Cardinal vote for pro-abortion candidate not sinful

A leading Italian expert on church law said Catholics are not necessarily sinning if they vote for a candidate who supports legal abortion.

Catholic News Service reports that Cardinal Mario Pompedda, the retired head of the Apostolic Signature, the Vatican's supreme court, said Catholics might find sufficient reasons to consider such a candidate a "lesser evil" in a field of imperfect choices.

The cardinal made the remarks in an interview published yesterday in the Rome newspaper La Repubblica, following a discussion at the Synod of Bishops on the question of Communion, politics and human life issues.

Cardinal Pompedda said that while the church punishes the act of procuring abortion with automatic excommunication voting for a candidate who supports legal abortion is an indirect act that should be viewed differently.

"I would be cautious in applying the word 'sin,' which implies intentionality. It would be more accurate to speak of risk or imprudence," he said.

"Of course, whoever votes for a 'pro-abortion' candidate assumes a responsibility, but it does not necessarily involve sin as an immediate consequence," he said.

The cardinal said a Catholic voter might choose such a pro-abortion candidate as a "lesser evil, when there are no candidates who respond more fully to his scale of values. He might choose him, let's say, for other aspects of his (political) program that the voter supports."

Catholics who do vote for such a politician might carry out their own pro-life responsibilities in other ways, for example, by working against abortion through political or cultural initiatives, he said.

However, the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care has argued that Catholics cannot, in conscience, support a politician who favors legal abortion.

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan also made his remarks in an interview with La Repubblica. He was responding indirectly to an intervention by Archbishop William Levada during the discussions of the Synod of Bishop. Archbishop Levada - the US prelate recently chosen by Pope Benedict XVI to be prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - had asked other prelates to reflect on the question that had divided the US hierarchy during the 2004 election year: How bishops should respond to Catholic politicians who support abortion.

"A Catholic cannot support a politician who presents abortion as a general norm," said Cardinal Lozano. The Mexican prelate added that "a son of the Church cannot consider himself to be in full communion if he supports what the Church condemns."

A Catholic voter, the Vatican's "health minister" continued, should discriminate among the issues on the political agenda. An informed voter, he said, "should know how to distinguish between what represents an attack on life and what promotes the defense of life." He added that a Catholic voter can never be justified in supporting "what constitutes an attack on life."

Cardinal: It's not automatic sin to vote for pro-abortion candidate (Catholic News Service 6/10/05)
Catholic politician cannot support abortion, prelate says (Catholic World News 5/10/05)

7 Oct 2005