Sunday, September 20, 2020

Do We Need to Prepare for a Gethsemane Moment?

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.” He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:36–39)

 

There’s an old saying (it’s been attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola, among others) that goes, “We must pray as if everything depended on God, and work as if everything depended on us.” While it can be misinterpreted in a Pelagian sense, it means that we must rely on God to grant us what we need and work for it, trusting Him to strengthen us in cooperating with His will. Sometimes the good which God wills can be spectacular like the Walls of Jericho. At other times, it can be difficult to see, like Christians living during the Roman persecution must have struggled with why things were going that way.

 

In difficult times like this past year, there is a lot to be fearful about. Some of these are international (like coronavirus). Others are local, like the Presidential Elections and the open seat on the Supreme Court. We worry about them because the consequences can be serious. However, I think in modern times, we tend to forget that the Christian life can involve suffering. We (especially in the West) are tempted to think that we shouldn’t be experiencing injustice or suffering at all. If we do, somebody—other than us—is to blame for it, and it wouldn’t have happened if they had acted as we thought best.

 

We shouldn’t be surprised that injustice and suffering happen. The recent and ongoing persecution of Christians in the Middle East shows that we never know if one of us will be called on to make the ultimate sacrifice for our faith. We don’t know if our own nation might take a turn for the worse in terms of government harassment or mob violence over our values. 

 

We especially shouldn’t be surprised because one article of our Christian Faith involves the bloody execution of our Lord, Jesus Christ. As He warned us, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). It is unreasonable to expect our life as Christians to be free of troubles. This is not a call to be passive in the face of injustice. Rather, we are called to carry out the Great Commission despite the troubles that come our way. Nor is this an argument that because our treatment is not as bad as it is in other countries, we are not treated unjustly.

 

What it does mean is we ought to approach whatever hardships that come by following the example of Jesus in Gethsemane. Yes, it is natural to avoid suffering. We legitimately pray to be delivered from evil in the Lord’s Prayer after all. But, if it turns out that we cannot avoid suffering, then we should pray for the grace to accept God’s will and endure as we carry out His work here on Earth. 


Saturday, September 19, 2020

What is Our Obligation? Body Count Theology and the Fallacy of Relative Privation


 

The election grows closer and everybody is worried about the consequences. Looking at it objectively, no matter who wins, the consequences will be severe. So nonpartisan discussions should involve what the cost is of rejecting the greater evil. It’s understandable that Catholics would also look at the election with concern. The Catholic’s concerns about the cost will be different from the secular concerns, but we do have an obligation to identify both the greater evil and whether a “proportionate reason” exists to support the lesser evil.

 

Unfortunately, we’re seeing some Catholics reduce this into an issue of the body count. It’s understandable of course. Looking strictly at numbers, a policy that kills 62 million people is more serious than a policy that kills 6 million people and must be given a higher priority. But we do need to go beyond “strictly looking at numbers,” as the fact that the second policy “only” killed 6 million does not make it negligible or tolerable. I didn’t pick those two numbers at random. 62 million is the number killed by abortion in the United States from 1973-2018. 6 million is the number of Jews estimated murdered by the Nazis in their “Final Solution.” Both are horrific when you realize that the numbers are not statistics but human beings. It would be monstrous to argue that Hitler’s policies didn’t matter in comparison.

 

But reducing political support of a candidate to the fact that his policies have a lower body count than the other is effectively that! It’s ridiculous and offensive because the moral choice would be to reject both. Sometimes we do have to do that. The logical error to avoid is the fallacy of relative privation. This holds that because Evil X is greater than Evil Y, Evil Y is not important… an attitude incompatible with Catholic belief§.

 

Some Catholics may legitimately find that their conscience demands fighting the evil that Candidate A will impose must take a higher priority than the evil that Candidate B will impose, and that justifies a vote for Candidate B. But if they do think that a “proportionate reason” exists that justifies voting for Candidate B, they are not excused from fighting the evils that Candidate B supports. I would argue that they are obligated to fight the evils their vote is enabling if their candidate is elected. I do not believe we can claim that tolerating that evil for the next four to eight years is compatible with the Catholic view.

