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The end of Catholic politicians
Palm Beach Post ^ | January 19, 2004 | Tom Blackburn

Posted on 01/20/2004 8:44:49 AM PST by NYer

By barring Holy Communion to Catholic politicians in the La Crosse, Wis., diocese, Bishop Raymond Burke drastically changed the focus of discussion. Now, the bishop is challenging not only the morality of abortion but the morality of American citizenship.

Bishop Burke, who will become archbishop of St. Louis on Jan. 26, told his priests not to give Communion to prominent politicians until they "publicly renounce" support of abortion rights. U.S. Rep. David Obey, a Democrat, and some state lawmakers in the La Crosse area got the notification.

To the bishop, the morality of abortion is plain: It is a grievous sin. He and others are under pressure from some of their flocks to take harsher action against Catholic politicians who waffle. He acted. He placed politicians between the rock of their oath to uphold the Constitution and the hard place of his decision. The Supreme Court, the semifinal arbiter, has held that the Constitution bars governments from interfering in a woman's choice to have an abortion.

That leaves women free to choose, which is not all that different from the way the creator left them when he made them. "Choose life," he commanded, but the verb indicates that another choice is left open. Like the creator himself, the Constitution permits defiance.

Bishop Burke and many others would like to change that, but practicing politicians know it's not so easy. A government that has the power to ban abortions would have the power to command them for specific cases or races. Until fairly recently, some states commanded sterilization for some people, to which right-to-lifers would object, and New Jersey has flirted with effectively requiring welfare mothers to seek abortions. Government regulation in this case is a can of worms that a smart politician would be wary of opening.

Additionally, if Roe vs. Wade were to be simply overturned by the Supreme Court, the law would revert to the pre-1973 status quo. Then, abortion was regulated on a state-by-state basis, and some states had legalized it, while others were moving toward legalization. That's not what Bishop Burke is looking for, either.

Because of the deep opposition of Catholics and others to legal abortion, it has become a political wedge issue. Politicians whose constituents allow them to oppose it keep bringing up abortion in Congress and legislatures for votes to separate the sheep from the goats. But until and unless the nine Supreme Court justices change their mind under pressure of the final arbiter -- public opinion -- lawmakers are just voting for laws the court will overturn on constitutional grounds.

No one who takes his oath seriously can engage in charades. And, in some cases, legislation badly needed by the poor has been held hostage to sheep-or-goat amendments.

Just as there are some districts where abortion opponents can win, there are districts where a vehement opponent can't win. Under those circumstances, and considering that lawmakers don't interpret the Constitution anyway, Catholics soft-pedal their personal views on abortion. Bishop Burke has told the ones in his diocese to stop it.

Bishop Burke has just told Catholic politicians what to do. That's something that Al Smith, in his losing 1928 campaign for the presidency, and John F. Kennedy, in his 1960 winning campaign, said bishops wouldn't do.

In October, in a document called "Faithful Citizenship," the U.S. bishops outlined positions on a whole range of political issues, including better pay for farmworkers. The question that non-Catholics will ask is: On how many of those issues would a Catholic face excommunication for failing to vote the bishops' way?

Bishop Burke's action puts his friends as well as foes at risk in elections if the general public asks that question. In the Jesuit magazine America, Bishop Burke is reported to have been asked what will happen if his position disqualifies Catholics from running for office. He replied, "Then there won't be any more Catholic politicians."

It would be an unsustainable anomaly if Catholics were permitted to serve in the armed forces of a country that claims the right to wage preemptive war, even in the face of passionate denunciations by the pope, while being barred by their religion from serving in Congress, where they could vote against such wars. But that is the logic of Bishop Burke's current position.

The next leader of the church in St. Louis needs to think deeper and consult his peers. Also at their October meeting, the bishops appointed a committee chaired by Bishop John Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee to consider the issue in depth. They are frustrated that their prophetic words are not being heard -- a not unusual frustration of prophets -- but the frustration won't be solved and may be aggravated by threatening Catholic politicians.

tom_blackburn@pbpost.com


TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Catholic; Current Events; Ecumenism; General Discusssion; History; Ministry/Outreach; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: abortionlist; catholiclist; prolife
Carl Olson BIO , a well-known author, has posted his own excellent commentary on Blackburn's Opinion.

* * * * *

HOW DARE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH BE CATHOLIC!
Author=Carl E. Olson


Tom Blackburn, columnist for the Palm Beach Post, is amazed—nay, angered—that Bishop Raymond Burke had the gall to ask Catholics to be Catholic:

By barring Holy Communion to Catholic politicians in the La Crosse, Wis., diocese, Bishop Raymond Burke drastically changed the focus of discussion. Now, the bishop is challenging not only the morality of abortion but the morality of American citizenship.

Blackburn's column is instructive, for it demonstrates how upside down and twisted of view so many people have of the world in general and the Catholic Church in particular. Some examples:

To the bishop, the morality of abortion is plain: It is a grievous sin. He and others are under pressure from some of their flocks to take harsher action against Catholic politicians who waffle. He acted. He placed politicians between the rock of their oath to uphold the Constitution and the hard place of his decision. The Supreme Court, the semifinal arbiter, has held that the Constitution bars governments from interfering in a woman's choice to have an abortion.

Blackburn and his ilk think this story is about a bishop getting uppity and overstepping his bounds. It's actually about a bishop having the courage to do what he is supposed to do—be a bishop. The Constitution, the Supreme Court, and the press do not dictate truth, nor are they infallible conduits of moral teaching. Catholics who are politicians are not citizens of this world first, but citizens of heaven. As such, they must, when push comes to shove, choose truth over falsehood, no matter what that means for their careers or earthly reputations.

Because of the deep opposition of Catholics and others to legal abortion, it has become a political wedge issue. Politicians whose constituents allow them to oppose it keep bringing up abortion in Congress and legislatures for votes to separate the sheep from the goats. But until and unless the nine Supreme Court justices change their mind under pressure of the final arbiter -- public opinion -- lawmakers are just voting for laws the court will overturn on constitutional grounds.

Earth to Blackburn: a good and worthy politician (especially in a republic) is not a parrot of public sentiment. He is not a puppet for lobbyists. He is not a mouthpiece for special interests. And the final arbiter of Truth is not "public opinion." The fact that so many believe that it is the case is frightening. But it's been that way for quite a while now—so long that it's now taken for granted for those who love living in a judicial oligarchy guided polls and fickle public sentiment: "Transcendent truth and objective fact be damned. What do the polls say?"

Bishop Burke has just told Catholic politicians what to do. That's something that Al Smith, in his losing 1928 campaign for the presidency, and John F. Kennedy, in his 1960 winning campaign, said bishops wouldn't do.

If this doesn't say it all, nothing does. The Church, Blackburn essentially argues, is a nice social club that should stay out of the important and meaningful worlds of politics, culture, and commerce. Catholics are welcome to go about performing their little rituals and mumbo-jumbo, but they should never think that it belongs in the real world. After all, Pope John F. Kennedy promised that Catholic doctrine wouldn't affect his public life. Turns out it didn't affect his private life either.

And there is the rub: you're either a Catholic from head to toe, inside to out, through-and-through—or you're not a Catholic. And that, I think, is Bishop Burke's point: be a Catholic. If you aren't a Catholic, stop pretending you are one. If you aren't a Catholic, stop sullying the Church by dragging her name through the mud. If you aren't a follower of Christ, stop receiving Him at Holy Communion.

1 posted on 01/20/2004 8:44:50 AM PST by NYer
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To: american colleen; sinkspur; Lady In Blue; Salvation; CAtholic Family Association; narses; ...
Anyone care to add their 2cents to this opinion!?
2 posted on 01/20/2004 8:46:42 AM PST by NYer ("One person and God make an army." - St. Teresa of Avila)
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Comment #3 Removed by Moderator

To: NYer
Anyone care to add their 2cents to this opinion!?

