Saturday, September 06, 2008

Catholics: Beware the "Common Good"

Catholics form the single largest voting block in the United States (approx 25%). Indeed we could say “As the Church (in America) goes, so goes the country.”

However, Catholics are given very little direction as to how to vote according to a “properly formed Catholic conscience”. As a matter of fact, Catholics are given very little direction as to how to properly form a Catholic conscience in the first place.

Consequently, politicians and candidates who support laws and social programs that are diametrically opposed to Catholic moral teaching have little to worry about.

What little official direction is given is often inaccessible to the average Catholic, or is difficult to decipher. An example would be the recent (2003) statement from the USCCB: Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.

While the statement contains all the essential facts for Catholics, one could read it and still be left wondering on who to vote for as the document assumes some degree of moral formation on the part of the reader.

Private organizations and political action groups have entered into the confused milieu of Catholic voters and offered help. Two known voter guides for Catholics are:

1. Voter’s Guide for Serious Catholics published by Catholic Answers
2. Voting for the Common Good – A Practical Guide for Conscientious Catholics published by

Both claim to present Catholic teaching…and both do. But there’s a difference Catholics should know about.

The Voter’s Guide for Serious Catholics approaches the issue by delineating 5 moral issues upon which the Church’s teaching is clear and “non-negotiable” as the guide so calls them. (Abortion, Euthanasia, Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Human Cloning, and Homosexual Marriage)

Voting for the Common Good mentions some of the same issues as does the “Serious Catholics” guide, but also mentions several other issues such as Immigration, Jobs, and Worker’s Rights, and makes no attempt to note any of them as “non-negotiable”. Nor does the guide infer a moral ranking. (In other words, the reader is left to decide whether abortion and the right to work carry the same moral weight.)

The question then is: While there are many issues of concern for Catholics, does the Church regard some issues to be more important than others and thus impose a greater claim on our consciences?

The answer is “Yes”. Par. 37 of the USCCB document states:

“…all issues do not carry the same moral weight and ….the moral obligation to oppose intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our actions.”

The fact that Voting for the Common Good completely ignores a moral priority in the list of issues is a “red flag”. The “flattening” of the moral landscape or what is called the “seamless garment” approach is a common tactic amongst pro-abortion Catholics who pander to the Catholic vote.

They use this approach because it is the only tool they have at their disposal. A clear reiteration of the Church’s teaching on moral matters would show that the Right to Life, ESPECIALLY AT ITS INCEPTION, always takes precedence.

The reason this is so is because of the degree of the defenselessness of the victim. It even trumps euthanasia to a degree since there are times when the person euthanized may have played a role in the decision. Not so, the unborn child.

The issue of procured abortion as a direct attack on human life even trumps the closely related issue of embryonic stem cell research, since, with abortion, we must include fetal pain.

Critics are quick to point out that the Church also condemns genocide, poverty, starvation, racism, attacks on non-combatants, etc. Yes, this is true. But no Church document ever lists any of these FIRST! Abortion is ALWAYS listed first.

As RED as this “flag” was, a bigger red flag shows up on page 9. The guide says:

“Catholics must look at a candidate’s position on other life issues. Can one really claim to be ‘pro-life’ and yet support the death penalty…”

This is a direct attack on George W. Bush, who of course is “pro-life” and does support the death penalty. But more so, with this question, the guide reveals not just its partisan intent, but the authors’ real intent to misrepresent Catholic teaching.

The answer to their question is in fact “Yes”. A Catholic CAN BE “pro-life” AND support the death penalty. While John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae, came as close as any Pope could come to calling the death penalty immoral, he stopped short.

He stopped short, because he had too. A Pope can create no new doctrine. He can clarify it. He can attach disciplines to it. But he can make nothing new.

In fact, the Church has always allowed for the death penalty under certain conditions. The Pope’s only new move was to question as to whether those conditions exist any more in today’s world. You can read it for yourself in paragraph 56.

The “Common Good” guide irresponsibly equates abortion with the death penalty, not just a mistake, but a dishonest political ploy, and a direct attempt to misrepresent authentic Catholic teaching and mislead Catholic voters.

Further investigation reveals that the publisher,, was conceived and is led by Alexis Kelley, a well-known democrat and supporter of pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

While Ms. Kelley is welcome to her political views and support whatever party or politician she chooses, she is NOT welcome to interpret and misrepresent Catholic moral teaching.

The real question that arises is why there is so much effort to diminish the abortion issue. I will offer an opinion.

Abortion is the ultimate way of covering one’s tracks. People, lots of people, lots of married people, are having sex out of wedlock. While birth control is the first line of defense in covering this sin, abortion is the last line.

But nothing is hidden from God. Adultery is bad enough to have to answer for. But the murder of a defenseless child to cover for adultery…? I’ll let you fill in the answer.


  1. Tim, thank you for this article. Well written. I am inclined to agree with your points of view.

  2. Thanks for your comments Joe and taking the time to read.


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