In the Erie Times-News, today’s Friday Forum Op-Ed contains a whine from Christopher DeSante about Bishop Trautman’s disapproval of the pro-Clinton rally at Mercyhurst. Mr. DeSante complains that the pro-life issue should not be the only issue that Catholics are concerned with, and he also bemoans the closed-mindedness of the bishop in not allowing alternative viewpoints on campus. In addition to the Op-Ed, the letters to the editor are running heavily against the Bishop.
As a staunch Protestant, I have to agree with Bishop Trautman. This is rare for me, so I also have to explain myself.
First of all, the idea that this is about offering “alternative points of view” is a smokescreen. This was not a speech by a political leader about some policy: This was a campaign rally. It was not primarily an educational opportunity for the students. Primarily, it was about the candidate. A Ph. D. candidate like Mr. DeSante should be able to make this distinction.
Mr. DeSante thinks that Catholic schools should be open to alternative points of view. Let us grant that this is a good thing. It does not follow that people get to present “alternative points of view” with an an open microphone and no questioning. It would have been interesting to allow Hillary Clinton to come to Mercyhurst, with the understanding that the conversation would be in two directions, and she should expect spirited questioning of her pro-abortion position. New Saint Andrews College in Moscow, Idaho is a classically Protestant school that follows this approach. They invite all sorts of speakers, including atheists and white supremacists, to speak at their campus. However, this invitation often happens in the form of a debate, so that “alternative views” receive the challenge they often deserve.
Mr. DeSante also minimizes the importance of abortion to Christian teaching. I agree that abortion should not be the only issue that Christians vote on, but it should be a minimum condition for judging the sanity of a candidate. For example, partial birth abortion (note:this link shows step by step drawings, but not photos, of a partial birth abortion) involves partially delivering an unborn baby who might be able to survive outside the womb, then poking a scissors into its skull, then vacuuming out its brains so the skull can be crushed and the dead baby delivered. Any aspiring politician who understands what this is about, and thinks this is OK, is obviously either insane or evil. If they think it’s OK to do that to a baby, do you really believe them when they claim to want to help the poor?
No Christian should vote for such a person, period. If there is no reasonable alternative, write someone in.
A pro-life position is essential to Christianity and was present from the beginning. Even back in the first century, the Romans had the practice of exposing unwanted infants to die. (They were just a bit ahead of the Democratic candidates: they favored retro-active abortion.) Early Christians were known for finding these infants, rescuing them, adopting them, baptizing them, and raising them as Christians. This is one reason paganism died out.
When it comes to the abortion issue, Hillary and Obama are clearly on the side of the Romans. Obama even refused to vote against a measure that would have guaranteed that infants born alive would receive medical care. He was more pro-abortion than the National Abortion Rights Action League on that point. He went beyond being pro-abortion to being pro-infanticide. Additionally, many pro-abortion politicians do not want to allow Catholic hospitals to have the choice of whether or not to do abortions, and they frequently want to force medical students to do abortions as part of their training. “Pro-choice” only works in one direction for them.
It is entirely proper for the Bishop to rebuke Mercyhurst for promoting a candidate whose views are anti-Catholic.
Now the Bishop should consider another problem: Why would Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama think that the Mercyhurst College campus would be a particularly friendly place to have a rally? Why should a pro-abortion candidate expect to have a nice photo opportunity, instead of a some serious controversy, at a Catholic college? Where has Catholic education failed?