Skip to comments.Catholics Cannot Vote for Pols Who Support Abortion, Except for Morally Grave Reasons: KY Bishops
Posted on 02/17/2008 10:39:37 AM PST by wagglebee
Kentucky, February 15, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Catholics cannot vote for a political candidate that takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion, unless there is a morally grave reason to do so, the Kentucky bishops have instructed the faithful in a pastoral letter released this past January 22, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
As one would expect, given the release date, the bishops' pastoral letter, entitled Reverence for Life: Conscience and Faithful Citizenship, focuses significantly on the life issues
"Catholic social doctrine is not limited to the defense and promotion of economic and political rights," begins the letter. "Human life issues such as abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, and the violence of war also fall within the scope of social morality."
Indeed, the letter indicates, human life issues ultimately supersede strictly political and economic considerations, since the life issues address the most fundamental human right, the right to life, which underpins all other human rights.
"Consistent with our nation's legal tradition we hold that all human laws must be measured against the natural law engraved in our hearts by the Creator .In particular, respect for human life is numbered among those basic values that underpin the very foundation of civilization. What we profess in defense of the sacredness of unborn human life harmonizes with our historic legal tradition founded on the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
"Abortion on demand," the bishops stress, "does not."
The letter, the release of which is clearly meant to coincide with the looming federal elections, informs Catholics that it would be cooperating with grave evil to vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor an intrinsic evil, such as abortion, unless there is a sufficiently grave reason to vote for the candidate.
"A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter's intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil," explain the bishops.
"There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate's unacceptable moral position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons." However, the bishops continue, clarifying what might constitute a "grave moral reason", "Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil."
In the letter the bishops do not ultimately give a definite guideline for what a Catholic should do when all of the candidates presented for consideration support intrinsic evils. Instead the bishops lay out the underlying principles that a Catholic must consider in such a situation, and leave the final decision up to the conscience of the voter.
"When all candidates hold a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for a candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position but more likely to pursue other authentic human goods."
Nevertheless, say the bishops, even should a Catholic discern that all of candidates running for office support grave evils, this can never justify indifference towards the political sphere. Instead, the Catholic should consider this unfortunate situation an encouragement to become even more involved, and thereby to introduce Catholic values into the political sphere.
"In unison with our brother bishops throughout the nation, we 'encourage all citizens, particularly Catholics, to embrace their citizenship not merely as a duty and privilege, but as an opportunity meaningfully to participate in building the culture of life. Every voice matters in the public forum.'"
The letter also reserves strong words for Catholics and politicians who claim a personal opposition to intrinsic moral evils, but who do not act on those supposed personal convictions in the personal sphere. "No Catholic voter or politician can hide behind the evasion - 'Personally I oppose abortion, but I cannot impose my religious beliefs (or my morality) on others.' It is a moral contradiction. Living the faith in the context of democratic pluralism cannot justify such self-deception."
"No one can be exempted from the logical step to translate moral opposition into effective strategies. If there is a lack of public consensus to effect full legal protection, no one can be excused from working toward creating consensus as a first step."
To read the full document Reverence for Life: Conscience and Faithful Citizenship, see:
http://www.ccky.org/ (Scroll down to January 28, and click on the link for the PDF)
Especially when you consider that the pro-life position is not peculiar to Catholicism.
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Until the Catholic Church starts excommunicating the Catholic pols who support abortion on demand, I wish they would just shut up, and stop lecturing their flock on that subject. - tom
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I wonder how we would react if the Bishops wrote something like... “Catholics cannot vote for a political candidate that takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as capitalism.”
BTW Joe Ratzinger wrote the following...
“Confronted with the abuse of economic power, with the cruelty of capitalism that degrades man into merchandise, we have begun to see more clearly the dangers of wealth and we understand in a new way what Jesus intended in warning us about wealth.”
So the Pope should excommunicate the wealthy?
And yes I mean to ask a hard question. I do expect emotional responses to the question. Not rational ones.
Capitalism (at least practiced without fraud or coercion) is far more moral than the alternatives, because it relies on individuals to use their God given free will to make rational choices in light of scarcity. Rather than force the choices of others on them without their consent or without limits on the coercive power.
So the Pope should excommunicate the wealthy?
No. Next question?
