GUEST COLUMN

Forming consciences for faithful citizenship

BY MSGR. DANIEL S. HAMILTON

Before you vote in November, please consider this: two radically different choices face voters in the 2012 national elections.

THE FIRST CHOICE endorses a “right” to the killing of innocent pre-born human beings — ABORTION. And down the line, this “right” will likely be extended to the killing of persons, usually of advanced age or incurably ill, judged useless or a burden, financial or otherwise, to society and therefore who should be eased out —EUTHANASIA — and to the assisted killing of adult persons who because of their incurable illness or serious disability want to die and want a physician to help them die — ASSISTED SUICIDE.

This choice also embraces the already approved medical destruction of human embryos; the manufacture of human beings, the forced provision of insurance for contraception, sterilization procedures and potentially abortifacient drugs — the HHS mandate affecting most religious health, higher educational and social units. The latter calls upon us to RENOUNCE OUR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY.

Finally, this choice gives strong support to the legal and social sanction nationwide of HOMOSEXUAL, SAME-SEX “MARRIAGE.” Citizens are being asked to trash the 1995 Defense of Marriage Act, overwhelmingly passed in the Congress and signed by the president. Can one identify greater basic human values founded in the natural moral law that we would be trashing by making such a choice?

Priority Issues

Virtually all these goals, objectives, policies, and procedures gravely violate natural moral law, the precepts of which our human reason reveals to us when we reflect on our own experience and our relationships with others. What is intrinsically evil can never rightly be chosen.  No circumstances can make such actions right; they are always wrong.

To vote for persons who have supported or, if elected, their records show, will support, authorize and promote such evils is a grave misjudgment of our duties as faithful citizens. Consciously choosing to support such actions by voting for such candidates would be seriously wrong. Faced with such evils and, perhaps, additional ones down the road, we have no choice but to reject their supporters.

THE SECOND CHOICE, the right choice, is to vote for candidates who, in the main, firmly uphold the inviolability and dignity of innocent human life, human dignity in all its stages, from fertilization to natural death, the givenness of marriage and family life in the natural order and the precious gift of religious liberty and respect for conscience.

To act otherwise would be positively to endorse what does already or will in the future injure the common good by terminating innocent human life, violating human dignity, the authentic meaning of marriage and family life and the precious values of religious liberty and the right of conscience.

Other Issues

But some will object: This is true, but in an election there are other important issues in addition to these basic ones.  Yes, party platforms identify scores of major issues to which government should give attention. But these other issues are of a different category.  They are issues or problems, the solution to which depends on constantly changing facts or data and call for different judgments at different times in response to different circumstances.

Issues, for example, like foreign affairs, our involvement with foreign wars and conflicts; nuclear armaments; aid to developing nations, the creation of jobs, affordable housing, health services, educational facilities, immigration, reducing the huge national debt — on all these issues well-intentioned and informed citizens can and do differ as to the best solutions and policies to follow. Ordinary citizens and government officials make prudential, not necessarily inerrant decisions on what is the best course of action to follow. These decisions may have to be altered as circumstances change.

Natural moral law respects these diverse judgments of citizens and government officials on the issues just mentioned and does not seek to identify one solution as the only one.  In such cases natural moral law can set forth only principles that ought to govern solutions. It is up to government officials and citizens to identify concrete solutions to such problems. But when genuine evils, even if only permissive, become entrenched in the civil law, it is very difficult to uproot them. For example, once permissive abortion, the killing of the pre-born child, was sanctioned by law, it has proved difficult, almost impossible to remove it.

Conclusion

Please reflect on this radical difference between the choices in this coming election; and on the basic moral issues, vote only for those candidates whose platform and record are in accord with the natural moral law. Other issues, which also have important moral dimensions, but are more affected by changing data and by personal judgment on a variety of factors, cannot take priority over basic issues of the natural moral law.

Msgr. Daniel Hamilton is pastor emeritus of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Lindenhurst, and a former editor of The Long Island Catholic. This article first appeared in the parish bulletin of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.