2008 election

Did the Bishops Punish Archbishop Burke?

Deal W. Hudson

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Archbishop Raymond Burke (St. Louis) lost an election at the annual meeting of the U.S. bishops last week.

Over the past three years, Burke has assumed the mantle of the late Cardinal John O’Connor in pro-life matters, challenging fellow bishops to take stronger stances in the defense of innocent life.

Nominated as chairman for the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, 60 percent of his fellow bishops preferred his opponent. As bishops’ conference expert Rev. Thomas Reese noted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, an auxiliary bishop defeating an archbishop for a conference chairmanship is “very unusual.”

Archbishop Burke’s credentials as a canonist are widely recognized. In fact, he missed the bishops’ meeting because he was in Rome as a member of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature, the Vatican’s highest judicial authority.

Burke has been a controversial figure since early 2004 when, as bishop of La Crosse, WI, he began to challenge pro-abortion Catholic politicians publicly on their reception of the Eucharist.

Shortly after moving to St. Louis as archbishop, Burke said he would deny Communion to Sen. John Kerry if he presented himself. Although his position has been backed up by 13 other bishops, Archbishop Burke was clearly straining the boundaries of “collegiality.”

Father Reese, former editor of America magazine, says the bishops were sending a message: “Most of the bishops don’t want communion and Catholic politicians to be a high-profile issue, and he [Burke] is seen as a man who’s pushing that issue. . . . Had he been elected, it could have been interpreted as endorsing his position.”

Archbishop Elden Curtiss (Omaha), Archbishop Sean O’Malley (Boston), and Cardinal Francis George (Chicago) went on the record denying that there was any message being sent by the bishops to Burke. And supporters of Archbishop Burke have no reason to regret the selection of Bishop Thomas Paprocki, the Chicago auxiliary, whose reputation and credentials are similar to that of Burke’s.

The question still in the air after the bishops’ meeting, however, is whether Burke is being punished for not backing down after the controversy surrounding him during the 2004 election.

In response to the Kerry and Communion controversy, the bishops formed a task force, headed by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, to study the issue and present a report. That report, “Catholics in Political Life,” differed sharply with Burke, finding that each bishop could decide for himself in such cases.

Archbishop Burke did not back down. Early this year, he published an article on Canon 915 in Italian law journal Periodica de Re Canonica arguing that the McCarrick report was incorrect.

Burke said that a bishop’s interpretation of what to do in the face of a pro-abortion Catholic politician “would hardly seem to change from place to place.” For Burke, enforcing discipline must go hand-in-hand with teaching:

No matter how often a bishop or priest repeats the teaching of the Church regarding procured abortion, if he stands by and does nothing to discipline a Catholic who publicly supports legislation permitting the gravest of injustices, and at the same time, presents himself to receive Holy Communion, then his teaching rings hollow.

He gave the names of bishops with whom he disagreed: Cardinal McCarrick, Cardinal Roger Mahony (Los Angeles), and Archbishop Donald Wuerl Washington, DC. Just as it’s very unusual for an archbishop to be defeated by an auxiliary bishop in an election, it’s just as unheard of for a bishop to take issue with another bishop by name.

In his article, however, Burke spread the net even wider. He argued that any Catholic who administers Communion – even a lay person – is required to withhold it from Catholic politicians who know they hold positions contrary to Church teaching.

Burke has said publicly that he will not stop addressing this issue. In an interview with Catholic News Service shortly after the 2004 election, he said:

It’s funny because some people now characterize me as a fundamentalist, or an extremist . . . . But these are questions that are at the very foundation of the life of our country. We just simply have to continue to address them.

The archbishop of St. Louis has been true to his word. His article on Canon law formalized his objection to McCarrick’s report.

If Father Reese is right, the bishops are distancing themselves from a fellow bishop who kept controversy in the air, a controversy most of them would rather see go away.

The bishops’ own document from last week, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” was a powerful indictment of Catholics who participate politically without demanding an end to abortion. Archbishop Burke, though he was not at the meeting, and though he will not chair the canonical affairs committee, must be given some credit for the strength of the bishops’ corporate voice in this statement.

Published at InsideCatholic.com, November 19, 2007

Mike Huckabee’s Anti-Catholic Problem

Deal W. Hudson

Published January 2, 2008

Author’s note: I no longer consider Pastor John Hagee as anti-Catholic. What happened, however, with Rev. Tim Rude and Tim LaHaye remains relevant to Huckabee as a political candidate.

Gov. Mike Huckabee will be a major player in the run for the GOP presidential nomination regardless of whether he finishes first or second in the Iowa Caucus. As in Iowa, Evangelical voters will undergird his efforts in Michigan (Jan 18), South Carolina (Jan 26), and Florida (Jan 29).

Huckabee, however, will need Catholic voters to win in states like Michigan and Florida, not to mention the many Catholic-heavy states on February 5 and 9. Prospects for Huckabee attracting Catholic voters are not good, and they are getting worse.

That’s because Mike Huckabee is developing an anti-Catholic problem.

When the former Southern Baptist minister spoke at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio on December 23, he evidently did not know that the pastor, Rev. John Hagee, has a long record of statements about the Catholic Church that the Catholic League has labeled as anti-Catholic.

