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Students gather to weigh faith, politics

Irena Zajickova | Thursday, September 18, 2008

Some people consider abortion to be the only issue of importance in the upcoming presidential election, Notre Dame Law School professor Gerard Bradley said Wednesday during a politics-centered Theology on Tap at Legends.

The Catholic vote is important in the nation’s swing states, said Bradley, who specializes in the study of law and religion. The night’s topic was “Faith and Election: Voting with your Catholic Conscience,” and during the talk Bradley explained two of the major Catholic perspectives on the abortion issue.

Bradley said many Catholics think the right to life is the underlying factor to consider when voting because it is the precursor to all other human rights, an “indispensable core to a decent society”.

Another position on the subject, Bradley said, proposes that although human life does begin at conception, this belief is private and should not be imposed on others. Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden has this view, Bradley said.

The pluralistic outlook on abortion leads to two different attitudes regarding voting for a pro-choice candidate, Bradley said.

The first view will lead a voter to the conclusion that he or she cannot take Church teachings to heart and still vote for a presidential candidate with a pro-choice ideology. The second view contends that Catholic voters should not deny a pro-choice candidate their vote simply because that candidate is pro-choice, and that supporting a pro-choice candidate is possible if there is a proportionate reason to do so.

Bradley argued that many Church teachings should be studied during the voting process, and voters should choose the candidate that will promote the common good the most. Voters need to look at the big picture, he said.

“Is it OK to accept the status quo on abortion in order to bring about the other changes that a candidate promises?” Bradley asked the audience.

After a brief pause for refreshments, the audience was given the opportunity to ask Bradley questions regarding faith and politics. Among the topics discussed were ways to lessen the need for abortions, the candidates’ views on the war in Iraq, and whether Catholics have a moral obligation to vote in the election.

The topic of the next Campus Ministry-hosted Theology on Tap discussion will be announced at a later date.