This debate has nothing -- nothing -- to do with the Church telling politicians how to run the government.

Bishop Burke is only preventing politicians from telling him how to run his church.

4 posted on 01/20/2004 8:56:02 AM PST by Romulus (Nothing really good ever happened after 1789.)
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Comment #5 Removed by Moderator

To: NYer
"It would be an unsustainable anomaly if Catholics were permitted to serve in the armed forces of a country that claims the right to wage preemptive war, even in the face of passionate denunciations by the pope, while being barred by their religion from serving in Congress, where they could vote against such wars. But that is the logic of Bishop Burke's current position."

No that is your inverted logic. This poor man needs a remedial class in Catholic teachings and also one in logic, virtues and Truth.
6 posted on 01/20/2004 9:09:22 AM PST by johnb2004
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To: NYer
Yes, the LORD does tell us that we have the option of choosing life or death. This is plain throughout Scripture. However, that choice is made when we choose to become a member of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. These "Catholic" politicians announced before God, their priest, their family and their friends that they choose life when they took their first Communion. They reaffirm their choice of life each time they take Communion. Their bishop is now holding them accountable for their choice.
7 posted on 01/20/2004 9:12:49 AM PST by bobjam
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To: sandyeggo
Ill say Amen to that also..
8 posted on 01/20/2004 9:15:19 AM PST by .45MAN ("I am what I am because of what I am")
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To: johnb2004
Unfortunately that arguement is going to be made quite often. The libs will soon demand that Bishop Galleone of the Diocese of St. Augustine withold Communion from Jeb Bush (yes, he is Catholic) because of his support of the death penalty. They will completely ignore the fact that the Church has historically supported war and capital punishment, yet has never supported abortion.
9 posted on 01/20/2004 9:16:26 AM PST by bobjam
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To: NYer
What the good bishop told them to do was stop being Catholic if they continued to uphold a political position that is non-Catholic; he didn't even suggest that they stop being politicians.

The screechers, not liking what he actually said, are trying mightily to change what he said - sort of like a straw bishop argument, as it were.

10 posted on 01/20/2004 9:18:35 AM PST by logos
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To: NYer
To the bishop, the morality of abortion is plain: It is a grievous sin. He and others are under pressure from some of their flocks to take harsher action against Catholic politicians who waffle. He acted. He placed politicians between the rock of their oath to uphold the Constitution and the hard place of his decision. The Supreme Court, the semifinal arbiter, has held that the Constitution bars governments from interfering in a woman's choice to have an abortion.

The bishop has not placed Catholic politicians in any conflict except with their own conscience. A Catholic politician can serve in a legislature in good faith. But according to the bishop, he cannot support abortion. This would mean that a Catholic politician would have to vote against public payment for abortion (not required by the Constitution), he would have to publicly aver that he personally is against abortion, and he would have to support changing the Constitution to forbid abortion.

considering that lawmakers don't interpret the Constitution anyway

Lawmakers interpret the Constitution every time they vote for a bill, because they're supposed to be judging whether or not that bill is consistent with the Constitution. Unless their objective is to either subvert the Constitution, or to vote on the basis of political advantage and let his fellow legislators or one of the other two branches of government take the heat.

Bishop Burke is reported to have been asked what will happen if his position disqualifies Catholics from running for office.

A bogus question. Nothing in his position disqualifies Catrholics from running for office.

11 posted on 01/20/2004 9:19:31 AM PST by RonF
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To: NYer
I always have two cents handy . . . :-D

An important point that should be made is that "Catholic In Name Only" politicians are trying to have it both ways, to cheat their church AND their constituency.

They want the benefit of calling themselves "Catholic" because that wins votes at election time. But, having received that benefit from faithful Catholics who believe they are voting for one of their own, they then turn around and betray the voters and the church by deliberately and wilfully flouting the church's teachings.

