By Vatican standards, American Catholics (and particularly American politicians) are some of the worst misbehave-ers in the world. Long gone are the halcyon days of JFK, when he could stand up and proudly say that as a politician in America, he was answerable only to his constituents and not to the Pope in Rome. What's worse, long-gone are the days where the Pope in Rome was okay with that. These days, as far as the Pope is concerned, if you aren't toeing the line on abortion in America (which means advocating that it be made illegal), you're going to hell, as the International Herald Tribune reports. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, do not go to Confession because you will not be forgiven. Well, that's one way to bump up the rolls of the Church, I guess.The IHT writer interviews a bunch of Catholics in Scranton to highlight the back-and-forth about abortion and voting that happens among the Catholic faithful — if not their leaders — while showing at least some of them swinging toward McCain (and one being racist). Although the Church regards the practice of abortion as a sin, excommunication isn't exactly standard practice for the women of Catholic faith who have had them, since you can cross your legs and — as a friend of my mother's did in high school — wear a hat in the pew and never tell the priest about your abortion. For politicians, on the other hand, it's another story. In the last few years, players in the Church hierarchy have begun vociferously pushing the idea that not only are women who get abortions and the doctors who perform them going to hell, but that the politicians who support the right of non-Catholic women to believe that abortion is not wrong - and Catholic women who believe that the Pope is wrong - are also going to hell. Joe Biden, for instance, was warned by a local bishop not to try to go to church in or around Scranton, Pennsylvania (his hometown) as he will be denied Communion. Conservative Catholic groups have called for all pro-choice Catholic politicians to be treated similarly in an effort to pressure them to choose their religious faith over their constitutional responsibilities. (Even Catholic writer and professor Douglas Kmiec was denied Communion (i.e., excommunicated) for having the audacity to support Barack Obama because he and Obama believe that Obama's pro-woman, pro-sex ed policies can actually reduce the incidence of abortion by reducing the economic hardships faced by pregnant women...and the number of pregnancies altogether. Shocking, I know.) Amusingly, as I like to keep repeating, former McCain surrogate Carly Fiorina recently claimed that it is the Democrats who are trying to hold women hostage to the party on the issue of abortion. Well, I'll be damned if too many Democrats go around using their actual pulpits to actually damn people to actual hell (assuming there is a hell to which one can be damned, but Catholics believe there is). Actually, I guess I'll be damned anyway. In addition to Biden, many politicians — Nancy Pelosi, Tim Kaine, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, for instance — are practicing Catholics. As such, they are asked to believe that abortion as wrong. And as politicians sworn to uphold the Constitution of this country, they are asked to commit to this leetle thing we like to call the separation of church and state (and to represent the views of their constituents). When your religious values conflict with your responsibilities as a politician, that's a difficult thing to handle. Most do so in the same way that my mother does: they believe that abortion is wrong, but don't believe their religious views should be forced on people who don't share those beliefs. That's called being "pro-choice." Abortion Issue Again Dividing Catholic Votes [International Herald Tribune] Denied Communion For Backing Obama [Andrew Sullivan] Abortion's Foes — On Both Sides Of The Aisle [Wall Street Journal]
I think the only thing is going to save me is #36:
34. Catholics often face difficult choices about how to vote. This is why it is so important to vote according to a well-formed conscience that perceives the proper relationship among moral goods. A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter's intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate's opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.
35. There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate's unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.
36. When all candidates hold a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.