Friday, April 11, 2008

Fuzzy Morality

Pope Benedict XVI could not come at a better time for America. On the advent of a presidential election, Catholic citizens of the United States NEED a clear, strong and unequivocal voice of moral and doctrinal authority to help properly form consciences that will responsibily vote this coming November.

Recently, I was made aware of a priest telling his parishioners that they could, in good conscience, vote for a politician who openly supported abortion AS LONG AS the voter did not agree with that position. Then he quoted from the American Bishops' (USCCB) statement Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (Nov. 2007), specifically:

34. Catholics often face difficult choices about how to vote. This is why it is so important to vote according to a well-formed conscience that perceives the proper relationship among moral goods. A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.

35. There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. 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.

When taken out of context, paragraph #35 could erroneously be used to justify material cooperation in grave evil AS LONG AS there were no formal cooperation. That is NOT what (then) Cardinal Ratzinger said in his letter to the American Bishops (July 2004). He makes an important distinction between remote and proximate material cooperation in evil. The Church has always condemned formal cooperation in evil where a person gives consent to evil being done by another. When someone does not agree, however, they can still be guilty of material cooperation in evil when they provide the means by which the evil is performed. Direct or proximate material cooperation in evil occurs when a person provides necessary tools to perform the evil act, e.g., when someone sells illegal drugs they are a material cooperator in evil since they are providing the necessary means to commit evil, either illegal drug use or illegal drug distribution. Selling dangerous materials such as radioactive or biological material used for weaponry is material cooperation in evil even though personally, they object to acts of terrorism. Likewise, Doctors, nurses and other who make abortion or euthanasia possible are material cooperators in evil. If it is the biological father who drives the biological mother to the abortion clinic, he is guilty of direct (proximate) material cooperation in evil even if he personally is against abortion. Were he to give internal consent, it would also be formal cooperation in evil.

The medical personnel who perform the abortion or who assist the doctor are also direct material cooperators in evil. Remote material cooperators are those who provide indirect means to carry out the evil. The merchant of a sporting goods store sells amunition to a hunter. Legal and moral. If that hunter commits an immoral act by using the bullets he just bought to kill an innocent person, the merchant is not guilty of direct material cooperation in evil. He MAY be guilty of remote material coopertion in evil if he neglected to report to the police suspicions or apprehensions he may have had when he sold the amunition.

Politicians who personally oppose abortion and euthanasia but who VOTE for legislation to allow, permit or continue such immoral activity are MATERIAL COOPERATORS IN EVIL. If they are candidates whose office can and will affect the curtailment, restriction or possibile abolition of such grave evils, and they consistently vote to keep these heionous acts legal, then they are DIRECT (proximate) material cooperators in evil. VOTERS who elect these candidates but who disagree with their position on abortion or euthanasia, are also material cooperators in evil. They are proximate and culpable if viable alternative candidates exist.

Pope Benedict clearly stated:

3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

He also states in the Nota Bene:

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 favour 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

Note that the qualification for voting for a 'pro-abortion' candidate when you personally disagree with their position is PROPORTIONATE REASONS. Since abortion and euthanasia are non-negotiables, they cannot be equated with moral issues such as economic justice, just war or even the death penalty. Since abortion and euthanasia always and directly involve innocent victims, they are always grave evils to be avoided. The only time a Catholic can vote for a politician who is not overtly 'pro-life' is when he or she is more pro-life than their opponent. You cannot ignore a pro-abortion candidate just because you agree with his or her economics, or other political platforms. They are not equal issues.

