Today I was going to write a post on how Sen. Santorum and Speaker Gingrich’s insistence that their Catholic faith informs their politics upsets me as I believe it is inaccurate, but I got a little side-tracked. One of the lies I here perpetuated over and over again by Catholics is that it is immoral and a sin to vote for a pro-choice candidate. It’s not. And that’s not just my personal opinion, but that of the Church’s US authority, the United States Council of Catholic Bishops.
So you know where I’m coming from on this: Am I pro-life? Yes Iam. But I don’t believe in most legal measures to address the issue. The Supreme Court has ruled it constitutional, and so voting for a candidate who happens to be pro-life isn’t going to change that. Even if everyone in in the House and Senate were pro-life, they would be unable to pass a law that outlaws abortion because the Supreme Court has decided that would be unconstitutional.
So instead, I think non-legislative avenues are the best for avoiding abortions. Promoting adoption. Providing childcare to single mothers. Not mocking teen moms. Empowering women. Better yet, these are things both sides of the aisle can generally agree on.
Doing some research for my Santorum-Gingrich article (which I will post at some point – stay tuned), I came upon this article on the Catholic TV station, EWTN website: http://www.ewtn.com/vote/brief_catechism.htm that suggested that under no circumstances Catholics may vote for a “pro-abortion” candidate.
In the USCCB’s “Forming Consciences for a Faithful Citizenship” it details the considerations US Catholics should make. While the article suggests that abortion is a trump-all issue, the USCCB says, ” Racism and other unjust discrimination, the use of the death penalty, resorting to unjust war, the use of torture,4 war crimes, the failure to respond to those who are suffering from hunger or a lack of health care, or an unjust immigration policy are all serious moral issues that challenge our consciences and require us to act. These are not optional concerns which can be dismissed.”
Furthermore, the USCCB says:
There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. 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.While the article suggests that an candidates positions on other issues cannot outweigh their position on abortion, the USCCB says the opposite:
It goes on to say:“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 the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely yo pursue other authentic human goods.”
You may wonder what is considered a “grave reason.”
According to the USCCB it includes:“It is important for our society to continue to combat discrimination based on race, religion, sex, ethnicity, disabling condition, or age, as these are grave injustices and affronts to human dignity.”
The author of the article states that “For this reason, moral evils such as abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide are examples of a “disqualifying issue.” A disqualifying issue is one which is of such gravity and importance that it allows for no political maneuvering.” This is a misinterpretation of the USCCB’s teaching, which states that “a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support.” I emphasize “may” because it is not an absolute as the author suggests.
Furthermore, it says that the issue may lead a voter to decide to not vote for them. It does not say that the Church requires it or considers that person ultimately unacceptable.It is damaging that the author suggests that it is necessary to vote only on a single issue when the USCCB urges the opposite: “As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support.”
Most conclusively, the USCCB says that Catholics may only not vote for a pro-choice candidate if their attention is to advance that specific cause. They very clearly state that their opposition to abortion cannot outweigh or be used to justify other immoral actions (such as supporting wars, racism, injustices against the poor, sexism, death penalty, etc.):
“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. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.”
This article as it is factually inaccurate, sites no sources other than the author’s personal opinion, goes against Catholic teaching, and is extremely misleading. It makes me sad that we still try to manipulate people to do something out of the fear that they are sinning rather than by following the Church’s teachings.
If you are not a Catholic and reading this, please know that despite what you might here in the media and the things people tell you, our Church at its core does not stand for bigotry, hate, manipulation, discrimination, racism, sexism, favoring the rich over the poor, or the destruction of our environment. Be skeptical when someone (inside or outside) of the Church tells you it does. We believe in a God who loves and forgives, who lifts up and protects. When you hear otherwise, please know that is not what we stand for.
*Sorry for all the wonky font changes on this post. WordPress baffles me.