Catholics & the 2004 Presidential Election - Collected Readings & Resources


Saturday, April 24, 2004

Twisted Logic of Catholics For Free Choice 

Posted by Christopher Blosser at 4:27 PM

One of the organizations supporting Senator Kerry and sponsoring the abortion march this past Friday was Catholics For Free Choice (a clear example of CINO if I ever saw one). I decided to check out their website, which is a virtual goldmine of lazy reasoning and deceitful presentation of Catholic doctrine. Case in point: this questionable advice to Catholic women who are considering abortion:
The official Canon Law of the church at the present time states that anyone who commits the sin of abortion automatically excommunicates herself from the church. To commit the sin of abortion, you have to think that an abortion in your case, with all the circumstances of your life and your pregnancy, is a sin against God. You then have to decide that you are going to do it anyway, thus going against your conscience.

The Catholic church officially teaches that the conscience of an individual is supreme. If you carefully examine your conscience and then decide that an abortion is the most moral act you can do at this time, you are not committing a sin. Therefore, you are not excommunicated. Nor need you tell it in confession since, in your case, abortion is not a sin.

If you do feel you committed a sin by having an abortion, you can seek reconciliation with the church by speaking to a priest in the sacrament of Reconciliation (confession).

Now, this strikes me as very flawed reasoning. It designates the human individual -- not God -- as the final arbiter of the moral law, of what constitutes sin: "It's only sin if you think it is." To illustrate what I mean, let's take their advice and substitute the term "abortion" with actions I'm sure even the most liberal Catholic would find morally objectionable:
If you carefully examine your conscience and then decide that beating your wife is the most moral act you can do at this time, you are not committing a sin. . . . nor need you tell it in confession since, in your case, beating your wife is not a sin.

[OR]

If you carefully examine your conscience and then decide that raping a child is the most moral act you can do at this time, you are not committing a sin. . . . nor need you tell it in confession since, in your case, raping a child is not a sin.

Catholics For Free Choice may protest at this point, but hey, it's their logic. The fact of the matter is that they use "invincible ignorance" as a cop-out, deliberately ignoring the full teaching of The Catechism of the Catholic Church on "erroneous judgement":
1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.

1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man "takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin." In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.

1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one's passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church's authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.

1793 If - on the contrary - the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.

Unfortunately, I think that most women considering abortion are already aware of the grave implications of their act. As one perceptive commentator on Amy Welborn's blog observes:
To formally and voluntarily cooperate in the unjust taking of innocent human life is an objective mortal sin. A given individual may, stress may, not be subjectively guilty of sin while committing the objective act. Why? Well, ignorance, etc. However, one of the strongest imprints that God has place on the human mind, soul, and will is that deliberately taking the life of someone else who is not guilty of harming you, indeed is incapable of harming you, is wrong. Not just a bit wrong, but so wrong as to be evil. You don't have to study the precepts of all religions, or even adhere to any religion, to understand, to KNOW that is true. So genuine excuses are likely to be few and far between.
I think that very few women, religious or otherwise, are capable of having an abortion with a trouble-free conscience, and no comprehension of the gravity of what they have done. The common experience of organizations like Project Rachel which assist victims in coping with "emotional, psychological and spiritual trauma" that often follows abortion is a testimony to this.

And so I tend to think that most Catholic women who turn to Catholics For Free Choice for moral advice are long past the point where they can plead "invincible ignorance" as justification for their actions.

I'm no expert in moral reasoning myself, so I'll leave it to my esteemed colleagues to provide further commentary on this issue.


Ongoing commentary by the editors of CatholicKerryWatch


Sen. John Kerry stands with Kate Michelman (right) President of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Since 1995, Michelman's group has given Kerry a 100% rating for his voting record to defend abortion.

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The Candidates on Abortion: Where do they stand?