 

Unfortunately, we see Catholics on both sides who do exactly that. Some Catholics argue that by voting for the pro-abortion candidate, they are effectively reducing abortion because other policies will reduce the “need” for it… forgetting how many abortions are performed for arbitrary reasons. They then stay silent on abortion except to criticize those who give it a higher priority. Others argue that while they don’t like the evils in their party, “the stakes are too high” to fight against it until later… a later that never comes. In this game, both sides are swift to point out the hypocrisies of the other side… and never quite grasp that they are guilty of the same thing.

 

So, do you believe that the attacks on the right to life are the worst? Do you think that ignoring the other issues are missing a crucial point on what that right entails? Well and good. “They” should repent of their attitudes. But the question remains: What are you going to do about the evils in your own party? They’ll still be there on January 20th, 2021 and saying “I voted against Candidate A in 2020” isn’t going to be a defense at the Last Judgment. The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46) and the Parable about the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) show that we can’t be passive when people are suffering.

 

I am, of course, just a laic blogger. I have no authority to judge the conscience of you the reader based on how you happen to vote. But I can state my fraternal concern that many people seem to be forgetting that our moral obligations go beyond the ballot box. Our obligation as Catholic Christians¤ involve evangelizing the world in [election] season and out (cf. 2 Timothy 4:1-5) in the face of all the errors that risk damnation… not just the ones committed by those with a -D or an -R after their names.

 

__________________________

 

(†) To head off debates on Hitler being pro- or anti-abortion, Hitler’s views were based on eugenics, not moral values. He opposed abortion for “Aryan” ethnicities but favored it for other ethnicities.

 

(‡) I reject the concept of “Candidate X is Hitler” rhetoric that shows up (I rejected it in my blog at least as far back as 2012). No matter how repugnant we might find one or more of the current candidates, their positions are not Hitlerian.

 

(§) It’s closer to Utilitarianism where the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people is considered the key.

 

(¤) I don’t say this to deny the values of non-Catholic Christians and non-Christians that share our concerns. If you are in one of those groups, I hope my writing has some value for you too. But I am appealing as a Catholic to fellow Catholics to be aware of their obligations.

 

 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Quadrennial Problem For Catholics


All these horrors I've heard of during the Nurnberg process, these six million Jews, other thinking people or people of another race, who perished. That shocked me deeply. But I hadn't made the connection with my past. I assured myself with the thought of not being personally guilty. And that I didn't know anything about the enormous scale of it. But one day I walked by a memorial plate of Sophie Scholl in the Franz-Joseph-Strasse. I saw that she was about my age and she was executed in the same year I came to Hitler. And at that moment I actually realized that a young age isn't an excuse. And that it might have been possible to get to know things. (Traudl Junge in the movie Downfall)

At the time of this writing, there’s 47 days left until the US Presidential elections. At different times, I’ve referred to this as the “silly season” or even the “stupid season” because of how we Catholics tend to irrationally let our political values replace our Catholic moral teachings in governing how we live. We tend to act as if “our” candidate is the next best thing to the Second Coming, and “the other” candidate is the coming of the antichrist. As a result, whoever—even a bishop—speaks of “our” candidate in less than glowing terms, or concedes that “the other” candidate is right on an issue is accused of standing with the forces of darkness. The Catholic teaching “our” candidate is strong on or “the other” side is weak on is considered vital. The Catholic teaching “the other” candidate is strong on, or “our” side is wrong on is considered as less important.

That’s not to say that values are relative or that we can’t vote for any candidate at all. But what it does mean is we have an obligation to understand Catholic teaching properly so our consciences will be properly formed by the Church. From that, we are required to look at the candidates running and honestly assess whether a vote for one of them is morally justified. This is entirely different from the tactic of “looking for excuses to justify how we were going to vote anyway.” Nor can we conveniently weigh the Catholic teaching in a way that suits us.

The Church does indeed make the Right to Life the first right. Without it, the rest of the rights are “illusory” as St. John Paul II put it. However, the Church defines what is part of that right more broadly than partisan Catholics do. St. John Paul II wrote, citing Gaudium et Spes:

The inviolability of the person which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, fínds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life. Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights—for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture—is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.

