The letter was released in the context of the 2004 American Presidential election addressed to a senior prelate in the American church. It said:
A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate's permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons(emphasis added).
For example, say Joe Biden ran against someone who promised to nuke China. Obviously it would not be a sin to vote for Biden in that circumstance, because stopping nuclear war is a proportionate reason that makes material cooperation in the evil of Joe Biden's presidency acceptable.
Consequently, it would be an error to say that it is categorically a sin to vote for a candidate who is pro-abortion.
However, the proportionate reason, obviously, must be proportionate, and very little is proportionate to the deaths of millions of innocent children.
As for the sin of remaining silent on the issue of abortion, clearly if you have a relative, for example, who you know is contemplating an abortion, and you have sway with her but do nothing to dissuade her, you are to some degree complicit in that abortion. On the other hand, you are under no obligation to take out a home equity loan and max out your credit cards to fund billboards or some other campaign denouncing Joe Biden for his pro-abortion stance.
The bottom line is, if your conscience tells you to max out your credit cards and mortgage the house to not remain silent on the issue of abortion, or that the drawbacks of a second Trump term are not proportionate to the evils of a Biden presidency, that is your prerogative, but do not go judging the intentions and hearts of other Catholics for what you perceive to be their state of sin.
Naturally we must do our best to inform Catholics that Biden is radically pro-abortion and that this is a very serious reason to consider in making a choice, but we cannot tell others that they are guilty of mortal sin if they vote for Biden. The Church simply does not back that up. If you believe to the contrary, feel free to enlighten me with the evidence from official Church documents.
Finally, I recommend the Faithful Citizenship document offered by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
Thank you for your prompt and informative reply. I'm concerned that less than 25% of Catholics believe abortion is wrong.
Will the Church ever work on informing its flock of the evils of abortion and the Democrat's stand on abortion?
I heard the so-called priest, James Martin, compare the Democrat stance on abortion to the Republican stance on immigration. That Catholics must decide which is worse.
Killing a million babies a year compared to safe borders doesn't seem proportionate to me.
Killing a million babies a year and forcing Catholics to pay for it seems far worst than any items in the Republican platform. The Church is as silent on Joe Biden and abortion as it has been on sexual abuse. Such silence is a sin.
Would Christ be silent on this?
It is sin to support abortion or politicians who openly advocate for it.
If not corrected by their superior, Priests who do so will suffer the same judgement by our Lord.
Here in the Boston archdiocese such an incident happened in the last week or so and the Cardinal had to make a public statement condemning such actions, albeit he did so in a general statement, not singling out the particular scandalous priest (though we do not know whether he made a private phone call.)
A public apology was then made by the priest, but I doubt he had an internal conversion.
If we compared abortion to Nazism then it would be obvious what to do: Don't vote for the Nazi. The problem is that this holocaust goes almost unseen by society — a true blindspot.
We can only pray our leaders wake up.
If one supports abortion through ones acts or silence, is that a sin?
voting for Joe Biden, or
not speaking up against:
Joe Biden, or
James Martin: a so-called priest speaking at the Democratic National Convention in support of Joe Biden.
Yes, it is a grave sin. Period! Faithful Catholics have to be Pro-Life active in this culture.
Addressing Eric's answer: One could argue that the number of people killed by some future president who nuked China would be far less than the number of infants killed in a mother's womb since Planned Parenthood was founded. So much for proportionate reasons.
Eric said: Naturally we must do our best to inform Catholics that Biden is radically pro-abortion and that this is a very serious reason to consider in making a choice, but we cannot tell others that they are guilty of mortal sin if they vote for Biden. The Church simply does not back that up. If you believe to the contrary, feel free to enlighten me with the evidence from official Church documents.
I will have to disagree with my colleague Eric, though I'm not arguing the proportionate reasons part of his answer.
If a Catholic only has two pro-abortion candidates to choose from, they are encouraged to vote for the less radical pro-abortion candidate rather than the more pro-abortion candidate. This assuming there is no pro-life candidate running for the same office.
We just differ on whether the criteria is there for committing a mortal sin. That said, we obviously leave everything up to God's Judgment, not our own.
1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.(Mark 10:19) The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.
1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God's law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart (cf. Mark 3:5-6; Luke 16:19-31) do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.
1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.
1861 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God's forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ's kingdom and the eternal death of Hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.
Hope this helps,
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