Jason pointed me to this article drafted by Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs Diocese. The synopsis of the letter is that Catholics should not vote for politicians who oppose abortion and gay marriage, going so far as to they may not receive Holy Communion.
This triggered a response by Democratic members of Congress calling the letter “deeply hurtful” and “miring the Church in partisan politics.” The general consensus by Democratic members of Congress is that the letter is hypocritical in as much as it fails to mention other Catholic positions like the War in Iraq and the death penalty.
Now totally ignoring the gay marriage issue (because I have discussed it before), I think the point that is being made about abortion, as opposed to the death penalty or Iraq, is that to the Catholic Church abortion involves the murder of about 1.2 million children a year. Thats an estimated 35 million children sense the roe vs. wade decision. The death penalty, with a couple hundred murders a year, pales in comparison. In Iraq the US has lost about 750 soldiers in the last year. Thats about as many people killed as are aborted every five hours.
From the vantage point of the Catholic Church, abortion amounts to an institutionalized holocaust. I believe its reasonable for the church to allow disagreement on most issues while drawing a line against this particular issue. If abortion is considered by the Catholic Church to be the single most pressing issue in the world today (which it does) then its not hypocritical to expect Catholics to support candidates that uphold life.
Over the course of the last thirty years the Democratic party has steadily been loosing the Catholic vote to the Republicans. This is in spite of a long tradition of civic responsibility to the poor and social justice. Why? The long and the short answer is Abortion. You would be amazed at the number of times the Priest at my old church advocated social programs that assist the livelihood of the poor– and then tell you to vote for the pro-life candidate. Its hard to talk about civic responsibility while ignoring the murder of a million-two children every year.