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September 29, 2006


Jeff Miller

The Catholic League already has a release on the "Common Good" voting guide which appear to be another relativistic one for why you can vote for pro-abortion politicians.

"There’s the moral equivalency: it’s okay for a Catholic politician to give a green light to a practice that kills a baby who is 80-percent born, just so long as he’s against trans fats."



Yup. Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good doesn't pass the sniff test...

Jack Smith

Unless you regard the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Catholic Theological Society of America, Servive Employees Int'l Union or John Kerry's "religion advisor" as reliable guides to Catholic teaching, you should take a pass on the Catholic Alliance.

Christopher Sarsfield

This is a case of tweedle dee and tweedle dumber (Catholic Answers and Catholics in Alliance for the Common God). The CDF released a document entitled "DOCTRINAL NOTE on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life" This document is addressed "in a particular way, to Catholic politicians and all lay members of the faithful called to participate in the political life of democratic societies." Of course the problem with the document is that it can not fit on a bumper sticker. Any "Catholic" voter guide should base its particulars on this document's principles. Unfortunately, I do not think any do. My advice to any Catholic voter would be to read this document in a prayerful way, and try your best to renounce your preconceived notions of "liberal" and "conservative" or "democrat" and "republican". Finally, remember that voting is a matter of prudence, and men of good will can disagree on the most prudent course in these complex times. The doctrinal note can be found here: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20021124_politica_en.html


A voter guide that focus only on abortion and gay marriage, whiile ignoring torture, war, and poverty is a useless guide for committed Catholics.

A pro-life candidate on abortion who supports torture is not pro-life in the sense of the "culture of life" and shouldn't get the votes of candidates.


I simply won't vote for candidates who do not commit themselves to the fundamental pro-life causes; once they've done that, then if one is more 'Catholic' than the other e.g. with regard to the minimum wage or the regulation of military conduct during wartime, I have a choice. The 'common good' makes very little sense as a political goal unless it is understood that some goods are more basic than others. People these days cannot abide hierarchies of any kind, celestial, political or social. (Not that there aren't some salient and useful observations in the Catholics in Alliance voting guide.)

Joe C

I'm generally more of a "Catholic Answers" guy these days, but is gay "marriage" really on par with the life issues? The other four involve taking innocent human life, which I would agree should likely be non-negotiables.

Brian Day

A voter guide that focus only on abortion and gay marriage, whiile ignoring torture, war, and poverty is a useless guide for committed Catholics.

OK. I'll bite.

Torture: agree. Has any politician come out openly for torture? Who has run on a pro-torture platform?

War: The Church has never said that war is intrinsically evil. So is there a "Catholic" position that covers all position? That's why the Church says that the decision to go to war is left to the competent local authority.

Poverty: How many politicians advocate keeping people in poverty? There is no "one-size-fits-all" policy on poverty. Men and women can legitimately disagree on how to deal with this issue.

This is why "serious" guides only talk about non-negotiables. Everything else is prudential with many legitimate ways to deal with issues.


Leadership at Catholics in Alliance for the Common God is part of the Democratic Party. This looks like a clear violation of the seperation of church and state the Democrats are always pushing and should be looked at very closely by the IRS. Note the info after each name in leadership

Catholics in Alliance Staff
Alexia Kelley, Executive Director

One of the less-publicized hires at the Democratic National Committee is its new religious-affairs director, Alexia K. Kelley, who replaces the Rev. Brenda Bartella Peterson. Mrs. Peterson resigned after The Washington Times reported on Aug. 4 that she had supported an effort to remove the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.

Alexia Kelley, director for religious outreach for the Democratic National Committee, said Mr. Kerry's policies reflected overall Catholic teachings.

Chris Korzen, Communications Director
Catholic Democrats of Massachusetts

The organizers offer special thanks to the following individuals for their assistance and contributions: Chris Korzen

To organizers like Chris Korzen, however, the Nov. 2004 Republican election victory capped the “snowballing misappropriation of the Christian message--concern for the least among us got lost in the moral values agenda.” Korzen is the executive director of Catholic Democracy Institute and a graduate of the Weston Jesuit School Theology in Cambridge, Mass.
Korzen prefers not to discuss the group’s electoral plans, but a Christian Democracy Institute job announcement specifies expertise in creating mail and fund-raising databases.

Eric McFadden, Field Director
ERIC MCFADDEN (Member, Knights of Columbus and John Kerry Supporter): I'm trying to give a voice to Catholics so that they can stand up and say, "I am a Catholic Democrat, and I'm proud, and these are the principles that I believe in."

