By Matt C. Abbott
September 12, 2020
When it comes to politics, I’m certain about one thing: I will never vote for a candidate who supports the unrestricted killing of preborn children through abortion. Such a position is appalling and indefensible. It’s even worse, in a sense, when said candidate is supposedly a practicing Catholic.
(For all his flaws, President Trump has been far more supportive of the pro-life movement than the Obama and Clinton administrations were. A Biden administration would be just as bad for the movement.)
There are few truly pro-life Democrats currently in office, and that’s a shame. I would vote for a truly pro-life Democrat over a pro-abortion Republican without hesitation. But, alas, those scenarios have become extremely rare.
On a related note…
From LifeSiteNews.com (Sept. 10):
After a Catholic priest’s video message, ‘You cannot be Catholic and a Democrat. Period.,’ went viral, his bishop appears to be taking measures to silence him even as public support for the courageous priest grows.
‘[The] bishop does not want live-streaming of the Masses,’ he told the faithful after his live-streamed Mass today. ‘This might be the very last live-stream of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that I can give. That is unfortunate, but, the ‘manner and tone’ of the people opposing us is just that vile and despicable...it causes everyone to cave, and indeed it appears to be the case here.’
Altman also explained, ‘You’ll notice the children are not here today. And the reason they're not here today is because of the ‘manner and tone’ of several vile and despicable comments and letters and emails and phone calls that were made both to the diocese and to my parish office after [Jesuit Father] James Martin urged his followers in public to contact us and complain.’
Sadly, it seems the only prelate to publicly defend Altman thus far is Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, who said in a Sept. 9 statement:
I support Father James Altman's video because I believe, not only Catholic Christians, but all God's people must ask themselves some tough questions each time they prepare to cast their vote in any local, state, or national election.
Voting is not an easy task, nor one to be taken lightly. On the contrary, it requires research, prayer, and discernment. We must ask ourselves: Do we believe in God. Do we as a nation believe in God? Are we willing to acknowledge our sins and seek repentance and reparation as individuals and as a nation? Are we casting our vote through the lens of Jesus Christ and his Teachings?
If my support of Father Altman can prompt meaningful conversations and prayerful discernment about these questions, then I am at least beginning to fulfill my role as a pastor of souls and a disciple of Jesus Christ.
A good friend of mine, Susan E. Gorski, sent Altman’s bishop, William Callahan, the following respectful email:
I prayerfully request your kind support of Father Altman. He was brave enough to do what all priests should do by preaching against intrinsic evil. I support his defense of Catholic morals.
Perhaps there is reason to fear reprisals. However, as our Beloved Lord Jesus, Himself, stated: the world hated Me and they will hate you because of Me. We must do, even though it costs us, what is right in the sight of God. He will not hold us blameless.
With trust in the Divine Mercy, I keep you and all clergy in my prayers and know that God will guide you in this situation. Please, in your kindness, remember me in your prayers as well.
I asked two notable priests for comment on the Altman situation.
Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, wrote:
What Father has done, of course, is consistent with the explicit messaging I have also been giving. Not only has the Democrat Party embraced positions and policies that are wrong for Catholics to support, but they are wrong for any sane person to support.
The Democrat Party hates America. Their convention made it so clear how much they despise this country that it makes one wonder how they can even ask to lead it. Moreover, they embrace socialism, religious oppression, and the holocaust of abortion. Supporting their agenda is no better than supporting the Nazi Party.
I recently wrote ‘An Open Letter to the Pastors of the United States’ in which I explain why now is precisely the time to connect the dots for people, to be explicit, and to avoid the myth of neutrality. I pointed out how the Catholic Church has exalted and set up as examples clerics who had the courage to denounce evil in the political arena, as St. Maximilian Kolbe and Blessed Clemens von Galen did.
And if Father Altman seems to express some anger in his comments, it’s because countless members of the faithful are angry, too. They are angry that people like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi want the political benefits of being known as Catholics, but throw the teachings out the window – teachings which so many of us make sacrifices to live out each day.
They are also angry at a lack of leadership within the Church. They are angry that the Church hierarchy is far swifter to admonish priests who speak out against Biden and Pelosi than they are to admonish Biden and Pelosi.
The bishops have indeed set the right tone in documents like Living the Gospel of Life. Now we need to echo and apply it.
Father Shenan Boquet, president of Human Life International, wrote:
Rightfully, we look to our bishops and priests in their indispensable role in the service of truth, life, and family for assurance, moral guidance, and leadership. And it is no secret that they are assaulted by a secular and violent culture determined to silence their influence and voice.
Setting aside the dynamics between Father Altman and Bishop Callahan, this situation and debate is about the fundamental role and contribution of Catholics and Catholic teaching in society, as well as in political life. We cannot ignore the firestorm before us. Judeo-Christian values embraced for millennia, the dignity of human life, natural marriage, family, and religious freedom are all threatened by radical progressive ideologies.
Faithful Catholics simply are tired of silence, hypocrisy, compromise and toleration. They want their pastors to defend them from the onslaught, especially from those who present themselves for public leadership, claiming to be Catholics in good standing, but are wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing.
Instead, as did the prophets of old, we are called to confront the world, helping the deaf to hear and the blind to see. This means we must let our faith shine everywhere, radiating the love of Jesus and transforming the world around us.
© Matt C. Abbott