The Church has never yielded in the face of all the violations that the right to life of every human being has received, and continues to receive, both from individuals and from those in authority. The human being is entitled to such rights, in every phase of development, from conception until natural death; and in every condition, whether healthy or sick, whole or handicapped, rich or poor. The Second Vatican Council openly proclaimed: “All offences against life itself, such as every kind of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and willful suicide; all violations of the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture, undue psychological pressures; all offences against human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children, degrading working conditions where men are treated as mere tools for profit rather than free and responsible persons; all these and the like are certainly criminal: they poison human society; and they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonour to the Creator”. (Christifideles Laici #38).

Let’s face it. Under this definition, neither party can honestly be called “pro-life.” We can only argue over which party causes the greater evil, and whether there is a proportionate reason to vote for the party that violates the Right to Life in a less evil way. But as we argue, we need to remember that God is the final judge, and He knows how honest we are being with ourselves.

Because the Right to Life is first and foremost, any party that chooses to violate it in some way is supporting grave evil, whether it involves an intrinsic evil (such as abortion) or an evil intention or consequence with an act that is not intrinsically evil. Matthew 25:31-46 reminds us that failure to help those in need is also damnable after all. Unfortunately, in the election years, we will inevitably see some Catholics argue that the other policies of a pro-abortion candidate will reduce the need for abortion… downplaying the fact that their candidate advocates the legal support for abortion, downplaying the fact that the Church lists it next to murder and genocide. Meanwhile, other Catholics argue that “the stakes are too high” to rebuke a candidate who supports the unjust treatment of migrants and the use of torture. Both sides declare that their candidate is the only moral choice, even though neither choice is moral.

Catholic supporters of both of these candidates will need to ask themselves whether they are prepared to face those who were made victims of the policies at the final judgment and honestly say that the suffering they enabled was not as bad as the evil they sought to oppose. I don’t mean making that decision in a tsk, that’s rough but what could I do? approach where we don’t look too closely at the evils we enable. I mean, are we prepared to honestly say before God and the victims that our vote was literally intended to stave off a worse evil?

And, if we are prepared to say this honestly before God and the victims, are we prepared to show our sincerity by speaking out against the evils our vote enables if that candidate gets elected, fighting tooth and nail to overturn that evil in our party?

Because if we’re not, if we’re prepared to stay silent for the next four years over those issues, the odds are we’re not being honest about our “proportionate reason” either.

_______________

(†) If one takes those arguments and replace the word “abortion” with murder or genocide, these arguments sound demonically evil. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The Perennial Problem

Did you hear the one about the corrupt bishop, accused of coercively soliciting donations, hiring cronies, and even sexual assault? Where he was removed from his diocese but permitted to remain a bishop if he provided restitution to those he robbed by his actions? (He did so through a loan). Where his superior—who nominated him based on his holiness as a youth—was accused of either being blind or complicit? Where he outright lied to the Pope when the case was heard?

You can stop your speculating over which current bishop I’m talking about, because you’re about 1600 years off. The bishop’s name was Antoninus, his superior was St. Augustine, and the Pope was St. Boniface I. We learn about this sordid affair in St. Augustine’s Letter 20*, written about AD 422.§ Even by today’s standards, the situation is startling, and reminds us that even the saints could be just as tone deaf and get things just as wrong as those shepherds the Church today.

I don’t bring this up to say, “It happened back then too… it can’t be helped.” Of course, it should always be acted on in every age. Rather, I bring this up to remind despairing Catholics that scandals in the Church are not something new, and even the greatest saints mishandled affairs out of attempted compassion to a sinner claiming to repent, of being unsure if the accusations were justified, or ignorance of all the facts.

The fact is, our Popes and bishops have always been human beings in need of salvation, with a finite knowledge of the events around them. Yes, corruption does exist in the Church and needs to be rooted out. Yes, sometimes the response to corruption is misguided. Yes, Canon 212 does give us the right to respectfully make our needs known when we think the response is unjust.  But this does not give us the excuse to disobey them when they act as successors to the Apostles. We must not rashly assume evil intention or bad will when a decision turns out to be problematic… as it sometimes will.

