Rorate Caeli

Catholics and Politics:
Papal Reminders

Other matters may be relevant, but a present-day Catholic citizen should never place issues of lesser importance at the same level of "the three non-negotiables":

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable.

Among these the following emerge clearly today:


- protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;


- recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family - as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage - and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;


- the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.

These principles are not truths of faith, even though they receive further light and confirmation from faith; they are inscribed in human nature itself and therefore they are common to all humanity.

The Church’s action in promoting them is therefore not confessional in character, but is addressed to all people, prescinding from any religious affiliation they may have. On the contrary, such action is all the more necessary the more these principles are denied or misunderstood, because this constitutes an offence against the truth of the human person, a grave wound inflicted onto justice itself.


  1. Anonymous1:21 AM

    Whoops good old Tony Blair would have flunked on all three counts if he were a Catholic at the time of his premiership.

  2. Anonymous5:48 AM

    First non-negotiable cites "natural death". Was this a direct quote?

  3. Anonymous6:01 AM

    So if we are faced with, when voting, a choice between two pro-abortion candidates or two candidates who support homosexual marriage, it would be better to abstain from voting or cast a blank ballot for that office [& vote on other issues available: ex. don't vote for senator of state but vote yes/no on tax amendment,etc.]? None of this 'pick the lesser of two evils' stuff?

  4. A timely reminder. The rest of the (very short) address is well worth reading too.

  5. Anonymous2:08 PM


    I have always assumed the mention of "natural death" was to attack euthanasia and assisted suicide, not the death penalty.

  6. Anonymous7:09 PM

    Before the 2004 US elections Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Benedict XVI, wrote to the then-archbishop of Washingotn, DC, Theodore McCarrick to remind him that:
    "While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
    So yes, "natural death" refers to euthanasia, even though liberals will try to ignore all in the above statement except for the words between "While..." and " may".

  7. Anonymous1:38 AM

    Student said...
    "None of this 'pick the lesser of two evils' stuff?"

    I think that many orthodox moral theologians would actually say that because our duty is toward the always imperfect realization of the common good, we often have to chose the lesser of two evils for the sake of the small good that separates them.

    If two pro-abortion candidates were running against one another, and one believed (like Obama) in an unfettered right to kill prenatal babies, while the other thought that abortion was generally tolerable, but that partial-birth abortion should be banned because it was barbaric, you could vote for him for that reason. Your responsibility would be to make clear, to all those in your sphere of influence, your total and complete opposition to all abortions, and that your support of the pro-choice candidate was limited to taking one small step in combating a grave evil that must eventually be totally eradicated.

    However, there may be other times, where the difference is so slight that supporting one or the other would cause scandal. In this case abstention might be preferable.

  8. Cosmos is correct: voters have to decide within the realm of possibilities.

    Remember that Pope Benedict was speaking to legislators here, the people who make most of the actual decisions regarding the three non-negotiable points. His warning is directly applicable to the common voter only in matters directly submitted to the voter (such as a referendum on abortion, for instance).

    But when choosing candidates, the Catholic voter must choose among those who abide by more Catholic principles, taking into consideration that more relevant matters (as the non-negotiables) must be placed above less relevant matters and all of them must be placed above those issues about which the prudential judgment of the faithful prevails (e.g. the levels of state intervention in health care).


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