What Ratzinger Said

by Jimmy Akin

in Uncategorized

[NOTE TO FELLOW BLOGGERS: This topic is important enough that I’d encourage you to link to this post so more people can get the straight story on it. Thanks!–Jimmy]

“A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.”

So wrote Cardinal Ratzinger in a confidential memorandum titled Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles that became public earlier this year.

Many Catholics were at a loss to understand the Cardinal’s statement. “Has Ratzinger lost his mind?” some wondered. “Isn’t he departing from sound Catholic theology?”

Others, including well-known dissidents, pounced on the statement as vindication for their cause and wrote newspaper columns trumpeting it as proof that in the Vatican’s view it is okay to vote for pro-abortion politicians as long as you don’t share their pro-abortion view. In other words, a voter can be “personally opposed but . . .”

Both responses fail to do justice to the Cardinal’s remark. Contrary to the first response, he is not departing from the established principles of Catholic moral theology. In fact, he is emphasizing them. Contrary to the second response, he is not offering an easy pretext for voting for pro-abort politicians.

Personally, I wish he had either not added this note to his memorandum or that he had elaborated the matter further to prevent the confusion that was sure to arise from it, but he was not writing for public consumption and this may account for his writing on such a sensitive matter with such brevity.

Let’s try to clear up the confusion.

Cooperation

Humans work together to achieve common goals. But cooperation is not always good. When the goals being pursued or the means used to achieve them are evil then there is a problem.

It is tempting to take a rigorist position and simply declare that all cooperation with evil is sinful, but a few moments reflection reveals problems with this position.

Sometimes our own actions may be entirely innocent, yet they may be part of a chain of events that results in evil. For example, if we work in a bookstore we might sell someone an ink pen—an action entirely innocent in and of itself—and be totally unaware that the person buying the ink pen is planning to plunge it into someone else’s eyeball, causing blindness.

By selling the person the ink pen, our action cooperated with and enabled the action of the attacker. Yet a well-formed conscience would not say that we did something wrong by selling him the pen under the conditions described above. Clearly, then, some forms of cooperation with evil in some circumstances are not sinful.

Ignorance of the evil is not the only excuse here. Sometimes force is. Suppose we are in a convenience store when we encounter a man waving a gun. He points the gun at us and tells us to load up a bag with the money from the cash register.

Doing so would involve cooperating with evil—the robbery of a convenience store—but is it licit to do so with a gun pointed at our heads? The Catholic Church places a high value on private property, but neither the Church nor, in all probability, the convenience store would tell us that the few hundred dollars that might be in the cash register are worth our lives and that we must refuse to put the loot in the bag.

We also see biblical examples of cooperation with evil being justified. When John the Baptist was preaching, Roman centurions and tax collectors came to him and asked what they must do. The Roman Empire was an evil institution that did all kinds of horrible things (including promoting emperor worship), but did John the Baptist tell them that they were morally required to quit their jobs because they were supporting an evil empire?

No, he told them that they personally should do no evil, neither collecting more taxes than their due nor oppressing anybody or extorting money out of him. They should be content with their pay and do their jobs (Luke 3:12-14). As long as they did this, the kind of cooperation they were giving the Roman Empire was morally licit in their circumstances.

Having situations like this forced have the Church to examine what are licit and illicit forms of cooperation with the evil actions of others, and one fact that has emerged clearly from this reflection is that some forms of cooperation can be morally licit.

In fact, since humans are sinners, the only way to avoid cooperating with the sinful actions of others would be to avoid cooperating with human beings entirely. That not only is not possible, it would mean not doing the good that God commands us to do regarding others.

On the scrupulous “never cooperate when evil may result” view, even saving a drowning man would be prohibited on the grounds that the man will surely go on to sin in some way if we save his life, yet God expects us to save him if we can. By utterly withdrawing from human society to avoid cooperation with evil we would trade perceived sins of commission for actual sins of omission.

So there we have it. We’re stuck. While we are in this life we have to cooperate with other humans, even knowing that they are sinners and that our cooperation will enable their sins in some circumstances.

The question is not whether we should cooperate with others, but what kinds of cooperation with others are morally legitimate.

Traditional Catholic moral theology has discerned several different forms of cooperation. We do not have space here to offer a complete list of all the different kinds that have been proposed by moral theologians, but let us focus on the two Cardinal Ratzinger mentioned.

Formal Cooperation

The first was “formal cooperation,” which occurs when we mentally assent to the act with which we are cooperating. For example, if someone is robbing a bank and we help him, willingly agreeing to the bank robbery (not because we are being forced into it) then we are formally cooperating with the heist. In such a case, we share in the moral character of the act.

Cardinal Ratzinger’s example concerns voting for a candidate for office “precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia.” In such a case, we would be enabling the candidate to promote abortion or euthanasia by electing him to office, and thus would be cooperating with abortion or euthanasia. By voting for him precisely because of his stand on these issues, we would be endorsing them, and thus we would be formally cooperating with abortion or euthanasia.

For a Catholic to do this would result in him being “guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion.”

But not all forms of cooperation with evil are of this sort, so let us look at the other form the Cardinal names.

Remote Material Cooperation

If one does not formally cooperate with evil, one may materially cooperate. This occurs when one does an action that is not sinful in and of itself and where one does not endorse the evil that one’s action facilitates.

For example, in our pen-selling example, the action we performed (selling an ink pen) was not immoral in itself, nor did we consent to the evil that was to be done with it (attacking someone so as to blind him). Our cooperation in that case was material rather than formal.

There is more than one type of material cooperation, as indicated by Cardinal Ratzinger’s mention of remote material cooperation. The alternative is proximate material cooperation, and the difference is how directly involved our actions are in the event.

Suppose in our pen-selling example that the very moment we hand the ink pen to the attacker that he lunges for another customer and tries to blind him. We put the weapon in his hand immediately before he used it. In this case, our material involvement in what happened was proximate (near) to the commission of the evil act.

But suppose we didn’t sell him the ink pen but only manufactured it. In this case, we didn’t put the weapon into the attacker’s hand. We simply made it and someone else handed it to the attacker. While our actions were still part of a chain of events leading to an evil act, they were much more remote from the attack and would be described as remote material cooperation.

It should be obvious that it can be perfectly legitimate for us to have this kind of remote material involvement in what happened. If we are pen manufacturers, we need to make a living, and we can’t be expected to shut down operations simply because some people may or even will misuse the pen points we make.

We thus have a good reason (needing to make a living) for allowing the remote material cooperation. That reason, in the language of traditional Catholic moral theology, is said to be “proportionate.”

It is important to note that the mere use of the word “proportionate” does not mean that one is endorsing a dissident moral theology known as “proportionalism,” which John Paul II condemned in Veritatis Splendor 75-76. This is what confused some people about the Cardinal’s note. They thought it sounded as if he were endorsing proportionalism, but he wasn’t. The word “proportional” may be involved, but that doesn’t result in proportionalism.

In essence, proportionalism makes the presence of a proportionate reason the sole criterion for whether an act is justifiable. In other words, you can do anything if you have a good enough reason. There are no actions that can never be done in principle.

