A good view of the Greenville controversy

This is from The Catholic Thing and is written by Robert Royal.

My emphases and comments.

The Catholic Thing
Monday, 17 November 2008 
De-forming Consciences  
By Robert Royal    

“Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of full communion with Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.”

Who wrote these words? You might guess Joseph Ratzinger, before he became Benedict XVI, on several occasions, not only about voting for pro-abortion politicians, but about those politicians themselves, if they claim to be Catholics. In fact, the words were written by Fr. J. H. Scott Newman, pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Greenville, South Carolina, and inserted into the parish bulletin last Sunday. Fr. Newman was merely expressing the widespread, longstanding, and clear moral understanding of the Church. No good deed, as we know, goes unpunished. Fr. Newman did so good a deed that he’s been rebuked, [a familiar pattern] not only by the usual media suspects, but by the Charleston diocesan administrator.

I have known Scott Newman since his freshman year at Princeton and would personally vouch for his every word. The managing editor of the magazine I ran back then identified him as a promising new student within days of his arrival on campus. He wrote some unusually mature and perceptive articles. I was not wholly surprised when he later decided to become a Catholic, and I was honored to be his sponsor. Scott subsequently worked in the Caribbean under Bishop Sean O’Malley, before going to Rome, where he became president of his seminary class – also not much of surprise.

He’s not only smart, holy, gifted in working with people, but humble. When the controversy arose, he received 5000 emails, “Most of the people who wrote seem to regard me as either a mighty champion of reform or an evil tool of the devil, and I am naturally hesitant to accept either title. In truth, I am but a useless servant of the Lord Jesus trying, despite my frailty, to be a faithful witness to Him Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” He also pointed out that he had not named any particular candidates in the original statement or, as was misreported by the Associated Press, “denied” anyone Communion[Right.  The MSM played a role in this, and not a positive one.]

A shrewd man, Fr. Newman put things in writing. After the bulletin appeared, The Greenville News asked him: “Are you saying that you’ll administer a no-communion policy unless Obama voters partake in penance?” He wrote in reply:

"I cannot and will not refuse Holy Communion to anyone because of his or her political opinions or choices, even as I continue to teach what the Church teaches about the necessity of being in full, visible communion with the Church before receiving the sacraments. Only those who believe what the Catholic Church teaches and who seek to live according to that teaching should even be interested in receiving the sacraments of the Church, and on the question of the intrinsic and grave evil of abortion, there is and can be no doubt about what the Church teaches."  [Therefore… If you voted for a candidate because he supports abortion though you know what the Church teaches, you should rexamine receiving Communion.]
 
That “cannot” reflects Fr. Newman’s proper recognition of the Church’s teaching and his overall reply should have put an end to the matter.

The Catholic Thing has noticed how the national media have taken it upon themselves to reinterpret or ignore hard facts this election season – and now beyond. The AP story was an outrage, by simple journalistic standards, and the fact that the “priest denies Obama voters Communion” story was picked up by ABC and other outlets shows how uncritical our media have become. (Recall, in recent weeks, two young bloggers – Eitan Gorlin and Daniel Mirvish — created a fictional adviser to the McCain campaign, [Incredible but true, but most journalists have their heads filled with cotton, hay and rags.  Couple that with the desire to see your name in the byline and you have disaster.] Martin Eisenstadt, and fabricated a story, widely picked up by sympathetic media, that Sarah Palin did not know Africa was a continent.) But the Newman story was not more of an outrage than several dozen others about religion and politics over past months.

What was truly unusual about Fr. Newman’s case was that his own diocese, trying to clarify the situation, has actually furthered confused American Catholic laity, precisely on the crucial matter of conscience. The administrator of the Charleston Diocese, Msgr Martin T. Loughlin, wrongly construed the case from faulty news reports ["from faulty news reports"] and publicly repudiated Fr. Newman. He quoted from The Catechism of the Catholic Church that we have the right to act freely in conscience. True enough. But he then went on to say: “Christ gives us freedom to explore our own conscience and to make our own decisions while adhering to the law of God and the teachings of the faith. Therefore, if a person has formed his or her conscience well, ["well" is the important word here] he or she should not be denied Communion, nor be told to go to confession before receiving Communion.”

Technically true, but saying this in an America where everyone already has an inflated sense of his right to his or her own opinion – without a very strong warning that a well-formed conscience means serious prayer and study that will take the average American Catholic a good distance from our popular ethos – translates in public as the Biden-Pelosi school of theology, a Catholic Church accepting of the notion of the sovereign self and, in consequence, moral relativism. Like it or not, that’s how our fellow citizens understand such statements. In other words, they’ve now had their consciences further de-formed[And it is the fault of clergy whose duty it was to form them properly.]

Fr. Newman’s parishioners came to Mass in large numbers this weekend and applauded so long when he began his homily that they only quieted down when he turned and knelt to the Blessed Sacrament. If you want to know what properly formed consciences are like and what they do, that’s the real story – which you won’t hear about from the AP or ABC.  [But you will hear it here.]

Robert Royal is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His latest book is The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West.

Thank you Dr. Royal!

 

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91 Responses to A good view of the Greenville controversy

  1. Joshua says:

    I must point out though that a vote for McCain or Obama are both materialcooperation with evil, and that voting for a pro-choice candidate, in spite of him being pro-choice, is always material cooperation with evil regardless of the alternatives.

    Voting for him because he is pro choice is formal cooperation and never allowed. But material cooperation with “intrinsic evil” can be justified if it is remote, the evil does not depend on you and you alone as a condition, What he should have said is that this material cooperation cannot be justified when a better, pro life candidate is available. He rightly pointed out that that might not be the case, he never asserted McCain was such. But materialcooperation with evil can be justified. We do it most of the time shopping, voting, paying taxes

  2. Andrew says:

    Fr. Newman’s parishioners came to Mass in large numbers this weekend and applauded so long when he began his homily that they only quieted down when he turned and knelt to the Blessed Sacrament.

    Beautiful. “Non nobis, Domine, sed nomine tua da gloria”.

  3. Joe Magarac says:

    Fr. Newman and Mr. Royal both forgot the “proportionate reasons” part of Ratzinger’s formula. It is licit to vote for a pro-choice candidate over a pro-life candidate if “proportionate reasons” for doing so exist.

    One may question whether either major-party candidate in the recent presidential election was in fact pro-life. One may question whether there could be any “proportionate reason” to vote for a pro-choice candidate given the 40+ million lives claimed by abortion. [I think it is rather hard to “question” that.]

    But one may not simply lop off the “proportionate reasons” part of the formula and claim that every vote for a pro-choice candidate over a pro-life candidate is a sinful vote. That’s what Fr. Newman did, and Msgr. Loughlin was correct to note the error. (Though I think the way that Msgr. Loughlin noted the error was itself unfortunate).

  4. Andy says:

    I would postulate that voting for John McCain AND Sarah Palin is no more cooperating in evil than paying your taxes to the United States government. Are you a tax dodger too?

  5. In this election you had a choice of 20% evil vs. 100% Evil. McCain supported ESCR, and Obama supported the antithesis of Life. In these situations you’re obligated to vote for the LESSER of 2 evils or vote for a 3rd party candidate.

    Proportionate reasons involve number, kind, and being able to justify it on J-Day. I don’t believe that there is anything that comes close to the number and kind of abortion. A proportionate reason would not be that of the economy, “hope” and “change”

    To put our own needs ahead of those that can not speak, or have no voice is the sin of pride. Or to quote a friend of mine “what is the point of free health care, when you’re dead?” We’ve had 50 000 000 people that could have contributed to this economy and we might not be in this mess that we have going on…

  6. Irish says:

    “Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil…”

    Emphasis on plausible.
    plau?si?ble? ?[plaw-zuh-buhl]
    –adjective
    1. having an appearance of truth or reason; seemingly worthy of approval or acceptance; credible; believable:

    Unfortunately, identifying a mainstream GOP Presidential candidate as pro-life is the opposite of plausible. It is the modern day Republican version of a chicken in every pot. Both parties use the issue to raise incredible sums of money and the leadership of both parties has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Furthermore, the “schadenfreude” sentiment expressed within the war-loving mindset that giggles at the idea of “bomb, bomb, bombing Iran” or “bombing those towel-heads back to the stone age” contains the same dehumanizing language used by the pro-abortion lobby whose words turn babies into nothing more than fetal tissue. Supporting either party, in my opinion, entails cooperating with evil.

  7. PMcGrath says:

    Item 1
    Incredible but true, but most journalists have their heads filled with cotton, hay and rags. Couple that with the desire to see your name in the byline and you have disaster.

    If you want to see the results of those hay-headed journalists, take a look at the video posted on the How Obama Got Elected Web site.

    Item 2
    MEMORANDUM

    TO: The Congregation of Bishops
    c/o The Apostolic Palace
    Vatican City State

    FROM: Me

    RE: Father Jay Scott Newman

    Would you guys please measure him for a miter? Now? We’ve got a bunch of open dioceses in this country that need a major butt-kicking, and Father N. is the butt-kickingest pastor in America right now. And I mean any Christian pastor, not just Roman Catholic.

    Personnel is policy, as they say, and if you want the pastor in America who can best run the B16 playbook, Father N. is your go-to padre.

  8. Jordanes says:

    Joe Magarac said: But one may not simply lop off the “proportionate reasons” part of the formula and claim that every vote for a pro-choice(sic) candidate over a pro-life candidate is a sinful vote. That’s what Fr. Newman did, and Msgr. Loughlin was correct to note the error.

    Of course if there really were proportionate reasons to vote for a pro-abortion candidate, there could hardly be a “plausible pro-life alternative,” could there? And while Father Newman didn’t mention “proportionate reasons,” he also didn’t claim that every vote for a pro-abortion candidate over a pro-life candidate is automatically or necessarily a sinful vote. Furthermore, if the alternative in this election really were plausible, that would mean there had to be proportionate reasons to justify a vote for the alternative, since no perfect candidates ever run for political office in this universe.

    Irish said: Supporting either party, in my opinion, entails cooperating with evil.

    Nobody is disputing that, or could dispute that. The question, however, is when such cooperation is justifiable. Anyone who was paying attention this year and understood what the Democratic policies are would have known that a vote for Obama could not be justified.

