Bishops Resolve Doubts for Faithful Citizens
DALLAS, Texas, OCT. 22, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Voting for a pro-abortion candidate when there is an alternative option is to cooperate in evil, and therefore morally impermissible, clarified two Texas bishops.
In a message made available to the faithful during this Respect Life month, bishops Kevin Farrell of Dallas and Kevin Vann of Fort Worth seek to "dispel any confusion or misunderstanding that may be present among you concerning the teaching contained in" the U.S. bishops document on faithful citizenship.
"'Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship' clearly teaches that not all issues have the same moral equivalence," the bishops explained. "Some issues involve 'intrinsic evils'; that is, they can never under any circumstance or condition be morally justified. Preeminent among these intrinsic evils are legalized abortion, the promotion of same-sex unions and 'marriages,' repression of religious liberty, as well as public policies permitting euthanasia, racial discrimination or destructive human embryonic stem cell research."
Thus, bishops Farrell and Vann stated, "we cannot make more clear the seriousness of the overriding issue of abortion -- while not the 'only issue'-- it is the defining moral issue, not only today, but of the last 35 years. […] This electoral cycle affords us an opportunity to promote the culture of life in our nation.
"As Catholics we are morally obligated to pray, to act and to vote to abolish the evil of abortion in America, limiting it as much as we can until it is finally abolished."
The prelates acknowledged that there are a number of important issues voters must consider "such as immigration reform, health care, the economy and its solvency, care and concern for the poor, and the war on terror."
"As Catholics we must be concerned about these issues and work to see that just solutions are brought about," they wrote. "There are many possible solutions to these issues and there can be reasonable debate among Catholics on how to best approach and solve them. These are matters of 'prudential judgment.'"
"But," the prelates emphasized, "let us be clear: Issues of prudential judgment are not morally equivalent to issues involving intrinsic evils. No matter how right a given candidate is on any of these issues, it does not outweigh a candidate's unacceptable position in favor of an intrinsic evil such as abortion or the protection of 'abortion rights.'"
Salvation at stake
The Texas bishops, citing the U.S. episcopal conference document, addressed the question of if it is "permissible for a Catholic to vote for a candidate who supports an intrinsic evil -- even when the voter does not agree with the candidate's position on that evil."
They said there are only two conditions when voting for a pro-abortion candidate is permissible: "A. If both candidates running for office support abortion or 'abortion rights,' a Catholic would be forced to then look at the other important issues and through their vote try to limit the evil done; or,
"B. If another intrinsic evil outweighs the evil of abortion. While this is sound moral reasoning, there are no 'truly grave moral' or 'proportionate' reasons, singularly or combined, that could outweigh the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by legal abortion each year.
"To vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or 'abortion rights' when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in the evil -- and, therefore, morally impermissible."
The bishops concluded affirming that the decisions made on such political and moral issues "may affect each individual's salvation."
"As Catholics, we must treat our political choices with appropriate moral gravity," they wrote, "and in doing so, realize our continuing and unavoidable obligation to be a voice for the voiceless unborn, whose destruction by legal abortion is the preeminent intrinsic evil of our day."