The Audacity of ….well, let’s just keep it at that, shall we?

Today, the White House issued a tweet that provided the observant reader a couple of very troubling insights into this administration. I present the tweet – quickly (but not quickly enough) deleted for the consideration of the reader….

White House celebrates Mother's Day with an abortion pitch - savor the irony

How is this disturbing? How is it not? Let the Citizen elaborate….

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In God We Trust – our Motto and an Affirmation

“In God We Trust.”

This motto has it’s roots in the work of Francis Scott Key. In the fourth stanza of the Star Spangled Banner was this line :  “And this be our motto: ‘In God is our Trust.'” In 1836 and again during the Civil War, our coinage has been stamped with that motto. In 1883, it disappeared from our coins but between 1908 and 1938, the motto returned to all coinage.

Until 1956, we had no official national motto. ‘E Pluribus Unum’ – Latin for ‘out of many, one’  has adorned our Great Seal since 1782, but it was never adopted in a formal sense – despite the beliefs of such luminaries as Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.Mr. Obama has taken to celebrating diversity over unity by using the ‘out of many one’ slogan.  Ms. Pelosi actually cut the ribbon on a Congressional Museum which proudly displayed the nation’s motto – E Pluribus Unum.  Oh my, I guess she missed 36 USC 302, the Act of Congress that made In God We Trust our official motto.

This act was passed at a time when Americans were probably looking for comfort from God. World War Two levied a tremendous cost on us as a nation and as a people. The mantle of world leadership weighed heavily on us as the only democratic nation capable of supporting a world shattered by years of brutal conflict. And we were a nation facing the rising might of two powerful Godless empires – the communist regimes of the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China.  That silent affirmation – one that many people whose freedom was paid for by American might and American sweat, tears, and blood shared – continues to be a reassurance for many of us.

What’s the problem with God? Well, if you are a democrat, your party leadership seems to think that there is one. This year’s Democratic planning committee has carefully excised any and all reference to God from the 2012 presidential platform. And I have two questions:

Question the first: Why would a political party go to such lengths to remove God from their platform?

Question the Second: How can any Christian in good conscience support this?

I hope that this is something that all Catholics – indeed all people who hold that there is a God in Heaven, whether you call him Jehovah, God, or Allah – consider and pray on their support these next several weeks.  This is not the work of a tolerant party – it is the work of a party that seeks to supplant God with State.

And history has proven that such an act never turns out terribly well for anyone.


Porportionate Reasoning – Putting It all Together…

In a perfect world, we would always have the Robin Hood choice. One one side is the eminently evil antagonist and on the other is the perfectly good protagonist. Such a thing happens only in film and books. None of us are wholly all one or the other – this is one of the consequences of our fall from Grace.

In an earlier essay, I discussed the ‘principle of double effect‘. Well, that’s great in a perfect world, but what do we do when none of our choices are purely good? And they won’t be; we celebrated the Assumption of the last purely good human to walk the earth just a week ago. This is where the doctrine of proportionate reasoning comes into play.

Imagine you have three candidates for president, each with a running mate. Candidate A is largely against abortion, but has supported it’s use in limited circumstances (the ‘health of the mother’ argument’). His running mate is strongly pro-life. Candidate B has a proven track record supporting abortion and his running mate has a 100% approval rating from NARAL.

The Catholic doctrine of intrinsic evil clearly places Candidate B out of bounds. We believe that life begins at natural conception and ends at natural death. If it were a matter of supporting candidate A’s running mate, we would have no moral objections. But Candidate A himself has supported limited use of abortion – something that we cannot accept. Or perhaps he is ambigious about homosexual marriage – another intrinsic evil for Catholics. What to do? Well, there is Candidate C. Candidate C is pro-life and pro traditional marriage and his running mate is even more outspoken on these issues. So, then the only choice a good Catholic has is to vote for Candidate C, right?

Not necessarily.

A vote for Candidate A is a vote for a person who largely – but not totally shares our moral values. Candidate B, through deed and intent, clearly has proven that his candidcy is unacceptable to Catholics. Candidate C agrees with us, but has no chance of winning the election. None. Our final option would be to not vote for anyone. Let’s break this down.

Abstaining to vote. This is inaction, the refusal to accept personal responsibility for doing good when it is possible to do so. That doesn’t work terribly well.

Voting for Candidate C. This is the ‘throwing your vote away’ option. Is it morally wrong? Well, it might be an issue with the principles of double effect in that your vote may increase the likelihood of Candidate B winning the election. Candidate C will never be in the position to do good, and Candidate B will advocate against our beliefs. Candidate A, on the other hand, provides us the likelihood that the good effects will outweigh the evil effects. So, in fact, this option actually violates one of the principles and should be avoided.

Candidate B is clearly not acceptable under several core doctrines.

