Yet Another "Non-Negotiable" Item ...
... on which Sen. Obama seems to be out of step with Catholic teaching.
In remarks to the European People's Party on 30 March 2006, Pope Benedict XVI said the following:
As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge clearly today:(emphasis added)
- protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;
- recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family - as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage - and its defence from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;
- the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
As to the first item, "protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death", Sen. Obama has said the following:
"I will never back down in defending a woman's right to choose. That's what's at stake [in this election]... Senator McCain has made it abundantly clear that he wants to appoint justices like Roberts and Alito - and that he hopes to see Roe overturned. I stand by my votes against confirming Justices Roberts and Alito."So, mark the "not negotiable" issue of "protection of life in all its stages" off the list.
~ Barack Obama, 10 July 2008
"On this fundamental issue [the so-called "constitutional right" to abortion], I will not yield and Planned Parenthood will not yield."
~ Barack Obama in remarks to Planned Parenthood, 17 July 2007
"Thirty-five years after the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, it's never been more important to protect [legalized abortions]... Throughout my career, I've been a consistent and strong supporter of [so-called abortion "rights"]."
~ Barack Obama, celebrating the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, 22 January 2008
"I think professionally the biggest mistake that I made was when I first arrived in the Senate. There was a debate about Terri Schiavo, and a lot of us, including me, left the Senate with a bill that allowed Congress to intrude where it shouldn't have. And I think I should have stayed in the Senate and fought [that bill].
~ Barack Obama during a Democrat debate, 27 April 2007
Let's move on to the Holy Father's second "not negotiable" item, "recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family - as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage - and its defence from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union". Here's Sen. Obama on that issue:
"[I support extending] fully equal rights and benefits to same-sex couples under both state and federal law. And that is why I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states."I guess that means we can also mark the "not negotiable" item of defending marriage "from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union" off the list, as well.
~ Barack Obama, letter to LGBT Democratic Club at the group's annual Pride Breakfast in San Francisco, 29 June 2008
"I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) -- a position I have held since before arriving in the U.S. Senate."
~ Barack Obama in an "open letter concerning LGBT equality in America"
"As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws."
~ Barack Obama in an "open letter concerning LGBT equality in America"
"I don't think it [a same-sex union] should be called marriage, but I think that it is a legal right that they should have that is recognized by the state. If people find that controversial then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans."
~ Barack Obama, speech to Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio
Finally, let's turn to the Holy Father's third "not negotiable" issue of "the protection of the right of parents to educate their children" - which provides us with the most recent example of where Sen. Obama seems to be out of step with Catholic voters.
In a recent speech to the teachers' union, Sen. Obama stated unequivocally that he opposes private school vouchers:
“[McCain's] only proposal seems to be recycling tired rhetoric about vouchers and school choice... what I do oppose is using public money for private school vouchers. We need to focus on fixing and improving our public schools, not throwing our hands up and walking away from them.”Now, I'm not sure whether the specific issue of vouchers, in and of itself, is one that the Church would necessarily deem "not negotiable", but certainly in the case of the Washington, D.C. voucher program, which Obama favors repealing, the loss of vouchers gives poor parents in the District one less option for providing their children with a decent education, given the failing nature of the D.C. public schools.
But even beyond that example, "parental choice" in education is fundamental to Catholic social teaching, as Deacon Keith Fournier points out today in this piece at Catholic Online:
... Rather than focus on the word “School”, which often is then used to arouse a “public” school vs. “private” school debate, I prefer to use the term “Parental Choice”. That is because Parents are the first teachers of their children and the family is the first school.(emphasis added)
To support "Parental Choice in Education" is to affirm that Parents are the ones who should be able to make the choice of extending their own teaching mission.
The teaching of the Catholic Church on this issue is not only clear, it is refreshingly forthright. If understood properly it can truly provide insights for our National educational policy which can promote the common good.
The primacy of the family as the first cell of society, the first church, first government, first school, first hospital, first economy, and the first mediating institution of society is at the heart of Catholic Social Thought. It should also lay the foundation for building a truly just public policy.
A just philosophy of government is predicated upon the understanding that the family is the first government and that all other government must first be at its service. In his marvelous apostolic exhortation on the family ("The Role of the Christian family in the Modern World") the Servant of God Pope John Paul II affirmed the social and political role of the family and called for the development of a “family politics”.
Catholics, other Christians, other people of faith and all people of good will should embrace this challenge to develop just such a "family politics". It is time to help people understand that what is really behind the issue of Parental Choice in education is the recognition of the family as the first vital cell of human society.
Parents simply are the first teachers of their children and all education begins in the home.
We need all of our candidates to affirm their support of the fundamental educational mission of parents as the first teachers of their children. We also need them to acknowledge the parental right to choose, for their children, from a full array of options, public, private, parochial, charter and home schools, no matter what their economic status, as an extension of their educational mission.
We then ask that they support any effective and constitutionally sound effort to encourage, empower, and support all parents in extending their educational mission, no matter what their economic conditions, through Parental choice in education.
The teaching of the Catholic Church on the primacy of parents in the education of their children is fundamental...
There appears to be a confused record on Senator Obama’s part. Does he support empowering parents, through the use of constitutionally sound vouchers or credits, to choose from among the full array of educational options for their children?
Now it is reported that he told the American Federation of Teachers recently that he opposed vouchers.
Parental Choice in education is a social justice issue. Senator Obama has repeatedly expressed his support for the poor and his support for the primacy of parents in the lives of their children. It would seem to be a matter of consistency for him to support Parental Choice in education and thereby offering all parents, and their children, the opportunity which he and his wife have.
So, once again, it could be argued that Sen. Obama, by opposing parental choice in education via vouchers, falls down on yet a third "not negotiable" matter of key concern to Catholics.
At this point, I'm left wondering just how it is that Sen. Obama is a "post-partisan" candidate who will reach out to the "pragmatic center" and will "respect" the views of Catholic voters on issues the Holy Father deems "not negotiable"? At least on these issues highlighted in this post, Sen. Obama appears to be nothing but a typical left-liberal Democrat politician toeing the party line.
And before anyone comes on here and responds "Yeah, but John McCain ...", I've also pointed out in a previous post those "not negotiable" items on which John McCain is out of step with Catholic teaching, and that "we're left with the prudential analysis of which candidate is the lesser of grave evils".
Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Deal Hudson: "Barack Obama and the Non-Negotiables"