Over at the excellent Nihil Obstat blogsite, Censor Librorum has posted a wise and timely reflection on why, “in spite of 50 dioceses issuing ‘pro-life’ voting statements, every anti-abortion initiative was voted down, and the presidential election went to Barak Obama.”
Censor Librorum believes that the primary reason that Catholic voters voted for Barack Obama was the economy. Other reasons include President Bush’s unpopularity; doubts about Sarah Palin, coupled with concerns about John McCain’s age; and unhappiness with the overall direction of the country.
Yes, this is all very interesting, but the part of Censor Librorum’s commentary that I found most insightful and compelling is as follows:
Catholic voters voted for change. What can the bishops learn from this?
Focusing solely on abortion and to some degree, same-sex marriage, is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic when the passengers are heading for the lifeboats. They are not the primary concerns of most Catholic voters. The economy is.
The bishops have not regained, and may not for decades, the prestige and respect they lost in the clerical sex abuse scandal. Making pronouncements from on high is not an effective strategy. Meeting people where they are is.
Many liberal Catholics, myself included, are not pro-abortion. But because conservative politicians are unattractive on many other levels, I can’t vote for them on single issue platforms. Instead, I prefer to vote for candidates that promote alternatives to unwanted pregnancies. This is another way of addressing the same problem: abortion.
“Unwed mother” no longer carries the social stigma it did decades ago. When teenagers get pregnant, they don’t automatically give up their baby for adoption or end up in an unwanted marriage. Or get an abortion. Many of them want to have and keep their baby. The problem is - they have no money or resources to do so. Abortion becomes necessary.
Catholic bishops and Catholic conservatives can stop a lot of abortions by pushing elected representatives to fund programs for single mothers (and fathers) to get financial support for housing, food, pre-natal care, health care, education/job training, and child care.
Quo Vadis, bishops? Are you serious about making an impact on abortions, or do you just want to hear your own voice?
Quo Vadis, bishops? Be realistic. People aren’t going to give up sex. Kids and adults take chances and use nothing or don’t use birth control and get pregnant. Then what? If the woman doesn’t have the resources to give birth and raise the child, what does she do?
Abortion is a moral issue. But it is also an issue of resources.
Will U.S. bishops continue to focus on sex, and make thundering statements about “intrinsic moral evils” and huff and puff and threaten liberal Catholic politicians, and leave it go at that?
Will they also come after conservative Catholic politicians and their allies – threaten them with the loss of communion, status and photo-ops – if they do not do everything in their power to help pregnant girls and women who want to keep their babies and not be consigned to a life in poverty?
Or, will they stop the threats, roll up their sleeves, and live Pro-Life by example.
I suggest every bishop, starting with the 50 who made Pro-Life statements in this election, dedicate a portion of their endowments to support all unwed women who want to keep their child. Bishops can use this money to fund diocesan social service programs, and act as a “safety net” for when the government falls short.
A focus of the annual diocesan parish tithe should be directed to funding programs for these women and their children.
When serious money is on the table, I’ll know they’re serious.
- Censor Librorum
November 7, 2008
See also the previous Wild Reed post:
The Bishops and Obama (Part 1)
Recommended Off-site Link:
Postmortem of the Bishops’ Meeting - John Allen, Jr. (National Catholic Reporter, November 14, 2008).