It is clear that this is not what Ratzinger is suggesting. In fact, quite the opposite. He recognizes that some actions (such as abortion and euthanasia) are intrinsically evil and can never be justified. What he is doing is discussing how far away—how remote—your actions have to be from these for you to be able to act in good conscience.

In the case of voting for a pro-abortion politician, the act of voting is remote from the act of abortion. A person may vote for such a politician, but he usually only will get elected when this vote is combined with the votes of many others. Then, once he takes office, he has the ability to influence public policy regarding abortion, but he does not commit these actions himself (at least in his capacity as an elected official). He leaves that to doctors.

The chain of human choices that interpose between one person’s act of voting and the end act of another person committing abortion show that the voter’s cooperation with abortion is remote. If he does not approve of abortion, it is also material rather than formal.

Proportionate Reasons

Traditional Catholic moral theology allows that remote material cooperation with an evil action may be justifiable in certain circumstances. In the Cardinal’s words it “can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.” Some may find this difficult to accept, but traditional Catholic moral theology has been firm on the point.

Consider a parallel: God does things that enable others to commit sins (e.g., giving them life, free will, the ability to act). He even continues to supply them with these things when they are in the very act of committing abortion and euthanasia. What the proportionate reasons are that justify God in doing this forms a major part of the problem of evil, but we do know that God is justified in all that he does.

Catholic moral theology thus seems to be on firm ground in acknowledging the principle that remote material cooperation with an evil can be justified when there are proportionate reasons.

We thus might ask: What kind of reasons could there be to vote for a pro-abortion or pro-euthanasia politician?

Here is a clear case: Suppose that in a given election either Candidate A or Candidate B is morally certain to win, but it is not clear which will win. Candidate A’s only policy is that he supports abortion, while Candidate B has two policies: He supports both abortion and euthanasia. In this case, more harm will be done to society by the election of Candidate B, and so based on principles touched on by John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae 73, one may cast one’s vote in such a way as to limit the harm done to society (see my discussion of this topic in PUBLICATION INFORMATION).

In such a situation, casting one’s vote for Candidate A does not amount to an endorsement of his policies. It represents an attempt to reign in the greater harm that otherwise will result.

This is something many seem confused about. It often appears that people regard casting their votes as if they were swearing to a particular proposition, such as “I support all of the policies of this candidate.” If that was the case then one could never vote for a candidate with a less then 100% perfect set of social policy views, for one would be pledging to support some things that are wrong.

But voting does not entail this. Votes very likely are not to be understood as involving propositions at all, but to the extent that they can be translated into propositions, they would be something more limited, like “Of the options available, I want this candidate to be elected this time.”

That doesn’t involve a personal endorsement of any of the candidate’s policies. In fact, one might oppose all of a candidate’s policies and vote for him purely to keep an even worse candidate out of office.

This was the case with voting for Candidate A to prevent the election of the even worse Candidate B. Candidate A’s only policy was evil, but Candidate B’s policies were even more evil.

That situation was artificially simple in order to illustrate a principle. In the real world the principle is more difficult to apply because candidates rarely have entirely evil platforms. Many will have elements in their platforms, alongside support for abortion and euthanasia, that Catholics are permitted to support, and some will be tempted to support them for these reasons.

Many suggested Cardinal Ratzinger was giving his blessing to voting for pro-aborts if there were enough other good things about them. But having a number of good points is not enough. As the Cardinal indicated, there must be counterbalancing reasons proportional to abortion.

Such reasons are not easy to come up with, particularly for candidates seeking offices that have the ability to significantly impact abortion law. These include the presidents who nominate Supreme Court justices and the senators who confirm them.

One wants to weed out pro-abort candidates on the lowest level possible so that they can’t use their political track record to get elected to higher office, but the more impact the office has on abortion policy, the more weighty a reason must be to allow a vote for them.

What kind of reason would be needed to vote for a pro-abort candidate for president? Something unimaginably huge.

The Abortion Numbers

Consider: A million and a half new Americans are murdered every year by abortion.

While particular historical circumstances increase or decrease the number of Supreme Court appointments a president gets to make (some presidents get many and some get none), if we average out the differences then it turns out that a pro-abort president on average could extend the abortion holocaust by four years equivalent to the four year term he spends in office.

At a million and a half kids killed per year, that means that a pro-abort president would be responsible for extending the abortion holocaust to include six million additional murders.

When one takes into account the fact that about half of the recent presidents have had second terms, that would mean a pro-abort president would be responsible for extending the abortion holocaust to include approximately nine million Americans.

No other issue involves numbers that high. Nothing short of a full-scale nuclear or biological war between well-armed nation states would kill that many people, and we aren’t in imminent danger of having one of those.

Not even terrorists with WMDs could kill that many people. As vital as the issue of terrorism is, it does not get us up into the number of deaths caused by abortion. It would take three thousand 9/11-size events in a president’s average term of office (more than one a day) to rack up sufficient deaths to make terrorism proportionate to abortion. Al-Qa’eda simply does not have enough suicidal fanatics to make terrorism proportionate to abortion.

Jobs? The economy? Taxes? Education? The environment? Immigration? Forget it. We do not have nine million people dying in a typical president’s term of office due to bad job programs, bad economic policies, bad taxes, bad education, bad environmental law, bad immigration rules—or even all of these combined. All of them together cannot provide a reason proportionate to the need to end abortion.

Make no mistake: Abortion is the preeminent moral issue of our time. It is the black hole that out-masses every other issue. Presenting any other issues as if they were proportionate to it is nothing but smoke and mirrors.

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{ 69 comments }

Brandon September 9, 2004 at 12:16 pm

Am I wrong to suppose that part of the “proportionate reasons” would have to take into account the pre-existence of legalized abortion, it’s enshrinement in law, the difficulty of changing it, the chance of Supreme Court nominations (and of being able to get them past the Senate) and the ability of lawmakers–even the president–to have much effect.
I ask because I’ve heard many people say that a million and a half babies are going to die each year no matter who is elected (or perhaps slightly less for a pro-life president, but not by much). Or I have heard Catholics lament that in years of prolife voting, no change has happened while they’ve forfeited all the other issues important to them. Or, again, I’ve known Catholics who are frustrated that they have to continually vote for people whom they don’t like and don’t agree with simply because they are partly pro-life and the opponent isn’t at all.
When I talk to people about voting, and proportionate reasons comes up, I think that using the example of fetal stem-cell research is a very strong argument, because so much power lies directly on the president’s desk and a simple order can begin the killing of children.

Brian September 9, 2004 at 12:25 pm

I’m sorry, but those people who say that not “enough” change will come from voting pro-life simply aren’t looking at things properly. If even one child is spared from abortion because of a pro-life vote it was worth it. Some people seem to forget what we’re dealing with here. Abortion is the senseless slaughter of the most innocent of innocents in the one place where they ought to be safe, the very womb of their mothers. The life issues outweight all other issues a million times over. If a candidate can’t get this one right it doesn’t matter what else they do.

