Peruvian Archbp. during presidential elections: voting for abortion supporter is a mortal sin

ArequipaFrom CNA with my emphases and comments:

CNA STAFF, Feb 17, 2011 / 03:54 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Javier del Rio Alba of Arequipa, Peru recently clarified that “voting for a candidate who supports abortion is a mortal sin.” [Not much nuance there.]

“As Catholics, we can never support a candidate that [who?] proposes the killing of defenseless children and who attacks the common good of society by attacking the institution of marriage,” the archbishop said in a Feb. 16 interview with CNA. [So this is not just about abortion, but also about the sanctity of marriage.  Attack these two foundations of society and you tear society apart at the roots.]

He explained that while voting for a pro-abortion candidate is a grave offense, it does not incur the automatic excommunication that participating in an abortion does.

“We bishops do not get involved in politics,” the archbishop continued, “but the doctrine of the Church does require we teach on matters of faith and morals.”  [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]

Archbishop Rio Alba has been the target of criticism since his Feb. 13 homily in which he said, “Catholics can never cast their vote for a candidate who by word or deed says he will support abortion.” Critics charged he was referring to presidential candidate Alejandro Toledo, who has brought the issue of legalized abortion into the presidential campaign.

The archbishop said that last Sunday’s Gospel was explicit about the commandment not to kill, and that therefore it was important to address this “very relevant” issue.

In his interview, Archbishop Rio Alba exhorted Catholics to think through their votes and study both the “concrete proposals and the character” of those running for office. Only after considering all of these factors together should Catholics decide how to vote. [But our identity as Catholic must figure in making that decision.]

In recent days presidential candidate Pedro Pablo Kuczynski underscored that his political party “does not believe in abortion, period.”

Alejandro Toledo, who currently leads in the polls, said he was open to the legalization of abortion.  “Nobody should allow a human being to be born under forced circumstances,” he said.

Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of former president Alberto Fujimori, said she does not support abortion. “I am a woman and a mother,” she said, adding that she does support “therapeutic” abortion.

Luis Castaneda, currently third in the polls, said he does not support abortion, “except for therapeutic reasons.”

Sounds much like our next Presidential election cycle is going to sound.

Can. 915.

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  1. Childermass says:

    “As Catholics, we can never support a candidate that [who?] proposes…”

    In Spanish, the word “que” is translated both “who” and “that”.

  2. Childermass: And then there is English. Pesky.

  3. Awesome, we need more bishops speaking the truth about the gravity of voting for pro-abortion candidates. Maybe that will help the 50% or so Catholics that voted for our president, the most pro-abort politician in our country’s history.

  4. Joan M says:

    Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of former president Alberto Fujimori, said she does not support abortion. “I am a woman and a mother,” she said, adding that she does support “therapeutic” abortion.

    What is therapeutic abortion?? Certainly it is not therapeutic for the baby!

  5. APX says:

    Joan M says:

    What is therapeutic abortion??

    Abortion done for medical reasons to preserve the mother’s life.

  6. kellyjwilson says:

    I agree, there’s not much nuance in what the Archbishop has said.

    However, if he really did say that voting for an abortion-supporting candidate is a mortal sin, then he could use a lesson in moral theology. Opening the Catechism wouldn’t hurt.

    Since he is an Archbishop, I’m going to assume he was misheard. What I can’t explain, however, is why Fr. Z, presents this comment as true.

  7. kellyjwilson: Opening the Catechism wouldn’t hurt.

    Okay. How ’bout you teach us and the Archbishop of Arequipa. Please let us know, from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, why it is okay to vote for candidates who are pro-abortion.

    Or did you mean the Roman Catechism?

    Take your pick. Use one or the other.

  8. kellyjwilson says:

    Hello Fr. Z,

    To use your language of “how ’bout ‘s,” how bout we read more carefully.

    Obviously the Catechism does not say that it’s okay to vote for a pro-abortion candidate. Nothing in my comment sugggests that you’d find such approval in the Catechism.

    Moving from your engagement with what you imagine me saying, are you able to engage with my actual comment, or am I to be satisfied with this the level of discourse?

  9. Stephen Matthew says:

    2258 “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.”56

    2261 Scripture specifies the prohibition contained in the fifth commandment: “Do not slay the innocent and the righteous.”61 The deliberate murder of an innocent person is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human being, to the golden rule, and to the holiness of the Creator. The law forbidding it is universally valid: it obliges each and everyone, always and everywhere.

    Intentional homicide

    2268 The fifth commandment forbids direct and intentional killing as gravely sinful. The murderer and those who cooperate voluntarily in murder commit a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance.69

    Infanticide,70 fratricide, parricide, and the murder of a spouse are especially grave crimes by reason of the natural bonds which they break. Concern for eugenics or public health cannot justify any murder, even if commanded by public authority.

    2269 The fifth commandment forbids doing anything with the intention of indirectly bringing about a person’s death. The moral law prohibits exposing someone to mortal danger without grave reason, as well as refusing assistance to a person in danger.

    The acceptance by human society of murderous famines, without efforts to remedy them, is a scandalous injustice and a grave offense. Those whose usurious and avaricious dealings lead to the hunger and death of their brethren in the human family indirectly commit homicide, which is imputable to them.71

    Unintentional killing is not morally imputable. But one is not exonerated from grave offense if, without proportionate reasons, he has acted in a way that brings about someone’s death, even without the intention to do so.


