The Corner

Bishop Sheridan: a Dissent

I regret his statement, Kathryn, because it fails to clarify issues that badly need it. There simply is no authoritative Catholic teaching (or moral norm) that makes it sinful to vote for a candidate who favors legal abortion, as the bishop suggests. Just to take one obvious example: What about the case where there are no pro-life candidates in the race? Is the faithful Catholic obligated to stay home, or write someone in? Behavior in the voting booth can raise issues that need to be brought up in the confessional, and a voter’s failure to take the just claims of the unborn seriously is certainly one of them. In practice, voters may almost always be obligated to vote for the most pro-life candidate available. But you cannot distill a simple rule to that effect. Nor are the bishops’ comments on same-sex marriage helpful. What does he mean when he says that “Catholic politicians who promote same-sex marriage” are ineligible for communion? Almost no politician in America favors same-sex marriage. There are politicians, Catholic and otherwise, who are not prepared to do anything to stop it. Most of the reasons they provide for opposing a Federal Marriage Amendment are, to my mind, misguided. But if their objections are sincerely held, as in many cases they appear to be, they are not sinful even if mistaken.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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