Administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Charleston stepped in it.... Part Two
November 19, 2008
Barbara Kralis, RenewAmerica analyst

In this second part, let's examine what the Catholic Church, its Popes and those Bishops in unions with the Pope, teaches us about its Church members forming right consciences, wrongly voting for pro-abortion politicians, and being worthy to receive Holy Communion.

Solemn and Ordinary Magisterial Teachings

  • "The Church stresses that a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.... John Paul II, continuing the constant teaching of the Church, has reiterated many times that those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a 'grave and clear obligation to oppose' any law that attacks human life.

    "For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them" [1]

  • "Presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion should be a conscious decision, based on a reasoned judgment regarding one's worthiness to do so, according to the Church's objective criteria, asking such questions as: 'Am I in full communion with the Catholic Church? Am I guilty of grave sin? Have I incurred a penalty [e.g. excommunication, interdict] that forbids me to receive Holy Communion? Have I prepared myself by fasting for at least an hour?' The practice of indiscriminately presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion, merely as a consequence of being present at Mass, is an abuse that must be corrected." [2]

  • "If we tell ourselves that the Church ought not to interfere in such matters, we cannot but answer: are we not concerned with the human being? Do not believers, by virtue of the great culture of their faith, have the right to make a pronouncement on all this? Is it not our duty to raise our voices to defend the human being, that creature who, precisely in the inseparable unity of body and spirit, is the image of God?" [3]

  • "Among all the crimes which can be committed against life, procured abortion has characteristics making it particularly serious and deplorable" [Pope John Paul II, 'Evangelium vitae,' n.58].

  • In treating the evil of procured abortion, Pope John Paul II concluded: "No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church" [Pope John Paul II, 'Evangelium vitae,' n.62d].

  • "Laws, which authorize and promote abortion... [are] radically opposed not only to the good of the individual but also to the common good; as such they are completely lacking in authentic juridical validity. Disregard for the right to life, precisely because it leads to the killing of the person whom society exists to serve, is what most directly conflicts with the possibility of achieving the common good. Consequently, a civil law authorizing abortion or euthanasia ceases by that very fact to be a true, morally binding civil law. [Pope John Paul II, 'Evangelium vitae,' n.72].

  • "To claim the right to abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over others and against others. This is the death of true freedom: 'Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin'" Jn 8:34 [Pope John Paul II, 'Evangelium vitae,' n.20].

  • "The Church's custom shows that it is necessary for each person to examine himself at depth, and that anyone who is conscious of grave sin should not celebrate or receive the Body of the Lord without prior sacramental confession, except for grave reason when the possibility of confession is lacking; in this case he will remember that he is bound by the obligation of making an act of perfect contrition, which includes the intention to confess as soon as possible. Moreover, the Church has drawn up norms aimed at fostering the frequent and fruitful access of the faithful to the Eucharistic table and at determining the objective conditions under which Communion may not be given [Ecclesia de Eucharistia n. 42]. It is certainly best that all who are participating in the celebration of Holy Mass with the necessary dispositions should receive Communion. Nevertheless, it sometimes happens that Christ's faithful approach the altar as a group indiscriminately.

    "It pertains to the Pastors prudently and firmly to correct such an abuse." [4]

  • "Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. From the very beginnings of the Church, the apostolic preaching reminded Christians of their duty to obey legitimately constituted public authorities [cf. Rom 13:1-7; 1 Pet 2:13-14], but at the same time it firmly warned that 'we must obey God rather than men' [Acts 5:29]. ... It is precisely from obedience to God -to whom alone is due that fear which is acknowledgment of his absolute sovereignty — that the strength and the courage to resist unjust human laws are born. It is the strength and the courage of those prepared even to be imprisoned or put to the sword, in the certainty that this is what makes for 'the endurance and faith of the saints' [Rev 13:10].

    "In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it" [Pope John Paul II, 'Evangelium vitae,' n.73].

  • "The inviolability of the person, which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, finds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life. Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights — for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture — is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition of all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination . . . everyone has the mission and responsibility of acknowledging the personal dignity of every human being and of defending the right to life, some lay faithful are given particular title to this task: such as parents, teachers, health workers and the many who hold economic and political power." [5]

  • "Can we allow access to Eucharistic communion to those who deny the human and Christian principles and values? The responsibility of the politicians and legislators is great. So-called personal option cannot be separated from the socio-political duty. It is not a 'private' problem; the acceptance of the Gospel, of the Magisterium and of right reasoning is needed! As for all, even for politicians and legislators the word of God holds true: 'Therefore anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily... is eating and drinking his own condemnation'" [1 Cor 11:27-29]. [6]

  • "The Church's teaching on the intrinsic evil of procured abortion forbids the destruction of human beings from the moment of fertilization through every stage of their development. Therefore, one cannot justify a vote for a candidate who promotes intrinsically evil acts which erode the very foundation of the common good, such as abortion by appealing to that same candidate's opposition to war or capital punishment" [cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 2265 and 2309].

  • "It would be sinful to cast a ballot for one who, in the judgment of the voters, would do grave public harm." [7]

  • "I do believe that abortion is a great enough threat to our society to justify an Ordinary taking a strong stand against the candidacy of such a pro-abortion candidate as Barack Hussein Obama. An Ordinary [Bishop] need not name the candidate by name, as I have done, but surely the Ordinary possesses the literary skills to condemn the candidacy on moral grounds in such a way as to leave absolutely no doubt in the reader's mind as to the identity of the candidate whose candidacy is being condemned." [8]

  • "There is only one thing that could be considered proportionate enough to justify a Catholic voting for a candidate who is known to be pro-abortion, and that is the protection of innocent human life. That may seem to be contradictory, but it is not.

    "Consider the case of a Catholic voter who must choose between three candidates: candidate (A, Kerry) who is completely for abortion-on-demand, candidate (B, Bush) who is in favor of very limited abortion, i.e., in favor of greatly restricting abortion and candidate (C, Peroutka), a candidate who is completely against abortion but who is universally recognized as being unelectable.

    "The Catholic voter cannot vote for candidate (A, Kerry) because that would be formal cooperation in the sin of abortion if that candidate were to be elected and assist in passing legislation, which would remove restrictions on, abortion-on-demand.

    "The Catholic can vote for candidate (C, Peroutka) but that will probably only help ensure the election of candidate (A, Kerry).

    "Therefore the Catholic voter has a proportionate reason to vote for candidate (B, Bush) since his vote may help to ensure the defeat of candidate (A, Kerry) and may result in the saving of some innocent human lives if candidate (B, Bush) is elected and introduces legislation restricting abortion-on-demand. In such a case, the Catholic voter would have chosen the lesser of two evils, which is morally permissible under these circumstances." [9]

  • Radio Ad — Voice says: "This is Bishop Rene H. Gracida, reminding all Catholics that they must vote in this election with an informed conscience. A Catholic cannot be said to have voted in this election with a good conscience if they have voted for a pro-abortion candidate. Barack Hussein Obama is a pro-abortion candidate." [10]

  • "Certainly, it is never right to vote for a candidate in order to promote the immoral practices he or she endorses and supports. In such a case, the voter, who assists the candidate in fulfilling his or her agenda by getting into office, intends the same evil endorsed and promoted by the candidate. According to Catholic moral teaching, assisting another to achieve evil in this fashion is called formal cooperation, which is never morally permissible." [11]

  • "But, there is no element of the common good, no morally good practice, that a candidate may promote and to which a voter may be dedicated, which could justify voting for a candidate who also endorses and supports the deliberate killing of the innocent, abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, euthanasia, human cloning or the recognition of a same-sex relationship as legal marriage. These elements are so fundamental to the common good that they cannot be subordinated to any other cause, no matter how good." [12]

  • "My fellow citizens of the United States of America should be deeply concerned about any candidate for the presidency who supports legislation which permits the destruction of human life at its very beginning, the killing of babies in the womb, or legislation which violates the integrity of marriage and family life. The safeguarding and promoting of human life, from the moment of its inception, and of the integrity of marriage must be the fundamental planks of any political agenda. A good citizen must support and vote for the candidate who most supports the inalienable dignity of innocent and defenseless life, and the integrity of marriage. To do otherwise, is to participate, in some way, in the culture of death which pervades the life of the nation and has led to so much violence, even in the home and in educational institutions." [13]

  • "I'm not telling anybody how to vote in this sense: I'm not telling them for whom they should vote. But I am telling them how to vote in the sense of what are the moral requirements for the right exercise of the right to vote. In other words, I'm setting forth for them the moral considerations of which they have to take note in voting. But I'm not telling them for whom they should vote. People have to read the pastoral letter — there isn't anything in the pastoral letter which is new; it's all what the Church has taught perennially. Then it's a matter of their conscience. In that sense, I suppose to put it simply, I'm telling them how to vote in the sense that I'm telling to vote according to their conscience and helping them to form that conscience correctly. That's my obligation as a bishop in such serious matters to present the Church's teaching." [14]

  • "Unfortunately, when candidates for office in these United States make bold assertions that they have every intention of working to assure that the alleged right of a woman to kill her pre-born child is either preserved or even expanded, many Catholics seem to think that it would be morally acceptable to vote for such a candidate as long as they somehow miraculously excised the candidate's pro-abortion mindset out of the equation. A vote for such a candidate, like it or not, is likewise a vote for the firmly held abortion position; it is inseparable from the person. Just as a vote for a genocidal maniac is a vote for genocide and a vote for the avowed torturer is a vote for torture and a vote for the indiscriminant target of innocent women and children is a vote for such targeting so a vote for a promoter of abortion, when there is another less evil alternative available, is a vote for abortion." [15]

