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One Quibble with Faithful Citizenship

As mentioned below, I am glad that the bishops did not decide to re-open debate on the "Faithful Citizenship." But, the document does include one very unfortunate focus that is, frankly, somewhat strange coming from bishops who have a host of theologians upon whom to draw for expertise. The document speaks of the specialness of those acts which are "intrinsically evil" as especially repugnant when considering for whom to vote.

The fact that something is intrinsically evil does not tell you whether or not it is a ripe subject for civil legislation. The more significant consideration is whether or not an evil is grave. For example, masturbation is intrinsically evil, but driving while under the influence is not. I would submit that it would be foolish to outlaw the former and that we are right to make the latter illegal.

I have the suspicion that the introduction of the term "intrinsically evil" was intended to differentiate between abortion and the death penalty. There is, in Catholic teaching, no circumstance in which an abortion is permitted but there are circumstances when, conceivably, the death penalty could be employed. Those circumstances, I should add, do not in fact apply in the United States. But, again, the key issue is whether an evil is grave, not whether it is intrinsic. There are hundreds of things which are intrinsically evil and many of those things would not be appropriate for civil legislation. It would be nice to see this corrected in future iterations of the document.

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July 18-31, 2014

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