Wednesday, July 28, 2004

It's okay to vote for Kerry?

Fr. Andrew Greeley submits in this piece that Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, has written that it is permissible for a Catholic to vote for a pro-abort candidate such as Sen Kerry. Fr. Greeley uses the following quote for Cardinal Ratzinger's memo to Cardinal McCarrick to substantiate this claim:

When a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.

When I first read this statement I thought it only a matter of time before the Kerry Catholics seized upon it as the a-okay form the hierarchy to vote for Sen Kerry and other pro-abort Catholic and non-Catholic candidates. But Fr. Greeley, like the Kerry Catholics, focuses on only a portion of this quote and fails to give any in-depth analysis. He grasps onto the idea that it would be permissible to vote for Sen Kerry, regardless of his pro-abortion stands. Yet he does not discuss that 1) abortion is not just morally wrong, but it also carries a weight which no other issue (e.g. welfare reform, war, etc.) carries; 2) there is a clear pro-life alternative for the Catholic voter in President Bush; and 3) these two facts matter and need to be taken into account in understanding Cardinal Ratzinger's quote.

Jamie BlosserOswald Sobrino, and Judie Brown, have all provided reasons why this is NOT a pass for the Catholic voter, as Fr Greeley claims. Their reasoning seems well thought out though not easily understood by average Joe Catholic. Readers of this blog have wondered if Cardinal Ratzinger is not giving Catholics a pass on voting for Sen Kerry. In my heart I do not believe this is so.

I believe that Cardinal Ratzinger is saying if a Catholic voter feels a candidate's position on some other issue outweighs his/her pro-abortion position/stands viz a viz his/her opponent, then a Catholic could vote for the pro-abortion candidate.

So, as Oswald Sobrino writes, Ratzinger's inclusion of "proportionate reasons" is important. If you have a pro-abort candidate who is against the use and destruction of embryos for research and an anti-abortion candidate who advocates such research, a Catholic could conceivably vote for the pro-abortion candidate. Likewise, if you have two pro-abortion candidates, yet only one opposes the embryonic research a Catholic could vote for this candidate, though he be pro-abortion. Though this does not apply to the Kerry-Bush match up, it could in a future Clinton-Pataki senate race in 2006 or a Clinton-Giuliani presidential race in 2008.

Along the same lines, James Fitzpatrick has an article in which he attempts to help the reader understand why some pro-life Catholics support and plan to vote for Sen Kerry:

The logic of pro-life Democrats such as this man hinges on their belief that there is little likelihood that the Republicans, at any time in the near future, are going to mount a serious attempt to end legal abortion in the United States; that Republicans offer little more than offer lip-service to pro-life causes, and that, as a result, Catholics are entitled to vote for a "pro-choice" Democrat who is more amenable to them on other issues. In other words, they do not challenge the position taken by the pope and the American bishops about the necessity of voting for pro-life politicians, only the notion that most Republicans are truly committed to ending legal abortions. You can question that logic - call it stupid, uninformed, naïve, whatever - but it is hard to see how it can be called morally deficient.

This bothers me for Mr Fitzpatrick is a fine Catholic writer and this piece may be seen by many as further justification to vote for Sen Kerry. First, in regards to Republican "lip-service", I would point out to pro-life Catholics supporting Sen Kerry the pro-life record of President Bush and the GOP. Some highlights include the ban on partial birth abortion, passing the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, passing the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, reinstituting the Mexico City policy, banning abortions in military facilities, and nominating and approving federal judges open to overturning Roe v. Wade. A more comprehensive list of President Bush's pro-life record has been compiled by Fr. Peter West of Priests for Life. This is more than just "lip-service".  Second, to counter the argument that President Bush and the Republicans "are not going to mount a serious attempt to end legal abortion" and that they could do more, I would remind pro-life Catholics supporting Sen Kerry that President Bush "has a country to run - and any number of issues on which he is responsible to promote the common good - and to become a monomaniac on the issue of abortion would cripple his presidency, divide the country and perhaps be counterproductive even on the life issue." (J.P. Zmirak, Nat'l Catholic Register, 23-29 Mar 03.) Last, I would not call the logic which pro-life Catholics use (as outlined by Mr Fitzpatrick) in supporting Sen Kerry "morally deficient", but I would call it misguided and lacking any basis in Catholic teaching. As he points out earlier in the article, there is no "moral equivalence" between opposition to abortion and other issues Catholics supporting Sen Kerry see as important.

Mr Fitzpatrick also points out that because many Democrats who were once pro-life (President Clinton, VP Gore, Congressman Gephardt, Rev Jackson, and others) and for political reasons are now pro-abortion, it follows that many Republicans COULD be pro-life for merely political purposes. Maybe. Not likely. Unlike the Democrats who now support abortion, there are no Republicans, that I know of, who were once pro-abortion and are now pro-life. President Bush has always been pro-life. To suggest that this is some political ploy is disingenuous.

