One would assume this to be a positive turn in events for all those of the Catholic faith who have wondered about their belief system in regards to abortion.

The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops approved principles this week to guide Catholics in choosing whom to vote for, and parting from some past perspectives, leaving the door open for them to back candidates who support abortion rights.

Nearly all the bishops approved this document, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” This broad consensus may help the Catholic church avoid the schism that occurred in 2004, church experts said, when some conservative Catholic groups declared voting guidelines identifying abortion as “non-negotiable.” A group of bishops touched off a debate about whether Catholic candidates who support abortion rights should be denied holy Communion.

Past documents did allow Catholics to vote for candidates who support abortion rights.

The issue has received renewed interest this year with the Republican candidacy of Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and a Catholic. He has supported abortion rights.

The set of principles discusses “intrinsic evils” and defends them as actions that “must always be rejected and opposed.”

Abortion is among a few evils greater than others, the document asserts. But it also concedes that Catholics face difficult decisions when voting and in some cases might be able to vote for those who support abortion rights or stem cell research. “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,” the document says.

It is difficult for this author to understand how one could vote for a candidate with a belief system which in their minds contains an act that is as horrific as any abhorrent act can be.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has been issuing reflections on how the church’s moral teachings could shape Catholics’ political decisions since the 1970’s. This was the first time that an open discussion was held. The approximately 300 bishops had a chance to vote for it.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, chairman of the bishops’ domestic policy committee, that pulled together this document, said it was not aimed at the candidates.

Rather, it is “a summary of Catholic teaching,” Bishop DiMarzio said. “It offers a basic moral framework on what it means to be a Catholic and American, a believer and a voter in this coming election year.”

The set of principles will be issued as an insert that priests can put into a Sunday bulletin, but its dissemination is not mandatory, Bishop DiMarzio said.

The document seemed to offer flexability for a variety of belief systems which is unusual since the Pope’s position is fairly precise on the point. The Rev. Frank Pavone of the anti-abortion group Priests for Life said he was pleased with it. Catholics, whom abortion is not the sole issue when voting, have also been given freedom to maneuver around the issue.

“Can a Catholic in good conscience vote for a candidate who is pro-choice?” said the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. “What they are saying is, ‘Yes.’”

Cardinal George has close ties to the Vatican and will be host to Pope Benedict XVI on his trip to the United States in April. But the cardinal has recently come under fire because of two cases of sexual abuse of minors by priests that occurred during his tenure. Yet another blemish for the beleaguered church and it’s rank of pedophilic patriarchs. An ironic twist. Victims’ rights groups have asserted that Cardinal George failed to act quickly enough to remove the priests once accusations surfaced. This was mentioned as a side note to the issue of conscience and morality, which lay at the core of the proposition.





Fred Thompson

Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson speaks at The Citadel military college in Charleston, S.C., Nov. 13, 2007.

Before we begin this installment of the Rights Advocate blog, I wanted to thank all the commentors on both sides of the issue. To date we have been fortunate and have had for the most part literate and respectful posts. We have not edited or had to censure any comments for crude or disrespectful language, and I am appreciative of that. I believe a productive conversation may persist if this forum persists in an articulate manner.

We want to hear all sides of the issue and are open to our opinion being changed by good sound discussion. What more could we ask for? That enlightenment is welcomed. We hope that none of us are so dug into our dogmatic opinions as to not appreciate the well articulated position of another with an even diametrically opposed perspective.

I thank you all for your thought full commentary.

With that preface in mind let’s consider 11/13/07. The implications may be profound and we should all be aware of these important issues.

November 13, 2007 · Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson picked up a devisive endorsement from the National Right to Life committee. This committee is well known as the nation’s most outspoken anti-choice group.

This endorsement may have surprised some advocates of choice because Thompson does not support the Human Life Amendment. This amendment has been the movement’s primary goal for many decades. The endorsement is another symbol of division among social groups as the 2008 presidential campaign comes to us quickly.

David O’Steen is the executive director of the National Right to Life Committee. He said that he knows conservatives have given support to other GOP candidates for the primary. Mr. O’Steen declared that the organization’s backing will undoubtedly be a lift for Thompson in the primaries that are approaching rapidly.

“It’s been done after much consideration, much study, we have been watching this race since January,” said O’ Steen. “This is the first endorsement in the Republican race from a major grass-roots pro-life organization, representing 50 state organizations and about 3,000 chapters.”

O’Steen said his group pored over voting records and positions on abortion, but also electability. O’Steen made it profoundly obvious that one litmus was dissallowing the nomination of the primary GOP front-runner, the former Mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani.

“I would assume he’s expressing his views, and he’s been consistent with that. Rudy Giuliani has not changed his position — he’s running as a pro-abortion candidate,” said O’Steen confidently.

Thompson trumped up his own integrity in a television ad, declaring that he is “proud to have a 100 percent pro-life voting record.”

However, on NBC’s Meet the Press 9 days ago, Mr. Thompson struggled with the question of when exactly does life begin. He had been on the record in 1994 that he wasn’t sure. He told NBC as well, in a recent interview, “my head has always been the same place.” Later in the interview, Thompson said he believes life begins at conception.

Thompson stated without hesitation that he remains opposed to a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion, and he thought that it would be more pragmatic to leave this vital question to the states.

“I think people ought to be free at state and local levels to make decisions that even Fred Thompson disagrees with,” he said ironically. “That’s what freedom is all about. And I think the diversity we have among the states, the system of federalism we have where power is divided between the state and the federal government … serves us very, very well. I think that’s true of abortion.” One wonders if Abortion were indeed murder in the was that it is portrayed by the social conservatives would it surely be an issue simply left to the states? It would be strong enough to be an issue of federal importance as would murder in any sense be.

O’Steen said his group found Republican Mitt Romney too inconsistent on the abortion issue. He disliked the Arizona Sen. John McCain position on embryonic stem-cell research, and he regarded the other hopefuls as, simply, long shots — they are too under-prepared and not funded well enough to catch up to Giuliani.

In the last several days, social conservatives have been as vociferous as ever — just not as harmonious.

Televangelist Pat Robertson declared that he is backing Giuliani.

Ironically, juxtaposed to that position, Paul Weyrich, a founder of the Moral Majority, with voting integrity said Romney is the proper choice on this issue.

“George Bush combined a perspective that was very familiar to social conservatives, and an ability to win and raise millions and millions of dollars,” he said. When asked which Republican could accomplish that now, Ayres replied: “Nobody, which is why social conservatives are fractured at the moment.”

Still, Ayres insisted the party is not too worried about where social conservatives will be by the fall. Hillary Clinton, he said, remains social conservatives’ best hope for a rallying cry.