Abortion and Catholic voting duties

charles camosy abortion

Carl Anderson, leader of the Knights of Columbus, is undeniably a polarizing figure.

Directing what he calls “the strong right arm” of the Church, he is a champion for many conservative Catholics for many of the same reasons the Catholic left considers him deeply problematic.

One major, longstanding reason for such polarization is his prioritization of abortion as a uniquely important political issue.

At the Knights’ international convention last week he suggested no other issue could outweigh abortion in our political considerations, given that it is “killing on a massive scale.”

Anderson also appeared to claim that Catholics may not vote for a pro-choice politician.

“It is time to end the entanglement of Catholic people with abortion killing,” he said.

“It is time to stop creating excuses for voting for pro-abortion politicians.”

His statements have drawn the ire of left-leaning Catholics such as Anthony Annett atDotCommonweal.

Annett asks “Why is abortion such a unique category?” and expertly demonstrates problems with appeals to concepts like non-negotiability and intrinsic evil.

But Anderson make his reasoning quite clear as to why he thinks abortion deserves unique consideration: millions and millions and millions of horrific killings. One million every year.

On this score, Anderson is surely correct.

No other issue comes close to the importance of abortion because no other issue is dealing with the actual, real-life slaughter of the most vulnerable on this scale.

These are children who, Pope Francis reminds us, have the face of Christ as the paradigmatic example of the least among us.

Though Anderson didn’t mention it, another reason abortion deserves unique standing is because of how many millions of women are explicitly and structurally coerced into it.

Abortion on demand was created by men to serve the interests of men.

Feminists for Life reminds us that another important evil of abortion is that it violently exploits women as well.

Speaking frankly, the Catholic left has been grossly negligent when it comes to taking the gravity of massive abortion violence seriously.

Other proportionate reasons

It’s one thing to acknowledge the complexity of the issues and reject GOP solutions to the problem. But it is quite another to simply sit by in silence as the Democratic party is taken over by what I call “abortion-is-awesome” extremism.

Though Anderson is absolutely correct about the unique status of abortion, he is absolutely incorrect if he is claiming Catholics have a moral obligation to avoid voting for a pro-choice candidate.

Back in February I wrote a piece arguing that Catholics may vote for Bernie Sanders, and much of that argument applies to Hillary Clinton as well.

This is not “making excuses,” but simply following the reasoning of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who in his previous role as head of the CDF, said:

“When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favour of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation [with evil], which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.” Continue reading

  • Charlie Camosy is Associate Professor of Theological and Social Ethics at Fordham University, where he has taught since finishing his PhD in theology at Notre Dame in 2008.
  • Image: Vimeo
Additional reading

News category: Analysis and Comment.

Tags: , , ,