Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Most Reverend Joseph F. Naumann, Most Reverend Robert W. Finn

9/18/2008 (6 years ago)

Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph (www.diocese-kcsj.org/)

"What could possibly be a proportionate reason for the more than 45 million children killed by abortion in the past 35 years? Personally, we cannot conceive of such a proportionate reason."

Archbishop Joseph Naumann has shown tremendous courage in addressing Catholic Governor Kathleen Sebellius who openly defied the teaching of the Church concerning the Right to Life. Similarly, Bishop Robert Finn is deeply respected for his fidelity, courage and committment.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann has shown tremendous courage in addressing Catholic Governor Kathleen Sebellius who openly defied the teaching of the Church concerning the Right to Life. Similarly, Bishop Robert Finn is deeply respected for his fidelity, courage and committment.

Highlights

By Most Reverend Joseph F. Naumann, Most Reverend Robert W. Finn

Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph (www.diocese-kcsj.org/)

9/18/2008 (6 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy


KANSAS CITY, KS (Archdiocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph) - The Most Reverend Joseph F. Naumann and the Most Reverend Robert W. Finn issued a Joint Pastoral Letter to the faithful in Northwestern Missouri and Northeastern Kansas. Catholic Online presents this well reasoned and clear presentation of the teaching of the Catholic Church for all of our readers in our continued effort to equip all Catholics, other Christians and all people of faith and good will to exercise what our U.S.Bishops have rightly called "Faithful Citizenship".

Our Moral Responsibility as Catholic Citizens

Dear Friends in Christ,

With the approaching general election this November, we believe this to be an important moment for us to address together the responsibility of Catholics to be well informed and well formed voters.Except for the election of our next President, the people of Northwestern Missouri and Northeastern Kansas will be choosing different candidates for different offices in our two dioceses. Yet the fundamental moral principles that should guide our choices as Catholic voters are the same.

For generations it has been the determination of Catholic Bishops not to endorse political candidates or parties. This approach was initiated by Archbishop John Carroll – the very first Catholic Bishop serving in the United States. It was long before there was an Internal Revenue Service Code, and had nothing to do with a desire to preserve tax-exempt status. Rather the Church in the United States realized early on that it must not tether the credibility of the Church to the uncertain future actions or statements of a particular politician or party. This understanding of the Church’s proper role in society was affirmed in the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern Word: “The Church, by reason of her role and competence, is not identified with any political community nor bound by its ties to any political system. It is at once the sign and the safeguard of the transcendental dimension of the human person.”(Gaudium et Spes n.76).

A RIGHT TO SPEAK OUT ON ISSUES

At the same time, it is important to note that the Catholic Church in the United States has always cherished its right to speak to the moral issues confronting our nation. The Church has understood its responsibility in a democratic society to do its best to form properly the consciences of her members. In continuity with the long history of the efforts of American Bishops to assist Catholics with the proper formation of their consciences, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) this past November issued a statement: Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. In that document our brother bishops took care to note: “This statement is intended to reflect and complement, not substitute for, the ongoing teachings of bishops in our own dioceses and states.”

It is in this context that we offer the following reflections to assist the Catholic people of Northwestern Missouri and Northeastern Kansas in forming their consciences in preparation for casting their votes this November.

MANY ISSUES: PRUDENTIAL JUDGMENTS

Every Catholic should be concerned about a wide range of issues. We believe in a consistent ethic that evaluates every issue through the prism of its impact on the life and dignity of the human person. Catholics should care about public policies that:

. promote a just and lasting peace in the world,
. protect our nation from terrorism and other security threats,
. welcome and uphold the rights of immigrants,
. enable health care to be accessible and affordable,
. manifest a special concern for the poor by attending to their immediate needs and assisting them to gain economic independence,
. protect the rights of parents to be the primary educators of their children,
. create business and employment opportunities making it possible for individuals to be able to provide for their own material needs and the needs of their families,
. reform the criminal justice system by providing better for the needs of the victims of crimes, protecting the innocent, administering justice fairly, striving to rehabilitate inmates, and eliminating the death penalty,
. foster a proper stewardship of the earth that God has entrusted to our care.
This is by no means an exhaustive list.

