Dr Pravin Thevathasan writes — Fr Thomas Reese is a well known member of the liberal faction of the Jesuits. He writes :
“A Catholic Republican can vote for Trump even if his policies promote racism or subject immigrants to subhuman living conditions, as long as the voter’s intent is not to support these positions. A Catholic Democrat can vote for Biden even if his policies promote abortion and gay marriage, as long as the voter’s intent is not to support these positions.” (Religion News Service, September 15, 2020)
On the face of it, this statement appears fair and balanced. But is it true?
Does Biden promote abortion and gay marriage? Yes, he does. How do we know? Because he has said so. In his private life, he may be the most pro-life politician ever. There may be no one more personally opposed to abortion than Biden. I do not think this for one moment. But that doesn’t really matter. What matters is: will he promote pro-abortion policies? Yes, he will.
Does Trump promote racism? No, he does not. How do we know? Because he has not said so. In his private life, he may be the most vile, despicable racist you can ever imagine. He may be as bad as the mainstream media make him out to be. I do not think this for one moment. But that doesn’t really matter. What matters is: will he promote racist policies? Is he intending to bring back segregation? Has he put forward policies whose intentions are to make one race superior to another?
So far, we have reflected on what Father Reese has to say about moral decision making. Now let us turn to what the Catholic Church teaches. The Church teaches that we cannot vote for politicians who promote intrinsically evil acts and make them stage centre in their campaign, even if they promote other causes in keeping with Catholic social teaching. Abortion is an intrinsic evil. So is racism. They are objectively evil and can never be justified, whatever the intention. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: when judging the morality of human acts, it is an error to consider “only the intention that inspires them…one may not do evil so that good may result from it.” (1755) This is the teaching of the Catholic Church and the teaching of Thomas Aquinas.
I think that Reese is much too optimistic about the moral formation of Catholics currently in America. I suspect that most Catholics voting for Biden are not at all unhappy with his pro-abortion record.
So we have a choice. Trump or Biden? Thomas Reese or Thomas Aquinas?
But whoever wins, let us not put our trust in politicians. They can only do so much. What really matters is promoting a culture of life to the best of our own abilities. And we need to pray for more Church leaders like Cardinal Burke and Bishops Strickland and Schneider.
And for more Jesuits like the late Fr Paul Mankowski.