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How American bishops could respond to FOCA

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Nov 24, 2008

 President-elect Obama has given his unequivocal support to the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), and with strong Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, this bill-- easily the most extreme pro-abortion proposal ever considered in Washington-- could soon be barreling down the legislative track toward enactment. Edward Peters observes that political reality "means that, ready or not, Catholic bishops will have to face squarely the problem of well-known Catholic legislators supporting a specifically and gravely evil bill. 

What are the bishops' options? Looking at that question from the perspective of a canon lawyer (which he is), Peters sees four options: 

  1. Bishops could deny Communion to FOCA supporters
  2. Bishops could announce some other "just penalty" that would be applied to legislators who supported the bill
  3. The US bishops' conference could issue a decree, applicable on the national level-- although FOCA might be passed before this step could be completed
  4. The bishops could content themselves with repeating their opposition to abortion and urging Catholics to follow suit.

Of that last possiblity, Peters observes: "This option is essentially a decision to do nothing special in regard to FOCA." Exactly. It is also, regrettably, the bishops' most likely choice. 

Peters sets forth all 4 options with admirable clarity. His whole post is worth reading. 


Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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