The Dumbest Column I Have Ever Read

Just prior to the recent election in the United States, Cardinal-elect Raymond Burke repeated in an interview a position which is not only consistent with longstanding Catholic teaching, but which expresses a common sense response to the murder of 50 million children in the United States alone since Roe vs. Wade. He said we cannot vote for those who would allow this massacre to continue.

I recently read a column which actually tried to portray Cardinal-elect Burke’s statement as being at odds with the Magisterium.

The author started the article by describing the statement as a “command … that Catholics vote Tea-publican in 2010.”

First of all, if the political parties in America had swapped their positions on abortion, not a word of the message of Cardinal-elect Burke would have changed. The reason is that he is not talking about one or another party; he is talking about every party. He is not advocating for one or another candidate; he is articulating a standard for every candidate. He is not seeking to influence one particular election; he is teaching the principles that guide every election.

The author of the column I read quotes the Second Vatican Council’s statement that “The Church and the political community in their own fields are autonomous and independent from each other.” He then apparently cannot recognize it when the Church exercises her role in her particular autonomous and independent field, namely, to speak the moral truth, regardless of whether it helps or hurts – or appears to endorse or oppose – any particular candidate or party.

Yet there is one mistake the author makes that is even worse. He thinks abortion is a “disappearing” issue and has “a vanishing political future.” Did he miss the debate over abortion in health care? Or perhaps he missed the statistics released after the election (by The Polling Company) indicating that 27 percent of voters said abortion funding in the health care law affected their vote and they voted for candidates who opposed the health care law while just 4 percent said abortion funding in the health care law affected their vote and they voted for candidates who favored the law.

The polling also indicates that thirty percent of all voters said that abortion “affected” their vote with 22% of all voters backing pro-life candidates and only eight percent saying they supported pro-abortion candidates – giving pro-life candidates a net pro-life advantage of 14 percent among all voters. Examined another way, of the Americans who voted based on the issue of abortion, 73 percent picked pro-life candidates while just 27 percent supported abortion advocates.

It’s hardly accurate to portray abortion as a “vanishing” issue.

And one more point. We have to stop abusing theology to rationalize our lack of courage to end abortion. Abortion is ripping the arms and legs off of babies and crushing their heads. The abortionists themselves call it “dismemberment” and “decapitation.” There can be no neutrality here, and to imply that Church documents say any different is simply an insult to the Church.

Political Responsibility is an Ongoing Process

When the disciples of Christ exercise their citizenship and elect people to public office, the responsibilities of those disciples do not stop there. The duty of electing public servants then becomes the duty to lobby them, to hold them accountable to those who elected them, and to the responsibilities of public service.

The first of those responsibilities is the defense of human life and human rights. Those in public office who fail in this responsibility need to be challenged by the public. And those elected officials who do carry out their duties need to hear from us words of encouragement and our offer of assistance.

Many who hold public office have told me that they cannot do their job unless we believers do ours. Let’s get to work, then, and lobby for life.

Reach for the Low-Hanging Fruit

Each of us has but one vote. Yet we can all influence thousands of votes. And we should start with the people who need the least amount of urging. If you have friends who already agree with you on the key issues of the day, and who would probably support the candidates you support, please make sure that they do in fact intend to vote for that candidate. Some information from you, a friendly nudge, or perhaps a promise of assistance to get them to the polls can go a long way.

We should reach for the “low-hanging fruit.” If the same amount of energy by which we persuade one who disagrees with us can mobilize ten people who agree with us already, get the ten first; then come back for the rest.

Catholic Voters Get Guidance From Rome

As Americans approach the eve of election week, U.S. Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke is reminding Catholics in an exclusive 25-minute video interview that they are bound in conscience to vote for political candidates who oppose aborting babies, embryonic stem cell experiments, euthanasia and so-called homosexual “marriage.”

“Millions of Catholics have no idea it’s a sin to vote for candidates who favor these grave evils, which attack the very foundations of society,” said Thomas McKenna, President of Catholic Action for Faith and Family. “This matter-of-fact, pointed interview granted to me by Archbishop Raymond Burke in Rome last week makes it very clear what the responsibility of every American Catholic will be next Tuesday.”

In recent years Archbishop Burke, who is prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s “supreme court,” has taught repeatedly that Catholic politicians who support abortion rights may not receive Holy Communion and that Catholics who know of the politicians’ voting record on these issues cannot vote for them and retain “a clear conscience.”

McKenna interviewed Archbishop Burke in Rome on Oct. 20 literally hours after it was announced he would be elevated to Cardinal. The 25-minute interview is being released to help inform Catholic voters before the U.S. elections on Nov. 2nd. Some of the points the Archbishop makes are:

“As a bishop it’s my obligation in fact, to urge the faithful to carry out their civic duty in accord with their Catholic faith.”

“You can never vote for someone who favors absolutely the right to choice of a woman to destroy a human life in her womb or the right to a procured abortion.”

“So, the Catholic Church in teaching that sexual acts between persons of the same sex are intrinsically evil, are against nature itself, is simply announcing the truth, helping people to discriminate right from wrong in terms of their own activities.”

Today, McKenna’s will launch two five-minute videos on YouTube, and a 25-minute Q&A video interview that is available for broadcast. The three videos all feature Archbishop Burke teaching Catholics about voter responsibility, including key points from his 2004 pastoral letter, “On Our Civic Responsibility for the Common Good.” The interview can be seen at

Catholic Action for Faith and Family is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and promoting Catholic principles.