  9. KJ MacArthur says:

    Irish,

    If you would actually read what Fr. Newman said, you might notice that at no time does he advise anyone to vote for the Republican candidate. There are many alternatives to voting for the Democratic candidate. They include voting for any other candidate on your state’s ballot, casting a write-in vote, or refraining from voting in that particular race. Fr. Newman did not tell anyone which of these to do. We need to stop talking about this in partisan terms, since Fr. Newman did not cast his argument in partisan terms.

    For the record, I do NOT belong to any political party.

  10. bobd says:

    Boy, Father this idea of conscience is really confusing the heck out of us. I think we need a primer on the idea of conscience. I particularly don’t like the whole idea and argument that we must have a “well-formed conscience.” This suggests that one is totally free and independent of any other person or reality.

    “I will write my law on their hearts” (Jer 31:33). To me this suggests that what is needed is a sort of spiritual optical aid. And, at times, one hears “a still small voice.” This suggests that is what is needed is a sort of spiritual hearing aid.
    Who would disagree with the statement that in general a child of the age of reason has a better idea of what is right and wrong than an adult who has been watching or listening to the daily garbage that passes for news on a daily basis.
    So instead of implying that conscience must be “well formed” which should be way beyond the ability of a 7yr old I suggest that what is needed is an idea of conscience that means a clear looking-glass into the laws of God already written on our hearts and a finely tuned hearing aid that is able to distinguish between the interior whispers of God and those coming from the world or the evil one.

  11. nw says:

    So anyone have the full text of the bulletin?

  12. Joshua says:

    I would postulate that voting for John McCain AND Sarah Palin is no more cooperating in evil than paying your taxes to the United States government. Are you a tax dodger too?
    Comment by Andy

    I assume, since I was the one that mentioned taxes, that it was my comment that you misread.

    Voting for any candidate that supports evil is always, regardless of the alternatives, at least material cooperation with evil, formal when one intends to support the evil themselves. Voting for a pro-abortion candidate then is always at least material cooperation with evil, regardless of whether there is a pro-life alternative or not.

    Further, material cooperation with evil is NOT always a sin. It is NOT a sin when we pay taxes, though much tax money goes to evil things, or when we shop at many stores that support bad things. Which is why I said it would be more accurate to say “to vote for a pro-abortion candidate, without agreeing with his policies in that regard, is material cooperation with evil. When a pro-life alternative exists that is plausible and better than the pro-abortion candidate, than that material cooperation cannot be justified. To vote for a pro-abortion candidate intending to support that policyis formal cooperation and always wrong”

    I add too that Catholics are not consequentialists. Whether proportionate reasons exist to justify material cooperation is not based merely on the good of the alternative candidate. It is a judgment that must be rendered based largely not on a either/or scenario, but a yes or no scenario. It can be that both candidates support some evil, one is better than the other, and yet both can be justifiably voted for. It can be the case when there are not any candidates that one can morally vote for and they must abstain from voting, though in the US we always have at least write-ins. It is very plausible that supporting a mild pro-abortion candidate like McCain cannot be justified itself(I think it was, but not because Obama is worse).

    This also fails to account for ignorance of the people in voting. I know people who though Obama was pro-life, or who were mistaken on other facts so that they thought there were good reasons. One could have morally voted for Obama if they thought, even though wrongly, there were proportionate reasons. There might be sin involved in their negligence that left them misinformed, but that is another matter

  13. dcs says:

    Andy writes:
    I would postulate that voting for John McCain AND Sarah Palin is no more cooperating in evil than paying your taxes to the United States government.

    I do not think the analogy is a good one since one is required to pay taxes and one can be imprisoned if one does not. That alone would constitute proportionate reasons for the remote material cooperation involved in paying taxes. On the other hand, no one is required by law to vote for a particular presidential candidate or any candidate at all for that matter.

  14. chironomo says:

    I have to agree with those above who note that this is not a partisan argument, but rather an argument about Catholic beliefs. Taking Obama and John McCain out of the equation, the point is not WHETHER you support Obama OR McCain, but simply whether you support a pro-abortion agenda.

    The appeal to a “well formed conscience” is, I think, something of a cop-out…. is it really possible to support a pro-abortion agenda and have a conscience that is “well-formed” according to Catholic teachings? I think too many are mistaking “being OK with” their decision to support a pro-abortion agenda with that decision being “well-formed” according to Catholic teachings.

    This is very simply relativism in its purest form…”If I believe my conscience is well-formed, it is well-formed”. Clearly there needs to be serious catechesis on this issue from the pulpit…

  15. Mark says:

    We are in the middle of a culture war not just within this country but within our Church in this country.

  16. Irish says:

    KJ MacArthur:
    I didn’t mean to suggest that.

    I was pointing out that the two dominant parties have established, perhaps even willingly and knowingly established, an unholy alliance that maintains the issue of abortion as a fundraiser for both sides.

    What I do wish and pray for is that our Catholic leadership would support and encourage prolife voters to vote for a 3rd party candidate who is unequivocally prolife, and ignore the “he/she can’t win” argument that seems to push people into choosing between the lesser of two evil. I think the silence on that subject is deafening.

  17. Paul M says:

    FWIW, just heard that Pres-elect Obama has tapped pro-abort “Catholic” Tom Daschle to be Secretary of Health & Human Servcies. Hmmm, looks like “Catholics for Obama” have had some influence. Would love to hear Mr. Daschle comment on FOCA; it would open the door wider for the bishops to speak-out.

  18. tertullian says:

    With the lame duck session of Congress coming to an end, it’s about time Nancy Pelosi has her meeting with Archbishop Niederauer.

  19. Joe Magarac says:

    Here’s what Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI) said about voting, in a letter that he had time to draft carefully:

    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.

    And here is what Father Newman wrote about voting, in a parish bulletin column that he had to write in a hurry:

    Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exits constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law.

    I think it is fair to say that Father Newman oversimplified the Ratzinger rule by: a) failing to note that voting while intending to support abortion is the sin that requires one to abstain from the Eucharist; and b) failing to note that “proportionate reasons” can justify voting for a pro-choice candidate even if a pro-life candidate is also on the ballot.

    I didn’t vote for Obama. I like bishops with spines. I prefer simple rules without hedging or nuance. But I also think that Fr. Newman – understandably given his time constraints – made a mistake.

  20. DoB says:

    Funny how MSM could so easily identify Barack Obama as the anti-life candidate when his name was not even mentioned by Fr Newman. Pity they did not give this aspect of his pedigree the coverage it deserved during the election campaign. Shame, shame, shame on them. They have been totally compromised and are no longer the independent voice they should be.

  21. Subvet says:

    “With the lame duck session of Congress coming to an end, it’s about time Nancy Pelosi has her meeting with Archbishop Niederauer.”

    Don’t. Hold. Your. Breath.

  22. Jordanes says:

    remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.

    And when there are not proportionate reasons, it cannot be permitted, and therefore objectively would be a sin that requires one to abstain from the Eucharist: That’s even if it is voting for a pro-abortion candidate in spite of rather than because of his pro-abortion stance.

    Father Newman’s words were an oversimplification, though, and I think he has said as much.

  23. dcs says:

    They have been totally compromised and are no longer the independent voice they should be.

    They’ve never been “independent” – why do you think they’ve historically been called the “Fourth Estate”? And Oscar Wilde, writing over 100 years ago, complained about the undue influence of the media in The Soul of Man:

    In old days men had the rack. Now they have the press. That is an improvement certainly. But still it is very bad, and wrong, and demoralising. Somebody—was it Burke?—called journalism the fourth estate. That was true at the time, no doubt. But at the present moment it really is the only estate. It has eaten up the other three. The Lords Temporal say nothing, the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say, and the House of Commons has nothing to say and says it. We are dominated by Journalism. In America the President reigns for four years, and Journalism governs for ever and ever. Fortunately in America Journalism has carried its authority to the grossest and most brutal extreme. As a natural consequence it has begun to create a spirit of revolt. People are amused by it, or disgusted by it, according to their temperaments. But it is no longer the real force it was. It is not seriously treated. In England, Journalism, not, except in a few well-known instances, having been carried to such excesses of brutality, is still a great factor, a really remarkable power. The tyranny that it proposes to exercise over people’s private lives seems to me to be quite extraordinary. The fact is, that the public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands. In centuries before ours the public nailed the ears of journalists to the pump. That was quite hideous. In this century journalists have nailed their own ears to the keyhole. That is much worse. And what aggravates the mischief is that the journalists who are most to blame are not the amusing journalists who write for what are called Society papers. The harm is done by the serious, thoughtful, earnest journalists, who solemnly, as they are doing at present, will drag before the eyes of the public some incident in the private life of a great statesman, of a man who is a leader of political thought as he is a creator of political force, and invite the public to discuss the incident, to exercise authority in the matter, to give their views, and not merely to give their views, but to carry them into action, to dictate to the man upon all other points, to dictate to his party, to dictate to his country; in fact, to make themselves ridiculous, offensive, and harmful. The private lives of men and women should not be told to the public. The public have nothing to do with them at all. In France they manage these things better. There they do not allow the details of the trials that take place in the divorce courts to be published for the amusement or criticism of the public. All that the public are allowed to know is that the divorce has taken place and was granted on petition of one or other or both of the married parties concerned. In France, in fact, they limit the journalist, and allow the artist almost perfect freedom. Here we allow absolute freedom to the journalist, and entirely limit the artist. English public opinion, that is to say, tries to constrain and impede and warp the man who makes things that are beautiful in effect, and compels the journalist to retail things that are ugly, or disgusting, or revolting in fact, so that we have the most serious journalists in the world, and the most indecent newspapers. It is no exaggeration to talk of compulsion. There are possibly some journalists who take a real pleasure in publishing horrible things, or who, being poor, look to scandals as forming a sort of permanent basis for an income. But there are other journalists, I feel certain, men of education and cultivation, who really dislike publishing these things, who know that it is wrong to do so, and only do it because the unhealthy conditions under which their occupation is carried on oblige them to supply the public with what the public wants, and to compete with other journalists in making that supply as full and satisfying to the gross popular appetite as possible. It is a very degrading position for any body of educated men to be placed in, and I have no doubt that most of them feel it acutely.

    http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext97/slman10h.htm

  24. Fr Newman wrote: “In truth, I am but a useless servant of the Lord Jesus….”

    Fr Newman is certainly a humble servant of the Lord Jesus, but he is not “useless”!

