Health Care, Politicians and the Catholic Conscience
Catholic Online carries this Zenit article by Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus:
NEW HAVEN, Connecticut (Zenit.org) - For decades, Americans have been subjected to the arguments of certain Catholic politicians who argued that while "personally opposed" to unjust policies like abortion, they were nonetheless unwilling to "impose" that view on the rest of the country.
The argument was disingenuous, premised on the fact that somehow a "Catholic" conscience had to be put to the side in the public square.
Now, the very people who argued that they couldn't bring their private conscience into a secular public square are poised to use the law to impose a particular view on their fellow Catholics.
By working and voting to include abortion coverage in health care legislation, several Catholic politicians stand at the precipice of being the deciding votes in forcing a particular immoral view on their fellow Catholics, by forcing them to fund abortion through their tax dollars.
While professing that they cannot impose their conscience on anyone else, these politicians seem to have little hesitation about imposing a political view -- one they claim to oppose in principle -- on the consciences of their fellow Catholics.
Catholic politicians must now consider the effect of national legislation mandating Catholic cooperation in abortion. In his famous pro-life encyclical, "Evangelium Vitae," Pope John Paul II said: "The passing of unjust laws often raises difficult problems of conscience for morally upright people with regard to the issue of cooperation, since they have a right to demand not to be forced to take part in morally evil actions."
He said further: "Christians, like all people of good will, are called upon under grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God's law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. […]
"This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it. Each individual in fact has moral responsibility for the acts which he personally performs; no one can be exempted from this responsibility, and on the basis of it everyone will be judged by God himself".