Waiting Room Conversation — ‘Mrs. Pelosi, Doctor Vasa will see you now.’


“When matters are serious and public, the Bishop may deem it necessary to declare that lack of communion explicitly. This declaration no more causes the excommunication than a doctor who diagnoses diabetes causes the diabetes he finds in his patient. The doctor recognizes the symptoms and writes the necessary prescription…”

ED. NOTE: Bishop Robert Vasa on Excommunication/Catholic Sentinel

Excommunication is a declaration of acts that severs ties

BEND — During the course of this past year there have been a number of occasions when bishops have hinted to laity that being Catholic involves a bit more than claiming the title. This has been done, in particular, with regard to politicians who may, in their own way, love Jesus, who may attend Sunday Mass and who do identify themselves as “faithful” Catholics. The press usually hints at the big “E” word, excommunication. The question of when a Catholic should be excommunicated has even been asked quite frequently and very seriously. While bishops are extremely reluctant to take the seemingly dramatic step of excommunication, I think there is very good reason for us to explore more thoroughly what excommunication really means and why it might be considered in certain circumstances.

The press would undoubtedly accuse Bishops who talk or even think about excommunication as being tyrannical power mongers but this is unfair. Excommunication is a declaration, based on solid evidence, that the actions or public teachings of a particular Catholic are categorically incompatible with the teachings of the Church. It is intended primarily as a means of getting the person who is in grave error to recognize the depth of his error and repent. A second reason, while somewhat secondary but no less important, is to assure the faithful who truly are faithful that what they believe to be the teaching of the Church is true and correct. Allowing their faith to be shaken or allowing them to be confused when Catholics publicly affirm something contrary to faith or morals, seemingly without consequences, scandalizes and confuses the faithful. This is no small matter. The Church, and particularly bishops, have an obligation to defend the faith but they also have an obligation to protect the faithful. We do not generally see the dissidence of public figures as something that harms the faithful but it has a deleterious effect upon them.

I find, very frequently, when I speak a bit more boldly on matters of morality or discipline, there are a significant number of the faithful who send messages of gratitude and support. It is their gratitude which stirs my heart for it makes me realize how much there is a need to support and affirm the clear and consistent teachings of our Catholic faith for the sake of the faithful. While the press may caricature such bishops in rather uncharitable fashion, I trust that they are men devoted to true compassion and to the truth itself. Their compassion extends to those who are misled and to those who, while not misled, are discouraged when their faith is attacked without rebuttal. This discouragement of the faithful is not insignificant. When we look at the word itself we see that its root is “courage” and allowing someone’s courage to be dissipated, or “dissed” as the young might say, is harmful to the person. En-couragement, by contrast, builds up the courage of the faithful and increases their strength for doing good. It is life giving and revitalizing. Allowing error, publicly expressed, to stand without comment or contradiction is discouraging.

When that moral error is espoused publicly by a Catholic who, by the likewise public and external act of receiving Holy Communion, appears to be in “good standing” then the faithful are doubly confused and doubly discouraged. In that case, the error is certainly not refuted. Furthermore, the impression is given that the error is positively condoned by the bishop and the Church. This is very dis-couraging to the faithful. In such a case, private “dialogue” is certainly appropriate but a public statement is also needed. In extreme cases, excommunication may be deemed necessary.

It seems to me that even if a decree of excommunication would be issued, the bishop would really not excommunicate anyone. He only declares that the person is excommunicated by virtue of the person’s own actions. The actions and words, contrary to faith and morals, are what excommunicate (i.e. break communion with the Church). When matters are serious and public, the Bishop may deem it necessary to declare that lack of communion explicitly. This declaration no more causes the excommunication than a doctor who diagnoses diabetes causes the diabetes he finds in his patient. The doctor recognizes the symptoms and writes the necessary prescription. Accusing the doctor of being a tyrannical power monger would never cross anyone’s mind. Even when the doctor tells the patient that they are “excommunicated” from sugar it is clear that his desire is solely the health of his patient. In fact, a doctor who told his diabetic patient that he could keep ingesting all the sugar he wanted without fear would be found grossly negligent and guilty of malpractice.

