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Debating the “Catholic’ vote

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, October 30, 2003

Let me address Peter Quaranto’s charge, in his Oct. 29 column, that pro-life Catholics who vote Republican do so on utilitarian grounds. Although the fact that millions of innocent American children have been killed in the womb provides a compelling incentive to oppose abortion, there are many non-utilitarian reasons to vote Republican.

Respecting the life of all human beings, especially the unborn, is the cornerstone of what it means to be pro-life. If you accept the Catholic premise that human personhood begins at conception, then abortion must rank amongst the most heinous of crimes against humanity. It is the murder of the most defenseless and innocent people in our society. The Church’s teaching on this issue is very clear. Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.

An intellectually honest Catholic should also carefully consider his or her position on the death penalty. However, the Church concedes, that “the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human life” (Cathechism, 2267). Reasonable people can disagree about whether capital punishment can be justified in modern society. However, one must acknowledge that the potential evil of killing a criminal convicted of the most brutal crimes pales in comparison to the egregiousness of murdering innocent persons through abortion. A good Catholic prays for an end to both of these practices. But, given the choice between two evils, capital punishment is by far the lesser.

Quaranto is right in encouraging Catholics to support candidates who consistently uphold Christian teaching. In the meantime, we should not throw our vote away on obscure third-party candidates who have no chance of winning. Instead, we should vote for candidates who will promote, however imperfectly, the culture of life. our vote may not mean the difference between heaven and hell, but it is certainly a matter of life and death.

T.G. Arandaclass of ’95Oct. 30