The headline says it all: “Catholic Voters Given Leeway on Abortion Rights Issue”. The problem is that the headline is a lie. The Washington Post‘s story hangs on Archbishop Raymond Burke’s supposed reversal of his strong statement earlier this summer that a Catholic cannot vote for a pro-abortion politician. But that’s a lie too. According to reliable sources, Archbishop Burke was approached by a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for a story on Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter to the Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Burke explained Ratzinger’s footnote on “proportional reasons” that might allow someone to vote for a pro-abortion candidate, but he did not reverse himself.
In fact, given the headline above, even that story makes it clear that Burke said that it’s difficult to imagine a situation in which such proportionate reasons might exist. Here’s one situation: You have a pro-life candidate who, nevertheless wants to put Jews in concentration camps. His opponent is pro-abortion, but opposes persecution of the Jews. It would be permissible to vote for the latter in that case. But the fact that you have to go to such lengths to find a proportionate reason shows the absurdity of even mentioning. In fact, I think it was imprudent to even bring up the exception in the first place.
We have become a people of “exceptionalism.” Over the past 30 years we have learned to live by exceptions. They say that abortion should remain legal and widely available because of the tiny, tiny number of women who are raped and become pregnant. We are told that partial-birth abortion should remain legal because of the tiny, tiny chance that a woman might need it or endanger her health. We makes excuses for birth control, divorce, promiscuity, and so on. It’s gotten to the point that anytime there’s an exception or excuse made, the exception becomes the rule. Give an inch and they’ll take the mile. It’s the same here. An obscure exemption is identified; so obscure that it’s only mentioned in a footnote to Ratzinger’s letter. But now it’s become the rule.
And why has this gotten the national front-page play it has? You only have to look at where this story is appearing: The Washington Post. Who was the cardinal who was publicly embarrassed because he said that Cardinal Ratzinger said that it’s up to individual bishops to decide whether to deny Communion to pro-abortion politicians when Ratzinger really said the bishop “must” deny it? Whose archdiocese does the Washington Post reside in? It doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots.