Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"a deadly anarchy"

These words of Pope John Paul II to Lindy Boggs, who served as the Clinton Administration's last ambassador to the Holy See, conclude an insightful article George Wiegel wrote for Newsweek, entitled, "Catholics and Obama":

"No expression of today's [American] commitment to liberty and justice for all can be more basic than the protection offered to those in society who are most vulnerable. The United States of America was founded on the conviction that an inalienable right to life was a self-evident moral truth, fidelity to which was a primary criterion of social justice. The moral history of your country is the story of your people's efforts to widen the circle of inclusion in society, so that all Americans might enjoy the protection of law, participate in the responsibilities of citizenship, and have the opportunity to make a contribution to the common good. Whenever a certain category of people—the unborn or the sick and old—are excluded from that protection, a deadly anarchy subverts the original understanding of justice. The credibility of the United States will depend more and more on its promotion of a genuine culture of life, and on a renewed commitment to building a world in which the weakest and most vulnerable are welcomed and protected."
I also learned that Wiegel used to be a Democrat, but left the party in 1992 when the former Democratic Pennsylvania governor, the late Bob Casey, who was pro-life, as is his son, Bob, Jr., now a Democratic U.S. Senator, was denied an opportunity to speak at the party convention that year. He expresses well a lament of mine: "I deeply regret the fact that the once-traditional political home of U.S. Catholics has embraced policy positions on the life issues that offend both Catholic faith and everyone's reason." Along with Wiegel, "I would welcome a new openness to pro-life argumentation and policy in the Democratic Party".

After expressing this hope, Wiegel pushes his case too far by essentially eviscerating anything that resembles proportionate reasoning as called for in Faithful Citizenship and set forth by other leading Catholic intellectuals, like Cathleen Kaveny, Doug Kmiec, et. al. I am skeptical about what seem to me to be alarmist claims made by Wiegel that within a year of being elected, a President Obama, with a Democratically-controlled Congress, will wipe out all pro-life gains.

I am glad that it is not yet election day. All of this is made worse by the fact that Sen. Obama's running-mate is a Catholic who should know better, but who, as Rocco reports, is busy explaining that he is "Not a JP Guy". I hate to be the one to tell you this Sen. Biden, but il Papa Buono would not be alright with your stance on abortion either. To paraphrase one of the distinguished gentlemen with whom I dined last night: In a country of 300 million people, we can't do better than this? More to the point, in a country with over 60 million Catholics, we can't do better than this for high political office? Channeling RFK! I will give Gov. Palin this, despite the fact that she does not seem to have a good grasp of the jurisprudence wrought by Roe, she is firm in her pro-life convictions and doesn't back-peddle from her faith. Nonetheless, as Deacon Greg reports, More Catholics [Are] Swinging Toward Obama. Trying to find the good in all of this, in addition the Democrats re-thinking their stance on human life, perhaps it is a good time for the Republicans to stop being bellicose and to revisit issues of fairness and economic justice.

Getting to some practical politics, it looks like the inevitable is beginning to emerge, Sarah Palin is a liability, and becoming a bigger one by the day. The most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll revealed that Sen. Obama has opened up a double-digit lead over Sen. McCain, despite the fact that most respondents agreed that Sen. McCain is better prepared for the White House than Sen. Obama. As regards Gov. Palin only 38% view her positively. This is down 6% from two weeks ago. Overall, 47% of respondents view her in a negative light. This brings her negative rating up 10% over the same two weeks. This gives Gov. Palin the worst negative rating of the four candidates, despite the fact that Sen. Biden has been, well, Sen. Biden. A fair majority of respondents, fifty-five percent, do not believe that Gov. Palin is qualified to be president. This is up 5% over the past two weeks. A majority of these same respondents, while they may believe McCain better prepared to be president, obviously believe Obama is qualified, which is why they prefer him to McCain 52% to 42%. It appears McCain's bold gamble is not paying off (this paragraph is referenced from the WSJ on-line article, Obama Opens Double-Digit Lead: New Poll Shows McCain Ceding Ground on Taxes, Values; Palin Loses Shine, by Laura Meckler).

Rocco also posted something about CL that is certainly worth some attention. Congrats to Rocco and all of Philadelphia, your Phillies finally made it back to the Series!


  1. Love the JPII quote from the Clinton days. Great post.

    One note on Doug's claims: I think that there is a historical case for Doug's alarm - Amy Welborn has a post on President Clinton's first Saturday in office. Those January 1993 executive orders were Clinton's but I think those type of orders could easily be Obama's if he were elected.

    I'm wondering if Kmiec saw the latest USCCB statement.

    I'm also wondering if I can post a comment without being snarky. One of these days...

  2. This comment was not snarky in the least. I always appreciate your perspective. You have been a good corrective for me.

  3. Krad,
    Nice find on that statement. Coincidently, I was thinking of writing a post on creating false dichotomies in our approach to lowering/ending abortion. Now I will probablly just be lazy and provide a link to the USCCB statement.

  4. I probably need to sit on this comment for a while, but since I don't get much time at my computer I'm going to spit it out raw and unedited and pray I don't offend. As a convert/revert to Catholicism I don't understand the divisive condemnation from so many Catholics I've heard and seen in this election cycle. I don't mean to sound cynical, but why do those who are Republican tell me not to vote for Obama (don't trust in princes) and then "trust in princes" by actually believing that a vote for McCain will change the state of abortion in America? - McCain who is the least pro-life Republican offered in the past 30 years, following eight years of the most pro-life Republican we've had in 30 years. And under Bush's administration any drop in abortion, since it is so negligible, can be seen as nothing more than the gradual decline in abortions that began in the 90s. Because that's all it is.

    For me, abortion has become a non-issue in our elections. It's not as if, if I vote for McCain that abortion will be made illegal. The majority of our Justices are Republican, pro-life presidential nominees. Abortion is a grave and horrible evil, and it breaks my heart (and it also pains me to be talked about as if I am less pro-life than someone voting Republican), but politicians are politicians and what we need is our culture, entire, to be convinced of the need to protect the unborn.

    And this is not a war, ought not to be a war, ought not to be something that is about Us and Them. We all need Christ. We need Christ proclaimed and the conversion of our hearts. Obama and McCain need this conversion to take place in their hearts, I need it in mine - each hour.

    Anyway, forgive my dumping. I'm tired of it all. Too much judgment. I will probably vote for Obama in November. I go back and forth, honestly. But at the end of the day, I just don't think the leadership and rhetoric I've seen from McCain and Palin is what is needed at this moment in our world.

  5. Scott:

    If you haven't been reading, I think you'll find we have a lot in common as regards this issue. You didn't dump at all. I appreciate what you have written. I firmly believe that a Catholic can vote for Obama in good conscience.

  6. Oh, and Scott (Deacon), congratulations on your new baby. May he sleep soundly through the night.

  7. Thanks! I am holding him right now. He's asleep and, so far, very calm little guy.