Voting for Candidate A. Well, he is ambivalent on gay marriage and weak on abortion in some instances. Even if his running mate strongly represents Catholic values, the running mate will not be the president and will not set policy, he will simply support the president and be prepared to assume the office at need. So, Catholics can’t vote for Candidate A under the intrinsic evil and double effect principles, right? Nope – there is a strong justification to permit a vote for Candidate A.

Excuse me, you say? Cardinal Ratzinger provided justification for this in 2004:

“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 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.” – Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Pope John Paul II also provided a powerful argument for Catholics to consider in this election:

“When it is not possible to overturn or completely 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 and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.” Pope John Paul II

These two statements help articulate and frame this concept of proportionate reasoning. By not voting or voting for a candidate who cannot possibly win has no value. Luke 10:30-37, the parable of the Good Samaritan, tells us that we are not called to inaction but good works. So this should never be an option for us as Catholics. To refuse to vote or to vote for a candidate who cannot possibly win also can be countered by James 4:17:

“Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

Another good reading is Luke 16:19-31; this parable discusses the sin of uselessness.So refusing to take action or taking action that has negative consequences is bad.

Luke 3:12-14 is another scriptural justification. The Roman Empire did a lot of bad things to keep the ‘Pax Romana’ and tax collectors and soldiers wanted to know if they needed to quit – in essence, check out of system. John enjoined them to do their job honestly and do no evil themselves. There is an implicit charge that they should use their position to influence the institution in a positive manner.

How can we justify voting for candidate A? Proportionate Reasoning permits it when a couple of considerations are made:

  1. Voting for this candidate will be effective in stopping the candidate whose practices and policies are contrary to our beliefs.
  2. Stopping this candidate will not produce disorders or evils that are greater than the other choices.

This is what Pope John Paul II is articulating when he discusses the use of support to ‘limit the harm done’ and ‘lessening negative consequences’.

Am I thrilled about Mr. Romney? Not really. Many people I have spoken to agree that we would be much more enthusiastic if Mr. Ryan was heading the ticket. But I hope that this essay articulates how we need to apply a full battery of reasoning tools, prayer, and discernment in reaching our decisions.

It sure would be nice if things were black and white – unfortunately the world rarely is this cooperative. So, we have tools to use – if we have the knowledge and the wisdom to apply them. Proportionate Reasoning enjoins us to evaluate what the best choice is when we are confronted with an array of bad choices.

Sometimes, you have to make the best choice. And that’s not necessarily evil. After all, the doctrine of just war allows incredibly violent acts. The Catechism even permits the death penalty in extreme circumstances.  We are sometimes called to walk the fine line.

I hope this essay gives the reader some tools to help them walk it in good conscience.

May God bless you all.


Intrinsic Evil 101 – the Lesson Mr. Obama does NOT want you to learn…

I have noticed a lot of Catholics – including some I know – who ‘like’ Obama for America’ or post pro-Obama links on Facebook and other social media. I don’t get it. The Citizen has discussed these issues before, but a brief reminder might be in order.

Intrinsic evil’ is a term used in the Catechism of the Catholic Church to describe actions or support of those who take actions that are  absolutely unacceptable to the Catholic Church and all those who would remain in communion with it.  Among these actions is the support of abortion or supporting candidates who advocate for abortion. This doctrine certainly precludes supporting Mr. Obama

“But Mr. Obama supports many worthy issues – like immigration reform, healthcare, and welfare!” We can argue about how much these programs are designed to help people in need or how much they are funded in the hopes of bolstering a sagging voter base, but even if Mr. Obama has acted out of pure altruism these past 4 years, his aggressive pro-abortion policies negate the other acts that have positive Christian overtones.You see, despite what George Soros funded groups like Catholics for Obama would like you to believe, social justice issues cannot be weighed against each other like commodities on a balance scale. They claim that this is the case. It is not. Abortion is an inimical evil. Period. You cannot negotiate on this issue.Well, what about Nick Cafardi’s recent post that tries to justify Mr. Obama as more pro-life than Mr. Romney with this ‘telling’ statement?
“Obama’s Affordable Care Act does not pay for abortions. In Massachusetts, Romney’s health care law does.”
Oops. Sorry. Actually the PPACA DOES pay for abortions. Massachusetts pro-life organizations responded with this:
“[the] blame lies solely on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court who ruled in 1981 that the Massachusetts Constitution required payment for abortions for Medicaid-eligible women. In 1997, the Court reaffirmed its position that a state-subsidized plan must offer ‘medically necessary abortions.”
So, the court expanded abortion using this loophole. Mr. Romney had nothing to do with it. Mr. Obama, on the other hand, while a state senator, voted three times against a bill that would protect the life of a baby who survived a partial birth abortion.Mr. Obama cannot be a viable candidate for a Catholic on that instance alone.

Who Do You Serve, Senators?

