Voters Cautioned About Favoring Pro-Abortion Candidates

Atlanta Archbishop Warns of Formal Cooperation

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ATLANTA, Georgia, SEPT. 20, 2004 ( Voters who cast a ballot for a candidate because of his pro-abortion stance are guilty of formal cooperation in the latter’s evil political acts, an archbishop reminded his flock.

In a pastoral letter on conscientious voting dated last Thursday, Archbishop John Donoghue of Atlanta reminded the faithful of their duties as citizens.

“A few years ago,” he wrote, “the Bishops of the United States wrote these words to our people, and they remain true: ‘We encourage all citizens, particularly Catholics, to embrace their citizenship not merely as a duty and privilege, but as an opportunity meaningfully to participate in building the culture of life.'”

“The Church holds her members to acceptance, complete acceptance of her teaching on matters of faith and morals,” Archbishop Donoghue said.

“In moral theology,” he continued, “there are two kinds of cooperation involved in this question, and they break down as follows:

“Formal cooperation is that degree of cooperation in which my will embraces the evil object of another’s will. Thus, to vote for a candidate because he favors abortion is formal cooperation in his evil political acts. However, to vote for someone in order to limit a greater evil, that is, to restrict in so far as possible the evil that another candidate might do if elected, is to have a good purpose in voting.

“The voter’s will has as its object this limitation of evil and not the evil which the imperfect politician might do in his less than perfect adherence to Catholic moral principles. Such cooperation is called material, and is permitted for a serious reason, such as preventing the election of a worse candidate.”

Archbishop Donoghue observed: “This distinction may seem somewhat technical, especially to our modern ears, which are too often satisfied by easier answers. But the distinction is one of profound consequence, and must be accounted when we decide, in conscience, how we are to vote in a given election.”

“For us all, our responsibility to our Faith and to our country requires that we consider these issues, and that we do what is right,” he added.

“For only action that is right and true will in the end rescue our country,” the Atlanta prelate wrote. “This is a critical moment — and to do nothing would be a great tragedy. Therefore, let us implore the Holy Spirit to enlighten us, to enlighten our country, and if not even the middle or the finish, may He reveal to us, as we live, at least the beginning of our country’s journey back to living the rights endowed by our Creator, rights once happily acknowledged and protected, by all citizens, for all citizens: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — but most of all, Life.”

Archbishop John Myers of Newark, New Jersey, writing in the Wall Street Journal last Friday, noted that the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under its prefect, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, released a statement called “On Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion.”

“Although it dealt primarily with the obligations of bishops to deny communion to Catholic politicians in certain circumstances, it included a short note at the end addressing whether Catholics could, in good conscience, vote for candidates who supported the taking of nascent human life in the womb or lab,” the archbishop wrote.

“Cardinal Ratzinger stated,” he noted, “that a ‘Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of a candidate’s permissive stand on abortion.'”

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