With the presidential election just next week, it has become readily apparent to me that many good and faithful Catholics these days can feel torn between adhering to their faith and a sense of loyalty to the Democratic Party. Indeed Catholicism and the Democrat Party have had very strong ties that have gone back for many generations in this nation. That said, today’s Democratic Party has shifted its platform to the point where, in my humble opinion, a faithful Catholic would be hard pressed to vote for most Democratic candidates today. With that assertion, let’s take an honest look and assess where the Democrat Party stands now in relation to Christ’s Church.
First, our last two popes and the bishops have taught that there are certain non-negotiable issues for faithful Catholics which trump and over-ride any and all other considerations when voting. Those non-negotiable issues as stated by the Church are:
Abortion: It is intrinsically evil and must never be promoted or condoned.
Embryonic stem cell research: It is intrinsically evil and must never be promoted or condoned.
Euthanasia: It is intrinsically evil and must never be promoted or condoned.
The traditional understanding of marriage: It is the union of one man and one woman and must always be upheld.
Education: The right of parents to educate their children must always be upheld.
Any and all other issues, even of a social justice nature are trumped by the preceding five non-negotiable measures. That includes issues such as immigration, environmental issues, affordable housing, and health care. Those are considered as policy issues and as such are considered matters of prudential judgment in which faithful Catholics are free to disagree. However, faithful Catholics are not able to disagree on the five non-negotiable issues.
Phoenix’s Bishop, Thomas Olmstead, clarified this dictate in a guide for Catholic voters called “Catholics in the Public Square”. The good Bishop stated,
“On each of these [policy] issues, we should do our best to be informed and to support those proposed solutions that seem most likely to be effective. However, when it comes to direct attacks on innocent human life, being right on all the other issues can never justify a wrong choice on this most serious matter.”
Indeed, the right to life is the sine qua non of all other rights. That is, without that right, there can be no others.
Pope John Paul II wrote:
“Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with the maximum determination.” (Christifideles Laici, 38)
In his letter, “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion,” Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) wrote:
“Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”
In a 2006 speech to European politicians, Pope Benedict XVI said the following:
“As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge clearly today: Protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; Recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;
The protection of the rights of parents to educate their children.”
So it seems that the Catholic Church is pretty clear on what issues, and candidates that support those issues, for which faithful Catholics absolutely cannot cast their vote.
So now let’s look at how those teachings coincide with the Democratic Party today.
The 2012 Democratic Platform as it pertains to abortion states the following: (my words in white)
The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion [the word "rare" was removed by the Democrats in 2008], regardless of ability to pay [this means taxpayer-funded abortions]. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.
When it comes to embryonic stem cell research the Democratic Party Platform of 2012 states:
[T]he President issued an executive order repealing the restrictions on embryonic stem cell research….
Where does the Democrat Party stand on euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide? Well, the Democrats in the States of Washington and Oregon (which are both blue states) were the first to legalize physician-assisted suicide for their citizens. The drive for legalization in other states is also led by Democrats, including the current ballot initiative in Massachusetts (another deep blue state). A growing number of state Democratic platforms explicitly call for the legalization of physician assisted suicide.
Next, let’s look at the Democrat Party's take on marriage. Again, the Democratic Party Platform of 2012 regarding marriage states the following (my words in white):
We support marriage equality [this is the euphemism for gay "marriage"] and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples…. We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act [the federal law that defines marriage as one man, one woman which President Obama, in violation of his oath of office, has dictated to his Justice Department to not enforce this duly passed law ] and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act [which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and give "federal benefits and protections" to same-sex "married" couples].
The support for gay "marriage" was added into the 2012 platform and was reportedly a "non-controversial" addition. Already great harm has been done by Democrats in states where gay “marriage” laws have been passed. Because of these laws, adoption and foster care programs that have placed thousands of children into homes for 100 years, in one case, were shut down. No longer can Catholic adoption and foster care programs operate in Rockford, Illinois or Boston, Massachusetts or in Washington D.C. because of these laws. Unfortunately myriads of children are the ones that are harmed by these laws accordingly.
Finally, let’s look at a parents right to educate their children as they deem best. Democrats and the liberal teachers’ unions to which they are beholden go to great lengths to deny parents a real choice in their children’s education, not only opposing school vouchers for private schools, but also discouraging the growth of public charter schools, which often deviate from the leftist model. Laws that seek to limit or end the legal rights of homeschooling parents also come overwhelmingly from Democrats.
So after evaluating each issue, it seems pretty clear that on every non-negotiable point for Catholics, the Democrats take the wrong side. When Obama first took office I never fathomed the threats to our religious freedoms that his often times unconstitutional governance would entail, particularly in the guise of his deplorable HHS mandate. I knew that in certain states, Democrat policies had tragically forced the closing of Catholic foster care and adoption agencies that had stood for generations, but I never expected a stroke of the pen to threaten the very existence of all Catholic charities, schools, hospitals, and businesses in the nation. And that will indeed become a reality if Obama is re-elected and his Obamacare Act is fully implemented.
The normally milquetoast US bishops were so alarmed that every single one of them voiced a protest and later organized a nationwide Fortnight for Freedom, encouraging organized prayer, adoration, and fasting. Anti-HHS religious liberty rallies have been held in hundreds of cities across the land, attended by tens of thousands of concerned Catholics and other Christians. Even Pope Benedict himself publicly warned of the "grave threat" to religious freedom in America -- a threat which was not even on the radar screen until Obama, the head of the Democrats, came to power.
The trend in the Democratic Party holds not a shred of hope for its future, as it's trending all one way: Toward radical secularization, with a marginalization of and hostility toward Catholicism that is snowballing to the point where this election cycle showcased multiple Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate reassuring their Democratic base that if elected, they would force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions! And at the Democratic National Convention this year, Democrats removed the last remaining reference to God from their Platform. Only after the public got wind of the removal did they famously stage a bogus voice vote to reinstate it. For now.
Catholics, as unpleasant as it may be, it's time to wake up to the reality of what has happened. A once-proud party in which faithful Catholics could feel comfortable is now positioning itself as an enemy of the Church. The Democratic Party of 2012 is nothing like the Democratic Party of our grandparents, which still had a solid moral grounding. Catholic Democrats today are being used for votes, and they are either unaware or unwilling to admit that the party they love no longer exists -- and is not coming back.
To all sincere and faithful Catholics who have not yet left the Democratic Party: Please consider that the Democratic Party has long ago left you.