ROME, Italy, August 30, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the most outspoken defenders on Catholic teaching regarding life, marriage, sexuality, and the family, weighed in on the upcoming U.S. election, telling reporters that the faithful must vote for the candidate who will do the most to “advance” the protection of human life, defense of the family, respect for freedom, and care for the poor.
“I think that what we have to do in this time is to look at both candidates to see if one of them will not, at least in some way, advance the common good, both with respect to the good of human life, the good of the family, the freedom of conscience, the care of the poor, and to look at that very carefully,” the Cardinal told reporters during an international teleconference conducted by Carmel Communications and attended by LifeSiteNews.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s support for abortion has been called “extreme and unlimited.” She asserts that unborn babies have no constitutional rights. She has promised to appoint only pro-abortion judges to the Supreme Court. She supports abortion during all nine months of pregnancy and has promised, if elected, to enact the largest expansion of taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand in history.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says he supports abortion restriction and has called himself “pro-life” on various occasions, but in the past he identified himself as “very pro-choice.” He believes that Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in 1973, should be overturned. He said he would stop funding Planned Parenthood “as long as they're doing abortions.” He also promised to appoint pro-life justices to the Supreme Court and to defend “religious liberty” by appealing the Johnson Amendment.
Because of his former pro-abortion position as well as his disreputable past, which includes promiscuity, adultery, and owning casinos, various life and family leaders remain skeptical of Trump’s ultimate pro-life convictions, believing that he piped whatever tune he was required to play to win the Republican nomination.
Asked earlier this year by Bloomberg Business about his stance on abortion, Trump gave this answer, indicating that he is pro-life but with exceptions. “It's an issue. I mean it's an issue, and it's a strong issue. … What I am saying is this: With caveats – life of the mother, incest, rape. That's where I stand. So, I'm pro-life, but with the caveats. You have to have it with the caveats.”
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Trump raised eyebrows when he failed to mention abortion during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention last month in Cleveland after the party took a strong pro-life position in its platform. During his campaign, he has left a trail of suspicion with his comments about abortion. In March, he angered abortion supporters and disappointed pro-life advocates when he said he believed that women who have abortions should face some sort of punishment.
In April, Trump didn’t sound convicted about overturning Roe v. Wade when he told CBS in an interview: “The laws are set now on abortion and that’s the way they're going to remain until they’re changed. I would’ve preferred states’ rights. I think it would’ve been better if it were up to the states. But right now, the laws are set. … At this moment, the laws are set. And I think we have to leave it that way.”
But after Trump selected proven pro-life politician Mike Pence as his running mate, the Indiana governor eased some fears by saying a Trump presidency would be committed to resigning the 1973 law to the “ash heap of history.” In Indiana, Pence has in fact has passed some of the most restrictive laws on abortion in the nation.
Cardinal Burke, the patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and the former archbishop of St. Louis, said that even if Catholics see problems with both candidates on various issues, they nevertheless can vote for the one who supports Catholic values the most.
“More than likely the judgment will be that neither candidates ideally answers these questions all in the way that we want. But given the nature of our government, can we in conscience support one of the candidates, at least, who, while maybe [he or she] doesn't support everything that we believe and know is important, will at least support it to a certain extent with the hope that that candidate can be convinced to embrace evermore fully the common good,” he said.
Burke warned Catholics against not voting at all and against the practice of writing in the name of a preferred candidate on the ballot, saying it could inadvertently cause the election of a candidate who does not respect life, family, and freedom.
“And I understand these sentiments very well. But one also has to be very prudent, and know that by not voting at all you are probably favoring one candidate or another,” he said, adding that even if Catholics wrote in the name of a favored candidate, it would be unlikely for such a person to become elected.
“The moral weight to voting is indeed very heavy. In other words, every vote counts,” he said.
Burke urged Catholics to study carefully the positions of both running candidates before voting.
“Those are difficult considerations, and I don’t say any of this in a kind of easy way. But I do think that Catholics especially need to be very cautious and not simply opting out, or good pro-life people and good pro-family people, simply just throwing up their hands. I would just urge them to study the position of both candidates, to the fullest possible degree, to see whether or not one of them will not advance, at least to some degree, restoration of the civilization of life and love in our country.”