The National Catholic Review
Ten things to remember this fall
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The 2008 U.S. presidential and Congressional elections present a challenge for Catholics. Catholic voters may experience frustration because they agree with some of what the candidates seeking office say, but not with all that they espouse. The “life issues” are absolutely crucial as we make decisions. But what should voters do if an otherwise acceptable candidate falls short in concern for alleviating poverty or promoting just working conditions, access to health care and affordable housing?

Catholic voters are wary when truth becomes a casualty of political warfare. Instead of seeking to bring together a polarized nation, campaigns too often exacerbate divisions. For the sake of a political victory, politicians often create enemies, and so the positions of opponents are twisted and missteps become a reason to pounce on them mercilessly. Faced with what some call “the choice between the evil of two lessers,” thinking people may wonder, why vote at all.

With this in mind, here are 10 things to consider during the November election.

1. Not all issues are equal. Life issues are paramount among all issues because the right to life is fundamental. All other rights are based on it. Simply put: You can never take an innocent human life. Embryonic stem cell debates are not about scientific advancement; they are about sacrificing a life, however small, for possible scientific gain. The church bans embryonic stem cell research because tiny human beings are sacrificed for their stem cells. Instead, the church encourages adult stem cell research.

2. You have to work to become informed. A Catholic must be informed both intellectually and morally. Getting one’s head around an issue means gathering information. A key source of information is the U.S. bishops’ Web site (www.faithfulcitizenship.org), which includes the text of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility, by the Catholic bishops of the United States. The statement explains the teachings of the church that can help Catholics form their consciences in order to make moral choices in public life.

Other good sources of information include the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its companion, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. The United States Catholic Catechism for Adults also provides updated teaching on issues such as justice and poverty. Many Catholic colleges offer programs and lectures on Catholic social thought, and church periodicals explore contemporary issues.

Principles of social justice ought to guide decision-making. Among them is the principle that people have a right to jobs that pay a living wage and a right to join a union. People have a right to affordable and accessible health care. In 1935, when the elderly were facing an economic crisis in the wake of the Depression, the government under President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized a basic right to a decent life, which led to the creation of the Social Security system. There is a comparable need today for access to health care.

Opposition to unjust discrimination is another principle of social justice. Racial, ethnic and religious discrimination, both overt and subtle, have no place in society. Catholics are called to defend against discrimination, whatever its roots. All are children of God, and all fellow citizens are our brothers and sisters. A society that discriminates unjustly diminishes not only the victims of discrimination but the society itself. Such discrimination seems to rise up whenever people feel economic or other pressures in society.

Our current immigration system violates those principles related to opposing discrimination, respecting the dignity of every person, defending the family and protecting the dignity and rights of workers. We need to replace a dysfunctional system with a system of immigration laws that work and can be enforced.

Being informed requires keeping up-to-date with developments in church teachings, such as what constitutes a just war or whether there is such a thing as a “legitimate preventive strike.” Catholics must work to avoid war. People and nations have a right to defend themselves, but any response to aggression must be proportionate. If someone shoots you, you cannot annihilate his or her whole family or country to send a message. The Catechism of the Catholic Church also points out that the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. Given the power of nuclear weapons at a nation’s disposal today, it is hard to conceive a justification for their use.

Church teaching on the death penalty also has developed in recent decades. The catechism states that the death penalty is not acceptable if there are alternative means to keep a criminal from harming others. Penal sentences, such as life sentences without parole, protect society and make the death penalty seem to be based more on a desire for vengeance than for justice.

3. God speaks through our hearts and minds. Wise decision-making speaks through the stirrings of the heart, which reflect lived experience. Hearts are moved, for example, when people see immigrants huddled together waiting for employment so they can support their families. They are moved when shoppers overhear people without health insurance ask a pharmacist if a non-prescription medicine will cure strep throat (it won’t). Hearts are moved when people read that a 12-year-old without dental care died of a brain infection that started as an abscessed tooth. Scriptures in defense of widows and orphans call us to be compassionate, to have a preferential option for the poor. Stirrings of the heart must influence our vote.

