Sunday, May 23, 2004

On bishops’ pronouncements on voting vs. Catholic common sense
Letter sent to The Irish Voice from one of this blog's correspondents:

I am rather surprised that Bishop Michael Sheridan [the RC ordinary] of Colorado Springs would base his teaching on a purely hypothetical model. So too, I am amazed that the press would take such interest in His Excellency's obviously moot point. Indeed, the issue has now reached the pages of this weekly. The Bishop suggests that Catholics who vote for a "pro-choice" political candidate ought to abstain from Holy Communion.

Given the timing, one would surmise that the Bishop has the presidential election in mind. This November, I will visit my local polling place and enter a voting booth. There, my fingers will move the lever next to John Kerry's name. Most thinking people whom I know will do likewise. For each one of us, there are thousands worldwide who wish that they could do the same.

However, I am confident that not one of us will vote for a Boston brahmin who proposes to end his opponent's war in Iraq by escalating it and has pledged his fealty to the Zionist lobby. Rather, we are voting against Bush.

Unhappily, the political center of this country has shifted so far to the right that we now nostalgically look back upon Bill Clinton's enthusiasm for union busting and the death penalty, remembering him as being somehow "progressive". However, perhaps a régime change in Washington would disrupt the machinations of Bush's neo-conservative advisers.

In reading the Gospels, it seems that Our Lord reserved His sharpest condemnation for hypocrisy, religious hypocrisy in particular.

He also showed displeasure with liars. They, He assures us, are the children of Satan, as the devil is the "father of lies". [John 8:44].

Such people initiate "pre-emptive" wars based on threats of non-existent "weapons of mass destruction". When such weapons are never uncovered, they shift the rationale. They state that war is necessary to end torture, while taking photographs of their own diabolical experiments and trading them amongst themselves like baseball cards. When the images hit the Internet, they feign indignation. They shut down newspaper offices and abuse journalists in the name of "democracy". They imprison innocents in the name of "freedom". They laud "family values" and approve the destruction of homes, either in Texas to extend a stadium parking lot or in Palestine to demoralize entire communities. They proclaim the "sanctity of marriage" and bomb wedding parties. They attempt to distract the public with a proposed federal ban on "gay marriage", while practicing homosexual rape as the lynchpin of their foreign diplomacy.

Ought a Catholic feel free to receive the Prince of Peace in Holy Communion after voting for such a warmonger? Peter Maurin, who founded the Catholic Worker with Dorothy Day, encapsulated Catholic Social Doctrine with his challenge to build "society in which it is easier for men to be good". I recall reading reports during the two consecutive Clinton terms that the number of abortions actually showed signs of decrease. However, it will continue to be more difficult to "be good" given Bush's spectacular savaging of the national economy. One would expect abortion clinics across the country to pay Dubya a quarterly commission.

Archbishop John Vlazny of Portland (Oregon) presents a more realistic, and I dare say, more consistently Catholic, approach:

"But if they are voting for that particular politician because, in their judgment, other candidates fail significantly in some matters of great importance, for example, war and peace, human rights and economic justice, then there is no evident stance of opposition to Church teaching and reception of Holy Communion seems both appropriate and beneficial."

Dorothy Day eschewed electoral politics and abstained from voting. Many of us, undoubtedly less heroic than Miss Day, have not reached that conclusion, although it becomes more appealing with each election.

For us, the decision is one between Abortion and the Antichrist.

Bishop Sheridan's Manichean and frankly partisan exhortation does nothing to clarify understanding of the situation. However, he can probably rest assured that we are voting against Bush, rather than voting for Kerry.

It remains the task of Christians and all people of goodwill to build a society which welcomes families and is safe for children. Rather than consigning our souls to hell, each U.S. Catholic bishop would do well to make his own diocese such a society.

Dave McLaughlin


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