It has to be said. If only because so many of the candidates, Roman Catholic (i.e., Santorum) or otherwise, from the Republican Party tout themselves as so-called “Pro-Life” candidates, it needs to be noted that most (if not all) of them are not even close. Now, to be fair, those who equate the descriptor “Pro-Life” with “Anti-Abortion” (perhaps the more accurate term), there may in fact be a handful of satisfactory candidates if that is the only qualification by which you make such poorly adjudicated decisions. However, to talk about someone who is admittedly “For-Life” requires that they are for all of life. Being “for” unborn babies, but “not for” other people is not “Pro-Life” it is simply “Cafeteria-Life,” personally choosing which human lives are and are not worth defending. This is not what it means to promote a culture of life. On the contrary, Perry — and others who think like he does — advance the so-called “culture of death” that Pope John Paul II is so famously remembered for discussing.
The Roman Catholic Church, and I believe most Christian communities for that matter, defend the dignity and value of every human life. From the Catholic perspective, this intrinsic principle is what grounds so much of moral teaching. Among those issues that are directly related to this sort of conversation are the areas deemed “intrinsically evil,” because they are always and everywhere morally wrong, regardless of the circumstances. We’ve discussed torture, abortion and other morally wrong actions declared intrinsically evil before. Former Senator Rick Santorum has previously declared his public favor for torture in an earlier debate, thereby immediately precluding him from being counted among the “Pro-Life.”
Last evening during the most recent GOP 2012 presidential nominee debate, Governor Rick Perry — to thunderous applause — endorsed a disturbing practice of state executions in Texas, which boasts of numbers far exceeding those other States that still kill criminals. His rhetorical delivery, the response from the audience and his adamant defense of killing so many brother and sister human beings was deeply disturbing.
I hope that all those who wish to suggest that one political party in the United States, simply by claiming this name for itself, is “Pro-Life,” while the other is not, learn that neither of the two major political parties in the United States ever meet the all the ideal life standards of Catholic Moral Teaching. No US politician ever has, none ever will.
This is why the bishops, time and again, have instructed the faithful not to vote based on one issue alone. The wisdom of the bishops has been to instruct the faithful to inform their consciences, while considering an array of issues before stepping into the voting booth. There is no single issue and there is no catch-phrase term that people can throw around that certifies them worthy of a Catholic or, more broadly, any Christian vote.
Let us not devolve into the nonsense of election cycles past. You simply cannot equate any of the candidates, Republican or Democrat, Independent or Green Party, with either the Catholic Church or the term “Pro-Life.”