The debate continues...

Shortly after 5pm Eastern (9/9/08), a statement was released by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, represented by its chairmen for Pro-Life Activities and Doctrine, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia and Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport in response to the recent comments of Senator Joseph Biden on Meet The Press (video above). You might want to compare Biden's comments with those of Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.

As usual, Rocco has the goods and you can read it all here.


  1. In addition to making public statements spelling out Catholic doctrine, I believe the bishops should showcase the positive steps the church has taken to address concerns about pregnant women and others who are personally dealing with these "hot button" issues.

    For example, there should be more publicity and fund-raising for efforts to support poor pregnant women -- programs like Spring House -- and programs that offer guidance and spiritual mentoring to those with same-sex attraction. (In his blog, Cardinal Sean highlighted the work of "Courage," which helps gays and lesbians live within church teachings.)

  2. Dear Concord Pastor,
    I applaud Senator Biden's thoughtful comments about differentiating the imposition of his own beliefs about the beginning of life from legislation he may be asked to pass. I also applaud your homily of last weekend in which you suggest that judging others is required if they are doing harm to themselves and others. But, I'm having trouble understanding why these views are not discrepant although it seems they are. Isn't support or non-support of legislation a way to lessen the chances of people doing harm to themselves and others (i.e. the mother and fetus). I don't agree with that viewpoint but am I being inconsistent in agreeing with both you and Biden? Could you and others offer thoughts about this?


  3. Novo: First of all, thank you for using a screen name, especially when posting a comment that will likely generate others.

    What's hanging you up between Biden's comments and my homily may be the question of whether or not a legislator can personally hold a position on a moral issue and at the same time vote contrary to that position on account of other legislative considerations.

    An analogous issue is whether the individual voter may vote for a candidate whose stand on a moral issue issue is contrary to the voter's own beliefs.

    Some think the answers to these questions can be simply and directly determined. Others find the discernment process complex and difficult.

    The American bishops address the voter's quandary in their statement,"Faithful Citizenship. (see link on sidebar)

  4. I tried to get to the bishops' "Faithful Citizenship" just now, but got Google sign up.

    I do know that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) in 2004 in a writing to the bishops re who could receive communion at the end had an N.B. (note bene - note well,) which I will paraphrase - that one could vote for someone who had taken pro-abortion positions as long as that wasn't why you were voting for him/her. If other positions, policies, etc., of the candidate were the reason you were voting for him/her, that was acceptable.

  5. Anonymous: thanks for letting me know. You should be able to link to Faithful Citizenship through the sidebar now.

  6. Anonymous 2:33,

    Can Catholics vote for pro-abortion candidates. The answer is no, except in very rare circumstances.

    The Ratzinger note you are referring is this:

    "A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate's permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons."

    What are "proportionate reasons"? To answer that question, look at the teaching of the church: The direct killing of innocent human beings at any stage of development, including the embryonic and fetal, is homicidal, gravely sinful and always profoundly wrong.

    Then you must consider the current scope of abortion. America suffers 1.3 million abortions each year--a tragedy of epic proportions. Moreover, many supporters of abortion propose making the situation even worse by creating a publicly funded industry in which tens of thousands of human lives are produced each year for the purpose of being "sacrificed" in biomedical research.

    Thus for a Catholic citizen to vote for a candidate who supports abortion and embryo-destructive research, one of the following circumstances would have to obtain: either (a) both candidates would have to be in favor of embryo killing on roughly an equal scale or (b) the candidate with the superior position on abortion and embryo-destructive research would have to be a supporter of objective evils of a gravity and magnitude beyond that of 1.3 million yearly abortions plus the killing that would take place if public funds were made available for embryo-destructive research.

    Archbishop John J. Meyers of Neward argued it is hard to imagine circumstance (b) in a society such as ours. No candidate advocating the removal of legal protection against killing for any vulnerable group of innocent people other than unborn children would have a chance of winning a major office in our country. Even those who support the death penalty for first-degree murderers are not advocating policies that result in more than a million killings annually.

    What evil could be so grave and widespread as to constitute a "proportionate reason" to support candidates who would preserve and protect the abortion license and even extend it to publicly funded embryo-killing in our nation's labs?

    Certainly policies on welfare, national security, the war in Iraq, Social Security or taxes, taken singly or in any combination, do not provide a proportionate reason to vote for a pro-abortion candidate.

  7. I urge all my readers to take the time to read the whole of the US Bishops' statement Faithful Citizenship.

    A link to this document can be found on the sidebar.

  8. Concord Pastor,

    Just a reminder of the Novena the U.S. Catholic bishops have asked all Americans to join before the election. It is found at the US bishop's site as well as the Faithful Citizenship document. It asks for heavenly guidance -- something we all surely need!

  9. Here's another guide for Catholics that is helpful IMO:


    You can download it by clicking on the picture of the book.

  10. Thanks for the reminder. It's been my plan to post the novena from the bishops on the 9 days leading up to November 4 - but I'd certainly encourage folks to pray it over these nine weeks as well!


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