The following are pronouncements issued by American Catholic bishops against
politicians who speak on the abortion issue from both sides of their mouths. They are of
interest to Canadians who face the same kind of politicians.

“Values Void”

St. Paul, Minn. In a July 9, 1992, column of the diocesan newspaper The Catholic
Bulletin, Archbishop John Roach of St. Paul-Minneapolis admonished two local Catholic
Democratic congressmen (Bruce Vento and Gerry Sikorsky) for moving “from a basic
pro-life position to a pro-choice position.”

“My preference would be not to write this in an election year,” the Archbishop wrote,
“but the two representatives chose an election year to make their public announcements.”

“When you say you are personally opposed to abortion but won’t vote to restrict or
prevent the millions of abortions…you really fall into…a type of ‘values void.’”

“People have a right to expect that those of us in leadership positions will act in
accordance with our consciences.”

The Archbishop stated that “the highest duty of government is to protect the most
innocent and vulnerable among us who cannot defend themselves.”

Both representatives, in almost identical statements, had indicated that they were
influenced by the opinion polls and their perceived notion that it would be politically
advantageous to do so.

“You can’t have it both ways”

Los Angeles, CA. In California, Roger Cardinal Mahoney, Archbishop of the country’s
largest diocese with over three million Catholics, told politicians they “have a positive
moral obligation” to work for the repeal of abortion laws. The 1973 Supreme Court
decision of Roe vs. Wade allowing abortion was a “reactionary decision,” not a “liberal”

Speaking of Catholic politicians, the Cardinal stated:

We expect them to support legislation which guarantees, supports, and safeguards the
right to life from the moment of conception. This moral obligation applies to Democrats
and Republicans, liberals and conservatives. There is no other legitimate position. There
is no such thing as a Catholic, pro-choice elected or appointed official.

The Archbishop indicated that he would mail copies of his statement to all lawmakers
and officials in the archdiocesan area.

“Church teaching underpins all else”

Steubenville, Ohio – “If the authority of the Catholic Church is rejected on such a crucial
question as human life,” New York Cardinal John O’Connor stated here in April 1992,
then questioning the Trinity or the divinity of Christ or any other Church teaching
becomes “child’s play.”

The fact is that attacks on the Catholic Church’s stance on abortion – unless they are
rebutted – effectively erode Church authority on all matters, indeed on the authority of
God Himself.

The New York Cardinal scored the all-too-familiar lament of politicians that “they are
personally opposed but…” as being “a very clever ploy to make the pro-life movement
appear un-American.” “That’s like Nero accusing the Christians of burning down Rome.”

At one point, loud spontaneous applause broke out when the Cardinal recited this passage
from Shakespeare’s Macbeth – “Foul whisperings are abroad, unnatural deeds do breed
unnatural results” – and added:

“I will not be convinced in a million years that for a mother to permit her unborn child to
be put to death is natural. Foul whisperings are indeed abroad in our land.”

The Cardinal tore into “Catholics for a Free Choice” for its distortion of the writings of
St. Thomas Aquinas and the Second Vatican Council, and he scoffed at their political
speeches that say, “Well – perhaps the Church should clarify its position on abortion.”

O’Connor also denounced Planned Parenthood as the pro-abortion lobby for engaging in
daily “semantic gymnastics.”

Look at their almost unbelievable obsession with ‘choice.’ Why, ‘choice’ has become the
prevailing virtue, over and above life itself. Life is now secondary. And their semantics
have caught on and drenched our society. I see in conjunction with the distortion of the
concept of ‘choice’ and the demand for privacy, a complete rejection of absolutes. It’s
impossible to say anything is right or wrong. Our country now exists in a context of basic
moral relativism.

[Source: Wanderer, April 23 and July 23, 30, 1992.]

Outside community

Orange, Calif – In a pastoral letter on Conscience and the Public Square, Bishop
Norman McFarland of Orange condemned what he called the American “commandment”
that says a politician or voter “must never allow his private convictions of conscience to
intrude into public life.”

If Catholic politicians act contrary to Church teaching, the bishop said, referring to
abortion, they must accept that the decision places them outside the Catholic faith