Friday, October 24, 2008

Just why can't I vote for Obama if I think his position on the War is better?

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If I were to become a Catholic all over again, I would choose as my RCIA leader John Martignoni, a lay apologist from Alabama who has a wonderful newsletter and gives his CDs out for free to anybody who asks for them. The man really knows how to communicate. This post is taken from his Bible Christian Society Newsletter No. 100 that come out faithfully every week. You can see his website here. Check out his free CDs and Newsletters. Listen up, Home Schoolers!

If you have friends who still think they will be voting for Obama because of his "social justice" positions and who believe that they are permitted to do that, discuss this with them.

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From the Website: Roman Catholics for Obama/Biden '08:

“This website is part of our own fulfillment of civic engagement as Catholic American citizens. We believe Barack Obama should be the next President because America desperately needs a President who will give voice to our better angels. Senator Obama will look for common ground in addressing some of the most pressing needs of our time -- among them alleviating poverty, protecting the environment, making peace and, we believe, creating a culture of life. We are confident, having reviewed the Bishops' statement [Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship], that responsible Catholics can vote for Barack Obama – and we think they should!

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Letter from a Daughter to Her Mom:

“Mom,

When we’re talking candidates running for office and economy, taxes, etc. that is politics. When we’re talking about the candidates view on abortion, that’s life. When you write about Obama it’s almost venomous. He did state no one is for abortion. I do not like anything about MCcain expect [sic] for the fact he is pro-life. But boy did he take the easy way out during the debate last night. As a catholic I have to vote for McCain but I’m not happy with his war decisions, economy plan, healthcare plan and every other area that affects us. I hope and pray if he overturns Roe v. Wade, the rest of the world falls into place but that will not completely stop abortions. Obama did have a good point when addressing education and abstinence for our country so if we deal with the root of the problem, society, media, etc. telling our kids it’s right to have pre marital sex, maybe we can prevent unwanted pregnancies and thus abortions. Either way it’s not about party, it’s about people!”

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U.S. Conference of Bishops’ Statement: “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship”:

34. Catholics often face difficult choices about how to vote. This is why it is so important to vote according to a well-formed conscience that perceives the proper relationship among moral goods. A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter's intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate's opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.

35. There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate's unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.

36. When all candidates hold a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.

37. In making these decisions, it is essential for Catholics to be guided by a well-formed conscience that recognizes that all issues do not carry the same moral weight and that the moral obligation to oppose intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our actions. 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."

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Bishops of Dallas and Ft. Worth Clarification of “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship”:

Last November, the Bishops of the United States issued a document entitled Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, in which we and our brother Bishops issued clear moral guidelines to aid the faithful in proper formation of conscience with regard to the many issues we face in our nation today. Through this joint statement to the faithful of Dallas and Fort Worth, we seek to briefly summarize the key points and dispel any confusion or misunderstanding that may be present among you concerning the teaching contained in the document, especially that which may have arisen from recent public misinterpretation concerning this teaching.

1. Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship clearly teaches that not all issues have the same moral equivalence. Some issues involve "intrinsic evils"; that is, they can never under any circumstance or condition be morally justified. Preeminent among these intrinsic evils are legalized abortion, the promotion of same sex unions and "marriages", repression of religious liberty, as well as public policies permitting euthanasia, racial discrimination or destructive human embryonic stem cell research.

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship clearly states:

"There are some things we must never do, as individuals or as a society, because they are always incompatible with love of God and neighbor. Such actions are so deeply flawed that they are always opposed to the authentic good of persons. These are called ‘intrinsically evil' actions. They must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned. A prime example is the intentional taking of innocent human life, as in abortion and euthanasia. In our nation, ‘abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others' (Living the Gospel of Life, no. 5). It is a mistake with grave moral consequences to treat the destruction of innocent human life merely as a matter of individual choice. A legal system that violates the basic right to life on the grounds of choice is fundamentally flawed." (22)

2. The destruction of the most innocent of human life through abortion and embryonic stem cell research not only undercuts the basic human right to life, but it also subverts and distorts the common good. As Pope John Paul II clearly states:

"Disregard for the right to life, precisely because it leads to the killing of the person whom society exists to serve, is what most directly conflicts with the possibility of achieving the common good... It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop..." (The Gospel of Life, 72; 101)

3. Therefore, we cannot make more clear the seriousness of the overriding issue of abortion – while not the "only issue" – it is the defining moral issue, not only today, but of the last 35 years. Since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, more than 48 million innocent lives have been lost. Each year in our nation more than one million lives are lost through legalized abortion. Countless other lives are also lost through embryonic stem cell research. In the coming months our nation will once again elect our political leaders. This electoral cycle affords us an opportunity to promote the culture of life in our nation. As Catholics we are morally obligated to pray, to act, and to vote to abolish the evil of abortion in America, limiting it as much as we can until it is finally abolished.