Eric McFadden – Chairman
Ohio Democratic Catholic Caucus

Eric McFadden, chairman of the Ohio Catholic Democratic Caucus,

Christopher Sarsfield


You should send a quick note to the Pope and inform him that the Doctrinal Note from his Congregation was not serious. So if something is not serious, does that make it a joke? Catholic Answer's guide is a joke or the Doctrinal Note of the CDF is a joke? Boy Brian I can see how you would have a hard time deciding that one.

BTW when it comes to torture we use the Church's definition not the President's. The President and many politicians are advocating torture according to the Catholic definition in the Catechism.

With regard to war, we can all agree that prudence is involved, however, we can ask the candidates if they accept the Catholic Church's teaching on the conditions for engaging in a just war. This question would also knock out many "pro-life" candidates.

Finally, if we extend pro-life to include cases of rape, incest and abortifacient contraceptives, this would also eliminate most "pro-life" candidates such as the President, who has bragged about his increasing spending for "contraception" in the third world. Unfortunately, Fr. Pavone should be head of priests for the Republican Party. He says that if someone advocates abortion, they should automatically be disqualified, yet the President advocated abortion in the case of rape and incest, as well as abortifacient contraception, yet Fr. Pavone had no problem supporting him. Does the Catholic Alliance back the Democratic Party, you bet they do, but the Catholic Answers and Fr. Pavone do the same for the Republican Party. Just so you know I voted for no candidates from the two political parties in the national races in the last election. I did not want any culpability for putting either party in power.


Just so you know I voted for no candidates from the two political parties in the national races in the last election. I did not want any culpability for putting either party in power.

Then by your "inaction" you may have allowed the greater evil to take power.

My parents are Democrats and they are good Catholic people. They are Democrats of the stripe that made their appearance in the 40's and 50's. These were good people, with concern for the plight of the poor and downtrodden.

The Democratic party of today is not recognizable by the standards of the Democratic party in the 40's and 50's. This is why I'm Republican.

That having been said, should the Democratic party do a 180 on their life and family issues, I would vote for them in a heartbeat. But the reality is, I need to vote to lessen the evil of whatever elected position I am voting for. If that means I have to hold my nose and vote for a "big business Republican" who is against ripping a third trimester baby from her mother's womb, that's what I'll have to do.

There are varying levels of pro-life, and pro-choice. If there are two pro choice candidates, I need to vote for the one who is against partial birth abortion, even if he or she supports first trimester abortion.

If it's a anti abortion and pro abortion candidate, then the choice is easy regardless of the political party.

Voting for a third party candidate who has no chance of winning is like casting half a vote for each of the major party candidates.

Abortion is evil all the time. War is not evil all the time. Poverty is not evil all the time. That's why abortion is called "non negotiable".

Raul Alessandri

I thought that McBrien had retired. This has a Cuomical smell.

Fr. Andrew G. Bloomfield

My comments are mostly addressed to Christopher, but I know many folks agree with him (my parishioners among them). Politics, as you rightly say, is a matter of prudence. Prudence admits of many possibilities, but not every possibility. But I'm actually quite curious to understand the true motivation and direction of your argument, which at the moment, I do not.

Clear thinking in these matters is difficult, because of the enormity of the problems that face our culture. We don't need to look just at abortion -- it's the entire culture of death, from contraception and homosexual "unions" to euthanasia and embryonic stem-cell research. But we can authentically extend this abuse of the human person to things like pornography, one-night stands, "shacking-up", divorce; and then even further, to more personal choices like immodesty, selfishness, and sin at any level.

No politician will be free from sin; no politician is Plato's noble "philosopher-king"; we must pray for saints among our leaders, such as St. Louis IX, St. Wenceslaus, and St. Edward the Confessor. But in our system of government, our own striving for sanctity isn't enough; we are likewise commissioned to work for the true common good.

Nevertheless, we cannot support politicians who openly advocate and campaign on issues or causes which are based on an intrinsic evil. Hence, a politican in favor of direct abortion, who has voted for it in the past, recieves money from pro-abortion PACs, isn't a legitimate candidate. By what logic could a Catholic vote for him (or her)? So, too, with embryonic stem-cell research (and "cloning"), gay "unions" of any sort, and euthanasia.

There are other issues of importance facing our culture today: how best to protect our nation from her enemies; how to ensure the true balance of powers between the three branches; how to educate our children; how to care for the poor; how to stabilize and enrich our economy; how to secure our borders and control immigration; and the list continues. These issues certainly touch upon fundamental truths of the nature of the human person, and yet can be addressed in a variety of ways.

I would very much like to understand the logic of a counter-argument. I understnad the desire of those to vote for much more "idealistic" candidate, but prudence also suggests that voting for someone who could win would be a wiser use of the vote.