Compassionate responses move our consciences to make moral decisions. As the bishops say in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, conscience is more than a mere “feeling” about what we should or should not do (and it certainly does not justify doing whatever we want). Conscience is God’s own voice revealing to us what we must do. As prideful and imperfect individuals, we can sometimes mistake the voice of our own wants and desires for God’s voice. So we must test our consciences by asking whether they are in harmony with the truths of our faith. A properly developed Christian conscience will always be in accord with the teaching of the church. The bishops identify (No. 18) three key steps to forming one’s conscience:

…this begins with a willingness and openness to seek the truth and what is right by studying Sacred Scripture and the teaching of the Church as contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is also important to examine the facts and background information about various choices. Finally, prayerful reflection is essential to discern the will of God.

4. Fidelity to conscience is more important than party loyalty. Thinking Catholics cannot blindly accept party platforms or the positions of candidates. We have to examine all the issues before voting. Saying, “I always vote Democratic” (or Republican) is an easy but unintelligent approach.

5. Simplistic reasoning is simpleminded. It can be difficult to see clearly in an election year. Voter guides abound, but many are written from a particular political persuasion and some manipulate church teachings to support a partisan cause. The publications of some religious groups read like the Democratic or Republican Party at prayer. Simplistic voter guides that view life as a series of black-and-white choices are unrealistic. Life is not that easy.

6. Gut feelings may be your conscience speaking. Often we cannot articulate a concern, but we still feel it inside. One sign of a gut reaction is becoming uncomfortable with an initial decision. We cannot rest with it, or, as we sometimes say, just can’t stomach it. It does not feel right. This is a call to reconsider a decision or a usual way of acting, to consider whether we have formed our conscience. Having done so, we need to reflect on what God is calling us to do. In politics it means questioning traditional party loyalty because we sense something is just not right.

7. Politics is the art of the possible. Voters need to evaluate the likely effectiveness of proposed policies and whether a candidate is fully committed to them and can act on them. “These decisions should take into account a candidate’s commitments, character, integrity, and ability to influence a given issue. In the end, this is a decision to be made by each Catholic guided by a conscience formed by Catholic moral teaching” (Faithful Citizenship, No. 37).

8. Your neighbor can be an ocean away. As the world grows smaller, the neighborhood does not stop at the corner or even the shore. Global solidarity is a fact of modern life. Such awareness should prompt actions to prevent international violence. The motto of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, “If you want peace, work for justice,” rings truer every day. Poverty and discrimination breed social unrest. Until ordinary Americans face their obligation to help not only those in need here but also those abroad, the United States will leave itself vulnerable to smoldering rage all over the globe.

9. The political process begins long before you pull the lever in the voting booth. In the Internet age, political involvement can be a matter of a few keystrokes. It is not overly time-consuming to answer polls, send messages and ask the hard questions. It is also easy to contact campaigns and party headquarters. It takes more time, but it is even more helpful to attend rallies and discuss thoughtful questions, to bring up important issues and elevate the overall discussion. Politics is too important to leave to politicians.

10. We hear God in prayer. In our noisy world it is often hard to hear the voice of God. We can, however, create a climate where we can hear God speak through our own selves. Sometimes this happens in church, when we are pulled away from life’s worries and concerns for an hour. It happens too whenever we can remove ourselves from the media bombardment and other noise around us. We need to make time to contemplate our world and move toward an inner peace. We need to bring our political decisions to God.

Standing with God leads us to do the right thing.

Mary Ann Walsh, R.S.M., is the director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C.

