Burke v. Faithful Citizenship

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In his keynote speech at the National Catholic Day of Prayer breakfast, Archbishop Burke declared:

there is no element of the common good, no morally good practice,
which a candidate may promote and to which a voter may be dedicated,
which could justify voting for a candidate who also endorses and
supports the deliberate killing of the unborn, euthanasia or the
recognition of a same-sex relationship as a legal marriage. The
respect for the inviolable dignity of innocent human life and for the
integrity of marriage and the family are so fundamental to the common
good that they cannot be subordinated to any other cause, no matter
how good it may be.

In their 2007 statement, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” the U.S. Catholic bishops said:

34. …A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.

35. There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.

This clearly envisages the possibility that a Catholic could conscientiously vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights. Will any active bishop, contra Burke, say so? 

  • Sarah Flynn

    Perhaps the good Archbishop could explain how it was that President John F. Kennedy could make a distinction between his Catholic faith and his public oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution?
    Among other things, it means that those who take the oath must uphold the law of the land regardless of whether or not they personally believe in its principles.
    If all Roman Catholics must adhere to the teachings of the Roman curia without regard to U.S. Constitutional principles, then none of them will be eligible for public office in the United States.
    I seem to recall that the first duty of Catholics is to obey the counsels of their conscience, even if it departs from the teachings of the Church. If conscience is no longer to be respected but simply blind obedience to the Church’s teaching then it would seem that the brightest and best of the Roman Catholic Church will be looking for a new church to belong to. Many have already left. With leadership like Archbishop Burke’s they will be soon joined by others who believe that being a Catholic does not mean being a slave to the opinions of unaccountable bishops appointed by an unaccountable Pope.

  • Not a word about war, not a word about the death penalty. Not one word out of almost 5,000 about poverty or disease, about the scourge of domestic violence, about the plight of exploited and abused workers in the USA and around the world.
    Burke has decided that the life of a fetus is always to be valued above that of its mother. Yet there is nothing in Scripture or any Christian tradition which allows for this view.
    Christ calls us to transform the world. Burke has abandoned this call. He has abdicated his responsibility to the poor, the naked, the hungry, the outcast and those in prison. He doesn’t want to transform the world; rather, he wants to keep the world from changing. He apparently thinks that back when abortion and same-sex marriage were totally illegal in the USA, the work of the Church had been accomplished.
    How pathetic.

  • Rob Winslow

    Hooray for Sarah Flynn! Right to the heart of the moral matter goeth she. She enumciates a Catholicism I can more readily respect, even if not personally accept.