Skip to comments.Twisting Ratzinger's Words
Posted on 09/15/2004 1:35:47 PM PDT by Juana la Loca
Never have I seen a more shameless abuse and distortion of somebody's words than in the recent articles that some secular and Catholic publications have run regarding a memo written by Vatican Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger about abortion and voting.
The Cardinal wrote, "Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia.... There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.... 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."
That's pretty clear. Those who want to keep abortion legal and therefore vote for candidates who have promised to do that are sinning and are excluded from Communion.
Instead, some publications are saying that the Vatican now gives Catholics permission to vote for pro-abortion candidates! One article I saw said this is true "if a voter feels a candidate's position on other issues outweighs his or her stand on abortion."
But whether abortion outweighs other issues is not for a voter's feelings to decide. The Holy Father has written, "The common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition of all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination " (Christifideles Laici, n.38).
The full body of United States bishops, moreover, went so far as to say that legal abortion is so unacceptable that it may in fact require us to abolish our entire system of government. The exact words, found in paragraph 3 of their 1998 document Living the Gospel of Life, are, "When American political life becomes an experiment on people rather than for and by them, it will no longer be worth conducting. We are arguably moving closer to that day."
Cardinal Ratzinger's memo does answer a dilemma that many good Catholics find themselves in when all the candidates at least among those likely to win seem to support at least some abortions. What then? Are we required to vote for a candidate who does not have a sufficient base to win? Are we required to abstain from voting altogether? The answer to both is no. We may vote for the candidate who supports less abortion than his or her opponent. This is supported by the following sentence in the footnote to the Cardinal's memo: "When a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favor of abortion...but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it...can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons."
The Cardinal had already explained that abortion is not proportionate to other issues, but is certainly proportionate to itself.
See further comments at www.priestsforlife.org/elections/ratzingerletter.htm
I hate to say this, but Cdl. Ratzinger seems to me to be saying that no-one can vote for a candidate BECAUSE of that candidate's stand on abortion, but that they can vote for the candidate IN SPITE OF the candidate's stand on abortion. The difference between abortion and the death penalty, his statement seems to me to suggest, is that a Catholic may favor a candidate BECAUSE of that candidate's support for the death penality. The difference does NOT appear to be, as the article suggests, that no other prudential issue may outweigh abortion.
(By "prudential issue," here, I mean such an issue where it is up to prudence of a Democratic society to determine which position is justified.)
I write this because I would love to be able to provide a solid, authoritative assertion that their support for Kerry is absolutely sinful. Obviously it is, since what issue can outwiegh the deaths of millions of innocents each year? BUt I would love to have a direct condemnation of their vote. I do not believe this statement provides me with that.
If someone could show me how it does, I would be very thankful.
Clarification: the article certain does not say "that they can vote for the candidate IN SPITE OF the candidate's stand on abortion." I meant to say that it fails to codemn that position.
"I write this because I would love to be able to provide a solid, authoritative assertion that their support for Kerry is absolutely sinful...If someone could show me how it does, I would be very thankful."
These are some comments I posted on a thread a couple of days ago - I don't know if they will help at all?:
"I think most people (including conservative prelates and commentators) have missed the point with respect to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's footnote on "proportionate reasons" for voting for a "pro-abortion" politician.
Most Catholic and secular commentators on "your side of the pond" seem to have taken this footnote as providing "wiggle room" enabling Catholics to vote for Kerry in good conscience.
On the contrary, I would suggest that the footnote, in which the remote material cooperation of voting for a pro-abortion politician is justified by "proportionate reasons", rather provides Catholics with a rationale for voting for BUSH with a good conscience.
I would also suggest that the reason why most people have missed this point is that the basic and defining premise of the debate so far: "Kerry = pro-abortion; Bush = pro-life", is a false one.
In the U.S. presidential race, Catholic voters have only two choices of candidates who have a realistic chance of winning the presidency and thus affecting the future of abortion legislation : Bush and Kerry.
