Showing posts with label political parties. Show all posts
Showing posts with label political parties. Show all posts

Friday, January 3, 2020

Does Conscience Cease to Matter in a “Purple” State?

Norfolk I’m not a scholar, as Master Cromwell never tires of pointing out, and frankly I don’t know whether the marriage was lawful or not. But damn it, Thomas, look at those names.… You know those men! Can’t you do what I did, and come with us, for fellowship? 

More (moved) And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?

—Robert Bolt, A Man For All Seasons, Act II

Preliminary Note: The purpose of this article is not to argue that the Catholic voter is required to vote for a minor party. It is intended to point out why the “You must vote for Candidate A or you are guilty if candidate B gets elected” argument—used by Catholics of both major parties—is not part of Catholic moral obligation.


In election years, I find that certain arguments get made by Catholics from both major parties. But if you point out that it is the same argument with merely a different conclusion on who to vote for, you can expect some serious hostility. After all, they’re different from us. Their side is wrong. The problem is, some of these arguments aren’t merely partisan. They’re wrong according to moral theology too.

One of these arguments is that: It might be okay to vote for a minor party, “down vote,” or decline to vote if the state is solidly Blue or Red* and your vote will have no impact on the final result. But if you vote in a purple state, you have the obligation to vote for the right party… That right party being theirs. Such Catholics (and their attitude are found in both parties) act as if those who reach a different conclusion from them are guilty of grave sin.

It’s a puzzling attitude that they take because what it boils down to is: “You can only vote as your conscience dictates, as long as your vote doesn’t matter,” as if conscience was suspended based on where you happened to live. 

The Catholic Church and Conscience

The Catholic Church takes conscience seriously. We are tasked with properly forming our conscience. When we are convicted that we must act in a certain way, or we cannot do what we believe to be evil. Conscience, unfortunately, sometimes gets misrepresented as “if I don’t see anything wrong with X, I’m following my conscience.” But that’s not conscience. Conscience tells me I must do X; I must not do Y.

Sometimes, conscience is erroneous. A person wrongly thinks he must do something he should not, or thinks he must not do something he should. This is why we are obligated to look to the teaching of the Church to properly form our conscience. Gaudium et Spes makes clear.

16. In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does not impose upon himself, but which holds him to obedience. Always summoning him to love good and avoid evil, the voice of conscience when necessary speaks to his heart: do this, shun that. For man has in his heart a law written by God; to obey it is the very dignity of man; according to it he will be judged. Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of a man. There he is alone with God, Whose voice echoes in his depths. In a wonderful manner conscience reveals that law which is fulfilled by love of God and neighbor. In fidelity to conscience, Christians are joined with the rest of men in the search for truth, and for the genuine solution to the numerous problems which arise in the life of individuals from social relationships. Hence the more right conscience holds sway, the more persons and groups turn aside from blind choice and strive to be guided by the objective norms of morality. Conscience frequently errs from invincible ignorance without losing its dignity. The same cannot be said for a man who cares but little for truth and goodness, or for a conscience which by degrees grows practically sightless as a result of habitual sin.

The idea of being bound to obey an erroneous conscience might scandalize us, but it should understand it this way: if (IN A NON-SCRUPULOUS WAY#) we wrongly think we do evil to act in a certain way but choose to do it anyway, thinking it is evil, we are choosing to act wrongly.

But, if we simply refuse to look for the teaching of the Church, we have no such excuse. Lumen Gentium #14 tells us:

They are fully incorporated in the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and are united with her as part of her visible bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. The bonds which bind men to the Church in a visible way are profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical government and communion. He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a “bodily” manner and not “in his heart.” All the Church’s children should remember that their exalted status is to be attributed not to their own merits but to the special grace of Christ. If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged.

As Catholics, we have all the advantages of a Church established by Christ, teaching with a His authority. That means we have to look to the Church to form our conscience.

But sometimes, the manner of following Church teachings can take different legitimate forms. Provided that this manner is not a Pharisaical evasion (cf. Mark 7:9), we can choose the manner we think is best—especially if our conscience insists on it—despite what others think best.

