Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Faith and "Reasons"

Riffing off last week's NYTimes piece on Catholics, abortion and the campaign, the current and former chairs of the US bishops' domestic policy shop sent the following letter to the Grey Lady, which ran in its pages this morning:
To the Editor:

“Abortion Issue Again Dividing Catholic Votes”
(front page, Sept. 17) says the bishops’ statement “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” would “explicitly allow Catholics to vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights if they do so for other reasons.”

Actually, the bishops said candidates who promote fundamental moral evils such as abortion are cooperating in a grave evil, and Catholics may never vote for them to advance those evils.

A Catholic voter’s decision to support a candidate despite that gravely immoral position “would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.”

This standard of “grave moral reasons” is a very high standard to meet. The bishops added that “a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support.” This is timely in light of offensive comments on race quoted in the article.

What the article calls the “running debate between Catholics” — with some saying “abortion is the only issue” and others saying “you have to look at the whole teaching of the church” — is not a dilemma for the bishops. One must look at the whole teaching of the church on justice and peace, serving the poor and advancing the common good — beginning with a fundamental priority on protecting innocent human life from direct attack as in abortion.

(Bishop) William Murphy
(Bishop) Nicholas DiMarzio
Brooklyn, Sept. 19, 2008