Carl A. Anderson
Because of the importance of the pro-life issue in this year’s U.S. elections, I have decided to reprint here excerpts from my annual report to the Supreme Convention:
In eight of the last nine presidential elections, the crucial “Catholic vote” has picked the winner. America’s 69 million Catholics are again likely to hold the key not only to the White House, but to a great number of other races as well.
The bishops of the United States recently stated, “The Church’s obligation to participate in shaping the moral character of society is a requirement of faith.”
At the top of their list of Catholic moral convictions, the bishops put “defending the inviolable sanctity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death.”
This is especially important since Catholics often confront a dilemma in deciding how to vote: Can we support a candidate who may be attractive for many reasons but who supports abortion rights? Some partisan advocates have sought to excuse support for pro-abortion-rights candidates through a complex balancing act. They claim other issues are important enough to offset a candidate’s support for abortion rights.
But the right to abortion mandated in the United States by the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision is not just another political issue; it is in reality a legal regime that has resulted in more than 40 million deaths.
Imagine for a moment the largest 25 cities in the United States and Canada suddenly empty of people. This is what the loss of 40 million human beings would look like. In fact, 40 million is greater than the entire population of Canada.
What political issue could possibly outweigh this human devastation? The answer, of course, is that there is none.
Some will argue that faith has no place in politics. But the notion that the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause somehow forbids either a public official or a voter from taking into account personal religious values when deciding matters of public policy is absurd.
After all, some of the most important movements in our history – the abolitionist movement which ended slavery, the civil-rights movement, which finally made racism morally unacceptable in America – were born as religious movements.
It is significant that both of these movements sought to end what were rightly regarded as fundamental violations of the dignity possessed by every human person. Legal respect for, and protection of, human dignity lie at the heart of our Constitution, as well as at the core of religious faith.
It is time to put away the arguments of political spin masters that only serve to justify abortion rights. How should Catholics exercise their responsibility as citizens? The most important way is to build a culture of life.
It is time for Catholics to demand the end of Roe v. Wade. It is time to stop creating excuses for voting for pro-abortion-rights politicians. It is time that Catholics shine a bright line of separation between themselves and all those politicians who defend the abortion-rights regime of Roe v. Wade.
During the pope’s visit to the United States last April, he urged those gathered at Yankee Stadium to protect “the unborn in the mother’s womb.” That statement drew the loudest, longest applause of his trip.
Imagine the effect if this year millions of Catholic voters simply say “no” – no to every candidate for every office of every political party who supports abortion rights.
It’s time Catholics stop accommodating pro-abortion-rights politicians and it’s time to start demanding that politicians accommodate us. In this election, if a Catholic cannot vote for a pro-life candidate, then not voting for that office may be the sincerest expression of faithful citizenship.
As faithful citizens, Catholics can build a new politics – a politics that is not satisfied with the status quo, but one that is dedicated to building up a culture of life.