I am a practicing Roman Catholic, and will vote for Barack Obama for President of the United States. Not only will I vote for Senator Obama, I will do so gladly and with a clear conscience. The reasons are many. This lengthy post enumerate many of those reasons, providing ample links in support.
I accept the Roman Catholic teachings on the sanctity of human life and, to the degree the views of Senator Obama and the Democratic Party platform depart from Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life, I disagree with Senator Obama and the Democratic Party on their positions. I will work inside the party to change the positions of Senator Obama and the Democratic Party, and I will pray for change. I see my vote for Senator Obama as informed by my conscience to support a candidate not totally acceptable to Catholics but, who nonetheless poses a far lesser evil to the dignity and sanctity of life than a vote for Senator John McCain.
In my own life, I strive always to have compassion for those who disagree with me and seek to make a world where all children are recognized for the contribution they are to their families and the world, even before they are born. I will yet find a world where choice will mean whether one raises their child with the support necessary to allow the entire family to succeed, or a child will be placed for adoption by a family capable of the same love and compassion for that child that the parent or parents who placed the child for adoption showed.
The Republican Party, despite its claims to the contrary, does not promote the sanctity of life and cynically continues to attempt to manipulate voters of faith with false promises for votes, workers and cash while pursuing a radical neoconservative and corporatist agenda wholly inconsistent with a culture of life and Catholic values.
I live in Missouri, the Show Me State, and the GOP has controlled both chambers of the Legislature and has held the Governor’s office for four years. During the past four years, Democratic legislators efforts to pass an outright ban on abortions have been stalled in a GOP run House committee or ruled “not germane” by the current GOP Nominee for Missouri Attorney General, Michael Gibbons.
Regarding Roe v. Wade, John McCain once said: “I’d love to see the point where [Roe v. Wade] is irrelevant, and could be replaced because abortion is no longer necessary. But, certainly in the short term, or even in the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would force X number of women in America to undergo illegal and dangerous operations.” John McCain has also once said that if his own daughter were to have an unwanted pregnancy that he believed the decision on how to handle it would be made in the family. John McCain has not introduced any proposed constitutional amendments to ban abortions.
When the Republicans controlled the US House of Representatives, there was not a single vote on any constitutional amendment supported by the Republican majority to outlaw abortion.
When the Republicans controlled the US Senate, there was not a single vote on any constitutional amendment supported by the Republican majority to outlaw abortion.
While George W. Bush has been a “pro-life Republican” he has not sent over to the House or Senate for their consideration any proposed constitutional amendment to ban abortions.
While the former GOP majorities in the House and Senate were not the ¾ necessary to send an amendment to the states, we did see GOP support for and a vote on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages (that amendment failed to get ¾ of the votes for passage, to allow it to go to the states just before an election). If the GOP truly supported a culture of life and a constitutional amendment to outlaw abortions and wanted to capitalize on a vote just before an election, why didn’t they attempt to vote to outlaw abortion? I’m sure Karl Rove counted the votes and knew he didn’t even have a GOP majority support for any constitutional amendment to outlaw abortions, much less ¾ of either the US House or Senate.
The Catholic Church opposes the use of embryonic stem cells for research. Senator John McCain twice voted to expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, contrary to Church teaching.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says torture is “a grave sin which violates the Fifth Commandment.” Pope John Paul II in his encyclical, Veritatis Splendor, called torture “intrinsically evil.” (See Paragraphs 2269; 2297-8). The prevention of torture had been an issue of great concern to Senator John McCain in the past. But, early in 2008, Senator McCain voted against legislation which extended to the CIA a ban on torture as defined in the Army Field Manual. Senator McCain’s vote against the bill and his support of a veto by President Bush when it narrowly passed will allow the CIA to use stress positions, hypothermia, threats to the detainee and his family, severe sleep deprivation and severe sensory deprivation. Senator McCain had said about sleep deprivation that it’s not a joke and referred to a fellow POW and supporter Orson G. Swindle as having suffered from it. The US House failed to override Bush’s veto because the Republicans voted with the President. Because of the GOP and Mr. McCain’s support for torture, it is now a part of US policy.
Pope John Paul II had said that the US going to war against Iraq was “…a defeat for humanity which could not be morally or legally justified.”
While still a cardinal, Pope Benedict said:
”The Holy Father’s judgment is also convincing from the rational point of view: There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. To say nothing of the fact that, given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a ’just war.’”
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said the invasion of Iraq did not “meet the strict conditions of Catholic teaching for the use of military force.” Roman Catholic teaching is that while a government may have the power to impose the death penalty, it should refrain from doing so on moral grounds and the possibility of salvation for the person who committed the crime. (See Number 56, Paragraph 2).
Senator McCain and the GOP have used the war in Iraq as the chief issue in their campaign because somehow Senator McCain being a former POW makes him an expert on foreign policy.
The Bush administration, in Texas and Washington, D.C., supported execution of the mentally retarded and the execution of children, barbaric practices later outlawed by the US Supreme Court. Senator John McCain supports broadening the death penalty under federal statutes.
