Catholics and the abortion regime

Back to that point Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput made in a recent column analyzing ‘A bad bill and how we got it’

In counting the ways, he went through several lessons we need to draw from what happened to give us legislation that is not grounded in moral fundamentals. I wanted to come back to his final one.

Fourth, self-described “Catholic” groups have done a serious disservice to justice, to the Church, and to the ethical needs of the American people by undercutting the leadership and witness of their own bishops.  For groups like Catholics United, this is unsurprising.  In their effect, if not in formal intent, such groups exist to advance the interests of a particular political spectrum.  Nor is it newsworthy from an organization like Network, which – whatever the nature of its good work — has rarely shown much enthusiasm for a definition of “social justice” that includes the rights of the unborn child.

In his role as teacher and pastor, Archbishop Chaput is being instructive about the confusion certain organizations are causing the lay faithful these days.

But the actions of the Catholic Health Association (CHA) in providing a deliberate public counter-message to the bishops were both surprising and profoundly disappointing; and also genuinely damaging.  In the crucial final days of debate on health-care legislation, CHA lobbyists worked directly against the efforts of the American bishops in their approach to members of Congress.  The bad law we now likely face, we owe in part to the efforts of the Catholic Health Association and similar “Catholic” organizations.

On the other hand,

many thousands of ordinary, faithful Catholics, from both political parties, have worked hard over the past seven months to advance sensible, legitimate health-care reform; the kind that serves the poor and protects the rights of the unborn child, and immigrants, and the freedom of conscience rights of health-care professionals and institutions.  If that effort seems to have failed, faithful Catholics don’t bear the blame. That responsibility lies elsewhere.

This all reminds me of something I came across and bring up occasionally in writing and giving talks, always to a surprised audience. It quotes a religion writer:

Several years ago, I did an analysis on the pro-life voting records of members of Congress correlated with religious affiliation. I no longer have it and we have a different Congress today, but the main finding still holds – If there were NO Catholic members of Congress, the body would be significantly MORE pro-life.

Think about that.

If, God willing, the abortion regime someday ends and historians looking back in horror on the period make their report, two things will be true: 1. The Catholic Church was the strongest voice in the defense of life. 2. The abortion regime would have been impossible without the active encouragement of many individual Catholics.

This is even clearer now than it was when I first discovered it, one year ago.

We didn’t know Stupak

Days after the Senate version of the health care bill was ceremoniously and victoriously signed into law, media people are still writing about the man who made it happen. Besides President Obama…

Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak had been the determined pro-life boy with his finger in the dike holding back the flood of new abortions that would happen under health care law that provides federal funds and wider access to them. Or so it seemed.

Jim Geraghty at NRO examines the person who portrayed himself one way, and turned out to be another…

now that the dramatic end to the fight over the health-care bill transformed one of the most prominent pro-life Democrats into a man without a country — disdained by national Democrats and pro-choice liberals as a man who nearly derailed health care, and rejected by pro-lifers on both sides of the aisle as a supremely disappointing leader who quit at the last minute…

Duplicity? Naïveté? A failure of nerve? Whatever the reasoning behind Stupak’s unexpected decision, it opened up a question one rarely hears about a nine-term incumbent: Who is this guy?

Good question.

“He’s in a strongly conservative, pro-life district and his only real connection was on cultural issues. But he infuriated the Left on the way to infuriating the Right. It’s hard to see who his base now is. Where he ended up on this issue was a big problem for him, but the way he got there was just incomprehensible.

Kathleen Parker calls it a “fall from grace”.

Ultimately, he was weak and overwhelmed by raw political power. History is no stranger to such moments, but this one needs to be understood for what it was. A deception.

The executive order promising that no federal funds will be used for abortion is utterly useless, and everybody knows it…

Stupak, too, knew that the executive order was merely political cover for him and his pro-life colleagues. He knew it because several members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops explained it to him, according to sources. The only way to prevent public funding for abortion was for his amendment to be added to the Senate bill.

Clearly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the president didn’t want that. What they did want was the abortion funding that the Senate bill allowed.

Thus, the health care bill passed because of a mutually understood deception — a pretense masquerading as virtue.

And, as she notes, a lesson in human frailty. What a tragedy if his fall broke the best barricade we had to protect many thousands more frail humans.