While the above issues, as well as many others, have important moral dimensions, Catholics may and do disagree about the most effective public policies for responding to them. How these issues are best addressed and what particular candidates are best equipped to address them requires prudential judgments – defined as circumstances in which people can ethically reach different conclusions. Catholics have an obligation to study, reflect and pray over the relative merits of the different policy approaches proposed by candidates. Catholics have a special responsibility to be well informed regarding the guidance given by the Church pertaining to the moral dimensions of these matters. In the end, Catholics in good conscience can disagree in their judgments about many aspects of the best policies and the most effective candidates.

THE PRIORITY OF REJECTING INTRINSIC EVIL

There are, however, some issues that always involve doing evil, such as legalized abortion, the promotion of same-sex unions and ‘marriages,’ repression of religious liberty, as well as public policies permitting euthanasia, racial discrimination or destructive human embryonic stem cell research.A properly formed conscience must give such issues priority even over other matters with important moral dimensions. To vote for a candidate who supports these intrinsic evils because he or she supports these evils is to participate in a grave moral evil. It can never be justified.

Even if we understand the moral dimensions of the full array of social issues and have correctly prioritized those involving intrinsic evils, we still must make prudential judgments in the selection of candidates. In an ideal situation, we may have a choice between two candidates who both oppose public policies that involve intrinsic evils. In such a case, we need to study their approach on all the other issues that involve the promotion of the dignity of the human person and prayerfully choose the best individual.

LIMITING GRAVE EVIL

In another circumstance, we may be confronted with a voting choice between two candidates who support abortion, though one may favor some limitations on it, or he or she may oppose public funding for abortion. In such cases, the appropriate judgment would be to select the candidate whose policies regarding this grave evil will do less harm. We have a responsibility to limit evil if it is not possible at the moment to eradicate it completely.

The same principle would be compelling to a conscientious voter who was confronted with two candidates who both supported same-sex unions, but one opposed abortion and destructive embryonic research while the other was permissive in these regards. The voter, who himself or herself opposed these policies, would have insuf¬ficient moral justification voting for the more permissive candidate. However, he or she might justify resorting to a write-in vote or abstaining from voting at all in this case, because of a conscientious objection.

In 2004 a group of United States Bishops, acting on behalf of the USCCB and requesting counsel about the responsibilities of Catholic politicians and voters, received a memo from the office of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, which stated:
“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 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.”

Could a Catholic in good conscience vote for a candidate who supports legalized abortion when there is a choice of another candidate who does not support abortion or any other intrinsically evil policy? Could a voter’s preference for the candidate’s positions on the pursuit of peace, economic policies benefiting the poor, support for universal health care, a more just immigration policy, etc. overcome a candidate’s support for legalized abortion? In such a case, the Catholic voter must ask and answer the question: What could possibly be a proportionate reason for the more than 45 million children killed by abortion in the past 35 years? Personally, we cannot conceive of such a proportionate reason.

TIME FOR CATHOLICS TO EXERCISE MORAL LEADERSHIP

The number of Catholics and the percentage of Catholics in the United States have never been greater. There has never been a moment in our nation’s history when more Catholics served in elective office, presided in our courts or held other positions of power and authority. It would be wrong for us to use our numbers and influence to try to compel others to accept our religious and theological beliefs. However, it would be equally wrong for us to fail to be engaged in the greatest human rights struggle of our time, namely the need to protect the right to life of the weakest and most vulnerable.

We need committed Catholics in both major political parties to insist upon respect for the values they share with so many other people of faith and good will regarding the protection of the sanctity of human life, the upholding of the institution of marriage between a man and a woman as the foundation of family life, as well as the protection of religious liberty and conscience rights. It is particularly disturbing to witness the spectacle of Catholics in public life vocally upset with the Church for teaching what it has always taught on these moral issues for 2,000 years, but silent in objecting to the embrace, by either political party, of the cultural trends of the past few decades that are totally inconsistent with our nation’s history of defending the weakest and most vulnerable.

Thank you for taking time to consider these reflections on applying the moral principles that must guide our choices as voters. We are called to be faithful Catholics and loyal Americans. In fact, we can only be good citizens if we allow ourselves to be informed by the unchanging moral principles of our Catholic faith. .