Hagee, for example, accuses the early Catholic Church of inventing anti-Semitism; the medieval Catholic Church of creating the Crusades and the Inquisition to “punish the Jews”; of infusing Adolph Hitler with his anti-Semitism; and of not standing up to the Third Reich:

In all of his [Hitler’s] years of absolute brutality, he was never denounced or even scolded by Pope Pius XII or any Catholic leader in the world.

After the controversy hit the headlines, Huckabee distanced himself from Hagee’s opinion about Catholics:

“I would certainly never characterize the Catholic Church as being pro-Nazi, never. Catholic voters surely appreciate that, but it’s not the first time Huckabee has been associated with anti-Catholic rhetoric.”

But back in June, in the build-up to the Ames Straw Poll, a Huckabee supporter, Rev. Tim Rude, sent out a blast e-mail containing the following:

“Huckabee is an Evangelical. He has not learned how to speak to Evangelicals; i.e. Bush 41 & 43. He is one of us. I know Senator Brownback converted to Roman Catholicism in 2002. Frankly, as a recovering Catholic myself, that is all I need to know about his discernment when compared to the Governor’s. I don’t know if this fact is widely known among Evangelicals who are supporting Brownback.” (Emphasis added)

In the days that followed, the Brownback campaign asked Huckabee to join them in condemning Rude’s email.

He never did.

It should have been apparent then, as it is now, that Huckabee does not understand the reality of lingering anti-Catholic attitudes among some Evangelicals and other religious groups. If he did, he would never have accepted the invitation to speak at Hagee’s church.

But the problem does not stop with Hagee and Rude. Campaigning with Huckabee in Iowa has been one of the most prominent leaders of the Religious Right, Dr. Tim LaHaye, author of the popular Left Behind novels.

Carl Olson has documented the anti-Catholic comments throughout LaHaye’s writing, including the Left Behind series. The following quote should suffice to represent LaHaye’s point of view:

“The Church of Rome denies the finished work of Christ but believes in a continuing sacrifice that produces such things as sacraments and praying for the dead, burning candles, and so forth. All of these were borrowed from mystery Babylon, the mother of all pagan customs and idolatry, none of which is taught in the New Testament” (Revelation Unveiled, 1999, 66-67).

Someone needs to ask Huckabee if, along with the “pro-Nazi” label, he would refuse to describe the Catholic Church as “Babylonian.”

Catholics have long formed part of the ground troops of the Religious Right. Leaders like Robertson, Falwell, Reed, and Dobson have made sure that the anti-Catholic element among Evangelicals would not deter Catholics from joining the coalition.

There is nothing that will drive a Catholic voter away from a candidate quicker than a whiff of the prejudice that hounded their ancestors since the days of the Thirteen Colonies. So why is Huckabee tone deaf to this important issue for Catholic voters? Is it because, as one commentator points out, he comes from a state with the third-lowest percentage of Catholics?

Huckabee claims to be very comfortable with Catholics, says that he has worked with Catholics, and has Catholics in his campaign, including his campaign manager.

That is fine and good, but what happens when Catholic voters start to hear that some of his biggest supporters think the Catholic Church “denies the finished work of Christ,” is the product of Babylonian mysteries, and is the source of anti-Semitism, including that of Hitler?

Catholic voters will want more than the stale “Catholics are some of my best friends” explanation.

The Trouble with Mitt Romney’s Pro-Life Conversion

Deal W. Hudson

Published December 27, 2007

Mitt Romney, by his own admission, was a pro-abortion governor of Massachusetts. That changed on November 8, 2004 in his second term during a conversation with Dr. Douglas Melton from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

According to Romney, Dr. Melton dismissed the “moral issue” of cloning embryos for stem cells “because we kill the embryos after 14 days.” (Melton disputes Romney’s account.)

“It hit me very hard that we had so cheapened the value of human life in a Roe v. Wade environment that it was important to stand for the dignity of human life,” Romney said. From that moment of conversion, Gov. Romney declared himself pro-life and an opponent of embryonic stem cell research. I join those who applaud Romney’s new direction and agree that his promises are the right ones.

But there is a lingering problem: Romney is opposed only to creating clones for stem cell research; he is not opposed to using “discarded” frozen embryos. These frozen embryos have been the primary source of embryonic tissue for stem cell research. How can you declare yourself opposed to this research when you are not opposed to the way it is actually carried out?

Romney’s position became even more confusing during his December 10th interview on CBS with Katie Couric. She asked Romney whether he agreed with using discarded frozen embryos for stem cells.

Romney replied:

Yes, those embryos are commonly referred to as surplus embryos from in-vitro fertilization. Those embryos, I hope, could be available for adoption for people who would like to adopt embryos. But if a parent decides they would want to donate one of those embryos for purposes of research, in my view, that’s acceptable. It should not be made against the law.

My question is this: How can you consider a frozen embryo a moral entity capable of being adopted, while at the same time support the scientist who wants to cut the embryonic being into pieces? Even more, if Romney’s conversion was about the “cheapened value of human life,” how can he abide the thought of a parent donating “one of those embryos” to be destroyed?

Peter G. Flaherty, Romney’s deputy campaign manager, has made it clear the governor is opposed to using federal funds on frozen embryo research, calling it “ethically troublesome.”

