A Psychological Impossibility

In Victorian England, Thomas Henry Huxley was the most determined and ardent defender of Darwinism, thereby earning himself the nickname “Darwin’s bulldog.” By parity of reasoning, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League might be called “the pope’s bulldog.” Hardly an insult, let alone an injury, is aimed at the Catholic religion without Donohue’s nipping at the heels of the offender.
Recently, Donohue came across a list of members of Sen. Barack Obama’s National Catholic Advisory Council and let out a very loud yelp. For it turns out that more than 15 members of the Council are also members of the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives, where they all have strong pro-choice voting records. In response to Donohue’s barking, on May 8 members of the committee — not just congressional members but those from the academic and other worlds as well — sent a letter of protest to Donohue, telling him how wrong he is and how strongly compatible with Catholic social teaching Senator Obama’s policy stands are.
Although the letter was written by a very distinguished list of politicians, academics, and others, and although it was written in a very sophisticated (or should I say “sophistical”?) manner, it contained little more than the usual drivel that Catholics (or should I say “Catholics”?) trot out when they wish to justify their support for a pro-abortion political candidate.
What it boils down to is this: Abortion isn’t the only issue of concern to Catholics; there are many other issues as well (war, poverty, racism, torture, immigration, etc.); and when we weigh all these things together we see that Obama’s Catholic quotient, despite his not being perfectly correct on abortion, is much higher than Sen. John McCain’s, even if we concede that McCain is more Catholic on the narrow issue of abortion.
Besides, even on abortion, Obama, though not perfectly correct, isn’t all that far from it, since he views abortion as “a profound moral challenge.” That’s pretty close to the Catholic position, isn’t it? After all, the pope too views abortion as a profound moral challenge. It’s just that Obama has a somewhat different solution to the problem than the pope has. But reasonable persons of good will can differ on these things, can’t they? What’s more, everybody who is not easily fooled realizes that Republicans have never been serious about abortion; they have simply used it as a cynical gimmick to seduce pro-life voters.
I wonder what Obama’s “Catholic” Advisory Council would have to say if a letter along the following lines had been written in Germany during the 1930s or 1940s: “Killing Jews isn’t the only issue of concern to Germans; there are many other issues as well (Volkwagens, autobahns, the national economy, etc.); and when we weigh all these things together we see that Hitler’s German quotient, despite not being perfectly correct on Jews, is much higher than that of any rival political party. And besides, Hitler views Jews as a ‘profound moral challenge.'”
It doesn’t puzzle me that many people believe in abortion. After all, for many people and their friends and relatives abortion is often a very convenient option. Nor does it puzzle me that many pro-abortion people never bother to address the all-important question of whether the growing embryo/fetus is a human person. If you’re pro-abortion, this is a very uncomfortable question; best not to think about it. It doesn’t even puzzle me that many sincere Catholics are pro-abortion despite the fact that their religion condemns abortion as a very serious sin. After all, most Catholics are not theologically sophisticated, and it hasn’t occurred to them that being Catholic requires acceptance of all the teachings of the Church. As good Americans, they believe in “private judgment” when it comes to religion; the notion of a Church that “teaches with authority” makes no sense to them.
What does puzzle me, however, is that there are intelligent and well-educated Catholics (like those, I presume, serving on Senator Obama’s Advisory Council) who say that they agree with the Church on abortion, yet support a pro-abortion candidate (Senator Obama) for president. How can a sane person who has reached the age of reason believe on the one hand that abortion is unwarranted homicide, yet on the other support a presidential candidate who makes no secret of the fact that he wants to protect and even extend this homicide “right”? Unless you are a moral monster, you can’t possibly hold these two things at once, for they contradict one another. It is psychologically impossible both to agree with the Catholic teaching on abortion and to support a pro-abortion candidate for president.
I am forced to conclude, then, that those who say they agree with the Catholic Church on abortion yet support Senator Obama only really mean one of these two things: Either they’re just kidding when they say they support Obama, or (more likely) they don’t really agree with the Church on abortion. I don’t necessarily mean that they are lying to us when they say they agree with the Church. Maybe they are. More probably they are lying to themselves: They don’t truly believe that the unborn baby is a human person, but they think they believe this. (We should never underestimate the human capacity for self-deception.)
I’m not saying that Catholics of this kind have to vote for McCain. If you believe that McCain is wrong on nine big things yet right on one very big thing (abortion) and that Obama is right on nine big things yet wrong on one very big thing (abortion), it follows that as a Catholic you mustn’t vote for Obama, but it doesn’t follow that you must vote for McCain. On Election Day you can go into the voting booth and leave the presidential line blank. There is an impressive Catholic precedent for this: During the Spanish Civil War, when Rome and the Catholic hierarchy were pro-Franco, the great French Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain opted for neutrality, supporting neither the Catholic Franco nor Franco’s anti-Catholic communist-anarchist-republican opponents.


