Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mixed Messages

In the aftermath of the 2008 presidential election, pro-lifers are left to wonder what the next four years will bring. Despite all the prayers, the novenas, the distribution of the Catholic Voter Guides, and the warnings of some US bishops, the pro-abortion candidate still won the election. A poll indicated that 54% of Catholics voted for Obama to only 45% for McCain. Those of us who see this general loss of respect for human life spreading like a cancer through our society are stunned by the prospects of at least four years of liberal proliferation.

Perhaps it is not surprising that more than half of the Catholic vote went to Obama when more than half of the Catholic bishops were sheepish about speaking out to their flocks. The dichotomy was quite apparent. Around 80 Bishops issued strong statements placing abortion and the other so-called non-negotiable issues at the forefront. That left some 140 who said little beyond the document issued by the United States Council of Catholic Bishops, leaving the door open for those resigned to justify a Democratic vote for other reasons. I cannot imagine any issue that would out-weigh the slaughter of millions of innocent babies in their mothers’ womb.

Our diocesan newspaper (Northwest Indiana Catholic, November 16, 2008) has a banner headline calling Obama’s election “A Historic Day.” The CNS article tells of Pope Benedict’s congratulatory message to Obama as reported by Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi. The article says, “Asked if the pope mentioned any specific issues he was concerned about, Father Lombardi responded, ‘peace, solidarity and justice.’” The article goes on to say the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano published an opinion piece on November 5th, headlined “A choice that unites.” The CNS article also says a commentary on the election for Asianews, a Rome-based missionary news agency, was headlined, “I’m happy for the victory of Barack Obama.” Written by Father Piero Gheddo, a member of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, the commentary lists only positive results of Obama’s election.

The CNS article covers two-thirds of the front page and the entire back page of the diocesan paper and nowhere mentions of the likely detrimental effects to the Pro-life movement. Yes, Obama’s election is historic, but the article leaves one with the impression that the Church is pleased with the outcome.

An Associated Press story today (November 14, 2008) reports that a South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because of his support of abortion and that supporting him “constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil.” While I am sympathetic to this priest’s stand, the disposition of the voter is relevant in determining whether a mortal sin has actually been committed. Indeed, the priest’s own diocese issued a statement saying his stance did not accurately reflect Church teaching, and again, Catholics may come to conclude there are two sides to the issue, when such is not the case.

On a positive note, Obama’s election with Catholic support has been a wake-up call for the Bishops. Cardinal Francis George, president of the United States Council of Catholic Bishops, issued a congratulatory letter to Obama which said, “We pray that you will use the powers of your office to meet them (uncertainties) with a special concern to defend the most vulnerable among us and heal the divisions in our country and our world.” At the General Assembly in Baltimore this past week, the Bishops approved a Blessing for a Child in the Womb by a 223-1 vote. (I wonder who voted against it?) A Spanish version of the Blessing passed unanimously.

Those of us who were disheartened by the outcome of the election should not despair. A friend sent me a copy of an email he received from his sister, Lucy. It read as follows:

"This morning I arose to the news I dreaded. I wanted to cry.

As I sat down in my chair with my first cup of tea I was silent, speaking with God only in my mind.

I felt such a great despair and in my mind spoke the words, it's over.

Then I realized that this is how the disciples felt when Jesus died upon that cross.

They were in despair, their hopes and dreams had just been laid in the grave. But it wasn't over.

We all know Christ rose from the grave, he conquered death, giving us eternal life,
and he now resides within the heart of every believer through his Holy Spirit.

What seemed like the end was the beginning of new life for all who want this new life.

God always works in ways we do not understand but He is sovereign, in control,
has knowledge and power that are limitless.

If a leader has risen that opposes God, it is only because God has allowed it (Daniel 2:20-23) and
He will work this for His good as He does in all things. (Romans 8:28)

We know the end of the story. God reigns eternally. (Revelation 5:9-13)."

God Bless,