My recent article explaining why I'm not voting this year drew a response from an anonymous reader who wrote that the Bishop of Memphis, J. Terry Steib, stated that Catholics should not be one-issue voters. I also spoke out against the Iraq War, which makes the "one issue" claim complete nonsense.
However, I believe that the abortion issue can and should be used as a singular litmus test by Catholic voters in deciding who to vote for. I can defend that: Christ defended the life of a reviled woman and in doing so, placed Himself in mortal danger.
Bp. Steib stated: “a person might choose not to vote, but voting is a necessary part of our witness to Jesus Christ and a witness to our baptism. So, sometimes hard choices will have to be made... We must recognize that God through the church, is calling us to be prophetic in our own day. If our conscience is well formed, then we will make the right choices about candidates who may not support the church's position in every case.”
Hard choice? Jesus made a lot of hard choices. Perhaps some of the hardest choices ever faced by a human being. I don't see how voting is a necessary part of witnessing to anyone. However, I am in concert with Pope Benedict XVI's comments in a May 9, 2007 Time magazine article in which he unambiguously stated that: "it's envisioned in the law of the Church that the killing of a human child is incompatible with being in communion with the body of Christ."
He had also had earlier called abortion: "...a crime of aggression not only against the unborn, but also against society."
Canon Law states that abortion providers and women having abortions are automatically excommunicated. But is that law is applicable to Catholic politicians who, by their own words and or voting record, are pro-abortion? It should be.
The politicians in question should be given an opportunity to denounce abortion and promise to oppose any legislation, in whole or in part, which doesn't respect the life of the unborn. If not, they should be asked to voluntarily leave the church. If they obstinately choose not to, they should be excommunicated. Every person who is desiring to enter the Catholic faith — such as myself — should be required to support life and protection of life at all times. Not just because it's the law of the Roman Catholic Church, but because it's a moral position.
I agree about Catholics following their consciences and sometimes having to make hard choices. As I noted earlier, Jesus did just that. Many times, in fact.
Opposing abortion — and war — and respecting and protecting life are issues we should all get behind and keep in mind at the voting booth regardless of our religious beliefs.