The Ratzinger Memorandum

This requires nuance of course. Many Catholics misuse the Ratzinger Memorandum§ to justify voting for a candidate who supports an evil. The document was written to address presenting oneself for Communion if their actions are at odds with Church teaching. Much of it deals with Catholic but pro-abortion politicians. It points out that being in disagreement on other issues—such as capital punishment@ or war—does not disqualify one from receiving the Eucharist. But voting in a way rejecting the Church teachings on abortion does

The point relevant to voting is at the end:

[N.B. A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favour of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.] 

The debate over this passage is over what remote material cooperation means and what is considered a proportionate reason. A link to a 2016 article I wrote explaining this can be found HERE. My summary was:

The action of voting for a pro-abortion politician without directly supporting abortion does make the moral evil possible (material cooperation). That action is remote because, while it does not directly cause abortion, it still makes the continuation of abortion possible. Therefore, a vote for such a candidate requires a reason that justifies electing a person who will defend the right to abort over one million babies a year.

This all makes clear that we must not vote for a candidate because he supports evil, and if we vote for a candidate despite his evil, we had better have a proportionate reason that will justify remotely enabling the evil. 

Voting for a Minor Party is NOT the Same as Voting for an Evil Candidate

But what the Memorandum does not include in “remote cooperation with evil” is voting for a minor party that otherwise fits the moral qualifications. Bishop Conley of Nebraska wrote an article on the subject in 2016. In it, he raises a very wise point:

My third point is that when we vote, we need to carefully consider the specifics of each race. Blind partisanship can be dangerous, and we have to look past political rhetoric and media alarmism to make prudent discernments.  

In each race, we need to discern whether there is a candidate who can advance human dignity, the right to life, and the common good. When there is, we should feel free to vote for that candidate—whether they are a member of a major party or not. In extraordinary circumstances, some Catholics may decide, in good conscience, there is not a suitable candidate for some particular office and abstain from voting in that particular race.  

We also need to remember that we are not responsible for the votes of other people.  Choosing not to vote for “Candidate A” is not the same as actively voting for “Candidate B.” No Catholic should feel obliged to vote for one candidate just to prevent the election of another.

We should remember this point well. One is not obligated to vote for someone believed to be a bad candidate simply because they can win—especially if one’s conscience does not permit it.


It is especially false for a member of the laity to say that the Catholic who does not vote for a preferred candidate is guilty of sin and to blame if the worst candidate wins. Those who make that argument are usurping the authority of the Church to pressure people into following their personal beliefs. If the Catholic voter believes that a vote for Candidate A is the best moral choice, then let him set forth his reasoning in a way that convinces, not one that tries to coerce those who disagree. If we think that a person is following an erroneous conscience, then let us point out the teaching they missed, not behave in an arrogant manner.


(*) For my non-American readers, a “Blue” state is going to vote Democrat. A “Red” state is going to vote Republican. A “Purple” state (mixture of Blue and Red) is evenly divided and could go either way. Since our national elections are essentially 51 state elections (50 states plus the District of Columbia) where the electoral votes of a state goes to the winner of the state, these “purple” states are important in determining who becomes President, as the Blue and Red electoral votes are virtually guaranteed (see the map for an example. It may not be accurate come November 2020).

(#) This needs to be stressed. The scrupulous person often sees sin where there is none, or mortal sin where the matter is venial. Such people need the gentle guidance of a spiritual director to avoid being driven to despair. Such people are especially vulnerable to partisan Catholics who insist it is sinful to vote differently than their own views.

(§) Yes, it’s addressed to that McCarrick. But the unworthiness of the recipient does not negate the truth of the document.

(@) With Pope Francis refining the Catechism on the Death Penalty, that might change.

(€) If I rewrote this today, I probably would have phrased it “without intending to support abortion” to avoid giving the impression that indirectly supporting abortion is okay.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Political Pharisee


One rather annoying thing I see on Social Media is the number of people who make political posts on Facebook praising how enlightened they are, while looking with contempt on those they disagree with. As always, this is not limited to any one party or political slant. It’s not surprising in an election year, but I do wonder why so many Catholics feel that the obligation to love one’s neighbor gets suspended from the beginning of the primary season in January through Election Day in November.

Political parties, politicians and voters are all sinners, and none of them can claim to be God’s party. But the problem I see is many people are comparing themselves or their political affiliations with those they disagree with—always in their favor—and viewing themselves as living righteously. If they stay in a party, they see the party as angelic. if they abandon that party, they see it as demonic and they portray themselves as martyrs for the truth…even though the only suffering they normally experience is from people rolling their eyes and questioning the prudence of that choice.