The Senate defeated, 44-56, HR1, the bill that would have allowed the government to continue spending money. Part of  the continuing resolution (CR)  was an amendment that defunded Planned Parenthood. All Democratic senators voted against the CR and three Republicans sided with the nays. While one can argue that this was moot – Mr. Obama had already stated that he would veto this CR because it cut Planned Parenthood’s funding – a line has been drawn on this debate. Mike Lee, Jim DeMint, and Rand Paul joined the pro-abortion camp with their vote on this issue – a decision that may haunt all three.

Kentucky is lukewarm at best in terms of supporting abortion, requiring waiting periods, parental notification, and limits on state aid for abortion. Three days ago (March 7, 2011), the Utah State House passed three laws advancing the cause of life in that state. One requires more frequent inspections of clinics, another provides stronger conscience clause protections for doctors and nurses, and the third allows insurance companies to ‘opt out’ of paying for abortion procedures. While these bills face challenges in the Senate, the victories indicate that Utah supports the pro-life cause. Finally, South Carolina has strong limits on abortion that are being scrutinized by a number of states interesting in curbing the excesses of Planned Parenthood and substandard clinics.

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid joined the president with a staunch and absolute resolution to kill this CR.  When the Citizen thinks of Nevada and abortion, I recall Algis Martell. Martell was an abortionists in the mid-90’s who actually performed abortions on women who weren’t even pregnant – and charged handsomely for the procedures. Even today, Nevada abortion clinics enjoy very strong support from their state and federal legislators.

This leads to an important question. Do the interests of NARAL and Planned Parenthood outweigh the interests of the nation as a whole? The CR passed the House with a vote of 235 to 189. It funded to the government, and also restored the Mexico City policy, ended abortion funding in the District of Columbia, and cut funding the UNFPA (a UN agency that may have paid to support ‘one child family‘ abortions in China).  Adding amendments to spending bills is a tactic that the democratic party is adept at – their largesse in tacking earmarks on vital spending bills these past 4 years is legendary. At least Mr. Pence and the republican majority in the House didn’t pad their pockets with pork with their amendments.  Indeed, the terms of the amendment listed above are altruistic, representing the values of the authors of the amendment, those who voted in support of it – and more importantly – reflecting the values of their constituents. And isn’t that the ultimate responsibility of our legislators – to represent those who have entrusted them with their office?

Mr. Obama has strong ties with the abortion industry. In fact, he just added William Daley, a staunch supporter of abortion, and a so-called ‘pro-choice Catholic’ (there is no such thing, Mr. Daley) to his team as his new Chief of Staff. The Obamas invited Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, to the White House to celebrate International Women’s Day. And the list of former PP and NARAL employees who have positions in the Executive Branch is lengthy. Mr. Obama is perfectly content to allow the United States to suffer to support his pro-abortion position.

Harry Reid enjoys a 100% approval rating from NARAL – he too would rather serve the interests of the abortion industry. Why? Well, they surely helped get him re-elected. His ardent support of the PPACA and his opposition to the Hyde Amendment made him popular with the pro-abortion base in Nevada. Reid defeated the ardently pro-life Sharon Angle by some 6%; some of his victory due to his manipulation of the Hispanic vote, but a strong effort by Planned Parenthood helped tip the scales as well. Mr. Reid knows that he needs to keep his masters happy…even if the nation suffers.

In the end, the CR HR1 failed – and if Mr. Obama was to keep his promise – it was doomed to fail. It does provide the Catholic and pro-life voter some insight. We see who is willing to fight for the legislation that reflects the will of the majority of voters – who are prolife. We see that the amendments they add are not the self-serving pork barrel earmarks that have long been the hallmark of liberals. Three months ago, Reid defended nearly 10 billion dollars in earmarks in a lame duck spending bill. And now – when a bill that would have kept government services running for all Americans could have been passed – Mr. Reid and his democratic majority in the Senate decided that their pro-abortion special interest sponsors were more important.

I believe that the prolife movement helped change the face of state and national government lat November. I believe that in the next presidential election cycle, the lines will be drawn even more clearly. As a Catholic, I believe that abortion is wrong. I believe that my tax dollars should not support abortion or any organization that will use my money to perform abortions as part of their ‘services.’ We can support agencies and organizations that provide services to the needy without taking life. I believe that doctors and nurses should be able to exercise their conscience. I believe that if Planned Parenthood wants to perform abortions, they can raise money from private donors…just like Birthright, CareNet, and countless other agencies. Or – if abortion is so important to these doctors – they can waive their fees and perform abortions for free or out of their own pocket.

I believe that when it comes down to serving the needs of the nation and the needs of a special interest with a couple of billion dollars in the bank….it should be a ‘no-brainer.’

So, take a look at how your senators voted on this bill. Who did they serve with this vote?