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Casting Your Vote as a Faithful Catholic

February 12, AD2016

pro-life

Here we are, coming into the backstretch of the quadrennial presidential election cycle. Of course, from here on out, you’re going to have your eyes and sensibilities assaulted by talking heads telling you for whom you should vote — or, at least, traducing and belittling every candidate but the ones they prefer.

Many of the talking heads are Catholics. It doesn’t follow, however, that what they advise is always fully compatible with Catholic moral and social teaching, even when the head doing the talking belongs to a bishop or priest. As American citizens, they’re entitled to their opinions; as Catholics, their opinions aren’t covered by the infallibility of the ordinary Magisterium. Neither, for that matter, is mine.

I’m not here to tell you who to vote for; nor am I going to tell you how I’m voting. What I’d like to do instead is give some pointers about voting as a faithful Catholic in communion with the Holy See.

1) You have the right to vote your own conscience.

Don’t be baffled by the type of people who whine, “You’re imposing your morality/religion on us!” It’s hysterical nonsense, sheer demagoguery. Divide the American body politic how you will, it’s hard to find any subdivision in which 100% of the members all hold the same moral principles in common, or agree on the best way to encode those principles in law. If you can find such a subdivision, I can promise you with 99.9% confidence that the group will comprise far less than 50% of the electorate.

In political science, it’s called cross-cutting cleavages. For instance, concerning the Great Western Atrocity, there are self-identified Catholics who are pro-abortion, and non-Catholics — even atheists and agnostics — who are anti-abortion. However, within the anti-abortion group are people who are either for or against the death penalty, people who are either for or against contraception, people who are either for or against torture — oops, excuse me, enhanced interrogation … the list goes on and on.

It should also be obvious that the person who opposes your “imposing your morality/religion” on him is going to vote for people who will encode his moral principles into law. Note the inconsistency: You can’t impose your morality on him … but he feels free to impose his morality/religion (or lack thereof) on you, largely because he’s blinded himself to what he’s doing.

The whole point of representative government is to reconcile all the different moral imperatives into law that most of us can obey willingly. The end product is rarely if ever something that can be said establishes a particular religion. In any event, there’s no ideological test you have to pass before you can vote, and there’s no way they can scan your conscience to see if it’s “politically correct”. So feel free to vote according to your sense of right and wrong without checking over your shoulder to see if Big Brother is watching.

2) Don’t get your voting information from memes or outrage porn.

What’s “outrage porn”? E-zines and blogs whose sole purpose is to take minor issues and blow them out of proportion, in order to get the members of their political tribe angry. If you think the reportage in the mainstream media is biased and inaccurate — well, the outrage porn vendors make them look like paragons of balanced factuality. And even when the claim of a meme isn’t blatantly false, it’s too often badly written, chock-full of logical fallacies and demonizing labels.

Most if not all candidates have their personal websites in which they explain their platforms. A quick Google search will bring you a number of fairly neutral sites dedicated to presenting the candidates’ stances on the issues and their policy preferences; some will include transcripts of statements they’ve made at various times (here is one such site). There is real information out in the Internet among all the false and biased chazzerai; use the power of search engines to become a better-informed voter.

3) No single candidate can accomplish his goals by himself.

Although that would seem to be a blindingly obvious observation, too often a candidate’s promises are treated as if he were running for Benevolent Dictator rather than president, senator, or congressman. For instance, Sen. Joe Schmuckatelli can advocate a 10% flat tax to his heart’s desire on the stump, if it gets his constituents to vote for him; once he takes his seat in the upper chamber, though, he may find it much harder to get his colleagues interested.

This pointer becomes very important when we remember that one of the Democrat candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), is a self-described democratic socialist. (“A socialist? EEK!”) For our purposes, it doesn’t matter how a democratic socialist is different from any other kind of socialist — there are differences, y’know, and they do matter as to how the economy and state function (for instance, check out libertarian socialism). However, whatever kind of socialist Sanders is, he could hardly turn the US into a workers’ paradise without the active connivance of Congress, almost all of whom have too much vested in the present system to allow much in the way of structural change. So don’t just take the candidate’s promises with a grain of salt; treat opponents’ claims of the wreckage his programs would create with equal skepticism.

4) You’re a Catholic first, a party member second (if at all).

When a member of the Catholic chatterati falls into error, it’s usually because he allowed his political ideology to warp his understanding of Church moral and social doctrine. In fact, many people from different faith communities are guilty of “reading Scripture through ideological glasses”. The progressive speaks of the “primacy of the individual conscience”; the conservative prefers “prudential judgment”. All it means is that one enters the cafeteria line from the left, the other from the right.

Having said that, there are areas to which the Church doesn’t speak, or doesn’t issue specific policy recommendations. The Church does insist we not support intrinsically evil practices or policies (more on that below), but there may be more than one approach to a social or economic problem that isn’t intrinsically evil. Study the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, and check around on various viewpoints before you decide whether your political beliefs are in communion with the Faith. Just don’t try to make the Church a party organ.

5) Cast the vote that will most likely let you sleep peacefully that night

Some years ago, Catholic Answers began publishing a Voter’s Guide that featured a list of five (now six) “non-negotiables”; i.e., intrinsic evils a candidate must not support in order to be an acceptable candidate to a Catholic: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, human cloning, gay “marriage”, and hostility to religious freedom. Explains Tim Staples:

To put it simply: these are “deal-breakers” when it comes to the Catholic voting. These are matters definitively declared by the Church to be objectively and absolutely immoral. That is what we mean by “non-negotiable.” There is no legitimate debate — no “wiggle room” — on these issues. Now then, are these the only “non-negotiables” from a Catholic perspective? No, they are not. … However, the point we make in the Voter’s Guide is that not all matters non-negotiable are matters in play politically generally speaking. … Thus, we focused our attention on the “non-negotiables” that are in fact in play politically.

So popular and widely known has this set of litmus strips become that they’re often treated as if dictated by the Vatican. But as Pope Francis himself points out, all the Church’s moral doctrines are, as such, non-negotiable. For instance, the Church’s teaching on torture is definitely “in play” when discussing waterboarding and other forms of “enhanced interrogation”, which is why it’s such a contentious issue in Catholic circles. By the same token, the principle of subsidiarity “is opposed to certain forms of centralization, bureaucratization, and welfare assistance and to the unjustified and excessive presence of the State in public mechanisms” (CSDC 187), a stumbling block to anyone demanding further Federal intervention in social problems.

On the other hand, the principle of double effect does provide a little “wiggle room” — not much, but it’s there. The principle holds that an action which isn’t immoral in itself but which can have both a good and an evil effect may still be taken if: 1) the evil outcome isn’t the final cause of the action; 2) the good result doesn’t spring from the evil result; and 3) the good is proportionate to the evil. Thus, in a postscript to a letter to the late Cdl. Theodore E. McCarrick in 2004, the then-Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Cdl. Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), stated:

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 the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favour 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.

In other words, given two candidates, one of whom is pro-abortion but whose platform is otherwise sensible and moral, and the other of whom is anti-abortion but whose platform is riddled with bad policy preferences and immoral stances, one may legitimately vote for the pro-abortion candidate in view of his other stances. Since the political process rarely gives us simon-pure candidates, you should weigh the alternatives carefully, and decide which can do the greater good for the lesser evil. But you don’t have to vote for a blithering idiot or a narcissistic sociopath just because he waves a “precious feet” pin at you.

Many people, though, can’t bend their consciences that far. They can, however, write in a candidate. I have qualms about it; writing in candidates who have no reasonable hope of election can be seen as wasting one’s vote in the name of self-righteous pride. I would feel better if those who wished to write in a candidate would come to an agreement on whom to choose, and actively campaign on that person’s behalf. On the other hand, if it lets you look at yourself in the mirror the morning after, go for it.

Summary

“The Church values the democratic system inasmuch as it ensures the participation of citizens in making political choices, guarantees to the governed the possibility both of electing and holding accountable those who govern them, and of replacing them through peaceful means when appropriate” (St. John Paul II, Centesimus Annus 46).

As citizens of the United States, we Catholics have the right to vote, the right to choose who we want to represent us in every level of government, and therefore to have our voices and thoughts heard in the shaping of the laws under which we live. Therefore, it’s our responsibility to participate fully and with adequate knowledge to make the best choices we possibly can. Do your homework, think through your choices, and then show up at your polling place.

Remember, it’s our country too.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Born in Albuquerque, N. Mex., and raised in Omaha, Nebr., Anthony S. Layne served briefly in the U.S. Marine Corps, and attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha as a sociology major while holding a variety of jobs. Tony was a "C-and-E Catholic" until, while defending the Faith during the scandals of 2002, he discovered the beauty of Catholic orthodoxy. He currently lives in Denton, Texas, works in the home-mortgage industry in Dallas, participates in his parish's Knights of Columbus council, and bowls poorly on Sunday nights. Along with Catholic Stand, he also contributes to New Evangelization Monthly and occasionally writes for his own blogs, Outside the Asylum and The Impractical Catholic.

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  • Maurice Prater

    Pope John Paul II elaborates on this theme in his 1988 apostolic exhortation, The Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World (Christifideles Laici) in the following passage: “The inviolability of the person, which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, finds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life. 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 of all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination . . . “

  • DLink

    Being charitable, I am going to say that the knowledge of Catholics on political/moral relationships probably does not rise much above that of the average voter which is a shame. While we know that the Almighty watches over children and fools, I’m not so sure about the deliberately ignorant.

  • Abide

    Good material and well-written. Deciding how to vote based on the dysfunction of both parties and how they both stack up to Church teaching is complicated stuff. If only we could make the Democrats pro-life and pro-marriage, we’d be better off. Or, we could moderate the Republicans and make them level-headed and compassionate toward those who suffer from institutionalized forms of injustice. Jesus will probably come back before any of that happens.

  • I’m equally amused, chagrined, and irritated to see how suggestions to get one’s self informed, consult the Catechism and the Compendium, and weigh the issues carefully, somehow all boil down to “vote to kill babies”. What an absurd over-simplification. Are Catholic consciences so badly malformed that to “vote one’s conscience” necessarily means to vote pro-Culture of Death? Is it impossible to “vote one’s conscience” and still vote Republican? Please think about what you’re saying!

    All Catholic moral teachings are, as such, non-negotiable. However, it’s fair to weigh the gravity of specific evils. Moreover, since there’s more than one intrinsic evil in play, it’s fair to weigh all the positions a candidate holds and find that the intrinsic evils he supports would outweigh the good things he advocates even if they’re fewer in number. All in all, weighing the proportions still favors Republican candidates in most instances. Nevertheless, you can’t pretend, for instance, that advocating indiscriminate “carpet bombing” isn’t advocating a grave evil — unless you don’t know what “carpet bombing” means. If you want to vote for a candidate whose positions are 100% in line with Catholic doctrine, I’m afraid you’ll have to write one in. If you really get right down to it, voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for an evil.

    I avoided naming the parties because there are still pro-life Democrats and pro-abortion Republicans. The party platforms aren’t legally binding; I challenge the “Democrats Are Evil” folks to name me one Democrat who’s been read out of the party for voting pro-life, or one Republican who’s been chucked out of the GOP for voting pro-abortion. Some few Congressmen still cross the aisle to vote against their parties on specific issues. However, it’s also fair to note that the increasing ideological polarization of the parties means that Catholics faithful to the Church’s teachings are being squeezed out of the Democrats’ “big tent””; in fact, that’s precisely what I did in my essay, “Time For Catholics to Leave the Democrats?” Still, as long as there are pro-life Democrats and pro-abortion Republicans, then we mustn’t declare individual candidates guilty by association: CHECK THEIR RECORDS.

    • james

      ” …it’s fair to weigh all the positions a candidate holds and find that the intrinsic evils he supports would outweigh the good things he advocates even if they’re fewer in number.”

