The outcome in a handful of Senate races could alter the political direction of the country, and abortion is a pivotal issue. America's newest cardinal is urging Catholic voters to take their faith seriously and select only candidates committed to protecting innocent life.
Last week, Pope Benedict XVI announced the elevation of Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl and former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond L. Burke to the College of Cardinals. Thomas McKenna, president of Catholic Action for Faith and Family, interviewed Archbishop Burke in Rome just hours after the announcement. As prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, Cardinal-designate Burke is one of the Vatican's most powerful voices, and he sees it as his duty to speak out now. "I had discovered over the years that many people simply were confused about their moral obligation in voting," he explained. "Many Catholics have the idea that while they might hold in their personal lives certain moral truths, that when it came to voting it was all right simply to bracket those truths and to vote according to other criteria."
As a church official, Cardinal-designate Burke makes no endorsement of any particular candidates. Rather, he offers principles that he hopes will guide the faithful in carrying out their civic duty. In our amoral times, his directive is refreshingly unambiguous.
"You can never vote for someone who favors absolutely the right to choice of a woman to destroy a human life in her womb or the right to a procured abortion," His Excellency said. "You may in some circumstances where you don't have any candidate who is proposing to eliminate all abortion, choose the candidate who will most limit this grave evil in our country, but you could never justify voting for a candidate who not only does not want to limit abortion but believes that it should be available to everyone."
Five pro-abortion Democratic Senate candidates find themselves in "toss up" races against solidly pro-life challengers. With one exception, the Democrats enjoy a ghoulishly perfect score from Planned Parenthood. California Sen. Barbara Boxer, for example, is in a "virtual tie," according to Rasmussen Reports, with former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who is running on a pro-life platform. In the heavily Catholic state of Pennsylvania, abortion advocate Rep. Joe Sestak trails pro-life former Rep. Pat Toomey. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet embraces federal funding of abortion on demand, while his challenger, Ken Buck, a district attorney, proudly proclaims "respect for life" on his campaign website. Washington state Sen. Patty Murray claims to be Catholic, but her vote is reliably contrary to church teaching. Her opponent, businessman Dino Rossi, has the endorsement of National Right to Life PAC. The choices in these races couldn't be more clear.
Of the endangered incumbent Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is the only one with a slightly lower Planned Parenthood score of 83. Opponent Sharron Angle boldly insists on defending life in all cases.
Too often these days, public figures shy away from stating bold truths. Some pundits even assumed Archbishop Burke's outspokenness on moral issues would cost him the cardinal's red hat. They were wrong. Pope Benedict's choice, made less than two weeks before the election, sends a strong message in favor of moral clarity. In at least five tight Senate races, voting for life can make the difference.
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