    2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.72

    Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.73
    My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.74

    2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:

    You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.75
    God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.76

    2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,”77 “by the very commission of the offense,”78 and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law.79 The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.

    2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

    “The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.”80

    “The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.”81

    2274 Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.

  10. Stephen Matthew says:


    1854 Sins are rightly evaluated according to their gravity. The distinction between mortal and venial sin, already evident in Scripture,129 became part of the tradition of the Church. It is corroborated by human experience.

    1855 Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him.

    Venial sin allows charity to subsist, even though it offends and wounds it.

    1856 Mortal sin, by attacking the vital principle within us – that is, charity – necessitates a new initiative of God’s mercy and a conversion of heart which is normally accomplished within the setting of the sacrament of reconciliation:

    When the will sets itself upon something that is of its nature incompatible with the charity that orients man toward his ultimate end, then the sin is mortal by its very object . . . whether it contradicts the love of God, such as blasphemy or perjury, or the love of neighbor, such as homicide or adultery. . . . But when the sinner’s will is set upon something that of its nature involves a disorder, but is not opposed to the love of God and neighbor, such as thoughtless chatter or immoderate laughter and the like, such sins are venial.130
    1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”131

    1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: “Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.”132 The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

    1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart133 do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

    1861 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.

  11. Stephen Matthew says:

    2235 Those who exercise authority should do so as a service. “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant.”41 The exercise of authority is measured morally in terms of its divine origin, its reasonable nature and its specific object. No one can command or establish what is contrary to the dignity of persons and the natural law.

    2237 Political authorities are obliged to respect the fundamental rights of the human person. They will dispense justice humanely by respecting the rights of everyone, especially of families and the disadvantaged.

    2238 …Their loyal collaboration includes the right, and at times the duty, to voice their just criticisms of that which seems harmful to the dignity of persons and to the good of the community.

    2239 It is the duty of citizens to contribute along with the civil authorities to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom… service of the common good require citizens to fulfill their roles in the life of the political community.

    2240 …co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to… exercise the right to vote…

    I hope the first post show the nature of abortion, the second should show what mortal sin is, and this third should show how the public authorities and citizens are to act. As citizens in a democratic system we have a share in the place of the public authority and thus we have a responsibility for the laws and policies of our government. To the extent we support, through our electoral choices, policies to make abortion more widely available, then by our political action we become co-conspirators in the making of a gravely unjust law and also in the crimes committed under that law. Both the crime of abortion and the crime of making a law that denies the most fundamental natural rights of a human being are each grave offenses, and can constitute the serious matter necessary for something to be mortal sin. The only questions remaining are if in some instance the individual has sufficient knowledge and gives sufficient consent of the will to the gravely sinful matter, if so they have committed a mortal sin.

  12. martin.c says:

    May I ask an ecclesiological question?

    Let’s suppose that kellyjwilson is right and that, according to traditional moral theology, voting for a candidate who supports abortion isn’t a mortal sin but a venial sin. Doesn’t a bishop have the power to attach the pain of mortal sin to such an immoral action, at least in his territory?

  13. Why are you asking a theoretical question in a practical thread?

    The point the guy above was trying to make, was that if your choices were between a candidate who supported killing the unborn, and a candidate who supported eating alive the born after raising and breeding all non-politician humans like cattle, it would probably not be a mortal sin to vote for the abortionist instead of the cannibal destroyer of all human civilization. Likewise, if ALL the candidates are abortion supporters, you can choose to vote for the otherwise least harmful of them without committing mortal sin. So it’s not always a mortal sin to vote for someone pro-abortion, but only in cases where the other candidates are worse or just as bad.

  14. Anyway, the point is that since it is well known in his country that there is in fact only one single solitary pro-life candidate in that particular election race, and since that candidate’s apparently not a drug lord or a mass murderer or anything else to make him just as bad or worse than the pro-abortion candidates, all Catholics are indeed bound by conscience to vote for him. So the bishop can use the shorthand that voting for a pro-abortion candidate is a mortal sin. (And probably has to, in this soundbite and loophole culture of ours.)

  15. kellyjwilson says:

    A particular act can has a particular gravity or “seriousness.” Take suicide. Nobody would suggest that the Church is ambiguous as to whether there is a graveness or an evil associated with the act.

    But personal responsibility is another matter entirely. Responsibility (among other things) affects the degree to which we may be tied in a sinful capacity to the gravity of the act or the evil to which we are associated. As the Catechism notes, in suicide, there are all sorts of reasons which might diminish a persons responsibility (sin), and this, however, great or small, does not affect the evil committed.

    Now even if we’re not necessarily committing a mortal sin in our association with evil, we still don’t want to associate with evil. What the Archbishop should have done is shown why the specific issue of abortion is so important, and why it should factor into our decisions about who we choose to lead us.

    But to say it is mortal sin, if he did, without respect for circumstance, and without respect for the different reasons (some albeit not very good) that a person might vote for a particular candidate, simply flies in the face of what is accurate. That is why I questioned whether he even said this, but also why Fr. Z didn’t take issue with this report expect to say “not much nuance there.” In fact, if there had been some nuance, perhaps there would have been some accuracy.

  16. jeffreyquick says:

    ” a candidate that [who?] proposes the killing”
    Non-human subjects take “that”. So I guess it’s a matter for discernment.
    Any chance the Abp. can join the Latino immigration wave?

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