      This quote reminds me of the Egyptian God, Anubis who presides over the dead and whose scales weight the deceased heart against a feather, if lighter, the soul moves on. Two questions
      will be asked also – Did you find joy and did you give joy. Congrats on all the hairsplitting you started, Anthony.

    • Not to mention all the strawman-bashing (not you, James). My work here is done.

  • RaymondNicholas

    Well, ladies and gentleman this is where we are: thanks to the CINOs who voted in the Democratic Party the last two times and it’s cultural of death, we now will see, quite possibly, a new majority SC in favor of baby killing, euthanasia, and a host of other things contrary to the Faith, not to mention the loss of certain of our freedoms under the Bill of Rights. And it’s all OK because voting our conscience against Church teaching is OK by God too.

  • bdlaacmm

    The problem with saying you must vote only for candidates who adhere to 100% of Catholic teaching, is that you end up voting for nobody. I challenge you – name somebody, anybody, running for president who is in line with Catholic morality on every point of all social and economic issues. There isn’t one. Not one.

    The last time I voted in a presidential election without holding my nose was in 1976! (for Gerald Ford)

  • Robert

    And the problem my dear Watson is that many of the bishops will vote for democrats. Many of the bishops will ignore intrinsic evil and vote their social feel good justice emotions over the teaching of the faith. Many of the bishops believe in socialism regardless of its bloody and godless history. Many of the bishops agree with same sex marriage and the homosexual agenda. Many of the bishops have abandoned the faith and the faithful. The teachings of the faith have been replaced by what they justify to their own consciences. Ask yourself, how often does my priest speak about intrinsic evil during a homily or a sermon? How often do you hear gay marriage, abortion, contraception, religious liberty, mentioned in a homily? How often has the place “hell” or damnation been mentioned in a homily? Pray for the Church. Pray for the United States of America. Buy your supplies and the ability to protect your families now.

  • James B

    So… Sing the Jiminie Cricket song and vote for whoever you want.

    • If that were what I meant, I would have said just that and saved myself 1,800 words.

  • Reader Yesterday

    Thank you for this clear and insightful article. I’ll definitely be sharing this with my newbie voter!

  • FreemenRtrue

    Why insidiously attack Cruz with the 10% slight of hand when he is a candidate who bellieves in God and the Constitution passionately? And then you insert the vapid defense of abortion as if Republicans are a greater evil than slaughtering babies. You are guilty of causing anger in others who care deeply about these issues; you impugn their genuine concern with your insouciance. I’d like to throw a rotten tomato at you. but am forbade.

    • I haven’t attacked anyone here, save those who say Catholics “impose their morality”. Nor have I defended abortion. Nor have I said anything about Republicans one way or another. The only candidate I’ve mentioned by name is Bernie Sanders, whom I do not recommend. You are putting words into my mouth. Go and look up the definition of “rash judgment”.

    • james

      ” I’d like to throw a rotten tomato at you…”

      You already have – it’s the thought that counts.

    • FreemenRtrue, I’m not sure my previous attempt at a reply will post, so let me try again:

      I’m not attacking Cruz; I don’t even know what you mean by the “10% sleight of hand”, since that number occurs nowhere within the body of my article. The only candidate I’ve mentioned by name is Bernie Sanders, whom I do not recommend. I don’t defend abortion — not now; not ever. No reasonable reading of that portion of the article can render it a “defense” of abortion. I’ve said nothing against either party in this post; for what it’s worth, I wrote another article a year ago arguing that it’s time for Catholics to leave the Democrat Party. While I applaud your passionate concern, that doesn’t excuse the deliberate misrepresentation of my arguments.

    • FreemenRtrue

      For instance, Sen. Joe Schmuckatelli can advocate a 10% flat tax to his
      heart’s desire on the stump, if it gets his constituents to vote for
      him; once he takes his seat in the upper chamber, though, he may find it
      much harder to get his colleagues interested.

      Obvious.