Aside from any position on abortion, this is fundamentally dishonest. As Kipling said, "Where I take a gift, there I render service."

12 posted on 01/20/2004 9:41:29 AM PST by AnAmericanMother (. . . sed, ut scis, quis homines huiusmodi intellegere potest?. . .)
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To: NYer
But until and unless the nine Supreme Court justices change their mind under pressure of the final arbiter -- public opinion -- lawmakers are just voting for laws the court will overturn on constitutional grounds.

What's fascinating to me is his assumption (really, now, the liberal assumption generally) that it is JUDGES and not legislators whose views best reflect the will of the people. It's as if they have given up on democracy because they cannot get what they want that way--or maybe because they know they can better get what they want from elitists like themselves.

13 posted on 01/20/2004 12:00:11 PM PST by madprof98
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To: madprof98; BlackElk
THe assumption that judges, or legislators, have some preternatural wisdom is also known as the "fallacy of positive law," thoroughly shredded by Bob Bork before he was disposed of by (surprise!!) positivists like Ted Kennedy.
14 posted on 01/20/2004 12:25:37 PM PST by ninenot (So many cats, so few recipes)
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To: All
This is getting to be a long list (but here is my two cents of collected threads on this topic:

The Deadly Dozen

Canadian Prime Minister Taunts Church: "I Am A Catholic And For Abortion"
Catholic Church asks Tom Daschle to stop calling himself a Catholic
On Catholic Politicians and Faith
Vatican Urges Catholic Politicians to Vote Along Church Lines
Senator Santorum on Being Catholic and a Politician
William E. Simon, Sr. and Jr. Devout Catholics, Philanthropists and Politicians
Deadly Dozen senator taken to task over claims of Catholicism
THE BISHOP AND THE SENATOR [author links to FR thread regarding Daschle in her online column]
Blood On Their Hands: Exposing Pro-abortion Catholic Politicians
MI Gov Granholm Proclaims June "Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month"
Colorado Governor To Media:'WE LOVE OUR CHURCH' [Gov. Bill Owens
U.S. Senator Brownback and Commentator Dick Morris Join Catholic Church
PRIEST REFUSES COMMUNION TO KNEELING PRO-LIFE POLITICIAN [Richard Black, Virginia]
Kerry [Catholic} says he'll filibuster Supreme Court nominees who do not support abortion rights
Pope to MPs: Stop gay marriage
Vatican - Considerations regarding ... homosexual persons
CONFUSIONS ABOUT POLITICAL JUDGMENT AND THE MORAL LAW
Prelate says politicians who back abortion shouldn't go to Communion
Bishop draws fire for targeting Chrétien
Kennedy likens Vatican stance on gay unions to 'bigotry' (oh, go get a job, you little creep)
Ignorance or Malicious Intent? "No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to..."
George Weigel on Authentic Catholic Citizenship, and the Duty of Catholic Politicians to Behave as Catholics
Conservative Catholics urge Church to challenge "dissenters"
[Robert F., Jr.] Kennedy to speak at Festival of Faiths (Environmentalism as religion)
Faithful Catholic Politicians
Catholic Bishops Eye Possible Crackdown of Pro-Abortion Pols
PETITION TO EX-COMMUNICATE PRO-ABORTION CATHOLIC ELECTED OFFICIALS
It is Time to Excommunicate the Politicians
Church vows to fight gay marriage: Catholics pressure pols
Should politicians toe their church line?
Church May Penalize Politicans
Catholic politicians facing dogmatic threat
Bishop appeals to Catholic lawmakers [Wisconsin]
New St. Louis Catholic Archbishop Warns Pro-Abortion Catholic Politicians of Excommunication.
Bishop Objected to AIDS Walk
Wisconsin Catholic Lawmakers Seek Victim Status In Feud With Bishop
Bishop Burke discusses the letters he sent to Catholic politicians
Congressman Places Internal Pro-Abortion Docs in Congressional Record
Flynn: Dems ignore Catholics
Granholm gay rights order "a slap in the face"
Calif. Bishop To Gov. Davis: Pick Abortion Or Communion [formal excommunication?]
California Bishop to Gov: Oppose Abortion or No Communion (New Title)
Sacramento Bishop Challenges Governor on Abortion; Tells Davis to Stop Receiving Communion
Granholm's Bible-thumping Sure to Rile GOP
Bishop: No Communion for Abortion Backers
Legislators can't have Eucharist, bishop says: Don't serve supporters of abortion rights, euthanasia
Wisc. Bishop Tells Pro-Abort. Catholic Pols: Change Your Stripes or Stay Away from Holy Communion
Diocese targets Granholm on abortion
NJ Governor McGreevey a devout Catholic, yet diplomatic {Barf Alert}
Communion ban on lawmakers who back abortion starts furor
Bishop's ban ignites church-state debate
(MI) Governor's effort is first step to give gays special benefits, weapon against religion [Granholm]
(Louisiana) LA Archbishop aims call at some Catholic politicians [Hughes]
Hughes exhorts Catholic pols to toe line
The end of Catholic politicians

