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Wisconsin bishop praises Paul Ryan, discusses intrinsic evils, prudential judgments

Catholic World News - August 17, 2012

Making clear that he was endorsing no candidate, Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison praised vice presidential contender Paul Ryan as a Catholic who “is very careful to fashion and form his conclusions in accord with the principles” of Catholic social doctrine.

“It was no shock at all for me to learn that our diocesan native son, Paul Ryan, had been chosen to be a candidate for the Vice Presidency of the United States,” Bishop Morlino wrote in an August 16 diocesan newspaper column. “I am proud of his accomplishments as a native son, and a brother in the faith, and my prayers go with him and especially with his family as they endure the unbelievable demands of a presidential campaign here in the United States.”

“It is not for the bishop or priests to endorse particular candidates or political parties,” he continued. “Any efforts on the part of any bishop or priest to do so should be set aside. And you can be assured that no priest who promotes a partisan agenda is acting in union with me or with the universal Church.”

Bishop Morlino then distinguished between intrinsic evils and policy decisions on which Catholics of good will may disagree.

“Some of the most fundamental issues for the formation of a Catholic conscience are as follows: sacredness of human life from conception to natural death, marriage, religious freedom and freedom of conscience, and a right to private property,” he said. “Violations of the above involve intrinsic evil — that is, an evil which cannot be justified by any circumstances whatsoever. These evils are examples of direct pollution of the ecology of human nature and can be discerned as such by human reason alone. Thus, all people of good will who wish to follow human reason should deplore any and all violations in the above areas, without exception. The violations would be: abortion, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, same-sex marriage, government-coerced secularism, and socialism.”

He continued:

However, a conscience well-formed according to reason or the Catholic faith, must also make choices where intrinsic evil is not involved. How best to care for the poor is probably the finest current example of this, though another would be how best to create jobs at a time when so many are suffering from the ravages of unemployment. In matters such as these, where intrinsic evil is not involved, the rational principles of solidarity and subsidiarity come into play. The principle of solidarity, simply stated, means that every human being on the face of the earth is my brother and my sister, my “neighbor” in the biblical sense. At the same time, the time-tested best way for assisting our neighbors throughout the world should follow the principle of subsidiarity. That means the problem at hand should be addressed at the lowest level possible — that is, the level closest to the people in need. That again, is simply the law of human reason.

As one looks at issues such as the two mentioned above and seeks to apply the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, Catholics and others of good will can arrive at different conclusions. These are conclusions about the best means to promote the preferential option for the poor, or the best means to reach a lower percentage of unemployment throughout our country. No one is contesting here anyone’s right to the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, etc. Nor is anyone contesting someone’s right to work and so provide for self and family. However there can be difference according to how best to follow the principles which the Church offers.

Making decisions as to the best political strategies, the best policy means, to achieve a goal, is the mission of lay people, not bishops or priests. As Pope Benedict himself has said, a just society and a just state is the achievement of politics, not the Church. And therefore Catholic laymen and women who are familiar with the principles dictated by human reason and the ecology of human nature, or non-Catholics who are also bound by these same principles, are in a position to arrive at differing conclusions as to what the best means are for the implementation of these principles — that is, “lay mission” for Catholics.

“Thus, it is not up to me or any bishop or priest to approve of Congressman Ryan’s specific budget prescription to address the best means we spoke of,” Bishop Morlino added. “Where intrinsic evils are not involved, specific policy choices and political strategies are the province of Catholic lay mission. But, as I’ve said, Vice Presidential Candidate Ryan is aware of Catholic Social Teaching and is very careful to fashion and form his conclusions in accord with the principles mentioned above. Of that I have no doubt. (I mention this matter in obedience to Church Law regarding one’s right to a good reputation.)”

“Let us beg the Lord that divisions in our electorate will not be deepened so as to have a negative impact on pre-existing divisions within the Church during this electoral season,” he concluded. “Let there be the peace and reconciliation that flow from charity on the part of all.”

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Show 7 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: djpeterson - Aug. 18, 2012 12:52 PM ET USA

    Ryan's intellect and goals are welcome but he and the GOP's top gurus are all channeling Ayn Rand, The same people who spent 1.5 Trillion on 2 ugly and misguided wars- and wrecked the U. S. industrial economy are still in control. In better days, Pat Buchanan has called their 30 year odyssey, "the preferential option for the rich."

  • Posted by: chasann113163 - Aug. 18, 2012 12:47 PM ET USA

    I agree with "Thejornalist", It truly is nice to see a Catholic Politician who is a true Catholic and not a PHONY!

  • Posted by: Chelle,SFO-MI - Aug. 18, 2012 9:54 AM ET USA

    The problem we face in this election is the fact that you have a president that supports the destruction of human life and moral evil. Budget plans don’t matter to the dead unborn. Our nation is in a swamp of immorality and unless all Catholics preserve the nation by voting only for those who uphold the dignity and right to life of all citizens we will certainly cease to have any voice at all in the future. Getting distracted by lesser issues and arguing about them is a waste of precious time.

  • Posted by: tiomax6441 - Aug. 18, 2012 8:36 AM ET USA

    Please help me understand Paul Ryan's admiration of Ayn Rand. Was it her atheism, her advocacy of abortion, her disdain for altruism, or was it her raising selfishness to the level of a virtue? He gave her books out as presents to his staff.

  • Posted by: jimpoc8837 - Aug. 17, 2012 10:31 PM ET USA

    Finally a Bishop that recognizes the role of the laity. This contradicts the US Bishop's previous condemnation of Rep. Ryan's budget. There is hope after all that the ordained Democrats in the USCCB are seeing opposition from orthodox Bishops in the "flyover" portion of the US..

  • Posted by: JoePip - Aug. 17, 2012 9:51 PM ET USA

    JMJ Thank God for Bishop Morlino and Paul Ryan. Two men in Service to God.They live their Faith and Witness to it, Thank you Jesus.

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Aug. 17, 2012 7:00 PM ET USA

    Of course, this will be seen as an endorsement and seized upon by the bigots and left-wing commentators as proof that Ryan is the devil incarnate. Still, it's nice to have someone who is a true Catholic, not a phony one (PC).

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