David R. Carlin Jr. is a politician and sociologist who served as a Democratic majority leader of the Rhode Island Senate. His books include "Can a Catholic Be a Democrat?: How the Party I Loved Became the Enemy of My Religion" and "The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America." Carlin is a current professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island at Newport.

  • David W.

    …the muddled thinking on the 1st Amendment. I hesitate to attribute malice or that they actually support the murder of the unborn. What is more likely is that they subscribe to the idea that just because they are in Public Office it means they cease living their Faith in the public sphere. Religious faith is something to be thrown into the closet, something that doesn’t extend beyond the boundaries of your dishevelled fence, and that it is a jacket you have to hang on the hook outside when you walk into the halls of Congress. An absurd notion, but a powerful one. They can’t see the difference between moral clarity and forcing Catholicism on others. For example: Legislating compulsory Mass attendance or banning meat sales on Fridays would be a violation of the 1st Amendment…opposing Abortion and voting the same is not. Common Sense has been flung out the window.

  • Just Saying

    Dear God, please protect our beloved America and the rest of the world from the intolerance and oppression of religious extremism married to political agenda. Help us to open our imperfect minds to the intrinsic value of all reasonable human discourse even when we disagree. And, when we think we can read Your Mind, when we believe that You are on our side, and ONLY our side, bless us with humility and self-questioning so that we can examine our fears and weaknesses. God, please give us the tolerance, charity and wisdom to use our faith in You to increase, not diminish, and to advance, not deter, the opening of all human hearts and minds to Your Infinite Love. Amen.

  • Deal Hudson

    I am glad to see that we are getting comments on our articles from people from across the political spectrum — but I must say they are either on the West Coast, or in Hawaii, or they are reading our web site in the middle of night. Carlin has done a great job summarizing the contradiction inherent in Catholics who profess to be pro-life and support the infanticide candidate, Obama. As the campaign drags on their position will become more and more uncomfortable and the rhetoric will become more and more charged….as a friend of mine put yesterday, they won’t be able to convince Catholics that global warming and minimum wage are as important as the life issues.

  • JP2Feminist

    Leaving the line blank would be the same thing as voting for Obama. With future Supreme Court nominees at stake, this would be a very foolish thing to do. Perhaps the reason why “true” fiscal conservatives dislike John McCain so much is because he does reflect Catholic teaching in his positions on immigration and the environment. If you want to pick the candidate that most matches Catholic teaching, compare that candidate’s views to Catholic teaching, not to what conservative talk show pundits are saying about him.

    Mr. Carlin made a very valid point about comparing Obama and his position on abortion to the Nazis and their position on erradication of the Jews and other “undesirables.” If we believe that abortion is intrinsically evil, then there should be no question that politicians who support it are undeserving of our votes. Now is not the time to make a statement by leaving the line blank. Do we agree with the Catholic Church on abortion, or not? I would ask Mr. Carlin that very same question if he intends on leaving the line blank.

  • Andy K.

    I’m totally on board with what your saying about the punditry regarding McCain and Obama – in one sense, I think Catholics should rejoice that both parties are gravitating towards candidates who deviate significantly from the party platform (McCain on immigration, environment; Obama on healthcare).

    However, I (and many others) object to these candidates not because of their distance from the party platform, but because of their opposition to CATHOLIC values. Both of the candidates are awful, truly awful, and I will not cast my vote for either one.

    As for the precedent for “not voting”, well, CCC2240 says we MUST vote, so “not voting” isn’t an option. We have third-party candidates here (Maritain did not), and we should support them if they are better than the mainstream competitors (and many of them already are). If all Catholics were to do just that, we would transform the country.

    “Just Saying” – Did you read Testem Benvolentiae Nostrae? I suggest you read David W’s comments with it 🙂

  • Michael Healy, Jr.

    Just Saying, please allow me to humbly register my reactions to your post.

    Just Saying wrote: Dear God, please protect our beloved America and the rest of the world from the intolerance and oppression of religious extremism married to political agenda.

    That’s not a threat in America today. The real threat we all must fear is the intolerance and oppression of secular extremism married to political agenda. Make no mistake about it: there is a small but determined contingent which would prefer to slaughter all religious believers rather than tolerate the existence of anyone who loves God enough to do His Will.

    Help us to open our imperfect minds to the intrinsic value of all reasonable human discourse even when we disagree. And, when we think we can read Your Mind, when we believe that You are on our side, and ONLY our side, bless us with humility and self-questioning so that we can examine our fears and weaknesses.

