Warning: controversy ahead!
I’ve written earlier on the dilemmas facing modern Catholics in America, and those dilemmas are all the more pressing in this election year. The NY Times has an excellent article on the Catholic vote, “Catholic Church Is Riven By Internal Debate,” and it cuts to the heart of the crisis of authority facing the Church in the US.
As I’ve said before, the middle ground is a tough place to be, especially when it comes to religion. When you take some things from the theological salad bar but leave some of them behind, part of you wonders why you’re even at the salad bar to begin with. The Church can’t show any cracks in its authority for fear that any compromise on its issues will lead to a slippery slope of moral relativism and eventual obsolescense.
Unfortunately, it’s not helping its cause when it tells Catholic voters to essentially Vote for McCain (and only for McCain and other anti-abortion public officials) Or Else. The article quotes one American bishop as saying:
Being ‘right’ on taxes, education, health care, immigration and the economy fails to make up for the error of disregarding the value of a human life. It is a tragic irony that ‘pro-choice’ candidates have come to support homicide — the gravest injustice a society can tolerate — in the name of ‘social justice.
Let’s rewind the clock and apply this logic to the year 2000. By this logic, even though George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and his Republican Pro-Life pals were wrong on Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, Abu Ghraib, the economy, torture, politicizing the Justice Department, domestic spying, and every other pathetic failure of the public trust over the last eight years, this is all somehow OK because at the end of the day they put two conservative judges on the Supreme Court who might someday possibly consider overturning Roe V. Wade?
Everyone gets it. Abortion is bad. Nobody wants Planned Parenthood to have people lining up outside the clinic for quick ‘n’ easy pregnancy terminations. Nobody wants a culture that disrespects human dignity and human life.
But do you know what else disrespects human dignity and human life? Denying access to sex education that will ultimately prevent abortions. Torturing prisoners of war. Supporting economic policies that keep poor people in the ditch. Launching an unjustified war. Sitting on your laurels while poor black people drown in New Orleans. Stoking hatred and vitriol against people in same sex relationships. Blindly trusting the free market to regulate itself while millions of American fall into the economic abyss.
I’m Catholic, I do respect life, and I’m not voting for a candidate just because they carry the anti-abortion flag into the battlefield. I do respect Catholics and others who want to vote their conscious and vote Pro-Life, but I’m Catholic, I’m voting my conscious, and I’m voting for Obama.