In other words, what we’re seeing is Catholics infected by pride. They label their opinions as the only possible Catholic option and name those who disagree as deceived fools or willing dupes. The problem is, other Catholics who reach a different opinion are looking at them in the same way. On account of political partisanship, we divide the Body of Christ.

I’m sure every person who is guilty will say, “Wait a minute! Look at what that party stands for! No good Catholic can vote that way!” Yes, that’s often true. From a Catholic perspective, the Democrats routinely fail at moral obligations, the Republicans routinely fail at social justice obligations and third parties tend to either have the same failings as the major parties they emulate or have ugly positions which are only unknown because the parties are so obscure. In other words, no Catholic can claim moral superiority on the grounds of their party affiliation (or lack thereof). Every political party and every politician falls short in the eyes of God and His Church.

So, does this mean we should throw up our hands and not vote at all? No. Voting is a duty we must take seriously. As Catholics, we promote good and oppose evil in whatever way is possible. That not only means voting in such a way where either we promote the greater good or (more often) try to block the greater, but it also means we challenge the parties between elections and hold the politicians accountable to do what is right. Archbishop Chaput considers the problem of belonging to a party which is pro-abortion, but I believe his point applies to every evil that a party embraces:

My friends often ask me if Catholics in genuinely good conscience can vote for “pro-choice” candidates. The answer is: I couldn’t. Supporting a “right” to choose abortion simply masks and evades what abortion really is: the deliberate killing of innocent life. I know of nothing that can morally offset that kind of evil.

But I do know sincere Catholics who reason differently, who are deeply troubled by war and other serious injustices in our country, and they act in good conscience. I respect them. I don’t agree with their calculus. What distinguishes such voters, though, is that they put real effort into struggling with the abortion issue. They don’t reflexively vote for the candidate of “their” party. They don’t accept abortion as a closed matter. They refuse to stop pushing to change the direction of their party on the abortion issue. They won’t be quiet. They keep fighting for a more humane party platform— one that would vow to protect the unborn child. Their decision to vote for a “pro-choice” candidate is genuinely painful and never easy for them.

One of the pillars of Catholic thought is this: Don’t deliberately kill the innocent, and don’t collude in allowing it. We sin if we support candidates because they support a false “right” to abortion. We sin if we support “pro-choice” candidates without a truly proportionate reason for doing so— that is, a reason grave enough to outweigh our obligation to end the killing of the unborn.

And what would such a “proportionate” reason look like? It would be a reason we could, with an honest heart, expect the unborn victims of abortion to accept when we meet them and need to explain our actions— as we someday will.

Chaput, Charles J. (2008-08-12). Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life (pp. 229-230). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

When the party goes wrong on abortion, then we challenge the party on abortion. Obviously the right to life is key and we can never sacrifice this for other concerns. St. John Paul II warned that without the right to life, concern for other issues are false and illusory (Christifideles Laici #38). That’s common sense. No human beings, no human rights. But since we’re supposed to be the light of the world and salt of the earth, we don’t stop once we satisfy one concern. When the party goes wrong on immigration, we challenge the party on immigration. Whatever party platform goes against Church teaching, we challenge the party. We keep working on reforming that party wherever it goes wrong.

We Catholics must stop playing the political Pharisee. We’re not superior to the good faith Catholic (that is, one who obeys the Church and does not support what the Church calls evil) who reaches a different conclusion than ours. Instead, each of us need to look at our political preferences in light of our religious belief and see if we have chosen pride (“I can’t be wrong”) over recognizing our flaws. Then, after making this scrutiny, we must work on bringing the party we choose into following what God commands.

After all, in the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, the repentant Tax Collector was justified, not the proud Pharisee. If we’re not careful, we might find that the justified person winds up being the repentant one affiliated with the party we despise—not us.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Out of Control and Missing the Point

The Pope’s visit to America confirms what I long knew—the media and the politicians don’t understand the meaning of religion, treating it as one more political viewpoint. It also confirmed what I long suspected but hoped was actually false—that a large portion of American Catholics view religion in the same sense as the media and politicians. The result of this mindset is that the average person praises or laments what the Pope says or does in light of his or her political convictions and not on the basis of the Christian faith.