    Liberals are in at least as much need of these traits as conservatives, quite honestly. When was the last time liberals asked themselves if conservatives might be right about anything?

    God, please give us the tolerance, charity and wisdom to use our faith in You to increase, not diminish, and to advance, not deter, the opening of all human hearts and minds to Your Infinite Love. Amen.

    Again, liberals are at least as guilty of failing in this regard as conservatives, always imputing the worst of motives to their political opponents. When was the last time a liberal gave a conservative the benefit of the doubt?

    Besides, allowing people to harden their hearts to the point that they are willing to murder defenseless babies, born or unborn, does not exactly prepare human hearts and minds to receive the love of God.

  • Andy K.

    Liberals are just as guilty as conservatives of the partisan divide in this country (the healing -or at least the mending – of this divide may be the one good thing that comes out of the two candidates for the presidency we’ve got now).

    I have “liberal” Catholic friends who think GWB is so abhorrently awful that he should go to jail for his “wiretapping” activities.

    Yet they also think Barack Obama should be the next president of the United States, never hesitating to praise him to high heaven.

    It is unbelievable. Truly unbelievable.

  • JP2Feminist

    I believe you are over-reacting when you say that both candidates are “truly awful” and that both oppose Catholic values. Exactly how does Senator McCain not reflect Catholic values?

    Because he is not for socialized healthcare? Senator McCain has not said that he is opposed to making healthcare available to all citizens. The disagreement is over who should provide that healthcare. The Catholic Church does not teach that government must be the provider of healthcare.

    Because he favors keeping our armed forces in Iraq so that the terrorists or Iran will not overtake a fledgling country that we all but destroyed with our bombs? The Catholic Church does not teach that people do not have a right to be protected from oppressors. To leave Iraq now would create a huge void. What will you say when terrorists strike the Vatican? Threats have already been made by Islamic Fundamentalists.

    The only issue of which I am aware that Senator McCain differs from the Catholic Church is embryonic stem cell research, and I do believe the word is that he is willing to listen.

    Senator Obama on the other hand represents such a clear departure from Catholic values on so many issues that there is only one choice for me – John McCain.

  • Andy K.

    I’m not sure if I want to reiterate all my reasons here (they are many), but I posted them all in Deal Hudson’s “How Obama’s Catholics will dodge the Infanticide question” blog.

    However, his differs in Church teaching in: Jus ad bellum, abortion in cases of rape and incest, the death penalty (in the sense that he sees it with the “punishment fits the crime” mentality). and euthanasia. I know there’s an awful lot to wade through in that article, but it gives a better representation of my view than what you can find here.

  • JP2Feminist

    There will never be a perfect candidate. To withhold your vote because Senator McCain doesn’t fit the mold of your ideal Catholic candidate clearly is not what our Church teaches us to do. Again – to leave a blank line would be foolish when we are just one Supreme Court justice away from overturning Roe v Wade. If your goal is to go into the voting booth and leave a blank line to “make a statement” about your displeasure with both candidates,then your victory will ring hollow when NOW, NARAL, and Planned Parenthood are celebrating the election of President Barack Obama. Think about that!

  • Dave Carlin

    Let me reply to the question asked me by JP2Feminist — “Now is not the time to make a statement by leaving the line blank. Do we agree with the Catholic Church on abortion, or not? I would ask Mr. Carlin that very same question if he intends on leaving the line blank.”

    I myself plan to vote for McCain (as I explained at length, by the way, in a recent essay in Commonweal). This is because, although myself a Democrat, I think McCain is superior to Obama and Hillary on a number of issues, not just abortion. But for those Catholic Democrats who think that McCain is superior on the abortion issue only, I believe that leaving the presidential line blank on Election Day is a reasonable and legitimate option.

    I should add that I am not saying that it is legitimate simply to stay home on Election Day. No, one has a duty to cast a ballot. Leaving the presidential line blan is a way of saying, “A plague on both your houses.”

  • Scott Hebert

    As pointed out earlier, AFAIK we as Catholics do not have in good conscience the option of not voting. I cannot say which candidate a ‘blank vote’ would favor more, as that is just speculation.

  • Andy K.

    I am NOT withholding my vote! I plan to vote for someone for the office of the presidency of the United States. I recognize that there is an OBLIGATION to do so (and I would very much like to hear Dave Carlin’s reasoning that we can leave the ballot blank when the catechism says we can’t).

    My ballot will NOT be cast for either of the two pro-death senators. It will be for a third party candidate, and I urge everyone and anyone who shares the same assessments of our two candidates to do the same.

