The Gospel Truth

Loopholes for Catholics | August 15, 2011

One of my favorite lines is from what maybe an apocryphal scene involving the deathbed of famed comedian, W. C. Fields.

He was said to have been interrupted in his hospital room by a friend who asked him why he was thumbing through the Bible.

His patented response looking for loopholes.

Hope he found some

I am not certain if this is the case with the Catholic Church in America and its United  States Conference of Catholic Bishops, but I often wonder if one of their prime functions is to give a protective salve for the collective consciences of its many liberal and socialistic members who have no trouble in advancing the causes of abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research.

This was true when Cardinal Joseph Bernardin was sitting in the chairman’s seat and professing his famous seamless garment principle that has done more to harm the pro-life movement than anything Planned Parenthood ever could have done on its own.

Left loopholes for Catholic liberals

In 2008 the Catholic bishops have been publishing a document entitled Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.

Ideally this was designed to help Catholics form their consciences in light of the Church’s teachings, so they can make moral and wise voting decisions.

One would also like to think that it was designed to help Catholics find those candidates that resonates a proximity to Catholic moral teaching

Given all the working myths in this country about the so-called separation of Church and State, the Church cannot appear to endorse one candidate or another.

Did this separation ever stop Bill Clinton from singing in a black Baptist choir?

The fact that 54% of Catholics voted for Barack Obama can only lead to the conclusion that nobody took the time to read it or many totally ignored it.

Quite possibly the document was so generally vague that anyone who ever spent an afternoon withJudge Judy could have found an easy loophole to rationalize a vote for the most egregious advocate of unrestricted abortion in America.

Judge Judy - So What?
Enough law for loopholes

Catholic editors Deal Hudson & Matt Smith believe that the latter possibility was at work three years ago and they fear that virtually the same document will be approved at the bishops’ annual Baltimore meeting in November, allowing Obama to profit once again from the Catholic voters, who seem more intent on social justice issues than stopping the fetal death and destruction Obama and his party promote.

As Hudson points out:

 The 2008 version of Faithful Citizenship ccontains several passages (Sections 34-37) that are capable of overly broad interpretation. Groups like Catholics United and Catholic Democrats cherry-picked the following passage from Section 35 for prominent display on their web sites and in their printed materials.

Faithful Citizenship
Full of loopholes

There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons.

They state of course that this would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons,  and not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences.

Anyone who objected to the implication of this passage could have been met with an equally confusing citation from the previous paragraph, Section 34, which states:

A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil.

At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.

What this means is that a Catholic could vote for a pro-abortion candidate as long as he or she did not intend to support his pro-abortion position.

But the very fact of helping elect an individual who supports an abject evil, such as abortion, does in fact support his ability to be elected and further promote his intrinsic evil.

In essence it contradicts its own position.

The bishops add this statement, in making these decisions,it is essential for Catholics to be guided by a well-formed conscience that recognizes that all issues do not carry the same moral weight and that the moral obligation to oppose intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our actions.

While this sounds so very logical and reasonable but it does not hold up under the bright light of scrutiny.

The average Catholic voter is usually not equipped to make these kinds of abstract distinctions.

If the candidate was a racist the bishops would probably make the argument that one belief so poisoned his soul that it would be sinful to vote for him because there was no way he would have a legitimately moral basis in other issues.

But with abortion the bishops don’t seem to see it the same way.

A pro-choice candidate can still be right on all the other humanitarian issues of social justice.

The bishops also say: these decisions should take into account a candidate’s commitments, character, integrity, and ability to influence a given issue.

I believe that if a politician sought election on the bodies and burned flesh of 50 million unborn children, it would tarnish his legitimate concerns for the poor and the indigent.

In essence the liberal bishops strangle on their own logic.

Thankfully not all bishops agreed in 2008.

During the 2008 campaign, many individual bishops attempted to address the confusion of Faithful CitizenshipBishop Robert Vasa, for example, pointed out that voting for a pro-abortion candidate is never justified when the opponent is pro-life.

Working against loopholes

Similarly, Bishops Kevin Vann and Kevin Farrell insisted there are no truly grave ‘moral’ or ‘proportionate’ reasons, singularly or combined, that could outweigh the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by legal abortion each year.

Only those bishops that still hang on to the Bernardin toxin of moral equivalency could dispute this statement.

If the bishops republish the 2008 version Faithful Citizenship for the 2012 election — without changes — they will be providing Catholic voters with enough logical loopholes that will serve as a toxic salve for their consciences.

We all know that President Obama will be pulling for the toxins.



  1. Oh Bill, Catholics will be looking for “loopholes” until forever and unfortunately they are there to be found, especially in Canon Law and as a Sovereign State.
    What can the earnest ones say.

    Comment by L. Newington — August 16, 2011 @ 12:47 am

  2. Boo to the Bishops. They have dropped the ball. Nothing should keep them from speaking clearly and simply. ABORTION IS INTRINSICALLY EVIIL. DO NOT VOTE FOR A CANDIDATE THAT SUPPORTS EVIL IT IS A SIN TO DO SO. Then name the candidates that favor life vs death by abortion. Is that so hard. The wimps!!!!!!

    Comment by Mary B — August 16, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at







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