Easy or not, It is time to choose rightly and stand for the truth and against intrinsic evil
Bishop Thomas G. Doran
Bishop of Rockford, IL
Bishop's column published in The Observer
October 24, 2008
As regular readers of this column know, drawing to an end is our two year agony of being pestered to death by the importunities of all seven of the presidential candidates currently aspiring to be Chief Magistrate over our country.
Readers of this column who are practicing Catholics will already know how a practicing Catholic must vote in this election. I would not wish to insult anybody’s intelligence or freedom by going through that again. But so much confusion has been sown by those who as votaries of one or other candidate claim to be Catholics (though they are woefully misinformed), that I am constrained yet again to state what I think my posture as a practicing Catholic to be vis-à-vis our present political miasma.
The confusion introduced by various writers, and even, I am sorry to say a poor understanding of the USCCB’s “Faithful Citizenship,” have not made the task any easier, nor does it help when the “crazies” from the far left and far right vilify and calumniate candidates whom they oppose. Adding to the problem is the fact that sincere people in our country today have no reliable unbiased source of public information.
Let me put it clearly as I see it. When Pope Benedict XVI was asked by a committee of the American Bishops how to approach voting for candidates, his answer was along these lines: As practicing Catholics we are not allowed to support in any way, ever, at any time, for any reason candidates who support intrinsic evils.
Now, practicing Catholics know that an intrinsic evil is something so bad that there can never be an excusing reason for performing it or cooperating in its performance in any way. Such things are so bad that there can never be a justifying reason for anyone to do them or cooperate with them. Pope Benedict mentions two such evils: one is abortion, the directly willed killing of a child in its mother’s womb; the other is euthanasia, the killing of an elderly, handicapped or incurably ill person no longer “useful” in the eyes of the government or doctor or other agent of their murder. Nothing, no one, can justify abortion or euthanasia. Nothing can justify my supporting anyone who favors either of these in any way.
So, for the practicing Catholic, the rest is easy. I ask: Does a candidate favor either of these two intrinsic evils? If he or she does, I cannot vote for him or her. It is that simple and that clear.
Some say, “I am personally opposed to abortion or euthanasia, but I don’t think the law should forbid it.” This is a specious argument. Ask yourself, what would happen to a political candidate who said, “I am personally opposed to racism, but I am going to vote for a racist candidate” (for example, David Duke or George Wallace)? What would happen to a candidate who said, “I am personally against serial murder, but I am going to vote for Charles Manson for some public office?” If a public person espoused either of these positions, that person would be laughed to scorn.
Others say, “There are other rights besides the right to life. There are other issues besides abortion.” These statements seem inane. What right can you exercise if you are dead? What issues do you have that would last beyond the grave?
As we know from our bimillennial history, Catholicism is not a religion governed by our comfort with it, but rather by its truth. There are times when one must stand for the truth, difficult though it may be. Some Catholics are blinded by political ambition, some by class hatred and some by embarrassment over our religion. We can have no truck with such. Invited to the banquet, they have come without a wedding garment. As Catholics we know who said it first and best: “I have come to bear witness to the truth. All who are on the side of truth listen to my voice,” (Jn 18:37) and “He who hears you, hears me.” (Lk 10:16)
Let us pray in this hour when we are confronted by implacable enemies of our Catholic way of life, both within our country and without it, that we will choose rightly and wisely and that God will confirm our choice by continuing to bless our country “with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”