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Tuesday, September 30, 2008



"Go figure." ?!?!

You seem not to be taking seriously the argument of Cafardi (or Kmiec). Their whole point is that combating abortion should not be reduced to an overturning of Roe v. Wade, in fact that the Republican obsession with regard to this strategy has allowed grossly immoral policies to become acceptable for Catholics and confused voters about what it actually means to be morally against abortion. So why on earth would you quote Obama's support of Roe v. Wade as if that's any sort of argument against Cafardi or Kmiec? You're simply making yourself an example of their point, rather than addressing it or presenting a coherent response to it. They've already cited Obama's unfortunate support of Roe v. Wade, that is, and have pointed out why this is not an adequate litmus test on the moral question of abortion. You can't just cite the same policy stance as if it contradicts their point! It doesn't!


I think it is presumptuous for anyone to suggest that pro-life Catholics, as a group, are naive enough to think that victory over Roe v Wade amounts to a panacea and the end of our troubles. However, Cafardi, as accomplished as he seems to be, seems to miss the fundamental point of the importance of witnessing to what is true and against what is not.

No Catholic can vote for Obama. It's not a mistake to assert that we have a duty to witness against anyone who wants to enshrine the right to murder innocent children. Cafardi, nor anyone else, is one to look to if that person says, "We have lost the abortion battle -- permanently." What a woeful lack of faith and hope!

I challenge Cafardi to provide convincing evidence where the Church condemns those who argue for the justness of the Irag war. Until then, which I do not anticipate, the Iraq war, as a war, independent of any particular evils committed, is not an intrinsic evil, as far as I know. If it is, I don't I don't think it is at all clear. A Catholic who supports the war is not automically in sin, to my knowledge. Every informed person knows that Catholics can disagree about whether it is just or unjust and remain a good Catholic. Not so with abortion. It is rather embarrassing to have an apparently accomplished person make such a fundamentally wrong point. However, I will eat my words if someone shows me otherwise.

Ignoring the poor? That is so vague as to be meaningless.

No, in the world in which we live, being pro-choice is not different from being pro-abortion. You may be active or you may be passive about it. Being pro-choice means you support the position of murdering a child, a real human being. It does not matter what your reasons are for doing so. You support it! No Catholic can do that, and all the theoretical possibilities in the world for some changed circumstances that make it more comfortable for someone not to murder, do not trump that false world view.

Mark Brumley

You seem not to be taking seriously the argument of Cafardi (or Kmiec).

I think it is self-evident that he does not take the argument of Cafardi (or Kmiec) seriously.

Rather than engage the various illogical and unsubstantiated assertions of Mr. Cafardi, it seems that Mr. Olson thinks that there is a fundamental link between the national state's approval of abortion rights under Roe vs. Wade and the number of abortions that occur. He apparently thinks fairly straightforward the idea that staunch support for Roe v. Wade by the President of the United States would, all other things being equal, tend to make it harder to get the Supreme Court justices necessary to overturn Roe and that, as indicated above, maintaining Roe tends to encourage more abortions than would occur if Roe were overturned.

What's more, apparently Mr. Olson thinks that it is an extremely grave evil that the national state would designate as a right to be protected by the police power of the state the action of killing millions of unborn children each year, when the state should be protecting their lives. Apparently, Mr. Olson thinks that such a grave evil would, in the practical order, be difficult to counter-balance with a proportionately grave state-endorsed evil, such that candidate A who vigorously supported abortion rights would certainly be the better recipient of Mr. Olson's support than candidate B who opposed abortion rights.

Apparently, Mr. Olson thinks that it more likely, all other things being equal, that fewer abortions will occur when states have the ability to outlaw the practice than are likely to occur when the states are obliged to protect abortion as a fundamental right sanctioned by the national government and maintained by the police power of the state.

But perhaps Mr. Olson has something else entirely in mind.

Dr John James

I am an Australian but I'm amazed that anyone suggests that you can be "opposed to abortion" yet publicly support the legislative regime that allows the unborn to be killed. Sure, there are other aspects to promoting a culture that values both mother and child, eg pregnancy support, but this 'Catholics for Obama' campaign is Orwellian in its doublespeak

Mark Brumley

Their whole point is that combating abortion should not be reduced to an overturning of Roe v. Wade

Of course if that is "their whole point" it is a point shared by Mr. Olson. BTW, to say that overturning Roe is important to reducing substantially the number of abortions--as most prolife advocates would say--is not to say that it is the only thing that is important in order to achieve that goal. I don't think I know personally any prolife advocate who thinks that.

