Catholics must vote in accordance with the moral teachings of the Church, said Archbishop Raymond Burke in a pastoral letter published last week in the archdiocesan newspaper, the St. Louis Review.
In his letter, Archbishop Burke outlined Church teaching on one’s civic responsibility to choose government leaders “who will best serve the common good."
In "On Our Civic Responsibility for the Common Good," he affirmed his earlier statements about the sinfulness of a Catholic, voting for a politician who advocates abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, cloning and same-sex marriage.
"These elements are so fundamental to the common good that they cannot be subordinated to any other cause, no matter how good," the archbishop wrote.
"There is no element of the common good, no morally good practice, that a candidate may promote and to which a voter may be dedicated, which could justify voting for a candidate who also endorses and supports the deliberate killing of the innocent,” he continued.
Archbishop Burke said he recognizes that often no candidate upholds the moral law in its entirety. In that case, he said, Church teaching says the Catholic voter must choose the candidate who would most limit "the evil of abortion or other intrinsically evil practices."
While voters may be discouraged by the quality of the candidates running in an election, a Catholic has an obligation to vote in order to safeguard the welfare of the community.
A Catholic who does not vote "fails to fulfill his or her moral duty, at least, in the limitation of a grave evil in society," he wrote.
Someone who disregards the teaching of the Church in voting commits a "grave sin" and the matter cannot be taken lightly if the person wants to continue receiving Communion, the archbishop added in an interview with the St. Louis Review Sept. 26.
He said he has heard people say that one can vote for one’s preferred candidate and then go to confession.
“That’s not the case,” he told the newspaper. “We confess sin with sincere repentance. It’s a question of having a change of heart.”
Archbishop Burke told the St. Louis Review that he did not write the letter to try to influence the upcoming vote. “What I’m presenting here is Catholic moral teaching. People should use this to make up their minds, but I’m not telling them for whom to vote."
Read Archbishop Burke's full letter at: