"Rather than giving pro-abortion Catholic politicians a pass, we should vote them out of office and encourage them to repent,” said Austin Ruse, the president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) on Monday. Ruse made his comments as he and 95 other influential Catholics responded to the “Call for Civility” in politics statement released last November.
The November 2007 statement calling for more civility in politics was made after some pro-abortion Catholic politicians expressed their opinion that they should be treated more civilly by their fellow Catholics over their political positions.
The 96 signers of the response statement about political civility say that while not all of the signers of the November statement intended it, the net effect of the “‘Call for Civility’ would be to silence the pro-life and pro-family movements. We oppose this effort root and branch.”
The signatories to yesterday’s response are university professors, think-tank scholars, journalists, authors, doctors, lawyers and others. They include such Catholic luminaries as Templeton Prize winner Michael Novak, authors Robert Royal and Peter Kreeft, columnist Russell Shaw and many others.
Michael Novak of the American Enterprise Institute said about the current political situation, “Too often these days civility is defined as giving in to the way the media define the issue under debate, whereas honesty demands insisting upon a different way of looking on things, even when this attempt is treated as a nuisance.”
William Saunders of the Family Research Council also mentioned his motives for signing the statement: “I signed this statement because, as the Church teaches, abortion is the most important issue in the world; it is not an issue like others, it is not one on which reasonable people can disagree. We cannot let calls for civility toward pro-abortion Catholic politicians obscure our fundamental obligation to oppose abortion.”
The statement, which is titled “A Catholic Response to the "Call for Civility," notes that civility is, in fact, not the highest political virtue. “All men and women of good will value civility, but civility is not the highest --- or the only --- civic virtue. Rather, justice is. As Pope Benedict XVI reminds us in Deus Caritas Est, “Justice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all politics,” the statement says.
Pointing to a double standard for the issue of abortion, the signers note that “If Catholic politicians advocated segregation or --- even worse --- slavery, would there be a call for civility towards them? If Catholic politicians said the poor are poor because of their bad behavior and we are not obliged to help them in any way, wouldn't we say they are heartless and even un-Christian? Some ask for civility now for one reason, abortion.”
“The lack of public civility comes not from pro-lifers but from those Catholic politicians who support the right to kill innocent life in the womb and those who support defining man-woman marriage out of existence. But, some want to treat these politicians differently because they agree with them on important but purely prudential questions like health care, and the minimum wage."
The prominent Catholics conclude their statement by saying, "In short, we will feel free even strongly to condemn the public policy positions of Catholic politicians who support abortion, embryo-destructive research, and homosexual marriage. They stand against the teachings of the Church and in favor of morally repugnant practices that are counter to the common good and that should be unwelcome in a just or even polite society."
To read the entire statement and view the list of signatories go to one of the following websites: