Pontifications

Pontifications


Archbishop Chaput: More on the Politics of Abortion

posted by David Gibson

Archbishop Chaput.jpgWhile Cardinal George, the president of the U.S. bishops conference, is otherwise occupied (see below), Denver’s indefatigable archbishop, Charles J. Chaput, is continuing to take the lead (it seems to me) as the most visible and outspoken member of the American hierarchy.
Chaput is at it again today with a strongly-worded post at the First Things blog, where in an essay called “Vote for Real Hope and Change” (the archbishop doesn’t disguise his intentions!) he takes aim at Obama’s campaign slogan “Yes, we can” and says it might better be reversed to “No, we can’t,” as in no we can’t allow abortion, and no policies to “reduce the need” for abortion are sufficient:

Obviously, we have other important issues facing us this fall: the economy, the war in Iraq, immigration justice. But we can’t build a healthy society while ignoring the routine and very profitable legalized homicide that goes on every day against America’s unborn children. The right to life is foundational. Every other right depends on it. Efforts to reduce abortions, or to create alternatives to abortion, or to foster an environment where more women will choose to keep their unborn child, can have great merit–but not if they serve to cover over or distract from the brutality and fundamental injustice of abortion itself. We should remember that one of the crucial things that set early Christians apart from the pagan culture around them was their rejection of abortion and infanticide. Yet for thirty-five years I’ve watched prominent “pro-choice” Catholics justify themselves with the kind of moral and verbal gymnastics that should qualify as an Olympic event. All they’ve really done is capitulate to Roe v. Wade.

(He also gets a late-but-good lick at the Oba-messiah trend, saying, “The last thing we need in 2008 is the kind of bogus hope rooted in mystical good feeling.”)
As noted in previous posts, he has taken on pro-Obama Catholics (like Doug Kmiec et al) and he has a book coming out just in time for the election’s silly season, “Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life.”
Chaput is taking some novel approaches to arguing his case. Matt Boudway over at dotCommonweal prompted an interesting discussion here about Chaput’s challenge to Catholics who believe they have “proportionate” reasons for voting for Obama:

What is a “proportionate” reason when it comes to the abortion issue? It’s the kind of reason we will be able to explain, with a clean heart, to the victims of abortion when we meet them face to face in the next life–which we most certainly will. If we’re confident that these victims will accept our motives as something more than an alibi, then we can proceed.

Is there anyone else out there who matches Chaput–especially now that St. Louis’s Burke has gone to Rome?



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Charles Cosimano

posted August 19, 2008 at 3:24 pm


Again the point comes up. Can a non-Catholic, in conscience, vote for any politician who would take communion under the conditions stated by Chaput.



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JAB

posted August 19, 2008 at 5:50 pm


Had John F. Kennedy run in 1964 I would have voted for him. I was too young in 1960. Today I (who was raised Catholic) would not vote for a Catholic for president. Kennedy fought against the perception that the Pope and the Catholic hierarchy would try to run the president. I believed him to be independent of their control. Today I believe they do want to run the president and, for that matter, the Governor of Kansas. I believe in the separation of church and state.



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elmo

posted August 20, 2008 at 12:07 am


Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs is pretty outspoken about the magisterium, as well. I think that — unlike Abp Chaput, Sheridan may favor witholding communion from pro-choice Catholic politicians.
I hope and pray that Abp Chaput doesn’t end up in Rome — we need him here!
P.S. The perception that the Vatican “controls” a politician who is Catholic comes from old-fashioned anti-Catholic bigotry. The pope does not dictate to a Catholic leader any more than the Dalai Lama would control the agenda of a Buddhist leader. Being Catholic and believing what the church teaches is not the same as being an instrument of some shadowy and secret cabal pulling the strings from Rome.