As the primary in Iowa approaches, many Iowa conservatives have still not made up their minds. Gov. Mike Huckabee has surged because he became the candidate about whom social conservatives had the fewest doubts. Romney’s well-oiled campaign — the best of any candidate, in my opinion — was never able to overcome the lingering doubts created by his pro-abortion past and the glaring inconsistency of his position on embryonic stem cells.

Romney is not the first politician who tripped over this issue. Back in the summer of 2005, Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) appeared to be the frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination until he declared his support for expanded federal funding for research on frozen embryos. When Frist refused to recant or clarify his position, his presidential aspirations came to a swift end. Frist’s meltdown came on the heels of the first showdown between the Bush White House and his pro-life supporters. The issue, again, was embryonic stem cells.

Jay P. Lefkowicz, who was domestic policy adviser at the time, describes in Commentary the huge effort made by Bush and his staff to make a decision on federal funding for research. Bush’s decision to limit funding to the existing stem cell lines pleased very few, though the pro-life message of his TV appearance softened the blow to the pro-lifers.

Romney now inhabits a similar political space: His overall pro-life message is pleasing to many voters, but they’re still looking for a safer bet.

Romney’s speech on religion, given at Texas A&M on December 6, was clearly an attempt to calm the fears of his social conservative base, not only about his religion but also his overall commitment to conservative values. Thus far, the former governor of Massachusetts has not received the bump in the polls his campaign hoped to see after the widely-covered speech. More helpful to Romney’s standing was the endorsement by National Review. The NR editors nevertheless acknowledged the chinks in Romney’s pro-life armor in their carefully-worded statement of endorsement:

He [Romney] may not have thought deeply about the political dimensions of social issues until, as governor, he was confronted with the cutting edge of social liberalism.

It’s clear from his convoluted statements on embryonic stem cells that Romney’s thoughts on this issue are still far from coherent and consistent.

For many grassroots conservatives, and those from the Religious Right, Romney may be too big of a stretch, especially when they — at least, for now — identify so closely with the preacher from Hope, Arkansas.

Why I Don’t Trust Mitt Romney

Deal W. Hudson

Published January 28, 2008

Note: I haven’t seen or heard anything since I wrote this to change my mind,

DWH 12/26/14

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has positioned himself as a pro-life, pro-family “social conservative,” and has received the endorsement of some prominent social conservatives. But Massachusetts-area grassroots Catholics familiar with his record as governor are mystified by that support.

Their view of Romney is that his “conversion” to social conservatism was pragmatic, a tactic to win the presidential nomination. The liberal policies that made Romney governor of Massachusetts – including a pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage platform – could not win him the Republican presidential nomination, so sweeping changes in his political philosophy were necessary.

Romney, the presidential candidate, is a politician vastly different from Romney, the governor of Massachusetts.

I’ve already questioned Romney’s pro-life conversion. Anyone who simultaneously supports both the adoption of frozen embryos and destroying them for scientific research is not to be trusted on this issue.

His record on the campaign trail only corroborates my concerns. For example, he campaigns as a fiscal conservative but promised a $20 billion taxpayer bail-out to the Detroit auto industry on the eve of the Michigan primary.

I have a hard time believing a President Romney would shed all the liberal bad habits he exhibited as governor – the same habits that pop up regularly on the campaign trail as he tells local audiences what they want to hear.

In a series of interviews with pro-life Catholics in Massachusetts, I uncovered a long list of concerns with Mitt Romney – and they are dead-set in their opposition to him. This is the story they told me.

Romney on Abortion

Today Romney describes himself as “pro-life,” and explains he converted to this position in late 2004. But his public statements and actions present a mixed history of pro-choice vs. pro-life positions.

During his 1994 Senate campaign against Ted Kennedy and in his 2002 gubernatorial campaign, Romney campaigned as a pro-choice candidate. In a televised debate against Kennedy in October of 1994, Romney said he felt “abortion should be safe and legal in this country,” and he believed this because his mother took that position in her 1970 U.S. Senate campaign.

When Kennedy labeled his opponent “multiple choice,” Romney rebutted that, since the time of a close relative’s death from an illegal abortion years ago, “My mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter, and you will not see me wavering on that.”

Romney thus suggested he may have previously been neutral or pro-life, but he became pro-choice two years before Roe v. Wade (Conversion No. 1). He maintained that pro-choice position through his 2002 gubernatorial campaign, when he answered to Planned Parenthood and NARAL questionnaires by saying he supported “the substance of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade,” and “I respect and will protect a woman’s right to choose… Women should be free to choose based on their own beliefs, not mine and not the government’s.”

Oddly, Romney refused to answer the candidate questionnaire sent to him that year by Massachusetts Citizens for Life.

By spring of 2005, Romney was highlighting his personal opposition to abortion in out-of-state speeches. “I’m in a different place than I was probably in 1994, when I ran against Ted Kennedy, in my own views on that.” On May 23, 2005, Romney was quoted in USA Today saying he was “personally pro-life” but declined to say more. “I choose not to elaborate on those because I don’t want to be confusing to people in my state.”

Massachusetts Citizens for Life was “unimpressed with those moves,” and still considered Romney an abortion-rights supporter.

Romney has attributed his pro-life conversion (Conversion No. 2) to a November 2004 stem cell research discussion with a Harvard researcher. He now claims he has joined company with other political figures such as Ronald Reagan and Henry Hyde who changed their views.

