A Response to the Statement of Catholic DemocratsFor the record, I am a Catholic and at one time was a registered Democrat. These reflections are as someone who is committed to restoring protection to all innocent human life. As president of Arizona Right to life, I remind the reader that AZRTL is committed to restoring legal protection to the unborn child and as an organization AZRTL will support committed pro-life candidates of whatever party who seek to end the slaughter of the unborn. AZRTL has a long and distinguished history of supporting pro-lifer candidates for public office of both major parties and longs for the day when both major parties will only field candidates who hold anyone who supports killing children in the womb is unfit for public office. However any candidate or public official who holds that elective abortion – the deliberate killing of an innocent human being - should be legal or permissible by law – is not qualified or deserving to hold public office. AZRTL holds that every innocent human being has a right to life and that this right to life begins at the moment of conception. All law therefore should be designed to protect innocent human life.
Yesterday 55 “Catholic” Democrats issued a “Statement of Principles” claiming that they take seriously their commitment to live the Catholic faith. In essence the statement attempts to justify the voting behavior of these 55 “Catholic” Democrats, which include voting against any restrictions on abortion including partial birth abortion. Apparently these “Catholic” Democrats believe that if they claim they are good Catholics, they can vote to allow the continued slaughter of the unborn. Two of these Catholics are from districts in Arizona and have pro-abortion records. Their actions do not reflect a healthy respect for the dignity of the human person or the duty of all persons, not just Catholics, to respect human life.
I read the statement again. It is absolutely unbelievable. Hypocrisy is probably the best word to describe it. Somehow according to this statement, these elected officials are not obligated to take any action to protect innocent human life. Somehow it is within the “right of conscience” to vote against legislation to protect human life because of some perverse understanding of separation of church and state. Somehow if your party has endorsed the abomination called abortion, you as a Catholic legislator do not have an affirmative duty to work toward its reversal. Somehow, as politicians it is permissible to ignore the clear teaching of the Catholic Church on the subject and simply claim that the debate “often fails to reflect and encompass the depth and complexity of these issues.”
Since when is protecting innocent human life complicated?
Since when is following the Church’s teaching on the subject complicated?
Let us examine the Catholic Church’s teaching on the subject by looking at the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.
2271. Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.
2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. "A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae," "by the very commission of the offense," and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law. The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.
2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:
"The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being's right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death."
"The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child's rights."
As for the church’s teaching on conscience, here is the framework within which one operates.
1783 Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings . . . . 1785 In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path, we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord’s Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church.
So let us return to the so-called “Statement of Principles.” Where in the statement is there any reference to the teaching of the church on this matter? Where is there any exhortation to the nation to protect the dignity and the sanctity of the human person? Where is there the condemnation of the courts for having declared the unborn child property and therefore disposable? How can government be exercising its moral duty when over one million lives are being killed every year by “legal” abortion?
How can these signers claim to working “to advance respect for life and the dignity of every human being” when they all vote against bills that would protect innocent human life?
How can these signers claim to working “to advance respect for life and the dignity of every human being” when none of them have signed on to sponsor a Human Life Amendment or even the Right to Life Act?
So one finds in the final analysis that this is just an effort to cloud the truth, to confuse the voters, to “spin” the record of votes against human life. This also reflects a fundamental fear by these politicians that their constituents are getting tired of their theatrics, that they are feeling real pressure to do something, but that they are stilled controlled by a party apparatus connected to extremists who support and are supported by the abortion industry. As long as the Democratic Party has a platform plank that endorses abortion on demand, any Catholic who is and wants to remain a Democrat has a serious moral obligation to remove that party plank. Any thing less reflects a lack of commitment to the cause of life.
Yesterday’s statement was so much hot air. If these Democrats are opposed to abortion, then they should act like it. They should call for the reversal of Roe v/. Wade. They should join with Pro-life Republicans and pass laws recognizing the unborn child as a person in law. They should de-fund Planned Parenthood and any international aid effort that funds International Planned Parenthood. They should remove the pro-abortion plank from their own party platform and substitute a plank that affirms the dignity of every human being. They should publicly go on record and declare that they will not support for president any candidate who supports killing unborn children or opposes changing the law.
If they want to be considered Catholics, then act like it.
Otherwise, stop with the political hypocrisy.