Five Non-Negotiables

I am writing this “Corner” from the Annual Diocesan Priest’s Retreat at Marywood, which will be shortened by a day due to Hurricane Matthew. The Bulletin publisher has shortened their deadline by a day, for the same reason.  And with so many family and life issues at stake in the coming election, I did not want to miss any opportunity to provide Catholic faith-based clarity on the major moral issues.  I have been a priest for eight and a half years and this will be the third election in that time frame.  In both prior elections, the “pro-abortion”, “anti-marriage” presidential candidate won.  Legalized abortion continued as the “law of the land” in these United States, and the “Defense of Marriage” law was, as promised, rescinded by that president.

The most disheartening thing is that 60% of Catholic voters supported the “pro-death” candidate, totally ignoring the “Five Non-Negotiables” that have been provided to Catholic voters, for their moral guidance, by the last two Popes and the U.S. bishops, by supporting the out-spoken pro-abortion candidate, the 35 year old evil law permitting American’s to kill their inconvenient pre-born babies has now extended to 43 years…and counting. Folks, this is on us. We need to be well informed as to exactly where each party platform, and every candidate, stands on these life and family issues…because the parties and the candidates have made it very clear where they stand. Learn and then speak out about it to your Catholic brothers and sisters, and help them make decisions to vote in accord with teachings of Christ and His Church. Do we dare flaunt our free will?

Those Non-Negotiables were given to us to cut through the political rhetoric and educate and clarify for us, which choices are wrong evil, and sinful…  and which choices are permissible. We should know them, so here is a quick review of those “Non-Negotiables”:

  • Abortion is intrinsically evil and must never be promoted or condoned.
  • Embryonic Stem Cell Research is intrinsically evil and must never be promoted or condoned.
  • Euthanasia is intrinsically evil and must never be promoted or condoned.
  • Marriage the traditional understanding of it, as the union of one man and one woman, must always be upheld.
  • The Right of Parents to educate their Children must always be upheld.

All the other issues (for example, immigration, education, affordable housing, health and welfare, environmental issues, etc.)  Are considered policy issues.  They are issues of prudential judgment, about which Catholics are free to disagree.  As regards abortion, however, the Catechism of the Catholic Church declares:  “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life. Since the first century, the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion.  This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.  Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law. ‘You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.’… Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life” (2270-2272).

Saint Pope John Paul II wrote, in his 1988 exhortation to the laity entitled Christifideles Laici: “Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights (for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture) is false and illusory, if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with the maximum determination.”

I was not able to watch, but heard a report about the vice-presidential debate, where the issue of abortion was brought up. And, one candidate gave the age-old  deceptive  response  that he was personally  opposed  to abortion,  but supports  his party’s platform,  and does not think the Roe v. Wade decision,  that legalized  abortion,  should  be overturned. That’s double talk. In the “Brief Catechism for Catholic Voters” that all parishioners were given at Mass last weekend, Question #8 clearly addresses this situation, saying, the candidate is either fooling himself, trying to fool you, self-delusional, or a liar. To vote for such candidates is not morally permissible, even if they have other views and positions that are good.

In that regard, Pope Benedict XVI wrote:  “Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment, or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church  exhorts  civil authorities  to seek peace,  not war, and to exercise  discretion and mercy  in imposing  punishment on criminals,  it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor,  or to have recourse  to capital  punishment. There may  be  a legitimate diversity  of  opinion,  even  among  Catholics, about  waging  war  and  applying  the  death  penalty,  but not however,  with regard to abortion  and euthanasia.”

We American Catholics have a profound moral obligation to do all in our power, particularly with our vote, to bring an end to abortion by electing politicians who will oppose abortion and bring about the overturn of Roe v. Wade. 43 years of its bloodshed has been way too long!

Yours for protection of all life,fr denis