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Vote for Supporters of Abortion Never Justified: Vatican Official
John Thavis
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Monday, November 1, 2010
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Cardinal-designate Raymond L. Burke, who heads the Vatican's highest tribunal.
VATICAN CITY (CNS)—A U.S. Vatican official said voting for a political candidate who favors legal abortion can never be morally justified.

Cardinal-designate Raymond L. Burke, who heads the Vatican's highest tribunal, made the comments in an interview with the U.S. advocacy group Catholic Action for Faith and Family. A video of the comments on abortion were posted online in late October, a few days before the U.S. elections Nov. 2.

"No, you can never vote for someone who favors absolutely what's called the 'right to choice' of a woman to destroy human life in her womb, or the right to a procured abortion," he said.

"You may in some circumstances where you don't have any candidate who is proposing to eliminate all abortion, choose the candidate who will most limit this grave evil in our country, but you could never justify voting for a candidate who not only does not want to limit abortion but believes that it should be available to everyone," he said.

Cardinal-designate Burke said Catholic politicians who support legal abortion were perfect examples of "scandal" -- leading the faithful into moral confusion or error.

He said he was talking about "Catholics who would betray their Catholic faith in political life, legislators or judges or whatever it may be, leading other people to believe that abortion must not be the great evil that it is, or that abortion is in fact a good thing in some circumstances."

In 2004, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger—now Pope Benedict XVI, and at that time the Vatican's top doctrinal official—wrote a memo to U.S. bishops on the issue of politicians and Communion. In it, he briefly addressed the question of voting for candidates who support legal abortion.

The memo said a Catholic who deliberately voted for a candidate precisely because of the candidate's pro-abortion (or pro-euthanasia) stand would be guilty of "formal cooperation in evil" and should exclude himself from receiving Communion.

It said that when a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favor of abortion but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered "remote material cooperation," which is "permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons."

Vatican officials later said that defining what constitutes "proportionate reasons" for a Catholic in such cases might be extremely difficult. One possible example, they said, was when Catholic voters face a choice between two candidates who support legalized abortion but to widely differing degrees, and do not want to renounce their responsibility to vote.

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