By seeking freedom for tax-exempt churches to back or oppose political candidates, President Donald Trump on February 2 no doubt pleased our local Catholic bishops, who have done just that in recent elections. The Most Rev. Joseph F. Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, bitterly criticized Sen. Tim Kaine, Democratic candidate for vice president, in the Leaven Catholic newspaper of last October.
The archbishop wrote that Senator Kaine is "a cafeteria Catholic, picking and choosing the teachings…it was painful to listen to Senator Kaine repeat the same…contorted reasoning to profess his personal opposition to abortion while justifying his commitment to keep it legal."
A vote against Senator Kaine was also a vote against Hillary Clinton. The ban on tax-exempt church participation in elections was passed by a Republican Congress in 1954 and signed by Republican President Dwight Eisenhower.
On Sept. 12, 2008, both Archbishop Naumann and Bishop Robert Finn joined in a Leaven column asking whether a voter's preference for the candidate's position on the pursuit of peace and other values could overcome his support for abortion.
Never miss a local story.
"What could possibly be a proportionate reason for the more than 45 million children killed by abortion in the past 35 years?" the bishops wrote. Barack Obama supported legalized abortion, while his opponent did not. In his own column that October, Archbishop Naumann attacked Obama's vice-presidential choice, Joe Biden, who had said he was a Pope "John XXIII guy" but not a "John Paul II Catholic."
"I can tell you there is no such thing as a 'John XXIII Catholic' or a 'John Paul II Catholic,'" the archbishop wrote. "There are, however, 'faithful' and 'unfaithful' Catholics….Consider this when casting your vote: Are you ready to accept some responsibility for the more than a million unborn children who are killed every year by abortion?"
Before the 2016 election in his own diocesan newspaper, Bishop James W. Johnson, jr. of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese, listed the five "intrinsically evil acts" that should bar a candidate from office: "…abortion, euthanasia, embryo-destructive research, acts of racism, and same-sex 'marriage'." Similar statements were presented in many local Catholic churches before Donald Trump's election victory.
I am writing this now because my Catholic friends say they do not like being told in church how to vote.
I too have qualms about late-term abortion. Yet I don't agree that when a sperm meets a microscopic egg floating down a woman's fallopian tube, a fully human person is instantly created. Some birth control pills — called "abortifacients" by these church leaders — prevent implantation of the fertilized egg in the womb. That's murder, say many Catholic leaders. If so, why don't they seek prosecution for women who ask for the pill? That is because hundreds of millions of women worldwide are guilty of that "crime." To reverse Roe v. Wade, the Catholic clergy must seek punishment only for the few vulnerable abortion doctors.
I also believe we should consider, as the U. S. Supreme Court did, the private place where this "murder" occurs, the inner-most center of a woman's body. Should the Church, using the power of government, control that space? Above all, before taking the Hierarchy's voting advice, we should study evil acts omitted from their pre-election list, like the Holy Bible's commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," and "You shall not covet your neighbor's wife."
In a 2005 recording, Trump bragged in lewd terms that he could take advantage of women sexually because he was "a star."
"Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor," reads another commandment.
“There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations," he told a TV host. But police found no evidence of cheering Muslim mobs as the twin towers fell.
For years he claimed Barack Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya. What an incredible liar. What a bearer of false witness against our American neighbors. Yet violations of that commandment were not listed by the Catholic Hierarchy among "inherently evil acts."
Let's hope in future elections that our Catholic bishops honor all Ten Commandments by including false witness among their bars to public office, along with adultery, rape, and sexual abuse of children.