We should be praying for the Pope and clergy in communion with him, that they guide the Church wisely and well. We should also be careful to see if we have the proper interpretation of the facts before speaking out on an issue, and we should attempt to see if we can understand why one could have made a decision that went wrong.

This is something true regardless of the times we live in.

 

_______________________

(§) The reason for the asterisk: This letter is part of a 29-letter collection discovered after his previous collection of letters was codified. Originally thought to be forgeries, they are now believed to be authentic after analysis. Catholic University of America labels them as 1*-29* with asterisks to avoid having to renumber the 17th century numbering of the 264 letters—which would disrupt previous citations. So, citations of the Saint’s Letter 20 and Letter 20* would refer to two different things.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Exception Overload: Thoughts on a Variant of Whataboutism

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the “whataboutism” in which people point out the moral faults of others to shift the focus away from the issue where their side comes off as second best (a tu quoque fallacy). There is another version of that behavior that I have seen more frequently as we get closer to election day. That version is to list all kinds of exception clauses (“but what about…?”) that are aimed at escaping the obvious but unpopular conclusion.

When the Church specifically states that X is morally wrong, this tactic tries to argue that: while they don’t support a moral evil, they think the accumulation of hypotheticals and conditions—none of them by themselves as grave or graver than the evil under consideration—do meet the requirements of a proportionate reason to do something that enables an evil act.

This usually comes up after Catholic A points out to Catholic B that Party X is openly championing an an evil. Catholic B recites a litany of hypotheticals and conditions that he claims either outweighs the evil Party X is guilty of or reduces the culpability of Party X. Therefore, they argue, the conditions for a proportionate reason exist and they can morally justify voting for Party X.

Obviously, we do not want to force someone to act against conscience. That would mean pressuring them to do what they think is wrong. Some of the concerns are valid. Sometimes the badly formed conscience is sincere. But, in the spiritual works of mercy, we do have obligations to instruct the ignorant and admonish the sinners so they might not do wrong unknowingly or knowingly. So, if the person has formed his conscience wrongly, we do have an obligation to point out what the Church does teach and how they might have gone wrong.

But at other times, the arguments used are simply dishonest. For example, one argument I’ve seen claims that since it was the Supreme Court that decided Roe v. Wade, voting for a pro-abortion candidate for President is not enabling as much harm as claimed. This is dishonest because the dispute over a pro-abortion candidate in the United States is not over whether a President can overrule the Supreme Court (he can’t). It is over whether the candidate intends to harden the defenses of Roe v. Wade against attempts to overturn it, appoint judges to defend it, permit (or increase) government funding for abortion via executive order, sign laws defending abortion while vetoing laws defending life. Using whataboutism to deny this candidate is responsible for the evil of abortion in a way the Church condemns is dishonest, whether the person is sincere in believing it or just using it as an excuse§.

And, except for the most naïve, they know that this reasoning is dishonest because they do point fingers at Catholics on the other side of this political divide for using this reasoning to vote the way they want. So, we are stuck with the bizarre situation of divided Catholics that accuse the other side of making excuses for not following Church teaching on voting while not following it themselves. A Catholic leaning to support the Democrats downplays the serious nature of abortion in their voting considerations. Whether or not they intend it, the result is to ignore their own failures to oppose evil while condemning the failures of the other side. The consequence is, nothing gets done to reform the evils in our country while never considering their own part in this evil situation.

We can’t make excuses. If we know that the Church condemns a policy as evil, even if we feel we need to vote for his opponent, we have an obligation to challenge our candidate on the issues he is wrong for, not make excuses for inaction. But we seldom see that challenge made

Instead we bury the obligation in an avalanche of exceptions and hypotheticals, saying “but what about…?” And if we will do that, it will come up at the final judgment, when we desperately plead, “Lord, when did we see you….” (see Matthew 25:44).

 

_________________________

(§) Yes, this dishonesty works both ways. If it’s wrong to stack up lesser reasons or hypotheticals to claim a proportionate reason exists over abortion, it is also wrong to use these tactics to justify voting for a candidate guilty of other evils condemned by the Church. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

What is a Proportionate Reason? A Reflection

Introduction.

