American Catholic bishops weighing in on American politics

November 16, 2008 by Eric James Wilson  
Filed under Faith, Headlines, Politics

Last week, the American bishops of the Catholic Church wrapped up a crucial meeting in the midst of what has turned out to be a very busy fall. With hundreds of bishops speaking about the need to vote with properly formed consciences and the extent to which a candidates’ stance on the issue of abortion should inform an individual’s vote, there was great interest in their Fall General Assembly.

It is too early, as some may have expected, for the bishops to address the question which has been hotly debated in Catholic circles. That question is, of course, whether Catholics can vote, in good conscience, for a candidate for office who supports abortion when another, pro-life alternative candidate exists. Of course, this is a terse summary of the situation surrounding Catholics and abortion. A number of similar questions require answers, such as can “Pope John XXIII Catholic” Vice President-Elect Joe Biden and “ardent, practicing Catholic” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi be said to be faithful Catholics despite their efforts to flout Church teachings on critical moral issues?

I think we will all benefit from time to decompress from the effects of the campaign’s heated and divisive rhetoric before we examine these questions as they relate to the Obama Presidency. Indeed, time alone may reveal that President-Elect Obama’s promise to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) “first thing” as President was political pandering to the radical Left, and his personal ambition and political deftness (as well as our prayers) may drive him to the center on the issue of life. *

Freedom of “Choice” Act

Nevertheless, FOCA, which has become an icon for what amounts to Doomsday for pro-life Americans – a reversal of the Mexico City Policy, elimination of the Hyde Amendment, destruction of conscience clauses – was discussed at some length during the bishops’ meeting. In his closing statement on Wednesday, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), while congratulating Obama, warned that

“FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars…Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion.”

Cardinal George and a handful of his brother bishops warned that such actions would leave the Catholic Church no choice but to close the doors of hundreds of Catholic hospitals since they could no longer refuse to provide abortions. This would inevitably result in a serious decimation to millions of Americans’ access to quality health care and would be anything but a boon to women.

Thousands of pro-life doctors would have no choice but to quit practicing medicine because they object to conducting abortions as part of legally required care. Religious leaders would have no choice but to remain silent on abortion because they would be accused of making hate speech since FOCA would federally prohibit any “interference” in abortion. Millions of pro-life Americans would have no choice when their tax dollars and insurance premiums would be used to help others get abortions.

Blessing the unborn

While is may seem that we may be without recourse in the political arena for the time being, the bishops are making efforts to change the culture. During their meeting, the bishops approved the “Blessing of a Child in the Womb,” which reads thus,

“May almighty God, who has created new life now bless the child in your womb. The Lord has brought you the joy of motherhood: May he bless you with a safe and healthy pregnancy. You thank the Lord today for the gift of your child: May he bring you and your child one day to share in the unending joys of heaven.”

This new blessing makes it abundantly clear that the new life created in the womb is, in fact, a child of God, and any family seeking this rite in their church will bear powerful witness to their fellow Catholics about the sanctity of the unborn life. With our nation’s 67 million Catholics in a broad state of disarray on what the Church teaches on various moral issues (viz. Nancy Pelosi, Doug Kmiec, etc.) the bishops are coming to the painful realization that this is not the age of the well-educated laity.

Cutting off ACORN

Lastly, we might file this item in the “better-late-than-never” column, the Chair of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), Bishop Roger Morin, reported that it had not been giving funds to ACORN, the controversial, partisan organization which has been implicated in extensive criminal activity and voter registration fraud, since June. Consequently, no funds from the annual CCHD collection were given to ACORN to register Mickey Mouse and myriad other characters to vote.

Despite these assurances that ACORN will no longer be receiving Church funds, the CCHD reputation is irreparably tarnished and some bishops, like Bishop Robert Baker of Birmingham, Alabma, are refusing to participate in the annual CCHD collection – the chief source of the group’s funds.

It doesn’t seem like anything earth-shattering emerged from the bishops’ meeting, but it did serve to demonstrate that they are steeled for the fight as they lead their flock through this challenging time. And that’s something in which I choose to take comfort.

* I readily admit this is, perhaps, too optimistic since his “Transition Team” website, change.gov, gives the following statement in President-Elect Obama’s “Women Agenda”: “Barack Obama understands that abortion is a divisive issue, and respects those who disagree with him. However, he has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women’s rights under Roe v. Wade a priority as President. He opposes any constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in that case.” (http://change.gov/agenda/women_agenda/)

               

We Christians must honor and pray for Barack Obama

November 6, 2008 by Taylor Marshall  
Filed under Faith, Headlines, Politics

It’s no secret that I do not agree with Barack Obama’s policies on abortion and homosexual unions (he didn’t get my vote, if you’re wondering). However, I have been alarmed by some Christians who have resorted to an attitude of disrespect to our President-Elect. Racist remarks and off color comments are completely unacceptable in the mouth of a Christian.

