man in need of assistance in the beautiful parable of the Good Samaritan. As to criticizing Bishops for using the middle name of Obama--aren't Christians or those who purport to be Christian proud of their middle names?
9 years 1 month ago
Most of the Catholics I know are voting for Obama. We are very concerned about this country's violent immigration policy, poverty, health care, wars, etc. etc. We believe that Obama and the Democrats will do a better job of understanding these issues and doing something about them. I have talked to many Catholics about this. This would include all the Catholics who get together for coffee after Mass at the church (monastery) where I go to Mass.
9 years 1 month ago
Glenn, I'm sorry the facts do not coincide with what you say Obama says. It would not be the first time Barack has said one thing and did another. Do you remember he said he would agree to public financing and then when he learned that he could get more money from his supporters, some of whom are opposed to western civilization, he reneged on his promises? Do you honestly believe Obama that he never heard Jeremiah Wright preach a gospel of hatred and bigotry?
9 years 1 month ago
By the way, Christ Hospital considered this treatment of the born alive infant-- taking him or her to a utility closet and wrapping in a blanket-- to be "comfort care". How far the culture of death has sunk! And I don't think it is a coincidence that it has caused our society to look with similar disdain on the poor, elderly, etc. If our culture can't recognize the dignity of the most innocent of God's creatures, how can it recognize it in any other vulnerable populations?
9 years 1 month ago
There is a major difference between telling a person which candidate for whom to vote, and that a certain candidate is simply unacceptable. Chaput has said that in his personal opinion there is absolutely no justification for voting for Obama. He is right. A Catholic cannot vote for Obama in good conscience, not with his radical views on abortion and his desire to remove restrictions to abortion and to force tax payer dollars to pay for abortions, and not with his commitment to appointing justices to the Supreme Court and other federal courts who will continue to uphold Roe v. Wade, a decision that Catholics are morally obligated to oppose. Just because Denver Catholics are defiant against their bishop does not mean he should stop speaking the truth. Archbishop Chaput represents the true and authentic teachings of the Catholic faith which should form all of our consciences. Mr. Miller, way to simply copy and paste a comment from a previous post. You were wrong then, and that hasn't changed.
9 years 1 month ago
James Pat Doyle 12800 Comanche, NE Unit 65 Albuquerque, NM 87111 Phone: (505) 332-0392 Cell: (505) 314-6306 October 21, 2008 I am a Roman Catholic. I attend Mass and receive Holy Communion on a near daily basis. And I choose Barack Oboma. My choice is made in spite of proclamations on the abortion issue by a few bishops and prelates such as: the former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke who declared that Democrats risked becoming “a party of death.” Bishop Joseph F. Martino of Scranton Pennsylvania who wrote, “pro-choice candidates have come to support homicide” and according to an October 21, 2008 National Catholic Reporter article “Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput labelled Barack Obama as “the most committed” abortion-rights candidate from a major party in 35 years.” These above cited bishop proclamations have been made in spite of The US Conference of Catholic Bishops November 2007 statement titled for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility. This statement includes, "there may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate's unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons.” This document also reminds Catholics that "all life issues are connected." It includes statements regarding Catholic social teaching which encompass immigration reform, opposing the use of torture, and advocating policies that focus more on the poor. As a result of the above cited social teachings, “many Catholics can now argue that neither party fits precisely with Catholic social teaching — the Democratic position on abortion is still unacceptable but so are GOP positions on education and health care and the war in Iraq (Amy Sullivan, Time, October 18, 2008).”
9 years ago
Your quote from Randall Terry has been taken out of context by the pro-aborts for a long time now. If you did your homework you would see what he said before it and probably agree with him. He releases enough press statements candidly that you might know what he's all about.
9 years ago
Beautiful comment, summed up the mentality of the political bishops precisely. Burke, Martino, et al, are James Dobson wannabes who envy the sheeplike following religious right leaders have.
9 years ago
Glenn - Sen Obama declared that having an extra doctor would be a burden. You can hear his opposition on this website. If you like you can also read the actual legislation he opposed on the national right to life web site ********************************************* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyPioaocVPQ
9 years ago
James Pat Doyle - Perhaps, you need reminding that all rights proceed from the right to life. Sen. Obama promised to immediately in act the Freedom of Choice Act - which is promised to lift the ban on partial birth abortion, parental notification, and other limitations that have been successfully been put in place. You may want to read this http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/viewarticle.php?selectedarticle=2008.10.14_George_Robert_Obama's%20Abortion%20Extremism_.xml
9 years ago
Michael Sean - would we not consider the actual voting records where Sen. Obama is radically pro abortion? You don't have to take the word of Bishop Chaput but look at what Sen. Obama stands for. Would you have argued that Pope Pius XII should be silent when protesting Hitler? The United States Government was silent. I am glad the Bishops are finally taking a stand to protect unborn babies against this holocaust. We can not as Catholics believe that are actions in voting pro abortion candidates are not culpable to this genocide.

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