By Fr. George Welzbacher
November 23, 2008
President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, his Eminence, Francis Cardinal George, Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago, is in my opinion one of America's most gifted Catholic prelates. And by a curious coincidence he is the spiritual shepherd to the Catholic faithful in the city that gave the career of Barack Obama, our President-elect, its decisively important initial momentum. Speaking in the name of ALL of our nation's Catholic bishops, Cardinal George issued the following statement on November 12th, addressing an issue that is distinctively important for any government that presumes to lay claim to moral decency, namely the obligation to protect the lives of ALL of its citizens, an obligation which by the logic of the natural law extends to those Americans who are still "waiting to be born." May I share with you here Cardinal George's statement, a statement endorsed by all of our nation's bishops, with respect to FOCA, the proposed (and egregiously misnamed) Freedom of Choice Act.
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STATEMENT of the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: "If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor, tf the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil." (Psaltn 127, vs. 1)
The Bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States welcome this moment of historic transition and took forward to working with President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the common good of all. Because of the Church's history and the scope of her ministries in this country, we want to continue our work for economic justice and opportunity for all, our efforts to reform laws around immigration and the situation of the undocumented; our provision of better education and adequate health care for all, especially for women and children; our desire to safeguard religious freedom and to foster peace at home and abroad. The Church is intent on doing good and will continue to cooperate gladly with the government and all others working for these goods.
The fundamental good is life itself', a gift from God and our parents. A good state protects the lives of all. Legal protection for those members of the human family waiting to be born in this country was removed when the Supreate Court decided Roe vs. Wade in 1973. This was bad law. The danger the Bishops see at this moment is that a bad court decision will be enshrined in had legislation that is more radical than the 1973 Supreme Court decision itself.
In the last congress, A Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) was introduced that would, if brought forward in the same form today, outlaw any "interference" in providing abortion at will. It would deprive the American people in all fifty states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industiy. FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. It would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government and others of good will to reduce the number of abortions in our country.
Parental notification and informed consent precautions would be outlawed, as would be laws banning procedures such as partial-birth abortion and protecting infants born alive after a failed abortion. Abortion clinics would be deregulated. The Hyde Amendment restricting the federal funding of abortions would be abrogated. FOCA would have lethal consequences for prenatal human life.
FOCA would have an equally destructive effect on the freedom of conscience of doctors, nurses and health care workers whose personal convictions do not permit them to cooperate in the private killing of unborn children. It would threaten Catholic health care institutions and Catholic Charities. It would be an evil law that would further divide our country, and the Church should be intent on opposing evil.
On this issue, the legal Protection Of the unborn, the bishops are of one mind with Catholics and others of good will. There are also other pastors who have listened to women whose lives have been diminished because they believed they had no choice but to abort a baby. Abortion is a medical procedure that kills, and the psychological and spiritual consequences are written in the sorrow and depression of many women and men. The bishops are single-minded because they are, first of all, single-hearted.
The recent election was principally decided out of concern for the economy, for loss of jobs and homes and finaneial securily for families, here and around tile world. If the election is misinterpreted ideologically as a referendum on abortion, the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve. Abortion kills not only unborn children; IT DESTROYS CONSTITUTIONAL ORDER AND THE COMMON GOOD, which is assured only when the life of EVERY human being is legally protected. Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion.
This statement is written at the request and direction of ALL the Bishops, who also want to thank all those in politics who work with good will to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us. Those in public life do so, sometimes, at the cost of great sacrifice to themselves and their families, and we are grateful. We express again our great desire to work with all those who cherish the common good of our nation. The common good is not the sum total of individual desires and interests; it is achieved in the working out of a common life based upon good reason and good will for all.... [Emphasis added].
* * * * *To the bishops' statement may I add this footnote.
President-elect Obama has made no secret of his view that Roe v. Wade "got it right." Thus the American Catholic Church, loyal to the teaching of the Church Universal, stands in diametrical opposition to an announced policy of the new administration. Be prepared accordingly for yet another of those major conflicts grounded in moral issues that have characterized the history of the Roman Catholic Church down through the ages in its relations with the State. Satan will never call a halt to his efforts to subvert morality, and the Church of Christ can never shirk its obligation to do battle against such subversion. Hence an ongoing struggle that will reach its end only with the end of time. In that struggle, St. Paul reminds us, our weapons are not those of the flesh but they are powerful for the overthrow of strongholds (II Corinthians 10:4). Those weapons are penance and prayer (Matthew 17:10; Mark 9:28; Acts 13:3), weapons that our fallen human nature in its pride and self-indulgence would prompt us to despise. But not to make use of such weapons, as Our Lady of Fatima has warned us, is to consign ourselves to defeat.