As the election approaches, I am again seeing transparent endorsements of a particular candidate and party in the The Colorado Catholic Herald. Julie Bailey (Sept. 4) talks of the five non-negotiables (abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, cloning, and homosexual marriage), claiming they are intrinsically evil . . . as opposed to other evils, I suppose. While I appreciate Bishop Sheridan’s commentary on Proposition 115 (Sept. 18), I wonder that no issues other than abortion appeared in his analysis of the “common good.” So it seems we are being instructed to consider only one, or possibly five, issues when considering our vote — no mention of hungry children, abuse of women, capital punishment, gun violence, racism, pedophilia, people fleeing oppression or poverty, homelessness, inadequate health care. Personally, I find evil in all these issues. Doesn’t making life better for the poor, abused, vulnerable and marginalized qualify as the “common good”? Isn’t saving our planet from industrial pollution for the “common good”? Isn’t being civil and respectful toward one another for the “common good”?
There is the suggestion that the Church officially sees certain evils as outweighing all others combined, but that view is not shared universally within the Church. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI and hardly a liberal theologian, wanting to show Catholics how not to merge religious with political issues, said this: “When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.”
The Church imparts its teachings and should then let its members weigh those teachings against all the issues and the candidates in an election. It isn’t the Church’s role to issue voting guides or to promote any candidate or party. Yet a Newsweek article of Sept. 23rd reports that some priests are untruthfully telling parishioners that it is a mortal sin to vote for Biden. Vatican consultant Father James Martin, felt compelled to write a letter asking that this practice be stopped. Here is part of that letter:
“Dear friends: I’m seeing more priests saying that voting for Joe Biden is a mortal sin. It is not. It is not a sin to vote for either Mr. Biden or Mr. Trump . . .”
This election is difficult for many. I would not in the format of a religious publication endorse any party or candidate, but I would urge everyone to consider all the issues as well as the character of each individual candidate.