Terry Jeffrey

"Should the law outlaw, should it ban abortion?" Matthews taunted him. "Is that what a good Catholic should do? Because you're instructing people now how to vote. So, tell Catholics now on television how they should vote as members of Congress?"

"Sure," the bishop responded. "Catholics should vote as members of Congress on laws that preserve and protect human right."

"Would you outlaw it?" asked Matthews.

"Absolutely, because abortion is the taking of an innocent life," the bishop said.

"Right, I know. Right," said Matthews. "So that's where your difference is with president -- with Congressman Kennedy. He wouldn't outlaw it. Isn't that your difference?"

"That's a huge difference," said the bishop.

It is at least as huge as the difference right-minded clergymen like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had with bigoted politicians who believed they could make laws to deny the fundamental rights of blacks.

When Bull Connor slapped King in Birmingham jail on Good Friday 1963 for protesting segregation, King explained his act of civil disobedience by pointing to the Roman Catholic St. Thomas Aquinas.

"One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws," said King. "A just law is a manmade code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law."

King correctly argued that this was precisely the view of the men who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

"And I would contest that your problem is you haven't gotten people to obey your moral code through teaching, and you have resorted now to use the law to do your enforcement for you," Matthews told Tobin.

"We do that all of the time when we say that you may not kill somebody. You may not steal something. You may not beat somebody up," the bishop responded. "It's not at all unusual to have the moral law reflected in the laws of the land."

This basic understanding of the relationship between morality and law has always been, is now and always shall be an obstacle to those who want to kill innocents.

Terry Jeffrey

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSNews

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