Precinct 333

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Priests support Archbishop Burke, face challenge

We've heard a lot about Archbishop Raymond Burke in recent weeks. After all, he is the archbishop who explicitly denied John Kerry communion in his archdiocese. He has also indicated that those who vote for pro-abortion politicians would sin by doing so.

Liberals, of course, have been outraged. But many of his priests are supportive, though faced with pastoral challenges. The folks in the pews are concerned -- especially since the president's position on allowing abortion in cases of rape and incest is not completely pure from a Catholic perspective. Some wonder if they can vote for any presidential candidate without sinning. Seems to me that the priests of the diocese have their work cut out of them between now and the election -- and beyond. It is a matter of suplying good moral formation.

I was very nearly ordainded for the diocese just across the river from St. Louis. I actually looked at studying for the Archdiocese, so I have thought about this a lot. If I were one of these priests, the issue would an easy one. Some political positions are so far outside the bounds of moral acceptability that a vote for a candidate who takes sucha position is objectively sinful. One could never morally vote for a candidate who supported a return to slavery. One could never legitimately back a candidate who one knew favored genocide without sinning gravely, regardless of how good the rest of his positions were. Support for the status quo on abortion falls into the same category -- it is a sin to knowingly vote for a candidate who supports it if there is another option available. That is even more true if one embraces that candidate (even in part) because of that support for the abortion status quo.

But what about the situation in which there is no completely pro-life candidate? The answer, then is equally simple. One must cast the vote that is most likely to reduce the number of abortions. One has an obligation to try to stop evil in its tracks, and in such a clear-cut case there could be little moral doubt on how to vote.


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