Candidate's Abortion Stance 'Outweighs Every Other Issue,' Atlanta Archbishop Says
(Kaisernetwork) A political candidate's stance on abortion "must outweigh every other issue" for Roman Catholic voters, Archbishop John Donoghue of Atlanta wrote in a letter posted on the archdiocese Web site and published Thursday in its diocesan newspaper The Georgia Bulletin, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
In the letter, titled "On Conscientious Voting," Donoghue wrote that although he does not endorse a specific presidential candidate, it is the "responsibility" of Catholic voters "to our faith and to our country ... that we consider these issues and that we do what is right." He added that while voters can debate other issues, including capital punishment or the war in Iraq, there is "no debate about abortion. It is intrinsically evil. It is way above other issues as far as evil is concerned" (White, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/17).
Last month, Donoghue and Bishops Robert Baker of Charleston, S.C., and Peter Jugis of Charlotte, N.C., issued a statement saying that Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should be denied Communion. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in June at a closed meeting in Colorado voted to approve a statement saying that Catholic politicians should work against legalized abortion "lest they be guilty of cooperating in evil and in sinning against the common good." The statement said that abortion is "always intrinsically evil and can never be justified." However, the statement also said the decision to deny Communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should be left to individual bishops (Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 8/6). Although many Catholics take their bishops' statements into consideration when considering how to vote on issues, there is some indication that many U.S. Catholics "don't pay much attention to what their bishops say," the Journal-Constitution reports.
According to a poll conducted by the abortion-rights group Catholics for a Free Choice, only 7% of Catholics polled said that the views of their bishops were "very important" in helping them decide how to vote. Approximately 40% of respondents said that their bishops' views were not important at all, according to the Journal-Constitution.
Donoghue in an interview last week said that if a Catholic voter is faced with the choice between a candidate who supports abortion rights and one who opposes abortion rights, the voter could still vote for the abortion-rights supporter if the other candidate represents a "greater evil," the Journal-Constitution reports.
If a Catholic votes in favor of a candidate who supports abortion rights because of his or her stance on other issues -- such as capital punishment, gun control, war or environmental protection -- and not because of the candidate's abortion rights stance, it is considered to be "material cooperation" with an act of evil. Such a vote is permitted in the Catholic Church if the vote "prevents something worse," the Journal-Constitution reports.
However, if a Catholic votes for an abortion-rights supporter specifically because of his or her stance on abortion rights, the vote is considered to be "formal cooperation" with an act of evil -- an act that makes Catholics "unfit for Communion," the Journal-Constitution reports (White, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/18).
Abortion Central Issue for Catholic Politicians, Conference Attendees Say
Several Catholic leaders attending a Catholic conference, titled "Public Witness, Public Scandal" and held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Thursday said that abortion is the central issue for elected Catholic officials this year, the Washington Times reports.
The all-day conference, which was sponsored by the Ave Maria School of Law and the Our Sunday Visitor Foundation, included panelists who held opposing views on whether Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), who is Catholic, "should be given a pass" on his support of abortion rights, according to the Times (Duin, Washington Times, 9/17).
Kerry in a July interview with the Dubuque Telegraph Herald said he believes that life begins at conception but supports abortion rights. Kerry has a 100% voting record with NARAL Pro-Choice America and frequently has spoken of his commitment to abortion rights and the appointment of judges who would support them (Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 7/26).
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(c) 2004 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation
Publish Date: September 20, 2004
Online at: http://ifrl.org/IFRLDailyNews/040920/1