dotCommonweal

A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors

.

Faithful Citizenship

For those who are interested, here is the link for the latest version of Faithful Citizenship.  Per Thomas Reese, not much new here, although, as Margaret S. notes below, Archbishop Chaput seems to finally be getting on board with the program.  I suspect, though, that his change of heart regarding the permissibility of ever voting for a pro-choice candidate has as much to do with the prospect of a Giuliani nomination as anything else.  But maybe I'm too jaded.

Comments

Commenting Guidelines

Here is a jewel of theological reflection, not to mention pastoral application, courtesy of Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, N.D. (not S.D. as USA Today incorrectly writes), "tried but narrowly failed in proposing an amendment that said salvation would be in danger if a voter made 'wrong' choices."

I doubt if you are too jaded, but I wonder if our august bishops ever have any private, self-reflective moments when they wonder why it is and what it means that a good number of their flock believe that they are as motivated by power politics as any politician. I think it even more interesting that our self-identification often centers around the Church when it has not been powerful -- the Church in Ireland, the immigrant Church, early Christian martyrs. I doubt if grasping for power has ever been a holy enterprise.

Professor Penalver, would you be willing to reveal your full "jaded" speculation as to why Guiliana would get a nod from the bishops? He would seem to fail the "intrinsic evil" test on several points--not just abortion, indeed more than most of his opponents.

I sort of doubt he'll get the nomination, but if he does, I think you'll start to see this argument (in fact, you're already seeing it in certain evangelical circles, see, e.g., Pat Robertson). (1) Abortion trumps all other issues, including torture and the war; (2) Giuliani is personally pro-choice, but has indicated an intention to nominate justices to the Supreme Court in the mold of Scalia and Thomas, i.e., justices who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade; (3) any Democratic candidate would nominate justices who would not vote to overturn Roe v. Wade; therefore (4) voting for Giuliani will less harm on the abortion front and may actually move the ball forward and is therefore morally permissible, either by itself or on some prudential lesser evils grounds. You might even see this argument at work in the primaries on the ground that the ultimate goal must be to defeat a candidate who would nominate pro-choice justices to the Supreme Court and Giuliani has the best chance of the current Republican crop of actually beating the Democratic nominee. So it is therefore permissible to vote for him, even as against a pro-life nominee who would face certain defeat in the general election. I'm not endorsing these arguments, obviously, but I think you will see them bouncing around.

So far as I can see, no one, neither bishops nor pro-life candidates, has proposed any specific piece of legislation or constitutional amendment that would criminalize abortion sufficiently clear to say what the penalty, and who would be penalized, for its violation would be. On the other hand, pro-choice advocates have all too regularly spoken as though they took it to be perfectly MORALLY acceptable to have or perform or encourage abortions. The poor simple voter is stuck with the task of casting a vote for some candidate, the meaning of which vote is anything but transparent.The Catholic voter, who wants to say that he/she is MORALLY opposed to abortions, but is opposed to imposing legal penalties on those who have or perform them without advocating their moral permissibility, is stuck without having any obvious candidate today in the group of announced candidates for the presidency.Press reports of the bishops' document appear to say that it gives no clear guidance for the Catholic vote I have in mind.

I wasn't sure whether to include my post here or under the Bernadin thread of yesterday,The NPR report on Faithful Citizenship,"You decide, but be careful,: shows how the Bishops in trying to balance priorities with non-partisanship are really remote from many folks lives.It struck me that John Allen's conclusion that the majority (just barely) of the Bishops are in the centrist Bernadin tradition was lacking. Bernandin at his finest was open, listening and engaging the world about, while the current "centrists" basically cast their eyes toward Rome(the curia) in what they musyt say and do.Their rejection of any contact with VOTF has been met with dismay by the elction of George and Kicanas, mainly over the sex abuse issue - see the continuing McCormick story.While the Bishops met, I note, the National Right To Life committe was endorsing Fred Thompson. The NPR interview was shamelessly neocon - hardly in touch with the total values of Faithful Citizenship and far removed from "seamless garment."What's at stake here is the continuing disconnecyt between Church leadership and the sacramentally bound but further distancing faithful.Today's paper carried a large article on the Spirzer back down and how immigration is a "no-win" topic incapable of solution in the current environment.Well there's lots more like that because we live in the world of non-listebing diviseness, far removed from the excelen texmple ahown by the late Cardinal of Vhicago,To many, the current USCBC seems to listen to themselves. They can add words about the salvation of those who vote, but unless they listen more and unite more, they will not be listened to by many of their faithful

Well it is nice to know that the Bishops think so highly of "the moral obligation to oppose intrinsically evil acts," that they feel it "has a special claim on our consciences and our actions " as voters. Meanwhile, THEY elect Bishop George-- despite his non-conformity with their own agreed-upon norms for protecting children in his diocese from abuse. What an example!

In today's Boston Globe there is a article that's head-lined: "O'Malley draws line with Democrats: Backing abortion rights candidates borders on scandal"It will be interesting to see what response there will be. it's listed at boston.com under National

Ah, yes. The Catholic Episcopacy = The Republican Party at faux prayer, i.e., threats and intimidation when persuasion doesn't work.

Hi Eduardo. A quick question: With respect to the argument that "voting for Giuliani will do less harm on the abortion front and may actually move the ball forward [by virtue of judicial appointments] and is therefore morally permissible, either by itself or on some prudential lesser evils grounds," do you disagree with the premise -- i.e., that Giuliani would, in fact, do what he has said he would do (oppose public funding, keep the Mexico City policy, appoint anti-Roe judges) -- or with the conclusion, i.e., that, assuming Giuliani would do these things, voting for him would be, all things considered, the better of two bad options? Or, to put it differently, do you deny that one who accepted the premise could reasonably, and faithfully, reach the conclusion?

Rick -- more premises are necessary, including the premise that abortion outweighs all other issues, even those, like torture, that involve advocacy of intrinsically evil acts. My point was not to critique these arguments, just to explain to Margaret S. why I think Chaput might have suddenly softened his stance on voting for pro-choice candidates. I agree that, given the priors, the argument makes sense. (I'm not sure I would say the same for the logic that led Robertson to endorse Giuliani, though. It seems to me that someone who accepts those priors would have to have a different approach during the primaries.)

At this late date, I commend Gene Kennedy's piece in the Chicago Tribune yesterday on this topic.Of course, it won't play well with those who want the faithful to be good children.