4. As Catholics we are faced with a number of issues that are of concern and should be addressed, such as immigration reform, healthcare, the economy and its solvency, care and concern for the poor, and the war on terror. As Catholics we must be concerned about these issues and work to see that just solutions are brought about. There are many possible solutions to these issues and there can be reasonable debate among Catholics on how to best approach and solve them. These are matters of "prudential judgment." But let us be clear: issues of prudential judgment are not morally equivalent to issues involving intrinsic evils. No matter how right a given candidate is on any of these issues, it does not outweigh a candidate's unacceptable position in favor of an intrinsic evil such as abortion or the protection of "abortion rights."

As Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship states:

"The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed." (28)

5. Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, in paragraphs 34-37, addresses the question of whether it is morally permissible for a Catholic to vote for a candidate who supports an intrinsic evil – even when the voter does not agree with the candidate's position on that evil. The only moral possibilities for a Catholic to be able to vote in good conscience for a candidate who supports this intrinsic evil are the following:

a. If both candidates running for office support abortion or "abortion rights," a Catholic would be forced to then look at the other important issues and through their vote try to limit the evil done; or,

b. If another intrinsic evil outweighs the evil of abortion. While this is sound moral reasoning, there are no "truly grave moral" or "proportionate" reasons, singularly or combined, that could outweigh the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by legal abortion each year.

To vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or "abortion rights" when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in the evil – and, therefore, morally impermissible.

6. In conclusion, as stated in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the decisions we make on these political and moral issues affect not only the general peace and prosperity of society at large, but also may affect each individual's salvation. As Catholics, we must treat our political choices with appropriate moral gravity and in doing so, realize our continuing and unavoidable obligation to be a voice for the voiceless unborn, whose destruction by legal abortion is the preeminent intrinsic evil of our day. With knowledge of the Church's teaching on these grave matters, it is incumbent upon each of us as Catholics to educate ourselves on where the candidates running for office stand on these issues, particularly those involving intrinsic evils. May God bless you.

Faithfully in Christ,

Most Reverend Kevin J. Farrell, Bishop of Dallas

Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann, Bishop of Fort Worth

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My Comments:

As we see from the comments on the “Roman Catholics for Obama/Biden ‘08" website, and in the letter from the pro-Obama daughter, the issues usually cited as the reason to be for a pro-abortion candidate (whether Obama or someone else) and against a pro-life candidate (whether McCain or someone else) have to do with one or more of the following: the war, the economy, immigration reform, the environment, healthcare, and the poor. And what these folks are quite often doing these days, is pointing to certain statements in paragraphs #34 - #37 (see above) in the Bishops’ Statement, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, and saying, “See, this allows me to morally vote for a pro-abortion candidate. The Bishops say abortion is not the only issue one needs to look at when deciding how to vote.”

Some of the statements these folks will point to are: #34 “A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter's intent is to support that position.” They’ll say, “We’re opposed to abortion and it is not our intent, by voting for Obama [in this instance], to support his position on that. We’re voting for him for other reasons and in spite of his pro-abortion stance, so we’re not violating what the Bishops said.”

Another sentence from Para #34 that they’ll cite is: “At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate's opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.” They’ll say, “See, the Bishops are saying you can’t be a one-issue voter, you have to weigh all of the candidates moral positions when deciding how to vote.”

Or, they’ll point to this sentence from Para #35: “There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate's unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons.” They’ll say that the war in Iraq, or the war on poverty, or universal healthcare are “grave” moral reasons to vote for a pro-abortion candidate.

Or, they’ll say that they’re only voting their conscience as the Bishops say to do in Para #37: “In the end, this is a decision to be made by each Catholic guided by a conscience formed by Catholic moral teaching."

Do any of these statements hold moral water? Well, I think Bishop Vann and Bishop Farrell, from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, answered these objections in a clear and unequivocal manner. These Bishops wrote their statement in direct response to people who were using the Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship document to justify a vote in favor of a pro-abortion candidate for office. They said that they wanted to, “...dispel any confusion or misunderstanding that may be present among you concerning the teaching contained in the document, especially that which may have arisen from recent public misinterpretation concerning this teaching.”

The Bishops are very clear that abortion is not just one moral issue among many that must be considered: “Therefore, we cannot make more clear the seriousness of the overriding issue of abortion – while not the 'only issue' – it is the defining moral issue, not only today, but of the last 35 years.” It is THE defining moral issue of the last 35 years!

Bishops Vann and Farrell go on to specifically cite the issues that are mentioned above that pro-Obama voters use to justify voting for a pro-abortion candidate - “immigration reform, healthcare, the economy and its solvency, care and concern for the poor, and the war on terror.” But, they then quite rightly state: “There are many possible solutions to these issues and there can be reasonable debate among Catholics on how to best approach and solve them. These are matters of ‘prudential judgment.’ But let us be clear: issues of prudential judgment are not morally equivalent to issues involving intrinsic evils.”

