History, politics, people of Oly WA

FOCA strawman at St. Mikes

This is the first time I’ve ever left mass feeling worse than I did going in. Granted, I go to mass at 7:30, so I usually show up groggy, but I usually leave feeling pretty good and guilty for not doing more for my church.

Not this morning though. Today’s mass was the seeming culmination of a few weeks of chit chat about the Freedom of Choice Act, a bill that would codify Row v. Wade. Which is pretty bad if you’re Pro-Life.

Today, our priest gave a long sermon against FOCA and requested that we fill out post cards to our federal representatives stating our opposition. This is the most politicized mass I’ve ever attended, one that I hope the origin of was from earnest and well meaning ignorance, not cynical politicing.

Because, it was a hell of a show for a piece of legislation that doesn’t have a snow balls chance in heck. Even the Catholic News Service says so (yes, the Catholic News Service):

Spokesmen for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, and the bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, all declined to discuss the prospects of any specific bill in a legislative session that doesn’t start until January.

All pending bills expire at the end of each two-year congressional session, so FOCA would have to be reintroduced.

Erica Chabot, press secretary to the Senate Judiciary Committee, said she can’t recall Leahy “ever mentioning this piece of legislation.” That doesn’t necessarily mean it couldn’t suddenly move up on the committee’s priority list, she said.

However, “if there were overwhelming support for a bill, chances are I would have heard something about it,” Chabot told Catholic News Service.

And further:

At a Democrats for Life event during the Democratic National Convention, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., called FOCA “dead on arrival,” Day said. She said pro-life Democrats including Casey and Reps. Lincoln Davis of Tennessee and Heath Shuler of North Carolina, who backed Obama during the campaign, expect their voices to matter when it comes to the legislative priorities of the White House.

Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, told CNS that FOCA’s inertia so far doesn’t diminish the danger of it progressing now.

FOCA moved forward only in 1993, when Democrats controlled the House, Senate and the White House for the first time in 12 years. Introduced in the first days of the 103rd Congress, the House and Senate Judiciary committees quickly moved it on for floor scheduling within weeks.

But it never came up for debate or a vote in the House or Senate.

Now, you could assume that despite all these actual reservations, everyone is all excited about FOCA because they’re too ignorant of the process to know better. Or, you could assume that in the face of at least two years of Democratic dominance of the federal government, social conservatives are exciting the base about a straw man.

If so, it offends me that made it into church this morning.

Now, don’t get me wrong, politicking in church is something I don’t have a problem with. I actually appreciated the information and debate during the assisted suicide campaign last year. But, the over the top display this moring dismayed me.

Mostly, because we looked stupid worrying about a zero-chance bill. But, also because we take a hack at this pitch way outside the strike zone when we keep the bat on our shoulder when so many fast balls come flying by us.

Things much more likely to happen that are also not good if you’re Catholic:

1. War in Iraq will continue for the time being. Oh yeah, in Congo too.

2. 78,000 children in Washington State have no health insurance, at all. That’s won’t change, and we don’t talk about that in mass.

3. Mortgage meltdown continues and will continue. Strangely, even though Father cited the banking crisis as evidence of the moral problem we face, he didn’t go on to point out the number of Pro-Life conservative politicians that also voted to deregulate banking in the past decade. A lot more than Pro-Choice Democrats.

And, while we do hear a lot about materialism, I have never seen postcards in the pews regarding a banking bill.


  1. Anonymous

    My husband and I attended 10:30 mass on the west side yesterday and we feel the same way you do. It’s comforting to know we’re not alone.

  2. Mike M

    a) Contrary to Time Magazine’s assertions, FOCA is not a dead bill. A number of democrats are chomping at the bit to get it passed. They’ve been held back so far by the wider party’s unwillingness to be divisive so early on in this administration, but as this congress gets into full swing, it’s entirely possible that a few dems will force it to be introduced, and then the rest of the party will have to choose sides. While I’m sure he’d like to dodge the issue, it will be hard for Obama to come out against it after the heavy praise he gave the bill before Planned Parenthood during his campaign.

    b) The War in Iraq is winding down… coming out against our efforts there now will only leave more children without proper schools, more of the sick and dying without proper care, etc. The invasion may have been wrongheaded, but the current work being done there is necessary. The Congo, while a serious problem, and one that I hope Secretary Clinton addresses, is just not as central a national responsibility of the United States as the protection of the unborn… and FOCA goes further than just being negligence in that category. Healthcare is not on the same plane, either. One can debate the proper mechanisms for providing healthcare, the level of care the government should provide, etc. One cannot argue, within the realm of Catholic teaching, that FOCA is anything other than an abomination. By all means, get involved in the other issues that you feel morally compelled to address, but I certainly see why FOCA would make it to a serious mention during mass over these other issues.

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