By Kathleen Gilbert
PITTSBURGH, October 6, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Franciscan University has emphatically disowned the views of Dr. Nicholas Cafardi, a prominent, avowedly pro-life Catholic legal scholar and Franciscan University of Steubenville trustee who recently justified supporting Obama saying, "We have lost the abortion battle." According to Cafardi, the next president of the United States would "not be able to affect abortion very much."
Cafardi, a law professor and the former dean of the Duquesne University Law School, is considered an expert on canon law, has spent thirteen years as the general counsel for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and three years on the board of the Canon Law Society of America. According to the InsideCatholic.com blog, Cafardi is the second high-profile Catholic jurist to endorse Obama - the first being Prof. Doug Kmiec, the former Dean and St. Thomas More Professor of The Catholic University of America’s law school.
Last week, Dr. Cafardi published an editorial in the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) saying that although he is "staunchly anti-abortion," he supports pro-abortion presidential candidate Barack Obama. "I do not support him because he is pro-choice, but in spite of it. Is that a proper moral choice for a committed Catholic?" asked Cafardi rhetorically.
"I answer with a resounding yes."
The editorial argues that Cafardi’s choice is justified because the "list of what the church calls ‘intrinsically evil acts’ does not begin and end with abortion," and Catholics have room to consider the candidates’ respective policies on such issues as torture and racism.
Cafardi said he firmly believes that "we have lost the abortion battle permanently," and since electing Sen. McCain to office could not completely eradicate abortion, voting pro-life is a lost cause. Cafardi also stated that overturning Roe v. Wade would make no difference in the number of abortions that take place.
Further, Dr. Cafardi claimed that "there is a difference between being pro-choice and pro-abortion," and that Obama is simply the former. Obama "supports government action that would reduce the number of abortions," he said.
Cafardi does not mention Obama’s avowed support of the "Freedom of Choice Act," which would eliminate all legal restrictions on abortion. Instead, Cafardi cites Obama’s dedication to "avoid unwanted pregnancies" as proof that he is not pro-abortion. Obama’s support for contraception, however, is also considered intrinsically evil by the Catholic Church.
"I have used my prudential judgment," wrote Cafardi, "And I conclude that it is a proper moral choice for this Catholic to support Barack Obama’s candidacy."
Franciscan University of Steubenville’s office of public relations released a statement soon after the publication of Cafardi’s article, rejecting any affiliation with the personal views of Dr. Cafardi, who is a member of the University’s Board of Trustees.
"Franciscan University stands with the Catholic Church in its opposition to abortion as an intrinsic evil and violation of the sanctity of human life. The University does not believe the abortion battle is lost, but that the tide is decidedly turning in favor of life," wrote the University.
"In keeping with the Church’s guidelines, Franciscan University does not endorse any particular political party or candidate. It does, however, strongly encourage its students, faculty, staff, alumni, and other constituents to view the life issues - such as abortion, euthanasia, and the protection of marriage and the family - as foundational, and as issues that do not lend themselves to the prudential judgment of the voter." (To see Franciscan’s full statement: http://insidecatholic.com/Joomla/index.php?option=com_myblog&show=Statement-from-the-Franciscan-University-of-Steubenville.html&Itemid=127)
Last Wednesday, Franciscan students criticized Cafardi’s views when they attended a "Catholics for Obama" event at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, where the Sisters of Mercy read a paper defending Obama that Dr. Cafardi had intended to deliver.
About fifteen sisters and three priests were at the event, and one witness told InsideCatholic.com blogger Deal Hudson that at one point a priest "urged everyone in the crowd to report any priest to the IRS and to the diocese of Pittsburgh who preaches from the pulpit that you must vote based on one issue."
After one Sister of Mercy finished reading Cafardi’s paper and opened the floor to questions, several audience members openly challenged the message. As it turned out, at least half the attendees were pro-life McCain supporters, including the thirteen Franciscan University students.
The Inside Catholic blog related the story of one student who insisted on speaking, despite being ignored by the nun taking questions. "He insisted on asking her what she thought about Obama saying his biggest political regret was trying to save Terri Schiavo’s life," reports the blog.
"The sister dismissed the question saying she didn’t know what he was talking about. He responded by saying, ‘Well ,sister, it certainly surprised me because I would have thought he could have used the opportunity to say that supporting infanticide in Illinois was his biggest regret.’ That clearly infuriated her, and she said that not only did Obama not support infanticide, but also that he was being brainwashed by propaganda.
"This same nun also grabbed him by the arm immediately after the talk and said very sarcastically, ‘Have a nice drive back to Steubenville!’"
To contact Franciscan University of Steubenville:
Fr. Terence Henry, TOR, President
1235 University Blvd.
Steubenville, OH 43952
Main: (740) 283-3771