Friday, February 08, 2008

Bishop Blair Calls Upon Voters to Examine Consciences

From The Toledo Blade:
When it comes time to step into a voting booth, Catholic citizens should know the church's teachings and do "some moral soul searching" before casting their ballots, Toledo Bishop Leonard Blair said yesterday.

He said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has provided guidance for Catholic voters for more than 30 years, but asserted that the church remains nonpartisan and does not support specific candidates or parties.

"What the church is calling for is a different kind of political engagement, one shaped by the moral convictions of well-formed consciences and focused on the dignity of every human being, the pursuit of the common good, and the protection of the weak and the vulnerable," Bishop Blair said during a scholarly, 25-minute address at the Toledo Club, part of the Toledo diocese's First Thursday Dialogue lecture series.

Knowing church teaching on the issues is essential for voters who hope to reverse society's moral decline, the bishop said.

He said some issues are "intrinsically evil," such as abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and racism.

It is morally wrong to support such issues no matter what the prevailing political, legal, or social consensus, Bishop Blair said.

"During the time of American slavery, [racism] was thought to be morally justifiable by many in our country and even recognized by American law," he said. "The fact that so many people thought that racism was morally acceptable or tolerable did not make it so."

He compared the conflict over slavery in the 19th century to the current debate over abortion.

When it comes to deciding whether to support candidates who favor a person's right to abortion, Bishop Blair said the bishops drew a fine line and warned against casting a vote based on a single issue.

While it is wrong to "knowingly, willingly, and directly support" policies that undermine fundamental moral principles, including abortion, he said, it might be permissible to vote for a pro-abortion candidate if the ballot was based on other crucial issues and the voter "rejects the candidate's position on abortion."

On the other hand, Bishop Blair said, a Catholic should not use a candidate's opposition to abortion "to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity."

He warned that the political process is not only important for maintaining an orderly society, but also can affect a person's eternal destiny.

"Cooperation with evil, knowingly and willingly done, has consequences in eternity. And that is why the bishops say in passing that political choices can affect an individual's salvation," Bishop Blair said.

[Read the whole thing]
My Comments:
I note with interest that the Blade reporter doesn't include the entirety of Bishop Blair's quotes regarding abortion so that you can read them in context. It would be interesting to know whether Bishop Blair used the words "proportionate reasons", and whether he discussed what might constitute a "proportionate reason" to support a pro-abortion candidate. At the very least, I'd be interested in knowing whether Bishop Blair quoted from the Faithful Citizenship document, which, while not using the phrase "proportionate reasons", does have this to say:
There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position [on abortion] 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.
(emphasis added)

"Morally grave reasons" is a long way from the Blade reporter's choice of words: "other crucial issues".

Knowing Bishop Blair's record for sound Catholic teaching, I have the feeling that the Blade reporter isn't giving us the whole story. Instead, the Blade reporter gives an accounting of the Bishop's remarks that appears to be a go-ahead to vote for a pro-abortion candidate so long as you "reject the candidate's position on abortion" but support the candidate with regard to "other crucial issues".

About what you'd expect from mainstream media reporting on a subject like this.

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Bishop Blair to Speak on "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship"

National Catholic Register: "Voting in 2008 - New Guidance From Catholic Bishops"

USCCB Makes Available Full Text of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship

John Allen Interviews Bishop DiMarzio Regarding Catholic Voting Guides

Archbishop Chaput Not Satisfied With Proposed New USCCB Document on Voting

Catholic Bishops’ Taxing Task: Election-Year Statement

Bishops' Document to Offer New Guidance on Catholics' Political Role

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At 2/08/2008 12:28 PM, Blogger PB said...

I caught this today and thought the same thing! It is irritating that they went out of their way to add the justification for a pro-abortion vote!

The Blade is as liberal of a newspaper as they come. It's pretty sad.


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