The Catholic Left is hanging itself right before our eyes. Having never come to grips with the Church’s teachings on sexuality, they are now tightening the noose on themselves in public. It is not a pretty sight. This month alone they have embroiled themselves in a debate with three separate archbishops, with no end in sight.
Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City recently rebuked Catholic Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius for vetoing a bill imposing new restrictions on abortion providers. Indeed, he publicly urged her not to go to Communion. The archbishop was not shooting from the hip: He has met with Sebelius on several occasions regarding her pro-abortion position.
Catholic Left apologists like Catholic Democrats have blasted Archbishop Naumann for doing his job. But in doing so, they have exposed themselves as lining up behind a public official whose record on abortion makes a mockery of their game plan to reduce abortions.
When pressed on the subject, the Catholic Left likes to say that the best way to reduce abortions is through education and adoption. But the bill that Sebelius vetoed mandated that doctors using ultrasounds or monitoring the heartbeat of unborn babies had to make the information available to women at least 30 minutes prior to the abortion. That was not the kind of education that Sebelius had in mind. Looks like some on the “pro-choice” side really would prefer to narrow choices for women.
Another “choice” that Sebelius made for pregnant women was her decision to veto a grant-matching program for crisis pregnancy centers in 2003. Yet all we hear from the Catholic Left is their support for abortion alternatives. Did they once criticize Sebelius for her veto? How are young women to avail themselves of realistic alternatives to abortion when the very centers that service these alternatives are underfunded? To top things off, Governor Sebelius is listed as one of the co-chairs on Sen. Barack Obama’s Catholic National Advisory Council. We can only imagine what kind of advice she’s giving him.
“Roman Catholics for Obama ’08” is another group on the Catholic Left that now looks rather enfeebled. They deliberately took Denver archbishop Charles Chaput’s words out of context, making it look like he was in the tank for Obama. Nothing could be further from the truth.
On the Web site of “Roman Catholics for Obama ’08,” there is an excerpt from a column that the archbishop wrote earlier this year:
So can a Catholic in good conscience vote for a pro-choice candidate? The answer is: I can’t, and I won’t. But I do know some serious Catholics — people whom I admire — who may. I think their reasoning is mistaken, but at least they sincerely struggle with the abortion issue, and it causes them real pain. And most important: They don’t keep quiet about it; they don’t give up; they keep lobbying their party and their representatives to change their pro-abortion views and protect the unborn child. Catholics can vote for pro-abortion candidates if they vote for them despite — not because of — their pro-choice view.
There is only one problem with this construction: It is deceitful. It is deceitful because it leaves the impression that Archbishop Chaput is giving relatively easy cover to Catholics to vote for NARAL-approved candidates. In actual fact, the above cited paragraph had one more sentence at the end: “But they also need a compelling proportionate reason to justify it.”
Moreover, the very next paragraph was the clincher that the Catholic Left group excised:
What is a “proportionate” reason when it comes to the abortion issue? It’s the kind of reason we will be able to explain, with a clean heart, to the victims of abortion when we meet them face to face in the next life — which we most certainly will. If we’re confident that these victims will accept our motives as something more than an alibi, then we can proceed.
Of course, it would have complicated matters for “Roman Catholics for Obama” to print all this. After all, had it done so, it would have seriously undercut its deceitful ploy to paint him as someone who shares Obama’s values on the subject. Any fair-minded reading of what the archbishop said makes it obvious that he and Obama are at opposite ends of the abortion debate.
The third archbishop to become embroiled in a fight with the Catholic Left is Roger Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles. Mahony has denied Australian bishop Geoffrey Robinson permission to speak in his archdiocese, citing his dissident positions. The Aussie bishop disagrees with the Catholic Church’s teachings on adultery, women priests, homosexuality, and “papal power.” And who is sponsoring Bishop Robinson in his grand tour of the United States? Voice of the Faithful (VOTF).
Anyone who has tracked VOTF knows that it is spent: Not only is it in financial difficulty, it is spent ideologically. Its alleged purpose was to rid the Church of the sexual-abuse scandal. Fine. But when the Church authorized necessary reforms, it made VOTF irrelevant. Therefore, it had only two choices: pack up and go home or turn Left. It turned Left, becoming indistinguishable from Call to Action and other moribund groups on the Catholic Left. Now it is using what little money it has to promote a foreign bishop who entertains a Hollywood understanding of sexuality.
If this isn’t enough bad news for the Catholic Left, on May 13 Pope Benedict XVI told Italian pro-lifers that “the Church’s Magisterium” has always proclaimed abortion to be “non-negotiable.” He didn’t use that term to refer to the minimum wage, dilapidated housing, or Third World debt.
At bottom, it is not the Catholic Left’s quarrel with three archbishops that is doing them in; it is their total failure to convince Catholics (as well as non-Catholics) that it is okay to vote for NARAL-approved candidates for public office and then claim with a straight face that this adequately represents the Catholic position. Everyone knows this is bunk.
Their problem is that they have never figured out a way to explain why abortion should be rare. By contrast, consider our First Amendment rights: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly. Americans who treasure these rights don’t want to make them rare — they want them to be robustly exercised every day of the year and by as many adults as possible. Moreover, when they are exercised, everyone cheers.
So why is it different when it comes to abortion? Why does the Catholic Left want to safeguard a right it prefers no one will exercise? And why does no one cheer when the right is exercised? This is the central question that continues to haunt them. It also explains their undoing.