See, this is the real crux of the issue, and Bishops Vann and Farrell nailed it on the head. If you are for Obama because of your concern for the poor, for example, can you state with 100% certainty that his policies in dealing with the poor will leave them better off than McCain’s policies in dealing with the poor? No, you can’t. It is a matter of prudential judgment that you believe Obama’s policies will benefit the poor more than McCain’s policies, it is not economic fact. The next thing to consider, is whether or not McCain’s policies in dealing with the poor are inherently evil. Are they? No. Does he want to kill the poor? Does he want to deny them housing, or medical care, or food? No. Can you say that McCain’s policies on welfare issues will lead to people starving to death, or to dying from exposure because they couldn’t find shelter, or any such thing? No.

Now, you might say, “Well, tens of thousands of people have died in Iraq because of the war and McCain supported that and Obama will pull the troops out immediately while McCain wants to leave them over there and let the killing continue.” Well, the first thing to realize, is that most of the deaths have come after Saddam Hussein was overthrown and resulted from the hatred between the Sunni and the Shia and the Kurd, not because of direct U.S. military action. This internecine killing amongst the Muslims would very likely have happened whenever Saddam Hussein lost power and it can be argued that it would have been much worse in a complete power vacuum than it was with the U.S. military there to eventually reign it in.

Plus, the overthrow of Saddam undoubtedly saved thousands and possibly tens of thousands of lives - he was well known for having his enemies tortured, raped, and killed. And, it can further be argued that if we pull U.S. troops out of Iraq prematurely, there may still be a huge bloodbath in the future. So, whose stance on the Iraq War, as it currently stands, will actually lead to fewer deaths in the long run? No one can say with any moral certainty.

The issue regarding the war is: What is the best way to end the conflict in Iraq with the minimal loss of life in the long run? And, again, this is an issue involving not an intrinsic evil, but a difference of prudential judgment. McCain’s position on ending the war cannot absolutely be said to be better or worse than Obama’s...only history can make a final judgment on that. One can only make a prudential judgment on the answer to that question in the present.

And, the same can basically be said for all the areas where McCain and Obama differ - the economy, the environment, education, illegal immigration, and so on. The same cannot be said, however, on their positions towards abortion. Obama supports an intrinsic evil...one that has resulted in the deaths of almost 50 million babies in this country alone in the last 35 years...McCain does not.

Furthermore, Bishops Vann and Farrell go on to state: “No matter how right a given candidate is on any of these issues [immigration reform, healthcare, the economy and its solvency, care and concern for the poor, and the war on terror], it does not outweigh a candidate's unacceptable position in favor of an intrinsic evil such as abortion or the protection of ‘abortion rights.’"

In other words, even if we could say with certainty that Obama’s positions on these other issues are more “right” than McCain’s, they still do not hold the moral equivalency that the abortion issue does. They say that if there was another intrinsic evil which outweighs the evil of abortion, then it would be okay to vote for a candidate that supported abortion if he was against this other intrinsic evil. But, they go on to declare: “While this is sound moral reasoning, there are no ‘truly grave moral’ or ‘proportionate’ reasons, singularly or combined, that could outweigh the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by legal abortion each year.”

Which means that folks who use a candidate’s positions on issues other than abortion, to justify their vote for a pro-abortion candidate, are gambling with their souls. “To vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or ‘abortion rights’ when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in the evil – and, therefore, morally impermissible.” They go on to say, in essence, that your vote for a pro-abortion candidate could affect your eternal salvation.

Think of it this way: Let’s say you had a candidate that held all the exact same positions that McCain has, running against a candidate that has all the same positions that Obama has, with one exception - instead of being pro-abortion, this latter candidate was in favor of legalized slavery. How many of the Catholics for Obama do you think would vote for the pro-slavery candidate? How many would say, “Well, I disagree with him on the slavery thing, but I’m going to vote for him because of his position on the war in Iraq and his welfare policies toward the poor?” I venture that not a single pro-Obama Catholic would vote for such a candidate.

Or, given the same scenario, but the one candidate who holds all the same positions as Obama was in favor of legalized lynchings. How many pro-Obama Catholics would vote for such a candidate? None!

In other words, Catholics who vote for a pro-abortion candidate are, for the most part, a bunch of hypocrites. They really don’t care about the unborn as they claim. You might like the pro-abortion candidate better than the pro-life candidate, as the young lady who wrote to her mother above, but you are still morally bound, according to the Bishops, to vote for the pro-life candidate, even if you have to hold your nose to do so. And, if the young lady quoted above actually does that, then she is to be congratulated on following her moral conscience before her political conscience. The reality is, that if every Catholic eligible to vote in the U.S. would vote for pro-life candidates, then we could end the slaughter of millions of unborn children in this country in very short order.

I'll close with a couple of quotes for your consideration:

"No other issue, not all other issues taken together, can constitute a proportionate reason for voting for candidates that intend to preserve and defend this holocaust of innocent human life that is abortion." Fr. John Corapi

“The regret and anguish of the damned will be useless, for it will not be on account of any hatred of evil, but on account of grief over being punished for allowing it to proliferate.” St. Thomas Aquinas


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