      In other words, given two candidates, one of whom is pro-abortion but
      whose platform is otherwise sensible and moral, and the other of whom is
      anti-abortion but whose platform is riddled with bad policy preferences
      and immoral stances, one may legitimately vote for the pro-abortion
      candidate in view of his other stances. Since the political process
      rarely gives us simon-pure candidates, you should weigh the alternatives
      carefully, and decide which can do the greater good for the lesser
      evil. But you don’t have to vote for a blithering idiot or a narcissistic sociopath just because he waves a “precious feet” pin at you.

      Blatant.

    • “… once he takes his seat in the upper chamber …”

      Equally obvious, yet you chose to ignore it. Sen. Schmuckatelli isn’t running for President. Nor does it attack the 10% flat tax as such; it simply notes that the proposal doesn’t have much traction in Congress.

      As for the second paragraph: You can stamp your foot all you want on that one, but it does not defend abortion. Unless you’re calling it an attack on Ted Cruz? (If anything, it was an attack on Donald Trump, whose claim to be pro-life is very hard to believe.) Is Cruz’s platform “riddled with bad policy preferences and immoral stances”? Are either Fmr. SecState Clinton’s or Sen. Sanders’ platforms “otherwise sensible and moral”? These are all questions we have to ask ourselves; FWIW, I think either Clinton or Sanders would be disastrous as President. But as horrible as abortion is — in fact, I referred to it as the Great Western Atrocity — it’s not the only intrinsic evil that’s been advocated in this election cycle. And the presidency is not the only public position in play. So many things are riding on this election, especially in light of AJ Scalia’s passing, that we need to pay attention to the candidates’ stances on more than just one issue.

  • james

    Every year for many decades now the only winner has been the empty result of those who do not vote
    at all. From 1960 to 2014 the average voter percentage was 47.3%. This “silent majority” has been on top even when there was a 61.9 % turnout in 1964 as all votes are split between two parties. Clearly a
    revolution is needed in this area of personal responsibility and will come if a candidate either historical
    or fictional fills that winning void. Anyone is better than no one in this case. A Catholic pure vote would
    result if each Catholic were persuaded to vote for a saint of their choice. The tally would rock the world
    by advocating historical figures (not unlike popes who choose a name) and do absolutely no harm to
    the political system as, as stated, those who do not vote win every year.

    • Guy McClung

      James-Yes!!! Please spread this word of yours: “rock the world” voting !

    • james

      TY

    • James, my father (God be good to him) used to say, “If you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to b**** about the government!” Over the years, I’ve come to agree with him. “Silence gives consent;” to not vote is to consent by silence to whatever kind of government the rest of the people vote in. I like your idea; however, I’m not sure we could pull it off, because we only comprise about 20% of the population. 🙂 Besides, I’m sure the saints would have to be native-born per the Constitution. Perhaps SS. Kateri Tekakwitha and Elizabeth Seton? ;D

    • james

      The object here is to evangelize the public and inspire the candidates to emulate the morals and life of a saint. A Ben Carson type might like the idea of Saint Giuseppe Moscat an Italian saint and physician of the 19th century. Maybe a Hillary type candidate could
      go with Dorothy Day whose fate with abortion she put behind and is now on the road to canonization. Of course, you’d have to be careful of say St’s Augustine and Aquinas who could be tainted with Limbo and the Inquisition respectively, thereby causing secular ridicule should the results show a 5-10% voting preference among the % 20 who could take part in the national survey that follows the next election. The anomaly of a faith based preference for heroes of the past might inspire a new generation of candidates. EWTN could do campaign ads for these saints and caucus and primary each state who’s write-in status would send two messages: these are our ideals and to win you must identify with them. Anyway, it would be at least a five year process to garner the momentum needed to ‘ go out and get that Catholic vote.”

    • james

      One more thing, for this to work the process must be followed to the hilt which
      means in the end Catholics would elect an administration based on what the
      times demand. Say a St Valentine – St Monica ticket sparked imaginations
      based on their lives and dedication to particular corporeal and spiritual works
      of mercy as opposed to a St.Peter – Saint Paul candidacy that might be seen as
      a more Republican ticket bent on regulatory goals. You get the idea. In the end we vote in these saints as Pres and Veep.

