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Friday, March 6, 2009

Should Catholics who voted for Obama go to Confession?

Editor's note: This is a letter my friend Phoebe wrote to Fr. Coleman, who has a regular column in the Valley Catholic, the newspaper of the Diocese of San Jose, Calif. He was saying that he was against abortion but that Catholics who voted for President Obama had no need to go to confession. Phoebe said, "I was fighting mad, but I hope I managed to stay calm in the letter." She did an excellent job! Please read. Susan Fox

Dear Father Coleman,Thank you for your words in defense of the unborn in the February 17 issue. My prayer for Lent is that all of us-you, myself, American Catholics and all of God's people-will come to a greater understanding of the horror of abortion.I would like to propose to you some arguments that may allow us to broaden our comprehension of this difficult issue.How many non-combatants did Hitler kill? We will never know for sure, but some estimates go as high as 23 million.How many babies have died from surgical abortion in the U.S. since 1973? 50 million. (54 million as of 2013)

What kind of person believes that one person's life is more valuable than the next? The German Nazis believed that only the pure Aryan race, and only perfect specimens of that race, had a right to live. All others were slated for destruction. Hitler destroyed 300,000 people with disabilities. The news sources tell us that 90% of babies with Down's syndrome are now aborted in the U.S. When these figures are combined with babies aborted because of other types of genetic defects, we will no doubt soon surpass Hitler's 300,000 number.

What difference is there between the accomplishments of Hitler's killing and abortion in the US? None, except that we have killed more people. This comparison only breaks down if you believe that pre-born humans are not persons. May God help all of us realize that they are real, live human beings.Hitler clearly and openly stated his plans to eliminate Jews and others before he was elected by the German
people as head of state. Most voted for him for economic reasons, ignoring his intentions. Obama voted three times against measures to give medical treatment to babies born alive after botched abortions when he was in the Illinois state senate.

Obama also stated before the election that the first thing he would do as President would be to sign the Freedom of Choice act, which would overturn every federal, state, and local law passed against abortion in the past 35 years, including partial birth abortion law. There is no reason to doubt that he will do so if Congress sends him such a bill. He has already overturned the Mexico City policy by executive order to allow US funding for abortion oversees.

Why did some Catholics vote for this person? (52% of Catholics voted for Obama) Economic reasons? Other moral issues? What can be more important than life itself? Father, in your article on the Obama presidency you addressed the issue of whether "a Catholic who voted for Obama is under serious moral obligation to refrain from receiving Holy Communion until making a sincere confession for endorsing a candidate who supports abortion."

You quoted Pope Benedict XVI, writing as Cardinal Ratzinger in 2004 to the Catholic bishops: "A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate's permissive stand on abortion. When a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favor of abortion., but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons."

I do wonder what words of the Holy Father's the ellipsis represents, but that aside, I wonder what he would think of having his statement cited in support of assuring Catholic voters that they have no need to seek the sacrament of reconciliation for having voted for a candidate who is pro-abortion over a candidate with a strong pro-life record. 
Joseph Ratzinger suffered the trauma of living under the Nazi regime as a teenager, and has never expressed anything other than a horror of that ideology. Would it not be safer to assume that when he penned the phrase "proportionate reasons", he was thinking of something more along the lines of having to choose between two evil candidates, one of whom proposed killing adult citizens in concentration camps and killing babies with abortions, and another who merely proposed killing with abortion. In such a case, a Catholic would clearly be voting for the lesser of two evils, not in support of abortion.

The last presidential election did not supply us with "proportionate reasons" for voting for a pro-abortion candidate over a pro-life candidate. Over 4,000 Americans have been killed in Iraq to date, and over 31,000 wounded. As tragic as those figures are, they pale beside the approximately 1,370,000 abortions that take place annually in the US, almost 4,000 per day. Again, the only way this argument can be considered untrue is if you do not truly believe that unborn lives are just as valuable as your own.

May God help all of us realize that every unborn baby is His child, just as deserving of life as any one of us. Father, I do not want to presume to discuss the care of souls from the perspective of the clergy, but if I had a very close friend who was a Catholic and who had voted for Obama, I would consider it a very brave act of charity to urge her to examine her conscience, confess, and make a good act of contrition before receiving Holy Communion again. Anything less would be to not care about the good of her soul.

Phoebe Wise
Now that the damage is done, and we have an aggressively pro-abortion President in office, we need all Catholics, Obama supporters and long-time pro-lifers alike, to pray, to seek conversion of heart, and to do everything they possibly can to stand up for life. A wonderful opportunity exists here in San Jose with the Forty Days for Life prayer vigil at the Planned Parenthood on the Alameda during Lent.I urge everyone to check out their website at www.40daysforlife.com/sanjose
Sincerely, Phoebe Wise

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