Vociferous Yawpings September 9, 2004 at 12:42 pm

What Ratzinger Really Said

Jimmy Akin at Defensor Fidei does a masterful job of explaining what Cardinal Ratzinger meant when he addressed the issue of pro-abortion candidates and communion. Here’s the link. This should be a must-read for anyone that hasn’t had a moral…

Two Sleepy Mommies September 9, 2004 at 1:06 pm

Special for my dear husband: What the Cardinal really said

Last night over supper, my husband remarked that the secular papers had picked up on something Cardinal Ratzinger had written that apparently said it was okay for Catholics to vote for pro-choice candidates — for example, this article from the…

Peony Moss September 9, 2004 at 1:11 pm

Thanks for posting this, it came at just the right time for my husband and me.

Dave Mueller September 9, 2004 at 1:24 pm

Thanks so much, Jimmy!! I’ve been trying to make this point on what the good Cardinal meant by “proportionate reasons” for a while now on various Blogs, but coming from a much more respected voice than me (and likely with much more lucidity as well), hopefully people will listen.
God bless!

Esquire September 9, 2004 at 1:36 pm

I can appreciate the opinions of those of you for whom abortion is the only issue upon which you will make your voting decision.
You choose to vote for a candidate who will give lip-service to the anti-abortion position, but who also maintains that “the country isn’t ready to overturn Roe v. Wade”, over a candidate who is adamantly pro-choice.
However, I think there are two flaws in the reasoning set forth above:
1) it is fairly clear from Cardinal Ratzinger’s comment, and from the Archbishops who’ve considered it, including Archbishop Burke, that an assessment of “proportionate reasons” DOES NOT involve a comparison/contrast between two candidates, but a weighing of an individual candidate’s position on “life” issues against his positions on all other issues. Since many of those issues have a dramatic impact on born human life (especially in today’s times when “peace and prosperity” are just a happy memory), it is possible for a serious, conscientious Catholic to decide that a candidate’s positions on these other issues outweigh his refusal to seek a legal ban on abortion or euthanasia.
However, IF you wanted to compare/contrast the number of abortions that would or would not occur under either candidate’s presidency, you have to consider more than simply the candidate’s professed abhorance of the procedure. Even IF a candidate vowed to overturn Roe (which neither candidate has), the matter is still left to the states, an unknown number of whom may still very likely keep abortion legal.* That has to be weighed against how the abortion rate would be affected by all other policies of that candidate. For instance, during the 8 years of the Clinton Administration (whom no one here would consider pro-life) the abortion rates declined (obviously there were also demographic factors involved). This also needs to be weighed against the inevitability of abortafacient pharmaceuticals that will make abortion as easy as popping a pill.
2) Second, if the consideration of “proportionate reasons” is merely a tally of how many lives (born or unborn) will be saved or lost, then there really are no proportionate reasons (unless a particular candidate actually endorsed mass genocide). If this was the case, surely Cardinal Ratzinger and ArchBishop Burke would not even introduce this idea.
But the ultimate message of Cardinal Ratzinger, and ArchBishop Burke is that this assessment of Proportionate Reasons is left to the individual Catholic voter’s well-formed conscience. If it would be impossible for a well-formed conscience to find any candidate who tolerates abortion acceptable, the Church would simply, clearly and unequivocally state that “it is gravely sinful to vote for a politician who refuses to take measure to legally criminalize abortion.”
* The Republican Party platform, again, pays lip service to a “Life Amendment”, but while that party has controlled both houses of Congress and the White House and, some would say, the Supreme Court, they have not yet even considered introducing such a measure. During this same time they put together the Federal Marriage Amendment with remarkable speed.

JohnMcG September 9, 2004 at 1:49 pm

One problem with this reasoning is that you forget all the excellent analysis when it comes time to consider porportionate reasons, and instead just throw huge numbers at us.
As you note, the cooperation between a vote for a pro-choice politician and the evil act of abortion is remote. Wouldn’t the remoteness of the cooperation be a factor in determining proportionality?
For example, if we had Candidate A who wanted to maintain the status quo on abortion legislation, and candidate B who wad pro-life but pledged to kill one innocent person if elected, it would be hard for me to vote for candidate B, since I could not escape the though that a vote for candidate B was formal cooperation with his plan to kill the innocent person, and I could not vote for candidate B.
I also think we have to consider opening new avenues of the destruction of human life. For example, approving embryonic stem cell research may only killed a few “discarded” embryos today, but could pave the way toward many more tomorrow.

The Curt Jester September 9, 2004 at 1:57 pm

Proportion for Relativists.

Fellow CKW editor, Christopher, writes an excellent post called Cardinal Ratzinger, Bishop Burke and "Proportionate Reasons." My own thoughts are…

K September 9, 2004 at 2:03 pm

Yeah, that’s why Arnold got elected. Or Guliani is
getting honored – or Pataki.
Whenever it’s convenient for Republicans, the pro-life
issue gets emphasized. When it’s not convenient,
it is mumbled and whispered. vote for Republican pro-aborts, we wont insist on
pro-life votes>
End result – lot of genuine Catholics get pushed
to vote for Republicans when the Repub. candidate
is pro-life. When the Repub is not pro-life the
issue is raised – but barely raised – so that
Repubs stll get some benefit.
What a nice con game – heads Repubs win, tails Dems lose.
Con game aside, there is a big difference in
supporting abortion and voting for pro-choice
candidate. Because irrsepective of whatever the
law is, in the end it is the mothers decision to
abort. Making the act of voting pro-choice equate
to the act of doing an abortion is the biggest
con here, and that is being peddled by the Republican
bishops – their interests are aligned with the
Republican party as good as when the
Church and Louis XIV were on the same tack.
Wait for the next Bush presidency, and the greatest
transfer of wealth from the many to the few to be
legalized. To keep those new laws from being repealed
transfer is what the new Supreme is going to do – the
new laws should not be repealed by the many who
wake up to the con and elect a government that
tries to correct it.
It’s not about the great pro-life movement. Isn’t it
arrogant to think that the rest of the Republican party
is doing this because of the miniscule pro-life faction.
They are in it for the other things which are much
bigger fish. You are just the bait.
Lets see how the pension bust is going to be handled -
The SP500 companies owe greater than 250 billion on this -
I’ll bet that the companies walk away from the promises they
made, by writing new laws that says it’s legal to do so, or
they hand the bag to the taxpayer. The few major owners
as usual will mint money. And the many will lose.
But thats OK. (and this is just one example)
Medicare options, before enacting the law recently.
(1)Raise benefit to cover artificially high prices.
(tax payer pays more, drug cos make more)
(2)Allow states to negotiate cheaper drug prices
(tax payer benefits, drug cos make less)
Bushco chose (1). Other than the plundering part,
its also the less conservative option
For all those who believe in the pro-life, vote
Republican cause, what exactly is the other
sacrifice you are making politically to achieve
this end? After all, this is the ultimate cause,
so you should be willing to give up every other
cause for this, right?
Nothing? How convenient.
It _is_ about money. Given the pro-choice speakers
at the convention, I’m sure that pro-lifers know
all this, but still pretend to be naive.
Yes, vote the prolife cause, but say honestly
that its because it’s convenient for you, and
there’s no sacrifice for you in doing so.

