Sunday, October 31, 2010

Catholics, Life Issues and the Election

I posted an article with this same title two years ago when Barack Obama was on the verge of winning the presidency. A lot has happened in the last two years and, for various reasons, now Catholics are shifting toward the GOP in this year's midterm elections.

The role of Catholic voters is still the focus of attention by Pope Benedict XVI speaking to the bishops of Brazil, which is having its own major election today and by Archbishop (and Cardinal designate) Raymond Burke, who spoke out strongly in a videotaped interview recently.
"No," Burke answers. "You can never vote for someone who favors absolutely the right to choice of a woman to destroy a human life in her womb or the right to a procured abortion."

He adds that voters "may in some circumstances, where you don't have any candidate who is proposing to eliminate all abortion, choose the candidate who will most limit this grave evil in our country. But you could never justify voting for a candidate who not only does not want to limit abortion but believes that it should be available to everyone."

Kathryn Jean Lopez, in reflecting on Pope Benedict's September visit to the UK and his 2008 visit to the US, sees current political developments as part of a more sweeping cultural movement.
Freedom is very much on American minds, frequently served these days, with tea. The tea party movement, such that it is - a dispersed, grassroots political phenomenon. It isn’t an explicitly religious movement, by any strength. But if you talk to people who show up to the rallies, if you listen to some of the candidates who have showed up to run for office this year -- to serve -- it’s hard to escape this is a cultural movement of people who feel called to something greater than themselves. They dare to hope, to believe that we can be better than we have been.

Of course, they dare to hope that we can be better when it comes to government spending, better when it comes to seriousness about homeland security, better when it comes to making people freer to make choices that are best for their families, and so on. But in reality, it’s so much more.

Marco Rubio, Republican Senate candidate (who is Catholic) running in Florida is among those who give a most compelling voice to people’s fears about the future of the American idea, the experiment that Pope Benedict spoke with respect and admiration of when he came here to visit. It’s an experiment we’re losing hold of.

And about that used and abused word "hope": Peggy Noonan, in her column this weekend, notices a detachment about tea party activists when it comes to individual candidates. Their hope is not the candidate they are campaigning for. The audacity to hope is not a campaign theme or a book title. And the tea party - and politics itself - are not the venues by which to acquire hope.

Rather, these things, rightly ordered, must be in service of He who is hope. And as Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput reminds us, it "assumes and demands a real, unbending spine in believers."

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