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kmiec.jpgDouglas Kmiec, the Catholic legal scholar and former counsel to Republican presidents, reports that he was recently denied communion for publicly supporting pro-choice candidate Barack Obama. It’s getting more common for the Catholic church to instruct pro-choice politicians to refrain from receiving the sacrament–it happened to John Kerry in 2004 and, more recently, to Kansas Gov. Kathleeen Sebelius. The pro-choice Rudy Giuliani was recently reprimanded for taking communion.
The difference in this case is that Kmiec is a staunch pro-life advocate. Here’s his defense, published on Inside Catholic

Catholic instruction provides that “a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.”
That obviously would preclude a Catholic voter from supporting a referendum providing public funding for abortion, but what about a candidate like Obama who is not pro-abortion, but of the view that the civil law best leaves this question to the mother in consultation with their own clergyman and doctor?
Catholic voters in this circumstance are asked to consider what other social goods Obama represents and whether they can honestly and openly say that they are supporting him for that reason and not his stand on abortion.
The American bishops have put it this way: “A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion. . ., if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.”
Are there “other important moral issues involving human life and dignity”? The list is long: the death and economic waste associated with an unjustified war in Iraq; failure to be good stewards of the environment; promoting a tax code that favors the wealthy and undermines a family wage; perpetuating an immigration system that divides families and overlooks the exploitation of labor and more.
Some of that “more” is also a candidate’s view toward adoption, which I again urge Senator Obama to address now in the shadow of NARAL’s endorsement so that he remains true to his method described on the Daily Kos of “making everyone uncomfortable.”
More than One Way to Be Pro-Life?
But there’s a deeper question: Are Catholics — indeed people of all faiths and no faith — who address the wrenching economic or social circumstances or misinformation that pressure a mother into believing she has no alternative but to take the life of her unborn, really pro-abortion?
I’m pretty sure Pope Benedict would not think so. In any event, Benedict’s predecessor several hundred times removed, St. Peter, reminded his apostles that they must be always “prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.”
…whether or not you think me less pro-life (which I’m not) by my endorsement, it is important to both reaffirm civility and the related principles of religious freedom that refute gleeful crusades, at home or abroad, to single out supposed apostasy where none exists.


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