The Purpose of Primaries

One of the great things about our American system is that voters not only select which candidates get elected to public office, but also which of those who want to be candidates actually end up on the ballot. In other words, we get to create the choices we will have on Election Day.

That’s what primaries are all about. Primaries are elections which take place before the general Election Day. The dates of primaries differ in each state. When you vote in a primary, you have a wider range of choices, and are therefore more likely to find a candidate with whom you agree on more issues.

For those in Florida, be sure to vote in tomorrow’s primary if you are eligible. This is your chance to choose the person you want to be the Presidential candidate. And for those in Oregon’s 1st Congressional District, you also have an important runoff election tomorrow. Find more details about these and other election–related events at

Let’s not just settle for the choices we’re given on Election Day. Let’s help create those choices in the primaries! Find out more at

Please take a moment to check out my Birthday Wish on behalf of the cause Pray to End Abortion.

6 thoughts on “The Purpose of Primaries

  • January 31, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Are We Pro-Life?

    Could it be that the recent sentiment that we are not “pro-life,” but just “pro-birth,” be justified? If it is, then the future of the Pro-Life movement is in danger. Before I address this question, I wish to salute all of you who fight so vigorously for those who cannot speak for themselves, the unborn. Our Diocese recently attended the March for Life in Washington D.C. with 3 full buses and plenty of enthusiasm as they braved rain and cold with about 300,000 others to bring attention to the Pro-Life cause, and to help bring an end to the national horror of abortion. Watching the translation of all of our enthusiasm into the practical world of politics, however, leaves me wondering if the Pro-Life movement is at a critical juncture in defining what it stands for. This is due to a new question that has emerged about us that threatens to redefine us in public opinion: are they really “ pro-life,” or just “ pro-birth?” Many millions of votes hang in the balance on how we respond to this.

    If you have been intimately involved in the Pro-Life movement, and this does not alarm you in any way, then allow me to explain the threat this new accusation poses to the movement; and how we must be consistent and wholly Catholic in our response to prevent us from being marginalized in our work to influence the world of politics. The specific primary goal of the pro-life movement has been to end the atrocity of abortion in this country, by touching the hearts and the consciences of those who currently support what John Paul II called our existing “culture of death”. Eliminating abortion is the primary first piece in the mosaic of life issues we support as a Church, from conception to a natural death. But to even begin to change hearts and minds on life- issues, we must be consistent, rather than merely selective, in our position on all life- issues. This includes abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, cloning, stem cell research, and war policy among others.. If not, for those undecided on these issues, the hypocrisy will be clear to see. As a result, the Pro-Life movement itself will be dismissed as yet another valueless and empty political persuasion on one single issue, rather than a call to conscience to honor the true sanctity of all life.

    Today there is a mix of wins and losses on the part of our Pro-Life movement. How are we winning? For one, this small term “pro-life,” is now a powerful political tool to earn votes from a large group of united prayerful and hopeful voters who believe that upholding the sanctity of human life is the most important issue we have in this country. Secondly, this has motivated all four of the 2012 GOP presidential finalists to want the label ”pro-life.” The term pro-life has so much power now, that even those who support abortion will defend their stance often by saying they are “pro-life,” but also “pro-choice.” It is clear to see the hypocrisy in their defense of themselves in this way. Due to the failure of this tactic, many in the media who support abortion refer to those who are “pro-life,” with the more negative sounding term “anti-abortion”. The words “ pro-life” have tremendous power today.

    If this is so, then where are we losing? We are losing support from many young idealistic potential voters who recognize that the pro-life label does not currently extend to all life issues. This is the opposite trend from what, in 1995, Pope John Paul II said in his pastoral letter Evangelium Vitae: “Among the signs of hope we should also count the spread, at many levels of public opinion, of a new sensitivity ever more opposed to war as an instrument for the resolution of conflicts between peoples, and increasingly oriented to finding effective but “non-violent” means to counter the armed aggressor. In the same perspective there is evidence of a growing public opposition to the death penalty…” We are losing because candidates who have embraced our most recent wars, as well as favor capital punishment which John Paul II said should be “very rare, if not practically non-existent”, are allowed to use the label “pro-life,” without any appreciable and unified opposition from us simply because they stand against abortion.. This is why the new charge: changing the label from “pro-life” to “pro-birth” is being raised more frequently. If the new label “only pro-birth” is true about us as a Pro-Life movement, then we lose the power of the “pro-life” term we have fought so hard to establish in politics.. Our response now is critical to avoid being marginalized as a movement. We must require a higher standard of consistency to the candidates: are they truly “pro-life” or just “pro-birth?”

