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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

To Vote or Not to Vote—That Is the Question

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To Vote or Not to Vote—That Is the Question

With the indulgence of the Bard –

To vote - or not to vote - that is the question;
Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them. (Emph. mine)

I asked Fr. Peter Milward, S.J., one of the world’s leading Shakespearean scholars, his interpretation of the meaning of the original lines. His response: “to be” means “to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” as the poor Catholic recusants were made to suffer increasingly during the reign of that wicked queen, while “not to be” means “to take arms against a sea of troubles”, as some desperate Catholic young men (such as Robert Catesby) were tempted to overthrow the evil regime and die in the attempt.”

Fr. Milward also believes that Shakespeare, through “coded language” (See: Claire Asquith, Shadowplay, The Remnant, Feb. 2014), was informing English Catholics that they faced their likely extinction if action was not taken. That meaning is clearly embedded in the words of the late Cardinal George of Chicago when he expressed similar feelings before his death in April, 2015: “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.” Where in that timeline would a Trump or a Clinton presidency fit?

What follows has not been either an easy or enjoyable article to write, for it is not my wish to enter the lists of politics in my articles for The Remnant. However, what has driven me to this point is the current election situation, one that I see as foreboding, in which I am far from alone, and that is fraught with danger not only to the nation, but also to the Church. It is my firm belief that the election of Hillary Clinton will, among other baleful effects, spell the end of the religious liberty clause of the First Amendment as we know it. What prompts this article is based not only on current events, but also my assessment of the Clintons, a memory of incidents that began more than two decades ago.

In 1993, as a State Department Foreign Service Officer on assignment in Washington, I was tasked in assisting in the President Clinton, V.P. Gore, trip to Detroit. The first day of their arrival, a press conference, which I was actively involved in organizing, took place. Even then, the Clintons were known to be habitually late in showing up, apparently indifferent to the time restraints of the people waiting on them. While all of us cooled our heels, I began a conversation with a Secret Service agent assigned to presidential security. In the course of the conversation, two items are indelibly etched in my mind.

When I asked about the Clintons, the Secret Service agent, after confirming that Mrs. Clinton, “threw more than lamps at her husband,” added, “She has the mouth that would make a sailor blush.” But more damaging - damning, in my mind - were his words about comparing the character of the Clintons to President and Barbara Bush. When the Bushes were set to leave near, or at the time of a new shift coming on duty, they would wait and allow the shift on duty to return home, for when the president travels (“the Eagle is moving”), all agents’ schedules are off.

That was not true of the Clintons, for they seemed indifferent to the fact that other people wished to return to their families. All that mattered was their convenience; everybody else be damned! More than a generation later, I still believe the words of the agent are true, especially regarding Mrs. Clinton. 

Joseph Sobran wrote what I consider a perfect description of this couple a generation ago, and whose truth holds even today: “They are like members of a trapeze act who hate each other’s guts, but can’t let go: if one falls, the act is finished.”

Far too many Catholics in this country seem either indifferent to, or uninterested in, the fate of their religious liberty. Barack Obama won, according to polls, a majority of the Catholic vote both in 2008 and 2012, and has proceeded to eviscerate the religious liberty clause through his judicial appointments.

Hillary Clinton, I am convinced, is poised to do even more of the same. In an age of an increasingly liberalized Catholic Church, although this voting pattern is incomprehensible, it is also mind-boggling. What is not understandable is why any Catholic who is not a CINO - Catholic in Name Only - could vote for a woman whose abortion platform is the most extreme ever proposed by any candidate. Perhaps candidate Clinton wishes to emulate the efforts of the current legislative chamber in France, where pending legislation would introduce criminal penalties of two years’ imprisonment and fines of about $33,000 for anyone who, “... disseminated ‘inaccurate’ information with the intent of persuading women not to abort their children.” I seem to recall that France was once called, “the eldest daughter of the Church.” Not anymore.

Donald Trump has released a letter committing his administration to nominate only (emphasis mine) pro-life justices to the Supreme Court, sign the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, defund Planned Parenthood as long as it performs abortion, and continuing the enforcement of the Hyde Amendment denying federal funds for most abortions. Mrs. Clinton’s seeks to repeal the Hyde Amendment, the first time a political party’s platform does so, and to make abortion on demand the law in the country.

Yet, far more incomprehensible in this contest is the role that some in the Catholic hierarchy are playing in helping, perhaps indirectly, to minimize Hillary Clinton’s radical stand on abortion, foremost among them, Archbishop (now Cardinal) Blase Cupich of Chicago.

