The ethics of communion.

Author:Archibold, John E.
Position::Correspondence - Letter to the Editor

In "Communion & Communio" (Public Square, August/September) Richard John Neuhaus goes wobbly. Although he does not mention Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs by name, that's obviously who Father Neuhaus had in mind when he described as "problematic" the position that not only pro-abortion politicians but also anyone who votes for a pro-abortion candidate should refrain from communion. I have long admired Fr. Neuhaus' courage, articulateness, common sense, and above all his vibrant Catholic faith. On this matter, however, Fr. Neuhaus has strayed from the moral principle that a possible good end cannot be justified by an immoral means.

Contra Fr. Neuhaus and Senator Rick Santorum, I would suggest that knowingly voting for a pro-abortion senator when there is an opportunity to vote for a pro-life alternative is a moral evil. A possible retention of Senate control, and a possible advancement of pro-life legislation, does not excuse the moral evil. The end does not justify the means.

I regret that it is necessary to give an incredibly far-fetched example to illustrate the moral nonsense of Fr. Neuhaus' position. Assume an incumbent United States senator was thoroughly pro-life and yet also supported the rounding up and killing of ten percent of the blacks in Georgia. And assume that the senator in question said that he knew his views on killing blacks had little or no chance of ever coming to pass. Could one morally vote for such a senator under these circumstances? No Catholic, or reasonable person, knowing that senator's views, could morally vote for such a person simply because it would advance pro-life legislation.

Does the Cardinal Ratzinger "loophole" in his June 2004 letter to Cardinal McCarrick, which would permit one to vote for a pro-abortion politician for reasons other than said politician's being pro-abortion, justify Fr. Neuhaus' position? If it does, then someone will have to explain very carefully to me why Andrew Greeley is wrong in saying Catholics can vote for John Kerry. Right now, I am convinced that both Fr. Neuhaus and Fr. Greeley have egregiously misapplied the "Ratzinger loophole," though for substantially different reasons and motives. If abortion is a moral evil, then no one can knowingly support or vote for a candidate who is pro-abortion. This is the simple truth, and the sooner we act upon it the better. I applaud Bishop Sheridan's courage and common sense in this regard. I am afraid that the nuancing by...

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