Tom McClusky of the Family Research Council summarized his view: “For a lot of people, especially Christian conservatives, it’s one of those black and white issues. You’re either pro-life or not. That’s the trouble with Governor Romney – he’s gray.”

Romney on Emergency Contraception

The Boston Globe claims that a visible result of Romney’s abortion shift was his July 2005 veto of a bill making the “morning-after pill” (Plan B) available over-the-counter at state pharmacies and requiring hospitals to offer it to rape victims.

If Governor Romney has indeed suddenly become committed to the culture of life in the past two years, why did he eliminate the conscience exemption allowing Catholic hospitals to opt-out of the intrusive law that his own Department of Public Health decided to grant them?

On December 7, 2005, the Globe reported that Romney’s Department of Public Health had determined Catholic and other privately run hospitals could opt out of giving the morning-after pill to rape victims because of religious or moral objections. A statute passed in previous years said that privately run hospitals could not be forced to provide abortions or contraception, and indeed, Article II of the Massachusetts Constitution guarantees such freedom of religious practice.

When pro-choice groups complained, Romney immediately caved-in – or “flip-flopped,” as Massachusetts Democrats described it, saying that after legal review, his own lawyer found all hospitals in the state would be forced to provide the morning-after pill to rape victims.

On December 9, 2005, the Boston Globe reported, “Governor Mitt Romney reversed course on the state’s new emergency contraception law… The decision overturns a ruling made public this week by the state Department of Public Health that privately run hospitals could opt out of the requirement if they objected on moral or religious grounds.”

Why did Governor Romney not simply abide by the state constitution and the decision of his own Public Health Department? He instead abandoned Catholic hospitals, setting them up for possible court battles if they upheld their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion.

Romney on Gay Rights

Romney has become a crusader against same-sex marriage and activist judges. But his gay-friendly positions from his 1994 campaign against Senator Kennedy have recently come back to haunt him, and documents held by Massachusetts pro-family activists and the Boston-area gay newspaper, Bay Windows, show how Romney’s pro-gay actions as governor have not matched his conservative rhetoric.

Romney’s previous comments reported by the New York Times, Boston Globe, and other papers are troubling on their own. In 1994, Romney won the endorsement of the gay-advocating Log Cabin Club of Massachusetts, saying he would be a stronger advocate for gays than Senator Kennedy. “We must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern. My opponent cannot do this. I can and will.”

During his 2002 run for governor, Romney supported full domestic partnership benefits for gay and lesbian couples, which had been opposed by Democratic legislative leadership, and his campaign distributed pink flyers during Gay Pride events promoting equal rights for all citizens regardless of their sexual preference.

During that same 2002 run, Romney also denounced as “too extreme” an effort by pro-family groups to enact a state Marriage Protection Amendment banning gay marriage, civil unions and same-sex domestic-partnership benefits which could have preempted the November 2003 same-sex marriage court decision.

Romney’s inactions as governor that allowed the gay agenda to advance among young people are even more troubling. For example, the Governor’s Commission for Gay and Lesbian Youth promotes gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender (GLBT) education in schools via speaking presentations, films, books, dances (such as transgender proms), handouts, and establishment of GLBT clubs.

Although Romney had legal control over the entity, he never tried to limit its use of funding, impact the membership, or dissolve the commission until after the legislature created a redundant commission several months before the end of his four-year term in office. In fact, Romney’s fiscal 2006 budget included $250,000 for the commission, twice what he proposed spending in 2005. Romney signed annual proclamations recognizing Youth Gay Pride Day.

Romney’s Department of Public Health supported publication of “The Little Black Book: Queer in the 21st Century,” a pamphlet that includes graphic instructions about safely performing gay sex acts, which even liberal Boston Herald columnists described as “filled with crude vulgarities” and a “vile little pamphlet… dirt, dummied-down poison to the mind.”

Romney’s Department of Education provides extensive instructions to schools on forming Gay/Straight Student Alliances; advocates that school children attend gay pride parades; proposes agendas for a gay/lesbian “Day of Awareness, including a panel of transgender individuals talking about transvestite/transsexual issues; and suggests top ten Gay Straight Alliance meeting topics such as “What would the world be like if 10 percent of its people were straight and 90 percent were gay?” and “What would it be like if parents wanted their children to grow up gay?”

Romney on Judicial Appointments

For all of Romney’s rhetoric about activist judges, his own judicial appointments also leave much to be desired. The Boston Globe reported in July of 2005 that Romney had “passed over GOP lawyers for three-quarters of the 36 judicial vacancies he has faced, instead tapping registered Democrats or independents – including two gay lawyers who have supported expanded same-sex rights.”

In May of 2005, Romney selected for a district court judgeship Stephen Abany, a former board member of the Massachusetts Lesbian and Gay Bar Association who organized the group’s opposition to a 1999 bill to outlaw same-sex marriage. The MLGBA is “dedicated to ensuring that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision on marriage equality is upheld, and that any anti-gay amendment or legislation is defeated.”

Ironically, the Globe reports that two days before Abany’s nomination, Romney was lamenting the liberal tilt of the state’s bench, telling Fox News that “our courts have a record here in Massachusetts… of being a little blue and being Kerry-like.”

Catholics would no doubt also be surprised to hear another Romney choice for the bench was Marianne C. Hinkle, who described herself as a longtime active member of Dignity/USA, a group that wants to reform the Catholic Church’s views and teachings on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender activity.

