by Hilary White

CHESTNUT HILL, March 1, 2006, ( – A 90-minute panel discussion at Boston College on “Catholic Politicians in the U.S.: Their Faith and Public Policy,” on the evening of February 27, was attended by nearly 6000 people.

Five Catholic journalists and prominent political commentators, sponsored by the college’s Church in the 21st Century Center, spoke on a wide range of subjects including unions, media bias, economic policy, the just war theory, federal funding of stem cell research and Terri Schiavo. But at the centre of the discussion, and the crux of all the other issues was the right to life.

One of the panelists, James Carville, who with E.J. Dionne, a Washington Post columnist, represented the liberal Democrat view, said with surprising candour, “What we’re really talking about is abortion.”

Carville said, “That is the issue, when people talk about it, we need to go right to what it is, we should talk about the abortion issue because abortion is first and foremost what this is about.” But Carville, a former senior political adviser to President Clinton, went on to avoid direct discussion of abortion, only saying, “It’s a tortured issue.”

While Dionne attempted to give a more nuanced and delicate consideration of the issues, Carville, who considers himself a Catholic, noisily denied most of the moral teachings of the Church. At one point he interrupted the discussion with an outburst of denunciations of the Catholic Church’s teaching and authority, calling the constant teachings on homosexuality and contraception “ridiculous.”

Implying that the morality of abortion could be decided by popular vote Carville said, “A majority of Catholics believe that abortion should be legal in almost all circumstances. Apparently well over half of the faithful believe that you can be a good Catholic and have a different position (from the Church) on abortion.”

The panel’s moderator, Tim Russert, managing editor of Meet the Press and political analyst for NBC Nightly News, read out a list of exit poll statistics from election day 2004, that showed that overwhelmingly, church attendance and traditional moral values on abortion and other life and family issues, was the most decisive factor in the last presidential election.

The wide gap between the beliefs of America’s majority of regular church-goers and the anti-life and anti-family policies of the Democratic party was revealed and has embarrassed Democrats and their media supporters into desperate back-pedaling and policy review.

Dionne and Carville relied heavily on the discredited “seamless garment” argument first put forward by Chicago’s Cardinal Bernardin that tries to assert that all issues are of equal importance, there being no greater moral weight to the problem of homelessness than abortion.

Dionne, a senior fellow at a liberal think tank said, “Certainly if you went through the entire teachings of the Church, I’d say that the teachings of the Church more line up with the Democratic Party than they do with the Republican Party.”

Representing the conservative position, Peggy Noonan, a former special assistant to the late President Ronald Reagan, decried the liberals’ and Democrats’ attempts to avoid discussing the evil of abortion itself.

She said, “It just comes down to some real things. Since abortion has been legal in the United States, we’ve had roughly 40 million abortions. Presumably, that’s 40 million people who would be here if they hadn’t been aborted. That’s something that’s real.”

“When you come right down to it, you’ve got people saying, ‘I personally am against abortion but I will defend to the death your right to be for it,’ to me that sounds like…this is 1860 and (I say) I am against slavery but I will defend to the death your right to be for slavery.”

Dionne responded by reiterating the Democrat’s new policy to discuss abortion only in terms of installing more sex-education, contraception and the elimination of poverty. “It’s about creating the circumstances in which a woman who is pregnant can bring the child into the world with some hope that she and that child can live a decent life. If that’s not real, I don’t know what is.”
  Noonan responded, “Everybody wants that but you can’t say, look life has to be perfect. Life isn’t going to be perfect. Life is imperfect at the beginning of it and at the end of it. Abortion is either OK or it’s not.”

Democrats, Noonan said, love to “talk eloquently about the Democratic party and to suggest it as the party of the little guy; you know there is no guy who is littler than someone who might be aborted tomorrow. A foetus is pretty much a little guy! That’s about as little as you can get!”

Listen to the discussion: (90 minutes. RealPlayer required)


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