Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

9/5/2012 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It is in the area of intrinsic evils where the comparison of Ryan and Biden as a 'tale of two Catholics', falls apart.

Given Joe Biden's support for what his Church has identified as intrinsic evils - and thereby persistently against the common good - and given Paul Ryan's position consistent with the indisputable and unchangeable teachings of his Church on these issues, it seems that what is involved is not a "Tale of Two Catholics" but rather a tale of one Catholic and one . . . well, whatever we call him, it is something considerably less than Catholic. An intrinsic evil is always against the common good, regardless of the circumstances.  No Catholic politician can advance an intrinsic evil.

Highlights

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/5/2012 (4 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Paul Ryan, Joe Biden, abortion, homosexual, marriage, gay, right to life, pro-choice, intrinsic evil, Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - This election season we are presented with some fundamental contrasts on a whole series of levels, politics, economy, health care, and so forth.  But perhaps no contrast is more interesting than the contrast between two supposedly Catholic vice presidential candidates, the Republican Representative Paul Ryan and the current Vice President, the Democrat Joe Biden. 

Numerous articles have been written on the face-off between these two under the title, "A Tale of Two Catholics," for example, the Huffington Post, the Washington Post, the Underground, and CBN News.

Now political differences are political differences, and they ordinarily do not touch on fundamental matters of faith and morals.  This is because politics, which has classically been defined as the art of the possible, is, in the main, involved in prudential decisions. 

There simply is no "one right answer," much less "one right Catholic answer," when it comes to issues relating to elements of social welfare, the budget, health care and assuring access to it, and similar matters that relate to the common good.  People can have all sorts of opinions--all of them very probably valid--regarding the proper application of Catholic Social Doctrine's main principles such as solidarity, subsidiarity, the preferential option for the poor, and so forth.

Ordinarily, therefore, it is in bad faith to demonize your political opponent by suggesting he is being untrue to Catholic social or doctrinal principles merely because he has a political opinion different than yours.  Where prudential decisions are involved, I would go so far as to say that it is always in bad faith to suggest your opponent is untrue or unfaithful at the level of doctrine.  Here, the saying often erroneously attributed to St. Augustine, but actually stemming from the 16th century Archbishop of Split, Marco Antonio de Dominis, applies: "In necessary things unity; in doubtful things liberty; in all things charity."

In matters of prudence, we truly can have a tale of two Catholics.

But the general rule does not always apply, and we might say it is subject to an exception when there is an intrinsic evil involved.  No Catholic politician can advance an intrinsic evil, for the simple reason that no person can, in the exercise of prudence, advance an intrinsic evil as something that is in the common good. 

An intrinsic evil is always against the common good, regardless of the circumstances.  At best, they ought to be worked against.  At worst, one may have to tolerate an intrinsic evil because to extirpate it would cost more good than good gained through its suppression, or cause more evil than the evil reduced by its suppression. 

For this reason, St. Thomas Aquinas famously stated that prostitution--an intrinsic evil if there ever was one--may have to be tolerated, since "in human government," there may be instances where "those who are in authority rightly tolerate certain evils, lest certain goods be lost, or certain evils be incurred: thus Augustine says: 'If you do away with harlots, the world will be convulsed with lust.'"

Whether an intrinsic evil ought, in a given civil society, be suppressed or tolerated is generally a prudential decision which would depend upon the evil involved, the virtue of the population, its legal traditions, its homogeneity, and other pertinent circumstances. 

Some intrinsic evils, however, cannot be tolerated without an abrogation of the government's legitimacy.  A government that tolerates rape, incest, torture, murder, or genocide, for example--and one must here include abortion--for example, has serious questions as to its continued legitimacy. Failure to support the natural institution of marriage is another such abrogation which puts into question a government's legitimacy.

But toleration of an intrinsic evil in those circumstances where it may be warranted is something altogether different than promotion or support of an intrinsic evil.

And it is in the area of intrinsic evils where the comparison of Ryan and Biden as a "tale of two Catholics," falls apart. 

This is because there are some areas where Biden promotes (and does not merely advocate toleration of) things the Church considers to be intrinsic evils, something no Catholic can in any circumstances do.  And he tolerates things no government ought ever to tolerate without the loss of legitimacy.  Ryan, on the other hand, has never, so far as I know, advanced or promoted something the Church considers an intrinsic evil.

There are two such areas that might be pointed out: abortion and homosexual "marriage."

First, indisputably and without doubt, the Church teaches that abortion is an intrinsic evil.  The Church also teaches that homosexual sexual acts, which are legitimized in homosexual "marriage," are indisputably and without doubt intrinsic evils.  Therefore, Catholic lawmakers are morally compelled to express opposition to any laws that legitimate abortion and homosexual "marriage," and publicly to vote against laws that would promote in any way abortion or homosexual "marriage." 

What are Biden's views regarding these two intrinsic evils? 

Well, we might just let him speak:

Biden on abortion: "My position is that I am personally opposed to abortion, but I don't think I have a right to impose my view on the rest of society.  I've thought a lot about it, and my position probably doesn't please anyone.  I think the government should stay out completely.  I will not vote to overturn the Court's decision [in Roe v. Wade].  I will not vote to curtain a woman's right to choose an abortion." 

(N.B. Of course, if a woman has a "right," then the state must enforce that right, so for him to stay that the "government should stay out completely" is a falsehood or at least absolutely inconsistent with his prior statements.)

Biden on same-sex "marriage":  "I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties.  And quite frankly, I don't see much of a distinction--beyond that."

