Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic World News

Archbishop Cordileone on Catholic voters’ duties [Exclusive]

October 30, 2020

[This week Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco spoke with Phil Lawler of CWN about a piece that appeared on this site last month (”Two cheers for Archbishop Cordileone”). The results of that conversation will appear in a new piece next week. During the conversation, Phil Lawler took the opportunity to ask the archbishop about the responsibilities of Catholic voters in the US elections.]

CWN: If you don’t mind, let me also ask a couple of questions about next week’s elections. The US bishops have affirmed that abortion is the preeminent issue of our time, but some Catholics say they will vote for a candidate who, although supportive of legal abortion, they consider likely to do more overall good than harm. Is that an acceptable position for a faithful Catholic?

Archbishop Cordileone: Each voter is going to have to decide based on their conscience whom they vote for. No candidate is ever perfectly consistent with all Catholic social teaching. And good Catholics may honestly disagree on what the best prolife strategy is at any given time. Part of the decision-making process, though, must consider not just the candidate but the platform the candidate’s party presents. There are elements in both Democratic and Republican platforms that Catholics can object to, and this will always be the case.

But abortion is a special issue. It is the only case in which our government openly says: this human life has no rights, no value at all. Right now, we as a society abandon both the babies and the mothers in these troubled pregnancies. It’s hard for me personally to see how a faithful Catholic in good conscience can vote for a candidate who supports laws advancing the right to kill unborn babies, especially all the more so when—as is increasingly the case—the candidate supports such a “right” through all nine months of pregnancy effectively without restriction, and in some cases even favors the US government paying for it (as we see a growing movement in which those in elected office are withdrawing support for the Hyde Amendment).

Up to a million babies a year are being killed in their mother’s womb in this country alone, and just about the only ones trying to help those scarred by the experience to heal are people of faith. Likewise for those doing something practical to offer women real alternatives to abortion. No one else. There are not too many things I can think of that are more blatantly evil than that.

CWN: The US bishops have named abortion as the “preeminent” issue, but restrictions on religious liberty also seem to be a major concern—all the more so now during the current epidemic. Can you comment on that?

Archbishop Cordileone: Yes, that is certainly the case. But the two are related: it is precisely because of our advocacy on abortion and other such issues that we experience our religious freedom increasingly under attack, and those who are most militantly pro-abortion seek to silence the voices of people of faith by enforcing policies we consider gravely immoral, thus pushing us out of the public square and, in some cases, even leaving us no choice but to shut down our services to the poor and needy.

During this current pandemic, there are several states that have been treating faith communities with unjust discrimination even on the most basic aspect of religious freedom: the right to worship. Yes, in some ways the issue of religious freedom is also of paramount importance in this election. But, as I said, it seems to me that it’s the abortion issue that is driving everything else.


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  • Posted by: FredC - Nov. 01, 2020 10:38 AM ET USA

    Preeminent means by far the most important, but it leaves the possibility that the combination of other issues could be more important than abortion. A clearer statement is that abortion is so far more important that no combination of other issues can be judged to be more important.

  • Posted by: [email protected] - Oct. 30, 2020 9:10 PM ET USA

    It is clear abortion and religious freedom are crucial issues for Catholics in voting this election. It is also very clear Biden and Harris are very much in restricted religious freedom and free abortion availability thru 9 months and beyond. The Democratic platform fully supports the Biden-Harris platform. Biden is a fake Catholic and Harris hates Catholics. Your choice should be clear as Trump is the opposite of them. St Michael protect us from the Democrats and their evil platform.