U.S. Bishops Issue Stark Warning to Obama over Abortion
By John-Henry Westen
BALTIMORE, November 12, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In a stark warning to President-Elect Barack Obama, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), today warned the Obama Administration, on behalf of all the US bishops, that "aggressive pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion."
The statement, which was "written at the request and direction of all the Bishops," was released today at the end of the annual fall assembly of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
While the message begins on a conciliatory note, the vast majority is directed at the issue of the rights of the unborn. "The bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States welcome this moment of historic transition and look forward to working with President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the common good of all," begins the statement. From there, however, it notes that the 1973 Roe v Wade decision was "bad law" and that the Freedom of Choice Act which Obama has promised to sign is even "more radical."
Cardinal George writes that "the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve," if the administration's policies increase abortions.
The full statement follows:
STATEMENT of the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
"If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor; if the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil." (Psalm 127, vs. 1)
The Bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States welcome this moment of historic transition and look forward to working with President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the common good of all. Because of the Church's history and the scope of her ministries in this country, we want to continue our work for economic justice and opportunity for all; our efforts to reform laws around immigration and the situation of the undocumented; our provision of better education and adequate health care for all, especially for women and children; our desire to safeguard religious freedom and foster peace at home and abroad. The Church is intent on doing good and will continue to cooperate gladly with the government and all others working for these goods.
The fundamental good is life itself, a gift from God and our parents. A good state protects the lives of all. Legal protection for those members of the human family waiting to be born in this country was removed when the Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade in 1973. This was bad law. The danger the Bishops see at this moment is that a bad court decision will be enshrined in bad legislation that is more radical than the 1973 Supreme Court decision itself.
In the last Congress, a Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) was introduced that would, if brought forward in the same form today, outlaw any "interference" in providing abortion at will. It would deprive the American people in all fifty states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry. FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. It would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government and others of good will to reduce the number of abortions in our country.
Parental notification and informed consent precautions would be outlawed, as would be laws banning procedures such as partial-birth abortion and protecting infants born alive after a failed abortion. Abortion clinics would be deregulated. The Hyde Amendment restricting the federal funding of abortions would be abrogated. FOCA would have lethal consequences for prenatal human life.
FOCA would have an equally destructive effect on the freedom of conscience of doctors, nurses and health care workers whose personal convictions do not permit them to cooperate in the private killing of unborn children. It would threaten Catholic health care institutions and Catholic Charities. It would be an evil law that would further divide our country, and the Church should be intent on opposing evil.
On this issue, the legal protection of the unborn, the bishops are of one mind with Catholics and others of good will. They are also pastors who have listened to women whose lives have been diminished because they believed they had no choice but to abort a baby. Abortion is a medical procedure that kills, and the psychological and spiritual consequences are written in the sorrow and depression of many women and men. The bishops are single-minded because they are, first of all, single-hearted.
The recent election was principally decided out of concern for the economy, for the loss of jobs and homes and financial security for families, here and around the world. If the election is misinterpreted ideologically as a referendum on abortion, the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve. Abortion kills not only unborn children; it destroys constitutional order and the common good, which is assured only when the life of every human being is legally protected. Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion.
This statement is written at the request and direction of all the Bishops, who also want to thank all those in politics who work with good will to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us. Those in public life do so, sometimes, at the cost of great sacrifice to themselves and their families; and we are grateful. We express again our great desire to work with all those who cherish the common good of our nation. The common good is not the sum total of individual desires and interests; it is achieved in the working out of a common life based upon good reason and good will for all.
Our prayers accompany President-elect Obama and his family and those who are cooperating with him to assure a smooth transition in government. Many issues demand immediate attention on the part of our elected "watchman." (Psalm 127) May God bless him and our country.
Bishop Bruskewitz to Fellow Bishops on Obama: No Compromise on "Vile Intrinsic Evil Such as Abortion"
"Any bishop here would be willing, would consider it a privilege, to die tomorrow if it meant ending abortion,” said Bishop Hermann.
By John-Henry Westen
BALTIMORE, November 12, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - US Catholic Bishops meeting at their Fall conference yesterday had a drawn out discussion, mostly in private, about abortion and politics, specifically dealing with the new Obama Administration. Several of the bishops issued some of the strongest statements on the issue to date, noting that on abortion there can be no compromise, and that steps must be taken to deal with self-professedly “Catholic” politicians who are nevertheless deeply “anti-life.”
Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska said on the issue: "One cannot compromise between the fire and the fire department, the fly and the fly swatter. There are things that don't admit of compromise — and vile … intrinsic evil such as abortion do not admit us any such compromise."
Bishop Joseph F. Martino of Scranton, PA tackled the problem of pro-abortion Catholic politicians head-on. "We are going to have to speak as firmly as possible to Catholic politicians who are not merely reluctant to vote pro-life, but are stridently anti-life," he said.
He also spoke of "canonical measures" such as excommunication, noting, "We have to have something like that. I cannot have the vice president-elect coming to Scranton saying he learned his values there, when his values, at least in the area of abortion, are utterly against the teachings of the Catholic Church."
Bishop Robert Conlon of Steubenville, Ohio agreed. "Some people may think it's time for a truce, but we're dealing with a moral absolute. There's nothing here that allows for common ground. We're talking about a human being whose life cannot be compromised."
Auxiliary Bishop Robert Hermann observed that the bishops should not be afraid of mere criticism for defending Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life, when any of them would be willing to give up their life to end abortion. "Any bishop here would be willing, would consider it a privilege, to die tomorrow if it meant ending abortion,” he said. “We should dedicate the rest of our lives to taking any kind of criticism, whatever it is, to stop this horrible genocide."
Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Chicago said that were Catholic hospitals forced to participate in abortion they would be closed down. "It could mean discontinuing obstetrics in our hospitals, and we may need to consider taking the drastic step of closing our catholic hospitals entirely. It would not be sufficient to withdraw our sponsorship or to sell them to someone who would perform abortions. That would be a morally unacceptable cooperation in evil. I do not think I'm being alarmist in considering such drastic steps. We need to respond in a morally appropriate, responsible fashion."
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