Several readers have informed BCI about an Election Eve Mass and Rosary taking place Monday evening, November 5, at St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine, 1105 Boylston Street in Boston.
Here is one of the notices:
As we face an important life-or-death ballot question that would legalize physician-assisted suicide in Massachusetts–as well as local, state, and national elections whose outcomes will affect the lives of the unborn and most vulnerable in society–we pray for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and that God will guide all to use the opportunities of our democracy to shape a society that respects and protects the life, dignity, and rights of the human person from the moment of conception to natural death. Rosary at 7:30pm, Mass at 8pm, followed by Eucharistic Adoration.
A great deal is a stake in this election. The latest polls on Question 2 show a majority of voters support physician-assisted suicide. Locally, polls right now suggest voters leaning towards electing Joe Kennedy III (pro-abortion, with almost no professional work experience) over Sean Bielat (pro-life Catholic with extensive professional experience), and odds favor pro-abortion candidate Elizabeth Warren winning for U.S. Senate over moderate Scott Brown. The presidential race shows a very tight race, but a clearer path to electoral college victory for the anti-Catholic, extreme pro-abortion incumbent, President Obama, than for Mitt Romney, whose public positions are much better aligned with those of the Catholic Church.
When the going gets tough, the tough get praying. By Monday evening, the 30-second commercials will be mostly done. The “undecideds” will be deciding. The pollsters will be spinning their predictions. Besides helping out on Election day with your preferred candidate, one of the best things faithful Catholics can do is pray.
We know that God hears our prayers and answers them. In Jeremiah 29:12, we hear, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” In Exodus 14.13 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand firm and see the victory the LORD will win for you today. The LORD will fight for you; you have only to keep still.” Miracles do happen, but it takes faith and prayer. Praying a Rosary today, Monday, and Tuesday is a great way to ask for divine intervention in the election. If you know of a local parish having a prayer gathering for the election, feel free to post a notice via comments. If not, then for those in the local Boston area, BCI would encourage you to consider gathering at St. Clements in Boston on Monday evening.
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One more thing. A few faithful Catholics continue to talk about not voting in the Massachusetts Senate race because Scott Brown (who actually has a mixed to decent voting record on life issues) is campaigning as pro-choice, thereby making it almost certain that the rabidly pro-abortion Elizabeth Warren (who has been endorsed by NARAL) will win. Or in the presidential race, they plan to throw their vote away on a third-party candidate who has no chance of winning, thus taking their vote away from Mitt Romney, who is within striking distance of winning, so they will in effect, help re-elect Obama. We hope if any readers are feeling that way, you reconsider. Here are a few articles that might sway you better than BCI.
“It is therefore quite clear from the moral theology tradition and specific magisterial teaching that a Catholic may vote for a candidate who does not wholly embrace Catholic teaching on the non-negotiable issues.
This can be done:
- in order to limit the evil that would result if a worse candidate on these issues were elected;
- provided that this is predominately the intention of voting (other good but lesser motives may also be present); and
- that the other candidate is indeed worse, and any scandal caused by the appearance of voting for evil is corrected, such as by explaining Catholic teaching and one’s full adherence to it.”
So if, rather than casting your ballot for Romney/Ryan, you vote for a third-party presidential candidate like the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson or the Constitution Party’s Virgil Goode, or write in some name like “Jesus” or “God” or “Ron Paul” (I cite these examples since some people are claiming this is how they will cast their vote for president), or if you refuse to vote, you are knowingly contributing to the continued reign of Barack Obama, the most catastrophic president in history, whose actions of late have bordered on treason and who has almost destroyed America in four years and will complete the job in four more.
As I said at the outset, this is a very close election. Every vote counts. Your vote counts. A few ballots in a few key states next week may well determine the destiny of America for all time.
God forbid that good people, believing they are honoring God, upholding higher principle and refraining from supporting evil, would be deceived through their own anger and pride into doing the opposite and betraying all that they love.