In a recent column, he wrote of a moral equivalency between abortion and other societal ills. Cardinal (then Archbishop) Cupich stated that in assessing the situation: “We should be no less appalled by the indifference toward the thousands of people who die daily for lack of decent medical care; who are denied rights by a broken immigration system and by racism; who suffer in hunger, joblessness and want; who pay the price of violence in gun-saturated neighborhoods; or who are executed by the state in the name of justice.”

Apparently, the words of Pope Benedict XVI, who made the important distinction that “not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia,” (emphasis mine) never reached the now cardinal’s desk. 

This article appears in the current print/e-edition of The Remnant. What else did you miss?

If that isn’t bad enough, Pope Francis appointed both Cardinal Cupich and Cardinal Weurl of Washington to the committee that will have a major voice in deciding which American prelates will be selected as future bishops. It is as if the diabolical dream of Saul Alinsky and his acolytes to infiltrate the Catholic Church was now a fait accompli.  But Cardinal Cupich is not alone.

Along with his recent elevation was that of Archbishop James Tobin of Indianapolis. The good Padre never saw a cause promoted by the Left that did not attract his attention. The Remnant recently gave a verbatim account of the talk of Elizabeth Yore, who, as an attorney and children’s advocate, found in her research that the Vatican has been the beneficiary of tens of millions of dollars in “resettlement” programs, primarily those dealing with “refugees” from Iraq and Syria. What is hidden in these figures is the hand of the diabolical George Soros, who, through his representative, is now given a seat at Vatican soirees. Cardinal Tobin has for years sought to “import” these refugees into his state; Indiana Governor Mike Pence thinks that discretion is the wiser part of valor in this case. As governor, Pence, who also happens to be the GOP’s Vice-Presidential candidate, is convinced that the safety of the residents of his state must be secured before these “refugees,” none of whom has been properly vetted, be allowed to settle at governmental expense, in his state.

To Cardinal Tobin, however, Governor Pence’s reluctance is “un-Christian,” for what is wrong with bringing in people from these areas, especially when the terrorists proudly admit that members of their organizations are part of those “refugees?” Perhaps Cardinal Tobin has never heard of Lepanto or Vienna, or, more recently, 9/11, Fort Hood, San Bernadino and Jacksonville; Gov. Pence has.

Governor Mike Pence was born and raised in an Irish-American Catholic family. He was an altar boy, but somewhere along the line, he left the Catholic Church; today, he considers himself an “Evangelical Catholic.”  He is a strict moral Christian, who sees the evil of an “abortion on demand” license under a Clinton presidency; yet, Archbishop Tobin and many of the other bishops in the US Conference of Catholic Bishops see Sen. Tim Kaine, the Democratic Party nominee as Vice-President, as preferable.

Kaine has not, “Catholic” though he claims to be, refuted the recent revelation of the Clinton campaign strategists: “There needs to be a Catholic Spring, in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic Church.” 

Further, this is the same Sen. Kaine who, “although personally opposing abortion” has never - ever - voted to limit or restrict its scope, joining the ranks of such other Catholic stalwarts as Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and John Kerry. 

Given the reality of the situation, how, then, is an informed and conscientious Catholic to vote, or abstain, in this election?

In a recent posting on the SSPX website, the subject of voting was raised, especially in light of the obligations and duties that the Catholic voter has, including in the United States. One guide would be Pope Pius XII’s 1946 address to an Italian political action group, in which the pontiff stated, “The people are called on to take an always larger part in the public life of a nation, and this participation brings with it grave responsibilities...” Then, as was his wont in these matters, Papa Pacelli hit the nail on the head:  Catholics have a duty “to defend the Church by the correct exercise of their right to vote...and to prevent a greater evil.” (Emphasis mine)

Given the alternatives in this election, how should an observant Catholic make his decision?

Would abstaining from voting under the present circumstances, where there is no acceptable candidate, and the deception and the manipulation of the public by the media is unprecedented and decidedly in favor of Mrs. Clinton, be a wise choice? Under these conditions, is there no obligation to vote, and the words of Pope Pius XII, even “ prevent a greater evil” no longer apply? And here we come down to the rub: should we not vote when there clearly is a lesser evil, even if there is a Catholic reason to do so (avoid abortion on demand), and one has the good intention of providing for the good of society as best he can? I believe the answer should be obvious. Allow me to pursue this line of thought a bit further.

