Straight Guy with the Catholic Eye: Is it morally licit to vote for the 'lesser evil'?
By Matt Abbott
I recently received an e-mail in response to a commentary of mine that was posted in May, titled "'Catholic' John Kerry's 'Seamless Garment'" (see www.catholic.org/featured/headline.php?ID=945).
The response was directed at this paragraph in particular:
"Now I realize that President Bush is far from perfect. But he is the better of the two. The 'lesser evil,' if you will. Should a faithful Catholic vote for the 'lesser evil'? Is it always wise to do so? That's debatable. Such a vote, though, is in accord with Catholic teaching."
After a few brief yet courteous exchanges, I received a very thoughtful and pointed "final response."
The following is the text of that e-mail, sent to me by Marcus Thompson and Janet Thompson, MA, of the Fides Foundation (www.fidesfoundation.org):
"Thank you again.
"If we are to rely exclusively on Section 73 of [Pope John Paul II's encyclical) Evangelium Vitae for Magisterial teaching on the topic of voting for political candidates who espouse abortion in some instances (the most common being rape, incest, and 'the life of the mother'), we would need to expand its scope to encompass the voter as well as the politician.
"Certainly, if the Holy Father had intended for us to do this, would he not have expressly stated that such application was indeed appropriate? Surely he is fully aware of the gravity of the present matter; and would have had no compunction about engaging the topic cogently and explicitly. It would have been well out of character for him to have omitted such a salient point from his teaching if, indeed, he had intended for it to be engaged in such manner.
"In any event, the Church seems to have never explicitly weighed in on the topic; there is no Magisterial teaching which will expressly support the actions of a voting populace that perpetuates a dominant paradigm which equivocates on the application of the Fifth Commandment, 'You shall not kill.' Therefore, absent such explicit Magisterial teaching on the topic, we must take recourse directly to the Commandment itself, and all that it implies for us under the circumstances. As we all know, no degree of sin is allowable under the Commandment. Our individual opinions and interpretations are completely irrelevant.
"Irrespective of who we are, to authoritatively represent 'the lesser of two evils' viewpoint as 'Church teaching' in this matter is to assert oneself over the Holy See; and is to effectively misrepresent the authentic teaching of Section 73 of Evangelium Vitae to an already confused faithful.
"The central substance of this topic reminds one of a quote from Catholic intellectual Edmund Burke: 'The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.' Notice that the writer does not say '...(not) do whatever seems good under the conditions,' but '...nothing.' Indeed, he was not pointing us to innovation or compromise; rather to recourse to our spiritual duties in fidelity to Christ and His Church under any given circumstance.
"We can learn a lot from the Saints in this regard. Even when confronted with the possibility of martyrdom, their fidelity consistently remained to Christ and the Magesterium. In some instances, these people had the sick, the poor, orphans, or other mortally-dependent charges in their care. Yet, not one gave in to sin for the purpose of saving themselves that those in their charge would be looked after. And, surely, in some instances this meant that those entrusted to them by God suffered death as a consequence.
"Again, we call these people Saints.
"So truly, what are we to do in situations where the degree of evil is to be measured by circumstances which surround all seemingly reasonable action? Think outside the box. Pray fervently for the Mercy of the Holy Spirit to be on all who participate in the evil at hand; that they may instead follow the Good Shepherd to His pastures of truth and moral clarity.
"There are countless millions of us Catholics in this country. If our esteemed leaders were doing their jobs and forming our brethren rightly and in accord with the authentic teachings of the Church, the culture of death itself would never have emerged in the first place. We would not be having this correspondence.
"So, indeed, we should pray for them most earnestly, and do whatever we can -- no matter how small -- to bring the Light of Christ to our brothers and sisters in this age of darkness. This is our responsibility before God.
"It is trite, but this statement just seems to fit:
"WWJD - What would Jesus do?"
Matt Abbott - Author,
Catholic, Abbott, politics, abortion
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- Adorable girl captured stealing Pope Francis' hat in hilarious ...
- Pope Francis defends millennials, but warns them about too much ...
- Daily Readings for Thursday, March 23, 2017
- St. Toribio Alfonso de Mogrovejo: Saint of the Day for Thursday, ...
- 'Living Lent': Thursday of the Third Week of Lent - Day 23
- Daily Reading for Friday, March 24th, 2017 HD Video
- ISIS deploys child soldiers to keep Christians from returning to Mosul
- hail holy queen
- saint elizabeth
- saint paul
- saint christopher
- st mary
- nicene creed
- our lady of guadalupe
- saint francis of assisi
- young children
- Saint Nicole
- st. michael
- saint francis
- st nicholas
- all saints day
- list of saints
- st anne
- st christopher
- St. Joseph
- juan diego
- Supreme court nominee faces tough questions on religious freedom during confirmation hearings HD
- Christ's tomb reveals surprise after restoration HD
- Peruvian woman miraculously survives deadly mudslide HD
- Daily Reading for Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 HD
Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.