Most Reverend Joseph F. Naumann,
Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas

Most Reverend Robert W. Finn,
Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Politics & Policy

Social Security numbers issued to more than half a million illegal immigrants in U.S. Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The cornerstone to lawful employment to labor in the United States, it has been recently revealed that more than half a million illegal immigrants - or 541,000 illegal aliens. This disheartening statistic has been revealed by Carolyn Colvin, acting commissioner ... continue reading


Hillary Clinton caught in shameful lie on family's history Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As Hillary Clinton continues to shape her platform for presidency, she is reported as boasting her family's immigration history. During one of her first speeches as an official candidate, Clinton said that "all her grandparents had immigrated to the United States," ... continue reading


Federal government sets all-time record for tax revenue Watch

Image of We will not know how much additional tax revenue the Treasury pulled in until it releases its next daily statement tomorrow afternoon. Every dollar of it will add to the new record.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Tax day has arrived - and with the close of business on April 14, the Treasury brought in a record $1,477,901,000,000 since fiscal 2015. Began on October 1, 2014, these figures are courtesy of the Daily Treasury Statement. Despite this record tax revenue, the ... continue reading


INSANE: U.S. federal tax code is 74,608 pages long! Watch

Image of If the tax code continues to grow at the same pace it did over the last century, it will pass 100,000 pages in 2050.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

If you had your taxes professionally prepared this year, you may now fully appreciate what your accountant or cleric did for you this year. The U.S. federal tax code is a whopping 74,608 pages long! Try to imagine trying to digest all the nuances that go along ... continue reading


'We're in uncharted territory here' U.S. official admits ISIS' reign of terror is crushing Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The U.S.-led coalition against ISIS continues, now with 62 countries working to put an end to ISIS. Canada has become the latest country to shoot airstrikes against ISIS. The fight against ISIS is being described as "off the charts historically." LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Who are Hillary Clinton's supporters? Well not women, and not young Americans: A look into Clinton's shocking Facebook following Watch

Image of Hillary Clinton is the favored Democratic candidate for the presidency in 2016, but Facebook demographics show she may have a long way to go.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Hillary Clinton is the de facto face of the Democrat party's aspirations for the presidency in 2016, but you wouldn't know that by looking at her Facebook pages. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The single largest percentage of Clinton's fans aren't even from ... continue reading


Lois Lerner emails expose secretive IRS warnings Watch

Image of The lower-level employees

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Former director of Exempt Organizations Unit at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Lois Lerner is reported as warning other IRS officials to manage the lower-level employees written conversations in 2013. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Lerner resigned from the ... continue reading


Rubio steps into spotlight for 2016 run Watch

Image of Florida Senator Marco Rubio will officially announce his intent to seek the Republican nomination for the president today, following months of speculation.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The question over which Republican will be the next to announce their intent to run for the nomination in 2016 has been answered, as Marco Rubio joins Senator Ted Cruz and Rand Paul in the race which will soon be flooded with even more competitors. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


COLD WAR NO MORE? U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro meet Watch

Image of Obama and Castro greeted each other courteously amid an explosion of camera flashes Friday night. The two sat at the same table but not directly next to one another.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The United States and Cuba may not be the best of friends, but the meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro this past weekend marks a turning point in international relations. It was the first time that leaders from both ... continue reading


Putting the big bite on the top 20 percent: Unlucky few pay 84 percent of all U.S. income taxes Watch

Image of The U.S. federal income tax system is very progressive - higher income groups pay increasingly higher tax rates, and therefore disproportionately higher and higher shares of the total income taxes collected.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Who pays what in income taxes? According to a study in the Wall Street Journal, only 20 percent of all U.S. taxpayers pay 84 percent of all taxes owed. How does every day, ordinary taxpayer fit into this schema? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Individual ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 6:8-15
8 Stephen was filled with grace and power and began ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:23-24, 26-27, 29-30
23 Though princes sit plotting against me, your ... Read More

Gospel, John 6:22-29
22 Next day, the crowd that had stayed on the other ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 20th, 2015 Image

St. Marian
April 20: When St. Mamertinus was Abbot of the monastery which St. ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter