Card. Müller: “[I]t is “better to vote for a good Protestant than for a bad Catholic.”

Holy Church is precisely for sinners, for bad Catholics. The Lord is going to sort us all out in good time, as in the parable of the wheat and the tares.

Everlasting bliss for some, eternal agony and fire for others.

That WILL happen.

We have the Church so that we can move from being in habitual sin into habitual grace.  In the Church we have the means to be good Catholics or bad Catholics as we choose with the help of grace.

The Church teaches authoritatively about matters of faith and morals.  She is pretty clear about the important issues.  If you act in a way that is contrary to what the Church teaches, you are not a good Catholic.  If you know what the Church teaches and you persist in acting against what the Church teaches, you are a bad Catholic.  You are in peril of Hell.

If you are really poorly formed, through no fault of your own, and you have acted out of ignorance, you are still on a slippery slope, but you may be less culpable for your objectively errant acts.

While you breathe, there is hope!  When you die, you will no longer have any chance to change your fate.  That’s will be it.

That WILL happen.

If you take anything about the Four Last Things – Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell – seriously, you will seek to form your conscience properly according to the clearly expressed mind of the Church. The ultimate fate of your eternal soul depends on it.

If you recognize what you are going face, then you will examine your conscience and figure out if you are a good Catholic or a bad Catholic  – yes, there are good and bad Catholics – and then do something about it.  If you are in the state of grace, you will strive to remain good and faithful.  If you are in the state of mortal sin you will strive to correct your life, make amends, seek reconciliation and go to confession.

If, by seeking to form your conscience well according to the mind of the Church, you discover that you have been wrong about something, culpably or inculpably, you will make corrections.  If you don’t, you put your soul at risk of Hell.

This is pretty simple stuff. It might not be an easy path to walk, but it isn’t all that tough to figure this out.

A Catholic who consistently promotes things like abortion and same-sex marriage is a bad Catholic. He or she remains Catholic, and therefore subject to the canons 915 and 916.  Catholics cannot promote abortion in any way.  Catholics cannot promote same-sex marriage in anyway.  To do so would make one a bad Catholic.

To do so as a highly visible public figure would also be proportionately grave scandal.

Some people say that Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are not Catholics. They are certainly Catholics, by their formal relationship with the Church.

Leaving aside the invisible state of their particular souls… we see their actions.

We can make a pretty good argument that they are bad Catholics.

Because they are so highly visible, and because the scandal they have caused is so grave, they of necessity must publicly admit that they were wrong to promote abortion and same-sex marriage, abjure their former positions and then work to undo the damage they have caused.   Even if they go to confession and are reconciled with God, they must still make PUBLIC reparation for the harm they have done.  They owe this to all of us out of justice.

Until they do, can. 916 clearly requires them not to present themselves for Holy Communion.  Until they do, can. 915 requires all of the Church’s pastors to deny Holy Communion to them… because they obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin by their continued promotion of abortion and same-sex acts.

It is the obligation of their pastors in the Church, their priests and bishops, to admonish them and to apply whatever medicinal censures they might in order to correct them.  Bishops and priests are obliged to do this to save their own souls.  They have to do this to save the souls of those errant scandal causing politicians.  They have do this to protect the souls of their other subjects, who would be confused and lead into error by those sin-promoting politicians.   If their Bishops do not work to correct them subjects, they put their own souls at risk.

All of that is a preamble.

I cannot see how a Catholic can – in good conscience – vote for a candidate who openly and often supports and promotes abortion and same-sex marriage.  This is especially so in the case of abortion, the preeminent human rights issue.   All other major social issues are susceptible to contingent choices.  We can argue for this or that approach to virtually all social problems.  But that is not the case when it comes to the right to be born.  Hence, a Catholic who supports and promotes abortion is a bad Catholic.

Gerhard Card. Müller, former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told Raymond Arroyo on EWTN:

“[I]t is “better to vote for a good Protestant than for a bad Catholic.”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in 1983 CIC can. 915, Canon Law, Hard-Identity Catholicism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. JustaSinner says:

    But is Joe Biden able minded enough to make a reasoned decision about his past sins regarding abortion? Asking for my friend DJT jr….

  2. Bob says:

    The Church has gone through many evil times in the past as it will in the future. We should not despair for it is in these troubling times that saints are made. For faith to strengthen it must be tested. We have many opportunities today to become strong in our faith. There are no longer lines that are blurred as far as what is right and wrong, good and evil. The Church is there to clarify all of this. Stay in the barque of Peter and remain in the state of grace.

    As in the Ten Commandments produced by Cecil B. DeMille we have this: ‘”I think I can drive the chariot all right, Cecil,” said Heston, “but I’m not at all sure I can actually win the race.”
    Smiling slightly, DeMille said, “Heston, you just stay in the race, and I’ll make sure you win.”

    Stay in the Church and obey her teachings and Christ will make sure you win.

  3. Kathleen10 says:

    God bless Raymond Arroyo, who is apparently not going to age like the rest of us. He needs to call his parents today and thank them for good genetics. He asks the right questions, and is such a good interviewer, he asks a question and gets out of the way, excellent, and he hones in on important points. Cardinal Muller was terrific here.
    I wish our Catholic clergy were as straightforward as the Protestants, about Jesus Christ and the need to follow Him. We’re so badly off track. All my life I recognized the Rev. Billy Graham as a worthy spiritual leader, his love for Jesus Christ made his life shine with zeal. His son, Franklin Graham, and Franklin’s family, have done a stellar job keeping the ministry going. They are a light in the darkness. When I see a Catholic running for office who is as zealous as the Protestants in living for Christ, I’ll vote for them. Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, etc., these people are embarrassing to me. They may be Catholics, but they belong to a different faith, a different church, than I do. I cannot understand how any Christian of any stripe can vote for them. I would suggest people who do have lost touch with their Christian faith and have wandered off to fables. No Christian in good conscience should be able to vote for Democrats. See the horror of late-term abortion before you cast that vote. The Internet surely has those images, and if a Christian is thinking of voting for Democrats they should have the integrity to see those images, don’t hide from them, be honest, and see them, so you see what you are encouraging with your precious vote. That child can’t avoid their reality, we as voting adults shouldn’t either. The argument Fr. Reese makes is a sinister one, it is to pretend that voters don’t “know” that they are voting for pro-abort candidates, and that is a farce, of course they do. If a Christian votes for a Democrat they are positively voting for abortion. You can fool yourself, but you can’t fool God. He knows all you know in your heart of hearts.

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  5. ChrisP says:

    As well as this great post, it would also be useful to vote for a politician who remembers their name and doesn’t pander on demand.

  6. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Then there’s this from Cdl. Tobin:

    What’s a Catholic supposed to think when an American cardinal of the Church (in this case just the opposite of Cdl. Müller) muddies the water the same way as Frs. Martin, Reese, Massingale?

    [Decorum doesn’t allow me to say.]

  7. haydn seeker says:

    We will soon be in the situation where the President of the USA, [It ain’t over ’til it’s over.] the Prime Minister of the UK and the President of France are all baptised Catholics yet each of these countries are moving further away from catholic teaching on abortion, marriage and euthanasia. There is something very wrong about our understanding of living out our baptism in public.

  8. KateD says:

    A person has to have a modicum of civility to be considered for my vote. Someone who lacks the reason to recognize the sanctity of human life, obviously is not be able to make the more complex decisions required to govern.

    I could no more vote for Pelosi or Biden than I could vote for Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler or the former Governor of California, Jerry Brown or Judas. All Catholics who chose the dark side.

    When a Catholic goes bad, it is very bad….because they make a conscious choice to walk away from the light of Truth.

    Very sad. But as you say, Father, up until their last breath they may repent and return to Jesus. Humility is required for a person to admit their failings and make amends. One blinded by pride has difficulty arriving there. So, I will pray for their humility and salvation, but I will not give them my vote solely based on the fact they self identify as Catholic.

  9. Semper Gumby says:

    “In a new joint letter released Monday, 235 senior military leaders [retired] officially endorsed President Donald Trump’s reelection.”

    Letter excerpt:

    “The 2020 election affords the American people an urgently needed opportunity to affirm their devotion to the Constitution of the United States and to the American way of life. As senior leaders of America’s military, we took an oath to defend the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

    “With the Democratic Party welcoming to socialists and Marxists, our historic way of life is at stake.”

  10. bkalafut says:

    The mystery to some of us is why Canon 1374 does not apply to Democrats. If supporting bills that would limit the exercise of the Christian faith, drive Christians out of their professions, and perhaps even force Church property to be used in blasphemous ceremonies is not a conspiracy against the Church, I don’t know that is. And in response to Jack Phillips’s court victory, Kamala Harris introduced a bill to do just that, and it reflected the mind of the Democratic Party, which is now an organization opposed to religious liberty.

  11. Semper Gumby says:

    “[I]t is “better to vote for a good Protestant than for a bad Catholic.”

    Good point by Cardinal Muller.

    Kathleen10 wrote: “All my life I recognized the Rev. Billy Graham as a worthy spiritual leader, his love for Jesus Christ made his life shine with zeal.”

    Good point.

    Fr. Neuhaus and Chuck Colson founded “Evangelicals and Catholics Together.”

    Overseas, it’s rather common for a dozen or so (let’s not crowd the bunker or whatever too much) soldiers or Marines to gather for an hour (only an hour- some of the lads start to get sleepy) once or twice a week for “Bible study.” Gathered are Catholics, Protestants, and when the session is the OT or Psalms, Jewish personnel.

    The “study” is low-drama and no debates allowed (one-on-one debates later is a separate issue). It’s a quiet break amidst whatever the situation is overseas. A sergeant or lieutenant acts as leader. A selection (e.g. Joseph in Egypt, a Psalm or a NT parable) is read by one of the lads. If the reader has a point relevant to his life before the service or to his life after the service, he makes it. If not, that’s fine. If no one else has a relevant point, the leader nods and another selection is read by someone else.

    Low-key, good for morale. Christus Vincit.

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