« Gerson: Francis Collins Signals Maturity for Evangelicalism | Main | Hate Crimes Legislation Moves Forward »

July 16, 2009

Obama's Recent Catholic Picks

President Obama chose Regina Benjamin as surgeon general earlier this week, earning initial praise for rebuilding her clinic after it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and than destroyed by a fire a year later. She has also done missionary work in Honduras was awarded a medal by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.


But McClatchy reports that Benjamin "supports the president's position on reproductive health issues." White House spokesman Reid Cherlin said, "Like him she believes that this is an issue where it is important to try and seek common ground and come together to try and reduce the number of unintended pregnancies. As a physician, she is deeply committed to the philosophy of putting her patients' needs first when it comes to providing care."

Life News reports that in 1996, she spoke in favor of the American Medical Association's governing body vote to "urge medical schools to expand their curriculum" to teach "more about abortion."

A 2007 interview with the Catholic Digest suggests that her Catholic faith influences her medical practice.

“Church was always a very important part of my life,” Benjamin said. “I believe I am carrying on the healing ministry of Christ. I feel obligated to help continue his works. I think it’s important to make a difference in everything you do, even if it’s small.”

Benjamin joins Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius as pro-choice, Catholic officials who will handle health-related issues.

Meanwhile, confirmation hearings continue for Sonia Sotomayor, and Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn wonders why her Catholic faith is not discussed more.

If the indifference to Ms. Sotomayor's Catholicism were truly a sign of a new respect for the "no religious test" provisions of the Constitution, that would be something to celebrate. But in the unlikely case that this "wise Latina" ever comes to see the legal wisdom of overturning Roe and returning abortion to the democratic process, we'll be reading a very different story.

Sotomayor has sidestepped questions that asked about her personal views on abortion, saying that Roe V. Wade is settled and "I will follow the law." She also said that Obama did not ask her opinion on abortion before he nominated her.


I think that anyone sitting on the Supreme Court must have a special quality. Not only should those individuals be selected from the finest judges of the day, but those individuals should also have a deep love and respect for our constitution. After all that court was designed to be the constitutional watchdog. Too often, it seems, that criterion is not part of the selection process. Rather it seems that selection is based on how well the candidate agrees with the views of the prevailing senate.
Most of the problematic social issues of our day seem to have sprung from the Court when it has attempted to "fix" social issues according to its own ideas rather than following our carefully reasoned Constitution.

The simple fact is that she is not a Catholic if she has been publicly promoting abortion and contraception. Because she has indirectly assisted in abortion, she has automatically excommunicated herself.

Mr. Johann:

"Indirectly assisting in abortion" through one's jurisprudence may be a mortal sin, but it is not one of the offenses which, in Catholic canon law, causes one to automatically excommunicate himself.

It is, of course, grounds for excommunication by the local bishop (or the Pope), but it is not one of the latae sententiae ("automatic excommunication") cases.