Catholic Leader: Excommunication Possible for Backing Pro-Abortion FOCA Bill

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 24, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Leader: Excommunication Possible for Backing Pro-Abortion FOCA Bill

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 24
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — A top Catholic leader says it is possible that Catholic members of Congress who vote for the Freedom of Choice Act could face excommunication. The legislation would make unlimited abortions throughout pregnancy the law of the land and overturn hundreds of pro-life laws nationwide that reduce abortions.

Cardinal France George of Chicago, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, made the comments about excommunication in an interview with CNS.

He did not say that excommunication was certain, only that it would depend on whether the cooperation with evil was "material" or "formal."

"The excommunication is automatic if that act is in fact formal cooperation, and that is precisely what would have to be discussed once you would see the terms of the act itself," Cardinal George said.

"The categories in moral theology about cooperating in evil, which make you complicit in the evil, even though you don’t do it yourself, are material cooperation, which is usually remote and therefore doesn’t involve you in the moral action except in a very auxiliary and minor way, and formal cooperation, which would involve you even though you are not doing it, in the way that makes you culpable," George added.

"So we would have to take a look at each case, and at each law, to determine whether or not the cooperation is material or formal. We’ve never done that," he told CNS.

Deal Hudson, a leading Catholic author, says an analysis of the so-called Freedom of Choice Act makes it appear to him that Catholic lawmakers voting for it would be directly cooperating in abortions.

He pointed to a study conducted by the Heritage Foundation that showed the bill, which Barack Obama has said would be the first bill he would sign, could result in 125,000 or more abortions annually.

"Is that direct, formal cooperation with the evil of abortion?" Hudson asked in a Monday column.

"It looks formal and direct to me. Why? Because by voting for FOCA you know more abortions will be the result. The intent of FOCA is to make abortion more available," he explained. "Remember, more abortions are a certainty if FOCA is passed and signed by the president."

He said he would be curious to hear from backers of the Congressional bill who claim their cooperation in abortion would be "remote" by voting for it and expanding the number of abortions by so much.

"Cardinal George has raised an important question, and he has addressed it in a way to prompt reflection on the consequences for all Catholics, not just for members of Congress, who publicly support FOCA or who supported Obama knowing that FOCA was on his legislative agenda," Hudson concluded.

Ultimately, George said the Catholic leadership has never issued a statement on whether voting for something like FOCA is a direct cooperation in abortion.

That could change next year as the debate comes to the forefront.

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