As election day approaches, Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila has published an article in his diocesan newspaper, urging Catholics to remember that no issue should be more important to them than the question of life and death for the unborn.
While making it clear that he has an “aversion” to both candidates, Aquila nonetheless suggests that the election will come down to choosing the “lesser of two evils,” and for him, that means the party that is most likely to defend unborn life.
Aquila doesn’t leave the matter in the abstract but helps readers analyze the platforms of the two major parties, especially as regards the issues that affect Christians most closely.
While Catholic prelates go to great lengths to appear neutral at election time—eschewing the endorsement of any particular candidate or party—Aquila does all but tell his readers that come November, he will be pulling the Republican lever.
Referring to a recent dinner party where he was asked for guidance on whom to vote for, the Archbishop laid out what he considers to be the essential facts for Catholic voters to consider.
Beyond the candidates themselves, Aquila said, Catholics “need to reflect on the platforms of both parties, with an emphasis on the human life issues,” because “Catholics in good conscience cannot support candidates who will advance abortion.”
Throughout his article, the archbishop seems to take for granted that the election will come down to the two major parties, so he doesn’t even bother speaking about third-party candidates, which many have accurately described as the equivalent of not voting at all.
Aquila said that while the Democratic Party has continued to tilt ever more pro-abortion, the Republican platform has become progressively more pro-life.
The most important platform change, he said, is that this year the Democratic party is calling for the overturning of the Hyde Amendment, which “prohibits federal taxpayer money from being used for abortion.” If they succeed, American citizens—including Catholics—will be obliged to support abortion with their tax dollars.
The Democratic platform, he continued, “is aggressively pro-abortion, not only in funding matters, but in the appointment of only those judges who will support abortion.” In other words, when it comes down to the appointment of Supreme Court justices, as well as judges for the lower courts, the Democrats can be counted on to nominate only pro-abortion candidates.
This isn’t all, however.
The archbishop added that the Democrats also support the repeal of the Helms Amendment, which “prevents the U.S. from supporting abortion availability overseas.” If repealed, U.S. citizens may not be only funding abortions on American soil, but abroad as well, something Hillary Clinton has pushed for years.
Conversely, he noted, “the Republican party platform is supportive of the Hyde Amendment and just this year strengthened its support for life by calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, banning dismemberment abortion and opposing assisted suicide.”
The archbishop also addressed the criticism of single-issue voting, offering one of the most succinct and cogent rebuttals of “moral equivalency” to ever come from the pen of a U.S. prelate.
“The right to life is the most important and fundamental right, since life is necessary for any of the other rights to matter,” he said.
“There are some issues that can legitimately be debated by Christians, such as which policies are the most effective in caring for the poor, but the direct killing of innocent human life must be opposed at all times by every follower of Jesus Christ. There are no legitimate exceptions to this teaching.”
Taking on a prophetic tone, Aquila further tied America’s protection of human life with the future of our society.
The health of our nation “depends on a deep respect for human life from the moment of conception until natural death,” he said, “and the future of our society depends on how we protect that right. If we don’t, eventually we will go the way of Rome and Greece and other great civilizations that have risen and fallen.”
At the same time, Aquila also held up the matter of religious freedom, which is frequently tied to the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage.
The archbishop said that the Obama Administration’s Health and Human Services mandate “requires the provision of contraceptives, sterilizations and some abortifacients through employer’s health plans,” underscoring “the difficulty the Obama Administration has created for the Little Sisters of the Poor,” as well as its litigation “trying to force them to violate their consciences.”
When Catholics fail to stand firm in their convictions, allowing them to guide their behavior as well as their voting, “the government will step in to fill the void,” he said.
“Indeed, the government will become ‘god’ and impose its beliefs on the citizens. One only needs to look to the Health and Human Service contraceptive mandate, or the attempt by President Obama to force a transgender agenda onto public schools.”
The archbishop also suggested that many Catholics, like him, will not find “complete alignment with any political party, and that is okay.”
In this case they should “look at how each party platform supports human life from conception through natural death, the freedom of religion and the freedom of conscience, the family, and the poor,” he said, adding that Catholics shouldn’t even think of sitting out the election.
Too much is at stake in the November election for Christians to play the role of passive spectators, which is obviously what moved Aquila to make such a strong statement of principle. Whether American Catholics will listen or not remains to be seen.