In the same way, bishops who recognize a serious spiritual malady and seek a prescription to remedy the error, after discussion and warning, may be required to simply state, “What you do and say is gravely wrong and puts you out of communion with the faith you claim to hold.” In serious cases, and the cases of misled Catholic public officials are often very serious, a declaration of the fact that the person is de facto out of communion may be the only responsible and charitable thing to do.

Failing to name error because of some kind of fear of offending the person in error is neither compassion nor charity. Confronting or challenging the error or evil of another is never easy yet it must be done.

The adage usually attributed to Edmund Burke was correct: All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

The Lord has called bishops to be shepherds. That shepherding entails both leading and protecting. In an era when error runs rampant and false teachings abound, the voice of the Holy Father rings clear and true. The teachings of the Church are well documented and consistent. Bishops and the pastors who serve in their Dioceses have an obligation both to lead their people to the truth and protect them from error.



12 thoughts on “Waiting Room Conversation — ‘Mrs. Pelosi, Doctor Vasa will see you now.’”

  1. Praise the Lord for Bishop Vasa. His statement is clear; it is also compassionate. Good analogy with doctor and patient. We are to be like Jesus, that is, to love the sinner, but hate the sin. Afterall, Jesus came to die for us in our sin. However, “the judgement of condemnation is this: the light came into the world, but men loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were wicked. Everyone who practices evil hates the light. (Jn 3:19-20).
    May all Bishops be willing to speak up as strongly as Bishop Vasa.

  2. That’s fine but be sure to excommunicate the Republican Catholics who support the death penalty, pre emptive war, usury, and anything else that goes against Catholic social teaching as well.

  3. This is why I think we need to outlaw the democratic party in the US. They have more compassion for brutal terrorists that torture and kill women and children of their own faith and their own nation, than for the unborn babies that are killey by Nancy Peplosi’s and the democratic party’s potical support.

    I commend Bishop Vasa for his actions and courage. Nancy Peolosi’s actions are un-American and goes against catholics teachings.

  4. Thank you George, for illustrating my point so ineloquently. Bishop Vasa writes, “bishops have hinted to laity that being Catholic involves a bit more than claiming the title” and yet, ironcially it seems that in today’s Catholic Church one can belive anything one wnats and act in any way one wants so long as one is against abortion. One can claim the title of “pro-life” and not worry at all how mnay people have been killed in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (wars which were condmened by Pope John Paul II and Benedict)
    The teachings of the Catholic Church have largely been socially conservative and economically liberal thus making the church independent but no longer. Liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans all go against the teachings of the church at times, but it seems that it is only when Democrats do that excommunication becomes an issue. I’m not seeking sympathy towards terrorists or anyone else, just some consistency as evidence that the Catholic Church hasn’t followed the evangelical church down the long ugly road of selling its soul for political gain.

  5. Chris–

    In your reply to George you offer sweeping generalizations on today’s Catholic Church and its members:

    it seems that in today’s Catholic Church one can belive anything one wnats and act in any way one wants so long as one is against abortion. One can claim the title of “pro-life” and not worry at all how mnay people have been killed in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (wars which were condmened by Pope John Paul II and Benedict)

    It’s hard to believe that any Catholic public figure, has freely chosen to promote and defend enshrinement–that is, as the normalized law of the land, and of people’s hearts–of waging constant daily war upon the souls of nations. There’s no law of the land, protected by unjust judges, that calls it a “right” for any of us to wage war and kill the innocent in perpetuity.

    Not so, with the victims of abortion.

    In a state of war, that is, on the battleground itself, medics treat the mortal life-threatening wounds of the injured first. And that is what the Anti-Abortion Catholic Pro-Life Political Movement is doing…

    The process:

    Stop the bleeding (end abortion),
    Start the breathing (remind America that life is a gift from the breathe of God),
    Treat for shock (Heal the living victims of abortion)

    Your whole argument sadly begs for a murder by numbers scenario when it comes to Catholic social teaching–

    That would be 4,000 innocent children per day…

    Match it.


  6. Chris –

    Death penalty is not intrinsically evil.

