Cardinal Francis George, speaking this morning as president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, said all Americans should “rejoice” that a country which once tolerated slavery has elected an African-American as president – and, in the same breath, he issued a blunt challenge to the new administration on abortion.
“If the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, that African Americans were other people’s property and somehow less than persons, were still settled constitutional law, Mr. Obama would not be President of the United States,” George said.
“Today, as was the case a hundred and fifty years ago, common ground cannot be found by destroying the common good,” he said.
“The common good can never be adequately incarnated in any society when those waiting to be born can be legally killed at choice,” George said, drawing sustained applause from the bishops.
George said that while efforts to end racism and to promote economic justice are “pillars” of Catholic teaching, so too is opposition to abortion. His address drew a standing ovation from the bishops.
George’s comments, and the reaction from the floor, offered the first indication that the election of a pro-choice Democrat to the White House is unlikely to induce the bishops to soften their emphasis on abortion and other “life issues.”
George said that the election of Barak Obama represented, among other things, a “vindication” of those Catholic priests, religious, laity and bishops who worked against racism and on behalf of civil rights over the years in light of Catholic social doctrine.
Yet, George suggested, other aspects of the church’s social teaching – particularly its message on the defense of unborn life – have yet to be vindicated.
“We are perhaps at a moment when, with the grace of God, all races are safely within the American consensus,” George said. “We are not at the point, however, when Catholics, especially in public life, can be considered full partners in the American experience unless they are willing to put aside some fundamental Catholic teachings on a just moral and political order.”
In an election in which some Catholics have too often used the phrase “common good” as a code phrase for “great reasons to support a pro-abortion candidate”, it is heartening to hear Cardinal George (far from being one of the most political bishops) state in no uncertain terms that “The common good can never be adequately incarnated in any society when those waiting to be born can be legally killed at choice.”
[Thanks to Rick Lugari for the link]