WASHINGTON, November 19, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The possible signing of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) by President-Elect Barack Obama would be “the equivalent of a war” an unnamed senior Vatican official recently told TIME magazine.
The startling comments make the second time this week that a Vatican official has forthrightly and in the strongest language condemned Obama’s extreme policies on abortion. Speaking at the Catholic University of America a few days ago, Vatican Cardinal James Stafford labeled Obama’s anti-life policies as “aggressive, disruptive, and apocalyptic,” also noting that, “On November 4, 2008, America suffered a cultural earthquake” (see coverage: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/nov/08111703.html ).
With Catholic, but outspokenly pro-abortion individuals occupying two prominent positions (Joseph Biden as vice president and Tom Daschle as Health and Human Services Secretary) the specter of public excommunication or denial of communion for prominent members of the Obama Administration has arisen.
The focus of the Vatican’s concern, FOCA, is a bill that would do away with state laws on abortion, including laws mandating parental involvement, or banning partial birth abortion. FOCA would also compel taxpayer funding of abortions, and, of greatest concern to Bishops, would force faith-based hospitals and healthcare facilities to perform abortions.
Obama has in the past said that he would make signing FOCA one of the highest priorities of his presidency.
Last week at the meeting of US Bishops in Baltimore, Cybercast News Service asked Chicago Cardinal Francis George, the current president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, if voting for FOCA would bring a penalty of automatic excommunication for Catholic politicians. The Cardinal did not rule it out.
“The excommunication is automatic if that act is in fact formal cooperation, and that is precisely what would have to be discussed once you would see the terms of the act itself,” responded Cardinal George. When asked for more, he added: “The categories in moral theology about cooperating in evil, which make you complicit in the evil even though you don’t do it yourself, are material cooperation, which is usually remote and therefore doesn’t involve you in the moral action except in a very auxiliary and minor way, and formal cooperation, which would involve you even though you are not doing it, in the way that makes you culpable.
“So we would have to take a look at each case, and at each law, to determine whether or not the cooperation is material or formal. We’ve never done that.”
Cardinal George has, however, personally analyzed FOCA and expressed his grave concerns about the legislation. In a message to the Obama Administration at the end of the USCCB meeting George wrote on FOCA, saying it would, “outlaw any ‘interference’ in providing abortion at will. It would deprive the American people in all fifty states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry. FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. It would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government and others of good will to reduce the number of abortions in our country.”
The Cardinal added: “FOCA would have an equally destructive effect on the freedom of conscience of doctors, nurses and health care workers whose personal convictions do not permit them to cooperate in the private killing of unborn children. It would threaten Catholic health care institutions and Catholic Charities.” (see coverage: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/nov/08111209.html )
In light of this possible attempt to revoke conscience rights under the Obama administration, Catholic League president Bill Donohue has urged President Bush to enact regulations, already in draft for months, which would protect the rights of doctors, nurses and health workers from being discriminated against if they refuse to perform or assist in abortions, as well as other morally contentious procedures. “At stake are the religious rights of these professionals,” said Donohue.
“To put it differently, were FOCA to become law (it needs to be reintroduced in the House), the culture war that the Vatican official was referring to would come to a boiling point,” he warned. “In practical terms, this would mean the closure of every Catholic hospital in the nation: No bishop is going to stand by and allow the federal government to dictate what medical procedures must be performed in Catholic hospitals. Make no mistake about it, the bishops would shut down Catholic hospitals before acquiescing in the intentional killing of an innocent child. Were this to happen, it would not only cripple the poor, it would cripple the Obama administration.”
Donohue concluded: “It is for reasons like these that the Catholic League urges President Bush to move with dispatch in instituting rules protecting the religious rights of all health care workers. If Obama wants to undo them, it will set up a confrontation he will surely regret.”