And most of these issues are moot, anyway; what is needed is a reformed judiciary. Allow the judges nominated to be voted on -- and restore the lawmaking to the legislative branch. This is the heart of the political debate, and the least reflected upon. The judiciary is the key.


The comments here have gotten attention



A candidate's position on abortion/euthanasia are matters of primary concern to me in voting, as they have been for years. Nevertheless, that matters like abortion, gay marriage (and contraception and legal embryonic stem cell research and in vitro fertilization, etc., etc.) are MORALLY "non-negotiable" does not mean that they are POLITICALLY "non-negotiable."

In this regard, the Catholic Answers approach thus mixes moral apples with political oranges and gravely distorts and over-simplifies the actual and complex moral choices voters face. In fact, although some matters are personally non-negotiable because intrinsically wrong (one may never engage in such conduct), they are subject to prudential POLITICAL judgments just as other moral issues that involve prudential moral judgments.

Otherwise, for example, we would have to disregard a candidate's wish to (in his prudential judgment) surrender to jihadist Islam because he wants to make abortion a crime. Or disregard his prudential judgement unjustly attack Iran because he favors criminalizing abortion.

Moreover, even non-negotiable moral issues become prudentially irrelevant if nothing practical will be done politically about them. For example, no one suggests that a candidate's position on contraception or embryonic stem cell research (personal moral non-negotiables) must be translated into political advocacy for criminalizing these practices in the present circumstances. We are having enough trouble just trying to keep the government from funding these practices, and could not succeed now in any attempt to through people in jail for engaging in them.

Further, if one, in exercising the virtue of prudence and avoiding the vice of imprudence, deems some political activity -- such as a war or some form of cheating workers out of wages (a "sin that cries out to heaven" as much as sodomy) -- to be immoral, then it would be just as wrong to support such policies through voting as would be to support abortion in this manner.

Finally, some matters, in the balance, may be just as grave as legal abortion. Who would argue that to vote for a genocidal Pol Pot or an advocate for initiating unjust or imprudent war isn't just as serious as for someone who opposes criminalizing abortion? And stopping the State from perpetrating a moral wrong is usually more morally obligatory than compelling the State to right a moral wrong. Otherwise, a politician who, for example, fails to criminalize sodomy is as guilty as the politician who favors legalizing gay marriage.


I understnad the desire of those to vote for much more "idealistic" candidate, but prudence also suggests that voting for someone who could win would be a wiser use of the vote.

Perhaps. Where I'm at with all of this at this particular point in time is wondering if the Republicans, say, figure that they don't have to take pro-lifers seriously, since we are certainly not going to be voting for pro-abortion politicians. So from their perspective, maybe all they need to do is mouth the proper platitudes, take our votes (lesser of two evils and all that) and do whatever they want. They can play to the moderates who might swing either way, and leave us hanging. It's possible that after a bit of this, there will be even less difference between the two parties and we will have even less hope of politically achieving any of the sorts of changes we'd like to see.

Of course, I while I think that trying to make changes in the political arena is a good thing, I don't think that we should be expecting that if only we elect the right president or Congress, or whatever, that that will solve all or even many of our problems. However, I do think that it's possible to let Republicans (or any other party) know that they do have to take pro-lifers seriously or they will lose our votes. If the only way that they will learn that is by losing an election, then maybe it's worth a short term loss in order to achieve a long term gain.

I don't know, really, but we always talk about all the evil things that will happen if the Democrats are back in power again, and all the good things that can happen if we elect another Republican, but more and more it seems to me that most Republicans have no real interest in doing the things that we would want because we are essentially powerless, politically, and they know it.

Anyhow, just me thinking out loud, about the things that have been running around in my head of late. And so while I understand voting for the electable lesser of two evils candidate, I also sympathize greatly with voting for the perhaps unelectable but truly pro-life candidate, if only to send the message that we won't be used, and here is what we really want.

Morning's Minion

All members of Congress who voted for last week's bill voted for torture, and sold it on consequentialist grounds. Rememer, these "alternative techniques" (I love the Orwellian euphemism) were used in Soviet gulags, by the Imperial Japanese, the Viet Cong, and the Khmer Rouge. This is as non-negotiable as it gets.

I would very much like to know what Catholics Answers refuses to put torture on their list of non-negotiables. This "guide" says it selected the five issues because they "involve principles that never admit of exceptions and because they are currently being debated in U.S. politics". Sounds to me like torture counts. I've sent them 2 e-mails, but no answer yet. Then again, a cynic might say their voter guide is a not-so-subtle attempt to tell Catholics they should vote Republican. Hmmmm....

