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Accountability for Religious Politicians

ve8QAd   |   July 01, 2007

The problem is as old as legalized abortion. Elected officials publicly espouse deeply held religious convictions of opposing or even hating abortion. Then, after getting to Washington, DC, the state capital or city counsel chambers, not only do they sing the praises of abortion-on-demand, but also vote exclusively anti-life on issues ranging from cloning to euthanasia.

This hypocritical lip service to abortion is a constant source of frustration for pro-life and religious leaders. For years they have sought to achieve accountability from pro-abortion politicians who profess to be dedicated to the faith.

The effort to hold politicians accountable appears to be escalating, especially in the Catholic community. I believe we are witnessing an unmistakable awakening of the Catholic church leadership – to the resounding enthusiasm of the average church-going parishioner -that pro-abortion votes are contrary to biblical teaching and they are a vile, moral affront to Catholic doctrine. This awakening has been a long time in coming and it’s reason for people of all faiths to rejoice.

I am one of many non-Catholics who welcome with open arms the more recent boldness and outspokenness of leaders of the Catholic church, in the US and around the world, on abortion and the life issues as it relates to Catholic elected officials. Let’s consider the evidence.

Pope Benedict XVI himself recently said that pro-abortion elected officials in Mexico City, by their vote to legalize abortion, have automatically excommunicated themselves and shouldn’t receive communion. He reinforced earlier remarks by Cardinal Norberto Rivera of Mexico City.

The world media were indignant this religious leader had the audacity to speak out on a controversial spiritual issue. Leading the charge against the Pontiff were 18 pro-abortion Catholic members of the House of Representatives, who said the Pope’s remarks did a great disservice to the church.

Two of America’s prominent Catholic pro-life leaders responded in a forceful and effective manner. Rev. Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International (HLI), said, “This is what the Catholic Church teaches and what Catholics believe. If [they] believe otherwise, honesty and integrity requires they find another church that tells them what they want to hear.” Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life responded to the gang of 18 by saying, “If they cannot muster the will to protect defenseless children, they should resign. We don’t need public servants who can’t tell the difference between serving the public and killing the public.”

Around the world, Catholic leaders have been emphasizing the importance of living one’s faith as an elected official. Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, archbishop of Westminster, England, told Catholic British politicians to bone up on the church’s teaching on life issues. This, he said, would help them make informed decisions with consistency and integrity. The not-so-subtle message is that, as professing Catholic politicians, you have no excuse to vote against your faith and innocent human life.

Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia said that Catholic politicians who vote for the cloning of human embryos are acting against the teaching of their church and should not go to communion.

But even before this global attention, pressure on pro-abortion Catholic politicians like Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy had begun to take on a more public face. Many recall one of the first American voices crying out in the wilderness. That voice was Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis who preached the importance of prioritizing the issues of abortion and euthanasia over other political considerations. He said what millions of faithful Catholics believe, that pro-abortion elected officials and candidates should refrain from taking communion. His message was clear – you can’t be pro-abortion and call yourself a good Catholic.

Archbishop Burke’s words still ring in the ears of Catholics and non-Catholics across this great nation. A growing number believe that abortion is the “line in the sand” for candidates who want to wear the mantle of faith.

But this momentum didn’t begin overnight. In large part it’s due to tireless pro-life leaders like Father Pavone and Janet Morana of Priests for Life, as well as other articulate and driven leaders like Father Euteneuer of HLI. Well done good and faithful servants!

The fruits of their labors should motivate all of us to double our efforts to protect unborn babies. The religious, non-Catholic community enjoys the dedication of leaders like Dr. James Dobson, Dr. D. James Kennedy and Dr. Richard Land. May others join them in an ongoing mission to hold our elected officials accountable to their Creator.

May all of us, regardless of religious affiliation, work harder to encourage our nation’s religious leaders to stand firm and speak out boldly for innocent human life. Without the church, our efforts to end abortion are doomed to fail. The abolitionists of long ago formed a strong and unparalleled partnership with the shepherds of America’s faithful. And like them, together we can end this modern-day holocaust called abortion.

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