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Progressive Revival

Douglas Kmiec has become perhaps the most prominent of the pro-life Catholic “Obamacons.” Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver has become perhaps the most prominent (and civil, given recent statements from some of his confreres) advocate of the view that a Catholic cannot “in good cosncience” vote for Obama.

Chaput recently took a hard shot to all progressive Catholics, telling an audience in a talk titled “Little Murders” that “to suggest — as some Catholics do — that Senator Obama is this year’s “real” pro-life candidate requires a peculiar kind of self-hypnosis, or moral confusion, or worse. To portray the 2008 Democratic Party presidential ticket as the preferred “pro-life” option is to subvert what the word “pro-life” means.” He also object to Kmiec citing Chaput’s own book as backing for KMiec’s pro-Obama vote:

Of course, these are simply my personal views as an author and private citizen. But I’m grateful to Prof. Kmiec for quoting me in his book and giving me the reason to speak so clearly about our differences. I think his activism for Senator Obama, and the work of Democratic-friendly groups like Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, have done a disservice to the Church, confused the natural priorities of Catholic social teaching, undermined the progress pro-lifers have made, and provided an excuse for some Catholics to abandon the abortion issue instead of fighting within their parties and at the ballot box to protect the unborn.

In NCR today, Kmiec volleys back with a thoughtful reply, lighter on the rhetoric and heavier on the ethical thinking. The outro:

The circumstances for Catholics in 2008 are a happier one than Archbishop Chaput lets on. The social justice policies of Senator Obama and his ability to work toward the common good upon common ground makes him a source of hope for all Americans, including sincere and faithful Catholics — except those who are wittingly or unwittingly ensnared by the artificial cultural divisions of the past or trapped within the narrative framework of one political party.

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