Thursday, September 16, 2004

A Detroit priest weighs in on Ratzinger memo

Fr Paul Ward of the Archdiocese of Detroit writes about the scandal the Detoit Free Press and others are causing with what he seems to think is blantant misrepresenation.
The letter of Cardinal Ratzinger, and the Detroit Free Press

On the front page of the Detroit Free Press, on Tuesday, September 7, 2004, a headline read, "Catholics allowed to vote for pro-choice candidate." See article here. With all due respect to Patricia Montemurri, this was a case of irresponsible journalism, on two counts: first, the misrepresentation of what the Church has to say, and second, the fact that she refers to a memo written about two and a half months ago as if this is somehow today's news. I'm sure the second reason was well planned timing by the Free Press so as to win more votes, by deception, for Presidential Candidate Kerry.

I was wondering whether the letter she was referring to was the one sent in early June in 2004, to Washington's Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick. (I have reproduced that letter here on my own web site for the facility of the reader, click here.) So I called her at the Free Press. Her voice mail was full, so I got to an assistant who took my message, phone and e-mail in the most courteous way. But said letter or memo fits the profile of her article, so it's reasonable to assume she referred to that very one. The fact that she didn't even once quote textually the article made me even more suspicious.

Further making me doubt her words were the teachings of Pope John Paul II where he says, "To refuse to take part in committing an injustice is not only a moral duty; it is also a basic human right" (EV, 74), referring directly and explicitly to those who are tempted to collaborate with evil for accidental, circumstantial or personal reasons.

At the end of Cardinal Ratzinger's six point letter, there is a small N.B. stating that "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."

Pope John Paul II wrote in the Encyclical Evangelum Vitae (The Gospel of Life) on this topic already, explaining some of those proportionate reasons:

"A particular problem of conscience can arise in cases where a legislative vote would be decisive for the passage of a more restrictive law, aimed at limiting the number of authorized abortions, in place of a more permissive law already passed or ready to be voted on. Such cases are not infrequent. It is a fact that while in some parts of the world there continue to be campaigns to introduce laws favouring abortion, often supported by powerful international organizations, in other nations-particularly those which have already experienced the bitter fruits of such permissive legislation-there are growing signs of a rethinking in this matter. In a case like the one just mentioned, when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects." (EV, 73)

In fact, the Pope states clearly that it is never morally good to vote in favor of permitting abortions:

"This is what is happening also at the level of politics and government: the original and inalienable right to life is questioned or denied on the basis of a parliamentary vote or the will of one part of the people-even if it is the majority. This is the sinister result of a relativism which reigns unopposed: the 'right' ceases to be such, because it is no longer firmly founded on the inviolable dignity of the person, but is made subject to the will of the stronger part." (EV, 20)

He goes on to clarify:

"In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to "take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it." (EV, 73, citing Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration on Procured Abortion (18 November 1974), No. 22: AAS 66 (1974), 744)

In summary, Cardinal Ratzinger did not say what Ms. Montemurri claims he has. No, Catholics may not vote "pro-choice." Indeed, it is not pro-choice, it is pro-abortion. The child has no choice, and the mother, father and whoever never have the choice or option of killing an innocent child.

Further reflection on this matter may be found in a superb essay from Dr. Robert Fastiggi, which I have published here.

Similar misunderstandings were construed from something Bishop Burke said, and he seems to be preparing a response. CNS has an article that discusses this response, which can be read here.

In this week's homily I addressed the question of why abortion is morally evil, and articulating why it Catholics may not, by Church teaching and law, vote for pro-abortion political candidates, save the extreme cases alluded to in Ratzinger's N.B. and in Pope John Paul II's Evangelium Vitae paragraph 73. I didn't get as much time as I wanted to polish it up, but the basic argument is there.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Abortion Numbers:
1.4 Million

Deaths Caused by Smoking:
22 Million

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are comparing abortion to people that CHOOSE TO SMOKE!! Shame on you!! We as Catholics have an obligation to protect the innocent and the oppressed. I don't see any oppression with regards to smoking. You are comparing murder to smoking. What is wrong with you?

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well you see, tobacco is evil- it causes death. It should be outlawed. It's a greater evil because it causes more death than abortions. In fact, it causes 15 times more death than abortions every year! Are you saying that we should outlaw abortions, but leave NOT outlaw tobacco?

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With that logic we should outlaw cars, and hotdogs and motorcycles. Abortion kills an innocent child. A child that has no choice in the matter. Smoking is a clear choice, and there is a warning right on the package. What kind of a society are you imagining? By the way there is no guarentee if you smoke that you will get sick and die, but there is with abortion.

5:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, you see, cigarettes are a drug, so it falls in a category DIFFERENT from cars/hotdogs/motorcycles. As such, it should be regulated by the FDA. As well, it is addictive, as much or more than say, cocaine or heroine. It certainly kills 22 million people annually, although you seem to think there's no guarantee, our government tells us it DOES kill 22 million. Why aren't you up in arms about 22 million deaths? Is it all about 'choice'?

6:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comparing smoking deaths to abortion deaths is wrong on so many levels that I don't think I could analyze them all, but I'll try to hit some major ones:

1. People don't die from smoking; rather, they die from the long-term effects it has on the body. Anyone can survive smoking one cigarette. How many fetuses survive one abortion?

2. The causative agent is different. People choose to smoke; fetuses don't choose to be aborted.

3. The Catholic Church has not made a pronouncement on the morality of smoking as she has on abortion.

4. As far as I'm aware, none of the candidates for president are encouraging people to smoke, so a false dichotomy is being drawn here.

The moderators here really need to install some filter that removes unreasoned comments....

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. People don't die from smoking; rather, they die from the long-term effects it has on the body. Anyone can survive smoking one cigarette. How many fetuses survive one abortion?

So, do slow and painful deaths matter less than quick and abrupt ones?

2. The causative agent is different. People choose to smoke; fetuses don't choose to be aborted.

Woman chooses to have an abortion, woman chooses to smoke, perhaps both at the same time, while doing crack. Is that wrong?

3. The Catholic Church has not made a pronouncement on the morality of smoking as she has on abortion.

The Church has made alot of pronouncements; if you are a woman and writing this, I'd advise you to wait and listen more, talk a bit less, just like our good Pope told us recently.

4. As far as I'm aware, none of the candidates for president are encouraging people to smoke, so a false dichotomy is being drawn here.

False dichotomy? Is that like, hey we should go murder people in Iraq because we are fighting a war on terror, and like, they are terror. Or is it more like, hey we should vote against Kerry because Bush killed more people in prisons and in Iraq but somehow he is pro-life.

Yes, my reasonings are flawed and well, not so reasonable. But neither is the 'no abortion fixes every damn thing in America' stance that this silly website proposes. Not EVERY damn problem can be fixed by not aborting raped woman's fetus'. Like for intstance, our humongous deficit that EVERYONE must pay for- will less killed babies help that problem? How about the fact that this administration stirred up a hornets nest in the middle-east, and that lots of people are getting killed with lots more to come for an indefinite period of time? Will not aborting babies fix that problem?

12:01 PM  

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