December 8, 2008

WHOSE SIDE WERE YOU ON IN THE WAR, MR. KMIEC?:

OBAMA'S HOLY HELL (RAY KERRISON, December 8, 2008, NY Post)

FOCA means war.

The US bishops have always been united in their moral condemnation of abortion. But they have stopped short of flexing political muscle, evading a head-on confrontation. That may now change.

Obama's commitment to FOCA dominated their discussionsat their annual convention in Baltimore last month. Their president, Francis Cardinal George, warned that FOCA would destroy the freedom of conscience of doctors, nurses and health-care workers. "It would threaten Catholic healthcare institutions and Catholic Charities. It would be an evil law that would divide our country and the church should be intent on opposing evil."

Chicago's Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki went further. He said flatly that if the Obama administration attempted to force Catholic hospitals to provide abortions, they'd shut them down rather than comply.

"There are grave consequences," he said. "It would not be sufficient to sell them to someone who would perform abortions. That would be a morally unacceptable cooperation in evil."

With nearly 300 prelates in attendance, one after the other rose up to demand a tough, unequivocal response to FOCA and the new president.

"This is not a matter of political compromise or finding some common ground," said Bishop Daniel Conlon of Steuvenville, Ohio. "It's a matter of absolutes."

New York's Edward Cardinal Egan said, "We have one important thing to say and we should say it clearly."

The bishops have had it. They're moving into the trenches, which is most uncharacteristic of them. Said Catholic commentator, Christopher Manion: "The Baltimore meeting could be historic. We saw the rumblings of the giant stirring from his slumber."

Largely unspoken but lurking like a storm cloud over the discussions was the dread prospect of excommunication.

The American hierarchy has been sharply split for years over what to do with high-profile politicians who campaign on their Catholicism but support abortion policies contrary to church teaching. Everyone knows the culprits: Vice President-elect Joe Biden; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Sens. Ted Kennedy, Chris Dodd and Pat Leahy; Rep. Charlie Rangel, and many, many more.

But if FOCA becomes law, the Catholic politicians who vote "aye" or otherwise help pass it risk the ultimate penalty of the church.

Asked whether politicians voting for FOCA would incur automatic excommunication, Cardinal George refused to rule it out, saying: "The excommunication is automatic if that act is in fact formal cooperation and that is precisely what would have to be discussed once you see the terms of the act itself."

Put plainly, Catholic politicians can't "cooperate in evil" and escape penalty.

It is hard to imagine that an incoming president would declare war on the church, especially when 54 percent of its faithful voted for him. But he is convinced that a federal abortion law will end the national divisive debate over the practice. In fact, it will do the opposite.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 8, 2008 8:51 PM
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