Monday, January 12, 2009

Deal Hudson: "The Political Future of the Pro-Life Movement"

Deal Hudson writes at InsideCatholic:
Five-hundred people were turned away from the "Pro-Life Summit to End Abortion" held by Dr. Monica M. Miller this past weekend in Ann Arbor, MI. Most of the 500 who did have tickets made it to St. Francis of Assisi Church in spite of the ten inches of snow that started falling Saturday morning.

It's been quite a while since I've seen any group of Catholics as energized as those gathered by Miller's apostolate,
Citizens for a Pro-Life Society. Anyone who had predicted the withdrawal of pro-life Catholics from political engagement after Barack Obama's victory would have been stunned by what they saw and heard at St. Francis.

Ovation after ovation greeted speakers who called for all-out resistance to President-elect Barack Obama's stated plan to provide federal funding for domestic and international abortions while reducing all restrictions on the procedure. The warmest greeting was given to Bishop Earl Boyea, the new bishop of Lansing, whose speech was pointed and incisive while asking that pro-life activism always be carried out with love that can "win the heart."

A surprising level of consensus emerged from the speakers, which included Fr. Frank Pavone, Prof. Janet Smith, the legendary
Joe Schiedler, Ed Rivet of Michigan Right to Life, and radio talk-show host Al Kresta, who made sure the entire conference was broadcast live over Ave Maria Radio. Everyone -- myself included -- emphasized the fact that preparations for the elections in 2010 and 2012 need to be underway already.

We also agreed that there was much to learn from the success of Obama's Catholic outreach effort in 2008: It was well-planned far in advance, well-executed, and did not lack for funding. If pro-life Catholics want to respond successfully over the next four years, they must undertake a similar level of national coalition-building that can influence chanceries and parish communities.

I admitted to the conference that the 2008 election had changed my mind about the role of clergy in a Catholic political strategy. In both 2000 and 2004, I helped implement an overall effort that was centered on Mass-attending laity -- one that did not actively seek to enlist friendly priests and bishops. That strategy worked in those elections to win the Catholic vote, but was countered in 2008 by Catholic Obama supporters who were able to get their message inside parishes through study groups and seminars.

Obama's Catholic outreach made skillful use of faux "non-partisan" organizations (like Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good) to promulgate an interpretation of "Faithful Citizenship" that offered the undecided two theological loopholes. Their basic message was that Catholics may cast their ballots for Obama if, 1) They are not using their vote to show support for his abortion policy, or 2) If there are other "morally grave" issues that offset abortion.

Several speakers at the summit stressed the need to create a parish-level effort to correct the misinterpretation of "Faithful Citizenship," which so many bishops tried to do in the final weeks of the campaign. There is no way to conduct such a campaign without the support of our priests and bishops -- that's why their inclusion in a national pro-life strategy is essential.


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At 1/12/2009 4:15 PM, Blogger Adrienne said...


At 1/12/2009 7:59 PM, Blogger James H said...

This blogger is going after you

The Platonist: The Dead Can't Rest in Peace

At 1/12/2009 8:30 PM, Blogger Secular Heretic said...

It is good to hear that people are fighting to preserve the lives of so many unborn children.

At 1/12/2009 9:50 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

"This blogger is going after you"

That's awesome, JH! I'm adding those comments to the "What They're Saying" portion of my sidebar.

At 1/12/2009 9:59 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

Here's a hyperlink to the blogger that James H mentions in his comment.

And here's what I now have in my sidebar:

"If you check out conservative blogger Jay Anderson, you will see even more invective addressed toward Kmiec... Jay Anderson is a little more reasonable ... but he does constantly misrepresent the views of liberals in order to push his own agenda. Now as far as that goes, maybe [his] criticism of Kmiec is right."
~ The Platonist

At 1/13/2009 1:32 AM, Blogger A Y said...

My problem is not with the criticism of Kmiec. It is with the anger and condescending tone. I honestly do not think that you portray as much of that as the other blogger I linked to, but I do not think that your comments about Kmiec are going to do anything but make his supporters come back at you with attacks of their own.

I think that your use of ellipses in quoting me is a fairly good example of misrepresenting what I said. It fails to address what I actually said and seems more intent on making me look like I contradicted myself. You and I are on the same page: we should fight for an end to abortion. However, we should not get caught up in attacking each other. I want to see mothers give their unborn a chance at life just as much as you do, but I do not feel that John McCain would have done a much better job ending abortions. That is why I didn't allow abortion to be the deciding factor for casting my vote.

At 1/13/2009 8:46 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

I used ellipses because I don't have room to include the entire 2-paragraph quote in my sidebar. I wanted to include only that portion of the quotes that directly applied to me.

No one's intentionally trying to misrepresent anyone here.

At 1/13/2009 10:21 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

By the way, A Y, I have to comment on a couple of things you've said.

First, you mention my "agenda". Just what "agenda" would that be? Since becoming Catholic almost 5 years ago, I've tried to bend my will to that of the Church. My blogging is in support of policies that further the Church's teachings, especially regarding the family. We may disagree about which tactics or policies best bring about that goal, but I have no other "agenda" than that.