They've already cited Obama's unfortunate support of Roe v. Wade, that is, and have pointed out why this is not an adequate litmus test on the moral question of abortion

So you say. They may have claimed to have pointed out why support for Roe is not an adequate litmus test on the moral question of abortion. But they have not demonstrated it. Indeed, they cannot do so, because support for Roe is itself objectively gravely immoral and is part of the immorality of the issue of abortion.

It is objective gravely immoral to support the proposition that the state should protect as a right the license of women to kill their unborn children, just as it would be objectively gravely immoral to hold that the state has the obligation to uphold the right of white people to choose to kill black people because of the latter's race. In that case, whether the person making such a claim about the state himself thinks whites should choose to kill blacks because of their race, would not be relevant to the question of whether such a person was endorsing an objectly gravely sinful position by insisting on the state's obligation to uphold such a "right to choose".


I agree with Evan.

In fact, I think we should go a step further and repeal all laws which criminalize rape, incest, and murder. Instead, we should focus on electing candidates who will rearrange society in such a way as to make rape, incest, and murder less "necessary" and desirable to their perpetrators to begin with.

Hey, you know what? Maybe we should also repeal the 13th amendment, and instead focus on making slavery less desirable for would-be slave owners.

Heck, why stop there? Maybe Hitler had the right idea! After all, anti-Semitism is intrinsically evil. But rather than circumvent and challenge Nazi anti-Semitic measures, perhaps what the German resistance should have focused its efforts on was keeping the Nazis in power. After all, their extermination of the Jews, if allowed to reach full fruition, would have resulted in the complete annihilation of anti-Semitism! You can't hate a group of people who are extinct, can you?


In all seriousness, there is nothing in the Republican platform which Catholic social teaching considers intrinsically evil.

I don't know of a single bishop, not even the most liberal, who have told politicians to abstain from Communion because of their policy judgments on illegal immigration, welfare, economics, etc. Or for their support for capital punishment and the Iraq War*, for that matter.

*The single exception, to my knowledge, was the Bishop of the Romanian Catholic Church in America, who did in fact forbid his Catholics from taking part in the war, under pain of mortal sin. This ban is still in effect for Catholics belonging to the Romanian Church and living in the United States . . .


The slippery slope insideously makes headway among the Catholic rank and file. What convuluted thought processes so many suffer.

Carl E. Olson

But perhaps Mr. Olson has something else entirely in mind.

Nope, I didn't. You've read my mind perfectly. And have expressed it more clearly than I usually do.


Even if one were to suspend, as Kmiec and Cafardi wish to do, the clear and unequivocal teaching of the Church on intrinsic evil, and try to construct a proportional argument, they need first to defend some presumptions that are not in evidence.
In the larger philosophical picture they need to defend Marxism as a force for the ultimate good of the poor. In the immediate term they need to demonstrate how parasitic socialism on a free-market economy (or an approximation of a free market since the New Deal) is in the final analysis good for the poor, particularly as we have a classic case study right before us in the Fannie and Freddie debacle, a crisis brought about by federal mandates on the lending policies of private banks, totally ignoring free-market lending criterion such as ability to re-pay. They need to show how killing the goose or bleeding her to death is in the long-term interest of any American, rich or poor.
They need to demonstrate how radically different the results would be on withdrawal from Iraq specifically, between the candidates, when that process has already been given the much demanded time-table through negotiation with Iraq’s government. They need to demonstrate how radically different the response in principle would be between the parties and candidates to any naked aggression or attack from another nation or entity. And if lacking substantive evidence, they need to show the history of the parties and presidents in taking America to war and getting America out of war, and show where one is the party of peace and the other the party of war.
In the case of civil rights they would need to demonstrate which party over the other has been the party that clearly has a history of enacting laws in the defense of minorities, and which one had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the era of desegregation and equal rights.
And ultimately they would need to demonstrate how Saul Alinsky radicalism and Resko style condemned housing is good for the poor, and somehow accomplishes the goals of Catholic social teaching.


What utter nonsense! How sickening, moral relativism at its brightest. Just another phony, intellectual, scholarly lawyer or is it (lieyer) that clearly shows that no amount of education can give a person common sense. I'm no lawyer or doctor and I get that LIFE is the most important issue, it is the very foundation of all other rights. As long as we have laws that allow for the killing of the most helpless, innocent, and least of us to be killed we shouldn't complain about wars or the death penalty. If life has already lost its value at its very foundation it doesn't have much value at all for the murderer at any stage. Murder should never be a private right, enough is enough. Jesus said to help the poor but he also said the poor would always be with us. NO Way, No How, NOBAMA!!