    War is not intrinsically evil – and let’s be serious. Do you really think either Pope will say “I’m in favor of war!”?

    Which Republican Catholic politician wants to legalize usury?

    Meanwhile, one political party has enshrined abortion as a sacrament, euthanasia as a “compassionate” choice, and homosexuality as a “right”.

    Neither party is without blame, but currently, one is making a lot of noise with scandalous Catholic example – Pelosi’s recent interview in Newsweek the most recent, as well as Patrick Kennedy’s making public his private discussions with Bishop Tobin.

    And I don’t think any faithful Catholic looks to a politician as their prime role model for Catholic behavior. That person would be Jesus Christ.

  7. Chris, I understand what you’re saying, and generally agree with your desire for consistency. However, I am willing to ‘consider’ giving the benefit of the doubt to the pre-emptive war idea to the extent that any ‘real’ possibility might exist that it actually prevents a greater evil from happening. This subject, I believe, is one upon which reasonable, moral catholics can still disagree without completely running afoul of church teaching. (This is not to say that I disregard the Pope’s opinions on these specific wars, and most certainly assumes that all moral considerations have been thoughtfully and completely considered).

    But the subject of abortion is difficult to see as being a subject upon which reasonable catholics can disagree. In fact, as far as I know, the church tells us we can’t disagree on this one. And while for most catholics, abortion is between the individual and their confessor, the politicians in question are highly vocal, visible people whom everyone knows are catholic, and who have the ‘pulpit’, so to speak, to mislead and misguide catholics and non-catholics alike on a national level as to catholic teachings. They aren’t anonymous bloggers.

    You said “…it is only when Democrats do that excommunication becomes an issue.” I really think it has nothing to do with democrats but with pro-abortion advocates going against church teaching in such vocal and visible ways. That those advocates are predominantly democrat is incidental to this discussion.
    Like you, I do not wish to see my church engage in hypocrisy. However, I think that for the reasons mentioned, the abortion support/excommunication issue is one that can stand alone without having to be tied to the validity or non-validity of people’s stands on other questions of church teaching.

    You also said “One can claim the title of “pro-life” and not worry at all how mnay people have been killed in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan”. While I agree that there are some bad apples who may be this inhumane, it is an overreaching generalization to suggest that catholic “pro-lifers” who may have legitimate moral reasons for supporting the war(s) don’t worry or don’t care at all about fellow human beings in Iraq or Afghanistan. In my experience, Rush Limbaugh types really do not speak for all republicans, and especially not for the vast majority of republican catholics. Are any of those guys catholic? And while the rhetoric posted in comments sections like this one might lead any sane person to believe that most people, regardless of belief system, are rude, condescending, venom spewing, insult-throwing small-minded morons, I am happy to say I haven’t met but a very few of these kind of people in real life. So I’m hoping the ones on the web really don’t exist! (I admit to making a presumption here about the source(s) of your generalization- mea culpa if I am wrong).

      1.  James, I humbly and happily thank you for the mass intention…me and mine can really use the prayers right now. And the serenade makes me feel like a girl again…another thank you!

        As I reread my comments, I see that my words have been as harsh as those I criticize, and for that I beg forgiveness. It’s like a mirror shining my true self back at me. And because of my harshness, I came across sounding like I was criticizing you, James, when I truly was not. There is nothing you have posted here that reflects what I meant. I was making a broad generalization (ouch I accused Chris of that) regarding the nature of comments I frequently see all over the web, and thought that postings in those other places might be what have Chris’ ire and defenses up. My comment was ‘inspired’ by George’s comment that “democrats should be outlawed”…guess it got under my skin a bit because it led me to believe he might be the kind of person I mentioned, even though his word choices were less insulting than many I have seen (or used). I also see that I used the term ‘anonymous blogger’…here also I was not referring to you. But it is clear to me now how that came across. Please accept my apologies.

        My ill-thought comment was my inept way of trying to assure Chris that not all pro-lifers and/or republicans fall into the stereotype he suggests of being pro-death penalty, pro-war, pro-usury, etc. and that I think most people are truly more reasonable one-on-one than they sometimes come across in forums ‘like’ this one (not intending to imply this one or this one’s author!).