Hence, Catholics who vote for pro-abortion candidates merely because they agree with their position on secondary issues are guilty of material cooperation in grave evil. It would be like a person ignoring a candidate's anti-Semetic or racist positions just to vote for them because you agree with their financial policies. Likewise, someone who advocates unrestricted abortion must be opposed. Period. The other issues like the economy, the environment, the war, etc., can be used if the abortion/euthanasia issue is unclear or unknown. Proportionate reasons means that HIGHER goods, like protecting innocent life, outweigh economic issues, like taxes, etc. Some evils are intrinsically evil. When there are no 100% opponents of these evils, then we can incrementally opt for the lesser of evils if there are no other alternatives.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Beware of the Usual Suspects

Just when you thought it was safe to change the channel from EWTN ...

Get ready, the mainstream liberal media will be bombarding the airwaves, internet and blogosphere with the rantings and ravings of the heterodox spin doctors and dissident pundits once B16 lands on US soil.

Dan Rather may be retired, but CBS, ABC, NBC, and of course CNN will go to their usual pool of Catholic malcontents, miscreants and recalcitrants to offer their 'balanced' view lest anyone suspect for a moment the secular media would give Pope Benedict or the Catholic Church a free ride. The shrinking minority of the so-called 'loyal opposition' (a true oxymoron) will be given free air time during the papal visit as has been done in the past during the reign of JP2.

Sister Joan Chittester, OSB, who opined that the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI was the equivalent of a 'spiritual tsunami' will be the most conspicuous 'expert' consulted by the social progressive, secular humanist media elite. Then of course, Father Thomas Reese (everyone's favorit Jesuit) and Fr. Richard McBrien (who will mysteriously find and wear his clerical attire while on camera, but just on papal visits, mind you) will be given a chance to spew their 'side' of the story. American media thinks it is being 'fair' when they give equal time to theological dissenters just as if this were the Democratic response to the Republican President's State of the Union Address.

There is no such thing as 'loyal opposition' when it comes to TRUTH, be it doctrinal or moral. Science does not tolerate contradiction. Either 2 + 2 = 4 is true or it is false. It CANNOT be both. Either the Pope and Magisterium are correct or they are false. Since the dissenters contradict the authentic teaching authority of the Church, they oppose God, the source of Revelation. They oppose the Son of God Who founded the Church on Peter and the Apostles (and their successors the pope and bishops in union with him)

Voice of the Faithful and We Are Church and every Tom, Dick and Harry lapsed Catholic will find a microphone and camera, just wait and see. You won't find many reporters interviewing Mother Angelica, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, or Karl Keating (Catholic Answers). We will see ex-priests, ex-nuns and ex-Catholics complaining about no women priests; no married clergy; no abortion; no contraception; no gay marriages; etc. Will the cameras, however, show you the YOUNG and HAPPY women in large numbers who wear traditional habits like the Poor Clares at EWTN or the Nashville Dominicans? Will we see the growing numbers of seminarians in dioceses where the bishop is orthodox and where the sacraments are celebrated reverently and correctly? No, they will show you the decaying and dying vestiges of the infamous 'spirit of Vatican II' church. Priests and nuns in street attire, not wearing ecclesiastical garb; and usually old, grumpy and obnoxious throw-backs to the 1960's besides.

Pollsters will tell us that a 'majority' of Catholics disagree with the Pope and Magisterium. Even if it were true, SO WHAT? Does the vox populi determine reality? When everyone thought the world flat, did it make it so? But I question the veracity of those figures. Who pays these bean counters to crunch the numbers? If the majority of Catholics renounce Catholic doctrine and discipline, why do they stay Catholic? Why is Catholicism still the largest religion on earth with over one BILLION members? Why are converts still coming into full communion with the Catholic Church every Easter Vigil around the globe? When 3 MILLION young people came to Rome for WYD towards the end of Pope John Paul's pontificate, the news media barely covered the event. Had three of those youth got drunk and turned over a Fiat, it would have been a breaking news flash.

Buckle your seat belts, boys and girls, it is going to be a bumpy ride, at least from the perspective of the secular media. On the other hand, watch the coverage on EWTN and you WILL see and hear what is really out there; a Catholic RENAISSANCE, begun by JP2 and continuing with B16.

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