To say that there are dangers to wealth is not the same as saying wealth is intrinsically evil. For example, the majority of members of this Forum believe in the right to keep and bear arms but acknowledge that there are dangers to firearms.
The question is, as you propose, what one does in the face of such dangers.
Wealth is not an intrinsic evil, nor is capitalism.
I fully agree with the part about abortion and euthanasia, but the death penalty for taking innocent life is scriptural and there is nothing I know of in scripture that expressly forbids a Christian to fight and possibly kill in defense of his nation. In fact, it is recorded in the Old Testament that God commanded the Israelis to kill all the men, women, and children of the pagan tribes and nations that occupied the land of Canaan when they arrived there after forty years of wandering in the desert. Furthermore, He later disciplined the nation of Israel for allowing some pagans to continue to live and occupy a part of the land He promised to Jacob's progeny.
I don't know how to reconcile God's command to Joshua with Jesus' command to love our enemies as ourselves. Since the pagan enemies were sacrificing their own children to idols and also warring against the Israelis I can from a human POV understand Him ordering their extermination. But then that complicates knowing how to understand Jesus' command to love our Godless enemies and do good to those who persecute us. But that's no doubt due to my inability to properly understand God's word, and not due to any fault with what seems to be His contradictory commands. More personal bible study is definitely in order for me.
Sorry. You will get a rational one from me, not an emotional one...
If you look at the unbridled "Gilded Age" capitalism, you will see all the excesses of wealth exemplified. Ratzinger was not hardly the only pope to condemn unbridled capitalism.
Pio XII, in a letter commemorating a pilgrimage to Lourdes, stated the following:
41. But in itself this experience of a few brief days of pilgrimage is not usually sufficient to engrave in indelible letters the call of Mary to a genuine spiritual conversion. That is why We exhort the shepherds of dioceses and all priests to outdo one another in zeal that the centenary pilgrimages may benefit by preparation, and, above all, by a follow-up which will be as conducive as possible to a profound and lasting action of grace.
42. Only on condition of a return to regular reception of the sacraments, a regard for Christian morals in everyday life, entry into the ranks of Catholic Action and other apostolates recommended by the Church, can the great crowds expected to gather at Lourdes in 1958 yield -- according to the expectations of the Immaculate Virgin herself -- the fruits of salvation so necessary to mankind today.
43. But however important it may be, the conversion of the individual pilgrim is not enough. We exhort you in this jubilee year, Beloved Sons and Venerable Brothers, to inspire among the faithful entrusted to your care a common effort for the Christian renewal of society in answer to Mary's appeal.
44. "May blind spirits . . . be illumined by the light of truth and justice," Pius XI asked during the Marian feasts of the Jubilee of the Redemption, "so that those who have gone astray into error may be brought back to the straight path, that a just liberty may be granted the Church everywhere, and that an era of peace and true prosperity may come upon all the nations."
45. But the world, which today affords so many justifiable reasons for pride and hope, is also undergoing a terrible temptation to materialism which has been denounced by Our Predecessors and Ourselves on many occasions.
46. This materialism is not confined to that condemned philosophy which dictates the policies and economy of a large segment of mankind. It rages also in a love of money which creates ever greater havoc as modern enterprises expand, and which, unfortunately, determines many of the decisions which weigh heavy on the life of the people. It finds expression in the cult of the body, in excessive desire for comforts, and in flight from all the austerities of life. It encourages scorn for human life, even for life which is destroyed before seeing the light of day.
47. This materialism is present in the unrestrained search for pleasure, which flaunts itself shamelessly and tries, through reading matter and entertainments, to seduce souls which are still pure. It shows itself in lack of interest in one's brother, in selfishness which crushes him, in justice which deprives him of his rights -- in a word, in that concept of life which regulates everything exclusively in terms of material prosperity and earthly satisfactions.
48. "And I will say to my soul. the rich man said, Soul, thou hast many good things laid up for many years; take thy ease, eat, drink, be merry. But God said to him, Thou fool, this night do they demand thy soul of thee."
49. To a society which in its public life often contests the supreme rights of God, to a society which would gain the whole world at the expense of its own soul and thus hasten to its own destruction, the Virgin Mother has sent a cry of alarm.
50. May priests be attentive to her appeal and have the courage to preach the great truths of salvation fearlessly. The only lasting renewal, in fact, will be one based on the changeless principles of faith, and it is the duty of priests to form the consciences of Christian people.
51. Just as the Immaculate, compassionate of our miseries, but discerning our real needs, came to men to remind them of the essential and austere steps of religious conversion, so the ministers of the Word of God should, with supernatural confidence, point out to souls the narrow road which leads to life. They will do this without forgetting the spirit of kindness and patience which they profess, but also without concealing anything of the Gospel's demands. In the school of Mary they will learn to live not only that they may give Christ to the world, but also, if need be, to await with faith the hour of Jesus and to remain at the foot of the cross.
52. Assembled around their priests, the faithful must cooperate in this effort for renewal. Wherever Providence has placed a man, there is always more to be done for God's cause. Our thoughts turn first to the host of consecrated souls who, within the framework of the Church, devote themselves to innumerable good works. Their religious vows dedicate them more than others to fight victoriously under Mary's banner against the onslaught which inordinate lust for freedom, riches, and pleasure makes on the world. In response to the Immaculate, they will resolve to oppose the attacks of evil with the weapons of prayer and penance and by triumphs of charity.
53. Our thoughts turn also to Christian families. to ask them to remain faithful to their vital mission in society. May they consecrate themselves in this jubilee year to the Immaculate Heart of Mary! For married couples this act of piety will be a valuable aid in performing their conjugal duties of chastity and faithfulness. It will keep pure the atmosphere in which their children grow up. Even more, it will make the family, inspired by its devotion to Mary, a living center of social rebirth and apostolic influence.
54. Beyond the family circle, professional and civic affairs offer a vast field of action for Christians who desire to work for the renewal of society. Gathered about the Virgin's feet, docile to her exhortations, they will first take a searching look at themselves and will try to uproot from their consciences any false judgments and selfish impulses, fearing the falsehood of a love for God which does not translate itself into effective love for their brothers.
55. Christians of every class and every nation will try to be of one mind in truth and charity, and to banish misunderstanding and suspicion. Without doubt, social structures and economic pressures of enormous weight burden the good will of men and often paralyze it. But if it is true, as Our predecessors and We Ourselves have insistently stressed, that the quest for social and political peace among men is, above all, a moral problem, then no reform can bear fruit, no agreement can be lasting without a conversion and cleansing of heart. In this jubilee year the Virgin of Lourdes reminds all men of this truth!
In fact, Pio XI, in his encyclical letter warning of the dangers of atheistic communism, stated, There would be today neither Socialism nor Communism if the rulers of the nations had not scorned the teachings and maternal warnings of the Church. On the bases of liberalism and laicism they wished to build other social edifices which, powerful and imposing as they seemed at first, all too soon revealed the weakness of their foundations, and today are crumbling one after another before our eyes, as everything must crumble that is not grounded on the one corner stone which is Christ Jesus. (Divini Redemptoris, 38)
In fact, didn't Jesus, Himself, teach that you cannot serve both God and Mammon? Didn't St. Paul teach that the love of money is the root of all evil?
I would submit that the wealthy, who do not use their wealth to support the common good, are already excommunicating themselves.
(And, btw, before you go there, the Church has also consistently spoken against the State forcing the redistribution of wealth, the State providing for long-term social assistance to people, and most of the other socialistic tendencies that you were trying to allege in your earlier post. And either one of us can go through the social teachings of the Church to find source documents supporting that statement...so don't bother)
I understand Church history probably better than you. I suggest that the Pope and prior popes were wrong, both as a matter of faith and as a matter of fact.
Let me repeat-Catholic politicians who publicly support abortion are automatically excommunicated. There is no need for a public excommunication because it's done once the politician takes the position.
"The 1917 Code of Canon Law punished abortion with excommunication. The revised canonical legislation continues this tradition when it decrees that a person who actually procures an abortion incurs automatic (Latae sententiae) excommunication" (Canon 1398) " The excommunication affects all those who commit this crime with knowledge of the penalty attached and thus includes those accomplices without whose help the crime would not have been committed" (Canon 1329).
"By this sanction the Church makes clear that abortion is a most serious and dangerous crime, thereby encouraging those who commit it to seek without delay the path of conversion. In the Church the purpose of the penalty of excommunication is to make an individual fully aware of the gravity of a certain sin and then to foster genuine conversion and repentance"(EV 62B).
If you count yourself among the "faithful," you might consider publicizing this information further, e.g. to your fave pro-abortion Catholic politician. Unfortunately, there are a bloody lot of them.
Earth to tom! Earth to tom!
They are automatically ex-communicated, latae sentiae.
Latae sentiae Excommunications are ones that take place when an action is performed (by a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil), not when the Church formally announces it.
Maybe you should check around prior to engaging your ....
Josef Ratzinger's statement is compatible with this one: "Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist." Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno (1931)
Would that “man into merchandise” thing be the same as the slavery found in the Bible, which gives instructions on how slaves should be treated (Deuteronomy 15:12-15; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1), but certainly does not outlaw the practice altogether? I’m not justifying or advocating slavery. I do consider this a valid criticism of Christianity, and by extension the Catholic Church. Basically, I reject the notion that the Pope or the Catholic Church has moral standing to criticize others, because of its past performance. I’m sure you and many others here will disagree. Like it or not those are the historical facts.
On this earth, every persona and every rganization would be, by your rules, excluded from offering moral criticism or moral judgment. Nope, I'm not buying that.
Pity. I wish your prior post suggested this wealth of knowledge.
I suggest that the Pope and prior popes were wrong, both as a matter of faith and as a matter of fact.
You have the right to suggest that all you'd like. I would defend (and have defended) your ability to exercise that right.
Whether or not they're excommunicated, they're still in office. The problem is that many Catholics voted FOR those pols to put them into office. This is why the Bishops' message is important. It is hoped that more Catholics will start to listen to them and not support the pro-abortion candidates anymore.
You obviously have a problem with the Church, and you are free to not listen to the Pope or any other teachers within the Church. At the same time, the Pope is free to offer his opinions, and distribute his teachings based on decades of study of the Scriptures and the works of the early Church Fathers, to believers within the Catholic Church.
Maybe you should check around prior to engaging your .... Lurking
Heretics fall into two classes formal and material.
Both groups hold opinions contrary to the Catholic Churches teaching as defined by the Pope speaking ex Cathedra to all the Catholics around the world in matters of faith and morals.
One heretical group does not know they are in opposition to the churches teaching and have to be made aware of the correct teaching.
If they persist in their contrary views then they get ex communicated.
The Church would do better to make no bones about abortion and tell the pols if they persist in supporting it they are ex communicated. So far the Catholic Church has done little, until lately about this subject. That is why so many Catholic pols have disregarded the Church.- tom
There is no Catholic doctrine governing the use of the death penalty.
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1 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion,
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2 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. "A
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2 From its conception, the child has the right to life. Direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, is a "criminal" practice (GS 27 § 3),
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gravely opposed to the moral law when this is done with the thought of possibly inducing an abortion, depending upon the results: a diagnosis must not be the equivalent
There is no need for a public excommunication because it’s done once the politician takes the position.
I disagree in that the same politicians will take a public pro-abortion position time after time in front of millions of people with no VISIBLE response from the church... It appears as if their position is being condoned,, it is this repeated appearance of going along so as not to rock the boat that must be ended.
Well, thank you, epow! Reading this stuff in context is really interesting.
This is correct, CWW. However I would hazard that the vast majority of Catholics don’t know this much less the term “Latae sententiae excommunication”. The Bishops need to teach.
So as a Christian are you pro-life and against abortion? Because I am confused by some peoples comments,it is not about if you like the Catholic church,it’s Christians who support pro-abortion candidates. Too many people on here lately are so arrogant,between the Mormon bashing and the Catholic bashing,I’m surprised Christians can united against anything that’s evil.We have a candidate who calls himself a Christian and he is soooo pro-abortion it makes me sick. But yet for political reasons you have Christians supporting these candidates with their votes and their money.That is what is wrong not a personal opinion of what you think of the Catholic church or of any other faith. If we as Christians can’t stand each other long enough to unite against evil, such as abortion,homosexuality,then we don’t have a right to call ourselves Christians. For crying out loud Jesus talked of loving your enemy but yet here lately it seems more about pride and arrogance than anything to do with love.