        Chris’ last post here gives a bit more clarification for his feelings. (“…and yet not only was I told that I am not a real Christian, but many Bishops threatened to withhold communion to the likes of me.”) Has he been told these things directly by people he knows, or through forums on the ‘net’, or perhaps both? As for the bishops he discusses, I have not heard of this, but then I am not as tuned in as perhaps I could be. Anyhow, to Chris, I understand your frustration. In part, it looks like it comes from a place of being demeaned by fellow believers who themselves, perhaps, are partisan ‘one issue’ thinkers. I also sense that you are sincerely trying to get to the same place as James, but that you feel a different road is necessary.

        Maybe we could all use a hug! Personally, both parties offend my sensibilities in enough ways to make voting for either one of them an uncomfortable decision. Perhaps we could start our own political party. Then we wouldn’t have to choose between the lesser of two evils where we sometimes find ourselves working against one another both politically and verbally. We could call ourselves Catholics United Together Into Eternity (CUTIE)! Tee hee.

  8. Now for some reason I recived an email syaing that this was posted as a reply, but it is not listed here so allow me to reprint it,

    It reads: Reason attests that there are objects of the human act which are by their nature “incapable of being ordered” to God, because they radically contradict the good of the person made in his image. These are the acts which, in the Church’s moral tradition, have been termed “intrinsically evil” (intrinsece malum): they are such always and per se, in other words, on account of their very object, and quite apart from the ulterior intentions of the one acting and the circumstances. Consequently, without in the least denying the influence on morality exercised by circumstances and especially by intentions, the Church teaches that “there exist acts which per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object”. The Second Vatican Council itself, in discussing the respect due to the human person, gives a number of examples of such acts: “Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of homicide, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and voluntary suicide; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution and trafficking in women and children; degrading conditions of work which treat labourers as mere instruments of profit, and not as free responsible persons: all these and the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honour due to the Creator”.

    In the second section of the statement are many itmes that that Republican politicans have endorsed or even enshrined as the necessary right of the government particulalry when it comes to mutliation, arbirtrya imprisonment, all in the name of the patriot act, and the while no Pope will say I support war, still the war in Iraq flies directly in the face of the just war theory laid down by Aquinas.
    Certianly you can argue taht war is not as terrible as abortion and still the churhc teaches a complete and consitent ethic of life, womb to tomb, by opposing abortion, capitla punishment and many things in between. The death penalty may not be the smae as abortion but supporting it still goes against the teahcings fo the ctaholci churhc, and if we’re going to start excommunicating those who do not follow the teachings of the church why do we stop with only one issue, oen that is clealry partisan.
    And as for usuryI’d throw Rick Santorum’s name into that tirn gsince he spent his time in office doing all that he can to benfit the rich and powerful and protecting credit card compaines from any regulation that would curb there %30 interest rate. Other Dems have done this as well, but let’s excom them all.

    Fimally, and this will be my last word , I voted for
    Obama becuase I storngly belived that his policies would redcue the number of aboritons as Bill CLinton’s did before. I beleived that McCain would simply use rhetoric but his policies would have no action as Bush’s before, and yet not only was I told that I am not a real Christian, but many Bishops threatened to withhold communion to the likes of me. If we keep going down this road the churhc will lose anyshred of independence and respect that it has earned as it will be just another hat in the religious right crowd which has tied its reputation to the republican party and today isn’t faring much better.

  9. Chris, my friend, what could have possibly convinced you that President Obama’s policies would reduce the number of abortions? The fact is, abortion has been falling, (no matter who was in the White House), since the 80’s. More likely because of the Pro-Life Movement… There is nothing in Mr. O’s Senate record below that would give hope to the unprotected within the womb (Remember, we’re talking millions of lives):

    No litmus test; nominate to Court based on their fairness
    Q: Could you ever nominate someone to the Supreme Court who disagrees with you on Roe v. Wade?
    McCAIN: I would never, and have never in all the years I’ve been there, imposed a litmus test on any nominee to the Court. That’s not appropriate to do.