Second, I notice that you have this blog listed as one that you follow, but I must question just how much you've actually followed this blog if you believe for one minute that I was a McCain supporter or thought he would lift a finger to end abortion. My blogging has been abundantly clear on the matter of John McCain's shortcomings from a social conservative perspective. My vote for him in November almost didn't happen at all, and was cast reluctantly only as a means of stopping one who I thought an even worse choice for this country.

At 1/13/2009 12:15 PM, Blogger A Y said...

I admit that I thought the ellipses are a little misleading, but I will take you at your word about it. If you say that you had no intention of being misleading, then I believe you.

I only came across your blog in about October, and I have not necessarily gone back and read everything you posted before then, so it is possible that I have not read a lot of what you had to say about John McCain. Since then I have read it fairly regularly. I enjoy your blog even though I disagree with you quite often. I have linked to you on my own blog, because I think that anyone who wants to find out what is up in the Catholic Church and in issues surrounding Catholic politics would benefit from your blog.

I do realize that you criticized McCain, however, and I can respect that. I think you were right in doing so. My issue, however, is with the overall stance that pro-life voters can under no circumstance vote for a Democrat. You have attempted in other places to make it sound like Catholics who make a case for a Democrat candidate are trying to confuse people about what the Church actually teaches regarding abortion. I don't think that is true of these people. The Catholics I know that voted for Barack Obama are all pro-life, and for that matter a lot of them will be attending the March for Life next week. These are people who want to see an end to abortion and honestly believe that while Barack Obama is unlikely to get abortion made illegal, he is trying to work for social circumstances that will cut back on abortions.

I just think that it is possible for a pro-life Catholic to vote for a pro-choice Democrat. All things being equal, one should vote pro-life. In American politics, however, all things are never equal. I think one needs to make their choice based on who they think will promote the flourishing of life to the greatest degree. I think many of the pro-life people that voted for Obama think that while he is obviously lacking in the abortion area, he will do much more to promote a "culture of life" than John McCain would have. Are these people right? I don't know, and think that only time will tell.

I short, I just like to avoid saying "if you are a good Catholic, you should vote for X." I think there are good Catholics that voted for John McCain and Barack Obama.

At 1/13/2009 12:24 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

I have, in fact, argued many times at this blog that a Catholic may in good conscience vote for a pro-choice Democrat under the circumstances laid out by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. So, I'm not sure why you believe I hold the opposite view.

In fact, there are pro-life Catholics for whom I have a great deal of respect (as well as some that I'd call friends) who voted for Obama. I think they were mistaken to have done so, but that doesn't mean they were forbidden to have done so or that they're bad Catholics for doing so.

That said, I do believe that there is a subset of Catholics who are intentionally trying to mislead about what the Church teaches in regard to what the public policy response to abortion should be. Prof. Kmiec is among those, in my opinion, as are such groups as Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United.

At 1/13/2009 1:15 PM, Blogger A Y said...

I appreciate your clarifications and your willingness to discuss this. I still am uneasy about the tone of the blogs regarding Kmiec's piece on Father Neuhaus. I certainly can tolerate your blog as far as that goes, but I was appalled by the blogger over at "Shadow of Eternity" who told Kmiec to do the physically impossible. I guess I just feel that established bloggers as yourself, who have a solid base of viewers ought to call people like that out and demand in Christian charity that such things are not said.

I honestly think that responses such as his hurt the pro-life cause, because this problem must be solved through calling people into conversion, not through angry words. It is understandable if someone makes a slip like that in a conversation, but in a blog I find that unacceptable. I cannot say that I have never wrote an angry sentence when writing a blog or a response to one, because I am an imperfect human. I try, though, to edit those out.

I guess the reason I am so adamant about not giving into petty attacks in the discussion of abortion is because I think it hurts the pro-life cause. Pro-choice people are going to get angry and further bury themselves in their position if we simply sling around rhetoric. It is even worse when Republican Catholics and Democrat Catholics begin throwing around rhetoric at each other, because these people should be allies.

I guess that is my point and will continue to be my point. I have duly criticized Democrats for the same type of behavior, most notably in their treatment of President Bush. I just hope and pray that conservatives do not attack Barack Obama the way that liberals have attacked George W. Bush.

At 1/13/2009 1:46 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

"I just hope and pray that conservatives do not attack Barack Obama the way that liberals have attacked George W. Bush."

Agreed. I can tell you that I do not intend to do that. I made that mistake with Bill Clinton. That kind of hatred can consume you. Looking back on it now, it's embarassing how I allowed that to happen to me. I don't intend to make the same mistake again with President-elect Obama.

Don't get me wrong ... I do intend to draw sharp distinctions where I disagree with Obama. I intend to call him out where I believe his policies are out of step with Catholic teaching ... and I intend to call out his Catholic supporters when his policies are out of step with Catholic teaching.

But that can be done in a manner that avoids Obama Derangement Syndrome.


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