  • JP2Feminist

    Mr. Carlin: While you may feel that you would be cursing both the Democrats and the Republicans by encouraging your readers to leave the line blank, the only plague you will inflict upon America and the world will be the furthering of so-called “reproductive rights” for women and unfettered government-sponsored experimentation on nascent human life. Let us not forget that Senators Obama and Clinton would both quickly repeal the Mexico City Policy, unleashing abortion and abortifacient birth control on poor third world (often Catholic) nations and would roll full steam ahead on government funding of the boondoggle that is ESCR.

    If you are going to vote for McCain, then what would you hope to achieve by encouraging others to leave the line blank? And what, may I ask, is the difference between staying home on election day and going to the polls only to leave the line blank (other than saving some gas mileage)? My head is spinning!

  • JP2Feminist

    To Andy: Likewise – a vote for an unelectable third party candidate is a vote for Barack Obama and we know where that will get us. (See my comment to David Carlin above)

  • Andy K.

    Once again, I’m not going to reiterate my defense here when it is avaliable in someone else’s article.

    Read Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae if you want a little more insight. I believe that candidates must be considered regardless of their likelihood to win, so if we have candidates that are BETTER, we must vote in favor of them. It’s that simple. In election 2008, it means we reject both McCain and Obama.

  • Scott Hebert

    It is unfortunate that JP’s comment has more than a kernel of truth in it. I have rapidly come to the decision that a more European parliamentary structure (i.e., more than two political parties) would do the US far more good than the current state.


    A third party (or fourth, etc.), IMO, must start its rise in the legislature, not the executive. The reasons are mainly ‘political’, in that the two main parties can generally stomach a few ‘Independents’ here and there, but they will only allow an Independent candidate for President to split the support for an opposing candidate. There is also the issue that any third-party candidate that could win the Presidency would either have absolutely no effect on the country (due to the paralyzing nature of both major parties opposing him or her in Congress), or would have to resort to popular appeals for every goal of substance.

    As such, the first step for a new political party should be to gain a few seats in Congress, and then expand from there.

    I cannot call a third-party Presidential vote a ‘waste’, for that marginalizes the voter’s choice. The best effect it can achieve, though, would be for the major parties to, after the fact, analyze the voting patterns. If, for example, the Republicans noted that they lost the election because they did not nominate a candidate suitable for the Catholic vote, then that sends a clear message.

  • David W.

    …who said this, I’m not sure (plus I’m paraphrasing): If you’re wrong on Life Issues, you can’t be right on anything else. It is from the Right to Life that all other rights stem from. As I said before, muddled thinking.

    And as for the comment on religion “wedded to politics”…it has always been that way. The Abolitionist AND Civil Rights Movement were fueled by religion, clergy entering the public sphere and calling it like it is. Liberals appplaud the courage of these clergyman and invocation of Christian belief, but now they wince and denounce it because the same groups have turned their attention to Abortion, a pet issue of the Left…the double standard is ridiculous.

  • Dave Carlin

    In response to my suggestion that a Catholic Democrat might leave the presidential line blank this year, Andy K says: “As for the precedent for ‘not voting’, well, CCC2240 says we MUST vote, so ‘not voting’ isn’t an option.”

    True, #2240 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that we have an obligation “to exercise the right to vote.” But it does NOT say that the voter may not, in protest against both candidates, leave a line blank. When a voter leaves a line blank, this IS a kind of vote, as every politician knows.

  • Andy K.

    There is such a thing as the “lesser of two evils” principle.

    Leaving the ballot blank IS the same as not voting simply because someone MUST fill the oval office. WE are called to make a choice in the matter. We must pick the least possible evil when confronted with evil choices, but we must make the choice regardless.

    Leaving the ballot blank is to effectively say “all the candidates are the same, all are the same evil, all must be rejected.”

    If you have third-party candidates running, how can we withhold our vote from them if they are better than what we’re being offered from the other parties?

  • dave carlin

    JP2Feminist asks me: “If you are going to vote for McCain, then what would you hope to achieve by encouraging others to leave the line blank? And what, may I ask, is the difference between staying home on election day and going to the polls only to leave the line blank (other than saving some gas mileage)? My head is spinning!”

    I am not “encouraging others” to leave the presidential line blank. I am simply saying to those Catholic Democrats who think that McCain, despite being right on abortion, is wrong on nearly everything else: If that’s what you believe, then it is morally legitimate for you to opt not to cast a vote for president; leave the line blank.

    Please try to look up my recent Commonweal article in which I “encourage others” to vote for McCain. And if you’d like me to repeat the encouragement here, I am glad to do so: Please, everybody, vote for McCain.

    As for the difference between staying home versus going to the polls and leaving the presidential line blank, there’s a big difference. I assume that where you live there will be contests on the ballot in addition to the presidential contest — contests for mayor, state legislature, city coundil, tree warden, dog catcher, local and state referendums, etc. If you stay home, it simply means you’re lazy and irresponsible; if you vote and leave a line blank, it means you are unhappy with both candidates on that line.