The American Catholic Catechism for Adults says: “God will provide the mercy and healing that couples need to sustain their marriages.” Yet Captain John McCain returned to the US from Vietnam to find a wife who had been seriously crippled in a terrible car accident. Carol McCain had taken care of the family’s children while her husband was a POW, and upon her husband’s return she was repaid with infidelity, ending in a divorce and Mr. McCain’s marriage to an Arizona beer heiress with vast wealth and even better political connections to support him in a bid for Congress, and beyond.
Pope John XXIII, in his encyclical, Peace on Earth, listed healthcare as among those basic human rights which flow from the sanctity and dignity of human life. (See Paragraph 11). Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical, On Human Work, focused on availability and affordability of health care for workers.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops listed their chief concerns in Health and Health care as:
Respect for Life, whether it preserves and enhances life from conception to natural death, and;
Priority Concern for the Poor, whether it gives special priority to health care needs of the poor, ensuring their health care is quality health care, and;
Universal Access to Comprehensive Benefits, whether the plan is sufficient to maintain and promote good health, and;
Preserving Common Good and Preserving Plurality, whether the plan respects the general good and the differences we may have in how we deliver care based upon our individual values.
The GOP has caused massive cuts in the Medicare Program in the form of future budget restrictions for care to be delivered to the poor, elderly, disabled, unborn and the young. The States responded with their own cuts in Medicaid which in Missouri alone have resulted in nearly 400,000 losing access to or having reduced health care benefits. When Democratic legislators in Missouri’s House attempted to restrain Medicaid cuts if they resulted in more abortions, the GOP voted the proposal down (including the votes of all GOP members currently serving from the area of the Archdiocese of St. Louis).
Recently, the Democratic Congress attempted to re-authorize and expand health care access for children under the SCHIP program, which President Bush vetoed and the GOP and Senator McCain supported the veto, an override attempt in the US House failed on a basically party line vote.
The Missouri Catholic Conference was ignored by the Missouri GOP and the USCCB were ignored by the GOP and Senator McCain. The USCCB supported the recent increase in the federal minimum wage because, while still not a “living wage,” it was more so than the previous minimum wage under federal law. The Bishops supported the increase in the federal minimum wage because it also would positively affect 8.2 million of low wage workers with the increase overwhelmingly benefiting women, minorities and the poor.
Between 1996 and 2008, Republican John McCain voted no fewer than 8 times against a federal minimum wage increase. Some reports say McCain voted as many as 19 times against increasing the minimum wage, before he voted for it.
It was only after Senator McCain and the GOP lost a filibuster vote to keep the full US Senate from voting on a federal minimum wage increase that John McCain finally cast his vote to help women, minorities and the poor.
The USCCB and other Interfaith Leaders have called for comprehensive immigration reform, and supported the concept of Senator McCain’s own bill, the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Control Act, among others. The Church leaders embraced comprehensive immigration reform as originally proposed by Senator McCain because it’s “impact upon the basic human dignity and human life that we believe immigration is, first and foremost, a moral issue.” And that “[c]hanging the status quo is an issue of moral gravity.” Senator Obama co-sponsored Senator McCain’s original immigration reform legislation.
Senator McCain now says he would not even vote for his own bill, nor would he sign it into law should it be passed if Mr. McCain were elected President of the United States. Or would he?
The USCCB has said in, Economic Justice for All, that “economic decisions have human consequences and moral content; they help or hurt people, strengthen or weaken family life, advance or diminish the quality of justice in our land.” The Bishops also said; “Followers of Christ must avoid a tragic separation between faith and everyday life.”
On the economy, Senator John McCain told the Boston Globe that; “The issue of economics is something that I’ve really never understood as well as I should.” On the economy, Senator McCain has also said:
“Even if the economy is the, quote, No.1 issue, the real issue will remain America’s security. And if they decide to say ‘Look, I do not need this guy because he’s not as good on home mortgages’ or whatever it is, I understand about that, I will accept that verdict. I am running because the transcendental challenge of the 21st century, which is radical Islamic extremism.”
Apparently Mr. McCain believes you can deal with your own admitted ignorance of an issue by defining it out of existence. Karl Rove must be really proud of that tactic. Senator McCain has said; “I don’t believe we are headed into a recession. I believe the fundamentals of this economy are strong and I believe they will remain strong.”
GOP nominee McCain supports mortgage relief only for those which “deserve” relief while supporting bailouts for all lenders and securities holders. Mr. McCain’s campaign co-chair and economic advisor, former Texas Senator Phil Gramm, recently called Americans a “nation of whiners.” Mr. Gramm then resigned from Mr. McCain’s campaign to resume his lucrative consulting business.
GOP nominee McCain supports new and additional tax breaks for corporations which will cost additional billions, add to the GOP made record national debt and prevent other essential social and educational spending for the foreseeable future because of massive debts and debt payments. Rather than direct billions money to repair a crippled American transportation or educational infrastructure, McCain gives even more “benefits to the most fortunate among us.”
All the while, John McCain’s TV ads pound away at Mr. Obama about taxes, and the ads are filled with distortions, some say lies, about Mr. Obama’s tax plans.
