Friday, April 02, 2004

Kingfishery & Kingcakery: Sins of the Catholic Voter - Recently, the Catholic Archbishop of the New Orleans diocese went on a campaign to criticize Catholics who happened to vote for a pro-choice candidate for public office. Essentially, Archbishop Hughes called into question the moral integrity of such Catholics, and offended these faithful members of the Church by contending that those who voted for pro-choice candidates should refrain from the sacrament of communion because of their sinful, base voting behavior. Of course, Mary Landrieu, a devout Catholic Democratic Senator, is one of these pro-choice candidates that Alfred Hughes so despises. But recently, in the Archdiocese's own newspaper, The Clarion Herald, none other than Moon Landrieu, Mary Landrieu's father and a former mayor of New Orleans, wrote a brilliant letter to the editor showing the absolute lack of logic in the Archbishop's position and even the hypocrisy of this selective emphasis on voting for pro-choice candidates. Moon Landrieu's letter can be accessed online here. But it's such a good letter that I need to reprint it in full for you in this blog:

There appears to be no shortage of devout Catholics who rejoice in denying the saving grace of Christ in the Holy Eucharist to those of us who have allegedly sinned by voting differently than they did. Quite orthodox, but not very Christ-like.

I am not surprised, but I am curious as to how they voted and how they justify receiving Communion because not one major presidential or gubernatorial candidate in my memory passes the test of acceptability on all the following issues: abortion, physician-assisted suicide, homicide, the destruction of human embryos in artificial fertilization, stem-cell research, cloning, artificial insemination, contraception, adultery, pre-marital sex, homosexuality, divorce, capital punishment and preemptive war.

I am not referring to the personal moral beliefs of the candidates, but rather to their positions with respect to the criminalization of these sins.

It would be interesting to know how the church hierarchy voted in past elections. We know Archbishop Hannan actively supported Edwin Edwards over David Duke, who claimed to be pro-life, but clearly neither of them met the test.

President Bush? On abortion - he favors exceptions for rape, incest and threat to the life of the mother. Remember - no exceptions. He also flunks the test on most of the other life issues. Pro-life? Hardly!

I have never met a politician who is for abortion, and I have never met one who is willing to put a woman in jail for taking a morning-after pill after being raped, nor have I met one recently who is willing to make a crime of adultery, pre-marital sex, contraception, or divorce. That does not mean they are for those sins. If you should find a candidate who is perfect on criminalizing life issues, and that candidate also meets your concerns on poverty, environment, race, peace and justice, by all means vote for him or her, but I doubt that you will find one.

The Louisiana bishops supported a bill in the Louisiana Legislature that provided exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother, even though their lobbyist was called a baby killer by those who insisted on no exceptions. The United States bishops opposed a United States Senate amendment that would have made illegal all abortions after viability except where "the continuation of a pregnancy would threaten the mother's life or risk grievous injury to her physical health." In both instances, the bishops were faced with difficult political choices. I trust that they did not sin.

We live in an imperfect, pluralistic society in which voters, too, are faced with difficult choices. A vote for an imperfect candidate that is not intended to reward or further the imperfection, but rather is intended to advance the good that the candidate offers in preference to another candidate, surely cannot be sinful. If the archbishop is correct, the only safe thing for a Catholic to do is not to vote, but then the failure to do one's civic duty is also a sin.

Go get 'em, Moon. Let's see how the single-issue anti-abortion Catholic voters respond to this.

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