    For example, our nation’s response to the loss of 2,792 people on September 11th, 2001, was an unfortunate reversal of the trend Pope John Paul II cited just a few years earlier. Our collective anger as a nation and our instinctual urge to believe that our aggressive retaliation was justified, led to the deaths of over 110,600 Iraqi men, women, and children between March, 2003 and April, 2009, according to the Associated Press. We must not forget that Pope John Paul II called the Iraq war “a defeat for humanity” and told president Bush :”You are very familiar with the unequivocal position of the Holy See in this regard.” Pope Benedict XVI has also stated : “reasons sufficient for unleashing a war against Iraq did not exist.”

    Do not dismiss this as pacifism. Our Church does not insist that we all become pacifist, but simply teaches that war must be our absolute last resort, and that for Catholics to support a war, it must be a “just war.” In The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2309, the Church lists four strict conditions that must be met for “legitimate defense by military force” as follows:
    -“the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain; “
    -“all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;”
    -” there must be serious prospects of success;”
    -“the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power as well as the precision of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition. “

    The majority of the current presidential candidates do not feel the need to reverse this ten year war policy trend, because the people have lost the “new sensitivity ever more opposed to war” in the years since we were attacked.. Like Peter, in the garden of Gethsemane, we have already used our sword, but in the Gospel of Matthew, Christ warns us of the consequences: if we “live by the sword”, we will “die by the sword.”. Our faith challenges our retaliatory impulse and invites us to embrace Jesus’ radical commandment to “love your enemies”. Therefore, as we stand teetering on the edge of yet another escalating conflict, this time with Iran, we must realize that the Pro-Life movement should not allow the current presidential candidates to wear the “pro-life” label uncontested without embracing the full scope of Pro-Life movement issues.

    If we allow this, then we fail in calling people to any true reformation of conscience, and the label “pro-life” in all its fullness of meaning is likely to be dismissed as hypocritical and inconsistent, and in politics, the new label pro-birth will gain momentum because many will say it is more accurate. When, not if, this happens, it will be because we have individually failed to consistently stand for what we as a Church believe. To reverse this trend, we must demand a consistent support for the ethic of life from the political representatives who want to represent us. Only in this way can we help to reform the conscience of our nation, which has been gradually and progressively desensitized to violence in recent decades because of the legality of abortion and the prevalence of war with a decreasing understanding of the true horror of war. Most of the primary news media ignored the March for Life, and some of the more horrible aspects of war are are similarly given minimal coverage. If we do not have the help of the media it is up to us to revive this “new sensitivity” that we have lost, by spreading this message.

    Brothers and sisters in Christ, allow your faith to challenge your heart and reform your conscience on all Pro-Life issues. Only if we support all life issues consistently can we hope to finally end abortion and have the Pro-Life movement remain a force that is taken seriously and not viewed as hypocritical by generations to come. Will we be loyal to our political party’s stance, or to our faith and the teachings of our Church? Will we all stand together for all the values and virtues Christ calls us to accept? Does the weight of our support make us truly pro-life? Or only pro-birth? We will lose the influence of our moral voice otherwise. March for Life is about ending abortion. Pro-Life is about so much more. How urgent is it that we get this right? Since abortions occur at the rate of 2.5/minute, how many have died since you started reading this article? The key to ending this is to be uniform in our support for all life at all times.

    Just as John Paul II once challenged us with these words, so too must we challenge those who wish to represent us : ”We find ourselves not only “faced with” but necessarily “in the midst of” this conflict: we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life.”. Amen.

    I welcome your response: ( Denny Arnoult) you can email me,
    or call at 228-216-0350

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