GenXsurvivor September 9, 2004 at 2:05 pm

Jimmy,
Isn’t another factor in the proportionality analysis the gravity of the evil? On that scale abortion trumps other issues just as it does by the numbers. For example, compare abortion to the death penalty.
In response to Esquire, there is no reason to limit Cardinal Ratzinger’s proportionality standard to looking solely within a candidate rather than among several. Second, Cardinal Ratzinger legitimately “introduced the idea” of proportionality as a matter of principle apart from the calculus regarding abortion, and because of the situation of choosing between two pro-abortion candidates, which would be morally impossible if here were to simply say that one cannot vote for a pro-abortion candidate. Further, Esquire is right that one senator or one president won’t end abortion; but neither will he end the death penalty or poverty. Since that factors into all issues it doesn’t help Esquire’s argument. Finally, in the Bush Kerry race there is something to be said about Bush’s lack of commitment to really ending abortion. Yet Kerry would do a lot of things to “formally” cause abortions, including government and overseas funding, administrative agency policy, and radical Planned Parenthood judges. So whether or not we should vote for Bush, nothing justifies voting for Kerry.
+

Dave Mueller September 9, 2004 at 2:19 pm

K,
You are insane. On Mark Shea’s blog, I mentioned the fevered scenarios that liberal minded Catholics come up with to justify voting for Kerry. Yours is Exhibit A.
Then you go on to say that we are all just voting for Bush to put a few more $$$ into our own wallets. How amazingly pathetic.
Of course we all know and deplore that there are pro-abort Republicans within the party. I do not vote for them (one of them is my Congressman). In the case of the vote for President, I am voting for Bush, not the Republican Party. I would not vote for Pataki or Terminator if they were running for President (or any other office). It is not about party politics; it is not about money; it is about innocent unborn lives.
Regardless of any murder laws, it is still the gun-wielders choice whether to pull the trigger or not. Does that mean murder laws aren’t important, and therefore you could vote for someone who wished to decriminalize it?!?
Government laws are intended to encourage people to choose the good.
Beyond that, Kerry doesn’t just support keeping abortion legal, he supports sending our tax money all over the world to fund it.

Mark C. September 9, 2004 at 2:35 pm

While I appreciate your analysis, I think you are being too restrictive in your interpretation of “proportionate reasons”. For instance, if you strongly believe that the Iraq war was unjust (I do not, and on balance support the war) and, furthermore, you believe that John Kerry’s election is more likely to end the war, while George Bush’s election will not do much, if anything to reduce abortion, I think you would be justified in voting for Kerry according to Ratzinger’s logic (which is to say, you would not be guilty of grave sin in doing so). The war is clearly a grave moral issue – I suspect that the Vatican puts out more statements calling for peace and ending war than it does on abortion. If you think that the Iraq war is a grave moral evil which has cost tens of thousands of lives, wouldn’t that count as “proportionate reasons”?
Furthermore, Ratzinger may have had in mind the situation faced in several European countries where the only pro-life party is a far right party that support race-based immigration policies that the Church has strongly rejected. The French bishops strongly denounced Jean-Marie le Pen, and suggested that a vote for him was incompatible with Christianity, even though he was much more pro-life than Jacques Chirac.
Let me be clear here: I am not a liberal or a Kerry supporter. But the plain reading of the text says to me that one can vote for a pro-abortion candidate if there are other serious moral issues in play that, subjectively at least, seem more compelling to a Catholic voter than the abortion issue.

Anonymous September 9, 2004 at 3:20 pm

Sorry, but I can’t seem to get my mind around this, though admittedly I’m a simple fellow. You can’t preach against a practice you’ve rightly called evil time out of mind, and then ring in the exonerating circumstance of remote material cooperation as a reason for not opposing it in any peaceful way possible.
Abortion is evil because it treats helpless human beings as disposable objects. Abortion is one way of doing that, and euthanasia and fetal farming are others.
Someone who cooperates with these, even remotely, is capable of anything.

Matt C. Abbott September 9, 2004 at 3:44 pm

The Iraq war could be a reason not to vote for Bush; but it certainly isn’t a reason to vote for John Kerry. Bottom line: An assenting Catholic should not, under any circumstances, vote for Kerry, given his support of abortion-on-demand.
Excellent job, Jimmy – as usual!

Brian September 9, 2004 at 4:00 pm

This whole Bush has done nothing for Pro-Lifers crap has got to stop. Yes, he has not been nearly as Pro-Life as we’d like him to be (or that his lip service would have him seem to be), however, he has done things that most assuredly would not have been done under Gore, will not be done under Kerry, and were not done under Clinton. He signed the Partial Birth Abortion ban (vetoed twice by Clinton), he restricted federal funding of embryonic stem cell research (definitely would have been fully approved under Gore), he reinstated the Mexico City Policy (stopped by Clinton), he issued an executive order stopping federal funding of international family-planning groups, he restricted funding for RU-486, he has selected Pro-Life justices for District Courts, etc.
Again, yes he could be better, but let’s not kid ourselves in thinking that we wouldn’t be in a far worse place today had Gore been president. Let’s also remember that their are up to 4 seats in the Supreme Court that are waiting to retire, but are holding out for a democrat to be in office so that a young, spry pro-choice justice can replace them for decades to come. The amount of damage a radical pro-choicer such as Kerry could do to our nation is unmeasurable. Placing other issues on the same level as abortion is unconscionable.

K September 9, 2004 at 4:23 pm

Sorry Dave, that doesn’t cut it. Yiou may not gain,
but you dont lose.
I never said you are going to make money – on
the contrary, what I asked is about what is this -
Do you have to make a sacrifice by voting pro-life?
Wealth, power, prestige, anything? What are Republicans
giving up by being pro-life? Any of those?
Here is what would’ve made a sacrifice.
Bishop Wiegand coming out and saying – as vehemently
as he preached against Davis – dont vote for Arnold,
vote Mcclintock. The Catholic Church insisting that
you should vote for McClintock as strongly as it does
for Bush today.
That would’ve meant the Repubs dont win. .
So they did’nt.(And sure, you can do an elaborate
justification of not doing that)
It’s easy to preach when you dont have to sacrifice.
Let others give up.

Anonymous September 9, 2004 at 4:45 pm

While I can understand why, on its face, Jimmy’s argument using the sheer number of abortions might seem proportionalistic, I don’t think it really is.
What the numbers of abortions underscores is the truth of the Church’s teaching that abortion is a moral evil of singularly staggering dimensions. The Church, in the teaching of the Holy Father, the Catechism, and the US bishops, has repeatedly underscored the priority that abortion must take in our political decisionmaking.
Abortion is moral evil of almost unique gravity, both in kind and in scope. Jimmy’s point that no other issue “on the table” comes close is right on the mark, and perfectly consistent with Church teaching.