St. Paul wrote about this way of thinking in his letter to the Philippians:

17 Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us. 18 For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their “shame.” Their minds are occupied with earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself. (Philippians 3:17-21)

Our calling as Christians supersedes our preferences in politics. Politics necessarily involves earthly things. Our faith involves approaching this world according to the bigger picture of what God calls us to do with the fact of our life after death always kept firmly in mind. So, to judge the Pope’s words and actions by political preference is to pervert the Christian message, committing sacrilege according to the sense of treating holy things as profane.

Unfortunately, America is very dualistic. We think things are either liberal or conservative and create a logical error called denying the antecedent. That error works as follows:

  • The Pope is conservative or liberal.
  • Not conservative.
  • Therefore liberal.
The argument overlooks the possibility of “none of the above” being an answer.
Hes with Me
Unfortunately, the American view of politics has determined that concern for the environment or the treatment of immigrants to be “liberal” and the defense of life and marriage to be “conservative.” That’s how it plays with our political parties. But actually, the Catholic Church has a body of teaching that can point to both liberals and conservatives and say “you’re wrong about that.” In addition, she can say to both, “You’re right on this, but for the wrong reason."

When the Pope meets with the President, meets with Congress, meets with the Little Sisters of the Poor, meets with a former student (who happens to be actively homosexual), meets with Kim Davis—these things are all given a political meaning, even though the Pope intended no such thing by them. Then they take offense by the fact that the Pope did not use his addresses to condemn the President or Congress.

But, since the Pope did not intend a political message, the people who wanted one with him endorsing their position got angry when he took a stand against their position. People who hate Kim Davis were angry that he did not denounce her. People who support her were angry that he didn’t tell supporters of “same sex marriage” to literally go to hell.

Essentially they wanted him to be something he had no intention of being, and got disappointed because he didn’t satisfy their desire to see their foes "put in their place.” The thing is, Jesus didn’t set out to put people in their place. He came to call them to repentance. It was only with the self-righteous, the ones who behaved in a hypocritical manner, that he ended up "putting them in their place."

The Pope isn’t Jesus, of course. (With the anti-Catholics out there who think we do believe that, it unfortunately has to be said). But he is following the example Our Lord gave for us to follow. He’s essentially offering Our Lord’s mercy to the sinners. When we want the Pope to praise us and denounce the sinners we despise, we behave as hypocrites—and it was the hypocrites that Our Lord openly denounced.

I think that in trying to play “Capture the Flag” with the Pope, people assumed that if he would only “say more” about topic X, other people would go along. Really? Why should it be any different under Pope Francis than it was under his predecessors. Blessed Paul VI on contraception, St. John Paul II on a whole raft of issues. likewise Benedict XVI. They’ve been speaking out since 1963 on sexual issues, economic issues, life issues and so on. There’s been no variation in message. Sollicitudo rei Socialis and Caritas in Veritate say the same thing as Evangelic Gaudium—they all draw on Paul VI and Populorum Progressio (and Sollicitudo rei Socialis #34 mirrors Laudato Si).Despite this fact, people haven’t changed. The pro-abortion politicians have been this way throughout the past four pontificates. The people who think social justice is a code word for “socialism” still think so. If the Pope has so much influence over sinners that he can change them with a word, then why haven’t they been changed already?

No, America is out of control and missing the point. They think the Papal message is political policy and if the Pope says something similar, it is assumed that the Pope validated their entire platform. If the Pope said something in opposition, he’s a foreigner who should stick to religion and “stay out of politics.” (It’s hypocritical—basically a case of “It’s OK if he agrees with me, bad if he doesn’t.”) Catholics missing the point and out of control are making things worse. We’re called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. If we’re acting as worldly and partisan as everyone else, we are failing to share the Gospel with the world. 

American Catholics who think of themselves as orthodox need to get back in control and get the point. Otherwise, they are causing great harm in their dissent and disobedience while patting themselves on the back for being “faithful."

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Cart Before the Horse: Accusing the Church of Political Motivations

It is not that his Church tyrannously claims the right of forbidding to him a freedom allowed to others.  [The Catholic] must not say "My Church forbids it" – that is inaccurate.  What he must say is "God forbids it and my Church fortifies me in that belief."

