Catholics Cannot Vote for Political Candidates Who Support a Right to Abortion, Says Vatican's Chief Justice

By Chris Johnson | November 1, 2010 | 7:38pm EDT

Cardinal Raymond Burke, archbishop emeritus of St. Louis, MO, and prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura at the Vatican.

( – Catholics cannot vote for political candidates who support a right to abortion, said Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke, head of the highest court at the Vatican and the archbishop emeritus of St. Louis, Missouri.

“No, you  can never vote for someone who favors absolutely what’s called the right to choice of a woman to destroy the human life in her womb or the right to a procured abortion,” said Burke in a recent interview with the group Catholic Action for Faith and Family.

He further explained, “You may in some circumstances -- when you don’t have any candidate who is proposing to eliminate all abortion -- choose the candidate who will most limit this grave evil in our country.”

“But you could never justify voting for a candidate who not only does not want to limit abortion but believes that it should be available to everyone,” said the cardinal.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “From its conception, the child has the right to life. Direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, is a ‘criminal’ practice, gravely contrary to the moral law.” (2322)

Cardinal-designate Burke also spoke about how Catholics in public life who support abortion are creating scandal.

“What is scandal?” he said.   “Scandal is either doing something or omitting to do something that leads other people into confusion or error about the moral good. And here’s the perfect example of Catholics who betray their Catholic faith in political life, as legislators or judges, or whatever it may be, leading other people to believe that abortion must not be the great evil that it is,  or  that abortion is in fact a good thing in some circumstances.”

“It can never be right, no matter what good I am trying to achieve by voting for a candidate who favors that good but at the same time favors the intrinsic evil, the great evil of abortion,” said the cardinal.  “I can’t ever justify that, voting for that candidate.”

“So I just urge people to consider those smallest brothers and sisters of ours, those fellow members of God’s family who our society teaches us to disregard or not to think of as fellow human beings, who really and truly are fellow human beings, and to do what’s right for them,” he said. “Even as we would want when we were such small little beings in our mother’s womb in the embryonic stage of development or along the way before birth as we would want voters to vote to protect our lives and to safeguard our lives.”

Burke was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to be Prefect of  the Supreme Tribunal of  the Apostolic Signatura, a position comparable to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He also served in the Vatican as a member of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, which interprets the Canon Law, and a member of the Congregation for the Clergy which regulates priests and deacons of the secular clergy.

On October 20, Pope Benedict XVI named Burke to the College of Cardinals. He will assume this office on Nov. 20. 

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