BOTH OF THESE CANDIDATES ARE PRO-ABORTION.
Bush only believes that abortion is right in specific and limited circumstances, however, he is still "pro-abortion". Kerry OTOH believes abortion is a fundamental right for all women at any time under any circumstances with whatever vile method - although he still claims to be personally opposed. Unlike Bush he has expressed no intention of legislating to reduce, restrict or limit the number of abortions in your country; or indeed, the promotion and exportation of abortion as a means of population control to the rest of the world.
Therefore for proportionate reasons a Catholic could in good conscience vote for Bush, knowing that he has expressed the desire to greatly reduce the number of abortions in your country, (and around the world) if not eliminating it completely. The fact that he is not committed to eliminating it completely would therefore constitute a vote for him as remote material cooperation in maintaining a law on your statute books allowing the provision of abortion (albeit in more limited circumstances).
However, given the only realistic alternative to Bush would be a vote for Kerry who is ideologically and fanatically "pro-choice", then an informed Catholic is left with no alternative other than to vote for Bush.
In fact, if a Catholic is:
1) accurately informed about the candidates' positions on abortion,
2) understands that the Church teaches that abortion and the promotion/procurement thereof is gravely sinful,
3) understands that no other area of public policy can outweigh abortion/euthanasia in terms of proportionate reasons,
4) is fully and freely able to form their decision about voting, and is able to vote without external compulsion,
THEN A VOTE FOR KERRY WOULD BE A MORTAL SIN.
With the greatest respect to Archbishop Raymond Burke, and Phil Lawler who have recently written suggesting that there can be no proportionate reasons for voting "pro-abortion", I would suggest that the declared intent of a candidate to reduce or limit the number of abortions by statute, are precisely those proportionate reasons which Cardinal Ratzinger had in mind, when there is no realistic chance of electing a politician who would abolish the scourge of abortion completely.
On this basis, every Catholic voter in the U.S. should be voting for Bush in November."
As a post script I would add that some people thought I was taking a side-swipe at Bush for suggesting he was pro-abortion when the general perception is that he is pro-life. From the American perspective he is obviously much more pro-life than Kerry and perhaps the most pro-life president since Roe vs. Wade hit the statutes.
However, remember that the author of the note sees things from the Vatican perspective which is much more cautious about ascribing a description of pro-life to someone who is not fully so.
With all due respect to Cardinal Ratzinger, I don't see how the Catholic Church can tell the faithful that to vote for a person who is in favor of certain kinds of abortions is acceptable.
Either you are pro life, 100%, or you are in favor of murder of an innocent human being, and you should not get the vote of a people who call themselves pro life, whether Catholic or otherwise.
Wow. Very impressive. Thank you and God Bless
Thanks. This is a very good expression of what *I* believe, and it will be helpful, but I guess what I'm asking is there anything that the Church has stated which makes clear the following point:
"no other area of public policy can outweigh abortion/euthanasia in terms of proportionate reasons,"
I mean when I think of a million and a half babies slaughtered compared to midnight basketball or yet another poverty-encouraging welfare program, I'm sickened, but that's not the way a lot of liberal Catholics feel.
... and by the way my inability to previously boil my question down demonstrates how helpful the response you already gave will be.
For whom, if anyone, do you plan to vote for President of the United States of America on 02NOV2004?
"is there anything that the Church has stated which makes clear the following point:
"no other area of public policy can outweigh abortion/euthanasia in terms of proportionate reasons," "
Good question! The answer is "Yes there is." because I remember reading it somewhere recently, but I cannot for the life of me remember where.
Do either of you chaps remember where this point has been clearly made?
Possibly Evangelium vitae???
When a reporter at the Detroit Free Press, misinterpreted Cdl. Ratzinger's words, she printed this story.
A recently ordained priest, took her to task. In his homily, delivered this past Sunday, Fr. Paul Ward clarifies Cardinal Ratzinger's statements. "To vote for abortion is to collaborate in one of the gravest of all evils known to man. Such a voter becomes an accomplice in every abortion civil society commits, by endorsing it and giving civil power to those who support it. And it is never good to do evil."