Romney on Gay Adoption

Massachusetts Catholics say that Governor Romney’s positions on adoption of children by homosexual couples are contradictory at best, and that inaction on his part contributed to Catholic Charities of Boston exiting their adoption ministry in 2006 after more than 100 years of service.

In terms of his public rhetoric, Romney tries to have it both ways. He has been dismissive of same-sex parenting to South Carolina Republicans, saying sarcastically that some gay and lesbian couples “are actually having children born to them,” while in Massachusetts, he says he recognizes that homosexual couples “have a legitimate interest in being able to receive adoptive services.”

Romney’s action and inaction on this issue has been different from his stated position. In late 2005 and early 2006, when Catholic Charities of Boston was under fire for having complied with a state regulation requiring adoption agencies to broker adoptions for homosexual couples, Romney initially claimed he could not unilaterally exempt them, as an exemption would require legislation “and would not be something I would be authorized to do on a personal basis.” Since legislative leaders had previously declared such legislation would be effectively dead on arrival, Catholic Charities proceeded to exit the adoption business, and Romney’s subsequent decision to file legislation asking for the exemption indeed went nowhere, with zero benefit to the agency.

Romney refused to use his executive powers to change the regulation, and even former Gov. Michael Dukakis weighed in to say Romney’s legislation was “unnecessary,” in that “the state’s anti-discrimination statutes do not preclude an exemption for the Catholic organization.” Abortion is constitutionally protected, yet Catholic hospitals that do not perform abortions on religious principle are not prevented from being reimbursed for Medicaid-eligible services.

The liberal Governor Dukakis, who signed the original gay rights bill during his tenure, said there was nothing mandated in this area and observed, “Governors can change regulations if they want to, that’s up to them.” So why did Romney back down?

Romney on Gay Marriage

On November 18, 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled in Goodridge vs. Dept. of Public Health that same-sex couples should not be denied the right to marry in Massachusetts. Since that time, Romney has pushed aggressively for a marriage-protection amendment in Massachusetts. This amendment passed its first round in the legislature on January 2, 2007, but failed to pass in June of 2007, killing that amendment and hopes of any rollback of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts for at least four years, if not forever.

Governor Romney, however, previously opposed a 2002 marriage-protection amendment that would have preempted the court ruling of November 2003.

Romney has also been one of the more outspoken politicians on the national scene in favor of defining marriage as between one man and one woman, and against activist judges whose rulings paved the way for gay marriage.

But what many people don’t know, and what is most overlooked by the media, is that John Adams had the foresight in 1780 to write specific provisions in the Massachusetts Constitution, the world’s oldest functioning written constitution, to prevent judicial activism of this sort.

Unfortunately, Romney made no attempt to exercise most of his constitutional options in order to block same-sex marriages before they began or stop them while in office, and Catholic activists would like to know why.

Romney could have declared the ruling null and void, and therefore unenforceable, immediately after it was handed down in November of 2003. How? Article 5 of the Massachusetts Constitution says, “All causes of marriage, divorce, and alimony… shall be heard and determined by the governor and council.” Romney could have said that the court simply had no jurisdiction to rule over the definition of marriage.

The Massachusetts Constitution also has specific provision for removing judges without cause via a “bill of address.” Instead of responding to a problem of activist judges by going through a lengthy process of amending the Constitution, the offending judges can simply be removed from office for distorting the Constitution to impose their own views.

Such a procedure has been successfully used several times in the past in Massachusetts. In the spring of 2004, Romney could have supported the active grassroots effort and Democratic-sponsored legislation to remove the judges who wrote the Goodridge decision.

If Romney was genuinely troubled by the role of “activist judges” in the same-sex marriage issue, why did he refuse to support this move in 2004?

Interestingly, on the campaign trail in New Hampshire on November 24, 2007, Romney publicly called for the resignation of a Massachusetts judge after the judge released a violent criminal who then apparently murdered a Washington state couple. Should Catholics assume that the Goodridge judges’ radically unconstitutional redefinition of marriage for all of society is not sufficiently serious a matter for Romney to have called for their resignation any time in the past four years?

Next, Romney could have followed the precedent of Abraham Lincoln in the 1857 Dred Scott case – which Romney himself referred to in a Wall Street Journal editorial – and respected the decision of the Court with regard only to the litigants in that specific case.

As Hadley Arkes explained in National Review, Lincoln and his party did not try to set the slave Dred Scott free once the Supreme Court had confirmed him to remain in slavery. Lincoln only accepted the ruling for the parties in the specific case, and he did not allow the public policy of the whole country to be affected by the Supreme Court’s decision.

Romney could have announced that he would respect the decision for the plaintiffs, but he could have insisted then that clerks issue licenses of marriage only to couples who had come through comparable litigation and received a comparable order from a court.

If Romney was such an enthusiast for Lincoln’s response to the Dred Scott decision and so determined to block same-sex marriage, why didn’t he pursue the same strategy to try and block same-sex marriage from propagating beyond the small group of Goodridge litigants?

Finally, and most importantly, since the ruling stopped short of changing the previous marriage law, a strong governor could have simply refused to do anything.

Article X of the Massachusetts Constitution provided Romney clear justification for ignoring the court order. “The people of this Commonwealth are not controllable by any other laws than those to which their constitutional representative body have given their consent.” And Article XX says, “The power of suspending the laws, or the execution of the laws, ought never to be exercised but by the Legislature.”

The justices who wrote the Goodridge decision knew this – which is why they specifically did not strike down the previous law. The legislature was then given 180 days in which to act.

GLAD Attorney Mary Bonauto, representing the seven gay couples who sued the state, said immediately after the 2003 Goodridge ruling, “The only task assigned to the Legislature is to come up with changes in the law that will allow gay couples to marry at the end of the 180-day period.”

All three branches of government concurred. The SJC clarified their ruling in February of 2004, writing to the Senate: “The purpose of the stay was to afford the Legislature an opportunity to conform the existing statutes to the provisions of the Goodridge decision.”

Romney himself in April of 2004 said, “The Legislature has yet to follow a directive from the SJC to change the state’s marriage laws. I believe the reason that the Court gave 180 days to the Legislature was to allow the Legislature the chance to look through the laws… and see how they should be adjusted… for purposes of same-sex marriage; the Legislature didn’t do that.”

And State Sen. Bruce E. Tarr, a gay-marriage supporter, said in April 2004 that he believed the legislature would ultimately pass bills that would insert gender-neutral language into the state’s marriage laws in time for the May 17, 2004, deadline. “No one should interpret inaction thus far with the idea that no action is forthcoming.”

But the Massachusetts legislature never acted to change the law. What happened between April 2003 and May 2004 when Romney decided a “new law” existed and ordered town clerks to follow it by issuing same-sex marriage licenses?

And since the court ruling never ordered the governor to do anything, why did Romney order justices of the peace to perform the unions or resign their positions if they objected on moral grounds?

Even if some people not familiar with the Massachusetts Constitution felt that somehow the court did change the law, since the court had violated its constitutional authority, what would have happened if Romney had had the courage to stand up and defy it?

Virtually every pro-family conservative in the country urged Romney to stand strong at the time and defy the court. The Family Research Council said, “Most important right now is for the governor to stand firm [and] not allow any marriage licenses to be handed out on May 17.”

Concerned Women for America urged Romney to intervene via executive order and “put the brakes on this madness. He needs to make it clear that the law has not changed, and that on May 17 homosexual couples cannot make a mockery of God’s institution of marriage.”

Patrick Buchanan called on Romney to declare, “There is no basis for it [the court’s decision] in law… in the letter or spirit of the Constitution of our Commonwealth… And as I took an oath to defend the Constitution of the Commonwealth, I intend to disregard the court order of last November.”

The Massachusetts Catholic Conference went on the record saying the SJC “exceeded their authority,” and Governor Romney failed in his duty to “uphold the Constitution.”

Instead of standing up for his supposedly strong beliefs on marriage and defending the Constitution, Romney exercised his leadership by ordering justices of the peace to perform same-sex marriages.

This is consistent with his 2002 campaign promise to the Massachusetts Log Cabin Republicans, who, according to the New York Times, Romney courted at a gay bar and promised if a same-sex marriage court case worked its way through the judicial system, he would “obey the court’s ultimate ruling and not champion a fight on either side of the issue,” telling those gathered that he would “keep [his] head low,” according to one participant.

Romney has countered that he was “forced” into implementing homosexual marriages, but he refused to pursue other options backed by pro-family conservatives and his own state Constitution.

Now Romney campaigns against the same-sex marriages he himself, not the court, made a reality. In short, he is campaigning as a social conservative against, and in spite of, his own record as governor.

Pro-life Catholics in Massachusetts are increasingly bitter that social conservatives are ignoring Romney’s record and listening only to his promises. I can’t blame them.

Will the Church Split Along Red and Blue Lines?

Deal W. Hudson
Published October 9, 2008

An Obama victory on November 4 is far from certain, but the momentum behind his campaign prompts me to wonder: What impact could an Obama administration have on the Catholic Church?

The Bush victories in 2000 and 2004 brought a flood of commentary on the so-called red and blue states. If Obama wins in 2008, I would not be surprised to see the emergence of a similar division among Catholics.
Many will finally realize, and admit to, the power of the political Left in their Church. This may lead to a kind of red state, blue state divide among Catholics in the United States. Such a divide could extend to the dioceses, reflecting both regional differences and the leadership of present and past bishops.

Most Catholics miss the institutionalized dissent, political liberalism, and Democratic Party alignment that exists throughout parts of the Church in this country. It exists in a network that includes parts of the USCCB and extends through chanceries, universities (especially Jesuit), Catholic organizations, and much of the Catholic media.

This network has become adept at cloaking its dissent, its political intentions, and its disdain for the agenda of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. It’s a well-chronicled story that is gaining traction with more Catholics because of events surrounding this election.

Some evidence of the red-blue separation is anecdotal. I have received many reports of priests touting the virtues of Obama from the pulpit. These are the same parishes where Respect Life Sunday was completely ignored. People are shaking their heads in disbelief; they didn’t realize it was “that bad,” they told me.

But there have also been public indications of this red/blue tension. This election year, a record number of individual bishops (see the list below) have made public statements in response to Catholic supporters of Sen. Barack Obama. All of them have reminded Catholic voters of the Church’s teaching on when life begins, and the issue’s relevance in politics.