A reader on my blog page asked me for a clarification on what a Proportionate Reason was when it comes to moral theology and the abortion issue. It reminded me that sometimes what think is clear, the average reader might see as technical jargon. So, I apologize for not being clear and will try to explain it without sounding too technical or patronizing. (I suspect I may have to apologize in advance for not succeeding there).

Some Basic Things to Remember.

When dealing with evil and what enables it, we need to make a few basic statements. 

First. We are absolutely forbidden to do an evil act so good may come of it.

Second. To have a morally good act, the action itself must be morally good or neutral (no intrinsically evil acts [that is, the act itself is bad regardless of conditions] can ever be made good), the intention is good (doing something good or neutral for an evil reason makes the act evil), and the circumstances must be good (giving a Snickers bar to a starving child who turns out to have a peanut allergy is bad, even if no harm was intended).

Third. The conditions that make up a mortal sin require committing a serious (grave) evil, knowing it was evil and freely choosing to do it anyway.

Fourth. If it’s impossible to know something (for example, Native Americans in pre-Colombian times absolutely could not have known of the need to accept Christ) and the person acted wrongly, thinking what they did was good, God will not hold a person responsible for that ignorance, even though wrong is done. We call this invincible ignorance. But, if the ignorance was something that could have been learned if the person bothered to look but was negligent, that isn’t excusable. We call this vincible ignorance.

Fifth. The person who knows they have committed a grave sin need to go to Confession before receiving communion (Canon 916). Notorious and unrepentant sinners who choose to go receive Communion anyway can be barred (Canon 915).

So, we could sum this up and say, since we may not do an evil act so good may come of it, we have an obligation to learn what the Church teaches and live it. We are without excuse if we reject the Church teaching and do evil, and we are without excuse if we do evil through ignorance that we could have cleared up if we bothered to look. We could wind up in a state of mortal sin if all conditions are present.

We can never deliberately choose to do evil or to freely and knowingly assist in that evil. (For example, you can never have a morally good rape or a morally good lynching). Even if a Catholic should dissent from Church teaching, they are not excused from obeying it. Otherwise “I disagree” could be an iron clad defense for geocide or murder. If anybody does take part in assisting evil knowingly and willingly, they are responsible for having done evil. So, in the Ratzinger Memorandum, he mentions voting for someone because they are pro-abortion as an example of being obligated to stay away from receiving the Eucharist.

But What About Acts that Aren’t Intrinsically Evil

So, let’s move on. Keeping the above things in mind, let’s move on to Proportionate Reasons that justify an act that is not intrinsically evil in itself, but still makes the evil act possible. 

The immediately relevant part of the Ratzinger Memorandum, the part that gets dragged out every four years, is the section on voting. Voting in itself a civic duty, not an intrinsic evil. Therefore, any sin involved comes from the intention or the consequences.

While deliberate evil in a vote exists if one deliberately chose to vote to support something the Church condemned as evil, we still need to consider the consequences of voting for something that will have an evil consequence, even if unintended. This isn’t a “moral calculus” where we decide X amount of evil is tolerable, while X+1 is not. Instead we have to consider whether the person who enabled the evil had a reason that took away culpability.

If the person knows that voting for a candidate who publicly states his support for something the Church labels evil would enable this bad result (and not being aware indicates a defect in knowledge of Church teaching or the politician’s position), the greater the evil enabled means the greater the reason is needed proportionate to the harm done (there’s where we get the term proportionate reason) is needed to justify the participation in the act.

I’ve pointed out elsewhere that the Catholic Church has (in Gaudium et Spes #27) listed abortion next to murder and genocide in talking about evils. So, we cannot simply treat abortion as one issue among many any more than we can treat murder or genocide as one issue among many. 

This is where the Catholic risks stepping into a trap. It is easy for any concerned Catholic—who has sympathies for one party at odds with the Church in some way—to confuse the reasons they dislike the other party for proportionate reasons. Since the Church does speak so strongly against abortion, unless they can offer a proportionate reason for voting for a pro-abortion candidate that they would accept if used by a Catholic trying to justify voting for murder, genocide, or torture, I honestly don’t think they can defend their vote. This is why I think the insight from Archbishop Chaput is so important: 

We sin if we support “pro-choice” candidates without a truly proportionate reason for doing so—that is, a reason grave enough to outweigh our obligation to end the killing of the unborn. And what would such a “proportionate” reason look like? It would be a reason we could, with an honest heart, expect the unborn victims of abortion to accept when we meet them and need to explain our actions—as we someday will.