  • Guy McClung

    There are no “proportionate reasons” for a Catholic with a well-formed conscience that can be the basis for voting for any Democrat at any level of government. It is always a mortal sin for a Catholic with a well-formed conscience to vote for any Democrat. It can be a mortal sin to vote for some members of other parties, but no other party has become the Party Of Death, The Party Of The Destruction of Marriage,The Party Of Abortion, the Party Of Euthanasia, The Party of RETA, Racially Eugenic Targeted Abortion, The Party of Destructive Embryonic Research, in short using the words of the Catholic Bishops for evils which are and cannot be outweighed by other considerations, THE PARTY OF INTRINSIC EVIL. Mouthing “seamless garment,” “proportionate reasons,” or “we are not single issue voters,” plays right into the hands of shills for the Democrats – and is the reason that campaign after campaign the Pro-Death Democrats get elected with a marjority of the “catholic” vote, re-elected, and control the USA at the highest levels of power. And those levels include the pro-death, pro-homosexual, pro-abortion members of the Catholic priesthood and hierarchy. Guy McClung, San Antonio,. Texas USA

    • Reader Yesterday

      You don’t seem to know your Catholic faith very well if you think voting for a Democrat is automatically a mortal sin. Please have a little charity for your fellow Catholics, and be careful not to place a false burden on their shoulders.

    • Howard

      He also doesn’t know his politics very well. A Democrat from the Deep South is likely to be more conservative than a Republican from the Northeast. West Virginia is not the Deep South, but Joe Manchin’s positions on the issues are better than those of, say, a typical New York Republican — to say nothing of the Nevada GOP, which has removed the pro-life and pro-family planks from their party platform because that’s where they think there party is going. I wonder if Guy McClung thinks there are proportionate reasons for Nevada voters to vote for the GOP at any level?

      The “polarization” of the two parties is all for show and meant to mask the fact that they are both pushing us in the same direction, only at different speeds and with different rhetoric. So, for example, although I would agree that Obama is the worst president in American history, because sees what is wrong with America and does what he can to make that worse, if McCain had been elected, he would have become the worst president in American history — and quite possibly the last, since he seems to to start World War III (and for real, not “piecemeal”).

    • Reader Yesterday

      Interesting, and certainly explains why the Republican candidates are so abysmal. I remember not so long ago voting for the pro-life Democratic candidate over the pro-choice Republican. We must stop voting for the “lesser evil,” I think, and start supporting positive good. Perhaps someday the “doomed third party vote” will be a viable option!

    • Howard

      If I have to choose a party, I find the Constitution Party pretty much OK. They may not get in, but at least they are worth my consideration.

    • RaymondNicholas

      Reader, How do you define a “positive good”? As the author likes—there is some kind of balance sheet that itemizes all the goods on one side and all the bads on the other side and then you see which list is longer, and choose the candidate with the “net overall good” rather than a “net overall bad”? What about considering an intrinsic or pure evil that is understood within the Church’s teaching as worth more than all the attaboys you may bestow on the lessor things?

    • RaymondNicholas

      Your argument is not relevant to the overall issue raised. In a national vote what is key is the party’s platform statement because it affects the party’s approach to law-making in congress and SC selections, how the future P ranks in importance the acts of the executive branch day to day, and the impact on everyone in the country. Hence, voting for the Democratic Party in the national election is a vote for a continuation of evils denounced by the Church. It does not give license to vote for the other party because they too can be a source of pure evil as well, if they make it part of their platform. Locals matters,on the other hand, are bounded by specifics that may not hinge on national politics and cannot be inferred to make national policy.

    • Howard

      Nonsense. What counts is what a candidate can be trusted to do, not the campaign promises made by his party. It’s not just the platform that matters; one must also take into account the history of the candidate and the history of his party.