  25. Mr Magarac, you’re slightly off. The two categories are “formal cooperation” and “material cooperation” with evil. Abortion is postively defined as an intrinsic evil, that is, there’s no way to make it a good. Abortion is always an evil. “Formal cooperation” with such, according to then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s rule, involves the direct intention to support evil, which is a corruption of the will. “Material cooperation” whether proximate or remote, would involve “proportionate reasons.” The question, then, is: “Is there any proportionate reason that outweighs an intrinsic evil?” A well-formed conscience would say, “Absolutely not!” But this is precisely the point at which the malformed conscience works at justification for its preferences, and the “waffle zone” in which some bishops blather, leaving the clarity of Ratzinger’s rules, as well as common sense, in the dust. Fr Newman’s statement cuts through the episcopally-preferred fog, and lays it out quite simply.

  26. EDG says:

    Paul M.: Don’t think it was an accident that Obama, who is both evil and deceitful, chose a pro-abortion “Catholic” to be head of the agency that will probably be used to harrass us, or at any rate to file the suits that bring down the IRS and the full weight of the Feds on Catholic health care and charitable institutions and destroy them.

    The bishops have not called these “pro-choice Catholic” politicians to account, and what the bishops don’t realize is that their failure to do so has essentially resulted in their ceding their teaching office to a bunch of self-interested laymen. We have to look at this almost as one of the late medieval struggles between secular and Church power. The state has always been desirous of taking over the religious power and making it yet another branch of government, and the bishops’ failure to teach and discipline in this issue was not only a disastrous failure of the victims of abortion, but a complete capitulation to the state. I think many people are not appreciating the depth of the bishops’ failure and its implications for the future.

  27. dcs says:

    The question, then, is: “Is there any proportionate reason that outweighs an intrinsic evil?” A well-formed conscience would say, “Absolutely not!”

    Not quite. There could be another intrinsic evil that one is seeking to avoid. For example, if Presidential candidate A supports funding for embryonic stem-cell research, while candidate B supports that plus abortion, they both support something intrinsically evil but voting for A might be justified in order to avoid the evil promoted by B. Are there proportionate reasons that might justify voting for a pro-choice candidate over a pro-life one? In practice, I tend to doubt it, but in theory I think it is not impossible.

    By the way, immediate or proximate material cooperation can never be justified except perhaps if one is acting under duress.

  28. Joe Magarac says:

    The question, then, is: “Is there any proportionate reason that outweighs an intrinsic evil [like abortion]?” A well-formed conscience would say, “Absolutely not!”

    If Cardinal Ratzinger felt that no proportionate reason could ever justify a vote for a pro-abortion candidate, I think he would have said so. He and his brother bishops would have just told us that we could never vote for a pro-abortion candidate.

    But the bishops have not said that. Here, for example, is Archbishop Chaput, whose pro-life bona fides cannot be questioned:

    So can a Catholic in good conscience vote for a pro-choice candidate? The answer is: I can’t, and I won’t. But I do know some serious Catholics — people whom I admire — who may.

    Things would be a lot easier if the rule were as simple as you suggest. I wish it were. But Ratzinger, Chaput, and other strong shepherds have never stated that voting for a pro-abortion candidate is always sinful. I don’t think that’s “fog.”

  29. Sal says:

    Funny. Of all the descriptors that come to my mind when I think of Fr. Newman, “humble” isn’t one of them. Isn’t this the same Fr. Newman who wrote this after the publication of the Motu Proprio:

    “In any event, last Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI threw a spanner in the works with his long-awaited, much-rumored, and oft-debated Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum, which more or less (kinda, sorta) gives any priest of the Latin Rite the choice of which Mass to offer: the Mass codified by Pope Pius V after the Council of Trent or the Mass codified by Pope Paul VI after the Second Vatican Council. It remains to be seen what effect, if any, this document will have on the life of the Church as it is lived in parishes, religious houses, seminaries, etc…”

    “In February 1962, Pope John XXIII promulgated an Apostolic Constitution called Veterum Sapientia, mandating very specific requirements for the teaching and preservation of Latin in the Church, but because of the radical changes taking place in the world at the time, this authoritative document was Dead On Arrival and had zero effect in the life of the Church. Today, if this document is read at all, it is usually read with mirth. Well might we all mourn the passing away of Latin from wide use in the Church, but pass away it has….”

    “Will Summorum Pontificum be DOA in the same way as Veterum Sapientia? I honestly don’t know, and to tell the truth, I don’t much care one way or the other…”

  30. Joshua says:

    This is from Ascension Health, and should clarify Church teaching on cooperation here

    Principles of Formal and Material Cooperation

    Moralists have long recognized that under many circumstances, it would be impossible for an individual to do good in the world, without being involved to some extent in evil. Along with the principles of double effect and toleration, the principles of cooperation were developed in the Catholic moral tradition as a way of helping individuals discern how to properly avoid, limit, or distance themselves from evil (especially intrinsic evil) in order to avoid a worse evil or to achieve an important good. In more recent years, the principles of cooperation have been applied to organizations or “corporate persons” (the implication being that organizations, like individual persons, are moral agents). Like the principle of double effect and some other moral principles, the principles of cooperation are actually a constellation of moral criteria:

    1. Formal Cooperation. Formal cooperation occurs when a person or organization freely participates in the action(s) of a principal agent, or shares in the agent’s intention, either for its own sake or as a means to some other goal. Implicit formal cooperation occurs when, even though the cooperator denies intending the object of the principal agent, the cooperating person or organization participates in the action directly and in such a way that the it could not be done without this participation. Formal cooperation in intrinsically evil actions, either explicitly or implicitly, is morally illicit.

    2. Immediate Material Cooperation. Immediate material cooperation occurs when the cooperator participates in circumstances that are essential to the commission of an act, such that the act could not occur without this participation. Immediate material cooperation in intrinsically evil actions is morally illicit. There has been in the tradition a debate about the permissibility of immediate cooperation in immoral acts under “duress.” When individuals are forced under duress (e.g., at gunpoint) to cooperate in the intrinsically evil action of another, they act with diminished freedom. Following Church teaching, the matter of their action remains objectively evil, but they do not intend this object with true freedom. In such cases, the matter remains objectively evil as such, but the subjective culpability of the cooperator is diminished. Very recently, the Vatican has rejected the arguments of those who would apply this concept of duress to Catholic organizations as a way to justify their immediate material involvement in certain objectionable actions.

    3. Mediate Material Cooperation. Mediate material cooperation occurs when the cooperator participates in circumstances that are not essential to the commission of an action, such that the action could occur even without this cooperation. Mediate material cooperation in an immoral act might be justifiable under three basic conditions:

    1. If there is a proportionately serious reason for the cooperation (i.e., for the sake of protecting an important good or for avoiding a worse harm); the graver the evil the more serious a reason required for the cooperation;

    2. The importance of the reason for cooperation must be proportionate to the causal proximity of the cooperator’s action to the action of the principal agent (the distinction between proximate and remote);

    3. The danger of scandal (i.e., leading others into doing evil, leading others into error, or spreading confusion) must be avoided.

  31. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Fr. Newman blew this.I do think Fr. Newman is trying to have it both ways. For example when the bulletin came out everyone thought he was talking about the vote between Obama and McCain. In the entry above the author points out that Fr. Newman never named candidates, and Fr. Newman says this too. However, in his reply to the newspaper, he says in reply to question two:

    “In this election, there was no way an informed voter could not be aware that Senator McCain is pro-life and Senator Obama is pro-abortion, and those who chose to vote for Senator Obama, whether because of or in spite or his position on abortion, nonetheless voted for a pro-abortion candidate who has pledged his vigorous support for the Freedom of Choice Act which will abolish current legal restrictions on abortion in every state of the Union, including parental notification requirements and the existing “conscience clauses” which allow Catholic doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and hospitals to refuse to be involved in any way with abortions. For this reason, no matter what the intention of the voter, support for Senator Obama was necessarily material cooperation with his clearly stated goal to extend the private and unrestricted use of lethal violence against unborn children throughout this nation and to export the same abroad as part of our official foreign policy.”

    It seems clear Fr. Newman was speaking about the presidential election, and only changed his tone, when he was called on it. As for the Greenville News article as posted on First Things, I really did not see how it was unfair. Twice in the article it says that Fr. Newman will not refuse communion based on their political vote. The headline seems accurate. That those that voted for Obama should go to confession before communion.

    Finally, I do think Fr. Newman might have a history of this type of thing. I remember how he preached that anyone who went to the SSPX had to go to confession before communion. He said it was a sin to ever go to an SSPX priest for the Sacraments. When the statements of Ecclesia Dei Commission were brought to his attention, he said they had no weight, and that the person who wrote them knew nothing about canon law, and that if the faithful followed the teaching of Ecclesia Dei on the matter they would be sinning. Fr. Newman seems to have problem with the idea that he can not bind beyond what the Church binds. It just so happens that this time he caught by the MSM, who ignored his rants on the SSPX. By the way, I do not want the SSPX to become a rabbit hole, but I do think it is important to know that Fr. Newman is not beyond dismissing anyone who disagrees with him, even when that person is Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, or statements from Ecclesia Dei on the sinfulness of attending an SSPX Mass.

  32. Paul M says:

    EDG,

    Interesting point that you raise re: harassing the Church. With the aggressive coverage against Fr. Newman and bold, in-your-face tactics employed by the same-sex marriage crowd, we could very well be in for a time of overt attacks against the Church. I would fully expect the sexual abuse crisis to be used to destroy the bishops credibility. Also, if you look at how Msgr. Loughlin’s statement was used by the media against Fr. Newman, I would expect to see the same thing on a larger scale; equivocating bishops words being used to counter those who state Church doctrine plainly.

  33. Sharon says:

    From Diogenes at Catholic Culture

    Let’s review: On November 12, Msgr. Laughlin personally thanks Father Newman for his statement, and compares him (Newman) favourably with the US bishops. On November 14 the same Msgr. Laughlin officially repudiates Father Newman’s statement.

    Wouldn’t you love to see Msgr. Laughlin’s phone log for November 12-14?

  34. Phredup says:

    Dr. Royal indicates that Father Newman was president of his seminary class in Rome. Funny, I was in that class and have no recollection of Father Newman being elected to anything.

  35. Jordanes says:

    There was really a seminarian in Rome named “Phredup”?

