Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Catholic stance against Kerry valid

Your voice: Vincent J. Schmithorst

"Your voice" columnist Gary Leising ("Don't twist politics around religion," Oct. 23) ridicules those Catholics like myself who insist that their faith prohibits a vote for John Kerry because of his position on abortion. Leising misrepresents our position and motives, sets up irrelevant straw men, and makes an illegitimate appeal to authority.

The issue is not whether the Catholic faith mandates a vote for President Bush, but whether it absolutely forbids one for Kerry because of his support for legal abortion on demand. We certainly do not consider Bush "the pro-life candidate." That is a straw man. Indeed, due to Bush's support for legalized abortion in the "hard-case" exceptions, a vote for Bush could be justified only under a "lesser of two evils" approach (which has, however, met with the church's approval).

Another issue is whether all pro-abortion Catholic politicians - Republicans or Democrats - should be denied communion. Many will be quick to use the excuse that one can't see inside the hearts of these politicians - but then have absolutely no hesitancy in judging us as being motivated merely by "politics."

However, these issues have been resolved by recent statements by the prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Josef Ratzinger. He has clearly stated that other issues such as the death penalty or application of just war doctrine, as serious as they are, do not rise to the same level of importance (termed a "proportionate reason") as abortion, and that pro-abortion Catholic politicians must be denied communion as they are objectively in the state of mortal sin. Leising illegitimately appeals to statements from the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, but this organ has no magisterial authority whatsoever, whereas the CDF does. The CDF clearly contradicts and overrules the USCCB's wish that Catholics vote on a "preponderance of issues."

And even such a "preponderance" fails to have quite the impact Leising would wish. Kerry, after all, voted for the war in Iraq. One searches in vain for a statement from the Kerry campaign that, if elected, he will immediately withdraw our troops from Iraq - or that no execution of federal prisoners will occur during his term.

Finally, we certainly agree with Leising in desiring a candidate who "will take care of all people" - including the more than 1 million unborn killed in their mothers' wombs each year.

Vincent J. Schmithorst is a research instructor in the Imaging Research Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

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