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PRAVDA USA trundles out former priests and radicals to press for Kerry election: 'Former priest' and Northwestern Univ. journalism prof. McClory the latest in a slow parade of 'Christian' advocates for pro-abortion politicians
10/17/2004 10:25:00 AM - www.chicagotribune.com
NOTES: The nicest thing we can say about McClory is that he is former priest. Otherwise, shills like McClory are being trundled out in droves by PRAVDA USA in a frantic effort to convince undecided or other concerned Christian voters that a vote for gay rights, pro-abortion "Catholics" like Kerry and Durbin are perfectly morally acceptable. McClory laments that Roe v. Wade is a forgone conclusion, and presumes (falsely) that it can't be reversed, leaving Catholics free to overlook abortion, the greatest moral evil ever to 'legalized.' One can only thank God that this defeatist cop out wasn't writing shortly after our Lord ascended into Heaven. With Catholics like McClory, who needs Catholics?
RELIGION, MORALITY AND POLITICS IS KERRY A GOOD ENOUGH CATHOLIC? IS BUSH TOO GOOD A BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIAN
QUESTIONS OF CONSCIENCE: Beyond abortion issue, by Robert McClory, October 17, 2004
How can a Catholic vote in good conscience for a candidate who consistently opposes the church's position on abortion?
It's a good question, one the Republican National Committee and supporting groups are asking over and over in hopes of giving President Bush another 4-year term and providing him with a phalanx of strong anti-abortion legislators like Alan Keyes.
Catholics, representing 25 percent of the U.S. voting public, have the potential to determine the big winners in November. Recognizing this, the RNC has launched a "Kerry Wrong for Catholics" Web site that blasts Sen. John Kerry's record on abortion and related issues.
Meanwhile, a non-profit organization called Priests for Life has invested $1 million in ads to persuade the nation's 46,000 priests to rally their parishioners to the cause. Another group, Catholic Answers, is circulating millions of voter guides listing "non-negotiable" matters for Catholics, including stem cell research, gay marriage and, of course, abortion.
Mother Angelica's TV network is on the case, as is Relevant Radio, a right-wing Catholic radio network. These non-profit organizations can't come right out and say, "Vote against Kerry" or "Vote against Obama," but their intent is clear.
So, does a conscientious Catholic voter have any choice?
The answer is yes.
Degrees of pro-choice
First, it might be helpful to consider that perhaps so-called pro-choice candidates such as Kerry may not be as pro-choice as they are portrayed. It is not entirely unrealistic or un-Catholic to believe at this time in America that Roe vs. Wade cannot be overturned, since it is a Supreme Court decision, not a legislative matter.
Nor is it out of the question to think, even if Roe vs. Wade could be overturned, that an illegal, back-alley abortion industry would flourish, or to think that criminalizing abortion would require long prison sentences for everyone involved in the procedure, including mothers, or to hold that the strict Catholic position itself, which bars abortion even in cases of rape, incest and the endangerment of a mother's life, cries for a serious revision.
For these and other reasons, a Catholic legislator could decide that a workable prohibition is not obtainable now and therefore not an issue he or she is required to take a stand on.
What steps then could a Catholic candidate take if that person nevertheless believes, as the church teaches, that abortion is wrong? Here we get into some complicated issues that tunnel-visioned abortion foes choose to ignore.
Well within an elected legislator's range of choices is the ability to promote the kind of social welfare and economic legislation that could make the abortion option less attractive to a pregnant woman--such as adequate medical coverage that includes prenatal and postnatal care, improved welfare benefits and job training, affordable housing, extended insurance coverage for the unemployed and an increase in the minimum wage.
Moves in that direction will not persuade every pregnant woman to have the child, but they could lead many to make a choice for life, especially those on the lower economic stratum. A practical consideration for the thoughtful voter is how candidates rate on this sort of scale.
Bush and the Republican Party have been far more invested in the promotion of tax cuts and the war in Iraq than in the above-mentioned initiatives. Last June, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) released a study he authorized showing how all the Catholic senators voted on a variety of bills and proposals and whether their positions reflected the published positions of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
To no one's surprise, the Republicans, virtually all against abortion, were with the bishops on all abortion issues.
But there was a stark difference between the Republicans and Democrats in other areas.
On affordable housing, expanding child tax credits, raising the minimum wage and the right to unionize--all matters the bishops strongly endorse--Republican Catholics gave zero support. That is, they unanimously voted against such legislation.
On a proposal to extend insurance benefits to the unemployed, Republican support was a scant 13 percent.
Meanwhile, the Democratic senators, including Kerry, Durbin and Ted Kennedy (virtually all abortion-rights backers), overwhelmingly supported the bishops' positions on all of the above, with support at 100 percent in most cases.
The Republican rallying cry (echoed by a tiny minority of Catholic bishops) that "abortion trumps everything" is simplistic sloganeering.
Abortion does not exist in a hermetically sealed box all by itself.
It exists in a complicated world where real people, including legislators, have to make practical, prudent decisions on what can work. In such a world the terms "pro-life" and "pro-choice" lose their absolute character.
As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has said, voters may support a pro-abortion rights candidate not because that candidate favors abortion, but for "proportionate reasons."
Perhaps then, the more relevant question in this election is: How can a Catholic vote in good conscience for a candidate who consistently announces a pie-in-the-sky opposition to abortion, but who refuses to support the kind of down-to-earth measures that can reduce the number of abortions in the here and now?
Robert McClory, a former priest, is emeritus professor in the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and author of books about religion.