—Msgr. Ronald Knox, The Beliefs of Catholics (page 158 Image Book version)

One of the real problems in America and the rest of the Western world is that the concept of democracy tends to override everything, and the view that everything has a political motivation.  The result is nowadays, instead of religion being viewed as some form of relationship with God, religion is seen as misogynistic, homophobic, autocratic… basically whenever the Church must say something is contrary to how a person who professes to be Christian must live, the response is to accuse the Church as having a malicious intent.

This sort of mindset plagues certain dissenters within the Church and ideologues outside the Church alike.  They see the disliked Church teaching as being politically motivated by people who must be intolerant – otherwise they would think like the dissenters and ideologues.  When the Church must condemn certain behavior as being outside what is part of being a follower of Christ, the result is to accuse the Church of meddling in politics.

This sort of view entirely misses the point of the Church's mission of evangelizing the world.

The Catholic Church has been around far before there was a United States of America.  It was established in the first century AD, a time when Europe was divided between the (relatively) civilized Roman Empire and the barbarian tribes of the North.  The Church condemned abortion then too.  They condemned use of medicines to artificially prevent conception.  In fact, while the Church teachings have become more refined in response to the innovations of technology, the basic premises have not changed.

The first century document, The Epistle of Barnabas,for example, states:

Thou shalt not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shalt thou destroy it after it is born. (Chapter XIX)

It should be noted that this document, which shows the Catholic belief existed at this time, was far before the creation of the United States in 1776 (or 1787 if you want to count the implementation of the Constitution as the beginning), the establishment of the Democratic Party about 1800, the formation of the Republican Party in 1856.  In fact the Catholic teachings on these subjects existed far before Christianity was legalized in the Roman Empire.

The point of the above is not to make use of an argument from antiquity fallacy (this view is older therefore it is true).  Rather, it is to show how foolish it is to claim that the Catholic teaching and the actions of the Pope and Bishops are politically motivated when they remind us that modern attempts to legalize evil are still contrary to what God tells us to do.

When the Church does speak on issues which are "hot button" issues in the political sphere, we need to remember that her motivation is not to get a Republican in the White House or to pass a liberal agenda (the Church has been accused from both sides).  When the Church teaches, her motivation is to be faithful to Jesus Christ who commanded the Church to go out to the nations.  This includes warning the people of all nations to turn from evil and seek to good.

Some may deny that Christ established the Catholic Church, and we can't help it if some refuse to accept her teachings.

But it is foolish to claim that just because these opponents may be politically motivated, that the Church must be too.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Reflections on the Moral Responsibility in Determining the Lesser of Two Evils

How are we to determine the lesser evil when it comes to voting when both candidates fail in some aspects according to the teaching of the Catholic Church?

Preliminary Note: A couple of weeks back, when the Republican Debate was on CNN, I found myself morally troubled by some of the candidate's positions in terms of the Catholic teaching on social justice.  Since then, I was thinking of the whole concept of the lesser of two evils and how we need to view our faith in relation to the political parties.  While we're still over a year away from the elections, it is important for us to remember how we need to unite ourselves with Christ and what we need to consider in discerning what is a lesser evil.


To be honest I found myself with misgivings with some of the Republican candidates .  Their stands on certain issues of social justice seems to fall short of the Catholic teaching on social justice (not merely the liberal buzzword either).

On the other hand, Obama's position on abortion and homosexual "marriage" and religious freedom not only falls short of the Catholic position, but is utterly in opposition to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.  He actively supports things which the Catholic Church must call evil if she is to be faithful to the teachings of Christ.

So what is the candidate to do when, even if we should like some of the views of one candidate, his views are contrary to the teachings of the Church in critical ways?

We CANNOT Just Freely Vote for Whoever We Might Prefer

Ultimately, we must realize that in cases where neither political party is in line with the Catholic teaching, we are NOT free to simply vote for who we might otherwise prefer.  Certain actions are more harmful to individuals and to the state as a whole than others.  In other words, you can't vote for Mussolini just because the other party can't make the trains run on time for example.

If we are to endure the lesser evil, we must discern the greater evil that must be opposed.

