(2016) Proportionality and Voting: What Is Non-Negotiable?

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Election 2016 Commentary

By Colin Donovan, EWTN, November 8, 2016

Colin Donovan, STL, is  vice president for theology at EWTN.

Editor’s note: This column is from the Oct. 30 print edition.

Things can get a little more complicated, however, when considering a “pro-choice” candidate who has a seemingly Catholic-friendly basket of negotiable policy issues. Here is where two important words enter into the conversation: negotiable and non-negotiable.  One of the questions that Catholic voters often ask is how to navigate the potentially treacherous waters of moral theology when it comes to voting. We are all obligated to form our consciences properly, and that is easy to employ when faced with a candidate who clearly promotes policies and ideas in direct contradiction to the most important teachings of our faith, such as abortion and the destruction of authentic marriage.

In an important letter to the U.S. bishops’ conference in July 2004, just before the presidential election that year, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the future Pope Benedict XVI, wrote: “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.”  …

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