Now compare Ryan:

Ryan on abortion: "I cannot believe any official or citizen can still defend the notion that an unborn human being has no rights that an older person is bound to respect."  "How long can we sustain our commitment to freedom if we continue to deny the very foundation of freedom--life--for the most vulnerable human beings?"

Ryan on same-sex "marriage":  "I believe that marriage should remain between a man and a woman, and I have heard from many of the people I represent who are concerned about activist judges abusing their power and rewriting our society's definition of marriage."

Given Joe Biden's support for what his Church has identified as intrinsic evils persistently against the common good, and given Paul Ryan's position consistent with the indisputable and unchangeable teachings of his Church on these issues, it seems that what is involved is not a "Tale of Two Catholics," but rather a tale of one Catholic and one . . . well, something considerably less than Catholic.

-----

Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at agreenwell@harris-greenwell.com.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for SEPTEMBER 2016
Universal:
Centrality of the Human Person: That each may contribute to the common good and to the building of a society that places the human person at the center.
Evangelization: Mission to Evangelize: That by participating in the Sacraments and meditating on Scripture, Christians may become more aware of their mission to evangelize.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

Planned Parenthood prepares to attack Gov. McCrory and state Republicans Watch

Image of Planned Parenthood is attacking the people and governor of North Carolina in hopes of winning the state for Clinton.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

North Carolina is a battleground state and Planned Parenthood is about to spend millions on a media blitz intended to give Hillary Clinton the lead. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Planned Parenthood wants to be inside your womb and your restroom. The anti-life ... continue reading


Faith was barely mentioned at the debate - Should Catholics be worried? Watch

Image of Why wasn't faith mentioned during the debate?

By Matt Hadro (CNA)

There were few direct statements about faith by the two presidential candidates in Monday's debate. But that is not necessarily a cause for worry, Catholic analysts said. Washington D.C. (CNA) - Monday's event was only "the first of three presidential debates," noted ... continue reading


DEVELOPING: Was Clinton wearing a secret device during the debate? Evidence emerges Watch

Image of Was Hillary Clinton still using a hearing device or something else during the debate?

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Was Hillary Clinton wearing a medical device during her debate with Donald Trump? A series of pictures has emerged that show her wearing a device of some sort. The device appears to be a microphone, but there are some questions that can be raised. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Clinton and Trump clash in first debate - and a BIG prediction is made Watch

Image of Both candidates were cordial the before and after the debate, but these exchanged sharp accusations during the debate. Trump appeared more reserved than his usual self.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Clinton and Trump faced off in their first presidential debate. Most experts are saying Clinton won the debate, but the informal online polls all award the debate to Donald Trump. Trump appeared strong yet angry, while Clinton appeared poised. The debate is the first ... continue reading


A Catholic guide to Clinton and Trump - which candidate is closer to the Church in their stated positions? Watch

Image of With 20 percent of the population, Catholics represent a major voting bloc in the United States.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Tonight Hillary Clinton will debate against Donald Trump in the first of three presidential debates. There are plenty of debate previews to read, but none are tailored for Catholics. What should Catholics look for in tonight's debate? LOS ANGELES, CA (California ... continue reading


SMART MOVE: Donald Trump appoints 33 Catholic leaders to advise him on policy matters Watch

Image of

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Donald Trump has named a list of 33 Catholics to a Catholic Advisory Group to offer him ongoing policy recommendations on matters of concern to Catholics and other Christians. Included on the list is Deacon Keith Fournier, the Editor in Chief of Catholic Online. LOS ... continue reading


Donald Trump commits to fight abortion! Letter sent to Pro-Life leaders Watch

Image of Donald Trump has described his position as

By Catholic Online

Donald Trump has issued a statement to pro-life leaders explaining his plans to protect and preserve the lives of our most vulnerable citizens. As leaders in this fight, we would like to share his words with you in our community. Please keep the unborn in mind ... continue reading


What Wells Fargo did to you, how Senator Warren is defending you, and why the Law Code of Hammurabi is better than our pathetic system of justice today Watch

Image of Elizabeth Warren skewered Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf during a Senate inquiry over the massive fraud perpetrated by the company.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Senator Elizabeth Warren tore into Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, who claims he is "accountable" for a massive scam that impacted millions of the bank's customers. However, Stumpf has not resigned, returned any money, or faced criminal prosecution. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Why did George H.W. Bush say he is voting for Clinton? Because he's part of the globalist establishment, that's why Watch

Image of Is George H.W. Bush voting for Clinton? According to Kennedy-Townsend, yes.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

George Herbert Walker Bush is a Clinton lover. It doesn't matter that Bill Clinton trashed him in the polls in 1991, his vote is going to Hillary Clinton. The reason behind the surprising endorsement is simple: globalism. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) ... continue reading


Catholics have the power to shape America's political future Watch

Image of Catholics may very well decide who the next president will be, and more.

By Marshall Connolly, (California Network)

Archbishop Chaput isn't too excited about the upcoming presidential election. In an interview with CNA, the Archbishop expressed deep disappointment at the quality of the candidates on offer. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Archbishop Chaput has seen plenty of ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
9 While I was watching, thrones were set in place and one most venerable ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 138:1-2, 2-3, 4-5
1 [Of David] I thank you, Yahweh, with all my heart, for you have ... Read More

Gospel, John 1:47-51
47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming he said of him, 'There, truly, is an ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 29th, 2016 Image

St. Michael the Archangel
September 29: Saint Michael the Archangel isn't a saint, but ... Read More