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“I oppose abortion personally. … I believe life does begin at conception.” So said John Kerry last week in Iowa.

Remarkable. If Kerry believes life begins at conception, he must concede that each time he has voted to fund abortions, he has voted to fund the killing of human beings. And voting to uphold Clinton’s veto of the partial-birth abortion ban, Kerry voted against sparing tiny human beings from an excruciating form of execution.

How does John Kerry reconcile this?

“I can’t take my Catholic belief, my article of faith, and legislate it on a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist,” says Kerry.

But Kerry is not being asked to vote to force Jews or atheists to attend church on Sunday or recite the Apostles’ Creed. He is only being asked to vote “no” to the spending of tax dollars to finance the destruction of what he himself says is human life.

Kerry protests that he does not want to impose his religious beliefs on nonbelievers. Yet, legislators have voted to outlaw prostitution, to punish those who use and/or sell drugs, and to ban child pornography. Each time they voted to criminalize such conduct, they sought to impose their moral beliefs upon dissenters.

Civil-rights laws do the same thing. When John Kerry votes to outlaw discrimination against blacks, women and gays, he votes to impose his idea of what is right behavior on those who think they should be free not to serve, not to rent to and not to hire people they don’t want to serve, rent to or hire.

But with abortion, we are not talking about black folks being insulted by not being served at Denny’s. If Kerry is right, we are talking about killing.

And if Kerry is truly “personally opposed to abortion,” why does he not declare this strong personal belief from the podium at the feminist rallies to which he is invited? Why does he not speak up and say: “While I cannot stop abortion, you can. You should stop destroying human life.” That would be moral courage – and the end of Kerry in a Democratic Party in which abortion is fast becoming a sacrament.

Yet, if the disconnect between Kerry’s beliefs and actions is stark and inexplicable, what are we to say of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church?

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has set up, under Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, a seven-member task force to study what the sanction should be for Catholic politicians who vote to fund abortions and vote against judges who believe the unborn have a right to life.

But what is there to study, Your Eminence?

The Church has always taught that abortion is the killing of the innocent and intrinsically evil. When some of us were growing up, men in organized crime were denied burial in sacred ground. What are these abortion clinics other than killing houses?

Catholicism used to produce a different kind of prelate. In 1953, Archbishop Joseph Rummel of New Orleans issued a pastoral letter: “(L)et there be no further discrimination or segregation in the pews, at the Communion rail, at the confessional and in parish meetings, just as there will be no segregation in the kingdom of heaven.”

Resistance to integration of the parochial schools was fierce. The battle went on for a decade. Catholics appealed to the Vatican. Pius XII backed up the archbishop. In the Louisiana Legislature, bills were introduced forbidding integration of the Catholic schools, bills supported by Catholic legislators. The archbishop’s response was to threaten the Catholic lawmakers with excommunication.

When the rabid segregationist Leander Perez of Plaquemine Parish persisted, Archbishop Rummel excommunicated him and the head of the Citizens Council of Louisiana for “continuing to provoke the devoted people of this venerable archdiocese to disobedience or rebellion in the matter of opening our schools to all Catholic children.”

Now, there was an archbishop.

Yet, serious as segregation was, it does not compare in evil with 40 million abortions since Roe v. Wade, many of which have been funded through federal programs voted for by Catholic legislators.

Forty-eight Catholic members of Congress have written to Cardinal McCarrick, warning of “great harm” to the Church and a backlash against Catholics should bishops begin denying the Holy Eucharist to congressmen who vote to support and fund abortions.

Cardinal McCarrick should take this as a challenge – and ask himself how St. Thomas More would have reacted to this threat. Then, go forth and do likewise, Your Eminence.

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