OPINION: Doug Kmiec’s ‘Can a Catholic Support Him?’ Asks the Wrong Question
Doug Kmiec asks the wrong question. The proper question is not “can” but “should”. The word “can” addresses the issue of capacity and ability. “Should” examines the morality of that choice, what is our duty?
Doug Kmiec's book and support for Senator Barrack Obama has caused strong reactions in the Catholic and broader Christian community. His new book is likely to fan the fires.
Our Catholic faith proclaims the existence of a profound body of Moral teaching, a subset of which is called “Catholic Social Teaching”. At its foundation is the insistence that every human life has an inviolable dignity and must be protected against unjust aggression from conception, through every age and stage of life, up to and including natural death. This is not a single “issue” but a framework through which all moral considerations and the positive law itself must be viewed. Human rights, indeed freedom itself, are goods of the human person, not free floating concepts. They require human persons to both receive them and to exercise them. Catholic Moral teaching is also rooted in an affirmation of the existence of a Natural Law which is knowable by all men and women because it is written on the human heart. This is the basis of the very hierarchy of rights which Doug Kmiec has spent his career attempting to espouse and train others to serve. To the believer, this Natural law is understood to be a participation in the Divine Law and is further expounded upon by Revelation. However, its existence is an objective reality and does not require one to have any religious belief. It is also binding on all men and women. For example, it is always and everywhere wrong to take innocent human life and it is always and everywhere wrong to kill our neighbor (outside of a legitimate exercise of self defense). Ascribing to these truths does not require one to be a religious believer. In fact they form the very core of Western positive law and the Jurisprudence which it has birthed.
Voting, like any human action, involves an ordering toward an end. Doug attempts in this little book to explain the morality of human action but does so incorrectly and inadequately. I ask my readers to examine the section entitled the “Morality of Human Acts” in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Par. 1749 -1761) and Doug Kmiec’s short treatment on Page 135 of his little book. Better yet,read the Servant of God John Paul II's Encyclicals entitled “The Gospel of Life” and “the Splendor of Truth” and then consider Doug Kmiec’s approach to analyzing the morality of a human act. Doug is at best misinformed, at worst, teetering on serious error. It is immoral to vote in a manner which fails to protect innocent human persons from being unjustly killed. This is what occurs in every procured abortion, human persons are killed. It is immoral to vote in a manner that fails to include all of the poor, including children in the first home of the whole human race (their mothers womb) within the obligation we owe to one another in solidarity. Doug and his candidate are right to emphasize that we are our brother’s (and sister’s) keeper, but wrong to then exclude an entire class of brothers and sisters, the unborn, from the protections of the positive law. Doug contends that the choice he promotes in this book is morally acceptable. He asserts that both major Party candidates for the Presidency are actually not Pro-Life and are in favor of the current approach to abortion. Therefore he maintains he can make what he argues is a prudential judgment as to which pro-abortion candidate he supports. He even tries to borrow the excellent refutation of the analysis he offers, the recent letters of Archbishop Charles Chaput and Francis Cardinal George, to try to support his claim. This is sophistry.
Doug maintains that Senator McCain’s position in favor of the overturning of Roe v Wade is simply a "Federalist position" and not a truly Pro-life stance. He argues (contrary to his own past claims) that the reversal of Roe v Wade will not really affect the state of the current law protecting abortion throughout all nine months of ...
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