Skip to main content


Straight Guy with the Catholic Eye: Is it morally licit to vote for the 'lesser evil'?


7/14/2004 - 11:51 PM PST

Advertisment

By Matt Abbott
Op/Ed

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?”

Thoughts, anyone?

Contact

Matt Abbott
  IL, US
Matt Abbott - Author, 

Email

mattcabbott@CatholicExchange.com

Keywords

Catholic, Abbott, politics, abortion

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article

0 Comments

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment

Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 18:1-2, 21-23; 19:1-3, 9
After this, I saw another angel come down from heaven, with ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 100:2, 3, 4, 5
serve Yahweh with gladness, come into his presence with songs ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:20-28
'When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you must ... Read More

Saint of the Day

November 27 Saint of the Day

St. James Intercisus
November 27: James was a favorite of King Yezdigerd I of Persia and a ... Read More