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August 19, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – There is a lot of confusion today about the nature of religious liberty. This confusion serves the purposes of those who would destroy the Church. It also leads souls on the road to hell.
John Gerard Lewis tries to cut through the chaos in his book, Catholic Voting and Mortal Sin: How Your Vote Can Endanger Your Salvation. The main point is simple. “Voting for the candidate who least adheres to the Church’s teaching on abortion can be a mortal sin.”
The false separation of civic and sacred duties
Catholics have long tended to separate their religious lives from their public lives. Nineteenth-century Catholic immigrants often “soft-pedaled” Catholic beliefs to gain acceptance in their new homelands. Many “Americanist” bishops like Archbishop John Ireland encouraged this idea and others like it. Pope Leo XIII refuted this poisonous position in his Apostolic Letter Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae.
Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy echoed this attitude in 1960, when he told the Houston Ministerial Association, “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute – where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act. … I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for President who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my church on public matters – and the church does not speak for me.”
Many Catholic liberals were only too happy to follow the President’s lead. Gradually, they accepted the idea that the “separation of church and state” protected the state from religion, rather than the other way around.
Resisting pro-abortion platitudes
Mr. Lewis points out the fatal flaws in this thinking. The most obvious error involves procured abortion.
Many Catholic liberals vote for “pro-choice” politicians who say things like, “I personally believe that abortion is wrong, but it is just as wrong for me to impose my religion on others.” Their votes have often decided the outcome of important national elections.
Mr. Lewis also speaks out against the “seamless garment” rationale that equates abortion with issues like health care, immigration, welfare, and environmental policies. “Seamless-garment champions, as political liberals, will engage in any semantic sleight-of-hand to bring all Catholic voting criteria under their concocted cloak. That’s how they seek to dilute true doctrine and thereby sanctify their liberal to-do list.”
The true course is clear
The book contains dozens of statements from American bishops refuting this idea. Former Archbishop Elden F. Curtiss of Omaha stated that, “I cannot conceive of any proportionate reason that could outweigh the death of nearly 50 million children killed by abortion.”
Many bishops have spoken out on the issue. However, these clear statements are seldom repeated. They are not echoed by priests in their homilies. Thus, casual Catholics live in a state of sleepy indifference.
Mr. Lewis seeks to awaken the American Church from this deadly sleep. That’s why Catholic Voting and Mortal Sin: How Your Vote Can Endanger Your Salvation is an important book.
John Horvat is vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property and author of Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society.