Last Friday the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed piece by Archbishop John J. Myers of the archdiocese of Newark, NJ, called A Voter's Guide. The archbishop tackles the thorny question of when, if ever, a Catholic could in good conscience vote for a pro-abortion candidate or a candidate who supports embryonic stem-cell research. The answer is, hardly ever.
The case against abortion and embryonic stem-cell research is very clear:
The direct killing of innocent human beings at any stage of development, including the embryonic and fetal, is homicidal, gravely sinful and always profoundly wrong. Then we must consider the scope of the evil of abortion today in our country. America suffers 1.3 million abortions each year--a tragedy of epic proportions. Moreover, many supporters of abortion propose making the situation even worse by creating a publicly funded industry in which tens of thousands of human lives are produced each year for the purpose of being "sacrificed" in biomedical research.
Given that analysis, how can Catholic voters ever overlook a candidate's pro-abortion or his support for embryonic stem-cell research? The answer lies in the principle of "proportionality." You could vote for such a politician if all the candidates held similar views on abortion and embryonic stem-cell research, and you then voted for the candidate whose other positions are consistent with your faith. The only other possibility would be if the morally superior candidate on the life issues somehow supported moral evil on a scale that went beyond the evil done through abortion and embryo-destructive research. As the archbishop notes, this second possibility would almost never arise.
He goes on to note that issues such as the war in Iraq, national security, Social Security, and a host of other crucial topics, do not rise to the level of abortion and embryo-destructive research in terms of their total moral evil. He calls the latter two issues "the gravest human rights abuses of our domestic politics and what slavery was to the time of Lincoln." And that's why Catholic voters cannot and should vote for those who support abortion or embryo-destructive research.
God bless Archbishop Myers for speaking the truth so boldly and with such clarity. If we had more leaders like him, the church of Jesus Christ in America (Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, and all the various subdivisions thereof) would have a stronger voice in our society. May God raise up a generation of spiritual leaders who sound the trumpet of truth to rescue a dying culture.
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