  36. Jordanes says:

    And yet, Mr. Sarsfield, never did Father Newman come right out and say that a vote for Barack Obama necessarily and in every conceivable case would place a Catholic “outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law,” nor did he ever say that he would deny Communion to people simply because they voted for Obama (assuming he would ever be able to find out they did, and assuming there were any such people in his parish). But it has been falsely reported that he said those things, and you make the same false claim yourself.

    You correctly note, of course, that when Father Newman was talking about the presidential election, he was talking about the presidential election. What else could he be talking about?

    The headline seems accurate. That those that voted for Obama should go to confession before communion.

    But he never said that. (Even though probably in most cases that is what Obama voters should do.)

  37. Scott says:

    Fr. Newman has a history of disrespect for Pope Benedict as well as Cardinal Castrillon and Ecclesia Dei. He was very dismissive of Sacramentum caritatis when it was published. He seems to think he knows better than the Pope how to run the Church. [So, it seems that your contribution to this is to toss an ad hominem attack onto the floor and leave there steaming, while ignoring the real topic.]

  38. Mr Magarac, there are people, Catholics included, who voted for that particular candidate precisely because of his support for abortion. That is certainly formal cooperation/support for an intrinsic evil, according to all considerations.

    Archbishop Chaput no doubt describes a number of his episcopal peers as people that he ‘respects.’ He does not say that he considers their decision correct, as you seem to have gathered from the statement.

    What possible justification is there for the murder of complete innocents? Trying to kill a messiah, again, perhaps? There is none that I can think of, though perhaps someone could come up with something, as dcs noted. A number of suggested (and uncertain and/or unlikely to be implemented) policies designed to address social ills do not counterbalance the intrinsic evil of abortion. Obama’s promise to Planned Parenthood to sign into law the Freedom of Choice Act is enough to make him anathema for any person whose head isn’t swathed in demagogic fog. Yet now even some Catholics have the gall of trying to justify their voting for him through a selective abuse of their own moral tradition, one of the most developed and clearly articulated in history. It’s absolutely astonishing.

    In the end, the only thing this priest Fr Newman is telling people to do is to go to confession if they voted for a man who has promised (among other things) to remove all restrictions whatsoever on abortions. That’s not far-fetched at all.

  39. Sal, a man who turns to the Tabernacle at an ovation certainly sounds humble to me, whatever his past statements may be. People can change quite suddenly, after all.

  40. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Jordanes,

    This is what Father wrote in the bulletin:

    “….We must also take note of the fact that this election was effectively decided by the votes of self-described (but not practicing) Catholics, the majority of whom cast their ballots for President-elect Obama.
    “In response to this, I am obliged by my duty as your shepherd to make two observations:
    “1. Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exits constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.”

    So Fr. Newman says, he was not referring to any candidates in this, because he did not mention names, even though the context seems clear. But in the answers to the questions of the Greenville News:

    “Question 2. You say that voting for a pro-abortion politician, when there’s a plausible pro-life alternative, amounts to “material cooperation with intrinsic evil.” In speaking with the diocese spokesman today, he mentioned that this is church policy insofar as people vote deliberately and intentionally while knowing what’s at stake. Does this reflect your view (that a deliberate act, as opposed to an unknowing or ill-informed one, is what amounts to “material cooperation”)?
    “Reply 2. An uninformed vote is an irresponsible vote, and so I hope that no citizen would ever cast an uninformed vote. In this election, there was no way an informed voter could not be aware that Senator McCain is pro-life and Senator Obama is pro-abortion, and those who chose to vote for Senator Obama, whether because of or in spite or his position on abortion, nonetheless voted for a pro-abortion candidate who has pledged his vigorous support for the Freedom of Choice Act which will abolish current legal restrictions on abortion in every state of the Union, including parental notification requirements and the existing “conscience clauses” which allow Catholic doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and hospitals to refuse to be involved in any way with abortions. For this reason, no matter what the intention of the voter, support for Senator Obama was necessarily material cooperation with his clearly stated goal to extend the private and unrestricted use of lethal violence against unborn children throughout this nation and to export the same abroad as part of our official foreign policy.”

    Anyone who reads those two statements above will see it is clear that Fr. Newman was speaking of anyone who votes for Obama “whether because of or in spite of his position on abortion.” I never said that Fr. Newman would deny people communion. I said he would not, and so did the article in the Greenville News. I have not seen the AP story.

    Finally, it is insane to go after the voters on this. People can not vote for Obama/Biden, but Biden can go to Church and receive the Blessed Sacrament?! The Bishops need to start taking on the pro-abortion politicians, and lead by example. Full disclosure: I did not vote for Obama or McCain, but I did think Obama was the lesser evil of the two.

  41. Jordanes says:

    Mr. Sarsfield said: Anyone who reads those two statements above will see it is clear that Fr. Newman was speaking of anyone who votes for Obama “whether because of or in spite of his position on abortion.”

    Or rather, anyone who read those two statements carelessly and who doesn’t mind imputing words to Father Newman that he didn’t actually say. But when a speaker insists that there is something significant about what he said and didn’t say, it is only proper to take him at his word rather than disregarding what his words are.

    I’m not surprised that you think an Obama vote is morally a preferable choice to a McCain vote.

  42. Joe Magarac says:

    In the end, the only thing this priest Fr Newman is telling people to do is to go to confession if they voted for a man who has promised (among other things) to remove all restrictions whatsoever on abortions. That’s not far-fetched at all.

    That is indeed what Fr. Newman told his parishioners. And you’re right: it isn’t far-fetched at all. Abortion is an unspeakable evil, and perhaps the bishops should move to develop a clear rule: Catholics can’t vote for pro-abortion politicians under any circumstances, and if they do so they do it under pain of sin.

    But right or wrong, the bishops have not laid down that law. And priests like Fr. Newman are supposed to follow the bishops, not the other way round. To his immense credit (he appears to be a wonderful priest), Fr. Newman has said as much.

    The issue of what to do about pro-abortion politicians is a fairly new one, and like most issues the Church is taking her time in figuring out how to handle it. That process is frustrating for those who care passionately about the issue or who dislike nuance and “fog.” But it’s how things go. Think how long it took for the Church to understand whether Mary was immaculately conceived.

    So far, the rules (from heavyweights like Ratzinger and Chaput among others) appear to be that: a) a Catholic who votes for a pro-abortion politican intending to support abortion does so under pain of sin; and b) a Catholic who votes for a pro-abortion politician for other reasons must carefully determine that they are very weighty reasons indeed. Neither of those rules says, as you do, that Catholics who vote “for a man who has promised (among other things) to remove all restrictions whatsoever on abortions” must always confess that as a sin. Maybe our shepherds will move in your direction over time. But they’re not there yet, and Catholics are not wrong to follow their rules.

  43. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Jordanes,

    Read the comments in the thread. Even the people defending Fr. Newman, have the same interpretation of his words as I do. Words mean things. The answer to question two from the reporter was specifically explaining point one in his bulletin. He over stepped his bounds, and instead of encouraging people to protest the diocese for attempting to deal with a problem he created, he should apology for the scandal he has brought to the Church, and the damage he has done to the “pro-life” movement.

  44. Mr Magarac, I think the rule is already there. It’s just the clear and unambiguous application of the rule which is yet to be implemented. Yes, the bishops should say, “Don’t vote for abortion supporters; it’s supporting a sin, however tenuously connected you are to it.” To allow the laity to actually do the weighing of matters is not ideal, and obviously a problem.

    Of course, since it’s the case that church-going people (Catholics and otherwise) voted overwhelmingly for McCain rather than Obama, there are two points left: 1.) to instill proper understanding in the remaining minority of the church-going who actually vote for or are abortion supporters (like Biden, Pelosi, Sebelius, et alia), and 2.) to instill proper understanding in those non-church-going religious people (particularly Catholics but also others claiming a religious identity) who overwhelmingly voted for Obama. I think a measure of success is likely in the former, but in the later, nearly no chance at all. Those people have already cast themselves afloat on a different ocean, and pride themselves in having no sail, no rudder, no lifeboat, except on their own terms.

  45. Jordanes says:

    Mr. Sarsfield said: Read the comments in the thread. Even the people defending Fr. Newman, have the same interpretation of his words as I do.

    We don’t seem to be reading the same thread. I can’t find anyone in this thread who is defending Father Newman who is misinterpreting his words in quite the same way you are, though a few come close. Not that it would make any difference if they were.

    Words mean things.

    Yes, that was my point. That’s why I can’t agree with your interpretation. Words are significant, as is the absence of words.

    He over stepped his bounds

    In some people’s opinion. Looks to me like he was just doing what the Lord has commanded all priests to do, even if he didn’t do it quite as well as he should have.

    and instead of encouraging people to protest the diocese for attempting to deal with a problem he created

    Another thing that he hasn’t done (and his conduct here has not at all been the “dismissing anyone who disagrees with him” that you complained about earlier) . . . Msgr. Laughlin certainly made matters worse, though.

    he should apology for the scandal he has brought to the Church, and the damage he has done to the “pro-life” movement.

    It’s far more urgent that we get an apology from those who understandably misunderstood what he said, but refuse to enlighten themselves now that he has clarified and corrected his words and apologised. They’ve created much more scandal and done much more damage than anything Father Newman may have done. But we shouldn’t hold our breath waited for that.

  46. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Jordanes,

    Read Fr. Longenecker’s article in Inside Catholic. He works at the parish and is friends with the priest:

    “He concluded that, if they voted for Obama, they ought to go to confession before coming to Communion.”

    http://insidecatholic.com/Joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4936&Itemid=48

    That is my point, and that is where Fr. Newman stepped out of line. If a person voted for Obama despite his views on abortion, but for other proportional reasons, they may have made a mistake in prudence, but if they did their best there is no sin involved. Fr. Newman seemed to be trying to bind his parishioners to his prudential conclusion, and it took a clarification of a clarification before he came out and seemed to say that he wasn’t (he never came directly out and said that a person that voted for Obama without supporting his views on abortion, would not be guilty of sin). I could understand the mistake in the bulletin, but the answers to the Greenville News were thought out and precise.

    As to his dismissing opinions, read The New Liturgical Movement blog where he insisted that he alone understood the sinfulness of attending Mass at the SSPX, and how anyone that rejected his understanding and went instead with the understanding of the Ecclesia Dei commission would be committing a mortal sin.