Sen Kerry is a pro-abort Catholic who claims life begins at conception but believes life in the womb can be snuffed out for almost any reason and at any stage. That alone should push Catholics to oppose him and if needed sacrifice other needs and desires which he may (or may not) fulfill if elected president.


Blogger hyphen said...

Hi, I just discovered your blog and I like it! I interpreted Cardinal Ratzinger's "proportionate reasons" phrase to refer to a situation where, say, the Democrat was for abortion (which kills 1.3 million annually) and the Republican was in favor of some policy that would cause MORE damage than that, it would be permissible to vote for the Democrat. Is this correct or am I misinterpreting?

9:34 AM  
Blogger Oswald Sobrino said...

Ratzinger is certainly giving no one any excuse whatsoever to vote for Kerry. It is exactly the opposite. Even the average "Joe Catholic" can understand the bottom-line: Kerry favors directly killing innocent children in abortion. Nothing George W. Bush favors or has done comes even remotely close to being as bad as that. Thus, there is no "proportionate" reason for any Catholic or, for that matter, any reasonable person to vote for Kerry.

Webster's defines "proportionate" or "proportional" as meaning "corresponding in size, degree, or intensity." Does Bush's favoring the death penalty correspond to abortion? No, because the death penalty does not target the innocent. Does Bush's invading Iraq correspond to abortion? No, Bush was not directly targeting the innocent, but rather a genocidal despot who was a threat to the U.S. because he refused to come clean on his past, proven possession and use of chemical weapons and his pursuit of nuclear weapons. There is no proportionate or corresponding factor that allows any reasonable person, much less a Christian or a Catholic, to vote for Kerry.

At the risk of being repetitious, if the average "Joe Catholic" wants it simple, here it is: Nothing Bush has done or been accused of doing is anywhere near as bad as Kerry's support for abortion. It's a slam dunk.

2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'I would remind pro-life Catholics supporting Sen Kerry that President Bush "has a country to run - and any number of issues on which he is responsible to promote the common good - and to become a monomaniac on the issue of abortion would cripple his presidency, divide the country and perhaps be counterproductive even on the life issue."'

Wow, I couldn't agree more. That's exactly how I feel about Catholics who treat abortion as the only issue: monomaniacs crippling the country and the world, dividing the country and the Church and hurting the pro-life cause. I'll just mention one issue that Catholics should be paying more attention to: the fact that 24,000 people (like you and me) will needlessly die from hunger today. U.S. agricultural subsidies and coercive trade policies are contributing to this and we are currently doing practically nothing to change it. And in case it needs explaining, framing abortion as a primarily Catholic issue (i.e. the problem with Kerry's position is that it's not consistent for a Catholic to have it, rather than emphasizing that the problem with his position is that he enthusiastically permits killing.) is what is hurting the pro-life cause--it gives others the idea that this is a religious issue that is being imposed on them, preventing them from seeing it as the basic civil rights issue it is.

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"President Bush has always been pro-life."

For the record, this is not true. Bush was pro-choice when he first ran (unsuccessfully) for Congress in 1978:

5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It pains me to have anybody voice a dissenting opinion on this very important matter. It is clearly NOT ok to vote for Kerry precisely because he supports killing babies. Is this not tantamount to stating, Kerry kills babies? Anybody who prevents putting into harms way any living being, knowingly, will not get my vote. 1.4 million lives, and worldwide it's more like 46 million every single year! That is 46 million lives snuffed out; I support a president who will institute a trading ban against those countries that support abortion. Is this not logical (1.4 versus 46 million)?

We all have to be united in our crusade to show the world the error of its ways by first banning abortion in our country, and then force the ban on all other countries.

Bush and Jesus Hates Fags.

Bush Cheney 04

Your fellow servant in Christ,

10:50 PM  
Blogger hyphen said...

To the first "Anonymous": You're missing the point. Abortion is intrinsically evil -- meaning it can never be justified. Since abortion kills 1.3 million innocents annually, it is quite possibly the greatest human rights and social justice issue of all time. If you wouldn't vote for a pro-slavery politician, or a pro-genocide politician, or a pro-segregation politician, then why would you vote for a pro-abortion one? Catholics like me aren't "dividing the Church" -- we're faithfully applying the Church's own teachings.

To the third "Anonymous": neither Bush nor Jesus "hates fags". You are hijacking the Name of Our Lord to demean and denegrate an entire group of God's children. Christ said, "Judge not, lest ye be judged." Homosexuals don't choose their affections and, while they are called to chastity like all other Christians, they deserve our support and Christian love. It would behove you to study more deeply the truths of Catholicism.


10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeppers, I've got to agree with Frank on this matter. He's got it the issued nailed to the cross, so to speak.

