Preparing for elections involves converting people to the position that abortion is the single most important problem of all, and that if we don't elect people who will defend the right to life, our work to secure any other rights is in peril.
But it also involves helping the converted to deal with imperfection, uncertainty, and the limitations of politics. And that can be a harder task than winning converts in the first place.
Once we understand that abortion is the most critical problem, then we know that we cannot elect a pro-abortion person simply because he or she seems to have a better idea about housing or education (or any other issue).
But on the specific point of abortion, if the only choices we have are "bad" and "worse," what do we do?
Answer: We vote for the person who will do the least damage.
The fact that whoever gets in will be a problem is not our fault. We really aren't free in such a case to choose the kind of candidate we want. So when we're really not free, we can't be doing wrong. Where we are free is to choose the person who will do less damage to life, who will allow fewer abortions, who will protect more children than the opponent.
To drive home this point, we at Priests for Life have written the following statement, which also reflects the thinking of numerous leaders in the Church. It is our hope that those who are inclined not to vote at all may think again, and use their vote to help accomplish the best possible progress at the moment.
Statement on Voting
Each election provides an opportunity for our fellow Catholics and all citizens of good will to use their vote to advance the cause of life, especially the most vulnerable in our society - preborn children in danger of abortion.
As Election Day draws near we are aware that some people are in a moral quandary and think that no candidate is worthy of their support. Some are even inclined not to vote at all. In our role as teachers of morality, we would like to clarify that while we can never choose between two evils, we can choose to do good to limit an evil. When one's choice of candidates who have a viable opportunity to win is limited to two unfavorable candidates, to choose to limit evil by voting for the better of the two is to choose a good. To vote for an imperfect candidate is not to endorse that candidate’s position on every issue. Nor is it to compromise our ultimate goal which is the protection of all pre-born children.
We urge all citizens to fully participate in the political process and to use their vote to defend the most vulnerable in our society. By doing so we will move closer to that day when each and every human being is welcomed in life and protected in law.
Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life
Fr. Denis G. Wilde, O.S.A.
Associate Director, Priests for Life
Dr. William E. May
Professor of Moral Theology, John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family
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