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Where Do We Go From Here?

When the U.S. bishops convened their annual meeting in November 2008, one of the top agenda items was abortion in light of the recent election. Francis Cardinal George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued a brief, mostly to-the-point statement on behalf of his brother bishops in anticipation of the pro-abortion presidency of Barack Obama.

It appears that the bishops learned their lesson from last year’s “Faithful Citizenship” debacle — for the most part. Not a few bishops would still prefer to soft sell the Church’s teaching against abortion: Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City, South Dakota, for example, warned that “a prophecy of denunciation quickly wears thin,” and that it is preferable to be seen as “caring pastors.” Archbishop Elden Curtiss of Omaha likewise counseled against “being deliberately divisive now, or creating divisions by our actions.” But where abortion is concerned, the battle lines have already been drawn.

Going against these equivocations, Cardinal George states plainly that “the fundamental good is life itself,” that “abortion is a medical procedure that kills,” and that Roe v. Wade was “bad law” that is in danger of being “enshrined in bad legislation” in the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). No hemming and hawing about weighing other, lesser concerns. Still, he couldn”t resist throwing a shout-out to those other, lesser concerns, saying of his brother bishops, “We want to continue our work for economic justice,” and the “reform [of] laws around immigration,” and “better education and adequate health care,” blah, blah, blah. C’mon, Your Eminence, stick to the topic!

Cardinal George warns against interpreting the election as a “referendum on abortion.” What, then, are we to make of the election of Obama, whom Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver has labeled “the most committed ‘abortion-rights’ presidential candidate of either majority party since the Roe v. Wade abortion decision in 1973″? Obama is a co-sponsor of FOCA, which would codify Roe v. Wade as federal law, eliminate all state restrictions on abortion, and mandate taxpayer funding of abortion. Obama pledged in a 2007 address to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund that “the first thing I will do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.” As is well known, Obama’s vice president is Joe Biden, a pro-abortion (Catholic) senator from Delaware.

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