    I trust this will cause your head to stop spinning.

  • Danny

    I’m a republican and Catholic. Most of my friends in the pews are democrats. My reasoning, my position on the right to life. I’m not a radical, I don’t picket abortion clinics or attend rallies. But this pro-life stance informs all the other issues that are defined as “wedge”. Can we all agree that the taking of life, even the death penalty is a pro-life position. Access to health care, education, against euthanasia, also prolife. I find it incredible that those who I know to be devout Catholics would vote for a democrat presidential candidate that is so opposed to the Church’s postion on this most critical and defining issue.

  • Scott Hebert

    My concern regarding submitting a blank vote is that the message is too vague. If you wish to send the message that no candidate is pro-life enough for you to vote for them (e.g.), you should vote for the candidate that is Pro-Life, whether or not he or she has any chance of winning.

    It seems plausible to make sure the means you choose to achieve your ends will truly do so. I am not sure a blank vote will do that, in this case.

  • Tony Esolen

    One of the strange effects of the abortion issue is that it is SO clearly a violation of Catholic teaching and so clearly an offense against natural law and human decency, it tends to obscure how far both parties are, but especially the Leftist Democrats, from what the Catholic church actually teaches about work, family, town life, wages, wealth, and charity. For thirty years I’ve heard leftist Catholics, blithely ignoring the church’s teachings on the culture-breaking issues of the time (abortion, sexuality, marriage), first defining themselves as champions of the poor and conservatives as enemies of the poor, and then assuming that they are therefore automatically on board with the Church when it comes to economic teachings. It’s all hogwash. Read the encyclicals of Leo XIII; they are SO conservative they would make so-called conservatives these days nervous. Basically, if you are peddling a social policy that either supplants the function of the family, or that encourages the dissolution of the family, you are peddling what the Church will call poison. And by “family” the Church means, then as now, mother and father, married, with children.

  • Andy K.

    I know this back-and-forth is getting tedious, but are you willing to exercise your obligation to vote for one office, but not the other?

    Could not one easily come to the conclusion that “all of choices for all of the offices are evil” and not vote for any political candidate, then?

    Do not disqualify third-parties simply because they aren’t what everyone else likes. As Catholics, we vote, and we vote for what will result in the most good.

  • VR

    Living where I do, in a large western state with a small population, I am already disenfranchised for all practical purposes in the national office vote. Therefore, I will not vote for any of the presidential candidates, but rather cast my vote in the state-wide and local elections, where mayhaps my vote will count for something.

  • Andy K.

    If you live in a state of millions, your vote may as well count for nothing, anyway.

    The point is that a vote is an individual attempt to get the best person into an political office (where “best” is often “least evil”) or to affirm/deny passage of a bill according to a well-informed conscience.

    This “throwing away your vote” stuff is so silly to me. Use your vote to affirm Catholic teaching. Do not deny it its due because of “electability” concerns or because “it won’t count anyway.”

  • Margaret Cabaniss

    For those interested in reading Carlin’s “Two Cheers for John McCain” article that he mentioned, and which appeared recently in Commonweal, you can find it here: http://tinyurl.com/699e3v

  • Del Torkelson

    Catholic liberals are imposing their personal religious beliefs on the populace when they use government to fight poverty. There is no necessary underpinning for this function of government, and guys like Mario Cuomo and Paul Begala often tip their hands.

    Actual quote from Begala: “God says we are our brothers

  • Veritas

    I echo the thoughts of VR and Andy K.

    The suggesting that a no-vote on the Presidential election constitutes a vote for Obama is contradicts basic logic. Let’s see: Obama doesn’t get a +1 on a non-vote. Nor does McCain, but the net effect of such neutrality is not in any way a +1 for Obama. It’s a wash. Period.

    The neutral no-vote, much like a third party vote, is a perfectly viable option for Catholics. CCC2240 simply mandates we ‘exercise the right to vote.’ We can’t stay home…but this provision doesn’t limit our choices to two candidates we cannot in good conscience endorse, meaning third party candidates and neutrality are viable options.

    Catholicism transcends politics and political parties. There is no Catholic moral justification for supporting Obama, but it’s fundamentally illogical to suggest that that translates into a moral mandate to support McCain.

  • JP2Feminist

    To Veritas: Your logic only works if both sides are equal. However, from all indications, Democrats are registering new members in record numbers. They are also chomping at the bit to throw the Bush Administration out, which would include McCain who has been labeled by Obama as “the third Bush Administration.” I, for one, do not want to risk that a non-vote for Obama would be canceled out by a non-vote for McCain.

    As we learned in the 2000 Presidential election in Florida, EVERY VOTE COUNTS! While you people are philosophizing about the grand political statement you plan to make with your “no” vote or third party vote, understand that you are going to be selling out all of us who have worked so hard to gain even an inch of success in the abortion battle. Y’all make me sick! That’s all I have to say on this subject.

  • Sloane

    I was disappointed after reading the 7 names of Catholic faculty members, including Theology professors, from Boston College, Notre Dame, etc. I think their written statement violates the principles in Ex Corde Ecclesiae on Catholic identy of Catholic colleges and universities. As Catholic faculty, they are supposed to be public witnesses to the faith and faithful to the teachings of the Church, both inside and outside the classroom. They clearly state that they view abortion as a “profound moral issue” as opposed to “intrinsically evil”. Also, in their letter, they “commend” (recommend, praise) Obama, a radical pro-abortion candidate to fellow Catholics. How is this leading the youth to Truth, as the Pope has described the profound responsibilities of Catholic educators? Have the Bishops read this letter? Difficult to comprehend how such a scholarly group can so profoundly misinterpret the USCCB’s Statement on the political responsibility of Catholics. Maybe the Bishops in their respective dioceses can clerify the ethical distinctions between the issues and explain the problem of “moral equivalence” to Obama’s “Catholic” advisors.

  • Andy K.

    I live in Illinois. It’s Obama’s home state, and he’s going to win here by a huge margin.

    Since McCain’s not going to win in my state, how is a vote for a BETTER third party candidate in any way a waste?

  • Alice

    In their letter to Donohue, they completely ignore the absolute and unequivical call from the US Catholic Bishops to always oppose abortion and other life issue because they are always wrong. (#28). In fact they act like #29 is a lone section in Forming Consciences and Faithful Citizenship, when in reality #27-#29 are intended to be read as a whole. In my interpretation, abortion and other fundamental life issues are the first line of inquiry and then you take other issues that involve life and dignity ‘the broad set’ and weigh them in light of the teachings of the Catholic Church. I think this interpretation is what the USCCB intented. I’m surprised that all the lawyers and law professors among Obama’s Catholic advisers ‘missed the hoop’ here.

  • JP2Feminist

    Andy: It is your prerogative to vote for a third party candidate in a state that you believe will be won by Obama anyway, but the last time I checked, insidecatholic.com reaches an audience beyond the borders of Illinois. Clearly you are broadcasting your feelings on the internet because you would like others to follow suit. After all, a protest vote is meaningless if there are no numbers to back it up. You must not be truly pro-life if you are willing to help Obama get elected by encouraging people to waste their votes on unelectable candidates. I trust that people who are pro-life will not do anything to help the Democrats take the White House in November.

  • Andy K.

    I will never do anything to help Obama gain the white house.

    I will also not do anything to help Mr. McCain, who also supports evil, to gain that seat, either.

    As long as another, better choice is available, I will do everything in my power to make sure that choice is well-known to everyone – it is my Catholic duty, no?

  • John M

    In the context of national politics and the foundation of America as the land of opportunity, with rights for all, there is no greater and more important right than the right to life. While other issues are relevant, our actions on earth will affect us for eternity. The vote, I believe must ultimately support those who support life. As for the charge that Republicans and conservatives use abortion as a seduction tool, the opposite scenario is that presidential candidates like Hillary and Obama will certainly allow it to continue if elected.

  • Don L.

    If the church teaches about the dignity of life, all catholics must understand that voting for Obama is contradictory to this teaching. For him to detain for 3 years the ‘born alive’ bill while he was in the Illinois senate makes you wonder about his motives, especially when that ‘arguement’that while the fetus, the unborn, the baby is attached to the mother presents health risks. My goodness, and when the baby being aborted comes out alive, who in their right minds would want to let this human being die. Voting for Obama certainly contradicts with being a catholic. Almost certainly abortion is the aftermath more or less of not understanding the nature of man and woman. Making a stand on an issue while cutting off the vein of what made the issue is barbaric. Obama is clearly on the side of the culture of death. I call myself catholic because I understand the teaching of the sanctity of life not attached to convenience.

  • R.C.

    I hope the title of my post got some folks’ attention. I consider it only a slight exaggeration or misstatement.

    I’ve been disturbed by the number of Catholics who think the Church infallibly teaches support for the welfare-state. No; the Church instructs us to HELP THE POOR.

    This is an excellent reason to vote for economic conservatives.

    I wouldn’t vote for leftists unless I was the bitter enemy of the poor. Leftist economic/tax policy increases poverty and government dependence. This is bad for the poor.

    In the U.S., Conservatives in general give more to charity than Leftists at every income level. It is laughable to assert that the latter are somehow more concerned for the sake of the poor.

    But just as importantly, they champion healthy and sustainable economic policies, which helps the poor.

