Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Explaining "Faithful Citizenship"

Last month, John L. Allen Jr. of National Catholic Reporter wrote about a conversation with Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta before he addressed the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, offering a “send-off” to participants heading to Capitol Hill for meetings with members of Congress.

The archbishop, a former president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that it was not the intent of the U.S. bishops in their recent “Faithful Citizenship” document to suggest that Catholics who vote for a pro-choice candidate are automatically placing their salvation in jeopardy. Here is a portion of the article:
Issued last November, "Faithful Citizenship" has been the object of a flurry of competing interpretations in recent days, as it has seemingly become clear that once again Americans will be faced with a choice at the presidential level between a pro-life Republican and a pro-choice Democrat.

In a Feb. 23 op/ed piece in the Washington Post, former [National Catholic Reporter] Washington correspondent Joe Feuerherd summarized the message of “Faithful Citizenship” this way: “Tap the touch screen for a pro-abortion-rights candidate, and you’re probably punching your ticket to Hell.”

Gregory, however, said that’s not what “Faithful Citizenship” teaches.

“Defending the right to life is obviously a primary concern,” Gregory said. “It’s the point of departure for everything else.”

Nonetheless, Gregory said, it is “at least possible” that a Catholic who carefully weighs the issues could decide that, on balance, a candidate who is not explicitly pro-life is preferable to one who opposes the legalization of abortion but who does not share Catholic positions on other matters of moral importance. Gregory was speaking in the abstract, without reference to any specific candidate.

In that sense, Gregory said, “Faithful Citizenship” cannot be reduced to an absolute obligation to vote for a pro-life candidate, regardless of his or her stances on anything else.

“It’s a complicated document,” Gregory said. “It suggests that people have to think hard about their choices.”

The entire article is available here.