Catholicity and Politics

Who “should” Catholics vote for?

Who is a pro-life Catholic to vote for? The Presidential election in 2004 has marred the picture. The media constantly questioned and attacked John Kerry’s voting record and support for abortion. Unfortunately, much of the secular media’s coverage of the life issue has been skewed.. Conservatives constantly decry the “liberal media,” yet it was George Bush who “won” the battle of the media. The pro-life positions of the Catholic Church clearly include much more than abortion: the death-penalty, euthanasia, stem-cell research, hospital life-support devices and the concept of living wills. There is a double standard for Catholics and politics. Democratic politicians, as we have seen, are forced to defend their Catholicity, yet Catholic Republicans who support the death-penalty are given a free pass.

Too many articles about the life issue give misleading or false information. Rhode Island’s own congressional delegation is comprised of three Catholics: two also support abortion and one is “pro-life.” Yes, Rep. James Langevin, is against abortion, but he supports stem-cell research. Such research also runs contrary to the “life platform.” In national politics, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (R) is famously regarded as a devout Catholic; his son is even an ordained priest. Scalia, however, supports the death penalty. So do other “famous” Republicans such as Clarence Thomas, Rick Santorum, Frank Keating, Arnold Swartzeneger, Jeb Bush, and Sam Brownback.

Frank Keating supports the death penalty, but was named Chairman of the Bishop’s committee on pedophilia? Would a Catholic who supported abortion be given such a position?

Rick Santorum and Sam Brownback (member of Opus Dei), who strongly support the death penalty, were given free “face-time” during John Paul II’s funeral and the election of Benedict XVI. Isn’t it curious that they were, but not John Kerry?

Jeb Bush, in a recent interview, was “allowed” to explain how “difficult” it was for him to be Catholic and sign death warrants. Read the article and replace Jeb Bush with John Kerry and death penalty with abortion.

Jeb Bush Given ‘Pause’ When at Odds with Church (Reuters)
By Phil Stewart Sat Apr 23, 3:14 PM ET

Whether it is the war in Iraq or the death penalty, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says he is given “pause” when the policies he and his brother support run against the views of the Roman Catholic Church. Bush, who converted to Catholicism to share the faith of his Mexican-born wife Columba, will lead the U.S. delegation to the inauguration of Pope Benedict on Sunday on
behalf of President Bush.

“I get uneasy when the Vatican writes me letters when a death penalty case is about ready to take place in Florida. I’ll be honest with you, that gives me pause. It makes me pray harder,” Bush told reporters in Rome on Saturday.

“Even though it’s the law of our land and I have a duty to uphold that law, when there is a conflict .. it does give me concern. “But having said that, I think the president’s decision (on Iraq) was the right one,” he added, returning to an original question about Iraq.

Pope John Paul, who died on April 2, sought in vain to avert the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and was a stern and vocal opponent of capital punishment. Jeb Bush considered postponing an execution earlier this month until after John Paul’s funeral on April 8. He decided to proceed after speaking with the victims’ family, and the 47-year-old was killed by lethal injection for the 1999 strangling of a store clerk. He was the 60th person to be put to death since Florida reinstated the death penalty in the 1970s.

President Bush oversaw the most executions of any U.S. governor in modern history when he was governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000. Texas executed 152 people. The Republican party receives strong support from Christian conservatives and is often allied with the Catholic Church on divisive issues like abortion, stem-cell research, gay marriage and euthanasia. “It’s not a question of picking or choosing. I don’t believe it’s related to that … All of us can improve our relationship to God,” said Bush, who will meet the Pope following the ceremony on Sunday.

Like his brother did earlier this month, Gov. Bush spoke about the papacy’s important role in cultivating the “culture of life” and cited the case of Terri Schiavo. The brain-damaged Florida woman died last month after a U.S. state court ordered her feeding tube removed at her husband’s request. The decision drew strong opposition from the Vatican, her parents, Jeb Bush and the U.S. president.

How does it read now?

As a Catholic American, it concerns me that some people lose sight of the big picture in the world: the environment, children’s rights, women’s rights, working conditions, labor rights and peace. All of these are issues of importance to the church. Of course, nothing is as important to church teaching as the centrality of life, but it is wrong to rank the life issues in personal preference and project that opinion on candidates to serve your own agenda.

There are persons, especially members of the clergy, who would tell people that “abortion is the gravest evil.” As leading Democrats have finally stated, of course this country is better off when abortions are rare. Abortion is a sin to Catholics. However, a selective interpretation and preaching of the Church’s teaching is not the act of a Christian –it is the act of political hacks and psychological manipulators. Look at the
website maintained by Catholic priests who purport to be “pro-life.” Do you see the phrase “death penalty anywhere? Where is the line between “people of faith” and “people of agenda”?

When was the last time any secular publication questioned the Catholicity of a Catholic who supports death-penalty? Catholics should not be guilted into voting for one party or another. Catholics should look at the whole picture and decide for themselves without the manipulation of others.

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