Comments

Michael Bindner | 10/24/2008 - 6:29pm
Life issues would indeed be predominent if they were really at stake in the election. The fact of the matter is, however, that overturning Roe would simply give states the right to fine doctors for performing abortions. In other words, there are Bishops who would deny Joe Biden Communion for not allowing red states the ability to impose the same penalty on doctors as is imposed on someone who shoots a neighbor's dog. That is simply insane. When pro-life voters realize what they are fighting for, they will rebel against their leadership in great numbers. It is sad that the Bishops are going along with them.
5281022 | 10/7/2008 - 6:33pm
To the Editor. Mary Ann Walsh in her otherwise very helpful article (Oct. 6) on conscience and voting says “Simply put: You can never take an innocent life.” Life issues in reality can never be “put simply.” For instance taking innocent life is allowed in a just war, as long as the act resulting in the taking of the innocent life was discriminate and proportionate, that is the perpetrator had the proper intent. Or so say those theologians who do not connect Jesus’ admonitions about who is one’s neighbor, and loving one’s enemies to the ethic of life. Shockingly when I turned the page to finish reading the article I was confronted with a full page Army ad headlined “The Military Provides Firepower. Chaplains Provide Comfort.” In small print it describes the Chaplains role as strengthening the spirit of “our” troops. This promotion of the Constantinian partnership should have no place in a Catholic magazine. Jerry Kendall
5604352 | 10/5/2008 - 8:54pm
It is interesting the author avoids pointing out the critical distinction made by the Bishops in their document as it relates to forming of conscience.In her media role for the Bishops she had the responsibility to do so. The author instead used a nuanced approach referring to the life issues (ie abortion and the others noted) as "absolutely critical" and "paramount". The Bishops refer to them as issues envolving "intrinsic evil actions" with priority implications for our conscience. They state these actions "must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned". The author never mentions that statement but goes on to list as if in offsetting importance or maybe for overriding consideration a variety of other important social issues addressed in the Bishop's document. The bishops point out that these are different type social issues where people agree action needs to be taken to address the various needs but that resolution of the best course of action is subject to debate,opinion formation and resolution in normal democratic process. These latter issues are all in the negotiable category, the life issues are not; the author does not point that distinction out. In summary, the Church teaches on the voting issue that if a candidate A opposes the Church teachings on the life issues and a candidate B supports the Church's teachings on these issues and both candidates have other alternative approaches addressing the other social issues, and some maybe better than others,a vote for candidate B would reflect a conscience better formed by Church teaching. The author should have accepted the Bishops message as stated and encouraged all Catholics to heed that message. At the same time she should be exorting Catholics of a liberal persuasion to press their leadership to change their stance on the critical life issues so they can promote unhobbled what they consider to be better approaches to resolving other social issues. Respectfully Submitted, John Van Beckum
5604352 | 10/5/2008 - 8:37pm
It is interesting the author avoids pointing out the critical distinction made by the Bishops in their document as it relates to forming of conscience.In her media role for the Bishops she had the responsibility to do so. The author instead used a nuanced approach referring to the life issues (ie abortion and the others noted) as "absolutely critical" and "paramount". The Bishops refer to them as issues envolving "intrinsic evil actions" with priority implications for our conscience. They state these actions "must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned". The author never mentions that statement but goes on to list as if in offsetting importance or maybe for overriding consideration a variety of other important social issues addressed in the Bishop's document. The bishops point out that these are different type social issues where people agree action needs to be taken to address the various needs but that resolution of the best course of action is subject to debate,opinion formation and resolution in normal democratic process. These latter issues are all in the negotiable category, the life issues are not; the author does not point that distinction out. In summary, the Church teaches on the voting issue that if a candidate A opposes the Church teachings on the life issues and a candidate B supports the Church's teachings on these issues and both candidates have other alternative programs and approaches addressing
5604352 | 10/5/2008 - 8:37pm
It is interesting the author avoids pointing out the critical distinction made by the Bishops in their document as it relates to forming of conscience.In her media role for the Bishops she had the responsibility to do so. The author instead used a nuanced approach referring to the life issues (ie abortion and the others noted) as "absolutely critical" and "paramount". The Bishops refer to them as issues envolving "intrinsic evil actions" with priority implications for our conscience. They state these actions "must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned". The author never mentions that statement but goes on to list as if in offsetting importance or maybe for overriding consideration a variety of other important social issues addressed in the Bishop's document. The bishops point out that these are different type social issues where people agree action needs to be taken to address the various needs but that resolution of the best course of action is subject to debate,opinion formation and resolution in normal democratic process. These latter issues are all in the negotiable category, the life issues are not; the author does not point that distinction out. In summary, the Church teaches on the voting issue that if a candidate A opposes the Church teachings on the life issues and a candidate B supports the Church's teachings on these issues and both candidates have other alternative programs and approaches addressing
