by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
It has always intrigued me that Abraham Lincoln in the midst of the terrible ordeal of the Civil War established a national day of thanksgiving.
It must please Abraham Lincoln and the thousands upon thousands of other Americans who made such heroic sacrifices during the time of our Civil War that 150 years later we are seeing yet another fruit of their efforts with the election of our first African-American president.
Similar to John F. Kennedy’s election signaling a turning point in the diminishment of religious bigotry, Barak Obama’s election signifies a mortal blow to the racial prejudice that has scarred our nation since its inception. Just as John F. Kennedy’s election did not mean that anti-Catholicism was eliminated from our culture, the election of Barak Obama unfortunately does not mean that all racism has been eradicated from American society.
However, it does symbolize an enormous cultural change that has taken place in our nation since Abraham Lincoln designated the first national day of thanksgiving.
Regardless of profound disagreements with President-elect Barak Obama’s positions on many fundamental moral issues, we can rejoice that his election signals the crossing of a threshold in breaking free of the lingering effects upon our nation of the evils of slavery, segregation and racism. We all must pray for President-elect Obama that the Lord will give him wisdom and strength as he prepares to shoulder the enormous responsibility of leading our nation in a time of menacing national security threats, as well as an international economic crisis.
At the same time, we must also pray that President-elect Obama will have a change of heart regarding his positions on the most important moral issues that confront our nation. He does not appear to grasp that many people voted for him despite his support for legalized abortion, not because of it.
President-elect Obama has indicated his desire to advance a pro-abortion agenda that includes: 1) American support for China’s coerced abortion policy; 2) funding for international “family planning” programs that include abortion; 3) elimination of any restrictions on federally funded embryonic stem cell research; 4) the performance of abortion at military hospitals; 5) tax-funded abortions in our own country; 6) the elimination of informed consent state statutes providing women with the facts about the development of their unborn child as well as the physical and psychological risks of abortion; 7) the elimination of parental notification and consent statutes upholding the rights of parents to advise and counsel their pregnant minor daughters before an abortion; 8) the elimination of conscience rights for doctors and nurses who do not wish to participate in an abortion; and 9) the elimination of conscience rights for health care institutions, coercing Catholic hospitals to participate in abortions or close their doors.
Once President-elect Obama is sworn into office, he will be able to do some of the above immediately by presidential order. For the rest, he has expressed an eagerness for Congress to quickly pass legislation that he has promised to sign. Any or all of these measures will result not only in the deaths of many innocent young human beings, but also the emotional and psychological scarring of even more adults.
The pro-abortion presidential orders, promised by President-elect Obama, and his eagerness to sign the so-called “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA) and other pro-abortion legislation will be devastating. These actions will undo much of the pro-life work of the past 35 years. As terrible as they are, presidential orders and legislation will not have as enduring an impact on our future abortion public policy as the appointment of federal judges, particularly the probable appointment of one or more Supreme Court justices.
If you voted for Barak Obama, you have a serious moral responsibility to communicate to him in every possible way that your vote for him should not be misinterpreted as support for a pro-abortion agenda. I deliberately use the term “pro-abortion” as opposed to the euphemism — “pro-choice.” How can anyone legitimately claim “freedom of choice” as their aim when they support coerced abortion programs, the elimination of conscience protections, and a desire to implicate every American by funding abortion with tax dollars?
If you are a Republican, you need to be active in the debate about future positions of the party regarding abortion and the defense of marriage. You need to do everything within your power to preserve the pro-life and pro-marriage positions that have been adopted by party leadership for the past 25 years.
If you are a Democrat, you need to challenge the assumption that one must support legalized abortion in order to be considered for national or state leadership within the party. You need to refuse to tolerate the status quo and to work actively to provoke a change within the party. How is it possible that a party with such a proud history of advocating for the poor and the weak fails at this moment to defend the most vulnerable in our midst?
There was a well-orchestrated effort during the recent campaign by some “prominent Catholics” to advise that the church and individual Catholics should just accept the fact that abortion is legal. They referred to abortion’s legality as a “settled question.”
If you go back before the Civil War, you will find similar rhetoric about the issue of slavery. If you go back into the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, you will find similar arguments for the acceptance of segregation as a “settled question.”
Thank goodness Abraham Lincoln, the abolitionists, Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement did not acquiesce to accepting injustices that seemed so entrenched in American society. Barak Obama’s election illustrates that important societal changes may take more than a century to be accomplished.