On March 23, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments dealing with the Sisters of the Poor, who asserted they were, because of protected religious liberty reasons enshrined in the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution, unable to participate in the Obamacare medical coverage that included contraceptive and/or abortifacients, although they risked huge fines for non-compliance. (See my “Pyrrhic Victory,” The Remnant, May 29, 2016)

Two years earlier, the Court had ruled that the aforementioned 1st Amendment protection applied to a group of Protestant Evangelicals who, using the same legal basis claim as the Little Sisters, would not participate in medical insurance plans that allowed abortifacients. By a 5-4 vote, the “Hobby Lobby” case (See: The Remnant, March, 2014) was decided in their favor. In the Little Sisters Case, the vote was a tie: 4-4, which meant that the decision of the lower circuit court, which ruled against the Sisters, would now hold.

What was the difference? It can be summarized in two words: Antonin Scalia. His unfortunate death means that the votes of four Supreme Court Justices, all of whom are currently sitting on the Court, now can alter and/or destroy 1st Amendment religious liberty guarantees. In their majority opinion in the “Hobby Lobby” case, the Court’s majority stated: “...under the First Amendment, neutral, generally applicable laws may be applied to religious practices...” It is that principle that will be short-lived in a Clinton administration.

A Clinton appointee and fifth vote on the Court will, in the Clinton platform’s own words, prevent any effort by the people to restrict the abortion license, or to limit the intrusion of the federal government into criminalizing the effort to oppose homosexual marriage and transgendered “rights.” The Supreme Court is now, oddly enough, a Catholic’s “court of last resort,” for the lower Appellate or “Circuit” Courts are now filled with President Obama’s appointees, with additionally like-minded Clinton appointed judges waiting in the wings. That disastrous scenario apparently has reached even some of the members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In late September, 2016, Archbishop Joseph Nauman of Kansas City, Kansas, noted, “ choosing presidents, we choose judges, too.” He added, “In my opinion, one of the most significant responsibilities of the president is the appointment not only of Supreme Court justices, but all federal judges. Since more and more public policy issues are being decided by the courts, not the Congress or the state legislatures, the selection of judges has become extremely important.” Candidate Trump, despite his flaws, has, as mentioned earlier, listed his choices for the U.S. Supreme Court, all of whom are pro-life; Mrs. Clinton has refused to do so.

Again, I return to the pivotal question of whether an observant Catholic should vote in this election? The USCCB has published a guide for Catholic voters, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizens” which states, “The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate seemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.”

Given the comparison of the two candidates regarding Catholic teaching, I cannot understand the current position of the USCCB.

Also, in March, 2016, two noted Catholic scholars, Prof. Robert George and George Weigel, composed a “Letter to Catholics,” which was signed by more than 30 other leading Catholic laymen, stating that Donald Trump was “unfit” to be president, a word that has been used by Trump’s opponents on several occasions. I cannot speak for Prof. George, but I do know that George Weigel has written that he will not vote for Trump in November; apparently, Weigel is willing to risk a Clinton presidency, and all that would entail, rather than vote for Trump. The argument used here is that to take this course of action allows the political independence of both the Church and the voter from our current disastrous political state. 

I am reminded of the line from Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing.”

From a totally secular view, the necessity of a Clinton defeat was brilliantly drawn in a comparison to the doomed Flight 93, which was hijacked by terrorists and crashed in Pennsylvania killing all aboard. The article, which went viral on the Internet, began: “2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees. Except one: if you don’t try, death is certain. To compound the metaphor: A Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances.”

That analogy was repeated, but in religious vein, on the 15th anniversary of the national catastrophe known as 9/11, to the attendees at the Catholic Identity Conference, who heard Fr. Ladis Cizik offer a homily in St. Peter’s Church in Steubenville, Ohio, that, when it ended, caused members of the congregation to stand and applaud, something I’ve never seen before.

Fr. Cizik’s talk was recorded and should be read (The Remnant, September 10, 2016).  Given the significance of the day, his opening words, aimed at the Church’s leadership, were no surprise to many in the audience: “We have been hijacked!”

I believe, unhesitatingly, that if Mrs. Clinton is elected, we can add another part of Fr. Cizik’s comment: “The nation has been hijacked, too.”  The Good Padre ended his homily calling for action, an action, I believe, that enjoins us to vote for the candidate who is what some might call “the lesser of the two evils,” and against the one who will increasingly make Cardinal George’s prophetic warning a reality. ■


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Last modified on Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Vincent Chiarello | Remnant Columnist

Born on the Day of St. Patrick in 1937 in Brooklyn, N.Y., he was a high school history teacher until 1970, when he entered the U.S. Foreign Service. His overseas assignments included U.S. embassies in Colombia, Guatemala, Spain, Norway and Italy; his last assignment was to the U.S. Embassy to The Holy See. He is married to Cynthia (nee Goldsmith) and has three children. They attend a Traditional Latin Mass in Northern Virginia.