  47. Michael J says:

    Chris,
    Why are you so eager to dismiss the sins of those who voted for Obama? We’re talking hypothetical individuals here. Keep a couple of things in mind:

    1. There is and can be no proportional reason to have voted for Obama. This does not mean that a vote for any other candidate was required. Leading up to the election, the bishops of the US were pretty clear and universal about this.
    2. If someone made a “mistake in prudence”, their ignorance, if not deliberate,was at least culpable.
    3. If a Priest cannot unequivocally state that a hypothetical person in a hypothetical situation commits a sin, how on earth can you expect the Priest to later state that someone would “would not be guilty of sin”?

  48. dcs says:

    There is and can be no proportional reason to have voted for Obama.

    I might agree with the “is” part, but definitely not the “can be” part. If there were a GOP candidate who advocated pre-emptive nuclear strikes, then I think that would constitute proportionate reasons to vote for a pro-choice candidate, even if the GOP candidate claimed to be pro-life. But again, even claiming that there is not a proportionate reason to vote for Obama over McCain is a prudential judgment. It is not a judgment of the Church, and if one honestly makes that judgment, even if he is mistaken, there is no sin. And it does not follow that one who made such a judgment is ignorant, much less culpably ignorant. As far as #3 is concerned, while Fr. Newman’s situation could be called a hypothetical, the people to whom he applied it were not hypothetical.

  49. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Michael J,

    I voted third party, but if I would have been forced to pick one of the two, I would have picked Obama. So I believe there are proportional reasons to vote for Obama. So I disagree with your first point. My reasoning:

    Abortion percentages in US have been falling steadily since 1974. Looking at the numbers there seems to be no significant difference in drops with a pro-life president, Reagan and the 2 Bushes or pro-abortion Clinton. McCain has never been committed to the pro-life cause. So if a person believed that there would be no significant increase in abortions under Obama, but a significant increase in the chance of going to war with Iran under McCain, they could vote for Obama, believing he would limit more evil.

    If someone makes a mistake in prudence due their own negligence, they are culpable for some sin, but it would take a lot to be mortal.

    A priest can say what is a sin. If a person voted for Obama because of his support of abortion, they formally cooperate with grave evil and commit a mortal sin. If someone voted for McCain because of his rejection of the principles a just war, they would formally cooperate with grave evil and commit a mortal sin. If however they voted for either candidate without supporting their views that are incompatible with the Church, and praying about it and investigating the question as best they are able, they do not sin.

    By the way, watch out Jordanes is after people that say Fr. Newman said you could never vote for Obama without committing a sin.

  50. Brian says:

    Thank you, Joshua, for reminding us about the distinctions between formal, immediate material, and mediate material cooperation.

    In this situation, Obama has resolutely promised to sign the “Freedom of Choice Act” (read “Freedom to Kill Act”) and to appoint Supreme Court Justices who favor Roe v Wade. These acts are intrinsically evil.

    I pray Obama has a change of heart, but if he does what he clearly stated that he intends to do, those who voted for him, unless they were totally unaware of his positions, knowingly cooperate in these intrinsically evils acts.

    “Immediate material cooperation occurs when the cooperator participates in circumstances that are essential to the commission of an act, such that the act COULD NOT OCCUR without this participation. Immediate material cooperation in intrinsically evil actions is morally illicit.”

    “Mediate material cooperation occurs when the cooperator participates in circumstances that are not essential to the commission of an action, such that the action could occur even without this cooperation.”

    Given these definitions, it might be argued that a vote for Obama constitutes immediate cooperation with evil. Getting elected was essential to his being able to commit the intrinsically evil acts of signing FOCA into law and appointing pro-abortion Justices. Obama would not have been able to do perform these intrinsically evil actions were it not for the Catholic votes that put him in office.

    If not immediate material cooperation, than as for mediate cooperation with evil, the cooperation appears to be proximate, not remote.

    As for proportionality, in the U.S. alone, there are about 3,700 innocent babies legally murdered by abortion everyday; which is about 111,000 per month; and 1,350,500 per year. What issue in this election was proportional to that??

    Unless you are blind, some things are self-evident.

  51. mpm says:

    Dear Christopher Sarsfield,

    Thanks for the reference to Fr. Longeknecker’s supportive article. And here’s one of the comments (from a parishioner):

    “I am among the many who have come back to the One True Church with the guidance of Fathers Newman and Longenecker. They represent everything that my poorly catechized cradle-Catholic upbringing was missing. I thought I had rejected the Church in favor of a self-serving belief system, but in fact I never knew the full beauty of the Church until I started attending Mass at St. Mary’s and making an effort to learn more about orthodox Catholicism. I’ll forever be grateful to these brave men for welcoming me back but also for their work in making St. Mary’s a place where the truth is spoken regularly and where the focus of the homily is real Christian education and not a feel-good opportunity to bolster the congregation’s self-esteem. They don’t seem interested in winning a popularity contest but in caring for the souls of their parish as they would their own. For some reason God has rewarded me immensely for coming back to this parish.
    November 20th, 2008 | 5:06pm”

    As Fr. Longenecker himself puts it: “However, this was not a pontifical statement written for the instruction of all Catholics in America; it was a bulletin column in a parish where there has been steady and consistent catechesis on the whole range of Catholic issues, including abortion.”

  52. mpm says:

    Brian,

    Are you, by any chance, available to do some consulting for the Bishops Conference? They could use your help interpreting (private) letters from the Prefect of the CDF!

    And kudos to Joshua for his instructive contribution to the question of proportional
    reasons.

  53. dcs says:

    Given these definitions, it might be argued that a vote for Obama constitutes immediate cooperation with evil. Getting elected was essential to his being able to commit the intrinsically evil acts of signing FOCA into law and appointing pro-abortion Justices. Obama would not have been able to do perform these intrinsically evil actions were it not for the Catholic votes that put him in office.

    If not immediate material cooperation, than as for mediate cooperation with evil, the cooperation appears to be proximate, not remote.

    Mediate material cooperation = remote material cooperation
    Immediate material cooperation = proximate material cooperation

    No one person’s vote can be said to be essential to Obama’s success, so it is clearly not proximate or immediate material cooperation to vote for Obama. It is either formal cooperation or remote material cooperation.

  54. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Brian,

    How would the number of abortions be different under McCain? You have NO evidence that the numbers are going to be different under either candidate.

    With regard to your understanding of formal/material remote/proximal stick with then Cardinal Ratzinger:

    “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.”

    Voting for Obama without sharing his stand in abortion is “remote material cooperation.”

  55. Brian says:

    dcs,

    According to the Ascension Health terms referred to ni Joshua’s 11/19/08, 3:37pm post above, the distinction is first made between immediate and mediate cooperation. Then, when discussing mediate cooperation, it states:

    “The importance of the reason for cooperation must be proportionate to the causal proximity of the cooperator’s action to the action of the principal agent (the distinction between proximate and remote)”

    Using those terms, it would NOT be the case that:

    “Mediate material cooperation = remote material cooperation
    Immediate material cooperation = proximate material cooperation”

    Perhaps the terms are used differently elsewhere and, based on those terms, you would be correct, I don’t know.
    I was referring to the terms as defined in Joshua’s post above.

  56. RBrown says:

    Brian,
    How would the number of abortions be different under McCain? You have NO evidence that the numbers are going to be different under either candidate.
    Comment by Christopher Sarsfield

    Didn’t we already deal with this? Reagan signed an Executive Order prohibiting fed money from going to int’l organizations involved in abortions. Bill Clinton revoked that Order. Bush 43 restored it. And it is assumed that Obama will, like Clinton, revoke it.

    Second, the Democratic party is officially pro abortion. That means it will do anything to keep it legal.

  57. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    RBrown,

    Bush 43 restored it, then gave international family planning agencies historic increases in funding (but only for contraception) and bragged about. Of course this freed up money from their budgets, that could then be funneled into abortion. Then there is the increase in chemical abortions due to the pill. He also gave historic increases in money to Planned Barrenhood in the US ($2.2 billion). Not to worry though, they used none of that money for abortion, wink, wink. I would hate to have seen what he would have done if he were pro-abortion!

  58. Brian says:

    dcs,

    As for your statement, “No one person’s vote can be said to be essential to Obama’s success, so it is clearly not proximate or immediate material cooperation to vote for Obama.”

    Strictly speaking, I agree, that since no one individual’s vote elected Obama, the votes did not rise to immediate material cooperation. That was why I qualified my comments above by saying, “It might be argued,” and, “If not immediate material cooperation . . . ”

    Given the Ascension Health terms, the difference between proximate and remote cooperation is relative, not categorical.

    Obama needed to accumulate enough individual votes to win. He spent millions of dollars and two solid years working to get those votes. He would not have won without the Catholic vote. These votes caused his election. This is a weighty causal responsibility that can readily be dismissed as non-essential. Getting enough individual votes was essential to his success.

  59. Jordanes says:

    Mr. Sarsfield said: That is my point, and that is where Fr. Newman stepped out of line.

    In your opinion, that is.

    If a person voted for Obama despite his views on abortion, but for other
    proportional reasons,

    And there were none.

    they may have made a mistake in prudence, but if they did their best there is no sin involved.

    Wrong. Mistakes in prudence can be sin too. And while Father Newman’s initial observation is seriously incomplete in that it spoke only of mortal sin that would bar a Catholic from Communion, it should also be mentioned that even venial sin is sin.

    (he never came directly out and said that a person that voted for Obama without supporting his views on abortion, would not be guilty of sin)

    It’s a good thing he didn’t, since that’s not true. A person could have voted for Obama without supporting Obama’s monstrously bloodthirsty policy positions and still be guilty of sin — for example, if he were doing so out of excessive, obstinate partisanship.

    As to his dismissing opinions, read The New Liturgical Movement blog where he insisted that he alone understood the sinfulness of attending Mass at the SSPX, and how anyone that rejected his understanding and went instead with the understanding of the Ecclesia Dei commission would be committing a mortal sin.

    Considered how unreliable your reading of Father Newman’s comments has been, I must doubt that Father Newman ever insisted that he is the only person in the universe who understood the sinfulness of attending illegal Masses. Your characterisation is tendentious and therefore of greatly limited value.

    Voting for Obama without sharing his stand in abortion is “remote material cooperation.”