Although the number of bishops speaking out is remarkable, there are another 200-plus who have said nothing individually. Furthermore, Catholic supporters of Obama are referring to the outspoken bishops as a “rogue group” and are lecturing “one-issue bishops” on the “correct” interpretation of Catholic teaching.
The aggressive style of Obama Catholics in this election was presaged back in February when a prominent Catholic journalist wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post ending with, “Sounds like I’ll be voting for the Democrat [Obama] — and the bishops be damned.”

There is no public record of how the bishops responded, but the still-growing list of prelates who have publicly corrected Biden, Pelosi, or defended life in this election suggests they are not cowering.
Some of these bishops come from blue states like New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Illinois — a fact that might prove my thesis about the coming divide wrong. Yet the Catholic vote in these states has consistently been in support of pro-abortion Catholic politicians. These heavily Catholic states are blue because Catholics have made them so.

If Catholic voters help to elect Obama, it will be a wake-up call for some in the Church and a cause for celebration to others. The theological and political divide among Catholics, along with regional differences, could be exacerbated. Dioceses may begin to appear more red or blue as a result.

The following is a list of those bishops who have made public statements about Catholics in politics in this election. Regarding those bishops not on the list, it should be mentioned that the joint statement by Justin Cardinal Rigali, chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William Lori, Chair of the Committee on Doctrine — as well as the follow-up statement from Cardinal Rigali and Bishop William Murphy — carries the unified voice of all the bishops.

1. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver
2. Bishop James Conley, auxiliary of Denver
3. Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.
4. Justin Cardinal Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities
5. Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, chairman of the Committee on Doctrine
6. Edward Cardinal Egan of New York
7. Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo
8. Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh
9. Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs
10. Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio
11. Bishop Oscar Cantu, auxiliary of San Antonio
12. Bishop William Murphy of Rockville
13. Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa
14. Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas
15. Bishop Gregory Aymond of Austin
16. Sean Cardinal O’Malley of Boston
17. Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando
18. Archbishop John Nienstedt of Saint Paul/Minneapolis
19. Francis Cardinal George of Chicago, President of the USCCB
20. Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker
21. Bishop Jerome Listecki of La Crosse
22. Bishop Richard Lennon of Cleveland
23. Bishop Ralph Nickless of Sioux City
24. Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco
25. Bishop Glen Provost of Lake Charles, LA
26. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn
27. Bishop Joseph F. Martino of Scranton
28. Archbishop Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura
30. Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte
31. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh
32. Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, KS
33. Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, MI
34. Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison, WS
35. Bishop Ronald Gilmore of Dodge City, KS
36. Bishop Paul Coakley of Salina, KS
37. Bishop Michael Jackels of Wichita
38. Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito of Palm Beach
39. Bishop Kevin W. Vann of Fort Worth
40. Archbishop Henry J. Mansell of Hartford
41. Daniel Cardinal Dinardo of Houston
42. Bishop Joseph Galante of Camden
43. Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Patterson, NJ
44. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Harrisburg, PA
45. Joint Statement by the bishops of New York State (22 bishops)
(Please let me know if I have left any bishops off this list.)

Obama and Infanticide

Deal W. Hudson

Published July 2, 2008

Infanticide is becoming a touchy subject for Barack Obama.

So much so that his supporters either deny that their candidate ever voted against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, or they describe his votes as “procedural,” as if Obama never really opposed providing medical treatment for infants who survived an abortion.

The facts show otherwise.

The Born Alive Infant Protection Act was first introduced in the Illinois legislature in 2001 after nurse Jill Stanek revealed that babies born alive in Christ Hospital in botched abortion procedures were left to die, unattended by medical personnel.

That same year Stanek testified before the Judiciary Committee, where Obama asked whether the bill would subvert a woman’s right to abortion. Obama voted against the bill in committee but “present” on the Senate floor.

When the bill was reintroduced in 2002, Obama again voted against it in committee and was the only state senator to speak against it on the Senate floor. Again the bill was defeated with Obama voting “no” and leading the opposition.

Here is what he said:

“Whenever we define a pre-viable fetus as a person that is protected by the Equal Protection Clause or the other elements in the Constitution, what we’re really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a — a child, a 9-month old — child that was delivered to term.

That determination then, essentially, if it was accepted by a court, would forbid abortions to take place. I mean, it — it would essentially bar abortions, because the Equal Protection Clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an anti-abortion statute.”

2002 was the year the U. S. Congress passed and President Bush signed the federal version of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. Unlike Obama in Illinois, Sen. Hillary Clinton voted to support the bill. In fact, the bill passed the Senate 98 to 0 with pro-abortion senators like Boxer (D-CA) and Reid (D-NV) supporting it.

In 2003, the bill was introduced in the Illinois legislature for the third time and directed to a committee chaired by Obama, Health and Human Services. They refused to bring the bill to a vote.

Only when Obama left for Washington in 2005 did the Born Alive Infant Protection Act pass the Illinois legislature. It’s for good reason Barack Obama has been called “the most pro-abortion presidential candidate ever.”

The Roman Catholics for Obama Web site has no mention of his opposition to the Born Alive Infant’s Protection Act. Look under its section “Life and Dignity of the Human Person,” and you will find statements on the death penalty, the Iraq War, gun control, and the promise to nurture “a socio-economic environment” that will provide “a safety net that will make abortion increasingly unnecessary and rare.”

