Earlier this month Catholic League president Bill Donohue called on Senator Barack Obama to dissolve his Catholic National Advisory Council because not one of the 26 former and current public policy makers in the group stand with the Catholic Church on key issues such as abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, and school vouchers. In addition, most of these individuals agree with NARAL, the leading abortion rights group in the country, 100% of the time.
Not surprisingly, Sen. Obama did not dissolve the group, which instead issued a letter in response to the Catholic League. For the complete text and the Catholic League’s response, click here.
A few things came to mind as I read the letter from Sen. Obama’s Catholic advisors:
(1) They began their letter complaining that they are being called Catholic dissidents because they support Sen. Obama. That isn’t what Dr. Donohue said, and in fact I haven’t heard anyone make such a statement. Rather, they are Catholic dissidents who support Sen. Obama. And surely Sen. Obama’s staunch support of abortion rights is a good fit for those who reject the Church’s teaching in this area.
(2) The advisors ask, “But what have nearly three decades of Republican promises to end abortion accomplished?” (I think they must be calculating from the beginning of Reagan’s first term.) Such a question makes it sound like everybody is against abortion, but the Republicans just have been inept at solving this problem. The fact of the matter is that many of the “Catholic” signatories have been leaders in the fight to preserve abortion as a “right,” and thus far have helped staved off the overturning of Roe v. Wade. If they are serious about ending abortion, which they’re not, they have had it in their power to work with the Republicans to make it happen.
(3) Their citing the U.S. bishops in support of their position is exactly why it’s problematic that this advisory group continues to exist. They hold themselves out as Sen. Obama’s “Catholic” advisors and selectively quote the U.S. bishops, but in reality they are not representative of the most basic beliefs held by the Catholic Church regarding human life. Some of them, like Senators Kennedy, Leahy, and Kerry, are well known for being outside the pale, and college professors like Richard Gaillardetz and Lisa Cahill have been using their position to foster dissent among their students. (That’s why it was such a big deal when the U.S. bishops’ committee on marriage and family for a time recommended Gaillardetz’ material on its otherwise useful marriage website.)
But what struck me most about the list of signatories was Gov. Sebelius of Kansas. Not only is she my governor, but just a couple days ago at this blog we talked about Archbishop Naumann’s request that she not receive Communion until she repents of her views and actions in support of abortion precisely because they’re not Catholic.