Dcn Martin Beckman | 10/3/2008 - 7:48pm
Sister Mary Ann has provided us with a thoughtful article to help us in choosing a candidate who is best suited to address the needs of our country, without the banter of the pundits. Too often, Catholics get stuck on one issue politics and fail to see the issues of life that come after birth; a universal right to healthcare, jobs to support a family, fair housing, non-discrimination, fair immigration policies, the end of the death penalty. Thanks
LEO JORDAN | 9/30/2008 - 11:44am
No matter how you slice this article, it still reflect an inordinate preoccupation with the abortion issue within the Catholic Church. It does not even come close to a "seamless approach" to life's issues. Is the unjust killing of innocent civiians during a unjust war any worse than the termination of a pregnancy for a reasoned cause? The reference to the "Catechism" as a major source of inquiry is almost juvenile. Barnes & Noble is a better research tool.
Elaine Tannesen | 9/30/2008 - 1:02am
Let’s look at last Sunday’s gospel. In this parable, one son, when asked by his father to work in the fields, refused but later did comply with his request. The other son said that he would but never did the work. One political party has used their stand against abortion to get elected but, with almost eight years of control, achieved no progress in eliminating abortion. Its policies, including a preemptive war, torture, rendition, and the gutting of the middle class have been decidedly anti-life. Although the other political party refused to speak out against abortion, it has a history and a platform that is fundamentally more pro-life. When a National Right to Life caller asked me, as a 25 plus year member to contribute, I asked him to take me off their membership list. I told him that I could not be part of an organization that allied itself with a corrupt and anti-life political party, that, sadly, I believed the good people in the Right to Life Movement had been duped. In last Sunday’s gospel, one son used slick words but had no follow- through. The other son initially refused, then did what his father requested. Especially in this political season, words are cheap. It's a candidate's record in supporting all of life that tells the story.
Anthony Ercolano | 9/29/2008 - 2:24pm
"You can never take an innocent human life." How can we, who are called to view humanity with the eyes of a God who makes the rain fall on the good and the bad and the sun shine on the just and the unjust, make the decision that the life of an unborn child is any more worthy of being protected than the life of an inmate on death row or a child in Afghanistan? The guilt or innocence of a life is not for us to decide.
Ann Vanderslice | 9/29/2008 - 1:20pm
If life issues are the most fundamental, and one party is squarely against the life issue that is fundamental to Catholic teaching, and, following that, the party that embraces life has strong interest in promoting the causes of social justice, though that party may view those issues through a different prism than the other party, is there really any choice for Catholics in this upcoming presidential election?
Ella McCrystle | 9/29/2008 - 9:32am
I've heard SO many people say, "I believe [one candidate] would be better for our country, yet being [pro-life or pro-choice] forces me to vote for [the other candidate.]" Honestly, I hear it most from Catholics, and those blanks can be filled in with Obama/pro-life/McCain. Many Catholics aren't aware that this year, there is unprecedented inclusion of pro-live progress in the Democratic platform formed by the Obama team and pushed for by the many pro-life advocates within the party. We have begun the progress to take back the party from special interest groups like NARAL, NOW, etc. Many don't realize how many Democrats have begun the earnest charge for "zero demand" and the important programs (adoption, zero unwanted pregnancies, care for those who keep their babies...) that will actually lower and eventually STOP the demand for abortions in this country and throughout the world. This is why voters MUST be informed FULLY. The Republican party hasn't done much beyond promise to stop abortions. They co-opt the faithful in a big swath and want the "culture war of abortion" to continue -- otherwise how will they get the Catholic vote? "Family Values" long ago became code for "abortion, gays and anyone different from us." This year we are treated to a similar "small-town values" code. Where did "compassionate conservatism" go? In fact, the rate of abortion went down when Clinton was in office after the first President Bush and went back up again when the current President Bush got into office. Demand hasn't stopped by giving people less information or options, by freezing their ability to care for children or adopt in a careful, respectful fashion. All McCain can promise is that IF he gets his way, HOPEFULLY the Supreme Court will reverse Roe, and that will put it back to the individual States. Do we really believe that the states would put an end to abortion in America? Some might, but the wealthy would cross state lines to get abortions in an "abortion state" and the poor -- those with less choices to begin with -- would have their