In the current presidential campaign, I have heard some serious Catholics express reservations about voting for Mitt Romney because of the abortion issue. True, they are aware of how rabidly pro-abortion Barack Obama is. They may even consider him—correctly—the most pro-abortion president the U.S. has ever had. He has a consistent track record of embracing every position the hard-core pro-abortion movement favors, including the Freedom of Choice Act, public funding of abortion, overturning the Mexico City Policy (one of his first acts as president), permitting partial-birth abortion, and even allowing abortion-survivor babies to die. This does not even take into account his other positions at odds with Catholic moral teaching such as supporting same-sex “marriage” and the rest of the homosexualist agenda. Still, Mitt Romney permits abortion exceptions—“hard-case” abortions—so there is really no difference between the two candidates. A Catholic, they say, cannot vote for either of them because this shows that both are pro-abortion.
The central question for Catholics is this: Is it morally acceptable to vote for a candidate like Romney who supports abortion rights in some cases when his opponent is a supporter of sweeping abortion rights?
The answer can be discerned from a statement in John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae (#73), which is repeated in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (#570), about the moral obligations and restraints on legislators. Since legislators are the ones who are most directly involved in lawmaking, what is said about them applies a fortiori to the voters selecting them and other public decisionmakers: “when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law…” In other words, if legal abortion cannot be outright overturned—which, barring a major confrontation between the political branches and the Supreme Court that the former clearly have no will to initiate, could happen in the U.S. only with the judicial overturning of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton—a legislator can support lesser initiatives or partial correctives even though they leave the norm of permissive legal abortion intact.
In his 2004 pastoral letter when he was Archbishop of St. Louis, Raymond L. Cardinal Burke—who is now the Prefect of Apostolic Signatura (the Church’s equivalent of the Supreme Court)—directly addressed the question of the moral obligations of the Catholic voter. He said that a Catholic who “is clear in his or her opposition to the moral evil of procured abortion could vote for a candidate who supports the limitation of the legality of procured abortion, even though the candidate does not oppose all use of procured abortion, if the other candidate(s) do not support the limitation of the evil of procured abortion.” (#41) This is exactly the situation in the Romney-Obama contest. In fact, Cardinal Burke also affirmed explicitly what I have suggested: the standard of Evangelium Vitae for the legislator is applicable to the voter.
Some might ask, given the fact that neither candidate in an election like the current presidential one is against all abortion, whether Catholics should just refuse to vote. They might consider the fact that few U.S. political candidates say they are against all abortion (they will at least claim the life of the mother exception). That means that such Catholic voters would probably have to sit out every election, or at least all the ones for federal offices. I can hardly think of a better way to minimize the influence of faithful Catholic citizens in American politics.
Cardinal Burke framed the decision to not vote in a circumstance where there is a less than ideal pro-life candidate in moral terms: “the Catholic who chooses not to vote at all, when there is a viable candidate who will advance the common good, although not perfectly, fails to fulfill his or her moral duty.” (#43) The CDF document emphasizes that Catholics may not delegate their political responsibilities to others, which is effectively what happens when one chooses not to vote.
Those who try to resolve this putative dilemma in the current election by not casting a vote for the top of the ticket and maybe also in a Congressional race, and instead just voting for state and local offices, should also ponder these words of Cardinal Burke. They should also note his further point that the Catholic voter must “make a prudent decision regarding what best serves the common good.” (#44) Additionally, those thinking about voting for an obscure third-party candidate should consider whether, under the circumstances, it is a prudent choice (actually, I’m not sure there is a pro-life third-party presidential candidate on many state ballots this year). The same thing obviously applies to write-ins.
Moreover, while all procured abortion is a moral abomination, we have to be realistic on a practical level about drawing an equivalency between an abortion-on-demand candidate or public policy and a hard-cases one. Even the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which was previously the research arm of Planned Parenthood, reports that only .3% of all U.S. abortions are done for reasons of rape, .03% because of incest, .1% because of a threat to the mother’s life, and 98% for mostly reasons of preference. So, the Romney-Obama election is between a man who favors that fewer than .5% of the 1.2 million abortions in the U.S. each year should be legal and one who favors that 100% of them should be.
Perhaps the prudence that Cardinal Burke spoke of is the political application of the old aphorism that the perfect must not become the enemy of the good. It seems to be particularly applicable this election year.