Saturday, October 15, 2011
The Catholic Vote
With the seeming abundance of “Catholic politicians in the media spotlight these days, it’s hard to ignore the potential impact of the Catholic vote – should Catholics use their vote correctly.
Interestingly enough, I wrote most of what follows in 2008, when Pelosi and Biden were making headlines with their anti-Catholic gaffs and the reprimands they received from some of our bishops. It appears that nothing has really changed.
It’s sad that these politicians have changed, but it’s a gift from God that the teachings of the Church don’t change. In 2008, a number of bishops stated strongly that: a) the Church has always condemned abortion as a grave evil; and b) that pro-abortion politicians who consider themselves to be Catholic should not present themselves for Holy Communion. Their statements on abortion reflect Church teaching that has always been that way. And the idea that anyone not in communion with the Church should not present himself for Holy Communion is, of course, scriptural.
In terms of voting in the US, the Catholic Church does not tell its faithful to vote for particular candidates; rather, there are particular moral issues that must be considered when casting a vote. The “life” issues take precedence: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research. The logic behind this is simple: without life, there are no other issues. A second tier of priorities includes what Catholics call “social justice” issues: war, poverty, health care, immigration issues, etc. The Church teaches that abortion, euthanasia, and embryonic stem cell research are always wrong; there are no exceptions. The social justice issues are important and should be guided by our belief in and adherence to the truths of the Gospel message, but the Church does not teach “absolutes” about them. For instance, there is such a thing as a “just war”; and with regard to immigration issues and health care, there is room for individual opinion regarding how reforms should be implemented.
Thus, a voter should first consider where a candidate stands on life issues. A candidate who supports abortion is automatically disqualified from consideration by faithful Catholic voters. If both/all of the candidates support abortion – with some candidates’ positions more extreme than those of other candidates – the voter must choose the candidate who is likely to do the least harm to the unborn. Only in the case where both/all of the candidates equally support abortion may the voter choose the candidate whose positions on other issues will do the most good for society.
Catholics who remain truly faithful to the teachings of their Church may not vote for a pro-abortion candidate and remain in good standing with the Church. This point has been stressed recently by many Catholic bishops, including the bishop of the Diocese of Baker, Most Reverend Robert F. Vasa, who noted in a recent interview with LifeSiteNews.com that a person’s “adamant pro-abortion position” is a “disqualifying position”.
Catholics comprise about 23% of the American population. Should all Catholics decide to follow the teachings of the Church and the leadership of their bishops, the Catholic vote will be a very powerful one.