May 17, 2009
“An opinion is a belief or judgment that falls short of absolute conviction, certainty, or positive knowledge; it is a conclusion that certain facts, ideas, etc., are probably true or likely to prove so” such as political opinions according to Dictionary.com (1).
My column is an opinion-editorial (op-ed) column. I express my opinions and readers express their opinions back to me. That is a wonderful right and privilege we Americans have. Not all opinions are created equal, however, nor do they all have equal weight of importance or urgency.
For example a doctor’s medical opinion has more weight than my medical opinion. Someone educated or experienced in politics has a more credible political opinion than an ordinary citizen (usually). An opinion about abortion is embroiled in many emotional and religious connotations. This brings me to the source of this column.
Ross emailed with this statement. “I am mystified by Catholics who have not only voted for the pro abortionist in the White House, but who also write columns in the newspaper extolling his programs and performance….
So I ask how you justify your support of the pro abortion party and in particular, the Obama administration. Don't bother to try to justify it to me, -write about this in your MDN column.”
Ross expressed a strong opinion mixed with emotion about abortion, President Obama, and me. This gives me an opportunity to share some ideas with all the readers about opinions using a specific example.
Prior to the election two prominent Catholic law professors endorsed the candidacy of Barack Obama because he represented the social justice teaching of the Catholic Church more closely than John McCain. (2)
Pope Benedict XVI sent Obama a congratulatory note the day after his election. This action was unprecedented in the history of the papacy. It is more customary for the Pope to send such a note after the President’s inauguration in January as do many world leaders. This early note of congratulations suggests to me that the Pope was supportive of Obama and wanted to have a working relationship with him.
The Pope also spoke in November that the life of the born is just as important as
the lives of the unborn. (3)
official statement of the US Catholic Bishops, found in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (4), clearly puts
abortion at the top of the list of issues. The statement also clearly says that
citizens must take into account the social justice teachings of the Church as
well when making an informed Catholic decision. Our own Bishop Robert Carlson
Candidate Obama said he would gladly sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) when it comes to his desk. Such a bill had been introduced into the last several Congressional sessions but it died when the session ended. Even so the Catholic bishops initiated a postcard campaign in January to urge our Senators and Representatives to oppose FOCA. When it was pointed out that there is no such bill to oppose the opinion given was that the Bishops were being pro-active so Congress would not introduce the legislation. On the other hand, it may have shown a surprising ignorance of the legislative process.
What may surprise people in the pro-life movement, FOCA in the last Congress was a step in reducing abortions because it forbade any abortion after fetal viability, except to save the life of the mother. (6) In other words it would end the so-called “partial birth abortions” problem in all fifty states.
controversy surrounding the invitation to Obama to speak at the Notre Dame
commencement and the conferral of an honorary law degree has me “mystified”.
Obama is the President of the
I expressed and quoted many opinions in this column. Some are very authoritative and others are of less importance but in combination they reflect the expanse of opinions and why it is important to examine all opinions in making conclusions of any kind. This column also shows very clearly why I can support Barack Obama without violating Catholic teaching.
(2) Douglas Kmiec, http://ncronline3.org/drupal/?q=print/1677
(3) John L Allen Jr, “Pope says church must care for the born as well as the unborn”, NCROnlin, Nov. 15, 2008
Amy Sullivan , “The Pope's Stand in Obama's Notre Dame Controversy”, Time, May. 16, 2009. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1898756,00.html In this article, Sullivan writes, “The Pope noted the ‘historic’ nature of the victory and said he would pray that God would ‘sustain you and the beloved American people in your efforts to build a world of peace, solidarity and justice.’ The two spoke directly less than a week later, and the Pope sent yet another telegram on Jan. 20 when Obama was inaugurated.”
(4) Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, 2007.
(5) Bishop Robert J. Carlson
wrote In his letter, Preparing for the Nov. 4 General Election, “Regarding the
presidential election, there is the potential for Catholics to reach different
conclusions in good conscience.”
(7) Notre Dame McBrien
(8) Catechism of the Catholic Church 2267 Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."