National Catholic Register


2008: Joy and Pain

BY The Editors

January 4-10, 2009 Issue | Posted 12/19/08 at 3:19 PM


Tim Drake’s story on the election results summed up how so many felt about the election. “Black Pro-Lifers’ Joy and Pain” (Nov. 16-22) recounted the difficult tug of war of feelings black pro-lifers experienced in the wake of Barack Obama’s victory.

“There were many African-Americans who didn’t think we would see this in our lifetimes,” said pastor Arnold Culbreath, urban outreach director for Protecting Black Life in Cincinnati. “However,” he added, “abortion remains the leading cause of death in the black community. With President-elect Obama being as aggressively pro-abortion as he is, that makes our work more urgent and necessary.”

One the one hand, Obama’s election is, as Pope Benedict said, “historic.” On the other, if he keeps his campaign promises, that same election threatens the lives of countless unborn children. It was the conflicted end to a conflicted election season.

In John McCain, pro-lifers had a friend but not a champion. In Barack Obama, they had a man who was largely unknown and untested — but who had proved throughout his political career to be a legislative opponent of the right to life.

It was also a year when several Catholics reached the upper echelons of public life while turning their backs on the unborn, provoking the ire of bishops.

The Register reported on bishops cracking down on pro-abortion Catholic politicians. Tom McFeely wrote “Rebuking Rudy Giuliani: Cardinal Egan’s Teaching Moment After Giuliani’s Communion” in May. Charlie Spiering wrote “Archbishop Challenges ‘Roman Catholics for Obama’” in June. “Joe Biden and Communion” was our editorial for the issue dated Aug. 31-Sept. 6. Charlie Spiering’s article summed up vice-presidential candidate Joe “Biden’s Legacy” in the story’s subhead: “Catholic Votes With NARAL, Not Church.”

Biden and U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi complicated matters by going on national television to sow confusion about the right to life. We reported about it several times, including Robin Rohr’s “Teaching Moment: Pelosi and Biden Provoke Bishops on Life” (Sept. 21-27).

These politicians weren’t the only sources of confusion. Tom McFeely interviewed Douglas Kmiec about his endorsement of Obama, and McFeely got other Catholic leaders to weigh in. Along with his story, we published “A Response to Doug Kmiec” by Father Richard John Neuhaus.

Catholic campuses hosted pep rallies for pro-abortion candidates, and we exposed them in “Speaking Out: Clinton, Obama Appearances at Catholic Universities Spur Debate” by Anthony Flott in March and “Hook, Line and Sinker: Clinton’s Catholic College Pep Rallies” by Paul Kengor in April.

While always treating the right to life as the preeminent issue, our election coverage has focused on several other issues. We asked, “What can a preacher say about moral political issues?”

The editorial “McCain and Obama on ‘Catholic’ Issues” listed the candidates’ records on abortion, school choice, immigration and the Iraq War. Our election 2008 news coverage has included health care, torture, school choice, marriage, assisted suicide, the financial crisis, Down syndrome legislation, abstinence, the “newly needy,” and same-sex adoption.

Several of our articles were widely quoted. In “Buying the Catholic Vote?” Wayne Laugesen reported about George Soros: “Billionaire Bankrolls Dissenters in Election Campaigning” (Nov. 2-8). In “ACORN’s Collection Plate Money,” Jeff Gardner pointed out that “Group Sought New Voters in Swing States With Church Money” (Oct. 26-Nov. 1).

Finally, “Vote 2008: The Shepherds Speak” (Nov. 2-8) gave an overview of what bishops said about the election.

After the election, the Register has methodically put on the record each move the Obama team has made, giving you invaluable information about his pro-abortion team.