Catholic...Vote for a "Pro-Choice" Democrat?

Hi, just found your website!! Great! Am mailing it to my sister in California (Fremont), She and her husband make such a show of being "good-to-excellent" Catholics (daily Mass, donating their money - they are rich) and are loud Democrats, poking fun at "my" President (Bush), intimating that Al Gore was the "real" winner and "their" President, if you can stomach this so far.

Well, my husband and I are Pro-Life (I'm Pro-Choice, if you mean that God gave us a conscience to choose good or evil/sin) I hate using that term. And, everyone is "Pro-Life", or they'd commit suicide. right? But I digress.

I'm wondering how anyone can call themselves a "good" Catholic, and even VOTE for a "Pro-Choice" Democrat. Can you help me on that? I'd sure appreciate some sane thinking on that matter.

God has led me to help the "life" helpers - I'm a quilter and enjoy making quilts and donating them to be used as fund-raisers for emergency pregnancy centers, etc. I've given some to Heartbeat, Int'l, to raise money, for instance, and there have been so many warming "miracles" from my joyful work. My beautiful quilts are made from 100% cotton fabric I find in clothing, etc., from thrift stores, and symbolize "that which was intended to be discarded has been rescued and allowed to live on, warming new hearts!"

Love your website!

Naples, Florida


Dear Margaret,

I have been thinking quite a bit about your email since receiving it a couple weeks ago. You present a very grave dilemma: How to relate to otherwise good Catholics like your sister and brother-in-law, who go against Church teaching in this crucial area. The teachings of Jesus on this issue are quite clear. The Holy Father has enunciated them in encyclicals like Evangelium Vitae, the Catechism has a very clear teaching on abortion ("Human life must be respected and protected from the moment of conception..." see #2270) and the U.S. Bishops have applied those teachings to our American political situation:

Most Americans would recognize the contradiction in the statement, "While I am personally opposed to slavery or racism or sexism I cannot force my personal view on the rest of society." Real pluralism depends on people of conviction struggling vigorously to advance their beliefs by every ethical and legal means at their disposal. Today, Catholics risk cooperating in a false pluralism. Secular society will allow believers to have whatever moral convictions they please -- as long as they keep them on the private preserves of their consciences, in their homes and churches, and out of the public arena. Democracy is not a substitute for morality, nor a panacea for immorality. Its value stands -- or falls -- with the values which it embodies and promotes. Only tireless promotion of the truth about the human person can infuse democracy with the right values. This is what Jesus meant when He asked us to be leaven in society. (see: Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics IV)

The issue is clear to anyone who thinks about it - just like the issue was clear in Germany during the 30's and in the pre-bellum United States. To reduce someone to a subhuman level because they are a Jew, a black slave or small goes against not only Christian, but basic human values. It is important get beyond slogans (as you pointed out very well in your email) and to focus on the facts. One way of doing that is by trying to find areas of common agreement. This is becoming harder as our society becomes more polarized. Still, we can ask "pro-choice" people if they will work together with us in some areas: for example getting abortion clinics to follow existing laws regarding reporting of statutory rape or working toward laws which would protect a child who survives an abortion. You probably know many other examples like appropriate criminal penalties for someone who attacks a pregant woman, harming her unborn child; informing a mother of all potential dangers before she undergoes an abortion, etc. Other areas of possible agreement are laws relating to human cloning, experimentation with human embryoes, partial-birth abortion, etc. And of course as your letter indicates, there are many, many non-political activities one can engage in which promote the dignity of every human life. Those are things almost every Catholic has a strong feeling for, like trying to reach out to street people, helping immigrants, caring for the disabled, assisting the poor, etc.

One delicate area is capital punishment. We always need to help people see that it is a very different issue from abortion. While the state does have the right to impose the death penalty - and we are not in that case talking about an innocent human life - still we must always speak about our reverence for that life, our concern for the eternal salvation of even a mass murderer like Timothy McVeigh. So while we don't make an equivalency between abortion and capital punishment, still we must avoid giving people an easy way of dismissing us. "Well, you agree with the pope on abortion, but not on death penalty. So we just dissent on different issues."

About talking with your sister and brother-in-law, I don't have a specific recommendation. You obviously know them better than I. My only suggestion would be to spend as much time as you can in prayer, especially before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. He can obviously touch hearts in a way we cannot, but also can open the opportunity for you to say a word or give a witness in a way which will be effective.

My prayers for you, Margaret. Please remember me. God bless,

Fr. Phil Bloom

P.S. I am flattered you found my article helpful. Other have stumbled on it and it has made them think, so we never know what effect our words will have.

From Sarah: "Do you honestly believe that making abortion illegal will solve the problem?" (Clear Thinking about Crucial Issues)

He Approached the Victim: "It's much more likely one of your relatives will lose his life by surgical abortion than by heart attack."

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