instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

You keep using that term "intrinsic evil"

Kristin of The Catholic Realist has produced her own, relatively brief, Catholic voter's guide:
  1. Use all the resources at your disposal (not just what the pundits, bloggers, or your friends are saying) to truly form your conscience.  Examine Church teaching, pray for guidance, and talk with a spiritual director.
  2. Prayerfully and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and through your informed conscience, discern who you think is going to do the least moral harm.
  3. Vote, or, if your fully formed conscience deems it necessary, Don’t Vote.
(And, unlike some producers of voter's guides, she shows her work.)

I could quibble (I can always quibble), but on the whole I'd say this guide is good enough for civics work. Here I just want to pull on one throw-away line from the post. After quoting Bishop Lori --
"Are any of the candidates of either party, or independents, standing for something that is intrinsically evil, evil no matter what the circumstances? If that's the case, a Catholic, regardless of his party affiliation, shouldn't be voting for such a person."
-- and Bishop Paprocki --
"A vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy."
-- then listing some of the many actions or behaviors the Church teaches are intrinsically evil, Kristin concludes with the observation:
Not to mention that as lying makes the list of intrinsic evils, I’m fairly certain that I cannot vote for anyone who has ever run for political office.
This is a joke, of course, but it prompts me to ask, "Why shouldn't lying disqualify a candidate from office?"

Not a single act of lying, necessarily, but the habit of lying. If someone repeatedly manifests behavior that is contrary to the virtue of truth-telling, that is inconsistent with an interior appetite for the natural good of signifying with words and gestures that which he holds to be true in his mind -- in short, if someone is a liar, then how can he be fit for public office?

The answer, I suppose, is, "He's not, but the other scoundrel's an even worse liar."*

I don't find that a satisfactory answer, and each time I hear some outrage against the truth, followed by a blithe "and I approve this message," I am the more determined to support no liar with my vote.

* Well, the actual answer is more likely to be along the lines of, "Look, Mr. Holier-Than-Thou, Jesus isn't running. There is no perfect candidate, so stop making the perfect the enemy of the good. The bishops say we can vote for less than perfect candidates. If we couldn't vote for a liar, wouldn't the bishops have said so?

"Besides, the other scoundrel's an even worse liar."

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