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DG

posted August 20, 2008 at 6:55 am


Elmo, you are either deceived or blind if you really believe
the catholic church is not trying to control american politics
or perhaps you have just been so thoroughly brainwashed that you
cant see the truth that is right in front of you
God, save us from “good” christians and from the Vatican.
There is one certainty in our chaotic and confused world
— if the vatican says it is right
— if the vatican says it is good for us
Then it probably is NOT.



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elmo

posted August 20, 2008 at 10:57 am


DG: Thanks for proving my point so eloquently.



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JAB

posted August 20, 2008 at 11:23 am


As I see it, when the bishop threatens to cut off a public official’s right to take communion if he or she is pro-choice, etc., then the church is being punitive. The church is attempting to control that politician in his or her public responsibilities. I respect a Catholic’s right to think that kind of control is within bounds, but I don’t consider myself bigoted because I see it the other way.



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Bill deHaas

posted August 20, 2008 at 11:40 am


Over on the dotCommonweal blog, Matt Boudway challenged some of my comments in terms of First Things and Neuhaus. Yet, have not seen a response to some of my follow up questions? In fact, one of his points was to dispute what this article proves – Chaput is way out in front, single issue, and creating more polarization than is necessary. He sees the world in black and white terms and is making ad hominem attacks on one candidate in particular – this violates the principles articulated in the USCCB Faithful Citizenship document.
Copied my responses and questions – any bishop who aligns himself with Neuhaus and First Things creates issues for me in terms of reaching common ground, less polarization, and more objective, nuanced stands.
Boudway (who was a former editor of First Things): “I’m not sure what you mean by “complete focus.” Archbishop Chaput’s short essay is obviously about abortion, but he does mention other issues (”No, we can’t spend money like hedonists and outrun our debts forever. No, we can’t ignore the poor of the Third World and expect to be loved abroad.”) He also makes it clear that he understands that to be a good Catholic is not the same as to be a good Republican. (”Plenty of very good Catholics inhabit both major political parties.”) His is not the last word on the subject, but you cannot answer his arguments simply by accusing him of ambition and narcissism. Idle speculation about “his type” does not advance the conversation.
My response and questions: “we disagree in terms of Chaput’s emphasis, intent, and focus. Agree he mentioned those “other items” but, let’s be real, his main focus in the single issue, abortion. Thank God, he is NOT the last word on this subject. In many earlier posts I have enumerated where I disagree with his approach; his ignoring hundreds of years of Church theology about human life, personhood, and conception. Science, biology, bio-ethics, genetics can lead one to different positions but I do not see Chaput trying to educate; rather his aim is to convert by appealing to orthodoxy and his authority – my comments using ambition and narcissism may have been too strong – but I don’t think so. Can you explain the connection between Neuhaus and JPII – the long hours spent in Rome from 2000 on when the pope’s health was deteriorating and Neuhaus adamantly denying that the pope was slowing down? It appears that he frequently used his friendship and position to slam others who were trying to provide objective views or even progressive stances on important issues. It seems to even have raised concerns within the Curia given his unlimited access and influence. Yes, I will give you the right to express conservative views but two things come to mind: a) Neuhaus & Chaput speak as if they have an exclusive claim to the papacy especially when directed to progressives (you would think that they were evil incarnated); b) question Neuhaus’s support of folks such as Mother Teresa who basically called Cardinal Mahoney’s Eucharist letter heretical…his quote about this matter sounds like his favorite phrase and name calling technique – “fraudulent Catholic!”
Obviously, Chaput’s article today in First Things confirms his single minded purpose. Also, NCR has a post today that Chaput has not been invited to speak at the DNC (why would he, given his stance). Some folks are outraged by this “slight”. Appears DNC is trying to reach some middle ground – Chaput would be like a bull in a china shop. Too bad the USCCB can not control the Chaput’s of this world.



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elmo

posted August 20, 2008 at 12:05 pm


bishop threatens to cut off a public official’s right to take communion if he or she is pro-choice, etc., then the church is being punitive.
1. Receiving communion is not a right — there are restrictions placed on receiving, one of them being not in mortal sin. The other one is being in communion with the Catholic Church. If you are in a state of mortal sin and/or are not in communion with the Church, then you must refrain from receiving communion. Any 8 year old who made his or her First Holy Communion knows this.



