October 30, 2002
By Bishop Sean P. O’Malley, OFM Cap.
From The Anchor, the weekly newspaper of the Fall River Diocese
"Let the law be observed! Rise, then, for this is your duty! We will stand by
you, so have courage and take action!" (Ez. 10:3-4).
Recently, someone asked me: "Who are you voting for?" Of course, my initial
reaction was "It’s none of your business!" However, it is a question that bears
asking. When we go into the voting booth, it is in some ways like going into the
confessional box. The curtain closes behind us and we stand there before God and
cast a ballot supposedly for the one whom we believe in conscience to be the
best person. The difference is, I fear, that whereas we leave the confessional
unburdened and peaceful with the joyful excitement of tasting God’s mercy, we
can leave the voting booth with a heavy heart because perhaps we have said "Yes"
to evil forces at work in this land.
Recently, a book has appeared whose thesis is that the German population, in
general, was a willing participant in the holocausts. Many articles and reviews
have pointed out the regime was ruthless in crushing opposition and dissent.
What will history say about us? Future generations will say that we were
paralyzed by political correctness, or more probably that everyone voted
according to their pocketbook for the politician who promised the most tax cuts,
or the most benefits, or best pork barrel. I am Irish enough to understand that
the tribal allegiances that bound us to the Democratic Party are very strong and
in our not-too-distant past, quite understandable. One Catholic president in 200
years speaks volumes about our history. What saddens me even more is that the
next Catholic president probably will not be Catholic in any recognizable way
beyond an Irish or Italian surname — with an "o" at one end or the other. The
faith of our ancestors, tested by dungeon, fire and sword has succumbed to the
Brooks Brothers suit and secular humanism, the new state religion.
The legalization of the partial-birth abortion procedure should be a wake-up
call for Americans. Life, so revered in our Constitution, is no longer sacred in
our country. It was once touted that abortions had to be legalized to allow for
safe abortions for women in dire circumstances. The argument was a charade. The
argument was the camel’s nose under the tent that has led to an avalanche of
millions of abortions for convenience as the 1987 survey of the Allan Guttmacher
Institute (a very pro-abortion group) has shown. People seem to forget that
abortion is never safe for the baby.
The systematic killing of millions of unborn children is part of a growing
disregard for human life in America. Abortion has coarsened us, and we are now
poised to start eliminating people who, because of a chronic or life-threatening
condition, are inconvenient. Human beings tend to be inconvenient and expensive
at both ends of their lives.
We can learn much by looking at Holland’s experience, where public acceptance
of assisted suicide has led to the legalization of medical killing without the
patient’s consent. Close to 10 percent of all deaths in the Netherlands are due
to euthanasia ... half of them without patient consent. In our country, it is
safe to predict that managed care medicine, and the high cost of nursing home
care would cause an even higher rate of euthanasia than in a country like
We are definitely at a crossroad. What kind of society do we want for future
generations? Are we going to care about each other and pull together to protect
and nurture human life, or are we going to opt for a society that wants to solve
social problems by eliminating people in cold blood?
Think about that when you go into the voting booth and the curtain closes
behind you. "Government for the people, by the people." There is no Catholic
party and many Catholic politicians aren’t. Remember that, "Thou shalt not kill"
is written on your heart by the finger of God. We must look beyond sectarian
politics, beyond personalities, beyond the hype and examine the issues and the
issue is life. To say that, "it is a matter of life and death" is no longer a
If you are a politician and you feel that you cannot be in favor of life and
enjoy the support of your party or constituency, it is time for you to seek
other employment before it is too late. Yet, I still hope that a politician of
whatever party, with the courage of his or her convictions, could be elected by
a conscientious electorate where so many profess to be believers. We must
encourage our political parties to make room for men and women who are defenders
I have not said for whom I shall vote, but I will tell you for whom I will
not vote. I will not vote for any politician who will promote abortion or the
culture of death, no matter how appealing the rest of his or her program might
be. They are wolves in sheep’s garments, the K.K.K. without the sheets, and
sadly enough, they don’t even know it.
If I were ever tempted to vote for simply selfish reasons, tribal
allegiances, or economic advantages rather than on the moral direction of the
country, I should beat a hasty retreat from the curtain of the polling booth to
the curtain of the confessional.