Will Chaput Be Kaput After Criticizing Obama?

After Archbishop Charles Chaput criticized Obama on right to life issues, it is sadly not pure fantasy to wonder if he will get a Joe the Plumber-like deep background vetting and the accompanying media beat down.

Denver Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput labeled Barack Obama the “most committed” abortion-rights candidate from a major party in 35 years while accusing a Catholic Obama ally and other Democratic-friendly Catholic groups of doing a “disservice to the church.”

Chaput, one of the nation’s most politically outspoken Catholic prelates, delivered the remarks Friday night at a dinner of a Catholic women’s group.

His comments were among the sharpest in a debate over abortion and Catholic political responsibility in a campaign in which Catholics represent a key swing vote.

While Chaput has won praise from traditionalist Catholics for stressing opposition to abortion as a foundational voting issue, voices on the Catholic left have sought to apply church teachings to war, poverty, the environment and other issues.

I am a practicing Catholic, and I have witnessed this attempt at interpreted application of “Catholic social teachings” to political choices first hand. It was and is disturbing.

For instance, two weeks ago it was “Right To Life Weekend,” and my pastor could bring himself to mention this only as a way to stress – in the same sentence – that Catholics must not become single issue voters. He stressed that Catholics must apply the Church’s social teachings and apply them to other things, “such as the morality of war.”

Our priest is very liberal politically and has made his profound dislike of George W. Bush and his administration plainly known. And it was within this political context that his words were interpreted as an advocation for Barack Obama, even though he was careful enough to add that it is not the role of the Church to advise on whom parishioners should vote for.

I was quietly incensed, angry at the less-than-deft attempt to encourage a particular vote while mechanically stating this was not being done. It was Right To Life Weekend. And the only mention it got was to ensure we parishioners did not get too excited about it, lest we put abortion too high on our list of concerns or perceived electoral responsibilities. That was it. No discussion of the abortion issue at all on this weekend. It was surely too close to an election to allow that to go mucking up the vote.

Our pastor has made it known (less than explicitly yet unmistakably) that he – and other officers of the church – believe socialism is the system of governance that God favors most, based on their perceptions of its charity. Unfortunately, poverty still exists as equitably in socialist countries as it does here in America; an inconvenient fact lost on do-gooders who seem to think an economy is a zero-sum equation.

I wanted to scream out, “Tell them about the Chaldean and Assyrian Catholics whom al-Qaeda has been busy trying to exterminate if you want to talk about the morality of war! Or perhaps let’s talk about the need to at least protect the lives of infants who somehow survive abortions by the Grace of God and are born alive! It is Right to Life Weekend not Single Issue Voter Admonition Weekend!” I was boiling, my face red and my hands now clasped in a white-knuckle clench behind my back as I stood at the back of the church. (I am an usher.)

But I held my tongue. Archbishop Chaput would have a field day with my priest. My priest is a genuinely good and charitable man by any other measure, but he fails singularly here – and badly in my view. I said to my wife that I think, in his envisioned perfect world, there would be no abortion and a socialist government in America. That, unable to have both simultaneously, he has chosen to advocate socialism (regardless its inability to eliminate poverty) and averted his eyes from abortion.

He is not alone. And the Left knows this, as the Obama campaign makes plainly clear in response to Archbishop Chaput’s criticism of the Left in general and Barack Obama in particular.

Mark Linton, the Obama campaign’s Catholic outreach coordinator, said in a statement Saturday that Obama is “proud to have the support of so many committed Catholics who are hungry for real change after eight years of failed policies. He has offered Americans real solutions even on tough issues like abortion, where we can come together to teach our kids responsibility and self-respect, to prevent unintended pregnancies, and offer strong support to women.”

Well, they’re not real Catholic solutions, and he knows it. And so does my priest.

In order to “come together to teach our kids responsibility and self-respect, to prevent unintended pregnancies, and offer strong support to women,” is abortion really a pre-requisite? How “committed” are Obama’s Catholic supporters if they think so?

I believe that many, when pondered in deep introspection, do not. But instead, like my priest, they avert their eyes in popular quest for a “change” to socialism.

I would also suggest that to the souls of the unborn – and to the souls of the born who have been left to die – abortion is not necessary “to teach our kids responsibility and self-respect, to prevent unintended pregnancies, and offer strong support to women.” It is, they surely would scream out, ultimately an existential affront to each of these.

But those are the voices we can only hear when we close our eyes, as we have closed theirs.

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