GOP nominee McCain supports taxing employer-paid premiums for healthcare as part of his and the GOP’s plan to eliminate employer provided health benefits and replace them with costly high deductible health savings account plans which will do nothing for the 47 million uninsured Americans.
And where will the money taken from the middle class go after it is taxed from our paychecks? Mr. McCain just took over $1,330,000.00 from Big Oil to fund his campaign.
In 2001, Senator John McCain said of President Bush’s tax legislation; “I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us at the expense of middle class Americans who need tax relief.” Senator McCain voted against the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax legislation.
In 2008 as the presumptive GOP nominee Senator McCain has lost his “good conscience” and concern for the “middle class Americans who need tax relief” and supports making the Bush plan permanent, adding hundreds of billions to the already out of control GOP budget deficits.
In an April, 2008 address to the United Nations Pope Benedict XVI discussed many issues, including the environment;
[Q]uestions of protection of the environment…of resources and of the climate require all international leaders to act jointly and to show a readiness to work in good faith, respecting the law, and promoting solidarity with the weakest regions of the planet.
Likewise Pope Benedict said before the United Nations that;
[I]nternational action to preserve the environment and to protect various forms of life on earth must not only guarantee a rational use of technology and science but must also rediscover the authentic image of creation. This never requires a choice to be made between science and ethics: rather it is a question of adopting a scientific method that is truly respectful of ethical imperatives.
The Pope has recently urged bishops, scientists and politicians to “respect creation” while “focusing on the needs of sustainable development.” (See also here.)
GOP nominee Senator John McCain previously voted to prevent oil exploration and drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR). Now Mr. McCain says we have to drill offshore and in the Outer Continental Shelf in order to bring down the cost of gas. Since these areas have limited proven resources, and will not come on line for many years, such action is outweighed by the potential impact upon the environment or may not be necessary if the US immediately adopts conservation policies which result in less gas or oil use, reduce demand and therefore reduce prices at the pumps and food store registers.
In June, 2008, US drivers drove billions fewer miles than June 2007, and the August 2008 price of gas in Missouri where I live has fallen from over $4.00 a gallon to $3.22 per gallon.
Senators John McCain and Lieberman introduced a bill to “cap and trade” carbon emissions but, the bill is far less comprehensive than one co-sponsored by Senators Obama and Clinton, and Mr. McCain refuses to support any bill restricting carbon emissions unless it includes billions in subsidies and tax breaks for the nuclear power industry.
Senator John McCain supports efforts to stop global climate change but, refuses to take any action until China and India likewise adopt some emissions limits. This is the Bush administration position.
In 2000, Senator John McCain harshly criticized candidate George W. Bush as pandering to “agents of intolerance” for Bush’s efforts to secure votes and support from the extreme religious right.
In 2008, Mr. McCain has sought out, obtained and (despite strong criticism from leading Catholics) still publicly rejoices in receiving the endorsement of Pastor John Hagee. Pastor Hagee has declared that; “As a nation, America is under the curse of God, even now.”
Despite the fact that over the past 30 years, Pastor Hagee has called the Roman Catholic Church “an apostate church,” “the great whore,” the “Whore of Babylon,” a “false cult system,” the “anti christ” and blames Catholics for the Holocaust, Mr. McCain keeps telling the public he’s glad to have Pastor Hagee’s endorsement, and refuses to repudiate Pastor Hagee for his anti-Catholic bigotry.
McCain also sought and received the support of Ron Parsley, another far right religious who is a virulent anti-Muslim, and who remains McCain’s “spiritual adviser.”
Mr. McCain knows Pastor Hagee is an anti-Catholic bigot. Mr. McCain goes and asks for and gets the anti-Catholic bigot’s endorsement. Mr. McCain is proud of getting and widely publicizes getting the anti-Catholic bigot’s endorsement. Now, Mr. McCain wants Catholics to vote for him for President in 2008. Of all the reasons I oppose John McCain, his willingness to accede to intolerance and bigotry for the money and the votes of far right evangelicals is near the top of the list. There is no integrity in the John McCain of 2008.
I will not vote for John McCain for President. Mr. McCain’s strict lockstep adherence to the Karl Rove School of extremist politics and adherence to the GOP line which fails to support a culture of life and Catholic values should keep any Catholic voter from voting for John McCain for President.
I strongly urge my fellow Catholics to vote for Barack Obama for President of the United States.
About the Author (Author Profile)imothy E. Hogan is a trial attorney, a husband, a father of two awesome children and a practicing Roman Catholic in St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Hogan has done legal and political work in Jefferson City, Missouri for partisan and non-partisan social change, environmental and consumer protection groups. Mr. Hogan has also worked for consumer advocate Ralph Nader in Washington, DC and the members of the trial bar in the State of New York. Mr. Hogan’s current interests involve remaining a full time solo practitioner pioneer on the frontiers of justice in America, a good husband and a good father to his awesome children.
Sites That Link to this Post
- My Cousin the Saint | Justin Catanoso » Blog Archive » Obama and the Catholic vote | September 8, 2008
- Links for September 8 2008 « Pixie Links | October 30, 2008
- Catholic McCain Voters Are Going To Hell! | Dangerous Intersection | November 15, 2008