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Should Catholics Vote For 'Dubya'?

By Matt Abbott

Mike Day of Tallahassee, FL is, like yours truly, fed up with Catholics who vote for pro-abortion candidates. He writes:

“I've read many of your editorials concerning the 2004 election and its implications but I am continually frustrated with the opposition…Given the very nature of a democratic election, we can never expect the Magisterium to tell us who to elect.

“The social contract that all Americans, regardless of backgrounds and faiths, enter into requires every individual within to be guided by a deep and sincere contemplation of the ‘good’ and this also must be freely chosen by them. This is the very essence of democracy. And for the Magisterium, as an entity, to usurp the freedom of the individuals in these regards and tell us who to vote for is never appropriate.

“What most of the Catholic laity forget is that while they are guided, and in a very limited sense ‘ruled,’ by the Magisterium in regards to their Catholic practices and faith, they are also at the same time ruled by the greater natural law and the authority of God which, as is most evident during the Middle Ages, can sometimes trump the decrees of any man or the even the Holy Church at times.

“It is for this reason that I have become increasingly frustrated with Catholics who believe that the Church's neutral stance legitimizes their vote for a pro-choice candidate. The fact of the matter is that the bishops couldn’t tell you who to vote for even if they wanted to.

“In recognition of our true political freedom, the Church will never tell us who specifically to elect. But, this does not mean we can vote for any person we want without moral reprehension.

“Since our election of a president requires that we, as Catholics, freely choose a candidate in observance of the good, we must do so in complete submission to Natural Law and the authority of God. The Church's job is to reveal this natural law to us, and let us make our decision from there. It is almost a ‘wink, wink, nudge, nudge’ approach.

“The problem is that we've reached a point where the Catholic Church cannot ‘nudge’ us anymore. The Church has clearly stated time and time again that abortion is by far the greatest evil we have ever faced. In fact, the problem of abortion far surpasses poverty, AIDS, divorce, capital punishment, and even war, in that it attacks the very foundation of humanity….

“In light of our understanding of the Church's role in guiding us in our electoral process without actually telling us who to vote for, let us consider what the Church has said to ‘nudge’ us in the right direction this election year:

“1) Belief in capital punishment, while a present day [but not intrinsic] evil, is not necessarily heresy and thus does not warrant the severe penalty of excommunication;

“2) Belief in the Iraqi war, while denounced by the Pope, still can be dissented from and does not warrant the severe penalty of excommunication;

“3) Belief in abortion is a heresy, a terrible, inexcusable evil, and always warrants the severe penalty of excommunication. [According to the Code of Canon Law, ‘a person who procures a completed abortion incurs an automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication.’]

“The choice is quite simple….”

I then asked Mike, “Would you recommend that faithful Catholics vote for Bush?”

His response: “I would have to reluctantly say yes. I believe a faithful Catholic should vote for Bush.”

But Janet M. Thompson of the Fides Foundation (, also fed up with Catholics who vote for pro-abortion candidates, would not recommend that faithful Catholics vote for Bush. Why? Because Bush is not unconditionally pro-life; he allows for exceptions. And to not a few faithful Catholics, that’s pro-abortion.

Writes Janet: “There is no explicit Magisterial teaching giving the moral ‘green light’ to the faithful to vote for pro-abortion candidates….The notion of ‘choosing the lesser evil’ is simply not valid – one may never licitly choose evil. As Pope Paul VI stated, ‘Although it is true that it is at times lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater or in order to promote a greater good, it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it….’

“Appealing to ‘proportional cause’ to justify voting for pro-abortion candidates is erroneous; whatever good may have been gained from such a practice is far, far outweighed by the evil, not only the killing of the innocent, but the steady deterioration of the moral fabric of society – moral compromise does not build strength, it only spawns greater compromise.

“Given the above, the liceity of voting for pro-abortion candidates cannot be ...

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