24 February 2008

The Catholic Vote

Recently several Bishops have issued documents describing under which circumstances Catholics could vote for a pro-abortion politician. The Bishops of Kentucky wrote, "There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate's unacceptable moral position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons." However, the bishops continue, clarifying what might constitute a "grave moral reason", "Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil." Now some will use this to justify voting for the Democratic candidate by suggesting that other issues such as an "unjust war," immigration, universal healthcare are equally morally grave. A Catholic journalist for the Washington Post wrote,
"So what's a pro-life, pro-family, antiwar, pro-immigrant, pro-economic-justice Catholic like me supposed to do in November? That's an easy one. True to my faith, I'll vote for the candidate who offers the best hope of ending an unjust war, who promotes human dignity through universal health care and immigration reform, and whose policies strengthen families and provide alternatives to those in desperate situations. Sounds like I'll be voting for the Democrat -- and the bishops be damned."

In an effort to keep any soul from damning himself I think there are a few things to keep in mind. First off, abortion is intrinsically evil and as such a mortal sin. The other issues that concern our country among others, war, immigration, healthcare, education, death penalty are not intrinsically evil and would be more akin to venial sins. Now no matter how many venial sins a person commits they do not equal one mortal sin. (This of course does not infer that a person is free to commit as many venial sins as they want as eventually that attitude toward venial sin will lead them to commit mortal sin.) Now if we accept as the Church teaches that a person supporting abortion has committed a mortal sin then being cut off from the supernatural life of grace how is this same person to make the appropriate decisions concerning the other moral issues facing society? Further the fact that the Democratic Party professes concern for these other issues does not mean their approach is the Catholic one or even the best one. In fact I believe that their "solution" to these evils is worse than the problem itself.

Today's Democratic Party has more in common with the tenets of Socialism than the social teachings of the Catholic Church. Even though their language is common their meaning is not. One example is trade unions. Now there is nothing wrong with unions per se and I agree with the rights of workers to organize against an unsympathetic or worse management but the current trade union is generally devoid of any religious connection. Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum wrote, "As a general and perpetual law, Workmen's Associations should be so organized and governed as to furnish the best and most suitable means for attaining what is aimed at, namely, for helping each individual member to better his conditions to the utmost in body, mind, and spirit....what advantage can it be to a workman to obtain by means of a society all that he requires and to endanger his soul for want of spiritual food?" They are a carryover from the old guild system but because they are utterly secular and disconnected from the teaching of the Church their function will always be incomplete. Archbishop Sheen was right on when he said that a solution to the labor/management dispute was a Chapel in the workplace where labor and management knelt down together at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. But today's unions foment distrust and a hatred of management that the previous encyclicals warned against. This antagonistic mentality between labor and management is opposed to the cooperation necessary as written by Pope Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum. Remember that atheistic Russia had trade unions which by no means operated in accord with Catholic social teaching. Too often the aims of the unions are for their leaders personal agendas and motives rather than the collective good of the employer, employee and the consumer of the product or service they are providing.

Another issue for people to support pro-abortion candidate/the Democratic Party is education. But the NEA and its biggest education supporters, i.e., politicians and unions are openly hostile to Catholic principles in general and Catholic education specifically. Try suggesting at your local Democratic caucus that you think the money your child is allotted for the public school should instead be given to you or allocated to a parish school. Pouring more money down an endless black hole will not solve the education problem in this country. Especially when one considers how some of that money is spent. For instance teaching Bobby how to put a condom on a cucumber. Not to mention all the anti-Catholic/Christian bigotry in history, science and other text books. I wrote in another post previously a document from the Catholic Bishops of England to voters on the eve of an election in the U.K. Compare what they said with Democratic thoughts on education today.

Regarding the "unjust war" in Iraq I can only say that whether the war was right or wrong the public anti-war position has prolonged this war and emboldened the terrorists who are engaged against us. Support our troops is an empty slogan on behalf of those whose primary goal is the defeat of the Republicans and the disgrace of President Bush. Hilaire Belloc writes of the defeat of the Christians in the battle at Manzikert as being the turning point in defending Christian lands from the advance of Islam. "A Byzantine counter-attack upon Mohammedanism reached halfway down the Syrian coast. There was a moment when it threatened Mesopotamia. But the strength of this revival in the Christendom of the East, in the Christians of the Greek rite, was sapped by political intrigue at the center. That political intrigue was mixed up with an "intellectual" disease comparable to the movement called today in Europe by the barbaric name of "Pacifism," and "Anti-Militarism." The coming into power of such politicians as batten upon movements of that kind undermined the whole new strength which the Macedonian Emperors had built up. The last fighting emperor could no longer be certain of proper support in the field against the Turk.... The Emperor was left alone on the battlefield, his army overwhelmed and general massacre followed. Asia Minor lay open to a swirling hoard of Mongol barbarians who overran, devastated, destroyed all that land of hither Asia which had been the solid foundation of the Byzantine power. Hilaire Belloc, The Crusades.

The death penalty is not intrinsically evil, nor does the Church even outlaw it. It is true that Pope John Paul wrote that the use of the death penalty was not really necessary in modern times due to other methods of punishing the guilty but he did not say that it could never be used.

Immigration is a complex issue that needs a Christian solution but again that is not necessarily the equivalent of the Democratic party solution. It is interesting to note the immigration policies of some other countries though and how illegal immigrants are treated. For example in Germany and Austria it is required that the candidate for citizenship know the German language sufficiently well to live there.

Poverty, just wages and other economic issues again demand the proper understanding of Social Justice as the Catholic Church teaches. Creating more "programs" and taxing "the rich" makes people feel good but doesn't address the necessity of our personal involvement. The Gospel commands us to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, give shelter to the homeless, visit the sick and prisoners. Archbishop Sheen theorized that the priest and the Levite that passed by the injured man in the story of the good Samaritan actually went on down to Jerusalem where they reported the man to a social worker. Okay so it was much funnier coming from him but the point is valid. He points out that we cannot rely on people who work out of duty, who when the office closes at 5 p.m Friday, tell the needy to come back Monday morning. Remember the innkeeper who take care of the man received compensation for his efforts when the Samaritan returned. We cannot absolve ourselves from our personal obligation by advocating taxing the so called "rich Republicans." It is curious how it is assumed that these "rich" don't do anything for the poor and so they must be taxed more. Yet how do we know how much they give to charity? In fact most studies show that Republican voters donate more of their income to charity than Democrats. Moreover have we given sufficiently on our own to be concerned of the charitable giving of others? The Catechism quotes St. John Chrysostom, "Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs." The demands of justice must be satisfied first of all; that which is already due in justice is not to be offered as a gift of charity.

When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice." St. Gregory the Great

Healthcare is also important for the dignity of the human person yet a blanket "universal healthcare program" administered by the Government is not the great panacea that it's advocates profess. Healthcare costs are an issue for a variety of reasons not least of which is the legal costs associated with the care.

Further the Democratic Party's advocacy of birth control, divorce, marriage are all in opposition to the proper nature and role of the family. Remember the rally cry "It takes a village?" Of course they demand more money "for the children" programs because they have been so effective at removing care for children from the proper role and responsibility of the parents.

This criticism of the Democratic party is not to be taken that the Republican party has the answers either. However I do think it is a myth to claim support for the Democratic pro-abortion candidate on the basis that they are more concerned with the other "social/moral issues." As in the story of the Good Samaritan it is not the responsibility of government to feed, clothe, give drink etc. It is our responsibility.


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