The Giuliani Dilemma and the Price of Purity (or Impurity!)

What do CUF Catholics do about Rudy? Do we:

A) Repeat the same arguments used against John Kerry, to the effect that it would be impossible or nearly so for a Catholic to support him in good conscience? And then if he wins the nomination, do we support Clinton, who has no pretense of being Catholic; back a third party “values” candidate; or stay home entirely? In any event, the result would be the same—a big win for Hillary. Purity—in this case at the price of whatever damage a 4–8 year Clinton interregnum would do.

Or, B) Do we support another GOP candidate and deny the nomination to Giuliani even though, according to polls, none of the others is as likely to win in November? Of course, this will be a moot point if Giuliani wins the nomination. But there will be purity at the price of having a nominee who checks the right box on abortion, but in truth has no passion for any “values” issues and may well go onto lose in the fall anyway. I think it’s safe to say that none of the others (except maybe Huckabee) cares much at all about right-to-life, which is why Giuliani is doing so well in the first place.

Or, C) Do we hold our noses and support Rudy as the best hope to stop Hillary? True, he does “stink” on abortion and other issues, but a proportional reason argument could be made in his favor. He is a reputed law-and-order man who will likely appoint conservative judges to the federal bench and have the muster to muscle them though a liberal senate. And here is where a president is most likely to do harm or good, since abortion is not likely to be illegal any time soon. The price of this impurity is the scandal of a non-practicing Catholic who publicly dissents from key Church teachings from the highest office in the U.S. Would this not be a big boost for secular do-it-yourself Catholicism? Is the situation really made any better that Giuliani, unlike John Kerry, rarely bothers to go to Church or receive Communion, thus making no real pretense of being a practicing Catholic?

I’m not sure what to make of all this, but sooner or later the issue will be before us. Maybe it’s time to talk about it.

8 responses

  1. B. And I would say that Ron Paul is probably has the closest to a Catholic stance of any. Huckabee talks big, but seems to be for big government. Ron Paul is pro-life but not for the federal government being involved in a state issue.

    A federal amendment is not the answer. It just gives credence that that congress should be involved in this issue that truly belongs at the state level. And then when congress decides to change their mind and make abortion rights an amendment, then we will have “cut down all the laws to get at the devil” and where will be hide when “the devil turns on us” (to quote St. Thomas More from “A man from all seasons”.

  2. For the present time and into 2008, we pray, we hope, and we wait. The election is still a year away and many things may and will happen to alter the course that now seems so apparent. I wonder who would have thought in 1999 that George W. Bush would win in November 2008. Who would have honestly placed a modest bet upon it? Even further, who would have guessed in 1991 that William Clinton would win in 1992? It looked like a sure bet that the elder Bush would gain another four years at that point.

  3. Re (b), are polls about what will happen next November infallible? (Recall the 1992 election: one year before the vote, the elder President Bush was considered a shoo-in). Voting for the best candidate in the primaries is likely the most prudent course of action, for it has the potential to influence the winner in a better direction in his V.P., Cabinet, and judicial appointments. Voting for a Giuliani now, on the other hand, could be interpreted by the GOP leadership (and the eventual GOP nominee himself) as a mandate for abandoning the party’s opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

  4. The right to life being a states’ issue? That may sound nice but the founders saw the right to life as an inherent right beyond government control. Therefore, it seems that the federal government should be responsible for ensuring that right.

    If we say that it is up to the states then we reduce the right to life to a preference like blue laws.

    I believe that supporting Rudy either now or in the general election will do far worse for the country than supporting a “loser” and having Hillary win. If Giulianni is selected in the primaries that gives the GOP establishment an excuse to ignore values voters in the future.

  5. I agree with Jeff and Ian. If pro-lifers support Giuliani because he’s “less pro-abortion” than Clinton, we could get ourselves into long-term trouble. If the Republicans think they can appeal to the moderates by being “moderately” pro-abortion, and force pro-lifers to support them because they’re not as anti-life as the Democrats, what will stop them from nominating a pro-abortion candidate from now on?

    It’s sad that the GOP seems to be walking away from its pro-life supporters, but I don’t think we have to run after the Republicans and pledge our unconditional support. It seems Giuliani is counting on values voters thinking, “Anyone would be better than Clinton!” instead of, “Nothing is worse than being pro-abortion.”

    I, too, hope that the next year provides us with another option.

  6. I am very grateful to Pete for laying out the options so well, and I’m also grateful that some very clear thinkers have weighed in on this issue.

    What is both fascinating and edifying to me in this discussion is how everyone is forming prudential judgments based on well-ordered priorities. There is no official Catholic position on how to vote in the upcoming election (no matter how much ink the USCCB spills next week!). Rather, we must have well-formed consciences and then use the minds God gave us, even though sometimes we might disagree with one another. The responders reflect this balance of principle and application well.

    I don’t have anything substantive to add; I thought Elizabeth’s comments were right on the mark. I would say, though, that in a real way this election could be decided as much in the various adoration chapels around the country as in the voting booths, as really what is needed is the spiritual renewal of our country.

  7. I couldn’t agree more with Elizabeth’s comments. This should be a real concern to one who upholds the sanctity of life as well as of marriage and family. We should never be married to any political party, much less allow ourselves to be played by the Republican party. If we are not vigilant, Giuliani may ultimately benefit from a fearful “anything but Clinton” mentality among pro-life voters.

    While Giuliani may not be a practicing Catholic, as Pete Brown points out, the fact that he identifies himself as Catholic, while blatantly and publicly opposing Catholic moral teaching, is a cause for scandal. We deserve better than Giuliani and must demand it.

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