In 2004 a group of United States Bishops, acting on behalf of the USCCB and requesting counsel about the responsibilities of Catholic politicians and voters, received a memo from the office of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, which stated:
“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." In short, you are not in communion with Christ or His church if you vote for a candidate who supports abortion more.
This declaration raised a number of questions. The following 8 answers might offer greater clarity.
1) Can we vote for a candidate for “the common good” of society on various issues, if the candidate is pro-choice?
We cannot vote for a pro-choice candidate even if our motive is the pursuit of “the common good” of society on other issues.
2) Does the Church teach that Abortion and Euthanasia are murder?
The Church teaches that abortion and euthanasia are murder.
3) Are we required as Catholics to work to overturn Roe vs. Wade, and restore the protection of law to the unborn in the U.S.?
We we required as Catholics to work to overturn Roe vs. Wade, and restore the protection of law (i.e., make abortion illegal) in the U.S.
4) Can we use our conscience to go beyond abortion and euthanasia, and vote for a pro-choice candidate for other “issues” and “proportionate reasons” such as the war, health care, immigration, the economy, etc.?
We cannot in the name of “conscience” or “proportionate reasons” ignore or go beyond abortion and euthanasia for other “issues” such as the war, health care, immigration, the economy, etc. This would be “self-deception.” These other issues are not greater than or even equal to the intrinsic evils of abortion and euthanasia. Our consciences are not ours to form as we think best; they must be formed by the Laws of God and the teachings of the Church, not personal political preference.
“Proportionate reasons” would not properly apply here, because one Presidential candidate is stridently pro-abortion, while other candidates are committed to overturn Roe vs. Wade and make child-killing illegal again. Hence, no authentic “proportionate reasons” could balance ending the murder of innocent children by abortion with arguments about just or unjust war, the care of the poor, the economy, etc.
Moreover, the first litmus test of “proportionate reasons” is that the act one takes (i.e., voting) be intrinsically morally good or intrinsically morally neutral. Proportionate reasoning fails in this election, because voting for a candidate who supports murder – while other candidates have pledged to curtail or end it – cannot be viewed as an intrinsically morally good or neutral act. The act (a person’s vote) would itself be an act that aids in child-killing, rather than curtailing or ending it. (Proportionate reasoning would properly apply if we faced two pro-abortion candidates, and through our vote we sought to mitigate the damage one would do over the other.)
5) Is voting for a pro-choice candidate in this election “cooperating formally with evil” and therefore a morally grave act?
Voting for a pro-choice candidate in this election is “cooperating formally with evil,” and therefore a morally grave act, because he (the voter) would have “direct participation in an act” (voting) that would result in laws and actions “against innocent human life.” Therefore it is a morally grave act to cooperate with a candidate who has stated his intention to murder the unborn or the victims of euthanasia.
6) Can a Catholic vote in good conscience for a pro-choice candidate in this Presidential election?
A Catholic cannot vote in good conscience for a pro-choice candidate in this Presidential election. With our federal government, we do not vote for laws; we vote for lawmakers who make laws in our stead. Given the histories and intentions of pro-abortion candidates to continue the legalized killing of the unborn, to vote for them is to knowingly participate in their evil acts and intent; it puts them in a position to kill more children, and is therefore to vote for abortion itself.
7) Are certain Catholic clergy and laymen correct when they declare: “[I]t violates no aspect of Catholic teaching for a Catholic Voter to endorse, support, or vote for Barack Obama…”? (Doug Kmiec, Catholic Attorney, Can a Catholic Support Him?)
They are not correct. Endorsing, supporting, or voting for Obama in the 2008 Presidential election flagrantly violates Catholic teaching.
The late John Paul II – who spoke infallibly on morals as the Vicar of Christ and the Successor of St. Peter – declared abortion is “murder,” a “crime against humanity,” a “tyrannical” act that in some way “attacks God Himself;” abortion is an “unspeakable crime” in which the blood of the victims “cry to God for justice.” Moreover, “civil law” concerning abortion must conform to “the moral law” – “You shall not kill;” laws permitting abortion are “radically opposed to the common good;” we must work to assure that “every unborn child…enjoys the protection of law,” and it is “never licit” to “participate in a propaganda campaign in favor of it (abortion), or to vote for it.”
Therefore to proclaim that it “violates no aspect of Catholic teaching for a Catholic Voter to endorse, support, or vote for Barack Obama…” is clearly absurd. Obama shamelessly supports child-killing by abortion for all nine months of pregnancy for any reason; Obama defends partial birth abortion and infanticide after a failed abortion; Obama is committed to keeping this crime against humanity “legal;” and he promised to sign “The Freedom of Choice Act” as soon as he is elected.
In the light of the Gospel of Life quoted faithfully in this document – which is the teaching of the Catholic Church – and in the light of the history and intent of Obama, to suggest that voting for him is a valid expression of Catholic morality is clearly error, false teaching, and treachery against the Gospel of Life. As John Paul II warned – this is an attempt to mislead “the faithful” with “the deceit of opinions which dissent” from the clear teaching of the Church.
8) Can a Catholic vote for Obama in good conscience?
Given this “concrete situation,” with this set of objective facts, a Catholic cannot vote for Obama in good conscience.
Who should you vote for? You have several valid options. You may even choose to write in a candidate. But you MAY NOT in good conscience, given this “concrete situation,” vote for Barack Obama if you want to be a “Faithful Catholic Citizen”.
“Oh Glorious Warrior, Oh Faithful Messenger, give us the grace to fight courageously and speak faithfully for the Innocent. Amen.”