Crunch Time is Here: Mobilization Efforts Are Needed!

In elections, it is not the candidate who is right on the issues who necessarily wins, nor even the candidate with whom most people agree. Nor is it the candidate with the most money, nor the one who is ahead in the polls.

Rather, the candidate wins who has the higher number of people actually cast their vote.

That is why between now and Election Day it is crucial for each of us to focus on mobilizing more and more votes, on getting people to vote early, and on actually going door to door with election literature. Organize youth groups and other efforts to go throughout your neighborhood with a pro-life message about the importance of the election. Remember, the pro-abortion forces are doing this — we must not fail to do it ourselves.

A Moral Obligation to Vote

While voting is always a moral obligation, sometimes that obligation is stronger than at other times. This is especially true when pro-life people have an opportunity to elect, in a close race, someone who is committed to protect the unborn, and remove from office someone else who isn’t. The closer a race is, the more each person’s vote matters. And among candidates who have a strong enough base to win, we have a moral obligation to vote in such a way that will do the most to advance the culture of life.

We each have one vote, but we can also influence thousands of other votes. We can directly help candidates by volunteering for their campaigns, and we can help other voters understand their duty and get to the polls.

The Party Matters

When deciding on the candidate for whom you cast your vote in an election, a number of moral principles have to be considered. As I have often written in the past, the position of the candidate him/herself on the most important issues is of key importance, because by putting that person in a position to vote on legislation, you help to move public policy either closer or farther away from the moral law.

But that very consideration also means that the positions of the party to which the candidate belongs also matter. By putting that candidate in office, you also help to put his/her party into power. This has to be taken into consideration, too. Voters need to ask how much the election of a particular candidate will shift the balance of power between the parties, and what will happen when a particular party takes control. Voters should know the platform of the party and the official positions of party leadership on the same moral issues on which the individual candidate is evaluated.

At times, in all parties, the individual candidate will take a different position than his/her party on fundamental moral issues. Yet if the election of that candidate would shift control to his/her party, which holds the opposite position on those issues, a vote for that candidate, in effect, works against the position the voter may be trying to advance.

In short, the party matters.

To illustrate why the party matters, let’s look at what happens in the United States Senate.

The Majority party in the Senate chooses the Majority Leader. The Majority Leader has control of the Senate schedule and agenda. This includes the ability to select the timing for floor proceedings, that is, debates, consideration of amendments, and voting, both for legislation and nominations.

The Majority Party has a majority on all committees (except the Ethics Committee), usually in close proportion to its share of the body as a whole. The Majority Party on every committee also controls a majority of the staff on the committee.

The Majority in each committee recommends to their caucus a Committee Chairman. Typically, their selection is rubberstamped by the Majority Party in the Senate. The chairmen, in turn, set the agenda of their respective committees. This is an extremely powerful post. For example, chairmen sometimes refuse to schedule hearings on nominees and legislation, and this effectively kills them. In other words, the best candidate in either party could introduce the best legislation imaginable, and it would never come out of committee. The party matters.

Considerations about what party would be in power as a result of the outcome of a particular election become especially relevant when the opposing candidates take the same position on issues of key importance.

Reflections like these are not an endorsement of a party; rather, they are an aspect of the duty that we as clergy have to articulate the moral dimensions of voting. If they benefit one party over another, that’s not by our choice, but by the choice of the party to take the positions it takes.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

As elections draw near, how can we tell where candidates stand on the issues? Their own words can be so deceptive. One way is to look up what individuals or groups are endorsing them or contributing to them. This is public information. You know a person by his or her friends. Also, if the candidate has already held public office, look up his or her voting record. Actions speak louder than words.

And because that’s true, we should not simply ask them what they believe, but rather what are they willing to do once in office. Regarding abortion, it’s easy to say one is pro-life. But what steps will one commit to in order to advance the protection of the unborn? That’s the kind of question we should ask the candidates, and make their answer known.

Webcast this Wednesday

Election Day is right around the corner and what matters now is educating people about the Candidates & getting as many people as possible to the polls. This year, Priests for Life is providing links to 501(c)3 friendly voter guides for any State that has them. Find the voter guide for your state at and share them with others. You can find more helpful election information at

To help you with your “get out the vote activities,” I am holding an important webcast on Wednesday, October 27 from 9-10pm ET. David Barton of Wallbuilders and David Bereit of 40 Days for Life will be my guest panelists. To listen online go to where you can also submit questions now or during the event. You can also listen to the webcast over the phone at (712) 432-1001 with access code: 437356605#. Please join us and encourage others to do so as well by signing up at

Also on Wednesday, October 27 from 3:00-3:45pm ET, Msgr. Michael Mannion, a true pro-life pioneer, will join me on a “Mobilizing the Clergy for Life” webcast. Please let any Priest, Deacon or Seminarian know that we want them to join us and we will open the phone lines for questions. They can listen to the webcast at or over the phone at (718) 290-9983 with conference ID: 307488#. They can register for the webcast at

We are in the midst of two important novenas, one for Election Day and another for Priesthood Sunday, which takes place on Sunday, October 31. Both novenas and all of our upcoming novenas can be found at Please join us and spread the word.