By John Mallon

With the nomination of John Ashcroft for attorney general, the liberal Democrat rhetoric machine — or, more accurately, their hysteria machine — has gone into high dudgeon. For example, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, spoke on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” saying Ashcroft was “vigorously, adamantly opposed to choice.”

So? Oh. Hmmm. “Choice.” The word liberals use for abortion to promote the idea that killing the unborn is not only worthy of being defended with moral outrage but also, somehow, “mainstream” and reasonable. Moments later she decried Ashcroft’s honorary degree from Bob Jones University and that this was “anti-Catholic.”

Also weighing in on this theme was Patricia Ireland, president of the vociferously pro-abortion National Organization of Women. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights cites her on CNN’s “Burden of Proof” saying “[Bob Jones University is] a very anti-Catholic school” to which Catholic League president Bill Donahue replied in a statement, with customary outspokenness, “Patricia Ireland is a phony and a professed enemy of the Catholic Church. … If she wants to oppose Senator Ashcroft, let her do so. But she should stop exploiting the issue of anti-Catholicism to advance her political agenda.” Donahue also cites Ireland’s protests of papal visits and her organization’s participation in a campaign attacking the Vatican position at the U.N.

As a Catholic, I say, “No thank you” to the left — don’t add us to your “victims” list of people who need your “protection.” We are not a victim class for the left to use in attempts to grab moral high ground. And I expect many African Americans, minorities and women feel the same way — those who, when vocal, are relegated to ranks of the-people-who-don’t-count: like pro-life women and conservative blacks who bear insult for not towing the liberal line. It will also be interesting to see how the Catholic Hispanic community reacts to the “Borking” of Linda Chavez on the grounds of her extraordinary charity to a woman in great need.

To make it clear, to be “pro-choice” is to be anti-Catholic. Observant Catholics find it offensive — nay, outrageous — when God’s children, made in His image are killed because they are inconvenient, and we stand in solidarity with them. We take each mother and baby personally. Most, if not all, dioceses in the U.S. offer complete financial and emotional support to any woman in difficulty to help her bring her child to term. Hard cases make up less than three percent of abortions in this country.

Furthermore, the term “pro-choice” is insulting and misleading and we do not recognize its legitimacy for discourse. It is a deception. Even pro-abortion lawyers know Roe v. Wade is bad law and based on a lie. Furthermore, to hear anyone use the term “anti-choice” with a straight face is laughable, except for the high stakes involved. Catholics and the folks at Bob Jones University can work out our theological differences among ourselves but on the right to life, we stand united, as do most world religions.

The traditional bonds linking the Democratic Party and the Catholic Church have been broken — betrayed by the Democrats’ embrace of abortion. Once the party of the outcast immigrant Catholic, it is now the party casting the child out of the womb. America can do better and deserves better! The party that claims to be the party of “inclusiveness” excludes the most helpless persons — the unborn — and justifies it through the abuse of “rights” language and treating women like a helpless minority needing the liberal “daddy state” unless they can neutralize their reproductive faculty. Women deserve better — and they deserve more credit. The “party of the underdog” exports population control (usually to populations of color) from the back of the limousine. The world deserves better.

In an odd way, it’s almost a shame that once-noble American liberalism is so bankrupt of moral capital that it has to stoop so low as to accuse political opponents of racism (ad nauseam) where clearly no racism exists, employing gross propaganda and spin. Do they really have to go back to the ’60s in their grasp for high ground? As though they are (or were) the only ones concerned with civil rights? And on the abortion question, accuse pro-lifers of being anti-women when most pro-life leaders in the country are women? Or don’t pro-life women count, like conservative blacks don’t really count as “real” African Americans because they’re not in the pocket of the Democratic Party?

All of this serves the Democrat agenda but makes Martin Luther King’s dream of judging people on the content of their character, rather that the color of their skin, ever-more distant in realization. For the left, should an African American not receive an appointment, the conclusion of racism is leapt to rather than even considering whether other legitimate concerns weighed in — unless, of course, it is the “wrong kind” of black person, like Clarence Thomas, about whom every kind of negative black stereotype was trotted out to impugn his character.

No doubt some readers can produce “pro-choice Catholics,” priests or theologians and letterhead organizations who can spit dubious statistics about “many Catholics who disagree with the Church’s teaching” on this, and wrongly attempt to infuse the death penalty with equal gravity. But, as they well know, the Church is not a democracy and, for what those statistics are worth, one might as well produce poll results about how many Catholics in hell disagree with Church teachings! (Watch the spin on this — I’ll be accused of consigning people to hell.) One who disagrees is free to find another religion that conforms to them. Meanwhile, for the record, here is the Church teaching on this matter:

It must in any case be clearly understood that whatever may be laid down by civil law in this matter, man can never obey a law which is in itself immoral, and such is the case of a law which would admit in principle the liceity of abortion. Nor can he take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it. Moreover, he may not collaborate in its application. It is, for instance, inadmissible that doctors or nurses should find themselves obliged to cooperate closely in abortions and have to choose between the law of God and their professional situation. (“Declaration on Procured Abortion,” 1974, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, No. 22.)

This comes from the Vatican — where they are not worried about tax-exempt status but are free to simply teach the Catholic faith without fear of being threatened by religion haters hiding behind the non-establishment clause (while liberal politicians are free to mount pulpits with impunity). Perhaps the American bishops could start playing hardball on this when their tax-exempt status is attacked and say, “Well, I guess that means we’ll have to close all our hospitals and schools because we can’t afford to keep them open and someone else will have to take care of all the sick poor people who can’t pay and take all those school children back into the public school system.”

As the Bush appointments continue, the media reports almost steadily that “civil rights and women’s groups are expected to object,” as though we should all gasp and genuflect — like when Bill Clinton says “It was wrong,” and relativists solemnly bow their heads that occasionally something can be declared wrong when it suits the spin of the moment. But no, from faithful Catholics there will be no knee bending to false rights, soft bigotry and false gods. It’s time, again, for our culture to consider the Real One.

John Mallon is a contributing editor for Inside the Vatican magazine and writes a column for The Daily Oklahoman editorial page. An archive of his work can be found online.

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