babies: the children that John McCain has repeatedly denied the right to health-care, education, FOOD, shelter, etc. He denies their families JOBS, education, and perhaps most importantly -- the USCCB's "Pregnant Women's Support Act" which has bridged all divides in Congress EXCEPT the neoconservative Republicans like John McCain. The Bishops have given us excellent guidance this year, yet many parishes and certainly rogue groups have decided NOT to use the Faithful Citizenship guide given to us BY the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops! Being an adopted person, I see how well adoption works through Catholic Charities and similar Catholic and other groups. Why? Because they care about the baby PAST the birth date. The entire spectrum of life post-birth is ignored by the McCain republicans. They would rather send more and more into war, tax employer-created health-care, refuse education and basic human rights to many (not just people on welfare: there is an increasing number of "working poor" in our country.) There is real disdain for the poor. They have serious disdain for anyone who isn't white and upper class (and they are uncomfortable in many ways with practicing Catholics.) The Catholics in Alliance study reinforces from a Catholic perspective what we already knew from a human rights perspective: if we want to stop abortion, we MUST care for the families, women and children of America with more than just tax cuts. Tax cuts mean very little if your insurance company denies you insurance because you are a woman of child-bearing years (called a "pre-condition,) or if you've spent your family's entire salary just to HAVE a baby. These are social justice issues and they are the foundation of what I learned before abortion became the driving force in every Catholic discussion. I'll end with the final paragraph of the Catholics In Alliance study: “If you want peace
CHARLES KINNAIRD | 9/28/2008 - 12:26am
This is my response to Ms. Casciato’s comment. I am not a theologian, but I do take my faith seriously as I make my own decisions in life. It sounds like you are doing very honorable work in your own personal discernment of your involvement in the voting process. I’ll just share some of my own steps in that process. I am “pro-life” in a radical sense that I do not believe in abortion nor capital punishment; nor do I believe that war is justified from any Christian standard. I live in a society, however, that legalizes abortion, supports state executions, and has leaders who have been too cavalier in sending our greatest treasure (our young men and women in their prime of life who have a sense of duty to their country) off to fight in a war that Pope John Paul II warned would be “a failure of humanity.” There is no candidate in any party who has the pro-life intent that I see as a compassion for the whole spectrum of life as embodied by the citizens and sojourners in our land, so I must be a realist in spite of my idealism if I am to make a constructive contribution to the political process. Here are some of my personal assessments: 1. Even if Roe v. Wade is reversed, it will not stop unwanted pregnancies and violence toward children. I am also a healthcare professional and realize that this issue is more complex than many would admit. It is more realistic – and more compassionate – to use our energies to convince more people to choose life and to provide support to those who are in hopeless situations. These efforts will bring more social healing than will bitter crusades to reverse court rulings. In other words, political triumph is not the best way to reduce abortions. 2. I really believe that social justice and economic equity are essential for a humane society. In addition, Jesus said that our final exam will be how we treat the poor, the hungry, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned. As I see it, “single issue voting” disregards the bulk of what Our Lord requires. Yes, life is the most important thing, but life can be advocated in many ways other than the political realm. 3. For a healthy society, and one that holds to Catholic ideals, we must consider how healthcare can be equitably delivered, how workers will be supported, and how those in need will be assisted. As voters, we must ask ourselves which candidates are more likely to protect workers rights, more likely to help the young mother who must stay home to care for her infant, and more inclined to seek social justice? For myself, I cannot in good conscience be a single issue voter when there are so many other issues at stake. It is a difficult task because I need to hear out every candidate and evaluate how their stated ideals may coalesce with my own. Critical thinking, prayer, and discernment are required. As I indicated earlier, I don’t expect to find a candidate or a party which will align perfectly with my own conscience, but if I exercise my civic duty to choose the best possibility in an imperfect society, I will have no reason to fear violating my Christian conscience.
LAWRENCE DONOHUE MD | 9/26/2008 - 11:09pm
Saying "Life issues are paramount among all issues" and then limiting the discussion to embryonic stem cells while ignoring the killing of innocent civilians in Iraq; the economic policies that contribute to half the world surviving on less than $2 per day; the lack of health care access to 47 million of our own citizens; cheapens our position that life issues are paramount. Let's not head down this electoral path again believing we are protecting life with this limited view of life issues.
laura sabath | 9/26/2008 - 9:37pm
