11 August 2008

Yes, Who Should Get the Catholic Vote?

There was a recent article from Fr. Ray Schroth S.J. on Who Should Get the Catholic Vote? Presumably he feels it should be Sen. Obama. He lists the breakdown of Catholics and their political party affiliation, according to a recent poll by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown U. They found 38 percent of Catholics identify with the Democratic Party, and 21 percent with the Republicans, while 41 percent identify with neither. Meanwhile, those who most identify with church authorities, who look to the Pope and Bishops for moral decisions, tend to be Republicans.

Despite these numbers, Catholics failed to support Senator John Kerry in the 2004 election, why? Among the reasons, he cites the theory of a fellow Jesuit. "Perhaps they suffered from a trend pointed out by New Orleans Jesuit social activist Lou Twomey in 1957: As Catholics became more affluent and moved to the suburbs, they left behind their Catholic pro-labor social teachings and were co-opted by conservative Republican values. (I'm sorry but anytime a priest is referred to as 'social activist' rather than 'priest' or 'Father' should raise a huge red flag.)

Clearly for Fr. Schroth these people grew weak and abandoned their Catholic principles rather than began thinking critically for themselves. But it is misleading to state that Catholic social teachings are only pro-labor. Catholic social thought is built on the cooperation between "management" and "labor" and the responsibilities and duties one owes the other. Pope John XXIII wrote in his encyclical Mater et Magistra that "workers and employers should regulate their mutual relations in a spirit of human solidarity and in accordance with the bond of Christian brotherhood." Archbishop Sheen gave a wonderful talk on this matter too, Lesson One in Economics, which is well worth listening to. It can be downloaded from Keep the Faith for $1.

Fr. Schroth goes on to blame President Bush for failing to do anything to lessen the incidence of abortions and suggests that Democrats are ready to enact social and economic reforms dealing with the issues that prompt women to resort to abortion in the first place and are more effective in reducing abortion than efforts to criminalize it. As usual those willing to overlook politicians pro-abortion positions in favor of their economic policies frame this as an either or proposition. As though pro-life advocates were simply looking to make criminals out of women who have abortions. But most people working in the pro-life movement do not see overturning Roe v. Wade as the end but rather one facet of ending abortion. There are many crisis pregnancy centers and other agencies trying to meet the emotional, mental, physical needs of the women during and after pregnancy. Rather than it being a question of poverty many of the women considering abortion do so because of the pressure by their husbands or boyfriends or other family members.

Yet as long as Roe v. Wade is the law of the land then any attempts by legislators to pass laws that might be perceived to restrict abortion are sure to be challenged by the pro-death camp. In fact a plan by the Bush administration to help pro-life doctors and/or health centers is already meeting opposition from some members of Congress and the regulations are not even in place yet. The U. S. Catholic Bishops have issued a statement urging support for this measure which would allow for freedom of conscience on behalf of the doctors.

In California abortion advocates are upset at a recent court decision. More than 13 million California voters will get to read uncensored ballot arguments in favor of Proposition 4 – Sarah’s Law – after a judge ruled against a challenge to the language by Planned Parenthood and its allies.

“Sarah” is a pseudonym for a teen who died from complications following an abortion in 1994. Her case is being used by Prop 4 advocates to dramatize the danger posed to young girls when family members are unaware they have undergone an abortion.

Planned Parenthood had sought to force the removal of Sarah’s story from the pro-Prop 4 ballot arguments, including the statement, " Had someone in her family known about the abortion, Sarah's life could have been saved." Planned Parenthood’s lawyer characterized that claim as “absolutely false,” but the judge apparently did not agree.

In New York despite the easy availability of free birth control they have an extremely high abortion rate and abortion is the method of choice for birth control. But the solution offered by the department of human services is. . . , more free birth control. Read more of that story here.


Osumashi Kinyobe said...

Is Father Schroth aware that Obama is radically pro-abortion?

Joseph Fromm said...

What a great piece! I have post scheduled for the 16th linking to you and this story. It truly separates the social justice abortion topic.


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