I didn't expect my column this week to be about what I learned in church on Sunday, but that's what is happening.
Father Mark spent the entire homily urging a no vote on Proposal 3, the ballot question that would make enshrine an individual's right to an abortion into the state Constitution.
A direct ask on a ballot question doesn't happen often. The Catholic Church teaches about appreciating all life as a gift from God. Abortion is mentioned periodically as a violation of the Fifth Commandment of "Thou shault not murder."
But in my 49 years as a Catholic, I can only remember one other ballot measure that rose to the level of a direct ask, and it was nothing like this.
This was the entire homily. From beginning to end, and there was nothing unclear about it.
Sitting from my pew in St. Gerard, we were told abortion is a mortal sin, which for you non-Catholics out there is about as serious as it gets. A mortal sin is a grave manner. It is deemed as an offense against God and a death to the soul.
A mortal sin is willfully committing an act against God. Until you confess the mortal sin in confession and ask for God's forgiveness, you cannot receive Holy Communion and you are on a direct, one-way ticket to Hell upon death.
That's not hyperbole.
We walked away with the clear impression that voting for Proposal 3 is enabling future abortions and is, therefore, also a mortal sin.
I glanced from side to side. Except for a couple of teenagers who looked like they were going on a bathroom run, I didn't see anyone leave. Maybe someone else did, but they didn't make a scene about it, if so.
"Vote No On Prop 3" lawn signs and more information was in the vestibule for anyone who wanted them. Our family received a letter from the Catholic bishops a few weeks ago.
For those who don't attend Mass, you're hearing the Catholic Church's message in the $23.37 million in advertising spending. Only the Democratic Governors Association has spent more this campaign cycle.
In short, the Catholic Church is "all in" on defeating Proposal 3.
For the church's leaders, it's not enough to pray about this. Lives are on the line. They believe life begins at conception, period. The second God creates a life inside a mother, it's a life. End of story.
The institution sees it as its responsibility to do everything it can to unborn and that's what it's doing.
If Proposal 3 passes, abortion is in the Michigan Constitution. If abortion is to remain a state issue, that's about as rock solid as you're going to get.
In reaction, the church could quibble around the edges. It could file various suits to maintain the current abortion regulations, but those, too, could eventually be thrown out in court.
The proposal does not automatically end the state's parent consent law, for example. It would take someone to successfully challenge the law in court, but it could happen.
On the other hand, abortion regulations may stand up in court. We don't know.
If they do, the only things the Catholic Church could do to stop abortion is nonprofit advocacy and praying. That's about it.
That's why they're "fighting like heaven" and criticizing the governor for "fighting like hell" to preserve abortion access.
For supporters of reproductive freedom, this isn't an insignificant obstacle.
Michigan's population is roughly 18% Catholic. Even if two-thirds of this number are vigilant about their faith, that's still a double-digit start for a no vote.
An anti-abortion proposal in Kansas failed with 59% of the vote in August, but this was fresh after the Dobbs decision overturned Roe v. Wade. Public outrage was still pretty raw.
Has inflation and the economy replaced abortion as a driving issue for voters? Will abortion rights advocates still be as fired up Nov. 8?
From what I'm seeing, the Catholic Church will be.
(Email Kyle Melinn of the Capital news service MIRS at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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