A response to 'Catholics for Democracy'
I guess my emphasis over the last week or so on the issue of "proportionate reasons" has bothered some folks over at Catholics for Democracy. hugetim raises some points I wish to address.
First, he writes, "that Cardinal Ratzinger has not, in fact, reiterated that Catholic teaching does not prohibit pro-life Catholics from voting for pro-[abortion] candidates." In none of my writings or posts has it been claimed that Catholics are prohibited from voting for pro-abortion candidates. There are some scenarios where a Catholic could vote for a pro-abortion candidate. Examples of such scenarios have been provided by Jimmy Akins, Father Frank Pavone, and Bishop Rene Henry Gracida. But, given the positions of our two presidential candidates, this campaign does NOT present itself as one of these scenarios. Given the differences between President Bush and Senator Kerry on abortion and the Church's consistent teaching on the grave sinfulness of supporting abortion, it is difficult to give any reasons which would allow it to be considered not sinful for a Catholic to vote for Senator Kerry. I challenge hugetim to name the "proportionate reasons" which he thinks would permit a Catholic to vote for Senator Kerry. It is one thing to write that I am wrong and another to point out why he thinks so.
Next, take the following statement, "the bald-faced lie that Ratzinger (or some other Vatican authority) specified that proportionate reasons can only be abortion related." Okay, let's look at the nota bene again from the Ratzinger memo,
[N.B. 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. When a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favour 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.]
And here's more from the memo proper,
The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin.
Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia.
I guess Cardinal Ratzinger is the liar? Am I missing something here?
Next, hugetim writes, "only peripheral abortion issues are at stake, which clearly do not dominate other issues." Abortion not on the table? Maybe the two candidates have not emphasized their positions on abortion, but to many voters, esp. Catholics, their positions are important. (In fact, Senator Kerry's views may be affecting voters in some battleground states.) And as stated above by Cardindal Ratzinger himself, "[n]ot all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion" I have been arguing that there are more than just "peripheral abortion issues" involved here. Though we may wish more could be done to end abortion, Catholics must look to what would happen under a Kerry presidency. We would likely see moves to:
- require hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, to make abortion readily available
- require medical students to learn how to perform abortions
- do away with conscience clauses, so doctors and nurses opposed to abortion, would be forced to perform them or risk losing their jobs
- require more institutions to cover abortifacient contraceptives in health insurance plans
- use federal money to promote and pay for abortions here and around the world
- appoint only federal judges (and Supreme Court justices) who would uphold the Roe decision
As well, all progress on the federal level in regards to parental notification/consent laws, informed consent laws, partial birth abortion laws, other pro-life legislation, and an increased emphasis and funding on abstinence education would all be halted and likely reversed. This may look "peripheral" to some, but in the fight to build a Culture of Life in this country, a Kerry presidency would be a great defeat. After reading this, how could one think otherwise?
As for my supposed distortion of Catholic Just War theory, I am unsure about where I am distoring or "dissenting" from it. Point out where exactly and I would be happy to address it and expand my views, esp. in regards to how the Bush administration decided to go to war and wage it. There are great resources out there (Ratzinger Fan Club, Bishop Fulton Sheen, St Thomas Aquinas, Catholic Encyclopedia, Catholic Just War.org, Catechism, George Weigel, Michael Novak) and I reference them when I do write about it. To suggest that I dissent from this teaching (and supposedly others) because I rarely write or comment on it (and others) is mistaken. (Browse all my posts to see what I write about. Your characterization of the Catholics for Bush blog seems malicious and a cheap way to discredit it. Nice try though.)
I would like to comment on a few statements hugetim makes on the war in Iraq. I would like to remind him that the only reason inspectors were back in Iraq (after being kicked out in the late 1990s) was because of the serious threat of force from the United States.
Were the Iraqi's really "fully cooperating"? I would say that is very much up to debate. If they were and they had nothing to hide then why did they just not open up their country to the inspectors and answer all their questions? Not one Kerry Catholic has ever answered this. It is not difficult to wonder why.
As well, to suggest that four more weeks would have shown that there were no WMDs is misleading. It took MONTHS to show that the intelligence was either wrong or that these weapons were moved (to Syria, Iran) or still remain hidden. And we continue to look even now. How one thinks four more weeks would have solved this is a mystery.
As for the death tolls in Iraq, hugetim claims to "have seen the numbers". Please share them. Show us that the 4000+ daily abortions in this country pale in comparison to the lives lost in Iraq. Even if the numbers favored his argument, he is missing the point. Abortion is about the taking of an innocent human being. George Weigel puts it one way that 'Catholics for
Democracy' might understand:
Why does the Church stress the priority of the life issues? Because it is always a grave evil to take the life of an innocent human being. Because the rule of law is jeopardized and the public moral culture that makes democracy possible is corrupted when moral wrongs are declared "rights." Because democracy cannot long endure when one class of citizens arrogates to itself the "right" to declare other human beings outside the community of common protection and concern.
In the end, we all must remember what Archbishop John Meyers recently wrote on the Just War debate,
Although Pope John Paul II pleaded for an alternative to the use of military force to meet the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, he did not bind the conscience of Catholics to agree with his judgment on the matter, nor did he say that it would be morally wrong for Catholic soldiers to participate in the war. In line with the teaching of the catechism on "just war," he recognized that a final judgment of prudence as to the necessity of military force rests with statesmen, not with ecclesiastical leaders. Catholics may, in good conscience, support the use of force in Iraq or oppose it.
I look forward to a response.