Cybercast News Service: "Catholics Can't Support 'Pro-Choicers,' Church Leaders Say"
From Cybercast News Service:
(CNSNews.com) - A statement by the Archbishop of San Antonio, Texas, criticizing Hillary Clinton's speech and rally on a Catholic college campus because of her pro-abortion stance is being cheered by some Catholics and dismissed by others.(emphasis added)
In a Feb. 12 statement about Clinton's campaign stop at St. Mary's University, Archbishop Jose Gomez, said: "The Catholic bishops of the United States, in their 2004 document Catholics in Political Life, affirmed that when dealing with political candidates and public office holders, 'The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.'"
"Our Catholic institutions must promote the clear understanding of our deep moral convictions on an issue like abortion, an act that the church calls 'an unspeakable crime' and a non-negotiable issue," Gomez said.
Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, said that a presidential candidate who supports abortion or embryonic stem cell research can't be the choice of a Catholic.
"Voters may not morally protect the so-called right to abortion in any way," Pavone told Cybercast News Service. "Therefore, they may not vote for a pro-abortion candidate."
With all due respect (and I think VERY highly of Fr. Pavone), I think Fr. Pavone overstates his case for Catholics not voting for candidates who support legalized abortion. It goes too far to say that a Catholic "may not" or "can not" or "shall not" vote for a pro-abortion candidate, without qualifying that assertion. That's just not what the Church teaches.
However, we do know that prior to becoming Pope Benedict, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in a letter to the U.S. Bishops that there must be "proportionate reasons" to justify voting in favor of a pro-abortion candidate:
When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons." (emphasis added)And the U.S. Bishops in their recent doucment on voting, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, have this to say on the subject:
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)Clearly, these statements from then-Cardinal Ratzinger and from the U.S. Bishops contemplate that there may be rare instances where one might vote for a pro-abortion politician, but that those instances must involve either "proportionate" and/or "morally grave" reasons that would justify voting for someone who favors legalized abortion (which in the U.S. amounts to abortion-on-demand up to the very moment of birth [ED.: I am reminded by a commenter that if your name is Obama it also includes up to the very moments after birth as well]).
Therefore, although I think it is inaccurate to say that a Catholic voter may not vote for a pro-abortion/"pro-choice" candidate under any circumstances, I think it quite legitimate to say that a Catholic voter SHOULD NOT vote for such a candidate, and that one would have a very difficult obstacle to overcome in finding a "proportionate" and/or "morally grave" reason to justify such a vote.
Obviously, it is NEVER permissible to vote for a pro-abortion candidate BECAUSE you agree with said candidate's position on abortion. "A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia." (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger)
I am speaking only about those rare instances in which a voter who otherwise opposes abortion might be able to vote for a pro-abortion candidate. It is NOT the case that one may NEVER vote for such a candidate under any circumstances; but it is clear, I believe, that one SHOULD NOT vote for such a candidate, and MAY NOT in the absence of "proportionate" and/or "morally grave" reasons.
UPDATE #2 (19 February)
In response to Jeffrey's comment, I would like to reiterate that I make no assessment on the existence or lack thereof of "proprotionate" and/or "morally grave" reasons that may lead one to vote for a pro-abortion candidate. That is a prudential matter for each individual voter to judge for himself.
I will, however, re-state my own opinion, which is that I believe:
(1) one SHOULD NOT vote for such a candidate (had the choice been between Rudy Giuliani and one of the Dems, I would not have voted at all or voted 3rd party - I'm still not sure I can in good conscience vote for McCain given his stance on ESCR); and
(2) that it is a VERY HIGH threshold for one to overcome in finding a "proprotionate" and/or "morally grave" reason that comes anywhere close to abortion.