A prominent Jesuit priest reiterated his belief this week that it is acceptable for Catholics to vote for Catholic candidates who openly support abortion on demand.
Writing for Religion News Service (RNS), Father Thomas Reese, the former editor-in-chief of America magazine, asserts that “a Catholic Democrat can vote for Biden, even if his policies promote abortions and gay marriage, as long as the voter’s intent is not to support those positions.”
Father Reese argues that issues such as abortion should be weighed against other issues, seeming to suggest that these issues all carry equal weight.
“A Catholic Democrat might feel impelled to vote for Biden despite his position on abortion and gay marriage because of other morally grave reasons, for example, his positions on racism, immigration, global warming and COVID-19,” Reese declares.
By Father Reese’s logic, a believing Catholic could morally vote for a candidate who sought to reinstitute slavery or who believed that Jews should be exterminated, as long as that candidate held good positions on climate change and immigration reform.
His reasoning further suggests that a Catholic could vote for a pro-slavery or openly antisemitic candidate as long as “the voter’s intent is not to support those positions.”
More simply still, Father Reese states that “most Catholic Democrats agree with Biden that abortion should be legal,” so, for many, there is no moral dilemma anyway.
In his article, Father Reese quotes at length from the U.S. bishops’ Faithful Citizenship letter, which is intended as a “teaching document on the political responsibility of Catholics.”
Curiously, Reese fails to cite the bishops’ key words on abortion, which would seem to indicate a very different moral course than the one proposed by the Jesuit priest.
“The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed,” the bishops declare.
The bishops here seem to suggest that abortion is not “just another issue” to be weighed against prudential matters such as immigration laws or a carbon tax, but stands out as a singularly egregious moral evil.
This is not the first time Father Reese has thrown his weight behind pro-abortion Democrats.
In 2018, Father Reese wrote a similar piece insisting that pro-lifers must consider voting for “pro-choice Democrats” because they will reduce the number of abortions better than Republicans. Because opposing abortion clearly does not work, he contended, it is better to elect pro-abortion politicians whose economic policies will make abortion less attractive.
“Pro-life voters must choose between Republican rhetoric and Democratic results,” he declared, in arrant advocacy for a party that applies a pro-abortion litmus test to all its political candidates as well as to potential judges.
A belief that abortion could ever be illegal is “simply ignoring reality,” he insisted. “Time is on the side of the pro-choice movement.”
In that same article, Father Reese argued against defunding abortion giant Planned Parenthood, asserting that cutting taxpayer aid to the abortion provider would be “irresponsible and counterproductive.”
Not long after Father Reese’s 2018 article appeared, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan publicly rebuked the Jesuit priest, declaring that his strategy constitutes “a capitulation to the abortion culture, and a grave weakening of the powerful pro-life witness.”
“Catholic tradition and basic human rights teach us that every human being has an inalienable right to life that must be recognized and protected in law,” Cardinal Dolan wrote. “While the law is not the only means of protecting life, it plays a key and decisive role in affecting both human behavior and thinking. We cannot give up!”
Compare Father Reese’s strategy to similar arguments employed against abolitionists in the mid-19th century, Cardinal Dolan wrote: “Thank God, those who believed that slavery was a moral horror, a cancer on our country, and contrary to the higher values of a lawful republic, could never accept this capitulation.”
Abortion is a grave injustice and must be fought, Dolan concluded.
“May we never give in to the culture of death or lose faith in our efforts to build a culture of life in our world,” he wrote.