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Petition to Bishop of Stockton

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December 28, 2008 Feast of the Holy Family and Holy Innocents (Please note this is the revised and full version) To: Most Reverend Stephen Blaire, Bishop of Stockton. From: 5,000 Catholics of the Diocese of Stockton, undersigned. Dear Bishop Blaire, Recently, you were quoted saying in The Modesto Bee that Catholics who carefully weighed many issues, settled on a candidate, and voted for a pro-abortion candidate were in need of confession “only if someone voted for a pro-abortion or pro-choice candidate -- if that's the reason you voted for them.” You went on to say that “our position on pro-life is very important, but there are other issues. No one candidate reflects everything that we stand for. I'm sure that most Catholics who voted were voting on economic issues. There were probably many priests, and I suspect many bishops, who voted for Obama.” We are most distressed and saddened by this message. Please allow us to explain why. You clearly acknowledge that formal cooperation with abortion is a grave matter, as when one votes for a candidate precisely because one intends to support the candidate’s promotion of abortion. However, you deny altogether the possibility of incurring grave sin if one votes for such a candidate without intending to support the abortion stance. It seems your position is contrary to the moral teachings of the Church. Church moral teaching clearly indicates that for any moral act to be good, one must take into account three key elements: object, intention, and circumstances. All three of these must be good for the act to be good. If one of these elements is defective, the whole act is bad. Good intentions cannot make an evil act good—the ends cannot justify the means. Furthermore, the consequences must also be considered. When one votes for a pro-abortion candidate, one is objectively cooperating with the proliferation of an intrinsic evil, regardless of his intention. Thus, the well-formed conscience operating on these principles of Church moral teaching will not be able to vote for such a candidate without incurring sin. These conclusions are simple and rational and do not exceed or go beyond what the Church has stated. They are included implicitly in the Church’s teaching. If a man hands an axe to his new laborer, knowing that this laborer promises to supply him with lumber for the economy of the household, there is no evil involved. But if the man knew this laborer also promised to hack to pieces and murder all of his children, and he still hands him the axe, saying to himself “I do not intend to support him in the murder of my children—I only intend him to supply lumber for my household economy,” do you claim this man to be free of sin if he has “weighed the issues” and “settled upon” his new laborer This is the message you are sending to your children. The man in our example committed a grave evil by materially cooperating with the sin of his laborer. Regardless of the man’s good intentions, it cannot be denied that he supplied the laborer with the means to murder his family by handing over the axe. He may have been motivated by the concern of providing wood for his family and keeping them warm, but this motivation does not justify his willful blindness to the murder he enables. Furthermore, his children will not enjoy warmth if they are dead. This graphic example is analogous to voting for a pro-abortion candidate, yet it pales in comparison to the actual horror of abortion. Handing over our votes in favor of a pro-abortion candidate makes it possible for that person to take office and enable the murder of millions of children. Every vote counts and each vote can become a part of the “axe” used to legislate and spread mass murder. Yet your statements indicate that there is nothing objectively wrong in voting for a pro-abortion candidate, so long as one has weighed the issues and voted for such a person for some good reason other than abortion. What issues outweigh the evil of abortion Racism, health care, economic concerns, global warming, war, and child abuse are all important issues and some are even serious and grave. However, all of these issues combined do not outweigh the holocaust of abortion or justify a conscientious vote in favor of it. You suggest other issues could. Please tell us what they are and explain to us why we are wrong. You cited the bishops’ document on “Faithful Citizenship.” This document is vague, ambiguous, and imprecise in some areas. Nevertheless, the document gives no credence to the position that confession is necessary “only” if one intends to support abortion by their vote. Furthermore, “Faithful Citizenship” must be read in light of the much higher authority of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which declares “a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program…which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.” Bishop Vann and Bishop Farrell, in line with the CDF, have officially stated the Church’s teaching on the matter by explaining and expounding “Faithful Citizenship”: "The only moral possibilities for a Catholic to be able to vote in good conscience for a candidate who supports this intrinsic evil [of abortion] are the following: a. If both candidates running for office support abortion or "abortion rights," a Catholic would be forced to then look at the other important issues and through their vote try to limit the evil done; or, b. If another intrinsic evil outweighs the evil of abortion. While this is sound moral reasoning, there are no "truly grave moral" or "proportionate" reasons, singularly or combined, that could outweigh the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by legal abortion each year. 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, your statement is directly contrary to Bishop Vann and Farrell’s teaching. Who are we to believe The truth is universal: it is not limited by diocesan boundaries. It does not change from diocese to diocese. We, your children, are deeply troubled by the seeds of doubt and disunity that are sown by these doctrinal contradictions. To you, our bishop, we owe and continue to offer our reverence and respect. If we did not revere and respect you, we would not be sending you this message. We care about you, the diocese, and the whole Church. We especially care for the unborn and will not abide teachings which condone cooperating with their holocaust. We, the undersigned, in accordance with Code of Canon Law nos. 212, 221, and 222 §2, respectfully request your response to the questions in this letter and a reconciliation of your position with that of the Bishop Vann and Bishop Farrell. If possible, we ask that you do this through a letter to the parishes in your diocese. We gratefully look forward to your response Respectfully in Christ,


Lay Faithful of the Stockton Diocese


Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Voting: USCCB Living the Gospel of Life: LOOK at NO.23!!! Bishop Vann and Farrell's Official Statement: Bishop Blaire's statements:
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