Church and State

From the Dallas News:

Some North Texas Catholics are upset with a letter written to them by their local bishops, saying it amounts to an endorsement of John McCain for president.

“I was personally offended,” said Phillip Archer of Dallas. “My bishop basically told me that if I vote for Barack Obama, I will go to hell.”

The letter by Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Diocese of Dallas and Bishop Kevin Vann of the Diocese of Fort Worth says in part: “To vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or ‘abortion rights’ when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in the evil – and, therefore, morally impermissible.”

Mr. Obama, the Democratic candidate, supports abortion rights. The Republicans’ nominee, Mr. McCain, favors overturning Roe vs. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that protects abortion rights.

The bishops’ letter was distributed or read at parishes across the Diocese of Dallas this weekend. The Fort Worth Diocese is distributing the letter through its newspaper, which is being mailed to all registered Catholic families in the diocese.

The bishop’s letter is refreshingly clear, particularly paragraphs 4 & 5:

4. As Catholics we are faced with a number of issues that are of concern and should be addressed, such as immigration reform, healthcare, the economy and its solvency, care and concern for the poor, and the war on terror. As Catholics we must be concerned about these issues and work to see that just solutions are brought about. There are many possible solutions to these issues and there can be reasonable debate among Catholics on how to best approach and solve them. These are matters of “prudential judgment.” But let us be clear: issues of prudential judgment are not morally equivalent to issues involving intrinsic evils. No matter how right a given candidate is on these issues, it does not outweigh a candidate’s unacceptable position in favor of an intrinsic evil such as abortion or “abortion rights.”

5. Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, in paragraphs 34-37, addresses the question of whether it is morally permissible for a Catholic to vote for a candidate who supports an intrinsic evil – even when the voter does not agree with the candidate’s position on that evil. The only moral possibilities for a Catholic to be able to vote in good conscience for a candidate who supports this intrinsic evil are the following:

a: If both candidates running for office support abortion or “abortion rights,” a Catholic would be forced to then look at the other important issues and through their vote try to limit the evil done; or,

b: If another intrinsic evil outweights the evil of abortion. While this is sound moral reasoning, there are no “truly grave moral” or “proportionate” reasons, singularly or combined, that could outweight the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by legal abortion every year.

To vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or “abortion rights” when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in the evil – and, therefore, morally impermissible.

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3 Responses to Church and State

  1. wbmoore says:

    I happen to agree with the Bishops. But given what they have written, I’ll bet there will be a lot of confession after the election concerning having voted for someone who stands for an intrinsic evil.

  2. Thomas says:

    This article is misleading because the words below are from the Magisterium and the Pope and were passed to the Bishop for dispersal, so it is hardly the fault of the Bishop for following the orders of Papa:

    “To vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or ‘abortion rights’ when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in the evil – and, therefore, morally impermissible.”

    Viva il Papa!

  3. Thomas says:

    re post 2: Thomas, we share the same namesake. You misread the article, I think the article is clear both regarding what the Church teaches and regarding some folks antagonism to that teaching. At any rate, the article links to the Bishops’ teaching document, which I quote.

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