Saturday, February 26, 2005
February 25, 2005
J. Peter Nixon
[For the complete article, which I recommend, click here. Excerpts follow.]
Given that the Catechism of the Catholic Church condemns torture as “contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity,” one might have thought that the Gonzales nomination would have provided Catholics who supported Bush with an opportunity to show their commitment to values that transcend partisan loyalties. If opposition to torture as an instrument of national policy is not a “nonnegotiable” Catholic teaching, it is fair to ask what is. Given the president’s solicitude for the Catholic vote, one wonders what would have happened if Catholics who had supported him had come together to oppose the Gonzales nomination.
But many prominent Catholics apparently had no problem
throwing their support behind Gonzales. Senator Sam Brownback
(R-Kans.), a favorite of Catholic conservatives and a possible 2008
presidential contender, asked no questions about torture during
Gonzales’s nomination hearing. Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) voted to
confirm Gonzales without expressing a word of concern about his record.
Catholic supporters of the war in Iraq, such as Rev. Richard John
Neuhaus and George Weigel, were oddly silent about the Gonzales
nomination, despite the demonstrable damage that the torture scandals
have done to the foreign-policy goals they champion.
Catholic Democrats inclined to rejoice in this line of analysis should
be wary of casting the first stone, as they are often no more willing
than their Republican counterparts to challenge their own party on
issues close to the core of Catholic social teaching. The list of
Catholic Democrats with national ambitions who abandoned earlier
prolife views is long: Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Mario Cuomo, Dick
Gephardt, Tom Daschle, Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). Many of these
Democrats have long resorted to boilerplate statements that they are
“personally opposed” to abortion. But when they trumpet their prochoice
voting records, raise millions from the abortion lobby, declare that
Roe v. Wade is “sacred ground,” and oppose even the most minimal
protections for the unborn, it is hard not to see their personal
opposition as essentially meaningless. Last November’s elections do
seem to have initiated a conversation among Democrats about their rigid
adherence to abortion rights (see William J. Byron’s “Prolife and
Prochoice,” February 11, 2005), but it remains to be seen whether this
conversation will lead to anything more than rhetorical repositioning.
[Again, for the whole article, click here.]