Bishop: Votes for Obama deepened the culture of death

This bishops' battle against President Barack Obama continues in the new administration - or at least it does in the Diocese of Brooklyn, where I live. That is one of the messages to be drawn from Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio's strongly worded column, in which he writes, among other things, that "In my view, those who voted for President Obama bear the responsibility for a step deeper in the culture of death."Commenting on the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling, the bishop also writes:

The so-called pro-choice movement has its roots in the ideology of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, who understood her call to be one who would assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit. Of course, a young Barack Obama was precisely the sort of unfit child that Sanger and her allies would want to eliminate.

He later adds: "Some may think my tone a bit strident and even un-nuanced. Maybe the time has come for more direct conversation on these matters, if we hope to preserve what is left of our God-given and Constitutionally-protected rights."The bishop has shown a certain determination by writing in such terms about Obama just as the president returns to office after winning about 80 percent of the votes cast within his diocese. Since he indicates that more is to come, I thought it worth looking at what he's already said.

Bishop DiMarzio's charge about Margaret Sanger, who opened her first birth control clinic in Brooklyn, echoes one Herman Cain made during his short presidential run. Sanger did make some controversial and chilling remarks, but, according to, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, it's not true that she wanted (as Cain had put it) to "prevent black babies from being born." The FactChecker at the Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, found similarly, saying the quote from Sanger is taken out of context. gave this claim its "pants on fire" rating.The bishop's remark that those who voted for Obama "bear the responsibility for a step deeper in the culture of death" would be more persuasive had he not publicly supported pro-choice candidates himself. As reported earlier, he made robo-calls expressing his thanks to Brooklyn politician Vito Lopez, then the county Democratic leader. And he was pictured with Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a full-page campaign advertisement in the diocesan newspaper, for which he is the publisher.Of course, the bishop did not do this out of support for the pro-choice policies of these two politicians. He was providing political payback to Lopez for opposing a bill to change the statute of limitations on lawsuits over sexual abuse, and to Bloomberg for his involvement in private fundraising for Catholic schools. Since then, Lopez has come under investigation on charges of sexually harassing women on his staff. Bloomberg bankrolled the movement to legalize same-sex marriage.It's to be expected that a bishop would weigh the pluses and minuses of the candidates in light of church teaching. Members of his flock are entitled to do the same.

Paul Moses, a contributing writer at Commonweal, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @PaulBMoses. 

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