Fr. Rob Johansen September 9, 2004 at 4:55 pm

Those of you engaging “K” are making the fundamental error of assuming that he/she is actually trying to engage in morally serious argumentation.
He/she isn’t.
If the “insane” (as Dave Mueller put it – I’d use the term “bizarre”) nature of his/her reasoning were not sufficient evidence, the phony e-mail address and the pseudonym “handle” is nearly proof positive of K’s trollhood.
Always check peoples’ names and e-mail addresses. If they’re phony, it’s a safe bet the poster is a troll.
And the best thing to do with trolls is to not feed them.

Anonymous September 9, 2004 at 4:58 pm

By the way, I was the author of the “While I can understand why…” post above. I guess I forgot to fill in the name blanks.

pavel chichikov September 9, 2004 at 6:12 pm

I posted my personal info in:
‘Sorry but I can’t seem to get my mind around…’
The info didn’t come up.
I’m Pavel Chichikov – which *is* an email and professional handle – I’m a photographer and writer who was involved in the Cold War, and when I got on the Net in ’93 I preferred for good reason to use a handle.
If I’m a troll, then I’m a troll from the maerchen, and live under a bridge. It’s quite a bridge.

Extreme Catholic September 9, 2004 at 7:26 pm

A future case study in episcopal mis-communication

Is this plain language Catholic teaching or a graduate seminar on scholastic rhetoric?
To ask the question “That’s the question that has to be answered in your conscience. What is the proportionate reason?” is to say “The answer is there in your c…

K September 9, 2004 at 7:40 pm

Well Fr Rob, calling anyone a troll is easy.
Explaining the double standards the Church
practises is tough.
It is immoral, and unjust for the Church to
insist that people who dont believe in abortion
must vote for pro-life candidates, even if they
have to suffer personally by so doing. It is stark
hypocrisy when the insisting is being actively
pushed by people who have nothing to lose from it.
And it stinks to heaven when the same people are silent
or mumble on occasions when inisisting on such principles
mean they will lose.
“For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne,
and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves
will not move them with one of their fingers.”
It is not being pro-life, but the burden you selectively
push that stinks.
And that is why you consistently fail to get your
prolife views across. People rightly perceive you
for the opportunists you are.
And Christ was a troll too – thats why he said that
you cant serve Mammon and God. We Republicans all know
how insane and bizzare a teaching that was – why, we serve
both all the time. And this K, just like the devil
quoting scripture. Just ignore him/her. Duh! Isn’t
that easy?

Extreme Catholic September 9, 2004 at 7:47 pm

Akin Explains Ratzinger

It’s a problem that Cardinal Ratzinger
expressed it in the scholastic framework: demonstrating that something is
utterly impossible by posing it a question that if it had an answer it would be possible. But the question has no answer, ah ha! Then i…

Anonymous September 9, 2004 at 7:54 pm

Pavel:
I was not saying the people who engaged “K” are trolls, I was saying that “K” him/her-self is.
Anyone can make a mistake and forget to fill out a name and e-mail box. But deliberately obfuscating your identity is a different matter, and prime eveidence of troll-hood.
I’d never call you a troll, Pavel. I’d be afraid to… ;-)

Bettnet.com - Musings From Domenico Bettinelli September 9, 2004 at 8:21 pm

What Ratzinger said

James Akin provides a complete explanation of what Cardinal Ratzinger meant in his letter about remote material cooperation, proportionate reasons, and voting for pro-abortion politicians.
I’ve been thinking that all things

Christopher Blosser September 9, 2004 at 11:54 pm

Those who say that “nothing happened” and that there was “no significant achievement” are simply flat-out wrong. Bush signed the “The Born Alive Infants Protection Act” requires medical personnel to provide babies who survive botched abortions attempts with normal medical care. Bush also signed the “The Unborn Victims of Violence Act” giving legal protection to unborn children who are injured or die during an attack on a pregnant mother. Bush also reinstated the Mexico City Policy banning use of U.S. money for nongovernmental organizations that performed or promoted abortion overseas. He zealously provided federal funding of adoption programs, abstinence education programs, and crisis pregnancy centers. Click here for more.
If Bush didn’t have an affect on abortion, NARAL wouldn’t be furiously scrambling to oppose him, and Gloria Steinem wouldn’t have any motivation for claiming that: “To my knowledge, there has never been an administration that has been more hostile … to reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right, and has acted on that hostility. In addition to their clear drive to criminalize abortion, there has been no opportunity of which I’m aware that they have not taken to restrict women’s rights and to oppose reproductive freedom.”
One doesn’t have to think very hard to tell where Kerry stands on the above issues, or what he plans to do when he’s in office.

Billy September 10, 2004 at 12:51 am

Right on Jimmy.

Steven D. Greydanus September 10, 2004 at 7:17 am

Esquire:
I’m frankly startled to see you back with that “Bush gives lip-service to the anti-abortion position” refrain.
The last time you did this, I provided a long list of specific concrete pro-life actions the Bush Administration has undertaken. Weighed against the corresponding pro-choice actions that would have been taken under a Gore administration, or that would be taken under a Kerry administration, there seems to be no reasonable doubt that having Bush rather than Gore or Kerry in the White House is a good thing for the pro-life cause, that the end result is more restrictive abortion policies and funding than would otherwise be the case, and ultimately fewer babies killed.
For anyone to maintain the contrary seems to me sheer unreasonable obstinacy.

DeoOmnisGloria.com September 10, 2004 at 7:33 am

Can we vote for Pro-Abortion Politicians?

I know this issue is a key concern of Catholics and we’ve clearly been on one side of the bandwagon. Today I read Jimmy Akin’s treatment of this topic based on Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter. Take a few minutes to read…

Anonymous September 10, 2004 at 8:28 am

Esquire:
Gotta disagree with you on both points, counselor.
Re: 1), it is by no means clear that “proportionate reasons” refers to “proportionate reasons in that candidate’s platform.” Remember, proportionate reasons refers to proportionate reasons to cooperate with the evil. Greater good (if there could indeed be a good sufficient to offset abortion) could serve as such a reason, but minimizing the harm of evil policies as between candidates is perfectly legitimate as well. In fact, I would argue that it would be morally irresponsible to ignore an alternative of which you were aware.
But where I think your analysis has gone completely off the beam is in stating “Since many of those issues have a dramatic impact on born human life (especially in today’s times when “peace and prosperity” are just a happy memory), it is possible for a serious, conscientious Catholic to decide that a candidate’s positions on these other issues outweigh his refusal to seek a legal ban on abortion or euthanasia.” You have utterly neglected the underlying moral reason for seeking a legal ban on abortion and euthanasia, which is that the state has a positive moral obligation to protect those lives. It is an evil of omission to allow citizens to be killed when the use of state force could have stopped it, so the state bears moral responsibility for all of those deaths. I just don’t see how there could ever be proportionate reasons for cooperating with an evil of that magnitude. It would be like publicly supporting the tactics of Al-Qaeda or Hamas so that they wouldn’t attack us. The evil is on such a scale that you just can’t afford to take a risk that your help or example would make the situation worse.
And your reasoning in 2) is all wrong as well. First, Archbishop Burke explicitly said in the later interview that he didn’t mention proportionate reasons in his original letter because he couldn’t think of any reasons that would be proportionate. Essentially, he said that while it was technically more accurate to say it could be justified for proportionate reasons, there aren’t any such reasons in reality. Second, proportionate reasons could be allowed solely for the purpose of allowing Catholics to vote for the lesser of two evils when it is clear that no other candidate can win. If a candidate’s refusal to ban abortion were an absolute moral bar to voting for that candidate, then a Catholic could not even vote for a politician who would greatly reduce the legality and availability of abortion if such a candidate retained exceptions like rape or incest. If proportionate reasons are allowed, then the Catholic can vote for the lesser evil, even though it entails moral cooperation with the abortions that the candidate refuses to ban.

