Sunday, October 28, 2012
Since it's now voting season, I thought I would reprint the five non negotiables every Catholic must take into consideration in their voting. The first thing I noticed about the five non negotiables is that not too many heterosexual Catholic men would be ever be effected by them, or engage in them. That's always been my primary concern about the pro life Catholic position on abortion which seems to end at birth. It's way easier to be Catholic when the positions we are asked to take up and defend don't actually effect us. Some would call this 'cheap grace'. I would be one of those.
The negotiable positions, the ones we Catholics can use our prudential judgment with, or disagree with the hierarchy on, are the very ones Jesus spent three years emphasizing in his ministry. They are the hard ones to follow precisely because we are effected by them and have an effect on them. Some of these are waging war, the death penalty, wealth distribution, climate change, and personal rights and human dignity. It's interesting that these are matters of prudential judgment when Jesus lived poverty, was a total pacifist, was denied his personal right to free speech, and was executed for his teaching. On the other hand, Jesus didn't say anything much at all about the 'five non negotiables' which now determine our Catholic creds.
The Church teaches that, regarding a law permitting abortions, it is "never licit to obey it, or to take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or to vote for it" (EV 73). Abortion is the intentional and direct killing of an innocent human being, and therefore it is a form of homicide. The unborn child is always an innocent party, and no law may permit the taking of his life. Even when a child is conceived through rape or incest, the fault is not the child's, who should not suffer death for others' sins.
Another sub-set issue within this subject area that is non-negotiable pertains to Human Reproductive Technologies, which includes the Church’s position against Contraception, In-Vitro Fertilization and Sterilization. (Romney has seriously violated the bit about Human Reproductive Technologies and also taken personal income from Stericycle's abortion waste activities. I don't feel compelled to say too much about the Republican penchant for speaking utter stupidity when it comes to rape.)
Often disguised by the name "mercy killing;' euthanasia is also a form of homicide. No person has a right to take his own life, and no one has the right to take the life of any innocent person. In euthanasia, the ill or elderly are killed, by action or omission, out of a misplaced sense of compassion, but true compassion cannot include intentionally doing something intrinsically evil to another person (cf. EV 73).
(This is an issue which I think is going to become far more prominent in the future, and I am not shocked that in this cycle there has be virtually no discussion of this topic. Check this link for why this discussion must become front and center in US discussions of health care.)
3. Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Human embryos are human beings. "Respect for the dignity of the human being excludes all experimental manipulation or exploitation of the human embryo" (CRF 4b). Recent scientific advances show that medical treatments that researchers hope to develop from experimentation on embryonic stem cells can often be developed by using adult stem cells instead. Adult stem cells can be obtained without doing harm to the adults from whom they come. Thus there is no valid medical argument in favor of using embryonic stem cells. And even if there were benefits to be had from such experiments, they would not justify destroying innocent embryonic humans. (This is a non negotiable that medical science itself is by passing. Perhaps it's time to update the non negotiables.)
4. Human Cloning
"Attempts ... for obtaining a human being without any connection with sexuality through ‘twin fission,’ cloning, or parthenogenesis are to be considered contrary to the moral law, since they are in opposition to the dignity both of human procreation and of the conjugal union" (RHL 1:6). Human cloning also involves abortion because the "rejected" or "unsuccessful" embryonic clones are destroyed, yet each clone is a human being. (I have been unable to find a single politician or political party advocating cloning. This is another one that doesn't belong on such a list.)
5. Homosexual "Marriage"
True marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Legal recognition of any other union as "marriage" undermines true marriage, and legal recognition of homosexual unions actually does homosexual persons a disfavor by encouraging them to persist in what is an objectively immoral arrangement. "When legislation in favor of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic lawmaker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral" (UHP 10). (In a real sense the Church itself opened up this issue when in 1975 it recognized the homosexual orientation as a state of 'being'. Previous to 1975, homosexuality referred to the sexual act of sodomy. Much of the discussion on gay marriage is confusing because of conflating the state of 'being' gay with the act of sodomy, and the additional failure to recognize the difference between sacramental matrimony and civil marriage. In my opinion the Church got ahead of it's own moral theology when it recognized homosexuality as a state of 'being' and now seems unable to deal with the implications. I suspect that confusion can be laid at the feet of Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict. I strongly believe he is acting out his own confusion about his own sexuality through the campaign against gay marriage.)