Published November 6, 2012
We as Roman Catholics need to put out into the deep. We love the child in the womb. We love the child who is poor, and we love the child who is sick, because of her great dignity and sanctity. After all, what Christ calls us to build is a civilization of love in the support of his or her life.
Several bishops have made public statements on the reelection of Obama/Biden.Bishop Sheridan of Colorado Springs, Bishop Ricken of Green Bay, Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia, Bishop Paprocki of Springfield, IL, but the most interesting of all came from Brooklyn.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio published a column in The Tablet, his diocesan newspaper, entitled, “What Constitutes a Woman’s Issue?” Bishop DiMarzio begins:
“As we head into the final week of the presidential campaign, I cannot help but be preoccupied by the tone of the debate surrounding what is being referred to as ‘women’s issues.’ This language seems to be code for abortion rights and now a mandate upon employers to offer contraceptives, sterilization and abortifacients to employees.”
Of course, if the good bishop spent any time watching television – and we are glad he doesn’t – he would not have to speak of a “code” for abortion rights and the mandate, because the Obama/Biden campaign ads aimed at women make that connection perfectly clear.
Bishop Di Marzio goes on to explain why the HHS mandate, in fact, is aimed directly at the Catholic Church: “moral opposition to all artificial contraception and sterilization is a minority and unpopular belief, and its virtually exclusive association with the Catholic Church is no secret.”
Just why “the President has senselessly made religious liberty a central issue in this campaign” is a question Bishop Di Marzio raises but does not answer. However, he does spell out how Catholics ought to view the Obama/Biden candidacy for reelection:
“It is inconceivable to me how Catholics could support such policies. Indeed, Roman Catholics who support abortion rights and vote for a candidate because of those policies, place him/herself outside of the life of the Church. In so doing, they also place themselves in moral danger.”
Bishop Di Marzio is not the first bishop in this election cycle to allude to a certain moral peril at stake in casting a vote for Obama/Biden. Bishop Paprocki, in his statement to his diocese, closed by saying, “Pray very carefully about your vote, because a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.”
Bishop Ricken sounds a similar note in his column, “An Important Moment.” Starting with a quote from “Faithful Citizenship”, he goes a bit further in unpacking its meaning:
“A well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program that contradicts fundamental contents of faith and morals. Intrinsically evil actions are those which have an evil object. In other words, an act is evil by its very nature, and to choose an action of this type puts one in grave moral danger.”
With all due respect to the other bishops, Bishop Di Marzio’s statement includes some language that has a certain, well, flair that is not found in the rhetoric of the good bishops of the mid-west:
“Is it possible to vote for somebody despite their support for these policies? To my mind, it stretches the imagination, especially when there is another option.”
When the bishop evokes the “imagination,” he is not taking us into the realm of art. He is very realistically reminding us how we lay our moral choices before us in our minds before we make them. We conjure up, as it were, the different options, and imagine ourselves choosing one or the other, even imagining the future consequences of our choice.
No, this is not an invitation into the “pure imagination” of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. Bishop Di Marzio is urging all Catholics to imagine how our nation will be impacted by the reelection of Obama/Biden. The bishop’s own imagination can hardly “stretch” that far because it encompasses the imposition of so many intrinsic evils on our families and our societal norms.
Bishop Di Marzio, however, does not leave it there – he then allows himself an evocative, poetic note, the sign of a great orator:
“We as Roman Catholics need to put out into the deep. We love the child in the womb. We love the child who is poor, and we love the child who is sick, because of her great dignity and sanctity. After all, what Christ calls us to build is a civilization of love in the support of his or her life.”
Yes, we agree whole-heartedly, we nod our heads in agreement, we barely stifle the urge to shout, “Amen” (because we are Catholics), and we want to clap, so we do, loudly!
“Put out into the deep,” there are no words that better compress all that is at stake in the next few days than this allusion to Luke 5:4 when Jesus tells Simon to go out into deeper water and let the nets sink lower. When Simon protests that they have fished all night and caught nothing but agrees to do as Jesus says, the result is overwhelming:
“When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.” (Luke 5:6)