In a previous post, I explored the issue of what would constitute a “proportionate reason” to support the candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama, who as of last night claims to have enough delegates to prevail at the Democratic Convention this summer.
Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. of Denver recently addressed a similar issue in his archdiocesan paper. He noted that a group calling themselves “Roman Catholics for Obama ’08″ quoted him as follows:
“So can a Catholic in good conscience vote for a pro-choice candidate? The answer is: I can’t, and I won’t. But I do know some serious Catholics–people whom I admire–who may. I think their reasoning is mistaken, but at least they sincerely struggle with the abortion issue, and it causes them real pain. And most important: They don’t keep quiet about it; they don’t give up; they keep lobbying their party and their representatives to change their pro-abortion views and protect the unborn. Catholics can vote for pro-choice candidates if they vote for them despite–not because of–their pro-choice views.”
Archbishop Chaput notes that this quote is accurate but incomplete. The very next sentences in the article, which Roman Catholics for Obama neglected to quote, provide as follows:
“But [Catholics who support 'pro-choice' candidates] also need a compelling proportionate reason to justify it. What is a ‘proportionate’ reason when it comes to the abortion issue? It’s the kind of reason we will be able to explain, with a clean heart, to the victims of abortion when we meet them face to face in the next life–which we most certainly will. If we’re confident that these victims will accept our motives as something more than an alibi, then we can proceed.”
One can readily see why Roman Catholics for Obama selected the material they did, and also why they omitted the part that followed, which explained “proportionate reason” from the standpoint of eternity. I think Archbishop Chaput’s explanation cuts to the heart of things and allows us to assess the matter without an overly mathematical (and typically partisan) assessment of the various priorities and issues that tend to obfuscate the moral issues surrounding the exercise of one’s right and privilege to vote. For this welcome infusion of clarity, we should all be grateful to the courageous Archbishop of Denver.
For the complete text of Archbishop Chaput’s article, click here.
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