Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

9/5/2012 (3 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 (3 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 May 2016
Universal:
Respect for Women: That in every country of the world, women may be honored and respected and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed.
Evangelization: Holy Rosary: That families, communities, and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelization and peace.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

REVEALED: China has an army of paid trolls, guess who else has one? Watch

Image of Don't feed the trolls.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The next time you encounter an internet troll, be warned, he could be getting paid to fan the flames, or to douse your conversation. A new study our of Harvard reveals that China is using an army of 448 million fake troll accounts to influence public opinion. And China ... continue reading


REPORT: Inspector General SLAMS Hillary Clinton for BREAKING LAW, was WARNED by staffer, whom she PUNISHED! Watch

Image of Audit: Hillary Clinton broke the law.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The State Department Inspector general has ruled that Hillary Clinton broke department rules for using a private email server and for deleting emails she sent and received during her tenure. The report was released on Capitol Hill today. LOS ANGELES, CA (California ... continue reading


You won't believe who buys the most weapons from the US! Watch

Image of The United States provides the most weapons to which country (NATO)?

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The United States provides 33 percent of the world's arms such as fighter jet aircraft, tanks and more - so which countries are buying? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the number one country purchasing ... continue reading


Obama risking national security to meet political obligation? Watch

Image of Is the Obama administration sacrificing national security in favor of meeting quotas (Reuters)?

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

With many Senate Democrats calling for a faster processing, the Obama Administration and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) have drastically increased the number of Syrian refugees admitted into the United States. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


FBI investigating Gov. McAuliffe, Clinton Foundation for Chinese ties Watch

Image of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is under FBI investigation for accepting illegal campaign contributions.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The FBI is investigating Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on the grounds that he accepted illegal campaign contributions. There is overlap between his donors and donors to the Clinton campaign. Investigators have discovered that a Chinese politician made a particularly ... continue reading


American Steel v. China's Production - There is no such thing as free trade Watch

Image of American steel jobs have drastically fallen (iisssc).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

As American steel production falters, China has begun efforts to dump its excess steel at slashed prices. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute, and Chuck Schmitt, president of SSAB ... continue reading


'Shame, shame, shame': House Democrats boo Republicans Watch

Image of House Republicans halt the hostile amendment in its tracks (EPA).

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Chaos erupted as the US House of Representatives refused to pass an amendment meant to strip away religious freedom and protections for religious contractors and those who work with the federal government. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - When House Democrats ... continue reading


Judge SPANKS Obama's attorneys who LIED to the court! Watch

Image of Judge Andrew Hanen shut down Obama's attorneys for lying.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

An angry federal judge has ordered Justice Department attorneys to take annual ethics classes for lying. The lies told by Justice Department attorneys tricked 26 states into filing a lawsuit against the administration. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - U.S. ... continue reading


Bill Clinton, America's favorite rapist? Watch

Image of Thew family that rapes together, destroys women's rights and justice together.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

As Hillary Clinton declares herself the presumptive nominee of the Democratic party amid the cheers of millions of millennial supporters, few people seem to remember that her husband, Bill Clinton, is an accused serial rapist. And far from being a supporter of women' ... continue reading


YES! Oklahoma votes to outlaw abortion! Watch

Image of The Oklahoma legislature has voted to end abortion in their state.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Oklahoma has outlawed abortion! The state legislature has passed a bill that would criminalize the procedure, except to save the life of the mother. The bill will now go to the governor for signing. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The final decision will be up to ... 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

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Prayer to Saint Valentine HD Video
  • St. Philip Neri: Saint of the Day for Thursday, May 26, 2016
  • A Prayer Before Surgery HD Video
  • New study reveals Catholics hold highest retention rate - but no one ...
  • 'It's prayer that preserves faith': Pope Francis urges people to pray
  • REVEALED: China has an army of paid trolls, guess who else has one?
  • Daily Readings for Thursday, May 26, 2016

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Peter 1:18-25
18 For you know that the price of your ransom from the futile way of life ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20
12 Praise Yahweh, Jerusalem, Zion, praise your God.13 For he ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 10:32-45
32 They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem; Jesus was walking on ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 25th, 2016 Image

St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi
May 25: It would be easy to concentrate on the mystical ... Read More