St. Pauls, Grosse Pointe, Sunday, September 11-12, 2004
Since then, the Detroit Free Press has turned up the heat. In an article published yesterday, the same journalist comments:
"About two dozen Catholics -- including several retired priests, pastors of two Detroit and Redford parishes and a local theologian -- announced the formation of Catholics for the Common Good, to encourage local Catholics to remember the traditional range of Catholic issues as they vote, including homelessness, health care, urban violence and the war in Iraq."
According to Rev. Norman Thomas:
"It's OK to vote for George Bush if your conscience and experience with life issues leads you to," said Thomas. "It's also OK to vote for John Kerry if your conscience and experience in life issues leads you to believe he can do a better job, which I do."
Catholic voters in abortion firestorm
Christ preached a gospel of love - unless you are born, you cannot experience that love. To equate social issues with destroying an unborn child, is beyond the pale.
First off, I am NOT surprised that this priest inserted his own 'feelings' and his own personal judgement in this issue. Why have a Magisterium if these guys wanna freelance?
The right to life is primary, every other 'right' flows from that. Those other 'rights' are meaningless unless one has a right to life in the first place.
I wish these voters could live in Massachusetts for a while and then tell me exactly what John Kerry has done for the people Massachusetts, never mind the people of the United States. He misses the majority of votes on a myriad of issues but he is ALWAYS present and eager to cast his vote defending all abortion 'rights' and furthering abortion 'rights' as much as possible. Although he says he believes life begins at conception, he votes to murder infants in the womb up to the day they would be naturally born (I cannot understand that at all). He opposes parental notification regarding minors who want an abortion. The school can't give them an aspirin and the kids can't have their ears pierced without parental OK, but when it comes to abortion, JK wants the parents in the dark.
Regarding other issues... where the heck does he stand on any one of them? War in Iraq? He was for it. Has he said he would do anything differently than GWB has done in Iraq? No. All he says is that he wants other countries as a coalition in there with the USA. Which is what we did back during the Gulf War and which is why we had to go back to Iraq again. To finish the job that the coalition didn't want to finish.
John Kerry is removed from the great unwashed masses. He lives a very different life than most people do. I remember when he had the city of Boston move a fire hydrant from in front of his 7 million dollar condominium on Beacon Hill because it annoyed him. Although the man is worth millions of dollars, the taxpayers paid for that.
That's a pretty good synopsis.
The 'proportionalism' argument requires a filter--first filter is the "no-compromise" issues, such as abortion.
Next filter is "all the other" issues. Were there 2 candidates who both oppose abortion under all circumstances, but one of them promises to totally eliminate social services for the needy, then the OTHER gets the moral nod, e.g.
He doesn't seem to understand that public service means the officeholder serves the public, not that the public serves the officeholder. What an egomaniacal idiot.
"Next filter is "all the other" issues. Were there 2 candidates who both oppose abortion under all circumstances, but one of them promises to totally eliminate social services for the needy, then the OTHER gets the moral nod, e.g."
The use of a filter analogy works well - effectively the first filter should comprise the 5 "non-negotiables" which Catholic Answers is pushing in its voter guide.
Wouldn't it be refreshing to have the problem of 2 candidates who both oppose abortion under all circumstances?
We need more problems like that! ;)
As I have mentioned in other posts, the Republican US Senate candidate in Wisconsin is 100% pro-life, no exceptions, no fetal tissue research, no 'post-sex' pills. NONE, PERIOD.
This man is the first Pubbie with this position in I-don't-know-how-long.
He is running against his diametric opposite on this particular issue, and is given a 50/50 chance to win by the pundits--although it will not be on THIS issue that the victory is won, alone.
"He is running against his diametric opposite on this particular issue, and is given a 50/50 chance to win by the pundits--although it will not be on THIS issue that the victory is won, alone."
I will pray that he gets elected.
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