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DG

posted August 20, 2008 at 12:13 pm


Elmo, always glad to assist. Blessings.



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Bob

posted August 20, 2008 at 1:32 pm


Elmos’s correct: receiving the Holy Eucharist is a privilege, not a right. We believe in the Real Presence of Jesus; that’s the actual body and blood of Christ, and you don’t receive Christ after opting to support the murder of innocent children.



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Francis X. Maier

posted August 20, 2008 at 1:40 pm


Not to spoil the Bete Noire roast, but it would be good to actually read the Chaput book before taking this conversation too far.
And the hed on the First Things piece was put there by their managing editor, not the archbishop.



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DG

posted August 20, 2008 at 3:56 pm


Bob & Elmo, I agree that is what it should be, however, the problem is that we have a large number of the leadership lying, stealing, breaking their vows, and other unrepentant sin, still taking and giving the eucahrist. I know of at least one case recently, where the priest who denied communion, was at the time of the denial in sin himself. Each time this happens, communion becomes an irrelevant travesty.



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pagansister

posted August 20, 2008 at 10:04 pm


This pope (Benny16) would like nothing better than to run Catholic politicians. It’s up to the politician to not allow that to happen. As someone mentioned in a previous post, threatening to not allow a politician to take communion because they have a different view than the RCC does on abortion, for instance, means “control”. No church, the RCC included should have anything to say about how this country is run. If someone wants to combine the 2, there are many counties they could move to that has a State religion. The fact that the churches shouldn’t have anything to say in government doesn’t mean that they aren’t trying…RCC being one.
As to a woman’s right to receive an abortion…NO ONE, the government or any church (in this case the RCC) has the right to deny a safe and legal one for any woman that comes to the difficult decision that she has to have the procedure.



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Nancy Danielson

posted August 20, 2008 at 10:52 pm


pagansister, The Constitution of the United States of America states that the first right that exists is the Right to Life. Children are not property.
Regarding the Catholic Church’s instruction to its members in regards to the issue of abortion, we all know that it is God and not Ceasar who created Human Life.



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Wendy

posted August 21, 2008 at 8:27 am


I don’t know if we can post links here, but for those that want a candidate that opposes the war, and is against abortion, has the working class at heart AND is truly conservative there is a very viable 3rd party , The Constitution party! Chuck Baldwin is My choice for president, just thought I’d throw that out there for those that want to check it out.
http://www.baldwin08.com/
We can still vote for whom we please, its a free country, but we should still try to vote our conscience too. Wouldn’t it be really a refreshing change if a 3rd party candidate was elected to our highest office and ended the whole abortion debate so we could shift our focus to other humanitarian issues that also need our urgent attention?
Finally pray before you go to the polls let the Holy Spirit guide your choice, no matter what issue you put first in your heart. But I will close with this thought. If one cannot protect the smallest of creation, how can that person truly make decisions for the greater good and restore our country to greatness?



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hootie1fan

posted August 21, 2008 at 8:44 am


What has the good bishop to say about the death penalty?



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HOOTIE1FAN

posted August 21, 2008 at 9:06 am


I would agrue that the church has every right to decide who it serves communion to. It’s just at least a bit hypocritical to deny the sacraments or recommend excommunication for a politician who supports a woman’s right to chose to have or not an abortion, use various means of birth control while at the same time welcoming those politicians who ardently support the death penalty.



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JAB

posted August 21, 2008 at 2:10 pm


I wonder if those priests who have sexually abused people in the parish still take communion. And how about the bishops who covered up for them?



