Abortion More Than Just the Top Political Issue for Catholics

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 11, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Abortion More Than Just the Top Political Issue for Catholics

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 11, 2004

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A spokeswoman for a leading Catholic bishop is defending his remarks that abortion is the top issue for Catholic voters, but just one of many important political issues to consider when voting. Meanwhile another leading Catholic pro-life advocate says abortion is more than just the top political issue.

Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick raised eyebrows earlier this month in an interview with the Catholic News Service.

McCarrick, who is heading up a task force for the nation’s Catholic bishops about whether pro-abortion Catholic politicians should be denied communion, said abortion "may be primary," but added that "people who are with us on one issue" may be "against us on many other issues."

"All these things will have to be weighed very carefully without giving anybody any direction on how they should vote," McCarrick said.

Some have said McCarrick’s comments open to door to supporters of John Kerry, who backs abortion, to say he is as just in line with the Catholic Church on various issues as President Bush.

"Intentionally or not, [McCarrick] was following the lead of liberal, pro-choice Democrats and providing cover for Kerry with traditional Catholics," nationally syndicated columnist Bob Novak wrote in a recent column.

Deal Hudson, the editor of Crisis magazine, agreed.

Without mentioning McCarrick by name, Hudson told Novak, "Anytime our leaders allow the life issue to be made one of many issues provides cover for Kerry’s effort to attract Catholic votes."

But Susan Gibbs, communications director for the Washington archdiocese, defends McCarrick’s remarks.

"Cardinal McCarrick once again said the right to life is first, as he has repeatedly in interviews and throughout his priesthood," Gibbs told LifeNews.com.

"As the Holy Father and the constant teaching of the Church has made clear, the right to life is fundamental — there is no question — however, we as Catholics are called not to stop with abortion, but to support the dignity of all humans throughout life until natural death," Gibbs added.

Meanwhile, Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life tells LifeNews.com that the denial of one’s right to life is more important than even consideration as the top political issue.

"Our bishops, including Cardinal McCarrick, have clearly stated for many years that, as the Cardinal said, ‘without life, you cannot have any other human values,’" Pavone explained. "That is why the Bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro-life Activities calls us to ‘give urgent attention and priority to this issue of justice.’ I also strongly agree that there are many other critical issues we need to pay attention to."

However, Pavone says what is needed now is "more than an affirmation of the priority of abortion and the existence of many other issues."

"We need a deeper awareness that abortion goes beyond the category of an ‘issue’ and into the realm of a national emergency," Pavone told LifeNews.com. "As an act of violence, it is on the level of terrorism with two differences: Terrorism is not legal, but abortion is, and the number of victims of terrorism is dwarfed beyond comparison by the numbers of abortion victims."

"Legalizing abortion actually alters the form of government we have," Pavone said. "It abolishes the notion of a government that secures rights that are beyond its reach (because they are given by the Creator), and establishes one in which those rights are given and taken by government decree. That affects everything."

"The bottom line here is that there is not a problem with what the bishops are saying," Pavone concludes. "In theory, they are correct. The problem is that the word abortion has lost all its meaning, and the enormity of its evil cannot be captured by speaking in terms of the relative importance of issues. If a candidate said terrorism should be legal, we would not be talking about the candidate’s positions on other important issues."