light of the recently released, and much debated “Statement of
Principles”, signed by a number of U.S. Catholic democratic party
leaders, Catholic analyst and papal biographer George Weigel is
charging that although many of the politician’s words oppose abortion,
their actions don‘t back it up.
In his most recent column, Weigel opines that many of the Catholic democrats who signed the February 28th statement resemble a group of politicians who, in 1964 voiced their agreement with Catholic bishops concerning civil rights, but then turned around and voted against the Civil Rights Act, as soon as it reached the floor of the House of Representatives.
Some 80% of Catholics who signed that statement supporting the position of the U.S. Bishops--who were for the 1964 Act--then voted it down and supported segregation.
Weigel said that “these were politicians trying to have it both ways,” and that, they “took neither the teaching of the Church nor the logic of justice seriously.”
“I think”, he then went on to say, “that's what ought to be said about the latest attempt to finesse the abortion issue, which came in the form of a statement signed by 55 House Democrats,” all of whom, were Catholics.
He cited the February statement, sponsored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), in which signatories pledge to "promoting alternatives to abortion, such as adoption, and improving access to children's health care and child care, as well as policies that encourage paternal and maternal responsibility."
The rub, he quickly pointed out, is that thirty-three of statement’s 55, including Rep. DeLauro, “voted to support the legality of partial-birth abortion. Forty-one of the signatories (again including Rep. DeLauro) voted to make abortion legal in Defense Department clinics and hospitals abroad. Thirty-seven of the signatories (including --- you guessed it --- Rep. DeLauro) voted against efforts to constrain the courts from compelling hospitals and doctors to perform abortions.”
Weigel asked: “How do any of these votes square with the signatories' statement that they ‘agree with the Catholic Church about the value of human life and the undesirability of abortion --- we do not celebrate its practice‘?”
“This”, he chided, “is the same old same old --- ‘I'm personally opposed, but…’ --- tarted up in new vesture.”
“One cannot speak credibly about the ‘undesirability of abortion’”, he further pointed out, “and then vote to protect and expand the abortion license. One cannot credibly claim to believe what the Catholic Church believes ‘about the value of human life’ and then ignore the central question posed by Roe v. Wade: is the willful taking of innocent human life compatible with a free and virtuous society?”
He said that “One cannot appeal to the ‘primacy of conscience’ to defend the unconscionable --- any more than one could make that appeal in denying full legal and political rights to Americans of African descent.”
Addressing one of the most volatile questions in the U.S. Church today, he said that “It's the bishops' prerogative responsibility to decide what is to be done, within the Church's discipline, about Catholic legislators whose votes support the willful taking of innocent human lives.”
“That's a matter internal to the Church's life,” he wrote, “to be addressed by the Church's pastoral authorities.”