October 20, 2008

On Murder and Politics

Justin Katz

I'm probably not alone in having allowed my mouse to hover over links to Denver Archbishop Chaput's speech on civic participation in accord with the Roman Catholic Church. It's worth a click and a read, though:

As adults, each of us needs to form a strong Catholic conscience. Then we need to follow that conscience when we vote. And then we need to take responsibility for the consequences of the vote we cast. Nobody can do that for us. That's why really knowing and living our Catholic faith is so important. It's the only reliable guide we have for acting in the public square as disciples of Jesus Christ. ...

... None of the Catholic arguments advanced in favor of Senator Obama are new. They've been around, in one form or another, for more than 25 years. All of them seek to ''get beyond'' abortion, or economically reduce the number of abortions, or create a better society where abortion won't be necessary. All of them involve a misuse of the seamless garment imagery in Catholic social teaching. And all of them, in practice, seek to contextualize, demote and then counterbalance the evil of abortion with other important but less foundational social issues.

This is a great sadness. As Chicago's Cardinal Francis George said recently, too many Americans have ''no recognition of the fact that children continue to be killed [by abortion], and we live therefore, in a country drenched in blood. This can't be something you start playing off pragmatically against other issues.''

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God doesn't give a damn about who wins the World Series...or electoral politics. I don't believe St. Peter will be slapping a McCain-Palin sticker on me if my time comes today.
If the archibishop wants to play politics, fine. I just don't recongize him as God's voice, that's all.

Posted by: rhody at October 21, 2008 11:23 AM

Given your use of the word murder in the title of this post, does it follow that you would criminalize abortion, prosecute women who have them and doctors who perform them, and lock them up with other murderers?

Posted by: Jon at October 21, 2008 12:04 PM

I'm curious, Rhody: As an obvious exaggeration, if somehow a candidate who explicitly supported torture, slavery, rape, and so on, as political tools, were to come anywhere near electability, would you still believe God to be ambivalent?

Be your answer what it may, you're really not addressing the Archbishop's point, as he presented it.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 21, 2008 12:31 PM


Point 1: If you read the linked piece, you'll see that my use of "murder" draws on language in the text. I typically find "killing" to be sufficiently accurate and objectionable.

Point 2: Actually, in the current context, I support removing the federal mandate for free-rein killing of unborn children. The state level would be more conducive to working the matter through.

Point 3: But once we get to that level, I don't know that we have to go beyond prosecuting the doctor, probably with a range of penalties, given the circumstances. I'd note, here, that it is my understanding that other (quite liberal) nations --- most of which have more conservative abortion laws than we do --- do provide for fines and jailtime for the mothers.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 21, 2008 12:39 PM

I think your God needs to stop playing possum and just come out and make his opinion on the topic clear for all.

Posted by: Greg at October 21, 2008 12:53 PM

I too am against abortion and do not support what I see as Obama’s ‘pro-abortion’ views. Having said that, it still troubles me when this type of rhetoric is used by a religious leader. The truth is that the same logic is used by what you would call ‘liberal’ religious leaders on issues such as the war in Iraq, capital punishment or most often, taxes/welfare. And while I may not agree with them, I acknowledge that the logic is the same – the contextualizing and pragmatic application of what is considered strict teaching. So then it becomes a matter of choosing which issues can context and pragmatism be considered and which cannot, and which are simply black and white.

Posted by: msteven at October 21, 2008 12:56 PM


It doesn't get any clearer than not killing innocent and defenseless human beings for no or little reason.



At least with regard to Roman Catholic teachings, the matters you note are not as parallel as you insist.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 21, 2008 5:01 PM

And while I don't disagree entirely with your position, you'd think the killing of innocent children for little or no reason would get God off his couch for the first time in a little over 2,000 years but it doesn't. I haven't seen the headline "So and so SMOTE by God today..." since, oh umm.... Gomorrah.

Posted by: Greg at October 21, 2008 5:35 PM

Abortion isn't pretty and it isn't easy. It's fraught with troubles and laden with anxiety and should be confined entirely to the hands of the affected individuals. Let the individuals settle the matter with their conscience or with their god, and keep your conscience, your god and your church out of the equation. If you want to put conscience, god and church into play should you be a responsible party, then amen to that.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at October 21, 2008 10:09 PM

You're leaving a party out of the equation for every specific instance of abortion — the individual who ceases to exist after the "procedure" is completed.

And I am a responsible party: responsible for, first, expressing myself so as to ensure that decisions are not made without consideration of potential harm and, second, for participating in the civic process in such a way as to bring my society toward an ideal of justice and fairness.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 21, 2008 10:26 PM

From one family man to another...
When it comes to reproductive matters, you have every right to determine how your family deals with it.
You don't get to determine how my family deals with it.

Posted by: rhody at October 22, 2008 11:46 AM

So in this case, your position is that the individual should be allowed to decide for themselves based on their conscience irregardless of the consequences or other people’s conscience.

But that is not your position when it comes to many other issues – such as ownership of guns, the taxing and use of money you have earned, the right to send your child to a school of your choice using the money the government has allotted for your child’s education. Not to mention the right to discipline your child based on your conscience or personal views. .

Those are examples of things you believe people should NOT be allowed to decide for themselves based on their conscience because in your view, the negative consequences outweigh the individual ‘freedom of choice’ you so freely assert in the case of abortion.

I understand that it is an arbitrary line to draw between private and personal choices versus harm or consequences such as when the government should intervene in family issues. But your assertions of ‘let the individuals settle the matter …’ are inconsistent with your views on most other matters where you take the side of the ‘negative consequence’ over the individual rights.

Do you consider China to have freedom when it comes to reproductive matters?

Posted by: msteven at October 22, 2008 1:16 PM
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