Troubling Commentary

In the March 30 editor’s note responding to Debi Vinnedge’s comments on voting for McCain even though he supports human embryonic stem-cell research, you repeat a statement from a previous Register commentary that I find extremely troubling.

In listing the reasons why a person’s vote can become less and less tied to totally protecting the culture of life, you wrote, “Our obligation is to cast the vote that will do the least harm to the culture of life.” Perhaps that applies to your perception of what your obligation is, but it does not apply to everyone else’s.

Many moral theologians and laypeople like me believe that our obligation is to cast a vote that is in direct relationship to our duties as people of faith, which means we could not in good conscience vote for someone just because someone else tells us they suspect this person might do something for babies at some point down the road, whether that could be Supreme Court nominations or something else.

None of us has a crystal ball, but we all have the ability to decide for whom to cast a vote, not because the Register tells us what its perception of our moral obligations is, but because we know in our hearts that pro-life compromise leads nowhere. … It is a dead end.

As a 100% pro-life PAC’s political expert has written:

“Politics is not the shortcut to stopping the baby killing many seem to think it is. Moral conversion, usually through education or experience and the grace of God, is. If the voters do not isolate the issue and force the politicians to address it, they never will. By accepting the lesser of two evils route for so long, all we have succeeded in doing is making abortion a non-issue.”

Judie Brown, president

American Life League Inc.

Stafford, Virginia

Editor’s note: We thank the president of the American Life League for her letter on the difficult topic of what to do when faced with the choice of voting for imperfect legislation that nonetheless would decrease the prevalence of abortion. Happily, though, readers don’t have to rely on what “the Register tells us its perception of our moral obligation is” or on any “100% pro-life PAC’s political expert” who disagrees.

Pope John Paul II addressed this issue in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Value and Inviolability of Human Life). Though he explicitly addressed politicians, the prudential application of this directive to voters is evident.

“A particular problem of conscience can arise in cases where a legislative vote would be decisive for the passage of a more restrictive law, aimed at limiting the number of authorized abortions, in place of a more permissive law already passed or ready to be voted on. Such cases are not infrequent. … [W]hen it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well-known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.”

Abortion Trumps All Issues

In the article “Obama and Abortion” by Tom McFeely and in the editorial “Obama vs. Right to Life” (May 18), I recognize the writers’ zeal and passion for life because I have it in me, too.

My pro-life desire has been to eliminate violence, an inclusive term which extends to abortion. These past five years I have channeled some of my energies into speaking out to prevent a war with Iraq and now to ending that war.

So I am mystified when leaders of my Church imply that I should vote for a man who supports that war, obviously something I will not do.

We have graphically portrayed and described the act of abortion.

Perhaps if the bodies of soldiers dismembered by roadside bombs were more often photographed and described, the travesty of war would be more readily seen as a significant life issue. Thousands of our soldiers have been killed, tens of thousands of them wounded. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people have been killed and wounded.

We do not now nor have we ever had a truly pro-life president. Our presidential candidates have imperfect pro-life positions, so we must choose between flawed persons to be the next president of the United States. The pro-life issue of primary importance in this election is the ending of the war in Iraq.

Carol Nilles

Thiensville, Wisconsin

Editor’s Note: Bear with us, those who have seen us answer this point before.

The Register editorialized against the justice of the invasion of Iraq as early as September, 2002, and kept at it ever since. But the question of abortion is something different altogether. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, shortly before he became Pope Benedict XVI, put it in a letter to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick: “Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. … There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

Shedding Light on Obama

The editorial, “Obama vs. The Right to Life,” (May 18) is as accurate as it is important. It is astonishing that millions of Americans are kept in the dark about Sen. Barack Obama’s opposition to a bill that would protect the right of a baby who survived an abortion to medical treatment.

How can anyone be taken seriously about health care for all Americans when he would intentionally allow an innocent baby to go untreated and thrown away like garbage?

Support for infanticide is not merely immoral, it is Hitlerian. Many thanks to the Register. It has the courage, and the erudition, to speak the truth about controversial issues. It is truly a blessing for all Catholics.

William Donohue, president

Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

New York, New York

Standing Up for Life

In an otherwise excellent article, “Obama and Abortion” (May 18) by Tom McFeely, he ends with an incorrect conclusion.

David Carlin is quoted, “So I think if he (Sen. Obama) gets elected president, it’s going to be a very, very bad time for pro-life Catholics.”

While Obama’s election will undoubtedly create even more difficulty and obstacles for the army of pro-life workers around the world, we will keep on praying and working to save God’s created human lives and their mothers and fathers.

No, the real victims of Obama’s election will be the greatly expanded numbers of dead innocent unborn children, the increased numbers of dead innocent partially born children, and larger numbers of dead innocent completely born children, if somehow they survive their attempted murder.

But, how can Obama get elected if Catholics are serious about life and vote against his election? How can Catholics even consider voting for him?

Our Pope, successor to St. Peter, in Yankee Stadium emphatically said No to death.

Our bishops have said abortion is intrinsically evil and must never be supported.

The Catholic League slammed Obama’s “Catholic National Advisory Council” for its pro-death, anti-Catholic public positions. 

This election is a moment of truth for life in the United States. Thank you for printing the truth about the life and death issues facing us in November. Please remain steadfast on this topic. After life or death, what else really matters?

 Joseph Wildman

Claremont, California 

Colleges’ Identity Crisis

Regarding “Strong Language” (May 11):

Michael Novak hit the nail on the head. The Catholic identity of so many Catholic colleges can be vastly improved.

Pope Benedict XVI has called for a renewal. I think this message is particularly important for Catholic colleges. When the Church is in crisis, it goes back to its roots to find itself. As the Pope has indicated, academic freedom must be guided by the truth. Following the magisterium gives Catholic colleges more freedom, not less.

When I attended a Catholic college in the early ’60’s, it was truly Catholic. Thomistic philosophy was at the heart of the institution. The Catholic identity was woven into every aspect of student life. I realize now how valuable this was.

I think we need a strong Catholic identity at all educational levels as well as in the family and community. At one time Catholics reflected this in all their basic institutions. Catholics viewed themselves as part of the culture, but not in it.

Novak is right when he said “dissenters claim to be saving the Church from the teachings of the Pope by presenting a more updated version.” The truth is the dissenters get the opposite of what they want. Under the umbrella of academic freedom, the colleges have lost what made them unique — academic integrity guided by the truth.

I think the message of renewal espoused by the Holy Father is right on target. Traditional colleges are coming into existence as a reaction to the secularist tendencies of many Catholic colleges.

Let us hope and pray that Catholic colleges will find their true identity and provide the leadership for a robust renewal in the Church.

 Richard Sherrick

West Nanticoke, Pennsylvania

Donations Accepted

A number of generous Register readers have inquired as to how to help the Vietnamese orphanage for babies saved from abortion by Tong Phuoc Phuc (“Good Morning, Vietnamese Hero,” May 18). It’s complicated to get supplies to Vietnam, but tax-deductible monetary donations are warmly welcomed.

Make your check out to “Viet Catholic Charity” and mail it to:

Father John Nghi Tran

Our Lady of the Assumption Church

435 Berkeley Ave.

Claremont, CA 91711

Questions should be directed to Father Tran by e-mail at or phone at (909) 450-1535.