“…Avi tells him that he’s a “Shabbos goy,” the guy hired by Orthodox Jews to do the work they can’t because of their religious beliefs. In other words, he’s telling Mickey he has no moral code, no sense of right and wrong.”
—Vulture, Recap of Roy Donovan, Season 5, Episode 5
When I was very young (some 80 years ago), my paternal grandmother would hire a neighborhood Christian teen-ager to come in, turn on the lights and perform other minor tasks that she, as an Orthodox Jew, was forbidden to do on the Sabbath. He would gratefully receive 25 cents for this arduous labor (this was during the Great Depression). My maternal grandparents did not need such a service since they were secular Jews, having been indoctrinated as socialists in Paris before they immigrated to Colorado.
In my childish naivete, I wondered at the time “if it’s wrong for a Jew to work on the Sabbath, why is it then OK to make a gentile work?” (But see below.) Now, as a Catholic, I also wonder how Catholic politicians can vote against pro-life measures, using a Shabbos Goy excuse to say that they themselves are against abortion, but it’s OK for non-Catholics to have “a choice.”
And now abortion politics again rears its ugly head: Brett Kavanaugh, the nominee for Supreme Court Justice, is being lambasted by the Left for possible stances on pro-life cases. So we ask: do Catholic politicians follow Catholic teaching on abortion? Why do they say that only Catholics must believe in the sanctity of life from conception to natural death?
Let’s see how the 24 Catholics in the US Senate (15 Democrats and 9 Republicans—see here for a list) voted on the three pro-life measures listed below:
- Nullify Obama pro-abortion Title X rule (roll call #101, 03/30/2017);
- Defund Planned Parenthood (roll call #167, 07/25/2017);
- The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (roll call #25, 01/29/2018).
Seven of the nine Catholic Republican Senators voted for all three measures; Senators Collins (Maine) and Murkowski (Alaska) voted against all three measures.
All 15 Catholic Democrat Senators voted against the first two proposals. Of these 15, only Senators Casey (Pennsylvania), Donnelly (Indiana) and Manchin (West Virginia) voted for #3, the Unborn Child Protection Act.
How have the Catholic Democrats tried to justify their pro-abortion votes?
At one end of the spectrum are those who effectively ignore Catholic teaching altogether; these politicians do not need a Shabbos Goy. At the other are Catholics who call themselves pro-life, but say they don’t want to impose their beliefs on others. These Senators use Shabbos Goys in order to follow a party line that conforms to that Culture of Death so well defined by Pope St. John Paul II.
Senator Dick Durbin, Democratic Whip, typifies the Catholic politician who totally ignores teaching on the sanctity of life. He said in a CNN interview (April 23, 2017) that it’s OK for a Democrats to hold pro-life views on a “personal basis,” but they must go along with the Democratic party line promoting abortion and contraception:
“As long as they are prepared to back the law, Roe vs. Wade, prepared to back women’s rights as we’ve defined them under the law, then I think they can be part of the party…I am committed to women’s rights under the law, reproductive rights certainly, and our party is… We’ve made that part of our platform and position for a long, long time.”
Durbin has been banned from receiving Holy Communion by Bishop Thomas Paprocki (Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, Durbin’s residence). In a recent press release Bishop Paprocki justified this ban:
“Because his voting record in support of abortion over many years constitutes ‘obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin,’ the determination continues that Sen. Durbin is not to be admitted to Holy Communion until he repents of this sin. This provision is intended not to punish, but to bring about a change of heart. Sen. Durbin was once pro-life. I sincerely pray that he will repent and return to being pro-life.”
It’s clear that Senator Durbin’s situation is not equivalent to my grandmother’s. He is not hiring a Shabbos Goy to do a job that violates Catholic teaching, he is doing so himself. As Bishop Paprocki said, he promotes abortion by voting against the Unborn Child Protection Act and has done so consistently in the past.. And his requirement that Catholic Democrat politicians, whatever their personal beliefs might be, should follow the Democrat anti-life party line, reinforces the judgment of “manifest grave sin” given by Bishop Paprocki.
What about the so-called pro-life Democrat Senators? Senator Bob Casey (Pennsylvania) claims to be one of these. I should note that many pro-life Pennsylvanians lament the confusion of voters who mistake Senator Casey (Bob Casey, Jr.) for his father, the former Governor Casey (Bob Casey, Sr.) Governor Casey was a strong pro-life advocate; he promoted legislation imposing limitations on abortion during his term of office, legislation that was upheld for the most part by the Supreme Court (Planned Parenthood versus Casey). He was not allowed to speak at the 1992 National Democratic Convention because of his strong pro-life position.
Senator Casey (Junior, that is) did vote for the Unborn Child Protection Act, but against defunding Planned Parenthood. He justified continuing federal support for Planned Parenthood, despite its record as a purveyor of abortion mills, in the following statement (Huffington Post):
“The fact is, Planned Parenthood prevents unintended pregnancies and reduces abortions. Blocking access to care at Planned Parenthood could have the exact opposite effect. By increasing access to all forms of contraception and high-quality contraceptive counseling, Planned Parenthood enables women to choose the methods that work best for their bodies and lifestyles.”
The rest of Senator Casey’s Huffington Post apologia follows the party line: for women’s health, freedom for reproductive choice, government support of contraception, etc., etc. Planned Parenthood is Senator Casey’s Shabbos Goy, an agency to carry out acts the Catholic Church (his Church?) takes to be sinful.
Here’s the problem in enabling a Shabbos Goy to commit the sins you aren’t allowed to do yourself. The Jews regarded themselves as God’s chosen people. They were obliged and privileged to follow The Law, but gentiles were not. Accordingly, a gentile did not sin by violating the Sabbath; it was not his or her obligation to do so.
But the morality of the Catholic Church is not just for Catholics; it is given by God, and therefore is universal. If it is wrong for a Catholic to kill, it is wrong for an atheist to kill. If it is wrong for Catholics to kill the unborn, to perform abortions, it is wrong for a Jew or a Muslim to do so. If Humanae Vitae tells us that contraception is wrong, then it is wrong for all, not just for Catholics.
So, if you’re a Catholic who wants to follow the teachings of the Church, how should you vote? Should you vote against Democrat and Republican politicians who do not favor pro-life legislation? Should invoking Cardinal Bernadin’s “seamless garment” of Catholic Social Justice override considerations on the sanctity of life? I know my own answers to these questions. I’ll not presume to answer for you, the reader.