By Father KENNETH DOYLE
Q. I am a cradle Catholic and practice my faith regularly. But the current national election strikes me as tumultuous and problematic. One candidate is pro-choice and the other claims to be pro-life. But the pro-life candidate has no problem casting out immigrants who want to enter our country. Catholic voters seem to have no place to go. If a Catholic votes for a pro-choice candidate because, overall, he thinks that person would be best for our country, is that Catholic wrong and could he be denied holy Communion? (Atlanta)
A. Critical guidance for Catholic voters has been provided in a document called "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship." In the current version, approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2019, your question is addressed directly.
The document says: "A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who favors a policy promoting an intrinsically evil act, such as abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, deliberately subjecting workers or the poor to subhuman living conditions, redefining marriage in ways that violate its essential meaning, or racist behavior, if the voter's intent is to support that position" (No. 34).
But it goes on to explain that "there may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate's unacceptable position even on policies promoting an intrinsically evil act may reasonably decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons" (No. 35).
The document notes that "when all candidates hold a position that promotes an intrinsically evil act, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods" (No. 36).
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Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org and 30 Columbia Circle Dr., Albany, New York 12203.