Friday, October 22, 2004

Catholics Publish "An Open Letter to John Kerry"

The last few weeks before election day, more and more faithful Catholics from all walks of life -- clergy and laity -- are voicing their discontent with Senator Kerry's blatant misrepresentation and mockery of the Catholic faith.

My colleague Earl E. Appleby has drawn attention to Bishop Paul S. Loverde's correction of Kerry's claim that the Church's opposition to abortion is an "article of faith" that cannot be legislated. In so doing, Bishop Loverde joins a growing list of bishops who -- like the biblical prophets of old -- are speaking truth to political power and condemning the slaughter of innocents.

This past Tuesday, another impressive list of academics, legislators -- even a retired U.S. Army major general -- joined together to sign an An Open Letter From Fellow Catholics To John Kerry On Faith & Reason, addressing the moral incohrence of the Senator's "pro-choice" allegiance:

Innocent human life must always be protected. Senator John Kerry, you have said that "life begins at conception," but you have persistently supported abortion and oppose all sensible restrictions on the practice.

You have voted six times against banning the barbaric practice of partial birth abortion. You voted to spend taxpayers' dollars to fund abortion at least 25 times.

You opposed Laci and Conner's Law, which protects pregnant women and their unborn babies from violent crimes.

In the most recent debate Senator Kerry, you said, "everything you do in public life has to be guided by your faith" and that "everything is a gift from the Almighty." But apparently, when it comes to the issue of the right to life, you follow neither your own faith nor your own reason.

Senator Kerry, your stand contradicts both your faith and reason.

What is troubling to me is that the complete irrationality of John Kerry's support of abortion should be obvious to anybody with a little bit of common sense. You don't need a philosophy degree to realize that there's something more than a little wrong with a politician who recognizes that human life begins at conception but defends with every breath the "right" to murder that life. Who claims to be "personally opposed" to abortion but proudly claims militant defenders of abortion as allies. Who claims to have a "respect" for the Catholic faith but denigrates Christian opposition to abortion as a "rigid ideology". Who claims to "fight for equality and justice" but is all too willing to exclude the weakest among us.

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In "Kerry and Abortion: A Look at Stark Reality Without Distractions" -- a response to Professor Cathleen Kaveny's diatribe against "Rambo Catholics" (and worth reading in full) -- Greg Sisk conveys what is on the mind of many a Catholic:

The plain fact is that John Kerry is not a "pro-choice" politician. Much worse, John Kerry is the candidate of the abortion industry itself.

It is for these reasons, principled reasons far beyond those flowing from ordinary partisan politics, that I and so many others genuinely tremble at the prospect of a President Kerry. It is difficult even to contemplate the appalling spectacle of a professing Catholic who knowingly and freely and energetically gives financial and legal aid and moral comfort to those who daily add to our national holocaust. Watching the most powerful man in the country throwing his arms in a warm embrace around those who kill unborn children, while banishing from government and judicial office those who would promote life, would be heart-rendingly painful. That this same man then could claim communion with the Church of Life is astounding. Such unavoidably would be an act of fundamental dishonesty and contempt for the Church's witness to life. The scandal that would be caused to the faithful and the injury to the Church's credibility and voice on issues of life might reverberate for years.

In words expressed by many other bishops as well, although not targeted at Kerry in particular, Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark has explained that "Catholics who publicly dissent from the Church's teaching on the right to life of all unborn" have thereby chosen to separate themselves from the Church and "in a significant way from the Catholic community." He asked that such people should "honestly admit in the public forum that they are not in full union with the Church," and that any attempt by such a person to "express 'communion' with Christ and His Church by the reception of the Sacrament of the Eucharist is objectively dishonest." To emphasize the fuller meaning and the powerful meaning of communion is not bullying; it is a matter of simple integrity.