    Cooperation in the evil of abortion, that is. Obama had many other positions in support of intrinsic evil, and voting for him while agreeing with him on, say, his support for legal contraception, is formal cooperation in that evil. One must suspect that most Obama voters, even the nominal Catholics, agreed with, or didn’t disagree with, his other evil positions, even if a few of them were “personally opposed but” to his rabid support for abortion.

  60. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Jordanes,

    You and I have come to different prudential decisions. Your opinion on the lack of proportional reasons for voting for Obama and $5 will get me a cup of coffee at Starbucks. And to be honest, my opinion and $5 will get you one too.:) The difference between you and I is that you seem to think your opinion is infallible, and therefore binding on Catholics. You and Fr. Newman are going to tell the world what prudential decisions they are going to come to, and heaven forbid if we decide to use our own intellect. Voting for McCain was also remote cooperation with evil. Is that what you did? Why? Because of proportional reasons based on your own prudential thinking.

    Were there Catholics that sinned mortally by voting for Obama? Absolutely, because they formally cooperated with grave evil. But I know plenty of Catholics that committed a mortal sin by voting for McCain, because they support his evil programs. But you’ll never hear that from Fr. Newman, because John McCain was the “pro-life” candidate. What a joke. At best John McCain was the candidate that said he was for only some of the babies being murdered, and as for the rest, well he really can not afford the political capital to do something for them.

  61. RBrown says:

    Bush 43 restored it, then gave international family planning agencies historic increases in funding (but only for contraception) and bragged about. Of course this freed up money from their budgets, that could then be funneled into abortion. Then there is the increase in chemical abortions due to the pill. He also gave historic increases in money to Planned Barrenhood in the US ($2.2 billion). Not to worry though, they used none of that money for abortion, wink, wink. I would hate to have seen what he would have done if he were pro-abortion!
    Comment by Christopher Sarsfield

    Yes, I know that, and the govt promotion of contraception (esp. abortifacients) is what separates (or should separate) Catholics from Conservative Republicans. It is also, IMHO, a violation of the First Amendment because it interferes with the free exercise of religion. The problem is that Repubs tend to see abortion only as a political issue, which they think gives them the rights to hedge on whatever they say.

    There is also the matter of abortion in military hospitals.

    Having said all that, I think that abortion as a political issue is over, and the Church lost, just as contraception and the Protestantization of the liturgy were also major losses. To paraphrase JRatzinger, the detente with secular society has proven a failure.

  62. RBrown says:

    Were there Catholics that sinned mortally by voting for Obama? Absolutely, because they formally cooperated with grave evil. But I know plenty of Catholics that committed a mortal sin by voting for McCain, because they support his evil programs. But you’ll never hear that from Fr. Newman, because John McCain was the “pro-life” candidate. What a joke. At best John McCain was the candidate that said he was for only some of the babies being murdered, and as for the rest, well he really can not afford the political capital to do something for them.
    Comment by Christopher Sarsfield

    That analogy doesn’t work because those Catholics voted for McCain in the hope that his abortion policy (weak though it was) would eventually limit abortion by overturning Roe.

    On the other hand, Catholics voted for Obama in spite of his abortion policy, i.e. abortion was not factor in their decision.

  63. Then-Cardinal Ratzinger said: “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.”

    Folks, the issue at hand is the determination of “proportionate reasons.” Some of us believe that proportionate reasons are objective, and not up to the judgment of the individual voter’s conscience in this scenario. Others believe that an individual is actually personally qualified to evaluate and determine those proportionate reasons according to his own conscience. I (and apparently others commenting here, too) find that latter position to be the moral equivalent of a steaming pile behind a male bovine quadruped. That latter position is also very Protestant.

    It is patently absurd to say that the members of this majority of non-church-going Catholics that voted for Obama have well-formed consciences according to the criteria of the Catholic moral tradition that they’re using to justify their vote. This is bald-faced selectivity of the moral tradition, cafeteria morality for cafeteria Catholics (for that minority of church-going Catholics who voted for Obama), and a-la-carte morality for taco-truck Catholics, since they’re not even “in the house,” as it were (for that majority of non-church-going Catholics who voted for Obama).

  64. Jordanes says:

    Mr. Sarsfield, I have great difficulty taking somebody seriously who says silly things like, “The difference between you and I is that you seem to think your opinion is infallible, and therefore binding on Catholics. You and Fr. Newman are going to tell the world what prudential decisions they are going to come to, and heaven forbid if we decide to use our own intellect.” What can one say in answer when the interlocutor tosses around immoderate and tendentious assertions like that? If you’re not going to take this seriously, why are you commenting at all?

    Were there Catholics that sinned mortally by voting for Obama? Absolutely, because they formally cooperated with grave evil.

    Remote material cooperation in the absence of proportionate reasons (not “proportional” — proportionalism is irreconcilable with Catholic moral doctrine) is also objectively a mortal sin. You believe there were, or may have been, proportionate (or proportional?) reasons to vote for Obama rather than McCain, but that question isn’t an indeterminate matter of opinion — there either were or were not proportionate reasons to vote for Obama. One may have mistakenly believed there were, but not a single reason advanced by the Obama supporters passes muster. Perhaps you found the proportionate reason that everybody else missed?

    But I know plenty of Catholics that committed a mortal sin by voting for McCain, because they support his evil programs.

    I, on the other hand, don’t know of any Catholics who voted for McCain, just Catholics who voted against Obama — since McCain’s positions were marginally less objectionable than Obama’s, and there weren’t any other viable alternatives in working to prevent Obama’s election, which was a moral obligation this year. I do know of a few Catholics who voted for Obama, though.

    But you’ll never hear that from Fr. Newman

    I won’t presume to say what I will not ever hear from Father Newman.

  65. mpm says:

    I say Amen to what Kevin Edgecomb writes above:

    “Folks, the issue at hand is the determination of “proportionate reasons.” Some of us believe that proportionate reasons are objective, and not up to the judgment of the individual voter’s conscience in this scenario. Others believe that an individual is actually personally qualified to evaluate and determine those proportionate reasons according to his own conscience. I (and apparently others commenting here, too) find that latter position to be the moral equivalent of a steaming pile behind a male bovine quadruped. That latter position is also very Protestant.”

    I say Amen to what Jordanes writes above:

    “One may have mistakenly believed there were, but not a single reason advanced by the Obama supporters passes muster. Perhaps you found the proportionate reason that everybody else missed?”

    What is missing in all the verbiage from those who latch onto “proportionate reasons”,
    almost as an escaspe clause, or “weasel words”, is any evidence that they have done any proper analysis or disclosure of same. They, i.e., “proportionate reasons” are alleged, but never named.

  66. dcs says:

    Kevin P. Edgecomb writes:
    Some of us believe that proportionate reasons are objective, and not up to the judgment of the individual voter’s conscience in this scenario.

    So what if someone responds that objectively there were proportionate reasons? If proportionate reasons are truly objective then they are not up to you or to me or even to Fr. Newman but are subject to the judgment of the Church. And if the Church has not made a judgment on them, then there is doubt and the faithful are free to act. “In dubiis libertas” and all that.

    Jordanes writes:
    One may have mistakenly believed there were [proportionate reasons], but not a single reason advanced by the Obama supporters passes muster.

    I would tend to agree that the reasons advanced by Obama supporters do not pass muster but that is my own private opinion and not necessarily the opinion of the Church. Furthermore, while the reasons advanced by Obama supporters do not pass muster, it does not follow that there are no such reasons since there could be reasons (such as Mr. Sarsfield’s, above) which have gone unmentioned by Obama supporters.

  67. ssoldie says:

    Fr. Newman was right, cooperating in mortal sin is evil and makes one an accomplice in that mortal sin, be very careful even when voting ,one will be accountable to our Lord Jesus Christ,at the last four things. Death, Judgement,Heaven, Hell.

  68. mpm says:

    dcs,

    “If proportionate reasons are truly objective then they are not up to you or to me or even to Fr. Newman but are subject to the judgment of the Church. And if the Church has not made a judgment on them, then there is doubt and the faithful are free to act. “In dubiis libertas” and all that.”

    Ah yes, doubt. Now we can act. I explored my conscience and discovered that it was
    a deer moving around behind the bushes. That’s why the farmer’s dead.

    The liberty you are referring to means “lacking a clear and definitive judgement from the Magisterium” one may act based on one’s assessment of the morality of an act, given a conscientious judgement based on Catholic moral reasoning, using the principles
    spoken of by many in this thread. The freedom is not a license to do whatever feels good!

    In order to be subject to moral scrutiny in the Catholic tradition, “proportionate
    reasons” need to be objective. If any such were objective, then it would be able to
    be stipulated by someone, i.e., expressed. Your concept of the “judgement of the Church”
    is deficient: the Magisterium never expresses a judgement about ineffable proportionate
    reasons. Usually, the Magisterium, if it seeks to “judge” (an act of the reason) looks at alternatives.

    If the “reasons” are not expressed, how can anybody, much less “the Church” make any
    judgement whatsoever about whether they are justifiably proportionate?

    For those who may be befuddled, let me give an example. For decades, Catholic physicians
    have known that when a woman suffers an ectopic pregnancy, i.e., the embryo attaches
    itself to a fallopian tube, it is morally acceptable to cut out that portion of the
    fallopian tube containing the fetus, and set it aside to die, if the life of the woman
    is truly in danger (which is almost always, as far as I know). This is an example of the principle of double effect, and as long as the death of the fetus is not the good desired, but permitted, there is a “proportionate” reason, since the good is the life of the woman and the evil is the death of the fetus.

    In addition to such a statement of “proportionate reasons” it would be interesting to
    find one example of a Catholic trying to avoid giving SCANDAL to others because of their
    conscientious judgement regarding the existence of an enunciable proportionate reason!

  69. Michael J says:

    Christopher,

    In order to simultaneously believe that abortions will *not* increase but under an Obama presidency and that the likelihood of war with Iran would increase under a McCain presidency a person would have to selectively pick and choose which campain promises and opinion statement both candidates held sincerely.

    That’s not reason deriving from a well formed conscience. Its a combination of empty sentimentality and blind partisanship.

    As far as your hypothetical person who “voted for either candidate without supporting their views that are incompatible with the Church, and praying about it and investigating the question as best they are able, they do not sin.”, it would not take much “investigation” to find out. Hundreds of Bishops spoke out against a vote for Obama. Not one identified any proportionate resones and many said that there are none. Are you honestly suggesting that “investigating the question as best they are able” includes everything *except* what the Bishops state about the matter?

