|Column published in the San Antonio Express-News-Oct. 29, 2008
With the economic crisis darkening the political horizon, the past month
has left little room for other issues to penetrate the minds of
Americans as we prepare to vote in the upcoming election. Certainly the
economy deserves our serious consideration, along with such important
issues as war, healthcare and immigration.
It is troubling, though, that there has also been a critical absence of
issues central to the preservation of life and the family from the
public arena. It would seem to infer that these issues have no impact on
voter’s selection process or that they are simply not important.
Regardless which side of these issues a person falls, these are defining
principles for any society.
Recently, the Express-News published its voter’s guide. It was a
comprehensive listing of races and candidates running for office in
November. I’m sure it was a helpful tool for many. I recognize it is
challenging to make any voter’s guide comprehensive on the issues.
However, the inclusion of the fundamental life issues for pursuit of the
common good would have made the publication more complete, accurate and
a useful tool at this critical time.
People need to know the positions of the candidates on the key issues
that protect the right to life such as abortion, euthanasia, embryonic
stem cell research and capital punishment. Voters also would have been
better served if they had been provided information about the
candidates’ positions on the definition of marriage, the basic cell of
society as a union between a man and a woman.
The “culture of life” issues, and I include in that the preservation of
the very foundational definition of the human family, often are
dismissed as purely religious issues. This characterization is
inaccurate. These issues deal with the most fundamental concerns of
human civilization. The strong moral teaching at the foundation of these
issues does not disqualify them from deserving serious public
discussion, nor deny the impact they have on the common good.
I find it unfortunate that often, when an individual raises abortion as
a critical issue, there is a fear that they will be quickly labeled a
“one issue” voter. While this characterization might protect one from
confronting the moral gravity of taking an innocent, defenseless, human
life, it also avoids the reality that abortion is an issue that affects
all segments of our society. It represents the primary right guaranteed
in our Declaration of Independence—the right to life. Unless we protect
this fundamental right of each human person, at all stages of life, no
other issue or liberty matters.
Surely, many form their conclusions on these and other issues through a
process guided by faith. However, society should not insist that people
of faith be silent in the face of grave evil. We live in a society that
would like to privatize religion, to take it out of the public square.
Privatizing religion would be for all people of faith, an unholy
compromise. We who profess to believe in God cannot allow him to be
banished from the public square.
It is never my purpose, nor the proper role of the Church, to tell
people how or for whom to vote. However, we have a responsibility to be
a voice for the innocent, the helpless, for life itself at this time of
political clutter. We cannot ignore these issues, many of which we
believe are “non-negotiable.” If our nation loses respect for life and
true “family values” it will have lost its moral authority to lead the
America is founded upon a belief in the existence of truth; in the
dignity of the human person; in justice; and in the common good that
flows from loving our neighbor and ourselves. All Catholics and people
of faith will be praying for God’s guidance and wisdom as we celebrate