A Voter’s Guide

September 17, 2004; Page W13
Wall Street Journal

Amid today’s political jostling, Catholic citizens are wondering whether they can, in conscience, vote for candidates who support the legalized killing of human beings in the embryonic and fetal stages of development by abortion or in biomedical research.

Responding to requests to clarify the obligations of Catholics on this matter, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, under its prefect, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, released a statement called “On Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion.” Although it dealt primarily with the obligations of bishops to deny communion to Catholic politicians in certain circumstances, it included a short note at the end addressing whether Catholics could, in good conscience, vote for candidates who supported the taking of nascent human life in the womb or lab.

Read the entire article on the Wall Street Journal website.


2 thoughts on “A Voter’s Guide”

  1. In the next presidential election(2008), we all may be faced with two candidates who support abortion “rights”. Hilary Clinton and Rudy Guliani. As Dean has often pointed out, consistency demands opposition to both. However, Catholics at least, have an out. They may vote in good conscience for the candidate they feel is best in other areas. I admit I will find it difficult to vote at all. While I admire Guliani’s leadership skills and his effectiveness in keeping order in NY during his tenure as mayor, I don’t admire his stance on abortion or his inability to stay faithful in his marriage. Hilary Clinton, I admire not at all in any way, shape or form.

  2. Archbishop Myers raises a very important issue here but I found his conclusions less than compelling. Cardinal Ratzinger, one of the Catholic Church’s most prominent spokesmen for matters of doctrine has stated that while it would be immoral for a Catholic to vote for a pro-choice candidate specifically because he or she is for abortion rights, it would not be immoral to vote for a pro-choice candidate on the basis of other moral positions taken by that candidate.

    Archbishop Myers doubts that there is any single issue or combination of moral positions a candidate can take that would offset, or counter-balance, the grave moral error of supporting abortion-rights. According to Archbishop Myers abortion outweighs every other issuue the moral scale in guiding our decision.

    I have three problems with Archbishop Myers “voting guide”:

    (1) It provides no method for holding an incumbent accountable for his or her poor performance, or poor policy decisions, while in office, or taking into consideration a challenger’s lack of qualifications.

    We wouldn’t hire a school bus driver with poor driving record simply because he opposed abortion. We wouldn’t hire a financial advisor who consistently selected money-losing investments for his clients just because he belonged to our church. By the same reasoning why should we be compelled to vote for a candidate with a poor record or poor qualifications simply because the other candidate is for abortion rights? Where does competency fit in?

    (2) It doesn’t require action, only public acceptance of a certain doctinal and legal point of view. Why would a candidate who is pro-choice, but undertakes actions designed to reduce the incidence of unwanted pregnancies resulting in abortion, be morally less acceptable than a candidate who takes a pro-life stance, and does nothing to address the causes of abortion?

    (3) It doesn’t require a consistent support for all issues involving the sanctity of human life.

    The sincerity of a candidates commitment to the sanctity of life as demonstrated by his pro-life stance on abortion, may be called into question by his anti-life stand on matters such as the environment, public health, and war. How can we be sure that a candidate truly does respect the sanctity of human life when he or she displays indifference to life on a whole range of issues other than abortion?

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