Can Antiabortion Catholics Support Obama? Some Do

The Christian Science Monitor, October 3, 2008 | Go to article overview

Can Antiabortion Catholics Support Obama? Some Do


Roman Catholics - a sought-after swing vote in several battleground states - are caught up in a charged debate over how to apply the church's moral teaching to politics.

Like other Americans, Catholics rate the economy as the top issue for this election. But the political debate has once again pushed the contentious issue of abortion to the fore, potentially affecting how some "undecideds" vote. It has also stirred concerns that partisanship on the part of a few church leaders could damage the role of faith in public life.

Four years ago, conservatives helped deliver the Catholic vote to George Bush over fellow-Catholic John Kerry, insisting that an antiabortion stance was a litmus test for the candidates.

Viewing that effort as divisive and narrow, other Catholics have since worked to broaden the political agenda to more fully reflect the church's social teaching and its emphasis on promoting the common good. They've created new organizations, such as Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and reached out to ordinary Catholics of every stripe, urging them to consider candidates' positions on a wide range of societal issues.

"These new groups are moderate voices who are presenting the whole array of Catholic social teaching, and they are having an impact," says the Rev. Thomas Reese, senior fellow at Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University in Washington.

At the same time, the US bishops modified their election guidelines for 2008, presenting a moral framework but emphasizing individual responsibility for "prudent" decisionmaking. Calling abortion "an intrinsic evil" that must be opposed, they nevertheless left the door ajar to voting for a candidate who supports abortion rights. In "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," the bishops write: "There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate's unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons." (They also highlighted fundamental concerns that include war and peace, poverty, healthcare, a living wage, and environmental stewardship.)

Despite this opening, the endorsement of Barack Obama by prominent Catholic Republican Douglas Kmiec, a constitutional law expert at Pepperdine University, came as a great surprise to Catholics. Professor Kmiec, a former legal adviser to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, has written a controversial book - "Can a Catholic Support Him?" - detailing his rationale for Senator Obama based on the Catholic tradition.

While disagreeing with the Democrat's abortion-rights position, he sees the candidate as sharing the broader worldview of Catholic social teaching. Kmiec once worked on briefs seeking to overturn Roe v. Wade, but he argues that the commitment to programs that reduce abortions will be more effective than continuing to try to reverse Roe. Even if a reversal were achievable, it would only throw the decision back to the states and abortion would continue, he says.

"It's an argument that will make sense to Catholics who are pragmatists," says Father Reese.Kmiec's comments immediately got him into trouble. A local priest attacked him in a sermon and refused to give him Communion. (Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles, later called that action indefensible.) Church leaders insist that efforts to overturn Roe continue as well as programs to reduce abortions. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Can Antiabortion Catholics Support Obama? Some Do
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.