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gmo2

posted August 21, 2008 at 3:30 pm


Chaput has every right to state that abortion is, in his mind, the major issue in the campaign and that Catholics must take it into account. There are other bishops in the Catholic Church who might disagree with how that account must be taken. But, his comment, “The last thing we need in 2008 is the kind of bogus hope rooted in mystical good feeling,” is a political argument, not a moral one. As a citizen, he certainly has a right to make a political argument, but he does not under the guise of providing moral teaching as an archbishop. He should have a long talk with his confessor.



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Francis X. Maier

posted August 21, 2008 at 6:24 pm


Re the hootie1fan post: Chaput has written (scores of pieces) and spoken against the death penalty for three decades. He also opposed the U.S. intervention in Iraq.



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rich

posted August 22, 2008 at 11:33 am


with the sex abuse isssues over these years covered -up ..the whole world was outraged by the bishops actioons/or lack of….was screamed by many as it should have been….where was there pastoral leadership to expose these crimes…why then when a bishop/s do take a stand on the extreme moral issue like abortion…some of our intellectual catholics are pissed-off cause he is stepping into a private citizen personal arena….how dare he say this/that///how dare he withhold commmunion……isnt this what we expect from our bishops to take stands on these moral issues….am i confused?????
let be truthful…most abortion are actions of life style….that baby gets in the way of ones life….its not cause of any medical reason…lets be honest…about it….you hear it all the time…”i thought i was ok”.or..my daughter is to young.. she is just starting her life”….40 million lives gone….



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pagansister

posted August 22, 2008 at 3:11 pm


Nancy Danielson: I know where you are coming from, however, I don’t believe life begins at conception and I do believe that human beings create other human beings, and that no invisible being does the creating.
That aside, a woman has the right to control her births, hopefully by preventing them by using birth control (not just using the approved “natural” RCC means) but if an unwanted pregnancy should occur, there should be the legal means for a safe and clean medical abortion.
All women should have the choice to continue a pregnancy or not…
The First Amendment said nothing about abortion. The people already here and those to come (after birth) have a right to life…the best that can be provided. Agree.



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Jorge Miramontes

posted September 7, 2008 at 1:55 pm


When some people in the U.S., get “offended” by comments made by ecclesial authorities, the first thing they do is attack the person, e.g., the abuse of priests, the scandal, blah, blah. Ad Hominem attacks are not even valid premises for arguments, they are just silly things to say. Prostestant pastors also abuse minors but is that even on the news? no of course not, that’s boring and doesn’t sell. The sad thing is they sometimes abuse their own daughters.
Abortion is intrinsically wrong, period. It is a morally bad act. It ends the life of a person. A person is a person even after the person is born, otherwise it would never be a person. Tissues don’t become persons, if that was the case well maybe we should stop having sex and we should order our babies through Amazon.
Just because we want to live our life the way we want to, without a baby in the middle, consequence of having sex, comfortably , doesn’t mean that we ought to kill that baby. Naming it something else than a human doesn’t change the fact that babies are human, even at conception.
Women don’t have a right to other people’s lives, so a baby’s life is not her owns so she or anyone else can’t take it, otherwise maybe we shouldn’t jail people who shoot other people, right? what the heck, they are not people anyway, they never were people in the womb of their mothers.
Chaput doesn’t talk for himself, he is a minister of God and God speaks through him in this matters. Take your complaints to God, if you have the courage.
Pax tecum.



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Maryann

posted September 8, 2008 at 2:58 pm


I am sadded that too few Bishops are as vocal as Chaput. This is not a matter of opinion. Cannon Law is clear on the matter of abortion. Regardless of your opinion what should be, the church has always said that the killing of innocent life (Abortion) is wrong. Is your intent to change Catholic teaching (which should be more widely taught?) or state how you yourself choose not to follow the faith. The Catholic Church is against abortion. There is no debate about that. If you are for abortion, then you may want to reconsider your commitment to the faith. I urge anyone who reads this to know your faith, enoucrage your priest to speak clearly on moral issues, and you yourself take up the task. Thank you.



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