    It’s simplistic, but a comparison of what Right and Left economic policies do, when given free rein, is instructive. Consider the plight of the poor in the laboratory-societies of the Left: the Soviet Union, North Korea, Albania, et alia.

    Now compare, as a control group, poor in the U.S. Whatever other difficulties they may have, it is a medical fact that the chief chronic health problem of the poor in America is…obesity. Now that’s the kind of society that really feeds the poor!

    Groaners aside, government programs usurp an important role of the Church in society: Charity to the downtrodden.

    When two great Church roles in society (education and alms) are undermined and supplanted by government, what can one expect but a Church marginalized and widely considered a social club for persons with shared metaphysical opinions?

    “Compare and contrast” private, voluntary charity (including Church programs) with government assistance supported by involuntary taxation:

    A recipient of government support feels no gratitude (he “has a right” to it). The man who worked long hours to pay for that support through taxes never meets the recipient and feels no charity for him; he only knows he must pay his taxes or go to jail.

    He also thinks much of what he is paying is for persons who use it to subsidize laziness, who wrung it out of him by forming a special-interest constituency and having enough “pull” in the government to get the legislation passed.

    And the politicians defending all this, do so by encouraging voters to base their politics on covetousness and class hatred.

    Is THAT to be likened to the love of Christ?!

    Meanwhile, the person who receives alms freely given feels gratitude. He knows the giver had a choice. And if he knows the giver is a Christian, then he knows this benefit comes from “the Giver of all good things.”

    The giver, meanwhile is obeying his Lord and loving his fellow man. And nobody is indulging in political tit-for-tat or graft or class-warfare to make it happen.


    This claim to championing the poor, by which Democrat pols hope to atone for their support of legalized murder, is nonsense. The thing they support hurts the poor, and the Church, and the world in general.

    THAT is the correct perspective on the Obama-supporters’ claim to the Catholic vote.

  • Chesterton Fan

    While the author is surely correct about the duplicity displayed by those who would excuse Obama’s horrendous indifference to abortion, I suspect it’s expected that conservative Catholics will just overlook McCain’s callous indifference to the unjust and illegal war in Iraq, a war he’s willing to continue for the next hundred years and to expand to Iran. Given that the war has already cost the lives of over a million men, women, and children in Iraq, and thousands of American men and women, and was condemned by the Vatican as unnecessary from Day 1, how should we sign on to McCain? The war, the torture, the imprisonment without charge of thousands, are abominations which have turned the US from beacon of hope to hated disgrace. Meanwhile McCain will surely do even less than Bush has to end abortion (if it’s possible to do less than nothing.)

  • R.C.

    Dear “Chesterton fan”:

    Any lover of G.K.C. gets kudos from me for excellent taste! …yet, with respect, I feel I must object to some un-Chestertonian undertones in your post.

    When Chesterton indulged in hyperbole, he was aware of it and did so for ironic or comedic impact. But when making a serious point, he did not overstate his evidence and was cautious to get it exactly right.

    In your last post, you intend to make a serious point, but instead of supporting it with exact facts, you support it with exaggerations and errors. G.K.C. would have done otherwise.

    Here are the problem areas:

    (1.) “McCain’s callous indifference to the…war in Iraq”: He’s far from indifferent. He thinks it was the right call initially; and that changes to execution have made it winnable with perseverance, and that it would be a callous and barbaric act of betrayal to leave now, thereby snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Call that what you wish, but “indifferent” it ain’t.

    (2.) “…unjust…war in Iraq”: All of life in a fallen world is unjust compared to life in heaven, and life in a war zone is unusually so. But so is life under a dictator who apparently slew tens of thousands of his tribal and political enemies and prisoners annually during his reign (mass graves still turn up). Given this, and given the fact that a perfect world is not an option, was the war more just, or less just, than the alternative? It’s a judgment call; a non-obvious one even now, and less so in 2002-2003.

    (3.) “…illegal war in Iraq”: Not by U.S. law, after Congress authorized force. By what law, or theory thereof, do you claim its illegality? Or by “illegal war” do you mean “war I don’t like?”

    Keep in mind that there was but one “Gulf War”; the 1991 war “ended” not in an armistice but a conditional cease-fire; the conditions of which were violated by Saddam routinely for ten years. The U.S. was within rights to resume hostilities on that basis alone — setting aside Saddam’s violation of U.N. resolutions — but refrained because he was contained. And the imminent end of the inspections regime meant the end of that containment; that meant ending the cease-fire was back on the table.