Karl Keating

Christopher Sarsfield wrote:

"Does the Catholic Alliance back the Democratic Party, you bet they do, but the Catholic Answers and Fr. Pavone do the same for the Republican Party."

I won't presume to answer for Fr. Pavone, but I can say that Sarsfield's comment, with respect to Catholic Answers, is false.

Neither Catholic Answers nor its political action affiliate, Catholic Answers Action, "backs" any particular candidate or party, nor do the groups oppose any particular candidate or party. Our voter's guide names no names.

Sarsfield does himself no credit by claiming as true something that easily can be shown to be false: To see for yourself, visit our web sites, catholic.com and catholicanswersaction.com.

Christopher Sarsfield

Dear Mr. Keating,

If you follow the thread it was said that the Catholic Alliance guide could have been written by the Democratic Party, and I mentioned that the Catholic Answer guide does the same for the Republicans. When your first guide came out, I did not make that claim. For I read that you did not vote for either Kerry or Bush in the presidential election. I also remember you saying that you would have put torture in the last guide, but no candidate that you knew of advocated torture. Of course with the recent debate concerning torture, this is a hot issue, and the only I reason that I can see that you left it out was that it would complicate things for "pro-life" pre-dominantly Republican candidates.

Finally, I have no doubt that your legal counsel or that of the other organizations with voter's guides is so incompetent as to put your 501c3 status in jeopardy. Obviously, the discussion was about what is between the lines. Do you imagine that the Catholic Alliance voters guide names names. We all know that your organization if forbidden from endorsing a party or candidate. I also could not imagine that you would have any problem with my directing people to the CDF's DOCTRINAL NOTE on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life, if they wish to read a more substantial and official guide for how to vote, even though it does not make mention of your non-negotiables.

Christopher Sarsfield

Dear list,

In my last post I mentioned that Mr. Keating said he would have put torture in his last guide but he knew no candidate that advocated it. On further reflection I believe I am wrong, I think he used the example of racism and not torture. I apologize to the list and Mr. Keating on this mistaken point.

Morning's Minion

Dear Mr. Keating:

If your group is not leaning toward the Republican party, as you claim, can you explain your selection of the 5 non-negotiables, which (to say the least) stack the deck in favor of one party and against another? I have no problem with the fact that 4 of the 5 deal with crucial issues of life, which take precedence over other social justice issues, but this is not the case with gay marriage. An important teaching, sure (as are all Catholic social teachings), but certainly nowhere near abortion in importance.

But, as others have pointed out, torture is the key issue. Now that the House and the Senate have basically endorsed torture based on consequentialist reasoning (gutting Geneva Common Article 3 protections), and given how "non-negotiable" this is for the Church (Gaudium Et Spes ch. 27 lists it right after murder, abortion, and euthanasia), I expect that you will now add this to your own list of "non-negotiables" given that this is now a pressing issue in public discourse.


Morning's Minion, I'm amazed that you think Catholic teach on Gay Marriage is not legitimately a non-negotiable issue suitable for the Catholic Answers' Voters Guide. The Catholic Church teaches that the family is the fundamental unit upon which all other social orders are built. If you succeed in destroying the family, everything else will come crumbling down.

That aside, the Church has unambiguously taught that Catholics must oppose legislative and judicial efforts to re-define marriage.

Regarding torture, it is NOT the key issue because no one is supporting torture. I agree that the Church unambiguously opposes torture as an intrinsic evil which may never be permitted. What the Church has never done, however, is define what clearly constitutes torture. President Bush and the Republicans have never supported torture. Instead, they support certain forms of coerced interrogation which can hardly be considered torture. At Abu Ghraib, prisoners were humiliated. Even this, which I think would be a real stretch to call torture, violated American law and the soldiers that did this were prosecuted. The interrogation procedures at Guantanamo Bay are much less serious even than this. If you think playing loud music and interrupting the sleep cycles of prisoners is torture, then I guess we'll have to disagree. But until the Church teaches with its magisterial authority that such practices are torture (something I'm sure it will never do), then torture is not a legitimate election topic.

Morning's Minion


You are a victim of the Republican Orwellian language. We are talking about torture. Waterboarding is torture. Hypothermia and cold cells constitute torture. "Stress positions" are torture. These were the very techniques favored by the Soviet Union, the Khmer Rouge, teh Viet Cong, and the Imperial Japanese. Yes, the sort of people conservatives used to condemn in no uncertain terms. How times have changed. Of course, we are talking about an administration that defined torture as death or serious organ failure. You seem to think that Catholics can play these mental games and think they are not supporting torture. Think again. Go to Mark Shea's site for an honest Catholic appraisal of the torture situation.

And, let you forget, Jesus the Christ was the victim of "stress position" torture before his judicial murder.

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