Sunday, February 17, 2008

Kentucky Bishops: Catholics Cannot Vote for Politicians Who Support Abortion, Except for Morally Grave Reasons

Kentucky, February 15, 2008 ( - Catholics cannot vote for a political candidate that takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion, unless there is a morally grave reason to do so, the Kentucky bishops have instructed the faithful in a pastoral letter released this past January 22, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

As one would expect, given the release date, the bishops' pastoral letter, entitled Reverence for Life: Conscience and Faithful Citizenship, focuses significantly on the life issues

"Catholic social doctrine is not limited to the defense and promotion of economic and political rights," begins the letter. "Human life issues such as abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, and the violence of war also fall within the scope of social morality."

Indeed, the letter indicates, human life issues ultimately supersede strictly political and economic considerations, since the life issues address the most fundamental human right, the right to life, which underpins all other human rights.

"Consistent with our nation's legal tradition we hold that all human laws must be measured against the natural law engraved in our hearts by the Creator….In particular, respect for human life is numbered among those basic values that underpin the very foundation of civilization. What we profess in defense of the sacredness of unborn human life harmonizes with our historic legal tradition founded on the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

"Abortion on demand," the bishops stress, "does not."

The letter, the release of which is clearly meant to coincide with the looming federal elections, informs Catholics that it would be cooperating with grave evil to vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor an intrinsic evil, such as abortion, unless there is a sufficiently grave reason to vote for the candidate.

"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," explain the bishops.

"There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate's unacceptable moral position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons." However, the bishops continue, clarifying what might constitute a "grave moral reason", "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)

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Kentucky Parishes Cautioned on Partisan Political Activity

Bishop Blair Calls Upon Voters to Examine

Archbishop Chaput: "Better Citizens, More Faithful Catholics"

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

Vox Nova on Voter's Guides

Dueling Catholic Voter Guides

More on Catholic Voter Guides

Columnist: "Christian Right Driving Wedge Into US"

More From Amy Welborn on the "Dueling Catholic Voter Guides"

"Catholics in the Public Square" by Bishop Olmsted

Catholics Find Voting Guides a Test of Allegiance

Toledo Blade: "Catholic Voting Guide Gives Church Perspective"

Weigel: "An Electoral Battle of the Booklets?"

What's Missing?

"Not An Approved Catholic Voter Guide"

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