Necessary or Free?

Sentences of Peter Lombard, Book One, distinction 6

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Prima Pars, Question 41, Article 2

You must fix in your heart that the Lord is God in the heavens above and the earth below, and that there is no other. (First Reading, Trinity Sunday)

Ready for a question that cannot be answered? It has to do with the foremost object of our affections. First a little background.

One single, almighty, infinite God. Three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Perfectly one. But the Son is not the Father. How? How is the Son not the Father? Well, the Son proceeds from the Father. How is the Holy Spirit not the Father, nor the Son? The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

Continue reading “Necessary or Free?”


voting_machine_jokeTo vote is to choose. All the individual voters make their choices, and the Republic elects a president. Sometime in the next few hours, we will know how this election turned out.

It pertains to our dignity as intelligent, discerning adults to make our choice as voters. We are blessed to live in a land where we have this duty and privilege. This is the heart of American freedom.

Everything in this world, though, is imperfect. Politics is imperfect.

Let us cast our minds, then, to the eternal Election Day, the day of the divine election.

From all eternity, unto all eternity, God Almighty has chosen. He has made His election. He has voted. He has chosen to love us.

We did not choose this. We did not choose to exist. We did not choose to be redeemed by the Precious divine Blood. We did not choose to be called to heaven.

God chose. God voted. He marked His ballot with His blood. Who did He vote for? Us.

Election Day 2008 in America is certainly important. We cast our ballots with sober awareness of everything that is at stake. But the eternal election day matters more.

It is an act of freedom for us to cast a ballot. It is an even greater act of freedom to submit to the choice of God.

It is very important who wins the presidential election in the United States today.

But let’s not forget who won the Election on the eternal Day of Christ. We did.

Is There a Choice?

I think that everybody knows that I vote pro-life. No issue could be more grave than the protection by law of the innocent, defenseless unborn. I will vote pro-life until Roe v. Wade is overturned, until the day when, as the director of Vitae Caring Foundation Carl Landwehr put it in a speech I heard him give the other night, “abortion becomes unthinkable.”

As someone who shares in the shepherding ministry which the Lord entrusted to the Bishops of the Church, I hold myself responsible for clearly teaching not only that abortion is an evil of enormous gravity, but also that the right to life of the innocent unborn must be a part of the fundamental plan of any truly just society.

Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas, formerly of Washington
Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas, formerly of Washington
Considering all this, you would think that I would applaud the recent letter of our former Auxiliary Bishop Kevin Farrell, now Bishop of Dallas, and his brother Bishop Kevin Vann of Ft. Worth. These bishops spell out the morality of voting with admirable clarity.

They assert something, however, that I am afraid to say I do not think is true.

The Bishops carefully explain that the right to life of the innocent unborn is not a matter of prudential judgement, not something that can be weighed against other considerations. It MUST be decisive. Yes. I applaud the making of this crucial point. Thank God. This takes courage.

Then the Bishops go on to write that: “To vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or ‘abortion rights’ when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in the evil—and, therefore, morally impermissible.”

Bishop Kevin Vann of Ft. Worth
Bishop Kevin Vann of Ft. Worth
Now, morally impermissible means what it says it means. We cannot do morally impermissible things. If we do morally impermissible things knowingly and freely, our souls are in danger of damnation.

One can cooperate in evil in one of two ways, either materially or formally. Someone who vacuums the carpets in a medical office building where a doctor performs abortions participates materially in those abortions. But unless he intends to support the work of doing abortions by vacuuming the carpet, he does not formally cooperate. He might just be trying to earn a living, and this is the only job he could find. It is not a good situation, but at the same time it is not ipso facto a sin on his part.

If someone’s material cooperation in evil is “remote,” that is, not closely connected to the evil, then they do not bear moral responsibility for the evil.

Remote participation is permissible provided the person does not intend to be a part of the evil business. I could sin by intending to cooperate with something evil even if had practically nothing to do with it. An absurd example: If I planned to take a trip to a particular city BECAUSE they allowed same-sex “marriage” in that city, that would be a sin. But it is not a sin to go to San Francisco to see the Golden Gate Bridge.

Anyone who votes for a pro-“abortion rights” candidate participates materially in the evil. But if the voter does not vote for the candidate for this reason, but rather votes for the candidate for another reason, he or she does not formally co-operate with abortion. I would think that the material cooperation of a voter in an election for the President of the United States is certainly far enough removed from actual abortions themselves to qualify as “remote.”

Therefore, it is morally impermissible to vote for a pro-abortion candidate BECAUSE he is pro-abortion. Likewise, it is negligent to vote without considering the gravity of the right to life of the innocent, defenseless unborn. But I think that it is incorrect to say that anyone who votes for Obama commits a sin.

It is clearly a sin to vote for him because he supports legal abortion. But there are other reasons why people might choose to vote for him. I do not claim to sympathize with those reasons; I would be delighted to argue them calmly.

I think people ought to vote for the more pro-life candidate.

But I am NOT telling anyone how to vote. My point is exactly the opposite. We HAVE to avoid committing serious sins. But we do not HAVE TO vote for one candidate or the other. What we have to do is to stand before God and do what we believe is right.