Jonathan Prejean September 10, 2004 at 8:30 am

Oops. That’s my post above. Didn’t mean to be a troll. :-)

beng September 10, 2004 at 10:01 am

Jimmy, I don’t think you can say that since a person could only have one vote and a candidate needs a hell lot more than one vote, then the action of the voter to vote for the candidate is “remote”. The fact is the voter could only have ONE VOTE, even if it’s remote, this voter has given his full blessing with that one vote. He can not do more than one vote. Each one vote, is the one vote that matter to each voter.

Anonymous September 10, 2004 at 1:17 pm

You have got to be kidding me.
I don’t for the first part of this believe that you are Cardinal Ratzinger. Let what he said STAND. PERIOD. YOU ARE NOT HIM.
Let it stand. You are not God. People in this country should be able to vote the way they wish. We have had a fearmongering war spending President who claims he is PRO LIFE WHEN HE HAS SPENT MORE THAN our SHARE ON OUR SSI RETIREMENT MONEY ON THIS WAR. IF YOU BELIEVE THIS GARBAGE THAT HE IS PROLIFE THEN I WILL SHOW YOU WATERFRONT PROPERTY WITH MY MOTHER’S APPROVAL DURING HURRICANE IVAN. Bring a weight belt because you will get blown over.
Sounds very naive.
Matt Abbot come on down to any mother’s house who lost her son or hubby to this war. Is the killing of human beings on any occasion RIGHT? We’ll send you to Fallujah first thing tommorrow. Then see how you vote. So much scrupulousity on all this is ridiculous.
I am so pro life that I am adopted myself. But in most cases if my hubby and I wanted to adopt it would be $17,000 of your “I am not going to give you my money” excuse that we cannot have a child.
That’s what good Catholic charities asks for when you want to adopt a baby.
As for the economy, go ahead vote Bush. We’ll send you and the jobs to China, India, Iraq, Pakistan and other places you wouldn’t have AC to cool off.
Proportionate…no child left behind act. There is hardly any funding for this reading program in this country. Thanks to this Iraq War.
BTW, where in the world is Bin Laden? I thought that is what we are out there spending money to find. If the Prez B shows up in the last week with him BE SUSPICOUS.

Laura September 10, 2004 at 2:48 pm

There is a logical error in the numbers presented. Even a pro-life candidate has a chance of preventing only a small portion of those abortions. For example, he could through support of information requirement laws require more women at abortuaries to know the full facts about their children in utero. That will probably prevent some abortions. But he can’t overturn Roe v. Wade. That can only be done by SCOTUS and they are appointed, not voted in. And most judges with a pro-life stance are strict constructionists, not activists, and thus unlikely even in the case of unjust and illogical rulings to overturn the decisions of previous judges for fear of dangerous precedent. (Just think of the can of worms opened when judges can overturn each others rulings willy-nilly.) So the pro-life candidate is saving far few lives than the millions listed. The Six million over the course of a four year term will be the same, give or take a few thousand.
That is not to say that pro-life representatives have not done any good. They have. But the numbers we associate with pro-life vs. pro-abortion candidates should be based on the probable lives saved or the likely additional lives lost after discounting the base number likely to remain while the legal environment remains as it is. (Legal scholars can throw in their thoughts on the likelyhood that the makeup of SCOTUS will change so that Roe, Doe, PP V. Casey and all the other decisions will be overturned.) In which case, their may be cases where a candidate, while pro-life, may be drastically wrong on all other issues and a voter might have less blame in voting for a pro-abortion candidate.
I personally would not vote for someone because they are pro-abortion. And thankfully, I have yet to be in a position where I have had to choose between my pro-life sentiments and my economic and political leanings. But it would be a tough decision if I had to choose between a pro-life Communist (I’m sure there are a few out there) and a pro-abort Republican. I think I would lean to the latter because communism is also a moral evil and in voting for the communist I would be promoting a second evil to become introduced into our society with little chance of the first being ended.

Circuit Rider, grid epsilon September 10, 2004 at 2:54 pm

I’d sure like something short, sweet, clear and official, for soon Theology on Tap should start up again, and I get the chance to try to persuade those CINOs to be more Catholic.

Fr. Rob Johansen September 10, 2004 at 7:02 pm

To the anonymous ranter:
I may be wasting my time, but I’ll engage you.
You wrote:
I don’t for the first part of this believe that you are Cardinal Ratzinger. Let what he said STAND. PERIOD. YOU ARE NOT HIM.
True enough. None of us are him. But part of letting his words “stand” is understanding what he meant. When the Cardinal Prefect of the CDF uses recognizable, standard theological terminology which has a well-established meaning, we can assume he is using the terms in a manner consistent with that well-defined body of doctrine. The term “proportionate reason” is just such a term. To explain what that means is not to put words in his mouth, but simply to explain Catholic theological vocabulary.
Let it stand. You are not God.
No, none of us are God. But to point out that we will be responsible for our actions, including our votes, to God, is not “playing God”. It is simply reminding us of an uncomfortable truth.
People in this country should be able to vote the way they wish.
Again, it is true that in this country you can “vote any way” you wish. However, not every vote you might wish to cast is consistent with Catholic teaching. You can vote any way you wish, but some of those ways are unjustifiable according to Catholic faith and morals. You are free (in an absolute sense) to vote in those ways. But you can’t claim to do so as a Catholic. Furthermore, you are responsible before God for those votes. If you vote for evil, you may suffer serious consequences for those votes.

Tom September 12, 2004 at 7:13 pm

What a simple-minded approach to life! Vote a single issue (anti-abortion), and ignore all the other problems in the world! GWB lied about WMD’s in Iraq, lied about Sadam’s tie to 9/11, and sent over 1,000 soldiers to thier deaths, and another 7,000+ wounded/maimed…..and how many thousands of Iraqi’s killed/wounded?
And what about the death, rape, genocide in Sudan – what does Bush do about that? Yet you feel only “Anti-Abortion is important? And you really believe Bush will stop abortion during his next term? You are kidding only yourselfs…..
Why don’t you stop the retoric on abortion and go solve some real problems?
Do you think Jesus will accept you into heaven because you voted for Bush???? You can kid yourselves…..but not God…
Get out and help people….do what you can….and stop teh foolish retoric….
Tom

Ashley September 12, 2004 at 7:29 pm

Just in case anyone is wondering what Bush is doing about Sudan ->
http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/shea200409100700.asp

Jonathan Prejean September 13, 2004 at 12:11 pm

“Why don’t you stop the retoric on abortion and go solve some real problems?”
Clearest evidence that you have no clue if you don’t consider the slaughter of millions of innocent children a “real problem.”

nick January 11, 2005 at 4:50 pm

I am absolutely fascinated by the comments. I’m not a Catholic myself, but:
1.) Ratzinger uses incredibly tight language. To argue that he meant that you could weigh lesser issues flies in the face of his words.
Quote:
“Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion.”
The article at
http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=34014 gives a fuller text. Note *I* know this and I ain’t Catholic. Those that argue otherwise should feel ashamed of their supposed claim to the magisterium.
There is a clear differentiation in scripture between different types of moral crimes. For example, stealing (as some here seem to insist Bush is doing for the benefit of the rich) is not morally equivalent to murder. Nor, for that matter, is any quality of life issue. If it was, euthanasia would be morally *beneficial* because the quality of life could be judged by human minds.
2.) The rather ancient tradition found in Romans gives the state the power to do all sorts of unsavory things. Justice Scalia gives a fairly good overview here: http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0205/articles/scalia.html
The idea that something is a law and therefore can no longer be objected to is scandalous. It’s even more scandalous to argue that rights given the state to punish the guilty by God, no matter how faulty in their application, somehow are equivalent the murder of the innocent. In one case the state can claim, as a body, to have made mistakes while applying law in good conscience. In the other the state stands judged by the moral testimony of Gods claim to defend innocent life vigorously.

Anonymous April 12, 2005 at 12:51 am

Could not reasons become proportionate based solely on the gravity of the crime in question rather than the quantity?
“If you, as a monk, could find the way to happiness and peace for all humanity, but at the price of the suffering of one child, would you do it?
No, replies Alyosha.”
–Dostoyevsky, Brothers Karamazov

eaddict April 27, 2005 at 12:31 pm

Instead of:
———————————————-
Could not reasons become proportionate based solely on the gravity of the crime in question rather than the quantity?
“If you, as a monk, could find the way to happiness and peace for all humanity, but at the price of the suffering of one child, would you do it?
No, replies Alyosha.”
–Dostoyevsky, Brothers Karamazov”
———————————————
Star Trek fans remember the line.
Spock is explaining his actions to James Kirk. The Vulcan entered a radiation-filled section of the U.S.S. Enterprise, even though to do so meant certain death. It was the only way to bring the main engines back online in time to save the lives of his shipmates.
Fighting the effects of the deadly radiation Spock rasps, “It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
Kirk finishes the statement for his friend, “Or the one.”
If I could solve all of humanities ills I’d jump on a gernade in a second. That would mean my kids would have a perfect world to live in. Oh wait, didn’t another son already do this for us?

David MacDonald October 29, 2005 at 6:02 am

Great article Jimmy. It helps me because I have been refusing to vote, because there was no pro life candidate. The story of my experience with abortion is on my web site http://www.CatholicBridge.com
I participated in abortion to “protect my career” on Broadway. Shortly afterward I lost my voice completely and couldn’t talk for three years. I eventually became a Catholic and have been trying to live a penitent life.

Tricia February 4, 2006 at 10:34 am

I object to the term “Pro-Choice.” This view used to be called more accurately “Pro-Abortion.” Now thanks to the spin doctors, even folks who agree with Catholic teaching on abortion are calling it “Pro-Choice.” I encourage all of you to return to calling it what it really is… “Pro-Abortion.” I seem to remember a recent THIS ROCK article that was discussing how differences in vocabulary and terminology affect our perceptions.

Michael February 23, 2006 at 5:13 pm

Proportionate to what?
The problem I have in trying to figure out whether there are proportionate reasons to vote for a pro-choice candidate is that I don’t know what I’m supposed to outweigh. Many pro Republican Catholics frame the argument as though we should assume that abortion will stop if we elect enough Republicans. There seems little evidence that this is the case. Republicans have the White House, both houses of Congress, a majority of Federal Judges (The 10 or 11 judges that the Senate was fighting about last summer are only about 5% of the Bush appointees; he’s gotten 95% of his picks), and yet the twenty year decline in the abortion rate that was sharpest during the Clinton administration has flattened out somewhat during this administration. Even Justice Alito said there nothing in his belief system that would prevent him from upholding Roe vs. Wade if he were to decide that is settled law.
Must we to assume that a politician saying that he is pro-life is the same as “taking a stand” against abortion? Words are easy; protecting life is hard. It seems unlikely that Roe will be overturned or amended away soon. We should look for creative and achievable ways to curtail and end this evil.
When we compare the end of abortion to its unlimited use and acceptance, it is of course difficult to imagine proportionate reasons to vote against an anti-abortion candidate. But if we look at the situation more critically and more honestly the comparisons are often less black and white. We are left to choose between a candidate who says he or she is against abortion but presents no credible plan to make a significant difference in the way life is respected in this country versus another person who claims to be personally against abortion but wants to protect a woman’s right against to choose. In this situation, proportionate reasons such as the avoidance of war, an end to retributive capital punishment, and better access to health care may be easier to contemplate.

Sharon April 9, 2006 at 4:14 pm

The book is fiction. . .the movie is based on the fictional story. Some of the ridiculousness in that book would cause an athiest to laugh hysterically. I’m sorry but I beileve you and the Church are giving that piece of work too much publicity. My faith is based solely on the one, true God. . .not the fictional writings of a man with a very wild imagination. And if my faith could be so easily changed by one man’s opinion, then I have no faith at all. By the way, I am Roman Catholic born and raised and that’s how I live my life. But I would surely not discourage anybody from reading that book any more than I would discourage them from reading the “Harry Potter” books and the “Left Behind” books, all of which I have read, all are purely fiction and none of them changed my belief in God. Sorry, but I don’t believe that book is going to destroy the Christian faith.

neelamegan s rajan April 22, 2006 at 11:18 am

hi i am not a catholic, nor a christian nor a pro abortionist. in my opinion an abortion is a murder,even if it is to save the life of the mother. but that is besides the point. but voting or not to be based on a particular religious stand is ridiculous. what if the candidate is anti abortionist but a drug peddler and if hisw opponent is a pro abortionist and a honest citizen. so would you vote for your canditate who is drug peddler? american democracy and secularism is being constantly eroded by christian fanatism. so God save USA (not the christian brand God)

bill912 April 22, 2006 at 11:41 am

“…voting or not to be(sic) based on a particular religious stand is ridiculous.” Yeah, how dare we Christian fanatics vote for candidates based on how they would vote! What do we think we have here in America, a democratic form of government or something?
Speaking of ridiculous: “what(sic) if the candidate is anti(sic) abortionist(sic) but a drug peddler…”

Tim J. April 22, 2006 at 12:24 pm

So, neelamegan s rajan, you don’t worship the One True God?

J. R. Stoodley April 22, 2006 at 2:13 pm

neelamegan s rajan appears to be a Hindu, from his post on “Save Chrismas for the Christians” in which he mentioned Diwali. I would hope you, neelamegan, would have the honesty to say that you vote according to your beliefs and principles, and everyone else has a right to do so as well. I do not know why you have esposed secularism as something admirable, nor why you brand Christianity as fanatical. This seems unfair and ignorant to me. I would have written to you differently concerning Christmas if I knew you took this stance. Still, these are your beliefs and you will act and vote according to them.
If we believe that abortion in this country is mass murder on a tremendous scale, then why do you blame us for bringing that belief into the voting booth? The same basic principle applies to other issues Christians often feel strongly about, such as the definition of marriage. The right and resposibility to vote for the person you think is the best candidate is a fundamental part of American democracy, so I don’t see why you think Christianity is somehow threatening to it. Perhaps it is only that it is threatening to your own political party?

J. R. Stoodley April 22, 2006 at 2:19 pm

p.s., if by “american secularism” you mean Freedom of Religion, then that is both fine and not threatend by almost any Christians. There is a difference between Freedom of Religion, in which all people have the right to worship (or not) as they please, and secularism, in which religion is divorced from life and the public sphere. The former enhances freedom, the latter restricts it and is a rather inhuman thing anyway.

bill912 May 18, 2006 at 3:04 am

Jimmy, please delete the above rubbish.

MaryC May 27, 2006 at 5:28 pm

I second this

bill912 June 5, 2006 at 6:53 am

Jimmy, please! The rubbish!

Jimmy Akin July 26, 2006 at 8:14 pm

Done. Would have deleted it sooner, but I didn’t know about it. Someone e-mailed me, though, and I was able to take care of it. (I’m afraid that I don’t always see comments in the combox, but thanks to those who posted!)

Michaela Dasteel October 19, 2006 at 3:23 pm

Jimmy – Can you help me with sorting out what kind of cooperation is going on when a Catholic hospital grants privileges to an abortionist because federal law prohibits it from discriminating against him on the basis of his abortion activities outside the hospital? The bishop’s ERDs #45 and 67 talk about the danger of scandal and material cooperation. You seem to be well versed on this stuff.
Thanks
Micky

Mary October 19, 2006 at 6:22 pm

Emailing him the question might be wiser; he has been known to miss comments like this.
I will point out that if the hospital privileges do not advance his abortion business, they are not remote material cooperation. If they do — might be wiser to email Jimmy.

J.R. Stoodley October 19, 2006 at 7:23 pm

I likewise recomend emailing Jimmy. He doesn’t always respond to emails, but on this very page a bunch of links to rape porn remained for about a month I think, since Jimmy seems not read old comboxes much. It required someone emailing him to get his attention.

Perry February 20, 2007 at 11:09 am

I’m voting for Senator John McCain in the 2008 primaries.
Senator John McCain on the issues:
http://www.ontheissues.org/Senate/John_McCain.htm

Mary Kay June 10, 2007 at 5:23 am

This is a good Jimmy post that bears repetition.

Robert July 27, 2007 at 12:19 pm

Managed Hosting, Colocation and Data Center Services by victoryushchenkonashpresudent …

gurnygob December 4, 2007 at 3:17 am

It is my firm belief that to vote for a person who you know will push for abortion when he/she is elected puts you in his/her camp and that voting for them is a vote for abortion, and makes you pro abortion. why do we cover such things with so much talk. by the time i read all that Jimmy had to say, I forgot what he was talking about. There is a much more simple answer to this. it is wrong to vote for someone who will promote abortion. what has someone sticking a pen in some ones eye got to do with it. If I knew the person I was selling the pen to was going to stick it in the eye of the first person he seen then i would be guilty.
Truth kicks us in the Heart, we know we when we are wrong, its a gift from God. put it like this, if I never seen or even heard of abortion, if it was never taught to me that it was wrong, if there was no law, for or against it,
I would still know that it is wrong because God has already put it in my being that such things are wrong. why do we need to even bring it up.
I point out once more that, if we know that a person we vote for will promote abortion then we are for abortion. I live in Ireland/N Ireland and to tell you the truth I cant even vote. all the catholic politicians are pro choice, yet some of them say they are anti abortion, how can this be. how can one be for something and against it at the same time. Do I vote for a protestant who dose not even hold the same beliefs and has shown in public that if he had his way there would be no Catholic church. he mocked the blessed sacrament in full view of the world, do i vote for him? My heart tell mt that there is no one i can trust with my vote. If it is my duty as a Christian to use my vote then I vote for Jesus.
Should i vote for the lesser of the evils that surround me. is one evil lesser than another.

gurnygob December 4, 2007 at 3:36 am

ps If every one who say that they are against abortion came out on to the streets and made a effort to stop abortion then there would be a sharp decline in the numbers of abortion. one of the things that keep abortion going is hiding the results of abortion, I.e. pictures of what an abortion looks like would and in fact has stopped people from having an abortion. we should show people that abortion is killing a baby not just a bunch of cells. the truth of these pictures will help to bring the numbers of abortions down.

HOLY LATIN GREGORIAN RITE OF MASS June 19, 2008 at 10:23 pm

O tried and true, O Latin Mass, I will always be beside You.
O Christmas Tree, O Christ’s Mass, I never take away my eyes from you.
My Latin Mass, My Latin True, O how Very Extraordinary art You!
O Latin Mass, O Latin Mass, make me happy any day Low or High too.
From More’s Bridge, to Campion’s Tower – to Iona and up to Crocanaffrin. O Latin MASS, Yes Latin Mass, how Gregorian art you.
I am never nervous near you, no novus disorder turns me round,
For O Latin Mass, O Latin Mass, it’s because I trust your Tridentine Smile.
And so now I promise you, O Latin Mass, O My Sweetest Latin Mass, I will always be faithful.
Learn Thy Mass!
http://www.lulu.com/content/2740010

PRAYYOURROSARY September 21, 2008 at 7:14 am

The Catholic Chuc BEFORE Vatican-II has Traditionally Taught that you cannot vote for the lesser of Evils !!! That is still voting for Evil!!! I cannot believe this but actually I can. This “pope” is a heretic check out ((((The amazing Hereseys of Benidict XVI))))) on YouTube you can’t deny he’s NOT Catholic. So I say stick to tradition! If Bush really cared about Abortion he could have done a Excutive Order and stopped it on grounds of a EMERGENCY he could have ended it but no….your being snookered Vatican -2 is pure evil! Pray your Rosarys and see http://www.mostholyfmilymonastery.com to learn what happend to the Church in 1962

Rotten Orange September 21, 2008 at 7:59 am

After the hordes of atheist brownshirts that have been coming here, a little bit of rad-trad lunacy can’t hurt that much…

bill912 September 21, 2008 at 8:07 am

Of course, it’s impossible for a pope not to be Catholic. Jesus gave Peter and his successors the power of binding and loosing, and guaranteed that His Church would NEVER teach in error on matters of faith and morals, that the gates of hell would NEVER prevail against His Church, as PRAYYOURROSARY apparently believes happened. And he calls Pope Benedict a heretic!

Foxfier October 26, 2008 at 9:57 pm

Linked again, for timlyness. (sp)
And, well, I googled for spelling and it came up….

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