John Leo

A few points must be conceded to Kerry. There was no thunderbolt from Rome about denying Commun­ion to pro-choice politicians, though some news media seemed to think so. The Vatican statement by Cardinal Francis Arinze was an off-the-cuff remark, referring to ?unambiguously pro-abor­tion? Catholic politicians. Whatever one thinks of ?person­ally opposed? pro-choice politicians like Kerry, it?s a stretch to argue that they ?unambiguously? favor abortion. In addition, the Catholic Church has procedures for denying Communion. Bishops are supposed to discuss their objections with the per­son involved, then make an effort to understand his think­ing and inform him in writing if a sanction is being imposed. It?s not clear that the Communion-denying bishops followed this procedure.

Yet, it?s easy to understand the frustration of the bishops. They have been saying the same thing to Catholic politicians for many years, with no result. They don?t understand why a Congress that contains so many Catholics can?t shake the stranglehold of the abortion lobby (I don?t understand it either). NARAL Pro-Choice America and the National Or­ganization for Women are surely the most radical abortion groups on the planet. Their positions, such as backing ?par­tial-birth? abortion, go way beyond what the American peo­ple are prepared to support. Yet Catholic pols seem impo­tent on the issue. Some, like Kerry, appear at NARAL conventions, egging the activists on with ?we must take this issue to the people? rhetoric.

Kerry even voted to allow pregnant girls to be whisked across state lines to get an abortion, thus evading state law. Odds are he would have voted no if the bill had been about taking young girls to a dentist without a parent?s knowledge. Why do Catholic pols behave so oddly on abortion? Is it be­cause they have no real grasp of their own religion, or is it that they are simply terrified by the abortion lobby? Probably both, with emphasis on the latter. The abortion lobby made an example of Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey in 1992. Casey was a great governor, liberal on every issue of interest to Democrats except abortion. So he was pointedly banned from speaking at the 1992 convention. To rub it in, one of his most bitter opponents in Pennsylvania, a pro-abortion Re­publican, was given a speaking role. The liberal Village Voice was so upset by the crass treatment that it offered Casey a forum in New York. But he was drowned out by an alliance of abortion-rights supporters and free-Mumia leftists.

Presumably the Kennedys and Kerrys remember the Casey lesson. Such is the culture of the Democratic Party today. And there are no im­portant Democratic Catholic pols willing to stand against it.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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