By Jonquil Frankham

Friday, October 17, 2008 ( – In these final weeks before the American election, many US bishops are working hard to leave Catholics no doubt of where they must stand on the abortion issue when it comes to the ballot box.

Bishops Robert W. Finn of Kansas City, Robert Hermann of St. Louis, and Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore have all penned strongly worded columns on abortion in the last few days, calling on their flocks to vote pro-life and to support the pro-life cause more generally, describing the November election as one that comes down to “saving our children or killing our children.” “This,” says Bishop Hermann in the St. Louis Review, “is the overriding issue facing each of us.”

The letters provide no room for equivocation or rationalization. “All other issues … have to take second place to the issue of life,” writes Bishop Hermann, whose article particularly targets “so-called good Catholics,” regular church-goers who receive the Eucharist but “are quite ready to vote for a pro-abortion candidate under almost any circumstance.”

The bishops agree that everything is on the line.

They are unanimous in their approach to the coming election. “Do some of our so-called good Catholics, who may go to Mass every Sunday and receive the Holy Eucharist, really believe that voting for a pro-abortion candidate, when there is a clear alternative and therefore no justifiable reason for so doing, is really not voting to have children killed?” questions Bishop Hermann. “This election is all about saving our children!”

Bishop O’Brien, whose column did not specifically address the question of voting, nevertheless had strong words for those who would support abortion. “Those who claim we have a ‘right’ to take innocent life usurp God’s dominant claim on every human being,” he said.

O’Brien urged professedly pro-life politicians to begin putting their beliefs into action. “To our elected officials who value innocent human life in the womb, a reminder and a plea: there are any number of ways within our Constitution to advance the protection of innocent human life. Is it not reasonable and honorable to take some steps, however small, to pursue that goal?” he said.

Some Catholics have expressed concern that neither John McCain nor Barack Obama are worthy candidates, due to the former’s support for intrinsically evil embryonic stem cell research, and the latter’s support not only for embryo research, but also for abortion. Bishop Finn responds to the concern by declaring that, when faced with two “imperfect” candidates, “we should choose the candidate whose position will likely do the least grave evil, or whose position will do the most to limit the specific grave evil of abortion.”

It is the duty of all members of the Church, writes Bishop O’Brien, to fight “in defense of innocent human life.” The Church “has no choice, but with love and compassion for all, to speak out” because “she sees the right to life as the basis of all other rights.”

Bishop Finn tells Catholics firmly that to vote for a candidate for whom the unborn child is not to be protected under law is to disregard “the lessons of history by which African Americans … were once regarded as non-persons; or the Jews in Europe were once marked for genocide or racial purification.” Bishop Hermann also drew the comparison of abortion to past genocides.

“Our country,” warns Bishop Finn, “is at the edge of the precipice concerning the protection of the life and dignity of the human person. A significant new attack on innocent human life will likely send us into a moral freefall that would rival any financial decline. The price for such a ‘walk over the cliff’ is millions more human lives for many more years to come.”

To read the three columns see:

Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore

Bishop Robert Hermann of St. Louis

Bishop Finn of Kansas City