    OBAMA: Well, I think it’s true that we shouldn’t apply a strict litmus test and the most important thing in any judge is their capacity to provide fairness and justice to the American people. And it is true that this is going to be, I think, one of the most consequential decisions of the next president. It is very likely that one of us will be making at least one and probably more than one appointments and Roe vs. Wade probably hangs in the balance. I will look for those judges who have an outstanding judicial record, who have the intellect, and who hopefully have a sense of what real-world folks are going through.

    Source: 2008 third presidential debate against John McCain Oct 15, 2008

    1990: Wrote law article that that fetus cannot sue mother
    As president of the Harvard Law Review and a law professor in Chicago, Barack Obama refined his legal thinking, but left a scant paper trail. His name doesn’t appear on any legal scholarship. But an unsigned–and previously unattributed– 1990 article unearthed by Politico offers a glimpse at Obama’s views on abortion policy and the law during his student days, and provides a rare addition to his body of work.
    The six-page summary considers the charged, if peripheral, question of whether fetuses should be able to file lawsuits against their mothers. Obama’s answer, like most courts’: No. He wrote approvingly of an Illinois Supreme Court ruling that the unborn cannot sue their mothers for negligence, and he suggested that allowing fetuses to sue would violate the mother’s rights and could, perversely, cause her to take more risks with her pregnancy.

    Obama’s article, which begins on page 823 of Volume 103 of the Harvard Law Review, is available in libr

    Source: Politico.com, “Obama’s lost law review article” Aug 22, 2008

    FactCheck: Abortions HAVE gone down under Pres. Bush
    Obama, who favors a legal right to abortion, noted that he was trying to “reduce the number of abortions.” But he went too far when he falsely accused President Bush of failing to meet that same goal, saying incorrectly that “over the last eight years, abortions have not gone down.”
    This is an erroneous claim that we first tracked down and debunked more than three years ago when it was being repeated by Howard Dean and Hillary Clinton, among others.

    The Guttmacher Institute, whose figures are cited regularly by both sides in the abortion debate, say on their Web site, “In 2005, 1.21 million abortions were performed, down from 1.31 million abortions in 2000.”

    There’s little to show the decline has come about because of anything President Bush did or didn’t do. In fact, the number of abortions in the U.S. has been falling steadily since the 1980s regardless of whether the person in the White House favored a legal right to abortion or opposed it.

    Source: FactCheck.org analysis of 2008 Saddleback joint appearance Aug 16, 2008

    1997: opposed bill preventing partial-birth abortion
    In 1997, Obama voted in the Illinois Senate against SB 230, a bill designed to prevent partial-birth abortions. In the US Senate, Obama has consistently voted to expand embryonic stem cell research. He has voted against requiring minors who get out-of-state abortions to notify their parents. The National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) gives Obama a 100% score on his pro-choice voting record in the Senate for 2005, 2006, and 2007.
    Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.238-239 Aug 1, 2008

    Opposed legislation protecting born-alive failed abortions
    Obama has consistently refused to support legislation that would define an infant who survives a late-term induced-labor abortion as a human being with the right to live. He insists that no restriction must ever be placed on the right of a mother to decide to abort her child.
    On March 30, 2001, Obama was the only Illinois senator who rose to speak against a bill that would have protected babies who survived late term labor-induced abortion. Obama rose to object that if the bill passed, and a nine-month-old fetus survived a late-term labor-induced abortion was deemed to be a person who had a right to live, then the law would “forbid abortions to take place.” Obama further explained the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not allow somebody to kill a child, so if the law deemed a child who survived a late-term labor-induced abortion had a right to live, “then this would be an anti-abortion statute.”

    Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.238 Aug 1, 2008

    Ok for state to restrict late-term partial birth abortion
    On an issue like partial birth abortion, I strongly believe that the state can properly restrict late-term abortions. I have said so repeatedly. All I’ve said is we should have a provision to protect the health of the mother, and many of the bills that came before me didn’t have that.
    Part of the reason they didn’t have it was purposeful, because those who are opposed to abortion have a moral calling to try to oppose what they think is immoral. Oftentimes what they were trying to do was to polarize the debate and make it more difficult for people, so that they could try to bring an end to abortions overall.