"Catholics like me aren't "dividing the Church" -- we're faithfully applying the Church's own teachings"

Frank, do you guys faithfully apply EVERYTHING in the church's teachings? I mean EVERYTHING, as in 1 Corinthians 6 9:10 everything, or 1 Corinthins 13? Because if you do, you gots to be rebuking more than just them baby-killers, because many other things are considered mortal sins, no? Should we go after these other mortal sinners with the same amount of intensity as we do the baby-killers?

As well, you have to just ignore posters like that last Anonymous who made the incendiary comment about the gays. We all know gays are already under some degree of persecution not only by the government, but by their inner torment about being gay. We should not add to it by insulting them (although I've heard them refer to each other that way on many occasions). Stating that Bush is very anti-gay is a better way to put it, me thinks.

One good point that the gay poster does make is about the sheer tragic numbers he/she quotes. 1.4 versus 46 million worldwide- Frank, you gotta help me out on this one. It does kinda make sense that saving 46 million instead of just 1.4 is WAY WAY better.

I agree with Frank that this is THE number 1 issue of our time; it is not stem-cell research as some claim, it is not the war in Iraq, it is not lost jobs, it is not Halliburton, it is not the environment, it is not any of these other superfluous things. It is abortion, and abortion alone. Not to beat a dead horse, but I AM a one issue voter, and proud of it!

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too am offended my the obvious imflammatory statements made in the posts above. However an individual feels about their personal relationship with God, I do NOT think it should be extended to politics in such a manner to denigrate another human being for their personal lifesytle choices, unless it's Bush's crusade to win the war on terror in the middle east because Islamic jihadism is just the wrong side of the argument, or to have our constitution amended to prevent gay marriages, or for stem cell research, since we all know that is also gay in some queer, baby-killing way.

1 Corinthians 6 9:10
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Who are the effiminate, and why the hell is it considered a mortal sin? Can anyone help me out here? Usury is also a pretty bad thing according to the bible, but we don't hear widespread panic about tearing down the banks every 30 seconds. I'm sorry if this looks like I'm ranting, but these are some things that I just don't understand. I'm hoping some of the knowledgeable people on this website will be able to answer some of these questions, answer them without partisan politics involved.

And no, I don't think Bush and Jesus hate Fags; we know that Jesus is our Lord and Saviour, and loves everybody enough to have died to save us from ourselves. Bush hates Fags.

11:49 AM  
Blogger WilliamSB said...


You said: "To the first 'Anonymous': You're missing the point. Abortion is intrinsically evil -- meaning it can never be justified.I think you're missing the point. Evil is always evil. Whether or not the evil is intrinsically ascribed to the act makes no difference.

Actually, I've often found myself amused at the insistance, on the part of pro-Bush Catholics in this race, to throw around that phrase "intrinsic evil." It's like somebody taught a new word and everyone is running with it.

When the Catechism was first publicized in the United States, a number of bishops voiced reservations abuot that; arguing that it uses phrases and concepts that could be confusing to laity not exposed to philosophy or theology. I disagreed with those bishops then and I still do. This is a point in those bishops' case, though.

Saying a particular act is "intrinsically evil" does not make it "more evil" than an act we do not say is "instrinsically evil." It only means that the act, by definition, is always and everywhere evil; and that there are no situations where we could say otherwise.

For that matter, abortion, which is intrinsically evil, is just another way of saying, killing a defenseless unborn baby. Killing is not always and everwhere a moral evil, but killing an unborn baby is. Murder -- another way of talking about killing, killing out of malice -- is also aways and everywhere evil.

We do not say an act of war is intrinsically evil because it may be justified; for at least one party to a particular war. But then it also may not be justified. If a war is not justified, and if its execution results in the death of people, it is every much evil as abortion; it is killing with impunity every bit as much as abortion.

Catholics who believe George W. Bush was not honest about why we were going to war -- and that his own motives were wrong -- would be morally wrong not to weigh it as strongly as they weigh the matter of abortion. Ordering an unjustified war that results in the death of people is murder every bit as much murder as abortion.

Catholics who support Bush may honestly believe the war against Iraq was justified. In that case, the war is not an issue for them. But do not cheapen the discussion, or Catholic morality, by implying that evil which is not ascribed as being intrinsic is less than evil.

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I think your spin on this issue is uncalled for. I don't think anyone can directly equate killing unborn/partially born/born babies with the war on terror. The only common thread I can find between those two elements, is the killing component; everything else is different.
Therefore, if you choose to ignore the differences, I would say your argument is disingenous. The details hidden in the differences are what need to be addressed. But this is not a thread on making direct comparisons of this nature- it is a thread on Kerry and his stance on abortion.
I personally will not vote for Kerry, because Jesus hates gays, and I believe in a head-to-head cage match, the Bush/Cheney team trumps the flip-flopping Kerry/Edwards ticket on any sunday. But that is just my opinion, and clearly, this is not the right thread to be discussing that.

1:17 PM  

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