WASHINGTON, D.C., August 17, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The leader of the Knights of Columbus has said Catholic politicians should follow the Catholic Church’s teachings or resign from office.
In an op-ed for The Hill, KofC Supreme Knight Carl Anderson begins by citing the common argument by pro-abortion politicians that they may wall off their public and private morality into separate, hermetically sealed compartments:
This line of reasoning got its start from the late New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, in a speech at Notre Dame in 1984. He said: “As a Catholic I accept the church’s teaching authority…I accept the bishops’ position that abortion is to be avoided.”
Of course, that’s not the Catholic position, much less the unbroken, undeviating teaching of the Christian Church through two millennia. The Church Fathers have condemned abortion going back to the apostolic era. Within his own lifetime, the Second Vatican Council’s “Gaudium et Spes” stated that “abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes,” classifying them as “infamies,” “poison,” and “supreme dishonor to the Creator.” The bishops quoted this in a 1968 document.
Cuomo went on to say, “The values derived from religious belief will not – and should not – be accepted as part of the public morality unless they are shared by the pluralistic community at large, by consensus.”
That’s not exactly “the bishops’ position,” either. Ten years before Cuomo’s speech, a Vatican document on procured abortion said, “[O]ne can never claim freedom of opinion as a pretext for attacking the rights of others, most especially the right to life.”
Anderson critiques Cuomo, Tim Kaine, et. al., for agreeing to preside over a policy they believe is unjust and murderous:
First, these politicians concede that abortion “destroys” a human life. Then they say they don’t want to impose that view on others.
Just how does that logic work? On what other issue could a government official allow something to continue that they agree directly kills the innocent on a massive scale? … The irony is that these Catholic politicians claim that they agree that abortion is the morally repugnant killing of the innocent.
Their argument fails on its own grounds, Anderson writes, since multiple Marist polls show upwards of 81 percent of the American people favor stronger pro-life laws. The pro-life argument in favor of substantial regulation of abortion “is not only backed up by science, it is now the public’s consensus by a wide margin.”
“’Pro-choice’ politicians now impose on the country a view held by only a tiny minority,” Anderson writes. Yet the defenders of conscience seemingly lost their qualms about imposing their morality on the nation. As Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, perceptively observed, “The purpose of Mario Cuomoism was to calm the restless natives until the country was ready for Andrew Cuomoism.”
It is time for new thinking by Catholics in public office. I would suggest two options.
First, they should embrace the American consensus on abortion restrictions and stop acting in opposition to their own conscience and the will of the American people.
Or they could take what I would call the John F. Kennedy option.
Campaigning for president in 1960, Kennedy said: “But if the time should ever come … when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office; and I hope any conscientious public servant would do the same.”
Let’s hope today’s public servants become that conscientious.
In the meantime, those politicians who nestle comfortably in the gray area between conscience and expedience should absent themselves from Holy Communion.