It might be good to refer to a fundamental insight from Aristotle's Rhetoric (Book 1 Chapter 7):

A thing which surpasses another may be regarded as being that other thing plus something more, and that other thing which is surpassed as being what is contained in the first thing. Now to call a thing 'greater' or 'more' always implies a comparison of it with one that is 'smaller' or 'less', while 'great' and 'small', 'much' and 'little', are terms used in comparison with normal magnitude. The 'great' is that which surpasses the normal, the 'small' is that which is surpassed by the normal; and so with 'many' and 'few'.

So, when it comes to discerning the greater evil, it means it will do more evil than the lesser evil.

On Greater and Lesser Evil

We need to distinguish something first of all.  To say [A] is worse than [B] does not mean [B] is not evil.  It is simply to say that when being forced to choose between [A] and [B], [A] will do more harm physically or spiritually and therefore needs a more urgent effort than [B] if we cannot choose a selection which gives us neither evil.

In terms of Church teaching and politics, this means we recognize that both [A] and [B] run afoul of Church teaching, but [A] is a greater evil which we must witness against.  We must still oppose [B], but if it is impossible to have neither [A] nor [B] we must stop the greater evil first.

The Culture of Death

We must oppose the mindset that some human life is not worth protecting.

Abortion and Euthanasia are actions which come from the view that some life does not have value and is better off ended.  The unborn or the infirm/elderly are seen as not possessing life which is worth preserving.  Politicians who support these "rights" and enshrine them law are guilty of moving society in a direction which treats certain life as being without value.

So before we could label a candidate who supports abortion as a "lesser evil," there must be a case where candidate treats even more lives as having no value.  For example, a candidate who supports infanticide would be a greater evil than a candidate who only supports abortion.  However I would absolutely reject the idea that wanting to reduce the dollar amount given to social programs is a greater evil than saying the unborn and the elderly possess lives not worth protecting and sanctioning the arbitrary ending of these human lives.

Proportionate Reasons

We need to remember another Catholic teaching.  Even if one does not directly do an evil act (which is always forbidden) we can still have moral responsibility if our act aids an evil act, making it possible.  The more essential our action is to the performing of an evil act, the greater the justification is required to avoid culpability in sin.

For example, the gas station attendant who pumps gas into any vehicle that comes along is less responsible for supplying gasoline to a van which drives women to an abortion clinic than the driver of that van who willingly takes the women to that clinic or the owner of the building who rents space to the abortion clinic.

If we know that our actions will cause evil, we are obligated to oppose this evil and not enable it.  When it comes to voting for a candidate, Catholics must realize that a vote for a person who supports a thing the Church teaches is evil is an action which allows the politician to make this evil legally sanctioned by the government.

So it follows:

  1. The person who votes for a candidate BECAUSE he supports that evil undeniably sins.
  2. The person who votes for a candidate IN SPITE OF his support for that evil is obligated that he must justify his vote before God, and the greater the evil, the greater the justification must be.

Archbishop Chaput, when he was in Denver, wrote in 2008:

9. What is a “proportionate” reason when it comes to the abortion issue? It’s the kind of reason we will be able to explain, with a clean heart, to the victims of abortion when we meet them face to face in the next life — which we most certainly will. If we’re confident that these victims will accept our motives as something more than an alibi, then we can proceed.

That's a strong indictment.  He's saying that abortion is such a great evil, that to vote for a candidate supports abortion  requires such a strong reason that we will not be ashamed to explain it to Christ at the final judgment.

So the person who claims that they are justified to vote for a pro-abortion candidate has to give justification.  It's not enough to say you're voting for pro-abortion candidate [A] because you're opposed to candidate [B] because of his position on Social Security.

It's human life at stake with abortion.


Catholics need to stop thinking in terms of, "Well neither candidate is fully Catholic so I am free to vote for whoever I want."  We have the somber duty to reject (vote against) the greater evil while challenging the lesser evil to change their ways.

It is clear that right now, abortion is the gravest evil facing America because it is an evil which decides some human lives are not worth living.  If you want to vote for a pro-abortion candidate, you MUST be able to justify your position by pointing to the greater evil you think is a greater than the slaughter of over 1 million unborn children EVERY year in America.

Think of it.  Catholics must think of the unborn as human lives – not subhuman lives which mean less than adults.  So we must recognize that abortion is not merely one issue of many.

When Election Day 2012 comes around, we are all obligated to seriously consider these things and remember our vote has moral consequences which we must answer for before God.