Catholics & the 2004 Presidential Election - Collected Readings & Resources


Friday, September 17, 2004

The Vatican Replies 

Posted by Jamie at 3:22 PM

The postcript of the famous (or infamous) 'Ratzinger memo' sent this June by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger of the CDF to Theodore Cardinal McCarrick has been the subject of endless media spin in the last two weeks, eventually plunging to the nadir of Fr. Andrew Greeley's "Catholics Can Vote for Kerry!" article in the New York Daily News. Catholic Kerry Watch has managed to keep up, more or less, with the train of events thus far.

A new wrinkle in the story occurred today, when the CDF itself - Ratzinger's office - made a statement on the letter and its media fallout. Fr. Augustine T. DiNoia, undersecretary to Cardinal Ratzinger, spoke to representatives of CNS news, in an article published this morning:

"The memo was certainly not intended to clear the way for Catholics to vote for candidates who are in favor of laws permitting abortion or euthanasia, but rather to clarify that the simple act of voting for such candidates might not per se justify one's exclusion from Holy Communion," said [DiNoia].

After a helpful discussion of the theological principles of cooperation with evil - material and formal - Fr. DiNoia spoke directly to the situation of 'proportionate reasons':

The recent doctrinal memo's mention of "proportionate reasons" has led some people to suggest a set of reasons that could justify voting for pro-abortion politicians -- or to argue that no "proportionate reason" can exist in such a case. Father DiNoia said one obvious proportionate reason would be when, as often occurs, Catholic voters must choose between two candidates who support legalized abortion but to widely differing degrees. In that situation, not to vote at all would seem to go against a Christian's responsibility to participate politically.

While this statement certainly does not allow an absolute prohibition against voting for 'pro-choice' politicians, neither does it grant unrestricted liberty to do so, with apologies to Father Greeley. DiNoia rightly points back to the contents of the memo itself, forbidding us to take its postscript in isolation. The memo clearly states that the issues of abortion and euthanasia carry greater 'weight' than other moral issues, and that there can be no 'legitimate diversity' regarding them. To unjustly 'flatten' the spectrum of moral issues involved, as Father Greely would have us do, does not do justice to the very question of proportionality which he would have us respect. It is telling, I think, that the only scenario Fr. DiNoia proposes is one in which a pro-choice politician is contrasted with another pro-choice politician. As Jimmy Akin proposes,

"[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."

It is difficult to imagine another issue or scenario which could successfully stand up to the death of nine million Americans through legal abortion. Except, perhaps, the death of eight million Americans due to a slightly less pro-abort president. This is not to say, of course, that other scenarios, which might collectively carry this much 'weight' are de facto impossible. Even Fr. DiNoia admits defining these scenarios is 'extremely difficult.' is An active imagination could come up with plenty of scenarios, especially with some help from some hyper-paranoid documentaries in our theatres. But when it comes time to approach the polls, it's time to put a clamp on your imagination and deal with real life.


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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Contributing Editors:

Oswald Sobrino of
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Earl E. Appleby of
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Jeff Miller of
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Jamie
Ad Limina Apostolorum

Christopher Blosser of
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News Resources

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Kerry Communion Watch @ Beliefnet.com

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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