MANY years ago, in my constituency, we had a pro-life parliamentary candidate. She lost her deposit at the general election. Why? Perhaps the political party that she stood for had something to do with it — the National Front.
I was reminded of this incident when I read the report "Klan man elected on a Catholic swing" (Catholic Herald, February 24). My immediate response was to ask whether this candidate was also "pro-life", and whether the Catholic population of Louisiana were just voting on the issues that seem to be uppermost in their consciences. To me it seems incredible that automatic excommunication is meted out to a woman who has an abortion, or to those who assist in the process, but no such sanction is wielded against those who are involved in other "anti-life" activities. So often are Catholic issues portrayed as being most exclusively to do with questions such as divorce, contraception, abortion and sexual morality, rather than the more demanding issues of social justice, such as the unfair distribution of wealth or racism. The commands "to love
your neighbour as yourself" and to "sell what you have, and give it to the poor . . . and come, follow me" would appear to be forgotten in an obsessive drive for cultic purity.
The question has to be asked: would those who supported this ex-Ku Klux Klan member have done so if the Church's social teaching were more in evidence? For those bishops who are concerned about the lack of a Catholic, if not Christian, presence in the seats of power in this country perhaps they should consider whether this situation would improve if the focus of attention shifted from issues such as abortion and divorce to addressing issues such as poverty, racism, the third world debt and the unequal distribution of the world's resources, or the global environmental nightmare we find ourselves in. For after all, the Church exists, not to provide a cosy cultic community for its members, but rather to proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God, both in word and deed, to the whole world.
Margaret Hawkes Walton-on-Thames