    • RaymondNicholas

      Nonsense? The candidate represents the will of the people who vote for him. Obama’s platform is the party’s platform entirely; you do not realize that if a national candidate were to go against his party’s platform he could never be nominated. He’d have to go third party. Further, many parts of O’s implementation of his party’s platform are contrary to Church teaching. In effect, he is P because more than half the country believes in him and his party’s platform, and that includes about half the catholics in the county. These catholics have failed their Faith. This is the reason why your point is not germane to the article: it’s that once knowing of a candidate’s position on issues that are contrary to Church teachings, they choose the man over God. It happened with O and it will happen with the hillary or the bernie.

    • Howard

      Yes, nonsense. Perhaps you are planning to vote for someone other than president? If so, be aware that it is not unprecedented for candidates, once elected, to change their party affiliation. Of course, if the office-holder changes to your party, he is a hero, but if to the other party, he is a villain. And, of course, some of them work against their party platforms while still keeping the party name, basically telling the party, “Yeah, I oppose you on 3 of the 20 planks of your platform, but you’ll have to support me anyhow, because the other guy would oppose you on 12 of the 20 planks. I’m the best you’ll get from this state!”

      As for presidential candidates, the one who wins the primaries has a lot of sway in shaping the platform. If a candidate runs away with the primary delegates, but refuses to agree with the current phrasing of the party platform on, say, immigration, which do you think is more likely — that they will chase off a clear winner, alienate his supporters, and go on to a spectacular defeat in November, or that they will compromise the platform to something the candidate can support?

      That, of course, makes assumptions about the honesty of the candidates that are not merited. A very typical thing is that a candidate will have his own set of priorities that may differ from those of his party, or from those he promised during the election. When this happens, he goes through the motions of making a half-hearted attempt to do what he promised the voters, encounters opposition, and then drops his attempt to move on to “more important matters” — until, at least, he needs to convince the voters in the next election that they really must vote for him, because although he only gives them lip service, his opponent will not even do that, the scoundrel!

      How can we know whether a candidate is likely to behave? By looking at his past history. How can we know how serious a party is about its platform? By looking at the party’s past history.

    • RaymondNicholas

      Unbelievable! You are entirely missing my point and the point of the article, and my objections thereto, and the consequences of voting for the party of death the last two terms contrary to Church teaching. There is a great sickness and blindspot in the CINOs in this country, that they would morally justify baby killing and selling the body parts like the experiments of the Nazis and Japanese because other so-called “goods” are achieved, and all you can do is argue with me about how to go about voting for someone. I suggest we end this conversation.

    • Howard

      I see. If I do not vote Republican, I am a Catholic In Name Only, according to Pope St. Raymond Nicholas. Or perhaps, like the fisherman’s wife, he finds that even being Pope is not enough for him, and he has asked to become God, so that he can decide the fates of souls.

      By all means, if you are not able to discuss the matter without judging from the Great White Throne, just shut up. It’s not like you have shown any ability to reason without throwing up the false dilemma of either voting for Obama / Clinton / Sanders or whatever piece of garbage the GOP will serve up. You’re not just thinking in crayon; you’re doing so with only one color of crayon. Your contributions will not be missed.

    • RaymondNicholas

      LOL! You must be a liberal “c” because when libs lose arguments they resort to emotion and name calling.

    • Howard

      Excuse me, but who was it who started the name calling with the ‘CINO’ remark? Sadly, that kind of guesswork is the best you have, and predictably, it is wrong. Again.

    • Phil Steinacker

      Name for me authentic pro-life democrats who have pointedly not cut and run or hid behind false compromise. We’ve seen this movie before when what remained of that elusive group fell apart under pressure of the Obama WH during the Obamacare debates. The truth is that very few candidates – and even among Republicans – prove trustworthy to fulfill their promises, but it is the Democratic Party which is the Party of Intrinsic Evil. This is why the party as a whole must be held accountable for its platform but also its voting support for a slew of intrinsically evil bills and the discretionary actions of the executive branches it controls – all of which stem from the platform in one way or another.

      I welcome Guy’s perspective, as a former Democrat who bolted precisely because that party has become rife with evil from top to bottom.

