Texas Bishops Face Protests from Pro-Abortion Catholics

Deal W. Hudson
October 27, 2008

When is the last time a bishop’s statement on abortion resulted in several days of protest from pro-abortion Catholics? The joint statement issued last Friday by Bishop Kevin Vann of Fort Worth and Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas has done just that. No doubt the forceful clarity of the bishops’ message elicited the outcry.

The protests began on Sunday when the statement was read from the pulpit by Rev. Tony Ruiz, pastor of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in downtown Dallas. Some two-dozen parishioners walked out and went to the local media to lodge their complaints about “political endorsements.”

The next day, the Dallas Morning News carried the story on the front page of its Metro section. “The silver lining was that the article contained a link to the bishops’ statement,” said Karen Garnett, executive director of the Catholic Pro-Life Committee, Respect Life Ministry of the Diocese of Dallas.

Garnett told me that the subsequent protest on Wednesday afternoon in front of the diocesan chancery attracted the same number of people who had walked out of the Mass at Holy Trinity. Bishop Farrell, who was out of town on Wednesday, has offered to meet with the protesters.

“Too many parishes do seminars on ‘Faithful Citizenship’ that don’t put the life issues first. We’ve been dealing with that problem for 35 years,” added Garnett.

Olivia Franklin, a member of Holy Trinity for 15 years, heard Father Ruiz read the statement. “I’m thrilled that he read it, and I hurried out the door to tell him to thank you. This is the truth, and we need to hear the truth.”

Franklin had recently attended four seminars at Holy Trinity on “Faithful Citizenship.” At these sessions she was told, “one could in fact vote for a pro-abortion candidate if one was not voting for them for that reason.” She raised objections to what was being taught, only to be told it was just her opinion.

There have been over 40 statements to date issued by bishops this election season. Some responded to comments made by Sen. Barack Obama’s running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, about the beginning of human life. Others responded to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s appearance on Meet the Press when she, too, misrepresented the Church’s teaching on abortion.

But the biggest problem of this election for Catholics has been the bishops’ own document, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” In an otherwise admirable document, there is one section (Sec. 34-37) that has provided an open door for pro-abortion Catholics to drive through and proclaim their support for Obama, a proponent of abortion-on-demand. (I have already written about the effort to use “Faithful Citizenship” to help Obama.)

One of the problematic passages in “Faithful Citizenship” presently being spun by Obama’s Catholic supporters is the following:

35. There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons.

Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.

Bishops Vann and Farrell demolish the arguments of leading Obama Catholic surrogate Doug Kmiec and others, that “Faithful Citizenship” can be interpreted to support Obama in the present election.

Bishops Vann and Farrell explain that voting for a candidate who supports an intrinsic evil like abortion is possible only if 1) “both candidates running for office support abortion or ‘abortion rights,’” or if 2) “another intrinsic evil outweighs the evil of abortion.”

Obama’s Catholic apologists argue such a situation exists with Sen. John McCain, citing his support for the Iraq War. Bishops Vann and Farrell reject this line of reasoning in advance, saying “there are no ‘truly grave moral’ or ‘proportionate’ reasons, singularly or combined, that could outweigh the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by legal abortion each year.”

Olivia Franklin believes God is using the bishops’ statement and the controversy at Holy Trinity. “For too long authentic Catholic social teaching has been co-opted by the ‘social justice’ crowd, who rail about the death penalty while conveniently ignoring the real death penalty presently being carried out – the 4,000 babies executed daily by abortionists.”

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