"You can never take an innocent human life." Yes, and that includes not only the unborn but the children terrorized and dismembered in war. Why are these post-born innocent life children seldom mentioned right alongside unborn innocent life? It oversimplifies our decisions when these children of war and their elders are not given an identity, but wrapped in impersonal phrases like "must work to avoid war". Our government will not give up even cluster bombs, indiscriminate weapons that become toy-like land-mines, while the Holy See was "key" in helping develop the new treaty to ban them (drafted by 111 nations in May). Incidentally this is one of the most elegant non-violent actions of recent history, as it stigmatizes every nation that continues to make or use them (more on nonviolence below). "The choice between the evil of two lessers” says it well. Not to vote is very attractive. Yet Catholics can reshape these agonizing political offerings. When we declare only conditional support to a candidate (or none yet) and continue to urge every candidate to put at priority all of Catholic teaching relevant to the office he runs for, the candidates can no longer minimize what they do for us; to minimize, of course, is to increase their leeway to court other voters (quite disloyally while wanting our loyalty). Instead, when we keep them competing for our vote, every Catholic issue comes out ahead. Open faithfulness to all of church teaching is highly practical. Then ballot in hand, i may face political "compromise" but not moral compromise. "Collateral damage" in war is as deceptive a term as "products of conception" and comes from the same mentality: exclusion. "I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral.... whether a fetus or an embryo, an infant or an adult, an old person...As far as the right to life is concerned, every innocent human being is absolutely equal to all others." [John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae: 57.4-6]. This means the unborn and the child in war have an identical right to life. The edge that abortion has over other right-to-life issues does not appear to be based on life itself or on suffering, but on surrounding factors (see Evangelium Vitae 11). We can't legitimately avoid the issue of proportionate reasons. When i think of facing all the children together in the afterlife—the children of abortion, war and poverty, all in solidarity—i hear them ask us, "Why do you hold us up against each other?" The Holy Father and the bishops, wise again, want us to overcome our divisions. As for "voluntary killing", I was a Navy wife and i now oppose sending a soldier into the grave position of knowing that it is statistically and observably certain that children and other civilians are in many of the buildings where his or his buddy's mortar goes or below their bomber's wings. I would not want to try to justify it in the afterlife on the basis that i do not intend the deaths of those innocents whom i put at such risk. And the rest of us fund it. For each civilian death we are all at least as accountable as a party of drunk drivers who choose to create lethal risk for innocents, kill them, and say, "I didn't mean to." Moreover, the Holy See tells us it is religion's "grave duty" to help terrorists opt for nonviolent means to address grievances. "History offers examples of non-violent struggle that were able to rectify unjust systems..." And war cannot witness for the Jesus of Christianity to a jehadist who believes he is fighting a just war. http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/secretariat_state/2006/documents/rc_seg-st_20061016_international-terrorism_en.html We are ignorant of history and of methods that we badly need to learn, methods of strategic nonviolence and also Christian nonviolence supported by the popes, that have been chosen by Europeans and others against vicious dictators BECAUSE THEY WERE JUDGED MORE EFFECTIVE
MAGGIE CASCIATO | 9/26/2008 - 6:15pm
I am very conflicted and need help here. In my "gut" I feel that for many excellent reasons Sen. Obama would be a better president than Sen. McCain. Reasons include the candidates' records on social justice, unjust war, economic policies that currently favor the rich, government's role in helping the poorest and weakest among us, etc. I am generally representative of women who are liberal Democrats, except that I am anti-abortion. However, I don't believe that McCain, or any president in the near future, will be able to overturn Roe v. Wade due to complex political and pragmatic reasons. The article I just read, along with recent articles in our diocesan newspaper, state very strongly that "life issues" should be first and foremost in our minds and therefore all good Catholics should feel obligated to vote for McCain. No other issues should be considered. I realize that all these articles have to tap dance around formally telling us to vote Republican, but it's as clear to me as the nose on my face. My question, out of concern for my eternal soul, is this: if I vote for Obama, have a committed a sin? A mortal sin? How can I confess it if I'm not sorry for it? I asked a priest about this similar issue four years ago, and he told me that it would be "immoral" to vote for a candidate who did not oppose abortion, but it would not necessarily be a sin. How can you do something immoral and not sin? Is there any theologian who can help to sort out these conflicted emotions that I'm sure are shared by many caring, intelligent citizens?
leonard Nugent | 9/26/2008 - 4:45pm
What if the single issue was slavery? Would you tell us it's wrong to cast our vote based on a single issue? People held in the bondage of slavery were once regarded as 3/5 human, see your handy copy of the constitution. Jesus was not a politcal messiah; a fact that caused no little frustration in the mind of Judas Iscariot. When it comes to implementing the social teachings of the catholic church blessed Teresa of Calcutta knew a thing or two. I wonder how she would council us to vote?
LEONARD VILLA | 9/26/2008 - 11:21am
In terms of the life issues I think the bishops of Kansas City, Missouri/Kansas have it right: "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."