Chaput, Charles J. Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life (p. 230). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

So, the Catholic who says “I am justified in supporting a pro-abortion candidate because of the evils in the other candidate,” must be able to face God and the victims of the policy that this evil invoked at the final judgment and say, “Yes this was more urgent.”

I would like to conclude by bringing up another issue frequently forgotten when people debate proportionate reasons. That is, the same moral obligations that bind the Catholic considering voting for a pro-abortion candidate also apply for the Catholic considering a vote for his opponent. If that Catholic votes for the other candidate because of his support of the evil position, that voter is also culpable for that evilly intended vote. And, yes, the requirement for a proportionate reason applies to his vote for the opponent with a morally wrong platform too.

None of us are exempted from the obligation of looking to the Church to understand our moral obligations in being a Christian and following them to the best of our understanding and ability to form our consciences. None of this can be set aside because “the stakes are too high” in this election. While we must not be scrupulous in seeking to do right, we must not be lax either. So, when a candidate proudly states they will support something we know is evil, we do have an obligation to oppose it in a moral way.

And, if we should ever become convinced that we have failed to do this, let us remember that we have a Sacrament that reconciles us with God and His Church. Let us avail ourselves of that Sacrament, making a firm purpose of amendment to strive to live according to God’s commandments.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Evading the Abortion Issue

The Church is very straightforward in her teachings. Yes, determining the level of culpability in an individual’s sins might be complex in discerning knowledge and freedom in the decision, But that never makes a morally bad act good, and we must oppose evil, even when we might otherwise benefit from a group that promotes it or fear consequences if that group does not gain power. The fact is, we must not choose to do evil so good may come of it, and we must make certain that any remote cooperation [i.e., not intended] with the evil is done for a reason proportionate to the evil.

Tragically, some Catholics have announced their intention to vote for pro-abortion candidates, arguing that the evil of the other side meets the “proportionate reason” requirement. That they reason this way is deeply troubling. In Gaudium et Spes #27, for example, the Church lists abortion next to murder, genocide, euthanasia, torture, and slavery in terms of abominable actions¥. Those Catholics who intend to vote for pro-abortion candidates announce themselves against these other evils as non-negotiable… and rightly so. But, while they would never dream of compromising and voting for a candidate who supported those evils, they are willing to vote for a candidate who supports abortion, claiming that such a candidate is “more pro-life” while condemning Catholics who won’t vote like them.

The problem is this. While the Church does indeed teach that the Right to Life is more than just opposing abortion, one cannot be pro-life without that crucial piece. So, when the Catholic who announces his or her intention to vote for a pro-abortion candidate while denouncing his fellow Catholic for neglecting other issues of Catholic Moral Teaching in the name of abortion§,  he or she needs to keep in mind Matthew 7:2. “For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” 

This verse is important because calling out another on a moral wrong means you know that action is wrong. So, calling down judgment on Catholics for downplaying Teaching X in the name of opposing abortion, while downplaying of abortion in the name of Teaching X is also worthy of judgment.

Don’t get into an argument over theological calculus here where you try to calculate what level of other evils is supposed to outweigh abortion (both sides do this, and calculate it in their favor). When the Church says “X is wrong,” don’t try to justify your support of the candidate who champions X by pointing to the other side’s failings. Each one of us will answer for the evils we ignore or try to explain away when the Church has called them “evil” by name.

__________

(‡) This has gotten so out of hand, that I have seen some Catholics attack Cardinal Paglia claiming he is out of touch with the Church for saying that Catholic politicians absolutely cannot support or defend abortion.

(¥) Yes, the Church lists more issues in that paragraph, and yes, I have cited them in previous articles. But it goes to show that those who invoke those issues cannot claim ignorance on how seriously the Church views abortion.

(§) A popular attack they use is “anti-abortion but not pro-life.”

(†) Again, before you plan to send an angry “what about…?” response, keep in mind, I have also written blogs warning against those opposing abortion being complacent or justifying their downplaying other issues.