CHESAPEAKE - (Catholic Online) On Saturday February 28, 2009, the Obama Administration announced that on Monday the President will nominate Governor Kathleen Sebelius to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services. This President removed limitations on abortion by overturning the Mexico City Policy and recently announced he will remove the conscience protections for pro-life medical practitioners.
It appears that the release of news was timed to occur on the same day that “Catholics United”, a group which works in concert with “Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good”, launched its new web site entitled “Catholics for Sebelius”. On that advocacy site this group stretches accuracy beyond anything they have done before. They argue that this Governor who has been told by her Bishop, Joseph Naumann, to refrain from presenting herself for Holy Communion until she takes “the necessary steps for amendment of her life which would include a public repudiation of her previous efforts and actions in support of laws and policies sanctioning abortion” is an acceptable choice for Catholics.One is welcomed to this site with these words “Catholics across the nation are rallying behind the nomination of Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Here you'll find information about Gov. Sibelius' record on issues important to Catholics, and an opportunity to register your support for her nomination.”
Let me begin with words from Francis Cardinal George which expose the error behind this organization’s claim: “Catholic Social thought is built upon the foundational truth that every single human life has an inherent human dignity and must be respected and protected. The unborn child, who is alive and is a member of the human family, cannot defend himself or herself. Good law defends the defenseless. Our present laws permit unborn children to be privately killed. Laws that place unborn children outside the protection of law destroy both the children killed and the common good, which is the controlling principle of Catholic social teaching. One cannot favor the legal status quo on abortion and also be working for the common good."
This Secretary designee, if confirmed, will make the major decisions concerning health care right when major changes in the delivery of health care services loom. She is, in my opinion, a WRONG choice for Catholics and for the true common good. Under her leadership this administration will insist that the voluntary taking of innocent human life in the first home of the whole human be considered a “medical procedure” and covered in health programs. This Governor vetoed legislation to limit abortions and held a fundraiser for notorious abortionist George Tiller who is now on trial for 19 criminal charges related to his performance of late term abortions.
“Catholics United” has a serious problem. First, Many will rightly ask whether they are being faithfully “Catholic” in taking this position? The teaching of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church on this matter is absolutely, unequivocally clear. Are they trying to confuse? Second, I maintain that this appointment does not promote the Common Good. They attempt to paint anyone who opposes this nomination and their errant position as “right wing” and against the much needed reform of our health care system. Because of that, let me explain my own positions. I am neither “right wing” nor am I an opponent of a major revision of our health care system. I have always called my self a “Whole Life/Pro-Life” Catholic Christian and citizen. I am Pro-Life, Pro-Marriage and family, Pro-Freedom (rightly understood), Pro-Poor and Pro-Peace.
I have written regularly about the true meaning of the phrase “the Common Good”. I have proposed that Catholic Social teaching should form a framework within which faithful Catholics, other Christians, other people of faith and all people of good will work together to truly build a just society, a civilization of love. My efforts have placed me, at times, outside of the realm of acceptability in both major political parties. They have elicited opposition from the so called “right”, the so called “left” and many others in between. For example, my opposition to capital punishment has not found an ear in the leadership of either major political party in the US. My opposition to the initial foray into Iraq as having been unjustified under any interpretation of the so called “just war theory”, placed me in opposition to the growing number of “neo-cons” on the “right” and their colleagues, the “neo-liberals” on the “left”. I have dared to express concerns that if a market economy places profits over people, families and the common good, it can devolve into what the late Servant of God John Paul II rightly called “savage capitalism”.
“Catholics United” as well as “Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good” argue that when people like me emphasize that every procured abortion is intrinsically evil and can never further the Common Good, we are engaged in “single issue” politics. They say that our insistence fails to take into account other important elements of Catholic Social thought. They are wrong. It is the very firm foundation for all that other Catholic Social thought. A whole life/pro-life position is about standing where any authentic understanding of Catholic social teaching should begin, unfold and end - the inviolable dignity of every single human person at every age, every stage, and of every size. When there is no life, there are no other human rights. Human rights do not exist in a vacuum; they are goods of the human person. The reason we are to give a love of preference to the poor is because of their human dignity. The reason we reject militarism and insist that Nations only act in legitimate self defense is because of the human dignity even of our adversaries.
To be “Pro-Life” is NOT to be a Partisan; it is to be truly human. I reject both major parties these days and encourage my fellow Catholics to consider doing the same. Without acknowledging the preeminent right to life, all derivative rights and the entire infrastructure of human rights is placed in jeopardy. The further legitimate questions and positions of political parties become moot. Without the freedom to be born, all of the talk about compassion for the poor and the promotion of freedom throughout the entirety of life, and how we attain it, is hollow and empty. Failing to recognize our neighbors in the womb as having a right to be born and then the right to live a full life in our community is a foundational failure of our obligation in solidarity to one another.
It was Mother Teresa, who said it so clearly: “America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father's role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts -- a child -- as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters. And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being's entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign."
Belief in the fundamental right to life does not rely upon someone’s religious convictions.Nor should those who hold such a position be dismissed because they are “religious”. Yes, as a Catholic Christian my position in defense of this preeminent right is informed by my embrace of Christian revelation and the infallible teaching of my Church; a teaching which Governor Sebelius openly rejects. However, I insist that some things are true not because they are Catholic; they are Catholic because they are true. For example, the truth of the humanity of every child in the first home of the whole human race and the truth of the intrinsic evil of every procured abortion is confirmed by science and written on every human heart by the Natural Law. The child in the womb is our neighbor. We all know that. The marvelous developments in intra-uterine surgical proceedings and sonogram technology are only two of the scientific facts which accuse us of our National crime. We are engaged in a horrid contemporary version of playing with words in an effort to mask the evil. Abortion is a sin against solidarity. It is killing our neighbor, not loving them.
I maintain that Kathleen Sebelius's nomination as Secretary of Health and Human Services should be opposed by Catholics, other Christians, other people of faith and all people of good will who love their first neighbor, the child in the womb. “Catholics United” calls Kathleen Sibelius a “Health and Human Services Secretary for the Common Good” on their web site. I take strong exception to the claim based on her record when it comes to protecting our first neighbors. In their Press Release they declared “...right-wing organizations, opposed to universal healthcare for all Americans, have been spreading misinformation about Gov. Sebelius' record on pro-life issues in order to malign her to the Catholic community. Catholics United intends to correct these smears by educating Catholics and the media about Gov. Sebelius' record of reducing abortions in Kansas by 10% during her time as Governor.” Yet, her own Archbishop referred to her “30-year history of advocating and acting in support of legalized abortion” in his public correction of the Governor. He noted that she was engaging in what the Catholic Catechism defines as “scandal”, when “one’s action leads someone else to sin. Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil.”
Governor Sebelius has embraced an error in her position on life. She maintains someone can be “personally opposed” to abortion but then support it being called a “right” in the positive law and protected with the Police power of the State. Let us imagine the unimaginable, that the culture of death and use expands and the positive law in the United States was to include protecting the killing of children up to the age of one if they were not wanted for any reason within its protection. This position of "personally opposed but" is morally akin to a public official supporting such an obviously evil law and claiming they were personally opposed to it. There is no moral difference between the child in the womb and a one year old child. Medical Science has confirmed what our conscience has always known; the child in the womb is a human being, our first neighbor. Abortion is anti-neighbor. Why does this President continue to select Catholics to fill openings in his administration who openly defy their own Church? Why do some catholics give him cover when he does?
This appointment is an insult to many Catholics. It is time to rise and oppose it!