      Sure, there are well-meaning folks remaining in that party, among them brain-washed seamless garment Catholics, but both they and so-called Catholic Dems in elective office serve evil even in ignorance. I won’t go so far as to say it’s a mortal sin because I lack the authority, but it could be true.

      BTW, being a Republican Catholic is not always satisfying, either – and often not at all. Still, the party is not intrinsically evil like the Dems. I’d like to see a more catholic alternative, but the choice remains with the Party of Intrinsic Evil and a Republican party too poorly influenced by Catholic thinking.

      Given the direction taken by the Democrats in the mid-to-late 20th century onwards, I’d relish anything which would outright rip the heart right out of that party and destroy it.

    • Howard

      Well, there is Joe Manchin, whom I mentioned above. You should be able to Google as well as I can, but not only does he have a 0% rating from NARAL — which is a good start — but you can also read that “Joe Manchin Becomes First Democratic Senator to Endorse 20-Week Federal Abortion Limit” and “Democrat Senator Joe Manchin Says He Will Vote to De-Fund Planned Parenthood. By contrast, Republcan Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is a good friend of NARAL; she voted their way 83% of the time. And how did I pick her? I just went through the list of US senators until I found one from the Northeast, and she was the first Republican I found.

      If you don’t want to trust Joe Manchin, that’s fine with me, just don’t try to tell me that every Republican is on the side of the angels, when it is so easy to find Republicans who are more pro-abortion than their Democratic colleagues.

    • TerryC

      It’s a matter of party platform. The Democratic party platform embraces two intrinsic evils: Abortion and same sex marriage. Any candidate who supports the party platform, and they all do, or why would they be running as a member of that party, therefore are supporters of two intrinsic evil stands that are incompatible with Catholic teaching.
      If a Democrat of the deep south doesn’t support the party platform why are they running as a member of that party?
      There is a substantial difference between a party platform failing to support life or condemning same sex marriage and a party platform that actually supports it.

    • RodH

      This is the point.

      There is utterly no way a Christian can vote Democrat. Period. The PARTY PLATFORM embraces numerous intrinsic evils.

      The reason so many Catholics vote Democrat has little to do with politics and everything to do with faith; that lack thereof by Democatholics who for decades have entrenched abortion etc, in the culture of the USA by continuously voting for those who promote it {and the rest of the intrinsic evils listed above}.

    • In Britain, candidates are bound to support the party platform. Not so in the US. It’s only in the last couple of decades or so that the parties have become ideologically polarized to their current extent. However, that polarization has to be acknowledged; the Democrats are squeezing out pro-life voters and candidates. I still recommend looking at the candidates rather than at the party, because the trees are what make up the forest. However, it’s making less of a difference; and, if the current trend continues, it’ll very soon make no difference at all.

    • RaymondNicholas

      I suggest that you get over the mortal sin thing. It’s a cop out to the larger issue that GM is stating. If you were Christian in the South during slavery and you participated in and/or abetted slavery, did you put your politics ahead of your Faith? If you were Catholic post WWI in Germany and allied with Hitler and knowingly understood and participated in the ensuing atrocities did you put your politics ahead of your Faith? So, at what point, if any, by the author’s reasoning may a disproportionate level or imbalance arise in the good and bad so that a Catholic must choose to deny a political party altogether before he or she participates in pure evil? Never? Rationalizing evil because a good sits side by side is absolute nonsense. I get it–it’s OK to kill babies because you want more gun control. This is the deal: you vote Democratic, you vote for baby-killing. That’s a a fact you will deal with as you approach the Last Four Things. If you stand before God on Judgement Day and He were to ask you, “Why did you kill my babies?” is that something that you wish to take a chance on God asking you?

    • Greg Henry

      Of course, the Republicans got the US deeply involved in the middle east conflict, but this is not a mortal sin since we are largely fighting Muslims. There is no such thing as an intrinsically evil political party… they all have their good points and not so good points – you just have to open your eyes and not be so narrow minded.