Why Catholics should sup­port McCain

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

The Catholic bloc is the key swing vote in this year’s elec­tion that will de­cide the next pres­i­dent of the United States — and shape our des­tiny in this wa­ter­shed mo­ment in his­tory. Catholics must sup­port Sen. John McCain.

Both cam­paigns are court­ing Catholics vig­or­ously. Catholics con­sti­tute Amer­ica’s largest sin­gle re­li­gious de­nom­i­na­tion. The church has 47 mil­lion ad­her­ents — nearly one-quar­ter of all reg­is­tered vot­ers. In piv­otal bat­tle­ground states, such as Penn­syl­va­nia, Ohio, Michi­gan and Mis­souri, they form al­most a third of the elec­torate. More­over, 41 per­cent of Catholics are in­de­pen­dents.

Polls re­veal many Catholics re­main un­de­cided. They are also evenly di­vided: Catholic con­ser­va­tives back Mr. McCain; Catholic pro­gres­sives cham­pion Sen. Barack Obama. “So­cial jus­tice” Catholics be­lieve Mr. Obama is their man: In their view, he ad­vo­cates the “broader teach­ings” of the church. He puts na­tional health care, a cleaner en­vi­ron­ment, end­ing the Iraq war and de­vot­ing more re­sources to the poor above the “sin­gle” is­sue of abor­tion.

How­ever, this rea­son­ing vi­o­lates church doc­trine. Pope Bene­dict XVI has made it crys­tal-clear that abor­tion is the sem­i­nal moral chal­lenge of our time. It is not sim­ply a “sin­gle” is­sue like guns, taxes or im­mi­gra­tion. It is equiv­a­lent to the Jewish ques­tion of the 1930s: Will we al­low an en­tire cat­e­gory of peo­ple — the un­born — to be mur­dered be­cause they are viewed as less than hu­man?

Pope Bene­dict rightly ar­gues that le­gal­ized abor­tion as­serts “the law of the jun­gle over the rule of law”; the tri­umph of power, death and de­struc­tion over the weak­est mem­bers of our so­ci­ety. Abor­tion ab­ro­gates the most fun­da­men­tal of all rights: The right to ex­ist in God’s im­age and ac­cord­ing to His di­vine plan. This is why the church has ex­plic­itly — and re­peat­edly — stated that abor­tion is mass mur­der. Catholics have a pri­mary moral obli­ga­tion to out­law it. Abor­tion is state­sanc­tioned in­fan­ti­cide; abor­tion trumps all other con­cerns.

Mr. Obama is a staunch pro­po­nent of abor­tion rights — even at tax­payer ex­pense. He did not sup­port the ban on par- tial-birth abor­tion. Mr. Obama is so rad­i­cal he op­posed a bill that would pro­vide le­gal pro­tec­tion and med­i­cal as­sis­tance to ba­bies who sur­vived botched abor­tions.

Mr. McCain, on the other hand, has a solid anti-abor­tion vot­ing record. He also vows to ap­point con­ser­va­tive jus­tices to the high court. The cur­rent 5-4 lib­eral ma­jor­ity is tee­ter­ing. There will be one or two Supreme Court va­can­cies in the next pres­i­dent’s term. A McCain ad­min­is­tra­tion can fi­nally achieve what the pro-life move­ment has sought for decades: the re­peal of Roe v. Wade.

Mr. McCain is also a bet­ter ad­vo­cate for the tra­di­tional fam­ily. Like Mr. Obama, he op­poses same-sex mar­riage. Yet the Repub­li­can mav­er­ick prom­ises to up­hold the De­fense of Mar­riage Act, which en­ables states that do not want gay mar­riage to main­tain their laws. Mr. Obama wants to re­peal the leg­is­la­tion: He is pro­gay rights in ev­ery­thing but name.

Even on the so-called Catholic “so­cial jus­tice” is­sues, Mr. McCain is stronger. The Repub­li­can of­fers a health care plan that will sig­nif­i­cantly ex­pand cov­er­age to the unin­sured, lower costs and cre­ate greater choice. Mr. Obama prom­ises the outdated lib­eral model of gov­ern­ment-run health care. The re­sult will be more bu­reau­cracy, a mas­sive and ex­pen­sive new en­ti­tle­ment pro­gram, and ra­tioned care.

Catholic Democrats like to por­tray Mr. Obama’s for­eign pol­icy as con­sis­tent with the church’s teach­ings. They are wrong. Mr. Obama is not an­ti­war. He fa­vors adding more troops and re­sources into Afghanistan — a pol­icy di­rectly at odds with the Vat­i­can. He has also called for uni­lat­eral U.S. air strikes in Pak­istan. He is not a paci­fist, but a lib­eral in­ter­ven­tion­ist.

Many Catholics — in­clud­ing Pope Bene­dict — be­lieve the Iraq war was a mis­take. The war, how­ever, is nearly won. The troops will be com­ing home. We must now de­cide: When and on what terms?

Mr. Obama wants a mil­i­tary with­drawal by 2010; Mr. McCain a lit­tle later — per­haps by 2012. More im­por­tantly, Mr. Obama seeks to snatch de­feat from the jaws of victory. He will with­draw Amer­i­can power without en­sur­ing a sta­ble, demo­cratic Iraq. Catholics must there­fore pon­der: Should the im­mense sac­ri­fice of Amer­i­can blood and trea­sure be in vain? Or should it be for the grander cause of free­dom and Amer­i­can na­tional in­ter­ests?

Pro­gres­sives in the church are de­luded if they be­lieve Mr. Obama em­bod­ies Catholic so­cial thought. They con­fuse wa­tered-down so­cial­ism for Catholi­cism. The church stands for civ­i­lized de­cency and the nat­u­ral moral or­der — as is seen through its im­pla­ca­ble de­fense of in­di­vid­ual dig­nity, hu­man rights and the tra­di­tional fam­ily. Mr. Obama’s poli­cies will only lead to more mis­ery and im­pov­er­ish­ment. There is noth­ing “just” about them - so­cial or oth­er­wise.

As a de­vout Catholic, I too have some mis­giv­ings about the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee. But there is no doubt that in this elec­tion one can­di­date bet­ter up­holds many of the car­di­nal teach­ings of the Catholic Church: John McCain.

Jef­frey T. Kuh­ner is a colum­nist at The Wash­ing­ton Times.

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