Documentation

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Periodicals

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Related Documents & Articles

Worthiness To Recieve Communion: General Principles
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Evangelium Vitae
Pope John Paul II

Worthy to Receive the Lamb: Catholics in Political Life and the Reception of Holy Communion, from Archbishop Donoghue (Atlanta, GA), Bishop Baker (Charleston, SC) and Bishop Jugis (Charlotte, NC).
August 4, 2004

Catholics in Political Life U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. June 7, 2004.

Catholic Politicians and Bishops. By Most Rev. Raymond L. Burke, Archbishop of St. Louis. America June 21-28, 2004.

A Time For Honesty, Pastoral Statement by The Most Reverend John J. Myers, Archbishop of Newark. May 5, 2004.

Why Communion Could Be Denied to Anti-Life Legislators. Interview with Father Thomas Williams, dean of the School of Theology of the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum.

Why Don't Catholic Politicians Practice What the Catholic Church Preaches?, by Judie Brown. Washington Dispatch April 19, 2004.

How to tell a Duck from a Fox: Thinking with the Church as we look toward November, by Archbishop Chaput. Denver Catholic Register April 14, 2004.

On the Dignity of Human Life and Civic Responsibility, a Pastoral Letter by La Crosse Bishop Raymond L. Burke.

Blood On Their Hands: Exposing Pro-abortion Catholic Politicians, by Mark Stricherz. Crisis May 2003.

The Failure of Catholic Political Leadership, by Robert P. George & William E. Saunders. Crisis 18, No. 4 (April 2000).

Denying Holy Communion: A Case History, by Bishop Emeritus Rene Henry Gracida. [PDF Format].

Ten questions regarding the denial of the Eucharist, by Barbara Kralis.

Recommmended Reading

John Kerry, Abortion and the Catholic Church

Irreconcilable Differences", by Matthew Mehan. NRO Sept. 16, 2004.

John Courtney Murray and the 'Liberal Catholic' Justification of Abortion Investigative report by Christopher Blosser. August 30, 2004.

"Please answer the question, Senator Kerry", The Mighty Barrister. August 2, 2004.

You wouldn't even ask. Fr. Pavone (Priests for Life). July 2004.

Kerry isn't making abortion stand clear, by Raymond J. Keating. Newsday July 27, 2004.

Senator Kerry May Be Human . . . But is He a Person?, Catholic Kerry Watch. July 23, 2004.

Kerry's Catholic Problem, by Brent Bozell. July 7, 2004.

The Body Politic and the Body of Christ: Candidates, Communion and the Catholic Church. Debate btw/ Thomas J. Reese, S.J. and George Weigel. June 23, 2004.

The Kerry challenge, by George Weigel. May 5, 2004.

Rites and Wrongs: Why John Kerry should not take communion, by Philip F. Lawler. Wall Street Journal April 30, 2004.

John Kerry's Catholic Problem", by Cal Thomas. April 26, 2004.

Kerry Distorting Catholic Doctrine. Newsmax.com interviews George Weigel. April 16, 2004.

"Personally Opposed, But…" Five Pro-Abortion Dodges, by Todd M. Aglialoro. Crisis April 1, 2004.

On Embryonic Stem-Cell Research

Reagan vs. Reagan and The Stem-Cell Cover-Up, Catholic Kerry Watch, August 14, 2004.

Senator Kerry dismisses religious convictions as "ideology"  Catholic Kerry Watch. August 9, 2004.

Ron Reagan & Functionalism, Revisited, Catholic Kerry Watch. July 29, 2004.

Out of Touch, by Michael Fumento. Refuting Kerry's claims on the use of embryonic stem cells. Citizen Magazine August 2004.

Stem Cell Defection, by Ramesh Ponnuru. National Review August 16, 2004.

Stem Cell Research: Fact Sheets, Letters to Congress and Articles from the USCCB.

On Voting, "Proportionality" and Cardinal Ratzinger's Memorandum

What Ratzinger Said, by James Akin. Sept. 9, 2004.

Bishops Refute Flawed Theology (of Andrew Greeley) Barbara Kralis. August 22, 2004.

Thoughts on Proportionality, Catholic Kerry Watch. July 12, 2004.




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