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KUHNER: Obama vs. Pope Benedict

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COMMENTARY:

President-elect Barack Obama's plan to pass the Freedom of Choice Act is setting up a showdown with the Vatican.

"The first thing I will do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act," he said at an address before Planned Parenthood on July 17, 2007. And if he does, it will trigger a harsh response from Pope Benedict XVI, as well as a political revolt among practicing American Catholics.

Mr. Obama signing the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) "would be the equivalent of a war," a senior Vatican official told Time magazine last week. "It would be like saying, 'We've heard the Catholic Church and we have no interest in their concerns.' " At a recent Baltimore meeting, the U.S. Catholic bishops pledged to challenge Mr. Obama on his defense of abortion rights.

FOCA seeks to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law. It would remove all restrictions on abortion in state statutes - including restraints on late-term abortions and parental notification laws. It would also entrench taxpayer funding of abortion. Moreover, it would compel Catholic health-care facilities to provide the heinous procedure. In short, it constitutes a fundamental assault on basic Catholic doctrine.

Mr. Obama is a radical on abortion. He is vehemently pro-choice, even opposing the ban on partial-birth abortion. While in the Illinois state legislature, Mr. Obama voted against legislation protecting babies born in botched abortions.

Many liberal Catholics insist abortion is a single issue, a strange obsession of traditionalist diehards. Besides, they argue there is so much more to Catholic social thought. There is poverty, social justice, the environment and Iraq. Abortion is only one among many concerns shared by Catholics. They believe the church would be better served by focusing on creating a society based on communitarian values, the redistribution of power and wealth along more equitable lines, and an antiwar foreign policy.

Yet, abortion is the seminal moral issue of our time. Nearly 50 million unborn babies have been murdered since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973. If one includes Europe, the number of dead fetuses is staggering. Abortion has claimed more victims than either of the two great totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century, communism and Nazism.

Both Pope Benedict and the late Pope John Paul II have not only decried abortion as state-sanctioned infanticide, but explicitly - and repeatedly - said it must be outlawed: There can be no compromise with such monstrous barbarism. Abortion is akin to the Jewish question in Europe during the 1930s: Should an entire class of people be denied their essential humanity?

Catholic supporters of Mr. Obama insist it is sufficient to reduce the number of abortions. They say it's time to put the polarizing debate over Roe v. Wade in the past, accept legalized abortion as a reality, and work toward compromise solutions such as promoting adoption.

This is like saying Western democracies should have come to terms with the Aryan racial laws of Nazi Germany, and sought to minimize the number of Jews sent to the gas ovens. The argument is morally repugnant and politically naïve. Ultimately, accommodation with evil never works. We learned that with Nazi Germany and with slavery in this country.

Pro-Obama Catholics fail to recognize abortion is the centerpiece of the 1960s sexual revolution. The secular left spearheaded this frontal assault on Christianity and traditional bourgeois civilization.

The result has been the proliferation of pornography, rampant permissiveness, the loss of innocence among many of our teens, the coarsening of our culture, sky-rocketing divorce rates, countless children raised in broken homes, and the deaths of millions due to sexually transmitted diseases.

Rather than a hedonistic utopia, liberal progressives have engendered a social nightmare. They must defend abortion at all costs because their goal is to make sex consequence free, forging a revolutionary order characterized by moral relativism and unlimited sexual gratification. But sex is never consequence free: it is laden with moral choices.

The Vatican is the last line of defense against the new Dark Age. It is time for the Holy Father to personally speak out against FOCA and warn pro-choice Catholics in the Obama administration they will not only be refused communion at Mass but face excommunication. No self-respecting, principled Catholic can or should support murder - regardless of who occupies the White House.

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

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