Catholics and voting for Obama: Abortion dilemma is more complicated

Tue, 08/26/2008 - 3:01pm
By: Letters to the ...

In the correspondence from Trey Hoffman in the Aug. 15, 2008, edition of The Citizen, he addressed the subject of abortion and Barack Obama, and states that it is not okay for a Catholic to vote for Obama because of Obama’s position on the matter.

Mr. Hoffman’s position brings to mind the last presidential election and the Democrat nominee John Kerry, a Catholic who favored abortion rights as set forth in Roe vs. Wade. Could a Catholic vote for John Kerry?

Addressing this subject, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (currently Pope Benedict XVI) was quoted in 2004 as saying that a voter was free to support a candidate who does not oppose abortion if the voter believes a candidate’s position on other issues outweighs his or her stand on abortion.

At the time, Cardinal Ratzinger was head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. Significantly, the statement by Cardinal Ratzinger was made over a year after he had written and disseminated in January of 2003 the Vatican’s position on Catholic politicians who vote against the Church’s position on issues such as abortion; namely, the politician cannot allow any division between public and private morality and remain faithful to the Church. With the follow-up statement in 2004, Cardinal Ratzinger was acknowledging the complexity of the issue for both the politician and the voter.

Most Catholics would agree with Mr. Hoffman’s detestation of abortion, especially when undertaken on demand, regardless of reason. Catholics can surely put the topic of abortion (e.g., overturning Roe vs. Wade) at the top of their priority list, but Mr. Hoffman is wrong when he poses as “the” moral theologian telling Catholics that they cannot vote in good conscience for Barrack Obama.

Greater moral weight can be given to abortion, but this weight is not necessarily of such import as to override other issues of moral concern.

Mr. Hoffman notes other issues where he disagrees with Obama. I would suggest that Catholics examine all issues and not make this a one-issue election. Yes, they may even think that Obama is the best candidate and vote for him.

Robert Clark

Fayetteville, Ga.

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