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If Roe Is Overturned, Bishops Can No Longer Let Catholic Democrats Off The Hook

Catholic bishops will finally have to choose between adhering to the Church’s teaching on abortion and maintaining their Faustian bargain with Democrats.

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After months of accusing Republicans of using “phony, trumped-up culture wars” to divide the electorate, the Democrats have chosen abortion, the mother of all culture war issues, as the hill on which they will fight and die in 2022.

When Politico published a draft of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, the left’s reaction to its striking down of Roe v. Wade predictably combined wailing and gnashing of teeth with crass political posturing. With uncharacteristic speed and clarity, our “devoutly Catholic” president used the draft to encourage voters to support pro-abortion candidates in the November elections and call upon Congress to codify Roe into law.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer then dutifully lifted up the banner of child murder, bringing a bill to the floor last Wednesday that would have legalized abortion up until the point of birth. Although this gambit was doomed to fail because the filibuster remains intact, all but one of the Democrats who identify as Catholic voted for it.

So, barring any justices bending to public pressure and changing their minds (which was likely the idea behind leaking the draft in the first place), the power to pass laws regarding abortion is going to be returned to state legislatures. This means Catholic bishops will finally have to choose between adhering to what the church teaches regarding those who support abortion and maintaining their Faustian bargain with the Democratic Party.

Nowhere to Hide Now

From its very inception, the church has taught that abortion is a grave moral evil. This teaching has been consistently upheld by canonists and theologians for more than 2,000 years. In 1974, on the heels of Roe v. Wade and similar efforts, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued its “Declaration on Procured Abortion,” which clearly stated not only that abortion is a mortal sin, but also that supporting its legalization (no matter one’s “personal opposition”) is as well:

It must in any case be clearly understood that whatever may be laid down by civil law in this matter, man can never obey a law which is in itself immoral, and such is the case of a law which would admit in principle the liceity of abortion. Nor can he take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it. (Emphasis mine.)

Although a Catholic legislator’s vote in favor of legalizing abortion still falls short of the “formal cooperation” that carries with it automatic ex-communication, the church still considers such a vote a stain on the legislator’s soul. As such, unless he confesses his sin and does penance for it, he may not receive communion without committing the second mortal sin of sacrilege, a point that many American bishops and priests seem to have forgotten.

Giving unto Caesar What is God’s

On the issue of abortion, the Democratic Party demands that its Catholic members leave the moral teachings of their faith at the statehouse doors. Under the diabolical euphemisms of “reproductive rights” and “women’s health,” abortion holds a central place in the health care plank of its platform:

Democrats are committed to protecting and advancing reproductive health, rights, and justice. We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should be able to access high-quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion. We will repeal the Title X domestic gag rule and restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood… Democrats oppose and will fight to overturn federal and state laws that create barriers to reproductive health and rights. We will repeal the Hyde Amendment, and protect and codify the right to reproductive freedom.

For years, it has been clear that Democrats must toe the line on supporting child murder or be purged from the ranks. No other issue comes close to this shibboleth of the left; to the party of today, a Democrat must favor unrestricted abortion or he is no Democrat.

For almost 50 years, the bishops have actively avoided holding these lawmakers accountable for promoting the Culture of Death in return for the party’s lip service to Catholic social teaching.

True, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) showed some evidence of a spine last year when it announced the crafting of a teaching letter on the Eucharist, a move that caused much uproar among pro-abortion “Catholics.” Yet when the letter was issued in November, it contained no mention of disciplining abortion-supporting politicians.

Instead, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, the head of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, offered some tepid comments about the bishops’ “responsibility to have dialogue and conversation with those who are Catholic but who act in a way contrary to our faith in this basic moral teaching.”

Time to Make the Real Choice

With all due respect to Naumann, the time for “dialogue and conversation” with these legislators is long past; their zeal for legalizing abortion shows that. There have already been legislative efforts in multiple states in anticipation of the Dobbs decision.

Should the decision be handed down in its present form, these efforts will intensify, placing clergy and laity squarely in the crosshairs of pro-abortion ideologues who are openly anti-Catholic and have few qualms about resorting to intimidation or even violence to achieve their goals. Will the mounting number of attacks on parishes finally convince the bishops to act in accordance with Catholic teaching?

In Old Testament times, Elijah called the people of Israel to come to Mount Carmel and witness the battle he waged against the four hundred priests of the pagan god Baal. There, the prophet “came near to all the people, and said, ‘How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.’” (I Kings 18:21).

Catholic bishops throughout the country must now finally make a similar choice between God and Moloch. Obviously, their sheep in the Democratic Party have already made this choice and received their reward. As these leaders of the church struggle with their consciences, they would do well to remember the words of another prophet: “‘Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!’ says the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:1).