Thursday, April 26, 2007

Archbishop Chaput Takes a Step Forward

In the latest Commonweal, Melinda Henneberger reports on an interview she conducted with Archbishop Chaput of Denver in which she quizzes him on abortion politics. Chaput, remember, was one of the more vocal bishops who spoke out against John Kerry's position on abortion back in 2004. As noted by Cathleen Kaveny, a New York Times article at the time noted the following:
"Archbishop Chaput said a vote for a candidate like Mr. Kerry who supports abortion rights or embryonic stem cell research would be a sin that must be confessed before receiving Communion."
Of course, Chaput was part of a tiny minority of bishops to say such a thing, and this small group was chastised by their brother bishops. But that was 2004. Today, Chaput says something quite different. He seems to desire only that politicians address abortion as a fundamental issue, and not simply ignore and bury it. He states that his "aggressive stance" during the last election arose from a frustration with the fact that treating abortion as one of many moral issues had become a license to dismiss it. He goes on:
"Do I think there are people in the last election who voted for a prochoice candidate and did so sincerely after reflection and prayer? Yes, I do. Did they do wrong? No, they followed their conscience. But that serious reflection and prayer, that’s really important, and not just being swayed by party sympathies or that’s the way you always vote. It has to be about the issues."
This is exactly right. Chaput even goes further, stating:
"You can have good Catholics who say that they’re not for the criminalization of abortion, or they want to take gradual steps toward eliminating it by convincing the public that this is a bad thing. Those are all legitimate political positions-as long as you’re really moving towards the goal of protecting unborn human life. You at least have to have the goal."
Read that again, for it is profoundly important. For a start, Chaput is acknowledging that the elimination of abortion involves issues of prudential judgment (the link fleshes out the argument). In other words, betting everything on picking judges to overturn Roe v. Wade is not the only game in town. I also believe that Chaput is offering an olive branch to the Democrats. He is saying something like: we can tolerate you not wanting to criminalize abortion, or moving slowly, but you cannot pretend that this is a "right" that must be defended at all costs. That can never be defended. Clearly, he does not want a repeat of 2004 when it seemed that he was supporting Bush and his whole sorry agenda (he wasn't). But unless Clinton and Obama listen, history could repeat itself. Come on folks, it's not that hard...


Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see who the Republicatholics and their beloved cadre of bishops go after next year with no Catholic Democrats likely to get the nomination. Of course, no serious pro-lifers are likely to be nominated on the Republican side either but certainly their candidate can be cut some slack if need be.

The religious right has always despised Hillary, that uppity woman who went to law school when she should have been at home barefoot and pregnant! But the "Catholic politician" thing won't work on her--she's Methodist. And what if she doesn't get the nomination? Can they work themselves into the same white-hot hatred over Edwards or Obama? Catholic bloggers delight in reminding that Obama's middle name is Hussein. Very suspicious indeed! He's also interracial--another thing to be feared and hated! What about Edwards? A white guy who made a pile of money. Any red-blooded Republican has to admire that. But what's this foolishness about helping the poor? Worst of all, none of these sinners are Catholic! Dang! How to deny communion to a non-Catholic who doesn't go to communion! There MUST be a way!

Franklin Jennings said...

Boy, I really didn't think so much hysterical calumniation could be strung together in a single comment.

That anonymous is a master of bitter lies and vitriol. I tip my hat.

Radical Catholic Mom said...

Oh, come on anonymous. I don't think you are characterizing why most of the women I know, myself included, don't like Hillary. Give me a break.

I have typically voted Republican because of the abortion issue. The last time was truly a struggle for me on who to vote for.

The Iraq debacle, though, and immigration are also becoming major life issues as well. So, right now I am interested in Obama. I think I like him only because for emotional reasons. I think the day we vote in a non-white will be a fabulous day in this country. Actually having it between Obama and Hillary is pretty exciting, especially the idea of female in power.

Anonymous said...

Boy, I really didn't think so much hysterical calumniation could be strung together in a single comment.

So I struck a nerve, Franklin! I take it you're the self-designated arbiter of all things righteous and moral around here? Actually I'm more of a cynic given to satire. When it comes to pure vitriol, as you describe it, I'm actually a fledgling compared to certain loons who frequent "Catholic" message boards or hold forth at "Catholic" media outlets.

The drooling wacko at our local Catholic station finally had to be fired last year for trying to out-savage Michael Savage. This holier-than-thou prolife stalwart spewed lies, virtriol and hysterical calumny for years under the banner of Catholicism. He did more to undermine the prolife movement than anything NARAL could dream of, and more to undermine the Republican party than George Soros could ever hope for. His "Catholic News & Commentary" took vitriol to a new level, having almost nothing about Catholicism but plenty about who should be charged with sedition, excommunicated, denied communion, tried for treason, etc. On the day the trustees finally fired him (after 5 years!) he came back to the station and had an on-air meltdown, calling them "agents of Satan" and shrieking that he was being martyred for doing the Lord's work. (Thankfully, he wasn't packing a Glock.)

Because of things like this and others too numerous to mention over the past several years, I never miss a chance to poke these fools in the eye verbally at every opportunity. I'm disgusted when I see the results of merging politics and religion. I'm disgusted when I see how the faith is compromised and corrupted to make a political point. I'm disgusted when I see how the pro-life movement is undermined by those who use it as a cover to spew hatred or discard all other teachings of the Church.

Disgusted, Cynical & Satirical. That's me.

Anonymous said...

Radical Catholic Mom:

First you say none of the women you know, including you, likes HC. But at the end you said the idea of a female in power is pretty exciting. You sound sort of ambivalent about it.

Personally, I can take or leave her. She's certainly qualified and I admire the way she's stood up to the often irrational hatred directed at her over the years. On the other hand, I like Obama and Edwards as much or better. I don't see the other side ever nominating anyone but the standard Rich Old White Guy. Status Quo. Same old same old. The only real surprise is how poorly McCain is doing. I really liked him in 2000. Now he just looks old and stale.

Franklin Jennings said...

No nerve struck, I really was impressed. I've never been able to draw, but if I could do caricature half as well as you, I'd probably die satisfied.