01 August 2008

Archdiocese to Hold Conferences Explaining Archbishop Burke's Pastoral Letter on Voting

From the St. Louis Review:

2 Archdiocesan offices explaining Abp. Burke’s pastoral on voting

by Joseph Kenny, Review Staff Writer

Two archdiocesan offices have teamed up to give presentations on the Church’s teachings on civic responsibility — choosing government representatives who will best serve the common good.

The Respect Life Apostolate and the Human Rights Office are accepting invitations to give presentations on Archbishop Raymond Burke’s pastoral letter, "On Our Civic Responsibility for the Common Good," issued in 2004.

"Lee Gooch (director of the Human Rights Office) and I decided to work together to promote the Church’s teachings on voting," said Christina Heddell, director of the Respect Life Apostolate.

The first step was to give presentations to priests and deacons at their regular deanery meetings, using a summary of the pastoral and an answer sheet to frequently asked questions about it.

Archbishop Burke was the leader of the archdiocese until his recent appointment to a position at the Vatican. An administrator, Bishop Robert Hermann, was elected to carry on his duties until a new archbishop is named.

In the 2004 pastoral, Archbishop Burke stated that "We are morally bound in good conscience to choose government leaders who will serve the common good. The first priority of the common good is the protection of human life, the basis of all other social conditions."

There can never be justification for directly and deliberately taking innocent human life: abortion, destruction of human embryos, euthanasia and human cloning, he wrote.

Legal recognition of same-sex relationships undermines the truth about marriage and sanctions gravely immoral acts, he stated. "For the sake of common good we must safeguard the good of human life and the good of marriage and family life."

The death penalty and war are different from procured abortion and same-sex "marriage," since these latter acts are intrinsically evil and therefore can never be justified, he noted. "Although war and capital punishment can rarely be justified, they are not intrinsically evil."

He added that it is never right to vote for a candidate in order to promote immoral practices since "this is ‘formal cooperation’ in evil." In some circumstances it is morally permissible for a Catholic to vote for a candidate who supports some immoral practices while opposing other immoral practices — permissible under certain conditions and when it is impossible to avoid all cooperation with evil.


A responsibility exists to Christianize whatever party a person affiliates with, she added. "You need to take these principles to the party; so your loyalty is to the Church, not the party."

The concept of "intrinsically evil" also has generated conversation, Heddell said. "Some things always and everywhere are wrong. Other things involve principles that should be applied, but faithful Catholics can come up with two different positions."


Archbishop Burke points out the responsibility to participate, she added. "Some people want to just throw up their hands and say, ‘It’s too hard, there’s not a perfect candidate.’ No one agrees fully with Catholic social thought, but the archbishop makes a very clear case that it’s not a good excuse for choosing not to participate."

Heddell reminded Catholic voters to "employ your conscience and prudential judgment to do the best you can with the information you have."

She said people need to make this consideration in all elections, not just the presidential elections.

The full text of the archbishop’s letter is available online in the archives section of the Review website, www.stlouisre view.com. For information on obtaining a paper copy of the pastoral or to set up a presentation call the Respect Life Office at (314) 792-7555.

Presentations will be held throughout the fall, including one at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 20, at St. Cletus Parish, 2705 Zumbehl Road in St. Charles.

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