October 18, 2008
Chaput, Kmiec . . . and Cuomo?
Here's Archbishop Chaput, at the Public Discourse not-quite-a-blog. There's a lot in the piece, and there's no point in just cut-and-pasting it here. This jumped out at me, though:
None of the Catholic arguments advanced in favor of Senator Obama are new. They've been around, in one form or another, for more than 25 years. All of them seek to ''get beyond'' abortion, or economically reduce the number of abortions, or create a better society where abortion won't be necessary. All of them involve a misuse of the seamless garment imagery in Catholic social teaching. And all of them, in practice, seek to contextualize, demote and then counterbalance the evil of abortion with other important but less foundational social issues.
This is a great sadness. As Chicago's Cardinal Francis George said recently, too many Americans have ''no recognition of the fact that children continue to be killed [by abortion], and we live therefore, in a country drenched in blood. This can't be something you start playing off pragmatically against other issues.''
Speaking of "being around for years", Doug Kmiec's latest, in the L.A. Times, seems, at the end of the day, to endorse the old "personally opposed but . . . " argument from Gov. Cuomo's Notre Dame speech. He writes:
Sometimes the law must simply leave space for the exercise of individual judgment, because our religious or scientific differences of opinion are for the moment too profound to be bridged collectively. When these differences are great and persistent, as they unfortunately have been on abortion, the common political ideal may consist only of that space. This does not, of course, leave the right to life undecided or unprotected. Nor for that matter does the reservation of space for individual determination usurp for Caesar the things that are God’s, or vice versa. Rather, it allows this sensitive moral decision to depend on religious freedom and the voice of God as articulated in each individual’s voluntary embrace of one of many faiths.
This is not the pro-life view. Nor, until a few months ago, would Doug Kmiec have regarded this as the pro-life view. It is emphatically not the case - at least, it is not the case for those who hold the views that Prof. Kmiec always professed to hold — that the regulation of abortion involves a burden on the religious freedom of those who do not believe that unborn children are entitled, as a matter of human rights, the protection of the law. To protect unborn children is to vindicate human-rights commitments. It is not to impose sectarian morality on non-adherents. (Remember, Doug Kmiec professes to believe that the Constitution requires governments to ban abortion. It doesn't, but that's not the issue. Can it be that the Constitution requires a ban *and* that "the law must simply leave space for the exercise of individual judgment"?)
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