The National Catholic Review
Historical Precedents

In his guest editorial, “Racism and the Election” (10/27), Bishop Blase Cupich was correct to remind us of Archbishop Joseph Rummel, the courageous archbishop of New Orleans who in 1962 publicly excommunicated three Catholics, including a politician, for supporting the intrinsic evil of racism. Rummel is certainly a bishop to be proud of in our church’s history in this country.

I have been wondering when we will have brave bishops in this era who are willing publicly to excommunicate Catholic politicians who support the intrinsic evil of abortion.

Stephen M. Koeth, C.S.C.

Portland, Ore.

About Time

It is about time someone addressed the issue of racism in our national politics. In “Racism and the Election,” Bishop Blase Cupich has given us an article that should be read in all parishes. For those of us who have not always been happy with the church’s political positions and its occasional Neanderthal tendencies (think of the truly enlightened theologians who have been unjustly censored or silenced), it is simply fantastic to read this article.

Where were all the thoughtful political reflections and considerations from sincere, well-meaning bishops four years ago?

A. J. Carlos, M.D.

Clifton Park, N.Y.

Clarity and Vision

Re the guest editorial by Bishop Blase Cupich, “Racism and the Election” (10/27): It is refreshing to read episcopal advice that is not threatening or focused on abortion only. Bishop Cupich has rightly conveyed a sense of trust in the voting decisions of the electorate. Presidential elections are always a time of uncertainty, with a great need for clarity and vision, especially for Catholics who view elections and voting in a moral context based on church social teaching principles.

Bishop Cupich and the other bishops who have written on the 2008 presidential election do so in part from a loving obligation to teach and guide their flocks. We voters, armed with our bishops’ words and the guidance contained in their document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, as well as the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, are individually answerable for our decisions.

I do not believe that my priest or my bishop is responsible for my vote, or for anyone’s individual decisions or actions, so long as they have made a prayerful effort to teach and we have made a similar effort to form our consciences through prayer, study and reflection on church teaching.

I fill out my ballot with a sense of hope and a fierce love of my church and my country, knowing that both fall short of God’s expectations. May God bless our clergy, our candidates and our nation.

Todd Phillipe

Buena Vista, Colo.

Playing It Safe

Re your editorial on “Voting One’s Conscience” (10/27): It seems to me that a Catholic who is concerned with following all of the church’s instructions on how to vote would have no choice but to abstain from voting for either presidential candidate. Or perhaps one could write in the name of, say, one’s bishop? That would seem to be the only safe route to pursue!

Skip Mendler

Honesdale, Pa.

Grave Matter

I completely disagree with what America’s editors are attempting in “Voting One’s Conscience” (editorial, 10/27). You are trying to take our focus off the primary issue of abortion in order to justify a vote for the most pro-abortion candidate ever to run for office. As Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship points out, a number of other political issues are important, but they involve prudential judgments. With abortion, we are dealing with an intrinsic evil that cannot be supported regardless of a candidate’s position on other issues when there is another candidate available who does not support abortion. This is why so many of the bishops across the nation are speaking out against people who are trying to misconstrue the intent of Forming Consciences.

Stop trying to lead people into grave sin with the illogical reasoning you used here.

Mike Nygra

Indianapolis, Ind.

Preaching to the Choir

The editors’ remarks in “Voting One’s Conscience” are all well and good. But this is not the reasoning that gets the attention of the people in the pews.

Instead, newspaper headlines feature bishops calling for refusal of the Eu-charist to those politicians who do not decry abortion. Other issues that might be addressed are virtually ignored.

It appears quite often that the church considers life to begin at conception and end at birth.

Robert Gordon

Ewing, N.J.

A Conscientious Objector

Re your editorial “Voting One’s Conscience”: It is necessary for Catholics to allow the church to form our conscience. Conscience formation includes not only reading the bishops’ important document on faithful citizenship and forming one’s conscience but also listening to the bishops as they continue to address us on these issues and expand on this document in their letters, homilies, speeches and other addresses.

The bishops have made it abundantly clear that Catholics have a moral responsibility to recognize the overwhelming weight of abortion in this election, as compared to debatable issues such as who has the best health care plan, who is best for the economy and who will end the war in Iraq sooner.

Catholics must not allow themselves to be deceived into thinking that there are anything even close to proportionate reasons that would override Barack Obama’s radical views on abortion. I am not thrilled about John McCain, but there is simply no conscionable way for a Catholic to vote for Obama.

Michael Hallman

Villanova, Pa.

Intrinsically Disordered

“Intrinsic Evil and Political Responsibility,” by M. Cathleen Kaveny (10/27), was well written and pertinent, but I think the argument could have been made stronger. Rather than using veiled and oblique references to the war in Iraq, Kaveny could have included examples of “intrinsic evils” that are ignored in the current discourse of those who favor this term.

The U.S. bishops have identified both racism and torture as intrinsic evils; but both exist in our nation today, and one of them, the use of torture, has been an explicit policy of the federal government. But I have never heard a “pro-life” voter argue that I should oppose a candidate on those grounds.

If it is immoral to vote for a presidential candidate who supports an intrinsic evil, then anyone who voted for George W. Bush in 2004 was guilty of an immoral act. I suspect, however, that if I were to press this argument, discussions of prudential judgment that are not allowed when discussing abortion would suddenly be considered legitimate.

David Cruz-Uribe, S.F.O.

West Hartford, Conn.

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