  70. Jordanes says:

    dcs said: I would tend to agree that the reasons advanced by Obama supporters do not pass muster but that is my own private opinion and not necessarily the opinion of the Church.

    There’s a difference between a person, or the Church, having an “opinion” about whether or not the reasons pass muster, and the reasons actually passing muster.

    Furthermore, while the reasons advanced by Obama supporters do not pass muster, it does not follow that there are no such reasons since there could be reasons (such as Mr. Sarsfield’s, above) which have gone unmentioned by Obama supporters.

    But the reasons Mrs. Sarsfield advanced are indistinguishable from reasons that I encountered from Obama supporters: McCain isn’t really “pro-life” anyway (never mind what that his actual voting record and policy positions show him to be vastly closer to “pro-life” than Obama), and the speculation that McCain might possibly be more likely to start an unjust war than Obama. Counterfactual assertions, and speculations about what a candidate might do, are not at all solid proportionate reasons that justify remote material cooperation in Obama’s stated program of furthering abortion, abolishing Catholic health care, and trampling on the religious freedom of those who are opposed to contraception and abortion. One may have sincerely believed those were good reasons, but it would have been a sincere error.

  71. dcs says:

    There’s a difference between a person, or the Church, having an “opinion” about whether or not the reasons pass muster, and the reasons actually passing muster.

    Round and round we go … pass muster according to whom? Has the Church said that the reasons proffered by Mr. Sarsfield, or even those put forth by, say, Doug Kmiec, do not pass muster? Or is it just the opinion of an individual layman, priest, bishop? Is is the decision of the Pope himself or the College of Bishops?

  72. Jordanes says:

    This question isn’t settled by an authority issuing an opinion, dcs, it’s settled by ascertaining the facts and applying the principles of Catholic moral teaching. We don’t want or need “opinion,” we want and need right judgment. Heaven help us if we have to wait for the Church to speak out on each and every conceivable issue before we are able to discern right from wrong or truth from error.

    If proportionate reasons are a matter of subjective opinion, then it’s a waste of time to talk about what is formal versus material versus remote material cooperation in evil. Let every man do what seems right in his own eyes — the Church’s opinion shouldn’t necessarily be any more compelling than anybody else’s.

  73. dcs says:

    This question isn’t settled by an authority issuing an opinion, dcs, it’s settled by ascertaining the facts and applying the principles of Catholic moral teaching.

    Then how is it that people who ascertain the facts and apply the principles of Catholic moral teaching come to different conclusions?

  74. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Jordanes,

    There are facts, but those facts can only tell us what may happen in the future. No one has any evidence to support that abortions will be fewer under McCain then Obama. The best we can do is guess. Show me your historical evidence that abortions increase under “pro-abortion” presidents. Show me your proof that McCain will do anything for the unborn. If I really believed McCain would have saved babies’ lives I would have voted for him (heck if I thought he would have tried, I would have voted for him). I would have had to shower after leaving the voting booth, but I would have. McCain has a history of not caring about the unborn. He has a history of killing pro-life legislation behind the scenes, so that it never comes to vote. He has a history of saying he does not think Roe should be overturned. In September of this year McCain’s wife said her husband believed that Roe should not be overturned. Does anyone here think their spouse would get your view of Roe wrong?! McCain rejects the principles of a Catholic just war (and I do know Catholics that voted for him for that reason and by doing so committed an objective mortal sin). I do know that McCain is much more hawkish about Iran than Obama. Now opinion: What will they do? Pat Buchanan does not think that Obama will push FOCA, because he is too pragmatic. He will reverse the Mexico City policy, but I have pointed out that that is merely symbolic. Pat Buchanan also believes that McCain wants to invade Iran. My opinions are not radical. They are my best guess at what is going to happen. Your best guess may be different about what is going to happen, but unless you are claiming prophet status, your opinion is probably no better, and most likely worse than mine. Anyone who went in to the voting booth and voted for either major party candidate with any degree of sureness that he was doing the right thing either has a poorly formed conscience, or is naive and understands nothing about American politics. And again I voted third party, and I will not judge anyone who tried to figure out this election. It was a crap shoot.

  75. So, is this what these people are saying, that the remote possibility of a war to be started by McCain with Iran was the big oogedy-boogedy that put them on the side of Obama and the abortionists? If that’s it, then there’s no proportionality at all here. A war can be either just or unjust, according to Catholic moral tradition (both pre- and post-1968, I feel the need to specify). War is, therefore, not an intrinsic evil. Abortion, however, is an intrinsic evil. Comparing the two is comparing apples and blue.

    This, however, a comparison of various moral positions among candidates, is not the way the moral tradition is intended to work. You don’t compare the two (or twenty) candidates and consider who is the worst. The “proportionate reason” argument that will absolve one candidate or another of his own faults are positions or actions that lie within his own moral boundaries. That is, if Candidate A is pro-abortion (pro-intrinsic evil), what among the other positions held by Candidate A are so magnificently good that they outweigh, as proportionate reasons, his support for this intrinsic evil? That’s how this works. Then the same examination is made for Candidates, B, C and so on.

    So, in Obama’s case, what are the proportionate reasons that would outweigh his support for not only the state of abortion as it is today, but his support for the Freedom of Choice Act?

    Will I hear crickets chirping in response to this? I think so….

  76. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Mr. Edgecomb,

    I guess I am the cricket.:) You do not understand proportionate reasons. You can vote for someone to limit the evil. With McCain and Obama it was a tough call, so I voted third party. But my guess is there will be less evil from an Obama administration than a McCain administration. The odds of McCain going to war with Iran, are much better than either candidate having an effect one way or the other on abortion. I do not think we saw a dramatic decrease in abortions from Clinton to Bush. We saw a decrease but it was a decrease that started in 1974 and has continued. Now if you count chemical abortions in third world countries due to contraception, well that probably went through the roof under “pro-life” Bush with his “pro-abortion” policies.

    By the way, you might want to read what the Church has written on Catholic Social Teachings, and read what great Catholic theologians have written on the Social teachings. I was a conservative Republican Americanist until I started taking my Faith seriously, and reluctantly started looking at what the Church has to say about politics and economics. But I warn you, it is not a pleasant experience when you find out how bad and rigged the system is. The whole thing from soup to nuts ensures that the Culture of Death marches on.

  77. Cricket is right, if only in moral understanding.

    No, Mr Sarsfield, it is you who misunderstands completely the discussion of the moral tradition and how the categories function. As noted above, you do not balance a spreadsheet of positions, picking and choosing which you think more likely or not, and which is more icky or not according to whim or your reading of some liberal’s reading of the Church’s positions on social justice. (Try reading the documents for a change!) The determination of “proportionate reasons” must be accomplished within the moral actions of an individual. That’s simply how it works. Just as you cannot repent of someone else’s sins, another person’s proportionate reasons are of no application to your own cooperation in intrinsic evil.

    To posit that McCain (who never said he would absolutely do so!) would be likelier to initiate an unjust war with Iran (what are you, a prophet?) is worse than what Obama has promised to do is simply absurd, ridiculous, and dismissible out of hand. It displays only a bizarre partisanship, not clear thought. McCain never promised to start a war with Iran. If he did start such a war, it is not guaranteed that it would be an unjust war. War, I remind you, is not an intrinsic evil, shocking as this may be to your liberal so-called rationality. Obama, however, has promised, actually promised (note that: PROMISED), to sign into law the Freedom of Choice Act.

    Historical data on the rate of abortions is irrelevant here becasue we’re facing a complete and utter derestriction (and concommittant promotion!) of abortion in the Freedom of Choice Act. Obama has promised to sign into law the evil Freedom of Choice Act, which will absolutely, positively, without a doubt lead to more abortions in this country and in others (forgotten that part of it, have you?). It will also lead to the closure of Catholic hospitals which provide 20% of all medical services in the US, especially to the uninsured and otherwise helpless ill who secular institutions won’t help without payment. It will lead to the denial of the ability for pharmacists, care providers, and educators to opt out of providing/teaching abortion and contraception through currently existing conscience clauses; those people will have to change their professions. Those are all things that will happen, because Obama has promised to make FOCA law. I’ll let that sink in.

    Now, having realized that, what greater good does Obama promise to counterbalance all that, which would make him permissible to vote for, according to Pope Ratzinger? It’d have to be something pretty amazing. Funny how no one can think of anything….

  78. Brian says:

    Christopher Sarsfield says, “There are facts, but those facts can only tell us what may happen in the future. No one has any evidence to support that abortions will be fewer under McCain then Obama.”

    That of course is an silly statement. No one has evidence of a future event.

    What we do have is what these people have said and done. Here a some of Obama’s public record, specifically, why Barak Obama stated that he would not vote for the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, as recorded in the State of Illinois, 92nd General Assembly, Regular Session Senate Transcript, March 30, 2001.

    “Number one, whenever we define a previable fetus as a person that is protected by the equal protection clause or the other elements in the Constitution, what we’re really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a – a child, a nine-month-old – child that was delivered to term. That determination then, essentially, if it was accepted by a court, would forbid abortions to take place. I mean, it – it would essentially bar abortions, because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an antiabortion statute. For that purpose, I think it would probably be found unconstitutional is that this essentially says that a doctor is required to provide treatment to a previable child, or fetus, however way you want to describe it. Viability is the line that has been drawn by the Supreme Court to determine whether or not an abortion can or cannot take place. And it we’re placing a burden on the doctor that says you have to keep alive even a previable child as long as possible and give them as much medical attention as – as is necessary to try to keep that child alive, then we’re probably crossing the line in terms of unconstitutionality. . . As a consequence, I think that we will probably end up in court once again, as we often do, on this issue. And as a consequence, I’ll be voting Present.”

    In brief, Obama argued that if we call this infant survivor of abortion a “child,” that would imply that should not have aborted it in the first place. Given a choice between on the one hand, acknowledging the humanity of this child and voting to save its life or, on the other hand, maintaining the dishonest legal fiction that supports abortion, he argued and voted for the latter.

    That is a radical stand for the culture of death. He voted similarly for three years. It is safe to predict that he will do so again, especially since he told he would sign FOCA as the first official act of his presidency.

    Most everyone in the country, except you, understood the strong difference between Obama and McCain on abortion and the importance of this election with regard to the Supreme Court and Roe v Wade. Obama talked about it.

