Skip to comments.Vatican urges Catholic politicians to vote along church lines
Posted on 01/16/2003 6:05:27 AM PST by NYer
VATICAN CITY (AP) _ The Vatican took aim at pro-choice Catholic politicians Thursday, telling them that Church teaching demands they defend ``the basic right to life from conception to natural death.''
A new set of guidelines approved by Pope John Paul II for Catholic politicians said that Church opposition to abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage was not up for negotiation. The were issued a week before major demonstrations are planned in the United States by pro-choice and anti-abortion groups and amid continuing efforts, mainly in Europe, to legalize euthanasia and gay marriages. The Vatican said it was publishing the document now because of medical and scientific advances and because of the ``emergence of ambiguities or questionable positions in recent times.''
The guidelines, prepared by the Vatican's orthodoxy watchdog, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, don't change the church's long-held positions. Rather, they serve as a reminder of Church teachings for Catholic politicians, so that when they vote for legislation or otherwise influence public policy, they do so in line with certain ``nonnegotiable ethical principles.''
In particular, the document said laws concerning abortion and euthanasia ``must defend the basic right to life from conception to natural death. In the same way, it is necessary to recall the duty to respect and protect the rights of the human embryo.'' It said laws safeguarding marriage between man and woman must be promoted and that ``in no way can other forms of cohabitation be placed on the same level as marriage, nor can they receive legal recognition as such.''
The document also referred vaguely to issues of peace, saying Catholics should not confuse the Church's promotion of peace and rejection of violence with ``secular'' pacificist and ideological visions. The pope's opposition to war in Iraq is likely to make him a rallying point in the event hostilities erupt. ``The Church recognizes that while democracy is the best expression of the direct participation of citizens in political choices, it succeeds only to the extent that it is based on a correct understanding of the human person,'' the document said, adding: ``Catholic involvement in political life cannot compromise on this principle.''
The guidelines don't mention punishment _ such as excommunication _ for Catholic politicians who fail to tow the line. Rather, they frame the issue as one of ``conscience'' that politicians will have to deal with.
``Scientific progress has resulted in advances that are unsettling for the consciences of men and women, and call for solutions that respect ethical principles in a coherent and fundamental way,'' the document said.
``Catholics, in this difficult situation, have the right and the duty to recall society to a deeper understanding of human life and to the responsibility of everyone in this regard,'' it said.
The Vatican stressed that it wasn't trying to dictate policy or interfere in matters of state, but to rather ``instruct and illuminate'' Catholic political leaders. And it challenged the idea that ethical pluralism ``is the very condition for democracy.''
The document was released a week before the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision lifting anti-abortion laws nationwide. Demonstrations by the pro-choice and anti-abortion movements in the United States are planned for Jan. 22.
The Vatican never disguised its irritation with Geraldine Ferraro, a Catholic and the U.S. Democratic vice presidential candidate in 1984, for her position that she opposed abortion but was also opposed to outlawing it. Recently, former Italian Premier Giulio Andreotti, a practicing Catholic, said he deeply regretted having signed the law legalizing abortion in Italy when he was prime minister in 1978.
The Vatican has also been campaigning against efforts, particularly in Europe, to legalize same-sex marriages and offer the unions the same benefits granted to traditional heterosexual marriages.
Jan. 22 also marks the start of the Roman Catholic church's World Meeting of Families _ a five-day meeting in Manila, Philippines to promote family values. Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, welcomed the publication of the document, saying it ``addresses some of the profound challenges faced by Catholic politicians and voters who are confronted with various moral and social issues in the context of a democratic society.'' He said he hoped the document would encourage U.S. Catholic politicians to continue to ``respect the most essential moral values of our human nature.'' The Vatican released similar statements from German and Italian cardinals along with the document Thursday.
While not offering concrete examples of legislation for Catholic politicians to promote, the document does propose a model for them to emulate: St. Thomas More, the 16th century lawyer and diplomat who refused to renounce the pope and recognize the king as head of the English church. King Henry VIII had More beheaded for his positions. Two years ago, Pope John Paul II made More the patron saint for politicians. ``He taught by his life and his death that 'man cannot be separated from God, nor politics from morality,''' the document said.
