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E.J. Dionne: Building a Better Fig Leaf

Tuesday, February 28, 2006  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

E.J. Dionne hails the latest in a series of statements/maneuvers/dodges by Catholic elected officials to square their support for abortion rights with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Here’s the key sentence:

For Catholics with moderate or liberal leanings, the argument from some bishops that they could vote only for staunch foes of abortion posed a wretched dilemma.

Was the dilemma to be faithful to their faith and the instruction of the bishops? Not in E.J.’s world:

It seemed to demand that such voters cast their ballots for conservative or right-wing candidates with whom they might disagree on every other question — social justice, war and peace, or the death penalty. All are areas where liberals are often closer to the church’s view. “Our faith does and should affect how we deal with issues,” DeLauro said. “But we’re rebelling against the idea of a one-issue church.”

Of course the Roman Catholic Church is not a one-issue church, but on one issue –abortion– is has unusual clarity: It is a grave sin, and support for the laws that permit abortion is a grave sin.

So grave, in fact, that some bishops do not believe supporters of abortion rights ought to receive communion as to do so is to scandalously flout Church teaching and encourage others to do so as well.

What E.J. wants, and what the bishops and the last and current Pope, will not give him is a blessing for disobedience on this central issue.

Six paragraphs from a bunch of duck-and-cover politicians won’t change that.

I doubt the bishops are going to change their teaching, since it isn’t their teaching but the theology of the Church.

Which means E.J. can continue to encourage his fellow Catholics to commit what the Church believes is grave sin –even mortal sin– but he ought at least to advise his readers what the Church thinks of the actions of such politicians first/Catholics second.

Since E.J. didn’t, I will provide the guidance of Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput from an October, 2004 interview with the New York Times:

The place to start would be, does our voting for someone make us responsible for what that person does as a legislator or as a judge?’

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