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Voting by Roman Catholics opposed to abortion

Teachings by 50 American Catholic bishops

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Teachings by 50 American Catholic bishops:

Ten days before the 2008 elections, Rocco Palmo wrote an article in a UK Catholic periodical called The Tablet. He reported that at least 50 of the 197 active Catholic bishops in the U.S. have published articles or given interviews concerning abortion and the election.

The bishop's messages differed greatly in focus. Catholic voters may find them confusing:

  • Many emphasized that abortion is the preeminent factor to consider when deciding to vote.
  • Some deviated from the messages from the Vatican by flatly stating that a Catholic may go to Hell if they vote for a pro-choice candidate.
  • Some implied that implementing projects to lower the number of abortions does not make a candidate pro-life. Only the total banning of abortions does.
  • Still others say that there are many issues to consider beyond abortion.

Some statements by bishops and an archbishop:

  • Bishop Robert Hermann of St. Louis, MO wrote that: "the issue of life is the most basic issue and must be given priority over the issue of the economy, the issue of war or any other issue. ... Saving our children or killing our children. This is the overriding issue facing each of us. All other issues ... have to take second place to the issue of life. ..."

    "Many people in Germany supported Hitler for economic reasons even though, as his programs advanced, he put to death millions of Jewish people. He ended up wrecking the economy together with the country of Germany. How are we different if we vote for proabortion candidates for office? How can we help change our political and legal situation to protect innocent children and support a culture of life?"

    He condemned "so-called good Catholics [who] ... are quite ready to vote for a pro-abortion candidate under almost any circumstance." He asked: "Do some of our so-called good Catholics, who may go to Mass every Sunday and receive the Holy Eucharist, really believe that voting for a pro-abortion candidate, when there is a clear alternative and therefore no justifiable reason for so doing, is really not voting to have children killed? This election is all about saving our children!" 1

  • Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St Joseph, MO wrote that Catholic voters "... despite hardship, beyond partisanship, for the sake of our eternal salvation  should never" support a candidate who favors abortion access.

    He compared abortion to past tragedies when "... African Americans ... were once regarded as non-persons; or the Jews in Europe were once marked for genocide or racial purification. ... Our country is at the edge of the precipice concerning the protection of the life and dignity of the human person. A significant new attack on innocent human life will likely send us into a moral freefall that would rival any financial decline. The price for such a 'walk over the cliff' is millions more human lives for many more years to come."

  • Bishops Kevin J. Farrell of Dallas TX and Keven W. Vann of Fort Worth TX wrote a letter together stating that abortion is the "preeminent intrinsic evil of our day. ... It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop,"

  • Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, CO referred to Barack Obama as "... the most committed abortion-rights presidential candidate of either major party since the Roe v. Wade abortion decision." He also wrote that those Catholics who promote Obama as "this year's ‘real' pro-life candidate," are under a "peculiar kind of self-hypnosis, or moral confusion, or worse."

  • Bishop Gabino Zavala, of Los Angeles, CA said: "There are many other issues we need to bring up ... racism, torture, genocide, immigration, war and the impact of the economic downturn on the most vulnerable among us"

  • Bishop Terry Steib of Memphis, TN wrote: "We cannot be a one-issue people. ... I have received letters from well-meaning people telling me for whom I should vote and how I should inform parishioners regarding the candidates for whom they should or should not cast their ballot ... It is not my duty, nor is it my role." 2,3
  • Bishop Edwin O'Brien of Baltimore, MD, said in his installation homily in 2007: "No one has to have an abortion. To all of those in crisis pregnancies, I pledge our support and our financial help."

    On 2008-OCT-15, he wrote: "Those who claim we have a 'right' to take innocent life usurp God’s dominant claim on every human being," He pointed out to pro-life politicians that here are any number of ways within our Constitution to advance the protection of innocent human life. Is it not reasonable and honorable to take some steps, however small, to pursue that goal?" He urged Catholics to fight "in defense of innocent human life." The Church "has no choice, but with love and compassion for all, to speak out" because "she sees the right to life as the basis of all other rights." 4


The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Robert Hermann, "Bishop Robert Hermann on Voting to 'Save Our Children'," St. Louis Review, 2008-OCT-17, at: http://www.catholic.org/
  2. Thaddeus M. Baklinski, "50 Bishops Say Abortion Most Important Issue in U.S. Election," Life Site News, 2008-OCT-24, at: http://www.lifesitenews.com/
  3. Rocco Palmo, "Fifty bishops say US election is about abortion," The Tablet, 2008-OCT-25, at: http://www.thetablet.co.uk/
  4. Edwin O'Brien, "The Way of LIfe," Whispters in the Loggia, 2008-OCT-15, at: http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/
  5. Jonquil Frankham, "U.S. Bishops Come out Swinging against Abortion, Pro-Abort Politicians," Life Site News, 2008-OCT-17, at: http://www.lifesitenews.com/

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Copyright © 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2008-OCT-26
Author: B.A. Robinson

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