In the most powerful election statement by any Catholic prelate to date, Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila has told Catholics that life issues—and especially opposition to abortion—must take absolute precedence in deciding whom to vote for in November’s elections.
“Catholics in good conscience cannot support candidates who will advance abortion,” he wrote in the diocesan newspaper, The Denver Catholic.
Although the Archbishop refrains from telling Catholics which ticket to support, he makes his own position clear: favor pro-life politicians and those who will support religious liberty. In this election, that means voting Republican.
Going through a point-by-point comparison between the two parties, Aquila said that the “most important” change to official party platforms this year has been the Democrats’ push to overturn the Hyde Amendment, which “prohibits federal taxpayer money from being used for abortion.”
The Democrats’ platform is “aggressively pro-abortion, not only in funding matters, but in the appointment of only those judges who will support abortion,” Aquila laments. They are even trying to repeal the Helms Amendment, which “prevents the U.S. from supporting abortion availability overseas,” he said.
With an evident swipe at “Catholic” vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine, who declares himself “personally opposed” to abortion while continuing to support it consistently with his votes, Aquila decried those who divide “the personal” from “the public.”
On the other side of the coin, “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,” he said.
Regarding another key issue, freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, Aquila blasted the Democrats’ Health and Human Services mandate that “requires the provision of contraceptives, sterilizations and some abortifacients through employer’s health plans.”
He underscored the Obama Administration’s vicious attacks on the Little Sisters of the Poor, which has endeavored “to force them to violate their consciences.”
When people of faith do not stand up for their beliefs, “the government will become ‘god’ and impose its beliefs on the citizens,” the Archbishop warned. “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.”
Catholic voters “must make themselves aware of where the parties stand on these essential issues,” Aquila wrote. “The right to life is the most important and fundamental right, since life is necessary for any of the other rights to matter.”
The Archbishop explicitly refuted attempts to assert the “moral equivalency” of different ethical and social issues at play in the upcoming elections.
“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,” he said.
The Archbishop acknowledged that for many, the presidential election will involve a choice between “the lesser of two evils,” observing that both candidates “are disliked, lack credibility, and have made comments that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.”
At the same time, Christians must “reflect on the platforms of both parties, with an emphasis on the human life issues,” he said.
If you truly live your Catholic faith, “you will not find complete alignment with any political party, and that is okay,” Aquila said, but in voting, Catholics must “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.”
“The health of our nation depends on a deep respect for human life from the moment of conception until natural death, 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,” he said.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome