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Election Reflection

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 Holland.

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 cliché.

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 of life.

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.

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