By Deal Hudson
On January 29, the Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Death Penalty (CMN) was launched. According to its executive director, Karen Clifton, the CMN was created “with the encouragement of the USCCB.”
. . . there’s no avoiding the fact that political arguments about the death penalty are going to play a role in the pro-life debate.
The “seamless garment” argument used by Clifton, of course, raises questions about what those connected with the Catholic Mobilizing Network will be saying about the pro-life position of politicians. As everyone knows too well, this version of Catholic social teaching has been used for more than four decades to provide cover for Catholic politicians who do not oppose abortion.
The stated purpose of Clifton’s organization is to “end the death penalty” by educating “the lay community through our courses on the Church’s teachings on the death penalty” and facilitating “respectful and informed discourse within the Catholic community and the community at large.”
These are all admirable goals, but the obvious caveat is how the effort of CMN will result in applying the pro-life label to politicians who support abortion but oppose the death penalty.
This kind of misapplied moral equivalency was the hallmark of the Catholic effort for Obama during the campaign.
Any arguments about the sanctity of life, after all, make no sense if they don’t arise from the obligation of protecting the not-yet-born.