Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Morally grave reasons

John Bentley Mays

My copy of the The Catholic Register was awaiting me as I arrived home from the office. I read it as I munched my way through my left over supper warmed in the microwave (not at all as bad as it appears). I wish I hadn't (read it, not eaten it). One of the Register's regular contributors is well known journalist, John Bentley Mays. No surprise that Mays is a Catholic.

In his article Despite his pro-choice stance, Obama is the right man: Bentley explains how and why he voted for the man destined to be the 44th president of the American republic immediately to the south of the Great White North.

What follows is a numbingly depressing justification for voting for a man who is almost certainly the most pro-abortion candidate to ever run for President of the United States. Bentley Mays recites a number of reasons for his vote:
In the end, I decided to vote for pro-choice Obama for what I consider to be “morally grave reasons.” He is the right man to lead America through months, and perhaps years, of hard times, when thousands are losing their jobs and homes and businesses, and are in danger of losing their hope. He is the right man to counteract the poison of cynicism, greed, ignorance and fear that George W. Bush’s presidency has spread throughout American political culture. He is the right man to restore America’s promise and reputation as a force for good in the world. These were serious reasons to vote for Obama in this moment of crisis — one that is moral and spiritual, as well as economic and political — and they were among the reasons I did so.
He did so with some moral qualms.
But while I was leaning in the Democratic direction, I was fully aware that the Democratic Party backs virtually unlimited access to abortion — a position I do not and cannot share.

I knew that, should a Supreme Court vacancy occur when he is in office, Obama would almost certainly appoint a justice who will maintain the court’s historic 1973 decision in the case Roe v. Wade, which struck down the country’s last legal restrictions on abortion. These political realities were, or should have been, quite enough to give Catholics pause before voting for the Democratic ticket. They certainly gave me pause.
I suppose that pause may contain Bentley May's salvation. For his sake I hope so, but for the sake of millions of victims of abortion worldwide, including approximately a million babies aborted each year in the United States, I fear not.

Perhaps the most disingenuous thing in Bentley May's article is that he attempts to justify what he did by enlisting the support of [most of ] the Catholic Bishops of the U.S. in his cause.
In 2007 the U.S. Catholic bishops issued guidelines called Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility From the Catholic Bishops of the United States.
And what does Bentley Mays harvest from these guidelines?
Intrinsic evils,” such as abortion and racism, can never be supported, while seeking justice and pursuing peace must always be approved and backed. But the bishops foresee the most common problem for Catholics in the voting booth: There is rarely any candidate whose views either coincide exactly with Catholic teaching or explicitly contradict it in every respect. That would make the decision easy. In the real world, however, “Catholics may feel politically disenfranchised, sensing that no party and too few candidates fully share the church’s comprehensive commitment to the dignity of the human person.”

In considering how to vote under these circumstances, the bishops conclude, “there may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral interests, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.”
But Mays quotes selectively from the bishop's guidelines. Among other things He neglects to mention are the following quotes.
Human life is sacred. The dignity of the person is the moral foundation of any society. Direct attacks on any innocent person are never morally acceptable at any stage or in any condition. In our society human life is especially under attack from abortion. Other direct threats to the sanctity of human life include euthanasia, human cloning and the destruction of human embryos for research.
Barack Obama supports unlimited abortion. As a state senator he voted against a bill designed to protect babies that were born alive after botched late term abortions. He supports embryonic stem cell research that results in the destruction of human embryos as a normal part of research modality.

The bishop's document references another bishop's document, Living the Gospel of Life promulgated in 1998 in which the U.S. Catholic bishops state:
Abortion and euthanasia have become pre-eminent threats to human life and dignity because they directly attack human life itself, the most fundamental good and condition for all others (no.5). Abortion, the deliberate killing of human life before birth, is never morally acceptable, and must always be opposed. Cloning and destruction of human embryos for research and even for potential cures are always wrong.
The position of the Democratic Party, that won the presidency, and a majority of seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate and therefore an untrammeled ability to enact its political agenda states the following:
The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.
Bentley Mays is a Catholic. We are told 52% of Catholics in the United States voted as he did, no doubt for similarly "morally grave reasons."

Saint Matthew quoted Jesus as saying in the garden of Gethsemane (in Chapter 38 of his gospel):
My soul is sorrowful even unto death
I begin to see why.