Against the musical backdrop of Mozart's Requiem, Fr. Battle made his points. "It is the mission of the Catholic Church to pass moral judgement in matters related to politics whenever the fundamental rights of man require it," he tells viewers. "The Democratic Party and Bill Clinton have brought shame and horror to this nation. They have legalized the savage murder of babies during birth. We are outraged."The word "shame" blinked over the smiling face of Mr. Clinton on the screen.
The advertisement was circulated by the ad hoc U.S. Catholic Coalition, based in Butte, Montana. It was made available in both English and Spanish.
Rosson said the archdiocese called the ad "a two-by-four to the head," explaining that "the Church stands against abortion, of course, but it prefers to educate on the issues and not tell people how to vote."
Mr. Blaul noted that the Archdio-cese agreed with Fr. Battle on the abortion issue. "The Church," Blaul said, "is pro-life. Clinton's track record is clear-they're exceedingly pro-abortion." Mr. Blaul cited the Bishops' post card campaign and Capitol prayer vigil as documentation of the Church's pro-life stance, but reiterated that the Archdiocese prefers to "educate on the issues, rather than tell people how to vote."
Asked if, in the Ardiocese's view, a Catholic could morally vote for a pro-abortion candidate, Mr. Blaul said, "that's her decision. We wouldn't agree, if she reached that decision based on the abortion issue." And what if she cast her vote for a pro-abortion candidate based on, for example, his immigration policy? "That's a conscience decision for that particular voter..." Mr. Blaul responded. "I'm not in a position to pass judgement." He added that "a seamless garment voter is a difficult thing to be..." reiterating that there are many issues to be considered in addition to abortion.
The Archdiocese seems stung by Father Battle's failure to consult with it before releasing the ad to the Baltimore market. Mr. Blaul repeated that Father Battle "has no standing" in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, questioned his credentials, and said that "whether he is in league with the Magisterium is a judgement call."
What of those who advance abortion by voting for pro-abortion candidates? Vatican pronouncements as early as 1974 forbade Catholics to involve themselves in advancing or vote for abortions (Declaration on Procured Abortion, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith). Moreover, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1868), "...we have a responsibility for the sins of others when we cooperate in them: by participating directly and voluntarily in them; by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them; by not disclosing or hindering them...[and] by protecting evil-doers."
According to the Catholic News Service, however, there was some confusion when "an advertisement about the commercial...appeared in the Oct. 30 Catholic Review, the Baltimore archdiocesan newspaper. Associate publisher Daniel Medinger told CNS the appearance of the ad was "a mistake." It should not have run. That's not the kind of advertising we want in our paper.'
Medinger said the Review refuses all political advertising, but that the ad about the commercial was accepted by an employee who knew the paper routinely takes other ads from Defend Life.
Medinger said he never saw the ad prior to publication because ads are not in place on the page proofs he checks. A new advertising policy was established to avoid further problems, he said."
Treshman seemed surprised by archdiocesan claims that they were ignorant of the ad's debut; he maintains that he had faxed a transcript of the ad, a press release and a broadcast editorial about it to the Chancery offices.
Many other individuals or groups also ran with the Fr. Battle ad, airing it in hundreds of cites throughout the country-contrary to the views of the establishment media. The Washington Times was the only major newspaper to carry the story of the ad campaign. The attitude toward the story by the media "elite" was best summed up by a reporter for USA Today, who said "The political department decided not to run the story because the od only appeared in one or two cities." The ad actually ran in most states and major cities everywhere.
The spot aired continuously in Baton Rouge and New Orleans for a week and a half prior to the statement issued by Archbishop Hannan, who, reacting to calls from so many people, reiterated the points made by Fr. Battle.
Baltimore's Catholics Concerned helped get the 30-second spot in a number of cities nationally. Perhaps their most successful campaign was in San Antonio, Texas. As Don Treshman relates, "We contracted with a major Hispanic station to run the Spanish version in two afternoon slots, and during the evening and night news broadcasts. We then sent a press release to all of the other stations in San Antonio-except the one airing the ad -and hyped it up.
The evening before the ad campaign was to break, two other stations ran the story as a news item and aired the complete English version we provided them as part of the story. The next morning another station did the same thing. By the time the manager of the Hispanic station arrived at work his staff was already deluged with calls and threots from irate Democrats. He decided to breok our contract and not run the ods. After negotioting with him over the finer points of contract law, he ogreed to run teasers about the ad all afternoon, then run the story, and the full ad, as the lead on both the evening ond night news programs... and refund our money." Thus the Fr. Battle ad ran in San Antonio in over $5,000. worth of time slots on four stations ot no cost to the pro-lifers.
Al Rhomberg, of the U.S. Catholic Coalition, pointed out that the video was prepared according to the National Right to Life Committee legal guidelines, which state that a church may not engage in political advocacy, but a pastor, in his individual capacity may.
Defend Life Newsletter, Dec 96
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