The New Evangelization and Its Connection to Voting In November: Strive To Heal, Elevate and Perfect Our Culture
actions are so deeply flawed that they are always opposed to the authentic good of persons. These are called 'intrinsically evil' actions. They must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned. A prime example is the intentional taking of innocent human life, as in abortion and euthanasia" (FC 22).
Blessed John Paul II wrote that "abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others" (Living the Gospel of Life 5 [qtd. in Faithful Citizenship]).
It is difficult to imagine how the health of our nation can be improved in any way by placing political officials who support the intentional killing of unborn children and other intrinsic evils into positions of authority and power over others. To do so is not to heal, elevate and perfect, but rather to wound, dismantle, and destroy.
Nevertheless, some will here object. It is said that voting is complex, messy, with all kinds of social justice issues to be considered, so it is incorrect to give too much attention to intrinsic evils. Those who refuse to vote for anti-life politicians are infected by tunnel-vision, they say. Often cited is the following quote from the Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life: "The Christian faith is an integral unity, and thus it is incoherent to isolate some particular element to the detriment of the whole of Catholic doctrine. A political commitment to a single isolated aspect of the Church's social doctrine does not exhaust one's responsibility towards the common good" (4).
However, the above quote must not be read in isolation of what comes before it: "It must be noted also that a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals" (ibid.). Politicians who adhere to intrinsic evils also, more often than not, support them and advance them, turning them into political programs and agendas.
A vote for anti-life politicians has the effect of perpetuating intrinsic evils through the ongoing de-formation of society. While it is true that a "political commitment to a single isolated aspect of the Church's social doctrine does not exhaust one's responsibility towards the common good," it must also be remembered that our responsibility toward the common good requires that we oppose with "maximum determination" those intrinsic evils which attack the right to human life:
In Christifideles Laici Blessed John Paul II wrote: "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 maximum determination" (38).
Authentic participation in the New Evangelization requires one's proper exercise of the right and duty to vote. But that cannot occur in the absence of careful, reasoned and informed moral discernment; nor can it occur if the hierarchy of evils is ignored and moral distinctions are rejected. For Catholics, living as a citizen of an earthly nation cannot be separated from living in the household of God, as a son or daughter of the Father, as if our Faith can be compartmentalized or put aside one moment and embraced the next. Nor can our Christian faith be set aside in the voting booth with indifference to Christ and his Church.
The most relevant question is this: when I stand before Jesus Christ, will I be able to justify my voting choices, or will whatever I say merely be an attempt to rationalize them? The answer to that question makes all the difference.
F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at joyintruth.com
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Voting in November, November election, formed conscience, forming conscience, voting as an informed Catholic, teaching of the Church on voting, intrinsic evils, moral discernment, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Republican, Democrat, Social Just
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