Some of Obama’s infanticide apologists argue that since the declared intention of Obama in voting against the BAIP Act was to uphold Roe v. Wade then it was not evidence of “support for infanticide.” Such poor logic completely detaches Obama’s act of voting against the bill from its consequences. Without the passage of the bill, infants born in Illinois remained vulnerable to the lack of treatment witnessed first-hand in Christ Hospital by Jill Stanek.

It would be like a senator arguing that his vote to approve Iraq War funding was just to “support the troops” but not the war. How can you put a gun in a soldier’s hand without taking responsibility for what happens when he shoots it?

Democratic pundits don’t want to talk about Obama on abortion or infanticide, either. On a recent CNN broadcast, Wolf Blitzer asked Bill Bennett what he would ask Obama, if given the chance.

Bennett said he would ask Obama about his abortion extremism and why he “doesn’t see a problem with killing a baby after it’s been born after eight months.”

Donna Brazile, well-known Democratic consultant, reacted strongly: “You want to have a conversation about narrow issues, but the American people want to talk about gas prices.”

Brazile can be sure that $4.00 per gallon gasoline isn’t going to divest the millions of religious conservatives who care about the dignity of human life of their repugnance for infanticide. The last thing the Democrats want to hear are questions raised about Obama’s “moral judgment,” as Bill Bennett did on CNN.

Obama’s attempt to move to the middle of the political spectrum will have to overcome two major obstacles: the memory of Rev. Wright at the National Press Club and Obama’s voting record on the BAIP Act.

Obama does seem to have distanced himself successfully from his old pastor, but once Americans start asking why he would allow doctors to deny medical treatment to a newborn child, it may raise larger questions about moral judgment.

Charity, Civility, and Speaking the Truth

Deal W. Hudson
Published September 21, 2009

The funeral of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy provoked a highly charged debate among Catholics about civility. In the midst of this discussion, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, the prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, came to Washington, D.C., to be honored by InsideCatholic.com at its 14th Annual Partnership Dinner at the historic Mayflower Hotel.

Addressing more than 200 guests, Archbishop Burke said, “We must speak the truth in charity,” but also, “We should have the courage to look truth in the eye and call things by their common names.” The tension between these two admonitions is evident in his own heroic defense of the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of human life and his personal humility.

Frank Hanna, a Catholic businessman and philanthropist from Atlanta, noted this in his introduction of the honoree. Before ever meeting Archbishop Burke, Hanna said he thought of him as a lion, whose roar “would send chills of admiration” down his spine. But, when he finally met the man one day in Birmingham, he noted:

I was struck by his simple humility. He greeted me with kindness and warmth. And I thought to myself, that’s how lions are – no waving about, just quiet humble strength. There is a reason C. S. Lewis made Aslan, the lion, his hero.

Indeed, it is hard not to be struck by the gentle demeanor of the bishop who caused such a ruckus in the 2004 election by saying he would deny communion to presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry. Since then, he has remained one of the most outspoken American bishops on the subject of the defense of life and marriage.

Friday evening in Washington was no different. Throughout his 50-minute address, the archbishop returned again and again to the scandal of Catholic politicians who support abortion or same-sex marriage. He did not mince his words: “It is not possible to be a practicing Catholic and to conduct oneself in this manner.”

“Neither Holy Communion nor funeral rites should be administered to such politicians,” said Archbishop Burke. “To deny these is not a judgment of the soul, but a recognition of the scandal and its effects.”

With obvious reference to the Kennedy funeral, he argued that when a politician is associated “with greatly sinful acts about fundamental questions like abortion and marriage, his repentance must also be public.” He added, “Anyone who grasps the gravity of what he has done will understand the need to make it public.”

It’s not uncharitable to point out the scandal caused by these Catholic politicians. “The Church’s unity is founded on speaking the truth in love. This does not destroy unity but helps to repair a breach in the life of the Church.”

Archbishop Burke rejects all the standard arguments made by Catholic politicians and their apologists who support abortion and same-sex marriage. For example, the defense of the unborn and traditional marriage is not strictly a matter of religious faith. “The observance of the natural law is not a confessional practice – it’s inscribed in every human heart.”

Archbishop Burke describes the latest tactic of pro-abortion Catholic politicians, who talk about finding common ground, as a form of “proportionalist moral reasoning.” “Common ground is found rather on ‘the ground of moral goodness,’ and not in a compromise of certain moral truths, like the rejection of abortion and euthanasia.”

He warned against allowing this kind of false reasoning to enter the health-care debate. A Catholic cannot accept the attainment of universal health care if it includes abortion and other evils “just because it achieves some desirable outcomes.”

In this form of reasoning, the archbishop hears an echo of the type of “seamless garment” argument that conceals a distinction between intrinsically evil acts and those that may be evil in some situations; these acts “are not all of the same cloth.”

The standing ovation for Archbishop Burke lasted several minutes before Raymond Arroyo, the master of ceremonies and news director of EWTN, returned to the podium. Once again, as Hanna put it in his introduction, Archbishop Burke had “stood up for the Church and her teachings, in the face of violent world criticism and even some within the Church.”

As InsideCatholic.com editor Brian Saint-Paul handed Archbishop Burke the award for “Service to the Church and our Nation,” I commented that, “This lion speaks with the voice and face of a lamb, and, thus, is an example of how to speak the truth in charity.”