domingo, 20 de mayo de 2012

Is it a sin to vote for Barack Obama?

President Obama’s public statement that he supports gay marriage is the latest in a long list of attacks that he and his administration have made on religion, life issues, and traditional family values. His aggressive actions and rhetoric aimed at convincing people that “God doesn’t matter” (to use Archbishop Wenski’s words) are without precedent in our country’s history. I won’t go into all the specifics here but, in general, these include such things aggressive pro-abortion and pro-embryonic stem cell research actions, the recent attack of religious freedom, the appointment of two radical pro-abortion Supreme Court judges, and now, an unequivocal endorsement of so-called “gay marriage”.
I have recently been asked by several people whether it is a sin to vote for a person like Obama who promotes policies that are so obviously contrary to Catholic teaching. It’s a question that has to be answered carefully because the Church has always respected the right of people to make choices that affect their lives. However, Catholics also have an moral obligation to form their consciences responsibly, and to act in ways that are consistent with well-established Catholic teaching.
Perhaps the best way to answer the question is to say something about conscience, and to explain the difference between objective sinand personal sin.
Our popular culture often says that people are born neither “good” nor “bad”, but are made so by their circumstances. That is NOT what the Church says. The Church teaches that, because we are made in the image and likeness of God, we are created to do good and avoid evil. This natural orientation to do good is so ingrained in us that even little children watching cartoons can look at the image of a “good angel” arguing with a “bad angel” and know exactly what it means.
The problem is that, because we live in a fallen world, the ability of our conscience to know what is good can often be confused by the errors of our secular culture. It is not unusual, for example, for people who “mean well” to make bad moral choices. How is this possible? Well, because good intentions, in and of themselves, are no guarantee for making good moral decisions.
In his interview, President Obama said that the criterion that guided his decision to support gay marriage was his desire to treat all people with respect. It’s a position that sounds very noble, but has no moral footing. Certainly, we should treat all people with respect. But being respectful is not enough, we also have to be rooted in the Truth.
In his recent visit to Cuba, our Holy Father showed Raul Castro a certain level of respect as the head of that nation, but that did not keep him from pointing out the failures of Communism and calling for reforms. As John Paul II said, the fact that we should respect others does NOT mean that all religions, all opinions, and all points of view are equally valid. Anybody can have an opinion, but not everybody has the Truth. What makes us Catholics different is precisely the fact that our actions are based, not on opinions, but on faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ who IS the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life.
This is what gives us the certitude to know that our moral judgments are valid, and not just one more opinion among many. As long as we remain as “branches on the Vine”… as long as we align our moral judgments with the mind and heart of the Church… we simply cannot go wrong.

That said, let me say something about “sin”. We have all heard about mortal and venial sins (Catechism #’s 1861-1862) But the Church also makes a distinction between objective sin and personal sin. Objective sin is an action that is intrinsically evil, meaning that it is alwayswrong, regardless of circumstances. But, in order for an objective sin to also be personally sinful, the person committing the sin must have knowledge that the action is in fact sinful, which, in our case, is just about all the time. After all, most of us of us have received enough religious instruction to know the difference between right and wrong, and, even a flawed conscience does not excuse us from our sins, especially when it results from laziness, or negligence, or the deliberate avoidance of the Truth. 
However, there may be certain circumstances where people committing actions that are objectively sinful are oblivious to the moral consequences of their actions, such as when two people with no religious formation consider “living together” to be a mere social convention rather than a moral issue (i.e. an offense against Marriage and the Sixth Commandment). The act remains objectively sinful, but may not bepersonally sinful if they truly had no way of knowing the Truth.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church expresses it this way:
If the ignorance [of conscience] is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience (CCC #1793)
With all this in mind, let us consider the original question: Is it a sin to vote for Barack Obama?
Objectively speaking, the answer is Yes!. Many of the actions Obama has already taken, as well as those that are sure to follow if he is re-elected, are intrinsically evil and should be opposed by all people of faith, especially since there is an alternative that, although not perfect, is clearly less offensive than the one Obama proposes.
Whether or not supporting Obama is personally sinful for YOU is not for me to say… that is something you will have to answer for yourself, but rest assured that ALL OF US will one day have to stand before Our Father in Heaven to give an account of our lives, including what we did, or didn’t do, to proclaim the Kingdom of God on earth. And when that happens, those of us who are Catholic will not be able to claim that we“just didn’t know”, or “didn’t understand the consequences of our actions”.
What we can never forget in this discussion is that, even in those cases where a person may be personally excused from guilt because of“invincible ignorance”the evil remains… the abortions will continue, Roe v. Wade will continue to be the “law of the Land”, the assault on the family will intensify, the attacks on the Church and religious freedom will become more bold, and the lie that “God doesn’t matter” will continue to be proclaimed. This is why voting for Obama is indeed objectively sinful.
The Gospel says that more will be required of those to whom more has been given. As Catholics, we have been given the gift of faith, and access to the Light of the Holy Spirit through the ministry of the Church. I encourage you to use these gifts wisely, especially as you consider the choices that will affect our Country over the next four years.

God bless you.
Deacon Joey Carrion

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