.- The U.S. bishopsâ âFaithful Citizenshipâ document on Catholicsâ voting responsibilities should be revised to remove âloopholesâ that allow Catholics to vote for pro-abortion politicians, two political commentators have said.
âWhy should a Catholic voter feel the weighty obligation to oppose âintrinsically evil actsâ when the bishops themselves provide three different loopholes to put that concern aside?â asked Catholic Advocate president Deal Hudson and Catholic Advocate vice president Matt Smith in a July 14 statement.
Without changes, they warned, the document will provide Catholic voters âanother carte blanche to cast their vote for any pro-abortion candidate they want.â
The two writers focused on sections 34 to 37 from the 2008 version of âFaithful Citizenship,â which is revised every four years.
One passage said a Catholic who rejects a candidateâs âunacceptable positionâ may decide to vote for that candidate for âother morally grave reasons.â This voting is permissible only for âtruly grave moral reasonsâ and not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences.
This passage was âconfusingâ in light of a previous statement that a Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position âin favor of an intrinsic evilâ if he or she intends to support that position. The document then says that a voter should not use a candidateâs opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference to âother important moral issuesâ concerning human life and dignity.
Hudson and Smith said this passage means a Catholic could vote for a pro-abortion candidate as long as he or she did not intend to support his pro-abortion position.
âThe practical consequence of this statement is clear: Catholics can vote for any pro-abortion politician they want -- all they have to do is have the right intention,â they contended.
The two also said the document allows a Catholic voter to vote for pro-abortion politicians so long as they do not advance that âmorally flawed positionâ but would âpursue other authentic goods.â
No substantial edits are planned for the 2008 version of Faithful Citizenship, which Hudson and Smith said is a problem that needs to be remedied. The document can be clarified by the U.S. bishops at their November 2011 meeting in Baltimore.
The passages capable of âoverbroad implementationâ were used by groups like Catholics United and Catholic Democrats, who âcherry-pickedâ the passage about voting for a candidate âfor other morally grave reasons.
Hudson was an advisor to the George W. Bush presidential campaign on Catholic outreach, while Smith also served on the Bush campaign and in the Bush administration. Their Catholic Advocate organization encourages Catholic participation in politics to support policies that are âconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.â
Individual bishops have said that voting for a pro-abortion candidate is never justified when the opponent is pro-life, the two noted.
Texas Bishops Kevin Vann of Fort Worth and Kevin Farrell of Dallas have said that there are no truly grave moral reasons that âcould outweigh the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by legal abortion each year.â