15 posted on 01/20/2004 1:21:56 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer
October, 2003, Faithful Citizenship

 

Faithful Citizenship:
Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium

Suggestions for Dioceses


The following ideas are offered to assist diocesan planning for sharing Faithful Citizenship.

RELEASE DATE--OCTOBER 13, 2003.

Diocesan Newspaper—To mark the release date for Faithful Citizenship, an article in the diocesan newspaper could describe the statement and diocesan plans for sharing it. A copy of the press release that will be released to national media contacts on October 9th, embargoed until October 13th, will be faxed to you next week.

Other Media--Use the press release that will be faxed next week to notify local media about the release of the statement and its availability in a booklet format. The diocesan bishop may want to add his own quote.

ONGOING STRATEGY

Mailing--A letter from the bishop to pastors will make a big difference in the level of attention the statement and parish kit receive when they arrive at the parish. Pending approval of the budget, the parish kits are scheduled to be mailed early in January 2004. If you plan to have the kits mailed to your diocese in bulk to be distributed locally, you can enclose a cover letter. If the kits will be mailed directly to parishes by the USCCB, a letter sent in advance can notify pastors that the kits are coming and urge them to share the message and distribute the resources to appropriate staff or volunteers in the parish.

Staff Strategy--The political responsibility statement has implications for many ministries. Social ministry leaders have traditionally shared this message with their contacts in parishes and others in the diocese. Teachers and religious educators can share the basic message with their students, building a foundation for future "faithful citizenship". Those in parish leadership roles--priests, deacons, religious, pastoral associates, and others--can look for ongoing opportunities to distribute the booklet and the brochure.

Focusing a diocesan staff meeting on the statement and developing a plan to share it can be an important part of the overall strategy. To help promote widespread distribution, the following USCCB offices will be sending the parish kit to their diocesan counterparts.

African American Catholics
Communications
Catholic Campaign for Human Development
Diaconate
Education
Evangelization and Missions
Family Laity Women Youth
General Counsel
Government Liaison
Hispanic Affairs
Migration & Refugee Services
Priestly Formation
Priestly Life and Ministry
Pro-Life Activities
Social Development and World Peace
more?...

Meetings of Priests, Deacons, and Others—Priest and deacons often find it helpful to learn about the Church's position on political responsibility, the opportunities it presents, and the legal limits we need to observe. Devoting a half day or a full day of a clergy gathering to this topic can help priests and deacons share an important element of Catholic social teaching and respond confidently to any questions that may arise.

The USCCB Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry and the Committee on the Diaconate are offering a workshop package on Faithful Citizenship for priests and deacons. For information, call 202-541-3381.

