Divided on abortion

Well, it is that time again. As specified by the U.S. Constitution, this country will elect a new president, 33 senators and 435 members of Congress on the first Tuesday following the first Monday of November.

I began to research the Senate campaigns, and I was struck by the number of candidates who list themselves as Catholics, many of whom attended Catholic schools, but who state that they support legislation and policies enabling abortion.

It is nothing new, sad to say. This dichotomy has been in place as long as abortion on demand has been legal in this country.

Our situation is bad enough in this country, but it becomes a vastly larger problem when the matter is viewed worldwide.

For example, last fall, Canada elected a new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, a charismatic, eloquent, young and popular son of a previous legendary head of government. He descends from generations of Catholics in Quebec, identifies himself as a Catholic, was married to a Catholic in a Catholic ceremony, and they are rearing their children as Catholics.

If you think any of our politicians is aggressively liberal when it comes to the social-moral questions, check Prime Minister Trudeau’s record. At the time of the election last year, he said that no one who opposed abortion should be allowed to run for Parliament on his ticket.

The new Canadian prime minister is hardly the only public figure in the world in this category. A very heavy majority of Belgium’s parliament is Catholic, yet this parliament legalized abortion and recently it allowed euthanasia.

I could go on and on. The main point is the circumstance in America is repeated again and again and again around the world.

Over the years, Our Sunday Visitor has received hundreds of letters about “the bishops,” meaning American bishops, and all the letters chastise the leaders of our Church in this country for not disciplining politicians who profess that they are Catholics but not only tolerate but abet abortion. Look at the broader picture.

The bishops very strongly told U.S. colleges and universities not to honor in any way any public leader who falls within this classification. The University of Notre Dame received much publicity in 2009 when it granted an honorary degree to President Barack Obama, and this year when it conferred its Laetare Medal on Vice President Joe Biden. (Obama is not a Catholic. Biden is a Catholic. Both support legalized abortion).

Notre Dame, however, by no means is the only school with a Catholic background to ignore the bishops. Check the honors being granted this year in this country.

These Catholic politicians, in this country, in Canada, in Belgium and in so many other places, attain authority by one device. People, including many Catholics, elect them. It exposes an ugly little secret. Very many Catholics desert the Church on this issue.

Here at home, if Catholic popular opinion were strong and united in opposing abortion, these universities that depend so much on donations from Catholics would not dare to put themselves at odds with the bishops. If Catholics were together in Canada, or Belgium, or elsewhere, politicians would change overnight.

So many Catholics are locked in that politically correct tactic of “live and let live.”

Another important fact is that Church law does not give bishops utterly unrestricted power when it comes to disciplining members of the Church.

Being Catholic but accepting abortion will change when all Catholics, anywhere, stand with the Church.

Msgr. Owen F. Campion is OSV’s associate publisher.