    (4.) “…a war [McCain]’s willing to continue for the next hundred years”: Not so. Check your sources. You’ll find McCain’s “hundred years” comment had nothing to do with 100 years of warfare; he said he was willing to have, IN A STABILIZED IRAQ, a presence there comparable to the U.S. presence in Germany, Japan, and South Korea. To disagree with McCain, you must (for consistency’s sake) also oppose the U.S. presence in those countries with equal vigor.

  • R.C.


    (5.) “…a war [McCain]’s willing…to expand to Iran”: Only if Iran commits an act of war against the U.S. or its allies (read: Israel or Europe). Are you saying that the U.S. should not assist its allies? Or only that the U.S. should not prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear-tipped ICBM arsenal. (I note: the Vatican will be in range of whatever warheads Iran deploys in the next decade.)

    (6.) “The war…was condemned by the Vatican as unnecessary from Day 1”: Yes, it was. Infallibly?

    Of course, even when not speaking infallibly, the Church is not to be discounted…but the opinion of even the pope can be incorrect, and especially on difficult matters outside his field of expertise. Is a Catholic required as an article of faith to say that the Iraq invasion was wrong? If so, in what way must a Catholic believe it was “wrong”? Must he believe it was a misjudgment in good faith? Or must he believe it was a sin?

    (7.) “torture”: Of all the Senate, I cannot think of one who opposed the “extraordinary methods” of interrogation with more personal conviction than McCain. He largely opposed his party on this; he certainly opposed Bush. Do you not know this?

    (8.) “imprisonment without charge of thousands”: Had these thousands been arrested in New Jersey because they were videotaping bridges and monuments, that would be one thing. As it happens, they were captured in war zones after attacking U.S. troops and innocent civilians. Respectfully, sir, you should consult a dictionary on the difference between “crime suspect” and “combatant”; also, “crime scene” and “battlefield,” “secure area” and “war zone.”

    (9.) “[Bush did] less than nothing…to end abortion.”: WHAT? “Less than nothing” means he did something to assist abortion, right? You cannot seriously think that.

    Listen, the years of a GOP president with an all-GOP congress were deeply disappointing: So much promise wasted on pork and stymied by RINOs. But Bush of all people, on abortion of all topics? What could he do (as President, remember, not dictator-for-life!) other than what he did: Roadblock immoral embryonic research when he could, nominate pro-life justices to SCOTUS, and advocate a culture of life from the bully pulpit?

    Really, this last is a major error. G.K. Chesterton would not have blundered so. Good intentions are not enough: Clear thinking is also required. We all make errors; please consider whether your post contains some worthy of correction.

    In earnest and without malice,

  • Lori G.
  • Dan Severino

    I’m not only Catholic I’m also American. There are a lot of great things about this nation and the world’s stability is given a greater chance of survival with a strong U.S.

    I’m certainly against the war in Iraq. In the past, our foreign policy was to keep parity between Iraq and Iran. The Iraq War totally screwed up that parity. To leave Iraq would give Iran the ability to dominate that area of the world and that would potentially be anathema if we consider the world’s stability as having any proirity in our considerations. To get involved in this war took a particular lack of foresight as we now see; but can’t we have enough foresight left to see the results of abandoning Iraq to the stability of the whole Middle East and the world.
    The U.S. has got to change it’s foreign policy to something more akin to what it was prior to 9-11. A healthy war on terror is certainly warranted by any standards.

    McCain will be reasonable on immigration to the point where I think the USCCB will be satisfied. I think his embyronic stem cell position will soon be moot because of the recent advances found in stem cell research that are compatible with Catholic teaching. Most important will be McCain’s decision to appoint strict constructionists to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Republican position of using the Constitution as the law of the land as interpreted by it original intent is certainly compatible with Church teaching. To have faith in providing opportunity to people to make a good life for themselves is very American and very Catholic. McCain is a very reasonable choice for this Catholic — far from perfect, but certainly acceptable.

  • Tom M.
  • michael-brendan lujan

    McCain is an Anglo-Catholic, isnt he? He may call himself a Baptist or whatever, but does anyone know whether as an Episcopalian he received the Sacraments from a valid priest? That makes all the difference, right?

  • Bill Kurtz

    I was intrigued by the suggestion that those who disagree with Obama on abortion, but agree with him on everything else, cast a blank ballot.
    In effect, that’s what I did in 2000. I disagreed with Al Gore on abortion, I disagreed with George W. on most other issues. I voted for Ralph Nader.
    I got whopping deficits, the indefensible Iraq War, subversion of the Constitution and the Justice Department- need I go on?
    Those who suggest a blank ballot or third party vote benefits Obama are out of their mind. I disagree with Mr. Carlin (yes, I’m voting for Obama), but I respect his intellectual honesty. His critics make me wonder if there is ANYTHING a Republican could screw up badly enough to cancel their blank check support, issued in gratitude for anti-abortion rhetoric.