    As president, my goal is to bring people together, to listen to them, and I don’t think that’s any Republican out there who I’ve worked with who would say that I don’t listen to them, I don’t respect their ideas, I don’t understand their perspective. And my goal is to get us out of this polarizing debate where we’re always trying to score cheap political points and actually get things done.

    Source: 2008 Fox News interview: presidential series Apr 27, 2008

    We can find common ground between pro-choice and pro-life
    Q: The terms pro-choice and pro-life, do they encapsulate that reality in our 21st Century setting and can we find common ground?
    A: I absolutely think we can find common ground. And it requires a couple of things. It requires us to acknowledge that..

    There is a moral dimension to abortion, which I think that all too often those of us who are pro-choice have not talked about or tried to tamp down. I think that’s a mistake because I think all of us understand that it is a wrenching choice for anybody to think about.
    People of good will can exist on both sides. That nobody wishes to be placed in a circumstance where they are even confronted with the choice of abortion. How we determine what’s right at that moment, I think, people of good will can differ.
    And if we can acknowledge that much, then we can certainly agree on the fact that we should be doing everything we can to avoid unwanted pregnancies that might even lead somebody to consider having an abortion.
    Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College Apr 13, 2008

    Undecided on whether life begins at conception
    Q: Do you personally believe that life begins at conception?
    A: This is something that I have not come to a firm resolution on. I think it’s very hard to know what that means, when life begins. Is it when a cell separates? Is it when the soul stirs? So I don’t presume to know the answer to that question. What I know is that there is something extraordinarily powerful about potential life and that that has a moral weight to it that we take into consideration when we’re having these debates.

    Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College Apr 13, 2008

    Teach teens about abstinence and also about contraception
    We’ve actually made progress over the last several years in reducing teen pregnancies, for example. And what I have consistently talked about is to take a comprehensive approach where we focus on abstinence, where we are teaching the sacredness of sexuality to our children.
    But we also recognize the importance of good medical care for women, that we’re also recognizing the importance of age-appropriate education to reduce risks. I do believe that contraception has to be part of that education process.

    And if we do those things, then I think that we can reduce abortions and I think we should make sure that adoption is an option for people out there. If we put all of those things in place, then I think we will take some of the edge off the debate.

    We’re not going to completely resolve it. At some point, there may just be an irreconcilable difference. And those who are opposed to abortion, I think, should continue to be able to lawfully object and try to change the laws.

    Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College Apr 13, 2008

    GovWatch: Obama’s “present” votes were a requested strategy
    “In the Illinois state legislature, Obama voted ‘present” instead of “no’ on five horrendous anti-choice bills.”
    –E-mail from NOW attacking Sen. Obama’s record on abortion issues.
    The National Organization for Women has strongly endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. A chain e-mail denounced Obama’s record on abortion, citing his “present” votes on a succession of bills sponsored by anti-abortion activists.

    The Facts: Under the rules of the Illinois legislature, only yes votes count toward passage of a bill. Planned Parenthood calculated that a ‘present’ vote by Obama would encourage other senators to cast a similar vote, rather than voting for the legislation [and asked Obama to vote ‘present’ as a strategy]. NOW never endorsed the Planne Parenthood strategy of voting ‘present,’ saying “They were horrible bills, and we wanted no votes.” Illinois NOW and Planned Parenthood had different voting strategies on the abortion issue. It was impossible for Obama to satisfy both groups at once.

    Source: GovWatch on 2008 NOW pro-Clinton campaign literature Feb 6, 2008

    Expand access to contraception; reduce unintended pregnancy
    Reproductive Choice: Obama has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving a women’s right to choose under Roe v. Wade a priority as president. Obama also supports expanded access to contraception, health information and preventive services to reduce unintended pregnancies.
    Protecting a Women’s Right to Choose: Obama will make safeguarding women’s rights under Roe v. Wade a priority. He opposes any constitutional amendment to overturn that decision.
    Reducing Unintended Pregnancy: Obama will work to reduce unintended pregnancy by guaranteeing equity in contraceptive coverage, providing sex education, and offering rape victims accurate information about emergency contraception.
    Throughout his career, in both the Illinois Senate & the US Senate, Obama has stood up for a women’s right to choose, consistently earning 100% ratings from pro-choice groups.
    Source: Campaign booklet, “Blueprint for Change”, p. 35-36 Feb 2, 2008

