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"Double Standard" Update

Vatican Once Again Implies Catholics May Vote for Kerry

by Christopher A. Ferrara

In a deplorable addendum to his letter to the American bishops on whether pro-abortion "Catholic" politicians should be allowed to receive Holy Communion, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), opened the door to Catholic votes for John Kerry when he added:

    N.B. 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 favour 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.

Now, obviously, there can be no "proportionate reasons" to justify voting for a candidate who takes what Ratzinger called "a permissive stand on abortion," for no politician’s promise of this or that benefit can outweigh the lives of the innocent unborn. The key phrase "permissive stance", however, was apparently aimed at defusing the Kerry scandal, which is what prompted the Vatican’s letter in the first place.

Is one being unfair to Cardinal Ratzinger by inferring that he has opened the door to Catholic votes for Kerry? I do not think so. Consider the recent statement by the undersecretary of the CDF, Fr. Augustine DiNoia. On October 19, 2004 Fr. DiNoia publicly denied that the CDF had in any way approved a letter to Marc Balestrieri, an American lawyer who has filed a canonical complaint for heresy against Kerry and had sought the CDF’s opinion on whether Kerry is a heretic.

The letter, from a Domincan priest, Father Basil Cole, had stated that "if a Catholic publicly and obstinately supports the civil right to abortion, knowing that the Church teaches officially against that legislation, he or she commits that heresy envisioned by Canon 751 of the Code of Canon Law and is excommunicated. Fr. Cole began his letter by stating that he been asked "to respond unofficially" by none other than Fr. DiNoia.

DiNoia, however, said that any suggestion that the letter was "a Vatican response is completely without merit," according to a Catholic News Service report on October 19. Apparently under pressure from DiNoia, Fr. Cole declared to CNS that "I have no relationship to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ... and the letter that I wrote to Balestrieri was purely private."

Now here is where the plot thickens. In the same story, CNS quotes an unnamed Vatican official who declares: "No, Kerry is not a heretic." The unnamed official goes on to say: "There are three distinct questions involved. Is Kerry a heretic? Is Kerry an 'obstinate sinner' because of his support for legalized abortion? Can a Catholic vote for Kerry? Even if one answered ‘yes’ to the second question, he said, it would not mean the senator is a heretic, nor would it oblige Catholic voters in all situations to vote against him."

So, Catholics are not "in all situations" (what is that supposed to mean?) obliged to vote against Kerry. Since the phrase "all situations," like Ratzinger’s "proportionate reasons," is not explained, the Vatican has essentially left Catholics free to vote for John Kerry as they see fit. By a deliberate use of ambiguity, two Vatican officials have left the way clear for Catholics to cast their votes for a divorced and remarried apostate who favors the mass murder of children in the womb and would not even vote in favor of a ban on "partial birth" abortion.

But, while it bobs and weaves on Mr. Kerry, the Vatican apparatus is very forthright in telling us not to support the work of Father Nicholas Gruner, a faithful Marian priest. Only one day after 9/11, the Vatican press office announced to the world that no one should attend Father Gruner’s conference on world peace in Rome.

Votes for Kerry? Maybe yes. Support for Father Gruner? Definitely no. Such is the double-standard of the post-conciliar Vatican, and such is the crisis in the Church today.