We must honor and pray for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. They are our elected leaders. We may disagree their policies, but we must remember that Sacred Scripture commands us to show honor to them:

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Rom 13:1).

Despite our disagreements, we must “be subject to the governing authorities”. This is not a suggestion, it a command from the Word of God. It may be hard for us, but “there is no authority except from God”. God granted Barack Obama the presidency. This does not mean that God approves of everything espoused by the President-Elect, but He allowed it to happen for some greater purpose. The purposes of God are unknown to us. Some great good must come out of this. We mustn’t despair.

Saint Peter also taught that Christians should be subject to the governing institutions, even to the emperor as supreme.

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right” (1 Pet 1:13-14).

Keep in mind that Saint Peter spoke of Nero, the most vile Roman emperor and fierce persectutor of Christians.

We should also pray for our leaders. They need extra grace and virtue to fulfill their public offices. Maybe God will bring them to see the light about the injustice of abortion. Whether the conversion of Constantine helped or hindered the Church, it certainly extended the cause of Christ in Europe for subsequent centuries. God had a greater plan. And this is why would should continually pray for our leaders.

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way” (1 Tim 2:1-2)

Saint Paul, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit states that we should pray “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.” We must pray for our leaders. If you count them as enemies in the culture war, then that’s all the more reason to pray for them. Our divine Lord taught us to love and pray for our enemies. Personally, I need a lot of work in this area.

Let’s pray for Barack Obama and ask God to bless him.

Godspeed,

Taylor Marshall

PS: I still haven’t decompressed after the election and this post was not easy for me to write. However, I know in my heart that this is the right thing to say at this moment.

               

“Nice to meet you. Hey, can I call you Joe?”

October 3, 2008 by Taylor Marshall  
Filed under Politics


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Peggy Noonan at the Wall Street Journal had this to say about Sarah at last night’s VP debate:

She killed. She had him at “Nice to meet you. Hey, can I call you Joe?” She was the star. He was the second male lead, the good-natured best friend of the leading man. She was not petrified but peppy.

And not only that, Sarah was correct on the issues:

  • Obama’s tax plan is a smoke screen that will raise the cost of living for every American (energy, food, imports, etc.).
  • Obama has no immediate plan to make America independent of foreign energy.
  • Obama’s political career is a legacy of being “present” but of not taking action.
  • Obama is not a bipartisan politician, but a puppet belonging to the most liberal activists of the Democratic party.
  • Obama has stated that he will not immediately remove troops from Iraq (as many think that he has promised).
  • Obama supports federally funded abortion and partial-birth abortion – practices with which a majority of Americans strongly disagree.
  • Obama’s “universal health care package” would put the US government in charge of our health (and haven’t they done a great job with the economy!).
  • Obama and Biden undermine the traditional doctrine of marriage as between a man and a woman.
  • McCain is radically different than Bush, even if Obama and Biden repeat the lie a thousand times.

Sarah was most effective in dispelling the spin that she is a fuddy-duddy. She isn’t a member of the Washington elite and for that we are all thankful.

               

Sarah Palin wins Vice Presidential Debate

October 2, 2008 by Taylor Marshall  
Filed under Politics


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The polling data has revealed that Sarah Palin won the Vice Presidential debate.

Why? Sarah Palin resonated with real people. Sarah proved that she is a normal American who can speak to the heart and say things like “dog-gonnit!” on public television. Biden certainly appeared polished and senatorial…but that’s not what Americans want at a time when politicians are held suspect. Most Americans are disgusted with the silver-haired Capital Hill crew.

Sarah Palin delivered the “Main Street” message. Biden delivered the politician’s message. Biden overplayed the attack-dog motif and he finished looking like a soured old man.

All week we’ve watched those Katie Couric interview clips – but those are edited clips. In the VP debate, we watched over an hour of Sarah Palin off the cuff – and it was seamless. She spoke to the average American, and that is why independents are moving toward her. Sarah is authentic.

Tina Fey is going to have hard time making fun of Sarah this Saturday…

               

Biden loses the Catholic Vote for Obama

September 19, 2008 by Taylor Marshall  
Filed under Politics

Gerald Warner at the Telegraph has written a scathing article against Barack Obama’s choice of Joe Biden in the VP slot entitled: “Joe Biden loses Barack Obama the Catholic vote“.

Here are some fun facts from Warner about the demographics of the Catholic vote in the United States:

There are 47 million Catholic voters in the United States. One quarter of all registered voters are Catholics. At every presidential election in the past 30 years the Catholic vote has gone to the winning candidate, except for Al Gore in 2000. This year 41 per cent of Catholics are independents – up from 30 per cent in 2004. Psephologists claim practising Catholics were the decisive factor in the crucial swing states in 2004: in Ohio 65 per cent of Catholics voted for Bush, in Florida 66 per cent. They were drifting away in disillusionment from the Republicans and split 50-50, until Joe Biden worked his magic. This is electoral suicide by the Democrats.

Hat tip to Walker Dollahon.