    Planned Parenthood certainly believes Obama will further the cause of abortion more than McCain. Pro-abortion advocates spend a lot of money, time, and effort to support Obama’s election.

    Why do you think that was?

  79. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    No Edgecomb,

    You have to base your decision on what you think the candidates will do when elected. Campaign promises are a dime a dozen. There is NO evidence that the abortion rates will be affected by either candidate. Let me repeat… THERE IS NO EVIDENCE that the abortion rates will be different. Obama NEVER mentioned FOCA after he got the nomination. MOST intelligent people think he is not going to sign it. Obama ran for President as a moderate. He knows the country is center-right. He is pragmatic, and he will want to get reelected. Candidates make promises ALL the TIME they will never keep. I am NOT a partisan hack unlike many on this list, and I suspect you. I voted for Chuck Baldwin BECAUSE of his pro-life stance. YOU need to relax and read my posts, I am obviously against the Democrats as much as I am against the Republicans. I understand that you are upset because your sky is falling rhetoric did not get your man elected, but that is life in democracy. My conscience was clear when I left the voting booth. If yours was, you really do not care about the unborn. NO ONE who cares about the unborn could possibly have voted for McCain and enjoyed it. Finally, I voted for the greater good, I voted for Baldwin. You voted for the lesser evil, because you wanted to limit evil. What greater good did McCain possess that made his position on just war, ESCR, exceptions for rape and incest, and increase funding for contraception. NONE. You concluded his positions were less evil than Obama ie he would limit the evil to the greatest extent. You and I have a difference about who would limit the most evil.

  80. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Brian,

    Wake up. Planned Barrenhood is never going to support ANY Republican. If Giuliani had won the nomination, they would have fought against him just as much as they did McCain. Most Liberals are not one issue voters. The members of Planned Barrenhood are liberals, so they voted for the liberal. I am neither conservative or liberal. I am Catholic, and Catholic Social Teaching is neither liberal or conservative, no matter how many Americanists of the Conservative or Liberal bent think so.

  81. Marie says:

    I voted Republican because of Sarah Palin’s birth of a disabled child and her stance as a Pro-Lifer and no record that I know of in supporting the Planned Parenthood – other than paying taxes. A saw McCain’s take on abortion and it made me cringe. I knew there was no way he would get elected. I voted R anyway because Palin is living what it’s like to have a child who many women would rather abort than take care of. I hope she runs for president because I intend to vote for her. It was all about hope for me. Now that that hope is gone, it’s time to pray. Voting for a candidate who I have never heard of like Baldwin did not seem to make a lot of sense. I might as well vote for Mickey Mouse. God is in control now. We need to let go and pray and do the ground work with our children and teach them that they need to stop this evil of abortion. It is not only killing our population, but it is ripping out the souls of our would be mothers.
    May God have mercy on America. It looks like we will need to be dropped to our knees before we will listen to God: Thall shalt not kill.

  82. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    One more point. It is hard to say and I deeply regret it, but many Catholics, including priests, lied in order to get their person elected. Kemic lied when he tried to say Obama was pro-life, but Fr. Newman lied when he said McCain was pro-life. McCain is not pro-life by an Catholic understanding of the term. No one can lie in order to achieve even a good end.

  83. Jordanes says:

    dcs said: Then how is it that people who ascertain the facts and apply the principles of Catholic moral teaching come to different conclusions?

    They don’t — rather, some people mistakenly believe that they have ascertained the facts and applied the principle of Catholic moral teaching. If they really had, they wouldn’t come to a different conclusion, a mistaken opinion.

    Mr. Sarsfield said: It is hard to say and I deeply regret it, but many Catholics, including priests, lied in order to get their person elected. Kemic lied when he tried to say Obama was pro-life, but Fr. Newman lied when he said McCain was pro-life.

    “Lied,” not just “was wrong,” or “was not strictly accurate.”

    Lied.

    It should be a lot harder to accusing someone of lying, especially a priest.

  84. No Edgecomb“? What is this, gym class, Mr Sarsfield?

    You have a very selective memory, one that is obviously playing by partisan rules, and immune to the rational discussion of Catholic moral tradition. The evasions are very inventive on your part, though predictable and tiresome.

    Is Obama’s nomination some magical switch for you? Is a candidate held accountable only after that point? Most people think that speeches given during a campaign is representative of the candidates positions. The candidates themselves actually believe that. It’s funny and rather sad that you attempt to make excuses for the uncomfortable and unavoidable fact that Obama promised to sign into law FOCA as the first thing he did in office, showing how much of a priority he considered it. And if it is made law, all of the awful things I listed above will come to pass, including an increase in abortions the likes of which has never been seen, because all of those safeguards that have been in place previously, and all of the incentives to lower the abortion rate, will be removed by federal law. Your historical argument is not only moot, it’s stupid in the face of that. But those results are apparently okay with you, judging from your predilection for obfuscatory misdirection in defense of Obama, the gymnastics of self-justification presented for your voting for him, and your less than mediocre understanding of the moral issues at hand, particularly the guidelines of Catholic moral philosophy. You refuse to learn. This makes you part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    That’s just sad. We’re quite done here. I don’t have time to waste on such ludicrous intransigence and insulting blather.

  85. Brian says:

    Let me understand the world according to Christopher Sarsfield.

    McCain has a NARAL rating of 0%. Bishop after Bishop was foolish enough to believe that voting for Obama would have legal repercussions for abortion. Millions and millions of pro-life Christians campaigned and voted for McCain because of his record and stance on abortion.

    We learn from Christopher Sarsfield, that they were all fooled by the Republicans. All suckers, everyone of them. Those idiots!!!

    Obama has a well-deserved NARAL rating of 100% and promised to appoint pro-abortion judges and sign FOCA. Millions of Planned Parenthood, pro-abortion advocates campaigned and voted for Obama.

    We learn from Christopher Sarsfield that pro-abortions advocates only supported Obama because of his other liberal positions. Obama’s stance on abortion was irrelevant. No doubt, if he were adamantly opposed to abortion, they would have supported Obama just a vigorously.

    We were all duped. Christopher Sarsfield alone held the truth. Here it is: how a candidate actually votes on legalized abortion is irrelevant to the cause of legalized abortion. Abortion is going to remain legal anyway. It doesn’t matter how you vote.

    On that basis, Pelosi and Biden are not doing anything wrong voting for abortion to get elected. If they need to vote for abortion to further the Catholic Social cause, so what? We live in nihilism-land with regard to votes and abortion. It doesn’t matter how you vote, abortion is going to remain legal.

    Let’s not confuse this issue with the facts. You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool Christopher Sarsfield.

    Christopher Sarsfield, are you so dazzled by your silly rationalizations that you actually believe this stuff?

    You’re telling me to “wake up”??

  86. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Mr. Edgecomb,

    Have you read my posts. Obviously not, so please pay close attention – I DID NOT VOTE FOR OBAMA! I voted for Chuck Baldwin. As for campaign promises, call me cynical, put I take them with a grain of salt. It is you that have no idea of moral theology. The same principle that allowed you to vote for pro-abortion McCain, is the same principle that allowed an Obama supporter to vote for him. You keep calling me partisan, after I have told you I have nothing but contempt for the Democratic and Republican Party and that I voted for a third party candidate. Could you define partisan and show me how anything I wrote makes me partisan? Even with FOCA, the rate of abortions will not change. You need to understand that under President Bush, anyone who wants an abortion can have one. FOCA is not going to magically make tens of thousands of women want to have abortions, who would not have before.

  87. Let’s keep the tone civil, please.

    My locking finger twitcheth.

  88. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Brian,

    I do not get my voting research from one partisan group, such as NARAL. The fact that McCain said and has consistently supported Roe, until he need the pro-life vote, has to be taken into consideration. The fact that he killed pro-life legislation so it could not come to a vote has to be taken into consideration.

    According to the news, over half the bishops in the US voted for Obama. As for the pro-life Christians that were dumb enough to vote for McCain: First many of them would have voted for him because of his rejection of the just war theory and his hawkish policy on the Middle East. Many of these groups ie National Right to Life, even went so far as taking down all their negative articles on McCain, ie hiding the truth to fool pro-lifers into voting for McCain. They distorted his record, as well as the pro-life record of Bush, and thankfully there were some pro-lifers that called them on it.

    With regard to Pelosi and Biden, obviously they are not Catholic in their thinking and voting and should be told so by their bishops. They should also be refused the Sacraments till they repent, and do penance for the harm caused.

    As for abortion remaining legal, yes, when you put up two pro-abortion candidates and vote for one of them, chances are pretty high that abortion will remain legal. When you put a “pro-life” president like Bush, and he tells you he will not do anything to pass pro-life legislation that is not backed by a majority of the country, and country happens to be moderately pro-abortion, abortion is going to remain legal. If a “pro-life” candidate is going to do nothing to help make abortion illegal, why would I think his election would help?

    You accuse me of making rationalizations, but I think I am only being rational. You on the other hand seem to be thinking completely with your emotions. I drank the Kool-Aide from the conservative Republican flask from the moment I could vote, until I voted for Bush in 2000. Never again will I waste my vote on someone pro-abortion, no matter how many partisans insist the person is pro-life.

  89. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Yes Father you are right.

    I owe an apology to Mr. Edgecomb, he was correct about the way I began the last post he replied to. It was sophomoric, and I hope he will accept my apology. May our Lady keep Mr. Edgecomb, and all his loved ones forever in the blue shadow her mantle.

  90. Jordanes says:

    As for the pro-life Christians that were dumb enough to vote for McCain

    Quite a lot of “pro-life Christians that were dumb enough to vote for McCain” (as if practically there were any real option besides staying home or voting third party, which amounts to the same thing) knew that, although having McCain as president wouldn’t help (unless he were to appoint another Roberts or Alito, that is — overturning Roe will probably require a constitutional amendment or even, God forbid, violent revolution once Obama appoints one or two justices), having Obama as president will definitely hurt a great deal more than we’re already hurting. The news of his administration appointments and probable executive orders is exactly what pro-lifers knew we’d get if Obama were elected. He is acting to fulfill his pro-death promises, something we wouldn’t be getting if pathetic, hapless Sen. McCain had somehow managed to get himself elected.

    The one somewhat positive bit of news this week is that the Democrats in Congress apparently won’t try to pass FOCA for at least a year or two or longer, since they know the Christians are paying too close attention at this time.