A small catechism on politics and pro-abortion Catholic politicians

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By Fr. Jerry Pokorsky (bio – articles – email) | October 30, 2021

1) What does the Church teach about the morality of abortion? Vatican Council II reinforces the gravity of sin: “… from its conception, life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes. “(GS 51)

2) What does canon law say about public officials who promote abortion (or who are “pro-choice”)? “Those who have been excommunicated or banned after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others stubbornly persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion. “(Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law)

3) Why is the Church’s response important? Church teaching — and Church discipline — is a matter of life and death for the unborn child and eternal salvation for the Catholic politicians involved. The salvation of those who vote for such candidates is also in danger. “For whoever eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. “(1 Cor. 11:29)

4) Does the Church “interfere in politics” when it disciplines politicians identified as “gross sinners” for their support for abortion? No. The question itself betrays an attitude that ignores the scale of the crime of abortion. Will the person asking such a question ask, “Does the Church meddle in politics when it disciplines politicians identified as ‘great manifest sinners’ for their support for the extermination of the Jews?” Unborn babies are innocent and helpless human beings who need our protection.

5) Why did the bishops not apply the obvious canonical remedies to pro-abortion Catholic bishops? A handful of bishops have admirably exercised their rightful authority in this regard.

6) Why haven’t more bishops done it? It’s hard to know. Many bishops have relinquished their authority at the USCCB and are simply waiting for direction from the body of bishops. The USCCB has some administrative and liturgical jurisdiction, but does not hold any doctrinal authority over individual bishops.

7) Should priests publicly support political candidates? Although priests have the right to have private political opinions and preferred politicians, it is not wise to publicly support any of them. The arena of priests is the religious sphere where they give back to God what belongs to Him. The kingdom of the laity is the political sphere where they give back to Caesar what belongs to him. When Caesar violates the law of God, the clergy have the right and the obligation to intervene.

8) Should priests publicly oppose political candidates? Yes, priests have a duty to publicly oppose political candidates who encourage violations of God’s Law. There should be no objection to public opposition to the pro-abortion views of politicians such as President Biden, Speaker of the House Pelosi and Virginia candidate for governor Terry McAuliffe. (There is no ambiguity in their pro-abortion views.) It is incorrect to conclude that the same priests necessarily support the views of opposition candidates. On the other hand, a priest should never end up “in the pocket” of a politician. It belongs to Christ and to his Church.

9) Do you allow political candidates to address parishioners at church? While there may be legal and political allowances, it is best to keep a church a house of prayer.

10) Are you worried about IRS sanctions such as loss of tax status? No, although angry observers who oppose pro-life activism sometimes threaten it. The double standard is striking. Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams urged black worshipers in Virginia to run for the former [pro-abortion Catholic] Gov. Terry McAuliffe (R) in his candidacy for a second term as leader of the Old Dominion during campaign shutdowns on Sunday … Abrams told an audience that when she first got involved in politics, she thought it was wrong to combine politics and church, according to the AP. Later, however, she said her parents told her the two subjects still crossed paths. ‘Politics is still in the church’ Abrams said his mother would tell him. (La Colline, BY Mychael Schnell — 10/17/21)

10) What is your opinion on the voter guides? I think the hierarchy should avoid voter guides as they tend to dilute the severity of abortion compared to prudent policy decisions in other areas such as immigration, climate change and war. But the facts are stubborn things. It is indisputable that the Democratic Party has become the Abortion Party – with rare exceptions. Of course, some might say we shouldn’t allow 99% of pro-abortion Democrats to give the rest a bad name. Others may argue – rightly in many cases – that Republicans often pretend to support pro-life causes and not much else. These facts underscore the urgency for the laity to take control of the political arena.

11) If you had to select a voter guide, what would you choose? The Planned Parenthood Voter Guides are invaluable in identifying pro-abortion candidates worthy of vigorous opposition.

12) What is the role of the clergy in political matters? Priests and bishops should make it a habit to state Christian principles (eg, abortion is an “unspeakable crime”) for application by the laity. Bishops are obliged to impose religious sanctions in accordance with Church law on “great manifest sinners.”

13) How did the clergy fail in politics? I am disappointed with the tendency of men of the Church to blur the distinction between Catholic principles and the application of those principles. America, for example, has fought many wars as a superpower. Every Catholic (and Catholic politician) should have a clear understanding of the principles of just war to be applied by the laity. We dont do.

14) Should the clergy remain silent on these other political questions? Not necessarily. I would rather see the Church’s vast bureaucracy – which includes many more lay people than priests and bishops – carefully identify competing prudential solutions for lay people to consider. Indeed, the clergy should consult the laity for expert analysis and positions. But over the past few decades, we can’t seem to avoid the clericalism (and pride) of taking a stand for or against any prudential decision, from immigration to climate change.

Bro. Jerry Pokorsky is a priest in the Diocese of Arlington who has also served as a financial administrator in the Diocese of Lincoln. Trained in commerce and accounting, he also holds a master’s degree in theology and a master’s degree in moral theology. Father Pokorsky co-founded both CREDO and Adoremus, two organizations deeply committed to an authentic liturgical renewal. He writes regularly for a number of Catholic websites and magazines. See the full biography.

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