  • "It is a tragic irony that "pro-choice" candidates have come to support homicide [abortion] — the gravest injustice a society can tolerate — in the name of "social justice.... A person who supports permissive abortion laws, however, rejects the truth that innocent human life may never be destroyed. This profound moral failure runs deeper and is more corrupting of the individual, and of the society, than any error in applying just war criteria to particular cases...some evils, such as abortion and euthanasia in particular, take precedence over other forms of violence and abuse. While the Church assists the State in the promotion of a just society, its primary concern is to assist men and women in achieving salvation. For this reason, it is incumbent upon bishops to correct Catholics who are in error regarding these matters. Furthermore, public officials who are Catholic and who persist in public support for abortion and other intrinsic evils should not partake in or be admitted to the sacrament of Holy Communion [canon 915]. As I have said before, I will be vigilant on this subject" ['A Pastoral Letter from Bishop Martino,' by Joseph F. Martino, Bishopof the Diocese of Scranton, read at all Masses on Respect Life Sunday, October 4-5, 2008].

    If you would like to send Fr. Newman a note of encouragement for continuing to do what the Church intends him to do, you may contact him at:

    E-mail: jayscottnewman@mac.com
    St. Mary's Catholic Church [founded in l852 and dedicated to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart of Jesus]
    111 Hampton Avenue, Greenville, SC 29601
    Phone: 864-679-4101 personal line
    Phone: 864-271-8422
    www.stmarysgvl.org

    For further reading: Catholic author George Weigel in his book 'Letters to a Young Catholic' pointed out that Fr. Newman and his rapidly growing St. Mary's parish is a bright beacon in the continuing wasteland of the post-Vatican II devastation. And go here to read Fr. Newman's gobsmacking essay, 'Worshiping the Lord in the Beauty of Holiness.'

     Please go to 'Part One' to examine what the Catholic Church, its Popes and its Bishops, teach us about its Church members wrongly voting for pro-abortion politicians.

    NOTES:

    [1]  "Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life," by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, November 24, 2002. This document summarizes Church teachings on issues of freedom of conscience, pluralism and political activity.

    [2]  'Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion. General Principles,' Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger to US Bishops, June 2004; cf Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum, nos. 81, 83.

    [3]  Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Members of the Roman Curia at the Traditional Exchange of Christmas Greetings, Clementine Hall, Friday, December 22, 2006.

    [4]  n. 81-83, Redemptionis Sacramentum, March 25, 2004, addresses abuses of the Liturgy in its 185 paragraphs; cf Code of Canon Law, c. 915; Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 916; cf. Ecumenical Council of Trent, Session XIII, 11 October 1551, Decree on the Most Holy Eucharist, Chapter 7: DS 1646-1647; Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n. 36: AAS 95 (2003) pp. 457-458; S. Congregation of Rites, Instruction, Eucharisticum mysterium, n. 35: AAS 59 (1967) p. 561.

    [5]  "Pope John Paul II elaborates in his 1988 apostolic exhortation, The Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World [Christifideles Laici]; cf Living the Gospel of Life n. 19.

    [6]  H. Em. Card. Alfonso López Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Eucharistic Coherence of Politicians and Legislators, Pontifical Council for the Family, Intervention of H.E. Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo at the XI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Vatican City, October 7, 2005.

    [7]  The New Confraternity Edition: 'Revised Baltimore Catechism and Mass,' No. 3, New York: Benziger Brothers, 1949, p. 145.

    [8]  Bishop Rene Henry Gracida, Bishop emeritus of the diocese of Corpus Christi, TX, October 29, 2008, response to commentary online.

    [9]  Statement, Bishop Rene Henry Gracida, 'Voting for Pro-Abortion Candidates,' August 11, 2004.

    [10]  October 24, 2008, Bishop Rene Henry Gracida, Bishop emeritus of the diocese of Corpus Christi, TX, radio ad in English and Spanish, republished by Slatts.blogspot.com.

    [11]  'On Our Civic Responsibility for the Common Good,' n. 37, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, October 1, 2004.

    [12]  'On Our Civic Responsibility for the Common Good,' n.39, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, October 1, 2004].

    [13]  Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura of the Holy See, Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke, interview Inside the Vatican interview, November 3, 2008.

    [14]  Archbishop Raymond Burke, then Bishop of LaCrosse, interview with 'Inside the Vatican,' October 5, 2004, regarding his pastoral, 'On Our Civic Responsibility for the Common Good.'

    [15]  'As you form conscience, know not all issues are equal,' October 16, 2008, by Bishop Robert Vasa, Bishop of Diocese of Baker.

    © Barbara Kralis

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