Mary Ellen

I continue to be baffled at the mass projection of Obama as healer. Why anyone would take seriously a person who lies about his name, his family, his birth circumstances, his church affiliation, his connection to William Ayers ("just a guy in the neighborhood"), who, in fact, he worked with extensively on leftist community organizing. And, it is becoming clear that Obama is more than slightly connected with the current financial meltdown through a)his community organizing friends who pushed Clinton to use the Community Redevelopment Act to initiate the subprime monster, and by his affiliations with, and massive financial support from Fannie Mae and Countrywide, who are most implicit in the current nightmare. And then there is Obama's thin resume. I do not know any business that would consider this resume to support his candidacy for an executive job, let alone chief executive of our country! What in his record leads any one to believe that he can achieve anything substantive, his speeches? What about track record? Obama's record on abortion reflects that he supports infanticide not abortion. Scholars for Obama should sit in on any of the hundreds of post abortion recovery meetings and get a sense of the reality of the incredible damaging consequences of abortion to babies, mothers and extended families, and come out of the mists and bliss of Obama land. I believe in calling things by their right name. Pro Abortion is Pro Death. It effects everyone, including the society that is being severely limited in expansion and creativity to allow for narscissistic individuals to have their fun and move on.


"It is objective gravely immoral to support the proposition that the state should protect as a right the license of women to kill their unborn children, just as it would be objectively gravely immoral to hold that the state has the obligation to uphold the right of white people to choose to kill black people because of the latter's race."

I would agree with this. And I would happily support legislation or court decisions that offer a contrary proposition- I would do so in blatant opposition to a possible president Obama. But in Kmiec's and Cafardi's support of Obama as president, they are not articulating a support for such propositions that you mention. They make very clear where they disagree with Obama, and they support him as a candidate rather than as a proposition.

This isn't Orwellian doublespeak or faulty reasoning. What is faulty is the unjustified reducing of a person such as Obama to a proposition such as the pro-choice stance, quite to the contrary of an appropriate Catholic personalism that should underwrite any robust understanding of life's sanctity.

A referendum vote for pro-choice legislation cannot be conflated with a vote for a moral agent like Barack Obama; the two quite simply operate on two different levels of moral action. And this isn't sufficient argument for supporting Obama, but I would be bold enough to assert that it is sufficient argument against the reasoning that many posters here are employing to describe a vote for a pro-choice candidate as itself an intrinsic evil.

Mr. Olsen, with all due respect, Kmiec and Cafardi only "need" to clarify any of the points you mention if it is clear that not only abortion is an intrinsic evil, nor even that the failure of a state to criminalize abortion is an intrinsic evil, but that a vote for a candidate who supports pro-choice legislation made not because of the candidate's pro-choice position but rather for other issues... that such an action is an intrinsic evil.

The above convoluted sentence is not my own, so don't blame me (or Kmiec, or Cafardi) for obfuscating the issue. This is the moral architecture that you try to bungle together in your criticism of Kmiec and Cafardi, and you do so with no careful analysis of the progression of moral action that takes place at each stage.

Carl E. Olson

As time is not on my side today (I have to leave shortly to give a talk three hours away), I'll point you to a timely and excellent post by Amy Welborn, titled "Straw Everywhere," which points out some of the serious problems with the arguments made by Kmiec, Cafardi, and Co.


First, I should correct a previous comment where I attributed LJ's post (about what Kmiec and Cafardi "need" to do) to Olson. I was confused by the placement of the author line.

Carl, thanks for linking Welborn's post. I think it does a great job deconstructing a common straw-man argument made by people who are pro-life and support a candidate like Obama, and I think she's right. It doesn't, however, make the argument that posters are making here- that a vote for a pro-choice candidate ties one to the intrinsic evil of abortion or even of the pro-choice stance regarding abortion. I'm therefore happy to agree with what Amy has said, but find it somewhat beside the present point. It may even be an appropriate argument against certain points that Kmiec or Cafardi have made, but it is beside the present question about whether a vote for a pro-choice candidate is in and as itself morally indefensible.

Mark Brumley

Overturning Roe, either by the Supreme Court or in effect by a constitutional amendment, is necessary but not sufficient for eliminating or virtually eliminating abortion in the United States. Overturning Roe or trumping it by constitutional amendment is necessary to eliminate the gross evil and injustice of government backing in law the killing of a whole class of human beings (the unborn) at the discretion of another group of human beings (their mothers) with the aid of the medical community, whose members' activities are regulated by the state.

Voting for a proabortion rights candidate, such as a supporter of Roe, is objectively morally wrong unless the alternative candidates or candidates are equally unacceptable or more unacceptable, those quantifications including their support for evils equally or more grave. A candidate who supports the national government endorsing, contrary to its fundamental purpose of existence, a million acts of homicide of unborn children a year would have to have some very serious competition in the grand-moral-evil-sponsored-by-the-state department to be the legitimate recipient of a Catholic's vote on the basis of the principle allowing material cooperation in evil for a proportionate reason.

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