Diocesan Newspapers—At an appropriate time during the coming year, a column or editorial can introduce the message of Faithful Citizenship, urging parishes and parishioners to obtain copies of the statement, share it, and reflect on it as the election approaches. Beyond the formal release of the statement on October 12, 2003, diocesan newspapers can provide ongoing information as the election draws near. A series of articles or a special supplement can describe the message of Faithful Citizenship and provide information on Catholic social teaching and key issues.

Other Meetings--Many diocesan offices host regular meetings, ongoing training programs, annual conventions and other gatherings. These represent excellent opportunities to share the political responsibility message with key leaders from parishes and schools. The USCCB is developing a speakers' bureau as well as training and workshop packages that can be used in a wide range of settings. Call 202-541-3381 for information.

Candidate Forums and Voter Registration--Hosting a nonpartisan candidate forum and sponsoring nonpartisan parish voter registration efforts are two valuable ways of encouraging civic participation and helping voters learn about the candidates and the issues. In the past, many dioceses have been able to host these events in a manner that provided an important service to the community while easily meeting all legal requirements. For information, call 202-541-3381.

Social Ministry Activities--A wide range of social ministry activities lend themselves to sharing Faithful Citizenship. Annual diocesan social ministry gatherings can focus on this topic. Training can be offered for parish social ministry leaders. A diocesan or state legislative network can be sent information or given information during briefing sessions or other training programs. Diocesan social ministry newsletters can also incorporate material on Faithful Citizenship.


16 posted on 01/20/2004 1:29:22 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
USCCB.org search - Faithful Citizenship
17 posted on 01/20/2004 1:31:59 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer
A government that has the power to ban abortions would have the power to command them for specific cases or races.

What a steaming load of Barbara Streisand. Does the power to ban murdering born people give the power to command murdering born people? Does the power to ban rape give the power to command rape?

18 posted on 01/20/2004 1:39:23 PM PST by Land of the Free 04
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To: *Abortion_list; *Pro_Life; *Catholic_list; cpforlife.org; Mr. Silverback; cgk
ping
19 posted on 01/20/2004 1:39:48 PM PST by Land of the Free 04
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To: Land of the Free 04
BTTT
20 posted on 01/20/2004 1:53:51 PM PST by cpforlife.org (The Missing Key of the Pro-Life Movement is at www.CpForLife.org)
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To: Land of the Free 04
Does the power to ban murdering born people give the power to command murdering born people?

Actually, the Schiavo case is quite instructive in this regard.

In this sentence, the editorialist is correct.

21 posted on 01/20/2004 2:59:23 PM PST by ninenot (So many cats, so few recipes)
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To: RonF
This would mean that a Catholic politician would have to vote against public payment for abortion (not required by the Constitution), he would have to publicly aver that he personally is against abortion, and he would have to support changing the Constitution to forbid abortion.

Exactly. These are all reasonable things - and, incidentally, reflect positions held by many non-Catholics as well - and none of them conflicts with the Constitution or in any way prevents a Catholic from holding public office.

Well, at least until the time comes when the pro-abortion contingent makes the personal performance of an abortion to be a requirement for anyone who wishes to run for office in the US - something I think they would dearly like to do (if they're Dems, at least).

22 posted on 01/20/2004 3:52:02 PM PST by livius
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To: NYer
The next leader of the church in St. Louis needs to think deeper and consult his peers.

And that would be who.....???? Please, Bishops have been consulting for years and look where it got them. How about some old fashioned silence and deep prayer and reflection, and why not throw in some commen sense for a change. God Bless Bishop Burke for doing and saying what should have been done years ago! Too many people have run out of patience with so-called Catholic politicians pro-choice views.

23 posted on 01/20/2004 6:57:24 PM PST by Gerish (Do not be fearful. God is with you.)
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To: ninenot
Does the power to ban murdering born people give the power to command murdering born people?

Actually, the Schiavo case is quite instructive in this regard.

In this sentence, the editorialist is correct.

What government has commanded the murder of Terri Schiavo?

24 posted on 01/21/2004 11:31:59 AM PST by Land of the Free 04
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