Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Campaigning and Voting for Permissive Abortion Laws Place the Politician in an Objective Situation of Grave Sin, i.e., Manifest Grave Sin

It is clear from the last post that the traditional moral teaching, presented in the earlier posts, prevails regarding the role of the minister in the administration of Holy Communion according to the 2004 letter of the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. In fact, the future pope’s statement is utterly congruent with and reaffirms traditional moral principles on the administration of Holy Communion and the minister’s responsibility. The statement includes the pastoral element of meeting with the offender and instructing him or her on the recipient’s duty not to approach reception of the sacrament until the objective situation of sin is remedied. The instruction given by Cardinal Ratzinger precisely outlines the steps which must be taken if when the politician is in an objective situation of grave sin. This is an instruction to the ministers of the sacrament and it is precisely the kind of action which must be taken if the minister, himself, is to avoid the sins of immoral cooperation and scandal. The conclusion that one must make, following upon the statement is unmistakable: In keeping with the minister’s moral duties regarding the administration of the sacraments, he must deny the Holy Eucharist to those who do not remedy the public situation of sin created by campaigning and voting for permissive abortion laws.

When Cardinal Ratzinger wrote that letter, he characterized the sin of the Catholic politician who campaigns and votes for abortion as formal cooperation in the grave sin of abortion. In this case, the cooperation of the politician in abortion is the issue. This is an important point. A formal cooperator is one who agrees with the immoral act, either in the intention (the motive for having an abortion) or the object (the abortion as a means to an end) or both, of the person or persons who are the principal agents of the grave sin of abortion. According to the principles of cooperation, the formal cooperator is equally guilty of the sin as the principal agent because the cooperator adopts the evil outcome of the principal agent’s actions as his or her own. Thus, the politician who formally cooperates by consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion laws is guilty of all the instances of the sin of abortion that he or she seeks to permit through the campaigning and voting for the permissive laws. The critical factor for the minister of Holy Communion is that these sins are "manifest" by virtue of the public nature of the activity in the political life of the state. The minister has the right and the responsibility to take cognizance of this manifest state of sin.

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