It might be more a case of an iron fist in a velvet glove. It might give those Catholic politicians some pause and make them think about the final results of their votes.
If the Vatican had come out directly with an 'excommunication' notice, don't you think those same politicians would have immediately gotten their backs up and taken the attitude "They can't tell ME what to do!" It is human nature to not want to be controlled. I believe The Vatican understands this, and wants to 'enlighten' those folks rather than turn them right off!
<> Pius, Typical modernist changing the rules.....<>
Perfect analogy, with your usual pinch of hilarity. Bravo.
They are not serious enough to put much thought into the effects of their actions on the country, on liberty, on the world, or much of anything else. Not a word in this book indicates that the White House has any sense of the moral and practical responsibilities associated with heading the world's biggest state. But they are serious enough to believe that they have somehow been blessed by the god democracy to make big, important decisions. Paul O'Neil, who was just fired as Treasury secretary, is right that it is all about "deluding the people" into believing something that is not true.
In his first meeting with Bush, soon after the inauguration, Frum reports that the president had only one firm policy item backed by real conviction: "his determination to dig Saddam Hussein out of power in Iraq." This was six months before 9-11, and two years before weapons inspections. Why should anyone take seriously the idea that Bush is waiting for Iraq to comply with anything? Though Iraq was not discussed much during the campaign, the secret plan vengeance was always there.
<> Fortunately, the Vatican knows this Iraq War is all about revenge,propaganda, smoke, mirrors and bovine excrement<>
For the last four months, I have been ordered to face-down the Schismatic Orcs,and, frankly, it is getting tiresome. They never sleep.
I have enjoyed the Fax's of the last day or so because they dealt with Just War, Political Probity, Common Sense, Natural Law, ect.
BTW, it is both a common, and false, view that we Catholic operatives get Holiday weekends off because they are Holy Days. However, that is not true...We have to work MLK Day. He really wasn't a Saint:)<>
It si like being an Oakland Raider this year<>
Can you tell me the great efforts made by the vast majority of Southern Catholics toward the end of segregation? Thanks.
I attended a friend's funeral in Harlem two months ago at the Church of the Resurrection--it runs a parochial school in a clean, sound building within the Church. Supported by funds siphoned from the collection plates of the suburban middle class, many of whom can't afford Catholic schools for their own children, and yet the charity continues. And I will bet most of the kids at that school or at the Headstart building are Catholic. I see that there is a great deal of fruitfulness from the virtue of charity inspired by a Catholic faith. You may have a point that the hierarchy is slow to act, but knowledgeable Catholics will point out that Saints don't usually come from the hierarchy--that doesn't mean we don't need a hierarchy. V's wife.
Chancellor, since I suspect debate would be your strong suit, please restrict yourself to legitimate argumentation. The "when did you stop beating your wife" style is beneath your ability. V's wife.
ARCHBISHOP FRANCIS RUMMEL - In 1953, Archbishop Francis Rummel gave full support to mostly black sugar cane workers on strike in south Louisiana. In a 1956 pastoral letter, Rummel said that racial segregation was "morally wrong and sinful" and insisted that "the alleged mental defects, moral and criminal propensities, economic short comings and social disabilities," far from being an indictment of black people and an argument against integration, was "an indictment against continuing segregation." Rummel promised to integrate the Catholic schools "no earlier than September 1956."He then ran into a storm of protest. The Catholic schools were finally integrated in 1962, two years after the first public schools. Historian Adam Fairclough has written, "Instead of setting a moral and practical example to the public schools, the church set an example of procrastination and delay".
As I went through the list of names and the credit for a passion for social justice and civil rights, I got a sudden mental notion that our Catholic FReepers would scold those same progressive clerics as being a source for rot.
I find myself wondering who the bad guys really are - the hierarchs and the support for secrecy and authoritarianism, or the liberals who want to decentralize authority and reach out to mankind?