    Rated 100% by NARAL on pro-choice votes in 2005, 2006 & 2007
    Sen. Obama received the following scores on NARAL Pro-Choice America’s Congressional Record on Choice.
    2007: 100 percent
    2006: 100 percent
    2005: 100 percent
    Source: NARAL voting record, http://www.ProChoiceAmerica.org Jan 1, 2008

    Voted against banning partial birth abortion
    Obama’s record in Illinois represents that of a pragmatic progressive, who pushed for moderate reforms and opposed right-wing legislation. In the IL legislature, voting “present” is the equivalent of voting “no” because a majority of “yes” votes are required for passage. Many IL legislators use the “present” vote as an evasion on an unpopular choice, so that they can avoid being targeted for voting “no.” During the 2004 Democratic primary, an opponent mocked Obama’s “present” vote on abortion bills with flyers portraying a rubber duck and the words, “He ducked!”.
    In 1997, Obama voted against SB 230, which would have turned doctors into felons by banning so-called partial-birth abortion, & against a 2000 bill banning state funding. Although these bills included an exception to save the life of the mother, they didn’t include anything about abortions necessary to protect the health of the mother. The legislation defined a fetus as a person, & could have criminalized virtually all abortion.

    Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p.147-148 Oct 30, 2007

    Stem cells hold promise to cure 70 major diseases
    Barack Obama believes we owe it to the American public to explore the potential of stem cells to treat the millions of people suffering from debilitating and life threatening diseases. Stem cells hold the promise of treatments and cures for more than 70 major diseases and conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord injuries, and diabetes. As many as 100 million Americans may benefit from embryonic stem cell research. As president, Obama would:
    Promote Embryonic Stem Cell Research
    Support Medical Advancement and Innovation
    Expand the Number of Stem Cell Lines Available for Research
    Ensure Ethical Standards
    Obama introduced legislation in the Illinois Senate to ensure that only those embryos that would otherwise be discarded could be used and that donors would have to provide written consent for the use of the embryos.
    Source: Campaign website, BarackObama.com, “Resource Flyers” Aug 26, 2007

    Trust women to make own decisions on partial-birth abortion
    Q: What us your view on the decision on partial-birth abortion and your reaction to most of the public agreeing with the court’s holding?
    A: I think that most Americans recognize that this is a profoundly difficult issue for the women and families who make these decisions. They don’t make them casually. And I trust women to make these decisions in conjunction with their doctors and their families and their clergy. And I think that’s where most Americans are. Now, when you describe a specific procedure that accounts for less than 1% of the abortions that take place, then naturally, people get concerned, and I think legitimately so. But the broader issue here is: Do women have the right to make these profoundly difficult decisions? And I trust them to do it. There is a broader issue: Can we move past some of the debates around which we disagree and can we start talking about the things we do agree on? Reducing teen pregnancy; making it less likely for women to find themselves in these circumstances.

    Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007

    Extend presumption of good faith to abortion protesters
    [An abortion protester at a campaign event] handed me a pamphlet. “Mr. Obama, I know you’re a Christian, with a family of your own. So how can you support murdering babies?”
    I told him I understood his position but had to disagree with it. I explained my belief that few women made the decision to terminate a pregnancy casually; that any pregnant woman felt the full force of the moral issues involved when making that decision; that I feared a ban on abortion would force women to seek unsafe abortions, as they had once done in this country. I suggested that perhaps we could agree on ways to reduce the number of women who felt the need to have abortions in the first place.

    “I will pray for you,” the protester said. “I pray that you have a change of heart.” Neither my mind nor my heart changed that day, nor did they in the days to come. But that night, before I went to bed, I said a prayer of my own-that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that had been extended to me.

    Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.197-8 Oct 1, 2006

    Constitution is a living document; no strict constructionism
    When we get in a tussle, we appeal to the Founding Fathers and the Constitution’s ratifiers to give direction. Some, like Justice Scalia, conclude that the original understanding must be followed and if we obey this rule, democracy is respected.
    Others, like Justice Breyers, insist that sometimes the original understanding can take you only so far–that on the truly big arguments, we have to take context, history, and the practical outcomes of a decision into account.

    I have to side with Justice Breyer’s view of the Constitution–that it is not a static but rather a living document and must be read in the context of an ever-changing world.

    I see democracy as a conversation to be had. According to this conception, the genius of Madison’s design is not that it provides a fixed blueprint for action. It provides us with a framework and rules, but all its machinery are designed to force us into a conversation.

    Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p. 89-92 Oct 1, 2006

    Moral accusations from pro-lifers are counterproductive
    Q: [to Keyes]: Doesn’t your pro-life stance conflict with your support of the death penaty?
    KEYES: It doesn’t conflict at all. Abortion and capital punishment are at different level of moral concern. Abortion is intrinsically, objectively wrong and sinful whereas capital punishment is a matter of judgment, which is not in and of itself a violation of moral right. The question of whether or not you should apply capital punishment depends on circumstances and it’s an area where Catholics have a right to debate and disagree.

    OBAMA: Now I agree with Mr. Keyes that the death penalty and abortion are separate cases. It’s unfortunate that with the death penalty Mr. Keyes respects that people may have a different point of view but with the issue of abortion he has labeled people everything as terrorists to slaveholders to being consistent with Nazism for holding an opposing point of view. That kind of rhetoric is not helpful in resolving a deeply emotional subject.

    Source: Illinois Senate Debate #3: Barack Obama vs. Alan Keyes Oct 21, 2004

    Pass the Stem Cell Research Bill
    State Senator Barack Obama today called for passage of the Ronald Reagan Biomedical Research Act (HB 3589), which will permit embryonic stem cell research in Illinois. The bill, formerly known as the Stem Cell Research Act, was recently renamed to honor the memory of former President Ronald Reagan.
    The Ronald Reagan Biomedical Research Act specifically permits embryonic stem cell research in Illinois. Today, more than 100 million Americans are afflicted by medical problems [which could be affected by this research]. Obama says, “This bill affects diseases that attack Americans – regardless of their gender, age, economic status, ethnicity, race or political affiliation. This is about a commitment to medical research, under strict federal guidelines. I call on leaders in Illinois and President Bush in Washington to stop playing politics on this critical issue and expand the current policy on embryonic stem cell research so that we can begin finding the cures of tomorrow today.”

    Source: Press Release, “Stem Cell Research Bill” Jun 16, 2004

    Protect a woman’s right to choose
    For almost a decade, Obama has been a leader in the Illinois legislature in the battle to protect a woman’s right to choose and promote equal economic rights and opportunities.
    Source: Campaign website, ObamaForIllinois.com May 2, 2004


  10. It is amazing how many distractions can be envised by supporters of politicians who would sacrifice the helpless and innocent unborn for their own political gain…following a man who seeks to make even late term abortion part of a woman’s “health care”. For heaven’s sake don’t consider the 50 million dead little bodies that have piled since roe v wade. Just get on your soap box about other social ills that we all agree are in need of correction; but no war, no plague, no terrible act of nature can light a candle to the numbers dead at the hands of those supported, protected and now financed by corrupt pro-abortion politicians…and by the way, they want to tell the world that they are “good” Catholics who sleep well at night knowing that killing babies really is okay according to their privately formed consciences! Give me a break! Fight for all the social causes you want, but for the love of God, please put these defenseless unborn babies at the top of your list! Even though the media doesn’t show their dead little bodies every night on the news, they are there and real. If 4,000 adults were murdered everyday in this country, would you still defend the politicians who think it is okay and just a matter of their conscience? The unborn are persons made in the image of God and not different from you or I. Defend them from Obama and his minions…or do you have something more important to do? When I face the good Lord at the end of my life, I want to be able to say I fought this with every fiber of my being. I will not go to hell for a politician who thinks he knows better than the teachings Christ left for us in His Church. Bless this Bishop!

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