According to historical record, Archimedes once said ‘Give me a lever long enough, and I can move the world’. In a recent essay, the Citizen wrote about a Catholic lever in the voting booth. Before Mass, after prayer, it is my wont to sit back and let my mind roam free – God has a way of giving the Catholic essayist some great ideas that way. And that quote sprung into my consciousness – and made me think of Catholics and levers in a new way.
Barak Obama won the presidency of the United States by a fairly slim popular vote. He fared very well in the Electoral College, taking a number of key states. He also managed to take a surprising majority of Catholic votes. The Citizen wonders how many states were tipped his way by this Catholic lever. And more – importantly – how did a pro-abortion President pull it off?
The Democratic Party recognized that a number of social issues that have roots in Christian thought – Catholic thought – fell under the umbrella of their party. After all, the Democratic Party has become a vast coalition of the secular fringe. All they had to do to woo Catholics is to find a way to convince voters that their platforms best reflected Catholic values. If they could do this, they would be able to apply the power of the Catholic lever to tip the nation into their lap. And they found a way to do this – the elections of 08 are proof.
What did they do? They convinced a number of Catholics that they are actually Protestants. I mean no disrespect towards any Protestant reader or their denomination, but there are a few significant differences between a Protestant and a Catholic. For Catholics, the Eucharist is a sacrament, a mystery at the core of our Faith. In our mass, it is the True Body and Blood of Christ. A Catholic also accepts obedience to the Magisterium as a condition of belonging to the Catholic Church. Adherence to the Catechism of the Catholic Church is the cornerstone of remaining in ‘Communion with the Holy See’. This presents a problem for the Democratic strategist. While the myriad of social issues – poverty, immigration, health care, civil rights, and a host of others are very important issues – there are a couple that the Church will not accept as equal. While the CCC condemns poverty and the other issues, there is one – and only one – issue that the Church is unequivocal about. And that 900 pound gorilla on our back is – life. Abortion, the taking of innocent life, is the only social issue that the CCC clearly states as a ‘deal-breaker.’ In order to wield the Catholic Lever, the Democrats had to find a way to make this policy disappear. And they did.
Secular groups, like the ACLU, worked assiduously to intimidate Catholic Bishops and Priests, warning them that speaking about abortion as an issue in an election would place their protected, non-profit status in jeopardy. And far too many of our clergy overreacted by not even teaching about the Catechism and the Church’s doctrine on life issues.
Intellectual, liberal, ‘cafeteria Catholics’ supported Obama and the Democratic Party by applying Rules for Radicals and liberation theology to shame the voter. When you have political leaders – Pelosi, Reid, Biden, Dodd – all preaching that ‘reducing the need for abortion’ is pro-life enough, many voters – ignorant of the Magisterium – are likely to believe them. The impact is magnified when the press downplayed the small handful of Bishops who attempted to use the media to explain the Catechism. Others, like Kmiec and the newly nominated Ambassador to the Holy See, Miguel Diaz, both ‘progressive thinking Catholics’, used their positions as Catholic theologians to intellectually justify liberation theology as a sufficient counterpoint to the doctrines of the Church. And it worked. The Democratic party shifted the fulcrum, changed the perception of what Catholic teachings truly are, and applied the Catholic Lever to help usher Barak Obama into the Oval Office.
In fact, they were so successful, I met a couple at our local 40 Days for Life vigil who proudly supported Obama. To see people protesting abortion advocating a candidate who had a 100% approval rating from NARAL was stunning. Joan Walsh, a columnist on Salon.com, proudly and loudly proclaimed that she was a ‘Pro-choice Catholic.’ Ms. Walsh, I am heartedly saddened to have to tell you that there is no such creature. You cannot be pro-abortion and a Catholic in Communion with the Holy See. It’s beyond oxymoronic. She either is ignorant of the Catechism or she doesn’t care. If it is the former, it is the responsibility of her Bishop to teach her. If it’s the latter, it is his responsibility to impose correction in other ways – including excommunication.
This, brothers and sisters, is the only tool that the Church has to regain control of the Catholic lever, the Catholic vote. And we should regain control of the bloc of Catholic voters. I – and many other people I have spoken or corresponded with – are doing our part. We are trying to educate and persuade our brethren in the role of Catholic faith and civic life. Our Bishops need to enforce doctrine by denying communion and – if warranted – excommunicating Catholics who publicly flout the Catechism.
Pruning a fruit tree is a traumatic experience for the tree. By lopping off limbs, you are diminishing it. A good gardener will tell you that pruning will eventually yield a stronger, healthier tree. A tree that produces better and more plentiful harvests. A tree that will someday grow larger, stronger, and more vibrant then if the shears had never been applied. We need to prune our Catholic Church in America. It will be painful, it may alienate some of those who dutifully sit in the pews every so often. But those who remain will be stronger. Those who remain will no longer feel their very own body torn by division. Those who remain will be the faithful. They will be energized. They will bear sweet fruit. And they will attract others who seek what we have.
The Catholic lever is a powerful tool. It is time that we took it back. It is time that the hands on this lever are ones that are in Communion with the Holy See. It is not only a civic obligation, it is a sacred duty.
God Bless you all!