(CNSNews.com) – The Catholic bishop for the diocese of Springfield, Ill., said that the planks supporting abortion and same-sex marriage in the Democratic Party Platform constitute an explicit endorsement of “intrinsic evils,” and that voting for candidates who promote such evils makes one “morally complicit” and jeopardizes the “eternal salvation” of one’s soul.
CNSNews.com contacted by email and telephone the Democratic Party of Illinois, the Democratic National Committee, Catholics for Obama, Catholics for Choice, and Democrats for Life for a response to Bishop Thomas John Paprocki’s remarks, but only Democrats for Life responded.
Amb. Douglas Kmiec, a law professor at Pepperdine University who endorsed then-Sen. Barack Obama for president in 2008, also responded.
In his Sept. 23 column and video, Bishop Paprocki discussed the platforms of both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Concerning the issue of abortion and the Democrats, Bp. Paprocki said: “In 1992, presidential candidate Bill Clinton famously said that abortion should be ‘safe, legal and rare.’ That was the party's official position until 2008. Apparently ‘rare’ is so last century that it had to be dropped, because now the Democratic Party Platform says that abortion should be ‘safe and legal.’”
“Moreover, the Democratic Party Platform supports the right to abortion ‘regardless of the ability to pay,'" states the bishop. "Well, there are only three ways for that to happen: either taxpayers will be required to fund abortion, or insurance companies will be required to pay for them (as they are now required to pay for contraception), or hospitals will be forced to perform them for free.”
On gay “marriage,” the bishop said, “Moreover, the Democratic Party Platform also supports same-sex marriage, recognizes that ‘gay rights are human rights,’ and calls for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act ….”
“There are many positive and beneficial planks in the Democratic Party Platform,” said the bishop, “but I am pointing out those that explicitly endorse intrinsic evils.”
As for the Republicans, Bishop Paprocki wrote, “I have read the Republican Party Platform and there is nothing in it that supports or promotes an intrinsic evil or a serious sin.”
He concludes his column by stating, “I am not telling you which party or which candidates to vote for or against, but I am saying that you need to think and 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.”
While neither the Democratic Party nor Catholics for Obama responded to CNSNews.com’s inquiries about Bishop Paprocki’s column, Ambassador Doug Kmiec, a Catholic and distinguished law professor who endorsed Barack Obama for president in 2008, did comment.
Ambassador Kmiec is professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine University School of Law and the author of the 2008 book, Can a Catholic Support Him? Asking the Big Question About Barack Obama.
CNSNews.com asked Ambassador Kmiec specifically about the bishop’s defining of the Democratic Party Platform’s planks on abortion and same-sex marriage as “intrinsic evils” and that voting “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.”
Ambassador Kmiec said, “On the basic teaching of the Church I have no disagreement with the bishop--that if someone was to explicitly endorse a candidate or a party platform for its embrace of intrinsic evils that they would themselves be complicit in the evil and would be on the wrong side of the ledger.”
“But,” said Kmiec, “I think most of the people who are Catholic and who support President Obama do so in the latitude that the bishops give in their faithful citizenship documents, where one makes it plain that one’s support for a candidate or support for the other portions, consistent portions of a party platform, is not intended to be an endorsement of positions that involve the advancement of intrinsic evils.”
Kmiec further said, “Now, the difficulty always is, as the bishop identifies, the intrinsic evil of abortion. Catholics who support Obama do not endorse the intrinsic evil of abortion--quite the contrary. They do, however, find that his policies of supporting healthcare, especially pre-natal care, post-natal care, maternity care, care for young children, the support and the expansion of Medicaid the support and the strengthening of Medicare, end up in their prudential judgment, in our prudential judgment, believed to result in less abortion and greater protection for the overall sanctity of life.”
“But, I want to be very clear about this,” said Kmiec, “under no circumstances, in my judgment, can a Catholic who is endorsing President Obama endorse him because of his policy, his personal policy on abortion or the way abortion is treated under the Democratic Platform. I think the bishop is entirely correct on that. And if my endorsement of president would be construed that way, it would not be my intent for it to be construed that way, and I would be remiss if somebody did construe it in that fashion, not to correct them.”
Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, told CNSNews.com in an e-mail: “As a loyal Catholic (convert), I support my church and my Bishop. These are all very difficult issues--and voters will have to make decisions on who they should vote for in November.”
“As an organization, although not a Catholic organization, we support and endorse candidates who are the most consistent with Catholic social teaching,” said Day. “We are proud of our candidates and members who oppose abortion, but also support anti-hunger programs, opposed the Ryan budget, and who hold a consistent life position.
“Our pro-life Democrats oppose the Democratic Party position on abortion and will continue to work for a day when the Democratic Platform does not embrace abortion,” she said.